Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Breathe by Belisa Vranich

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Breathe
by Belisa Vranich


ISBN-13: 9781250106421
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Released: Dec. 27, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Contemporary science confirms what generations of healers have observed through centuries of practice: Breath awareness can turn on the body’s natural abilities to prevent and cure illness. The mental and physical stresses of modern life, such as anxiety, frustration, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, high blood pressure, digestive woes, and immune dysfunction can all be addressed through conscious control of your breath. In addition, it can increase energy, accelerate healing, improve cognitive skills, and enhance mental balance.

Yet most of us stopped breathing in the anatomically “right” way, the way to take advantage of these benefits, when we were four or five years old. We now mostly breathe in a way that is anatomically incongruous and makes for more illness. Dr. Vranich shows readers how to turn back the tide of stress and illness, and improve the overall quality of their life through a daily breathing workout.

BREATHE is an easy-to-follow guide to breathing exercises that will increase energy, help lose weight, and make readers feel calmer and happier.


My Review:
Breathe explains a series of breathing exercises that will help people breathe correctly and more efficiently. The author explained why people start to breath in a "wrong" way and all of the benefits to re-learning how to do it correctly. I know I breathe too shallowly and was having some trouble with stress and insomnia, so I thought I'd give it a try.

She explained some simple exercises that help you to teach your body to breathe in the correct way. She provided several different exercises to teach the same thing so if one didn't make sense, another one would. There were diagrams to illustrate the exercises. You don't need any special equipment, and the daily exercises don't take long to do. She also provided some more advanced exercises to help you to develop your lungs for deeper breathing and even provided exercises to help improve serious athletes.

I found the exercise instructions easy to follow and have been doing the more basic exercises daily for two weeks now. The breathing exercises have helped me feel healthier and more relaxed, and my sleep has improved during this time. I also appreciated the information on how posture affects my ability to relax. Overall, I'd recommend this book.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Monday, December 26, 2016

Scotland Yard's First Cases by Joan Lock

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Scotland Yard's First Cases
by Joan Lock


ISBN-13: 9780709091257
eBook: 192 pages
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Released: Dec. 13, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
When Scotland Yard’s first detective branch was set up in 1842 crime was very different from today.

The favoured murder weapon was the cut-throat razor; carrying a pocket watch was dangerous; the most significant clue at a murder scene could be the whereabouts of a candlestick or hat; large households (family, servants and lodgers) complicated many a case and servants sometimes murdered their masters.

Detectives had few aids and suffered many disadvantages. There was no way of telling whether blood (or hair) was human or animal. Fingerprinting was fifty years away, DNA profiling another hundred and photography was too new to help with identification. The detectives had no transport and were expected to walk the first three miles on any enquiry before catching an omnibus or cab and trying to recoup the fares. All reports had to be handwritten with a dip pen and ink and the only means of keeping contact with colleagues and disseminating information was by post, horseback or foot.

In spite of these handicaps and severe press criticism, the detectives achieved some significant successes. Joan Lock includes such classic cases as the First Railway Murder, as well as many fascinating, fresh reports, weaving in new developments like the electric telegraph against a background of authentic Victorian police procedure.


My Review:
Scotland Yard's First Cases looked at detective work done by London's police between 1836 and 1907. The focus was on the earlier years, and the 1870s through 1907 were more an overview than details of cases. The author described various cases--mostly murder cases, but also other types of cases dealt with by the detectives. The details of these cases come from case files, court reports, and newspaper articles from that time.

Through these cases, the author pointed out the difficulties that the recently formed police had, what events motivated the formation of a detective force, and the changes, challenges, and cases faced by that detective force. She also described the changes in technology that helped the detectives solve cases and get their man or woman.

I'd recommend this book to true crime fans, especially those interested in early detective work and the changes brought about by developing technologies.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Monday, December 19, 2016

The China Study: Revised and Expanded Edition by T. Colin Campbell, Thomas M. Campbell II

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The China Study:
Revised and Expanded Edition
by T. Colin Campbell,
Thomas M. Campbell II


ISBN-13: 9781941631560
Paperback: 417 pages
Publisher: BenBella Books
Released: Dec. 27, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The science is clear. You can dramatically reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes just by changing your diet.

More than thirty years ago, nutrition researcher T. Colin Campbell and his team at Cornell, in partnership with teams in China and England, embarked upon the China Study, the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease. What they found when combined with findings in Colin’s laboratory, opened their eyes to the dangers of a diet high in animal protein and the unparalleled health benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet.

Featuring brand new content, this heavily expanded edition of Colin and Tom’s groundbreaking book includes the latest undeniable evidence of the power of a plant-based diet, plus updated information about the changing medical system and how patients stand to benefit from a surging interest in plant-based nutrition.


My Review:
The China Study: Revised and Expanded Edition is about the research that supports eating a whole food, plant-based diet. As in, plants that aren't refined or processed, and nutrition derived from food rather than supplements. I've heard references to the China Study before, so I was interested in getting more information about it. I was disappointed that only one chapter of this book actually focused on that study.

The main author talked about his career and the various studies that he's done. He recognized the limits of those studies (including the China study) but feels the probable animal-protein link to chronic disease is strong and deserves more study and air time. About a fourth of the book focused on the politics behind why we don't hear about this link very often.

The author also looked at links between diet and specific diseases: heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis, kidney stones, blindness, cognitive dysfunction, and Alzheimer's disease. He talked about the correlations to diet found in the China study and about other studies that confirm those links. I've heard much of this information before in isolated parts, so it was nice to have his full argument laid out.

This book pulled together or confirmed some things other research-based health advisors have been saying. I found his information on vitamin D to be very helpful as I haven't heard it explained so clearly before. I already eat whole foods and minimal animal protein compared to an average American, so I'm already moving in the direction that he advocates. I'd recommend that people at least listen to his argument before going on a high animal protein fad diet.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Tough As They Come by Travis Mills

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Tough As They Come
by Travis Mills,
Marcus Brotherton


ISBN-13: 9781101904787
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Convergent Books
Released: Oct. 27, 2015

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Thousands of soldiers die year to defend their country. United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills was sure that he would become another statistic when, during his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, he was caught in an IED blast four days before his twenty-fifth birthday. Against the odds, he lived, but at a severe cost—Travis became one of only five soldiers from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to survive a quadruple amputation.

Suddenly forced to reconcile with the fact that he no longer had arms or legs, Travis was faced with a future drastically different from the one he had imagined for himself. He struggled through the painful and anxious days of rehabilitation so that he could regain the strength to live his life to the fullest. With enormous willpower and endurance, the unconditional love of his family, and a generous amount of faith, Travis shocked everyone with his remarkable recovery. Even without limbs, he still swims, dances with his wife, rides mountain bikes, and drives his daughter to school.


My Review:
Tough As They Come is a memoir. The first two-thirds of the book described Travis Mill's childhood and 3 deployments in Afghanistan. He describes daily life and some of the action he took part in. He doesn't "talk technical," so his story is easy to follow and to get a sense of what it's like.

The last third of the book talked about the IED blast and his recovery. From the book description, I'd expected most of the book to be about his recovery, but he's not the type of guy to dwell on the past. It's part of the reason he's doing so well. He's also always up for a challenge, has a positive attitude, and has the support of a loving family. He gave enough details that you can understand what he and his family went through and how they made it through. To give an idea of what Travis is like, here's a quote (from an ARC, so the final version might be different) from page 246:

"Hard times come to everybody. When hard times happen, we have a choice to make. We can become discouraged and bitter, or we can choose to never quit. When life gets hard, the key is just to keep pushing forward. Instead of saying, "It could be worse," the key is to say, "It's going to get better." Then work with all your might toward that goal."


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Effortless Healing by Dr. Joseph Mercola

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Effortless Healing
by Dr. Joseph Mercola


ISBN-13: 9781101902899
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Harmony
Released: Sept. 27, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Blogging for Books.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Do you have to tell your leg to heal from a scrape? Your body that it's hungry? No. Your body does these things automatically, effortlessly. Online health pioneer, natural medicine advocate, and bestselling author Dr. Joseph Mercola reveals the nine simple secrets to a healthier, thinner you.


My Review:
Effortless Healing is a self-help health book. Each chapter focused on a different aspect of health, with the most important changes listed first. You implement the changes in "Healing Principle #1" first and then tackle the next one. He talked about the food and drink you consume, exercise, and sleep. He explained things at a pretty basic level and described how to carry out these changes. At the end, he even had a chapter on how to set and achieve your lifestyle change goals.

While I've heard many of his suggestions elsewhere, others confused me a bit. For example, he suggested that most people reading the book had diabetes or pre-diabetes and needed to get their blood sugar under control. Yet he didn't base his selections of "good" or "bad" foods for them on the food's glycemic load. Rather, he simply threw out all grains (even gluten-free, whole grains) and some vegetables because they have a lot of starchy carbs. Yet he strongly recommended juiced vegetables, which I've read spikes blood sugar.

Also, he recommended skipping breakfast and avoiding snacking, yet his sample meal plans at the end all included a snack and usually had a breakfast. He mentioned some benefits to eating fruit, yet later recommended largely avoiding fruit because it contains fructose. Basically, the book didn't always seem consistent from beginning to end. Did he give some good advice? Yes. I should also mention that the "effortless" refers to your body healing itself if you do all of these steps, not the process needed to get there.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Defender by Ethan Michaeli

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The Defender
by Ethan Michaeli


ISBN-13: 9780547560694
Hardcover: 656 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Released: Jan. 12, 2016

Source: ARC review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Giving voice to the voiceless, the Chicago Defender condemned Jim Crow, catalyzed the Great Migration, and focused the electoral power of black America. Robert S. Abbott founded The Defender in 1905, smuggled hundreds of thousands of copies into the most isolated communities in the segregated South, and was dubbed a "Modern Moses," becoming one of the first black millionaires in the process.

His successor wielded the newspaper’s clout to elect mayors and presidents, including Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy, who would have lost in 1960 if not for The Defender’s support. Along the way, its pages were filled with columns by legends like Ida B. Wells, Langston Hughes, and Martin Luther King.

Drawing on dozens of interviews and extensive archival research, Ethan Michaeli constructs a revelatory narrative of race in America and brings to life the reporters who braved lynch mobs and policemen’s clubs to do their jobs.


My Review:
The Defender is American history covering the 1900s with a focus on issues affecting the black population. It mainly covered 1905 to 1983, with a brief look at events leading up to the founding of the paper and of events after 1983 until the paper closed. We're told details about The Defender and the people working there. However, mainly it's a history of Chicago and America.

While it's a thick book, the author did a good job of making it interesting and easy to read. For example, I care nothing for boxing, yet I got tense reading about the boxing matches because the author managed to capture the excitement and tension of the time and transmit it to me. We're told about major events that were covered by The Defender, often with information about what the white papers or other black-run papers said about the events. I felt like I was given a fair view of events and was allowed to come to my own conclusions rather than being told what to think or getting only one side. I really appreciate history books like this one.

When I was in high school, we totally skipped the 1900s. Even the college-level "Modern History" class focused mainly on the wars and politics. I wish I'd read this book as a high school student. I've long wondered about some of the things that this book covered and was totally ignorant of others. It gave important insights into why America is the way it is today. Obviously, I'd highly recommend this very informative book. (I'm a white gal, but this is a book for everyone.)


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, November 14, 2016

In Pursuit of Privilege by Clifton Hood

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In Pursuit of Privilege
by Clifton Hood


ISBN-13: 9780231172165
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Released: Nov. 1, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Amazon:
A history that extends from the 1750s to the present, In Pursuit of Privilege recounts upper-class New Yorkers' struggle to create a distinct world guarded against outsiders, even as economic growth and democratic opportunity enabled aspirants to gain entrance. Despite their efforts, New York City's upper class has been drawn into the larger story of the city both through class conflict and through their role in building New York's cultural and economic foundations.

Clifton Hood merges a history of the New York economy in the eighteenth century with the story of Wall Street's emergence as an international financial center in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as the dominance of New York's financial and service sectors in the 1980s. Bringing together several decades of upheaval and change, he shows that New York's upper class did not rise exclusively from the Gilded Age but rather from a relentless pursuit of privilege, affecting not just the urban elite but the city's entire cultural, economic, and political fabric.


My Review:
In Pursuit of Privilege is a collection of essays about the New York City upper class covering 1750 to modern times. The author focused on seven time periods where major events created changes in the upper class, though he also talked about what happened between those times. Those time periods were: 1750s/1760s (changed by the 7 Years War), 1780s/1790s (by the Revolutionary War), 1820s (by major growth in NYC), 1860s (by the Civil War), 1880s/1890s (Gilded Age), 1940s (by WWII), and 1970s (by a financial crisis).

Different topics were covered under the different time periods, but each covered what defined the upper class (lineage, wealth, etc.), what they valued (manners, wealth, power, etc.), and how they interacted. The author also described things like where they built their houses, their social diversions (like clubs), what role or social responsibilities they felt regarding the common people, what they desired in schools for their children, how they spent their wealth, and the development of the NY Stock Exchange. He also briefly compared the NYC upper class's values and behavior to those of the upper class in other major cities.

The tone of the writing was distant, looking back at events with hindsight and clinically dissecting each topic. While some specific people were named, they're used as a brief example to make a point. As in, it's not a popular history that puts you in the time, focuses on specific people, or shows their behavior in context. While the tone was academic, the writing wasn't dry and I found the topics interesting. I'd recommend this book to readers interested in the changes that have occurred in the upper class of NYC.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Iron Dawn by Richard Snow

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Iron Dawn:
The Monitor, the Merrimack, and the Civil War Sea Battle that Changed History
by Richard Snow


ISBN-13: 9781476794181
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Scribner
Released: Nov. 1, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
No single sea battle has had more far-reaching consequences than the one fought in the harbor at Hampton Roads, Virginia, in March 1862. The Confederacy, with no fleet of its own, built an iron fort containing ten heavy guns on the hull of a captured Union frigate named the Merrimack. The North got word of the project when it was already well along, and, in desperation, commissioned an eccentric inventor named John Ericsson to build the Monitor, an entirely revolutionary iron warship—at the time, the single most complicated machine ever made. Rushed through to completion in just 100 days, it mounted only two guns, but they were housed in a shot-proof revolving turret.

The Monitor fought the Merrimack to a standstill and saved the Union cause. As soon as word of the battle spread, Great Britain—the foremost sea power of the day—ceased work on all wooden ships. A thousand-year-old tradition ended, and the path to the naval future opened.

Richly illustrated with photos, maps, and engravings, Iron Dawn is the irresistible story of these incredible, intimidating war machines. Historian Richard Snow brings to vivid life the tensions of the time, describing the building, battles, and impact of the Merrimack and Monitor.


My Review:
Iron Dawn describes the origin, building, and careers of the Merrimack and the Monitor. The author set the scene for the building of these ships through a series of short biographies of the top people involved.

Apparently, not a lot of information has survived that describes the Merrimack (as an iron side ship) and that information isn't very clear. So we mainly learned about the logistics of making her rather than details about how she actually worked. In contrast, the author provided some good descriptions of the Monitor, from how her engines worked to how she stayed watertight. Much of this information was provided through descriptions that people gave at the time as recorded in letters, journals, newspapers, etc.

Once the Merrimack and Monitor were built, we followed their careers with much time spent on the famous fight between the two. This battle was vividly retold as the author quoted descriptions given by people who served on the two ships. The descriptions were gory since the Merrimack had a devastating effect on the wooden ships it attacked before the Monitor arrived.

The author described the fate of the ships after that battle and gave an idea of what serving on them was like. He also talked about the modifications that were made to the Monitor design in future monitor-class ships and how other nations reacted to the new ships.

There were pictures of the people involved, some diagrams and such for the Monitor, and a picture of what the Merrimack may have looked like. The book was very readable, and the battles were exciting even knowing the ultimate outcomes. The Monitor's design and construction was quite remarkable. I'd recommend this book to those interested in naval history, the Civil War, or how we went from wood to iron warships.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Permaculture Promise by Jono Neiger

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The Permaculture Promise
by Jono Neiger


ISBN-13: 9781612124278
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Storey Publishing
Released: Nov. 1, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Permaculture is a sustainability buzzword, but many people wonder what it actually means and why it is relevant. Originally coined by combining the words permanent and agriculture, permaculture has evolved into an optimistic approach connecting all the systems of human life: gardening, housing, transportation, energy, and how we structure our communities.

The Permaculture Promise explains in simple terms why permaculture may be the key to unlocking a livable future on our planet. Author Jono Neiger asserts that humans can thrive while simultaneously making Earth healthier and not destroying it. The book shows 22 ways that permaculture can create a better future for all living things. Profiles of people and communities will inspire you to incorporate permaculture principles into your life today.


My Review:
The Permaculture Promise provides an overview of permaculture. The author defined permaculture as including human relationships and financial systems, how we grow food, build housing, structure communities, and gather energy. It uses interconnected, self-sufficient designs and views people as a part of nature, not above it.

The book is more a summary of what is being done than a how-to guide. For example, he mentioned rain gardens, showed a picture of a rain garden, and might have done a profile on someone who put one in, but he didn't provide enough detail that you could go make one. He did give some suggestions of what the reader can do, but it was mainly along the lines of "learn a new self-sufficiency skill" or "install a compost toilet."

He covered topics like regenerative farming, soil fertility using nitrogen-fixing plants and dynamic accumulators, composting and humanure, sharing resources with those in need, building community relationships and learning self-sufficiency skills, using wetlands instead of destroying them, urban planning and urban gardens, buying local or growing heirloom plants and heritage livestock, growing food rather than ornamental plants, building energy efficient homes, preventing erosion, collecting rain water, and using renewable energy sources.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Natural Color by Sasha Duerr

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Natural Color
by Sasha Duerr


ISBN-13: 9781607749363
Hardback: 272 pages
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Released: Aug. 23, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
An exploration and appreciation of the brilliant spectrum of colors derived from plants, with seasonal, project-based ideas for using these natural dyes to color your clothing and home.

Natural Color explores the full spectrum of seasonal plant dyes, using nature as a color library. Unlike its competitors, Natural Color is structured by season, not plant, focusing on achievable projects with easy-to-follow recipes for dyeing everything from dresses, scarves, and hats to rugs, napkins, and table runners, ensuring that even the most savvy home decorator will be inspired.


My Review:
Natural Color explains how to use certain, common plants to make dyes and how to use them on natural plant and animal fibers. The projects included dying napkins, pillow covers, curtains, scarves, dresses, and more. The author started by explaining the basics and what tools and equipment you'll need. It looks fairly easy and safe and can be done without a lot of equipment or expense as I already have many of these things lying around.

The author talked about 28 different plants that can be used for dying, including avocado pits, rose petals, plum branches, mint, calendula, aloe, indigo, hibiscus, fennel, weld, onion skin, rosemary, black walnut, maddar root, red cabbage, blue spruce, sweet gum leaves, and citrus peels. Some of the other plants are common in California but less so elsewhere, like redwood cones.

For each plant, she explained what colors it produces, how much plant is needed per amount of fabric, what fabrics it works best on (and how to prepare them), and a step-by-step project so you can learn how to dye with it. The author also explained various ways to apply the dye to make different patterns and effects.

She explained things clearly, so I feel quite able to do these projects or to be able to dye with these plants on projects of my own. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those interested in using natural dyes on natural fibers.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

America the Ingenious by Kevin Baker

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America the Ingenious:
76 World-Changing Inventions and the Visionaries Who Made Them Happen
by Kevin Baker


ISBN-13: 9781579656942
Hardcover: 276 pages
Publisher: Artisan Books
Released: Oct. 4, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Here are 76 of the most intriguing, important, and ingenious inventions realized in America, from the Panama Canal, the Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater to the oil rig, the electric sewing machine, and the telephone. Who came up with these ideas? How long did they take to realize? What were the complications? This book will satisfy the curiosity of history and miscellany buffs alike.


My Review:
America the Ingenious explores 76 important or interesting American inventions. From covered wagons (prairie schooner) to cars (Lincoln zephyr), planes (transcontinental plane), trains (NY subway, transcontinental railroad, etc.), ships (yankee clippers, container ship), and spaceships (Apollo 11). From canals (Erie Canal, Panama Canal) to tunnels (Hudson and East River tunnels). From the rotary printing press to transatlantic cable, microprocessor to 3D printing, sewing machines to athletic shoes, and more.

Each invention had about 3 pages of text plus an illustration or two. The author talked about why the invention was built and the people and efforts involved. He provided interesting details about the challenges faced during the building of the project or by those using the product. He usually discussed how it worked only in general terms. Overall, I'd recommend this book.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Slow Dough by Chris Young

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Slow Dough
by Chris Young


ISBN-13: 9781848997370
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Nourish
Released: Sept. 13, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
The Real Bread Campaign has been running since 2008, encouraging people to get baking and raising awareness of the additives that exist in most shop-bought loaves. To get a truly wonderful bread, you can use a starter to do the work for you and it does wonders for the texture, flavours and aromas of the final bread.

In Slow Dough: Real Bread, learn secrets from the campaign's network of expert bakers to make a huge array of exciting slow-rise breads at home. Whether you want to make a Caraway Seed Rye Bread, a Fougasse Flatbread or an All-Butter Brioche, in these recipes you'll learn how to make different starters for different breads, as well as the fundamental processes (many of which you can just sit and wait for): fermenting, kneading, first proof, last rising, and baking.


My Review:
Slow Dough teaches how to make a variety of pre-ferment (2 stage), long ferment (1 stage), and sourdough breads. As in, most of the recipes leave the dough to ferment overnight. This book is intended for people who have some experience making their own bread or access to someone experienced who can help ("this is what the dough feels like when..."), though the author did include the information that a beginner needs to know.

He started by talking about the Real Bread Campaign, then he defined the terms and described the techniques and ingredients used in the recipes. He described bread-making equipment you might want, though only very basic equipment and minimal ingredients are needed to start out. He also included tips from various bakers, a troubleshooting section, and ways to use leftover crumbs and stale bread.

The recipes were from many different bakers. They covered basic loaves to fruit- or cheese-filled loaves, plus buns, sweet breads, shaped breads, and more. There were gluten-free breads and no-knead breads in addition to wheat breads and kneaded loaves. The author promoted the use of organic, whole grains, though many of the recipes used some white flour. The ingredient amounts were given by weight and volume in metric and USA systems. Overall, I'd recommend this as an informative book for people interested in baking these types of breads.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Easy. Whole. Vegan. by Melissa King

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Easy. Whole. Vegan.
by Melissa King


ISBN-13: 9781615193097
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: The Experiment
Released: Sept. 6, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Vegan, whole food recipes that will help families ditch processed meals by taking the hassle out of cooking! In Easy. Whole. Vegan., she shows how to break free of ready-made, processed foods without spending hours in the kitchen (and it isn't with takeout)! These 100 vegan and gluten-free recipes are organized by how they will help busy families save time (and tame the chaos): 30-Minutes or Less recipes, slow cooker recipes, make-ahead meals reheat well, foods for entertaining, plus sauces, dressings, juices, and smoothies.


My Review:
Easy. Whole. Vegan. is a cookbook for making vegan, whole food, gluten-free meals. The author started by discussing the foods that she uses. Most of these foods are commonly available, though sometimes expensive. She talked about vegan substitutes for animal products, like how to make nut-milks, non-dairy "cream," or egg substitutes. She also recommended kitchen equipment (like a slow cooker, food processor, high power blender, dehydrator, juicer, stand mixer, and spiralizer). You'll probably want to start with the equipment you'll use the most, though, as good quality version are going to be expensive.

The recipes are intended to be easy to put together and clean up after. Most of the recipes had only a few, simple steps and served 4-7 people. They included variations for those with nut allergies. Some of the recipes are meant to look or taste similar to familiar non-vegan dishes, like ice cream or mac and cheese. Despite the titles of some of the recipes, no animal products are used. She included information about how to best store the leftovers.

There were recipes for salads, soups, puddings, pancakes, muffins, bars, cookies, crackers, casseroles, salsa, jam, cream, juices, smoothies, and more. Some recipes were sweetened with fruits, while others used a good bit of maple syrup or coconut sugar. Overall, I found this cookbook helpful for cooking for vegan friends and finding new ideas for healthy dishes.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Story Genius by Lisa Cron

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Story Genius
by Lisa Cron


ISBN-13: 9781607748892
Trade Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Released: Aug. 9, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Blogging for Books.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Story Genius is a foolproof program that saves writers from penning hundreds of pages only to realize that something's not working and they have to start again. Informed by story consultant Lisa Cron's science-based insights into how story structure is built into the architecture of the brain, this guide shows writers how to plumb the nitty-gritty details of their raw idea to organically generate a story scene by scene. Once writers reach the end of Cron's program, they will have both a blueprint that works and plenty of compelling writing suitable for their finished novel--allowing them to write forward with confidence.


My Review:
Story Genius is a guide on how to create powerful, character-driven stories using the Story Genius writing system. If you expect a lot of brain science, you'll be disappointed. The author only referred to a couple of studies. Instead, she resorted to speculative stuff, saying, "Evolutionarily speaking, our brain is wired..." followed by a story about what advantage we might have gotten from telling stories.

She believes that all powerful stories are ultimately character-driven, so she has you start your story creation with the character rather than a plot. She takes you step-by-step through deciding what the story is about, what your main character desires, and the misbelief that prevents him/her from gaining that desire. From there, you come up with what happens scene by scene to force the character to re-evaluate that misbelief. She described each step, then she had a fiction author--who is coming up with her next story--write that step to demonstrate it.

This system will prevent your book from wandering around aimlessly, full of filler scenes. Overall, I think a person could successfully follow this Story Genius system. It seems best suited for literary writing. She didn't really show how it might be used in genre fiction, where some genres are expected to contain very specific plot elements (which runs counter to her purely character-driven system). However, she does give some good advice on how to come up with a strong story and this can be used in any case.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Healthy Herbs by Linda Woolven

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Healthy Herbs
by Linda Woolven


ISBN-13: 9781550413298
Trade Paperback: 245 pages
Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside
Released: Sept. 26, 2006

Source: Bought as a used book.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Master herbalist Linda Woolven and Natural Path publisher Ted Snider have assembled a completely up-to-date guide to medicinal herbs that is comprehensive and immensely practical. Healthy Herbs brings a refreshing simplicity to an enormous body of medicinal herbal knowledge. The book identifies which herb is best for what condition while providing:

*Clear instruction on the safe and effective use of each herb
*Only herbs that are readily available in North America
*Up-to-date information on herbal science in straightforward, jargon-free language
*Authoritative home-use instruction
*Teas, tinctures, infusions, decoctions, pills, and liquids


My Review:
Healthy Herbs is a reference book for the use of medicinal herbs. Most of the herbs are easily available at health food stores, and the rest can be found online. The authors assume you're going to buy these herbs at a store, so they gear their information that way even if it's a plant that you can find growing wild.

The herbs are listed by name, so you can look them up or just read through the whole book like I did. For each herb, we're told the scientific research involving the herb--what it's good for and how to use it. This often matches the traditional uses for the herb. They included dosing information for taking the herb as a tea, extract, tincture, or pill and any safety information about using it with other medications or during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

I've repeatedly read how whole herbs have few to no side effects (unlike the "active ingredient only" drugs that are based on them), so I'm interested in using herbs medicinally. I found this book to be very helpful, informative, and interesting.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Lessons in Classical Painting by Juliette Aristides

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Lessons in Classical Painting
by Juliette Aristides


ISBN-13: 9781607747895
Hardback: 248 pages
Publisher: Watson-Guptil
Released: July 26th 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Blogging for Books.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
With a direct, easy-to-follow approach, Juliette Aristides presents aspiring artists with the fundamental skills and tools needed to master painting in the atelier style.

With more than 25 years of experience in ateliers and as an art instructor, Aristides pairs personal examples and insights with theory, assignments and demonstrations for readers, discussions of technical issues, and inspirational quotes. After taking a bird's eye look at painting as a whole, Aristides breaks down painting into big picture topics like grisaille, temperature, and color, demonstrating how these key subjects can be applied by all painters.


My Review:
Lessons in Classical Painting contained foundational lessons for painting "in the atelier style." This isn't for absolute beginners since the author assumed you have done some painting and doesn't cover equipment basics. Rather, it's a series of lessons that build on each other to improve your painting.

The author talked about a topic then provided a lesson or two to help you learn and apply that principle. She'd tell you the goal of the lesson and how to choose a subject rather than assume you'll do the exact same painting that's in the demonstration. This allows you to practice the lesson more than once (if you wish) and to pick a topic you'll enjoy painting. I really appreciated this. This is the only painting book I've ever read where I decided to do every single lesson in the book.

The paintings used as illustrations ranged from the old masters to works by the author and many other current artists. Nearly every painting was a lesson in itself or illustrated a point in the text. The topics that she covered included really looking, basic shapes and the values that create an object, how to organize a scene, under-painting, monotone paintings, light as a way to reveal form and create a mood, working with a limited palette, color temperature, color theory, color mixing, and more. You can apply these lessons to any type of oil painting (still life, portraits, landscapes, etc.).

The author clearly defined her terms. She was easy to understand, and I felt no confusion when following her directions. I'm probably an advanced beginner, and I think her lessons have really helped to improve my painting. I'd recommend this book to oil painters who aim for some level of realism in their paintings.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Food Forensics by Mike Adams

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Food Forensics
by Mike Adams


ISBN-13: 9781940363288
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: BenBella Books
Released: July 26, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Award-winning investigative journalist and activist Mike Adams, the “Health Ranger,” is founder and editor of NaturalNews.com, the number one most visited natural health website in the world.

Adams and his team test the things we eat every day to expose the hidden truth about the contaminants in our foods. They have tested levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and additives in common foods, from cereals, soups, and other pre-packaged meals to fast food and medicinal herbs. Adams’s tests reveal the differences between organic and non-organic foods, GMO and non-GMO certified foods, and more.

Food Forensics discloses how food contamination happens and why it matters, and provides valuable information on how you can protect yourself.


My Review:
In Food Forensics, the author talks about his mission and his lab where he tests food for toxic contaminants. He described how toxic metals get into your food, what happens when you eat that food, and what will actually help rid your body of these toxins. He went into detail about dangerous metals (arsenic, mercury, cadmium, aluminum, copper, tin), chemical contaminants (BPA, BPS, hexane, pesticides), food ingredients (aspartame, MSG, artificial colors, and much more), and animal feed contamination.

He also described what foods help your body to detox from these dangers. He pointed out that this is a natural, everyday process and mentioned easy-to-find foods that help the process.

A large section of the book was a list of foods--including organic and superfoods--that he's tested in his lab and the levels of toxins they contained. Unfortunately, this was such a mess on my ebook review copy that I can't tell how useful it actually is. It looked like simple rows of numbers, though, so you'd need to do some interpreting of those numbers.

The author painted a very depressing view of things: every food seems to have some level of toxic load, it would take generations to reverse this if we started now, and there's no hope that this will change this anytime soon with big business more concerned with profits than long-term health.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Secret Language of Churches & Cathedrals by Richard Stemp

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The Secret Language of Churches & Cathedrals
by Richard Stemp


ISBN-13: 9781780289618
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Watkins Publishing
Released: July 19, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Who is depicted in that stained glass window? What is the significance of those geometric figures? Why are there fierce-looking beasts carved amidst all that beauty? Is there a deeper purpose behind the play of light and space in the nave? Why is there a pelican on the lectern and ornate foliage on the pillars? The largely illiterate medieval audience could read the symbols of churches and cathedrals and recognize the meanings and stories deliberately encoded into them.

Today, in an age less attuned to iconography, such places of worship are often seen merely as magnificent works of architecture. This book restores the lost spiritual meaning of these fine and fascinating buildings. It provides a three-part illustrated key by which modern visitors can understand the layout, fabric and decorative symbolism of Christian sacred structures.

Part One is an analysis of structural features, outside and in, from spires and domes to clerestories and brasses.

Part Two is a theme-by-theme guide, which identifies significant figures, scenes, stories, animals, flowers, and the use of numbers, letters and patterns in paintings, carvings and sculpture.

Part Three is a historical decoder, revealing the evolution of styles - from basilicas through Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic and beyond.

For all those who seek to know more about Christian art and architecture, this richly illustrated book will instruct and delight in equal measure.


My Review:
The Secret Language of Churches & Cathedrals provides a tour of these buildings, explaining the practical, historical, and symbolic reasons behind their features. The author looked at Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches.

The first part described what you see as you approach and enter the building and explained the architectural features found in a typical cathedral or church. The second part looked at the paintings and sculptures and identified various people and common symbols and scenes for those of us not "in the know." The third part looked at the elements found in the earliest churches and how they changed throughout history.

The book contained many full-color pictures from the outside and inside of churches to illustrate the points made in the text. For paintings, we're shown the overall ceiling, then detail shots with descriptions of what is being show in that section.

I once went on a study abroad tour were we visited many cathedrals. I felt like I was missing half of what I was seeing because I didn't know the intent behind it. I'd recommend this book to those planning on touring cathedrals or who are just interested in the topic.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Monday, June 27, 2016

The Fantasy Artroom by Aaron Pocock

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The Fantasy Artroom
by Aaron Pocock


ISBN-13: 9780486801247
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Dover Publications
Released: May 18, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Do you love to create imaginative artwork? Would you like to add depth and richness to your creations? Could you use fresh inspiration? Here is the book that will help you brush up on your skills and add new tricks and techniques to your repertoire.

These step-by-step demonstrations offer easy-to-follow methods for drawing trees and landscapes; forming dwarves, witches, mermaids, centaurs, and other characters; and putting them all together into enchanting compositions. Introduce a new dimension to your drawing, line art, and watercolor images with this richly illustrated guide and its helpful exercises, tips, and suggestions.


My Review:
The Fantasy Artroom teaches how to draw, ink, and use watercolor to create fantasy artwork. The author assumed that you have no art training. He generally suggested the minimal necessary tools to get you started, and he gave tips on how to use these tools to get good results. He provided step-by-step demonstrations on how to draw a scene element (like a rock, tree, dragon, water, etc.) or whole fantasy scene. He broke the steps down enough that I felt confident as I did the demo and in using that information to create my own scenes. He was very encouraging and made art seem do-able for everyone.

He taught how to sketch or draw a scene, how to ink the scene using a dip pen or ink pens, and how to paint colored scenes using watercolors. His tips on using dip pens and watercolors were very useful. He showed how to use reference photographs, like using a picture of a lizard to create a better dragon. He talked about composing and story-telling in the scene. He provided demos on landscape elements, texture, and a variety of fantasy creatures (from griffins to trolls, mermaids, fairies, and more).

I'd highly recommend this book to anyone--young or old--who would like to learn how to create or improve their fantasy artwork.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Oil Painting Essentials by Gregg Kreutz

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Oil Painting Essentials
by Gregg Kreutz


ISBN-13: 9780804185431
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Released: May 24, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Many painters limit themselves to a particular genre out of habit or fear, but in Oil Painting Essentials, art instructor Gregg Kreutz reveals how connected oil painting techniques are no matter what subject an artist tackles. Arranged by essential artistic focal points, each chapter reveals the challenges and rewards that painters face when covering specific genres.

Through step-by-step lessons and examples from the works of oil painting masters past and present, Kreutz shows how artists can strengthen their skillset for one type of subject matter by painting in another area they may not be as familiar with. This comprehensive breakdown of oil painting provides all of the tools that painters need to successfully take on any type of oil painting.


My Review:
Oil Painting Essentials was about aspects of composition that the author then applied to painting portraits, naked women, still lifes, cityscapes, and interiors. It's not a "how to paint" book, and these principles apply to more than just oil painting. If you've got a decent painting but you feel like it's lacking something, he'll suggest how to add "drama" to your painting.

He teaches you to paint in the same style that he does. He paints backgrounds with little to no detail--and often very dark--then he spotlights his point of interest, which is painted in detail. Some of his favorite principles were about being selective about what to show in detail, using contrasting colors or values, and making light the main event.

He did include basic painting principles that apply to all styles of painting. He also did a good job of defining what he meant by a term so I wasn't confused. The paintings that he used to illustrate a point were good at showing that point. If you like his style, he'll certainly help you to paint that way.

But I didn't really care for his style as the subjects lack context. Also, I sometimes wondered about his tips when he'd say something like, 'this makes the fruit clearly look like a nectarine' and I'm thinking, 'oh, is that what it is? I thought maybe it was an apple.' So his tips didn't always work on me.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Saving My Assassin by Virginia Prodan

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Saving My Assassin
by Virginia Prodan


ISBN-13: 9781496411846
Trade Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Released: June 7, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
At just under five feet tall, Virginia Prodan was no match for the towering 6' 10" gun-wielding assassin the Romanian government sent to her office to take her life. It was not the first time her life had been threatened--nor would it be the last.

As a young attorney under Nicolae Ceausescu's brutal communist regime, Virginia had spent her entire life searching for the truth. When she finally found it in the pages of the most forbidden book in all of Romania, Virginia accepted the divine call to defend fellow followers of Christ against unjust persecution in an otherwise ungodly land.

For this act of treason, she was kidnapped, beaten, tortured, placed under house arrest, and came within seconds of being executed under the orders of Ceausescu himself. A must-read for all generations, "Saving My Assassin" is the unforgettable account of one woman's search for truth, her defiance in the face of evil, and a surprise encounter that proves without a shadow of a doubt that nothing is impossible with God.


My Review:
Saving My Assassin is a memoir about Virginia Prodan's life in Romania. It starts in 1961 (when she was 6 years old) and ends in 1988 (plus an epilogue). It's an awesome story about God's work in Romania and how he used Virginia to make a difference.

The author talked about growing up under the communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. Due to certain family circumstances, she longed to find (and defend) the truth and thought she could do this as an attorney. She described the challenges of working as an attorney and following Christ in those years. She talked about some of the cases she took defending Christians and the threats and harm she endured for doing so.

Her story gives God glory for working things together for good--even when she couldn't see it at the time. Like when she faced an assassin in her office or felt completely cut off from any friends during a house arrest. It's an amazing and encouraging story, and I had a hard time putting down. I'd highly recommend it to anyone interested in what life was like in Romania under Ceausescu and to Christians seeking encouragement about taking risks when God calls you to them.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Indian Boyhood by Charles Eastman

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Indian Boyhood
by Charles Eastman


ISBN-13: 978-1-937786-56-45
Hardback: 40 pages
Publisher: Wisdom Tales
Released: 1902; June 7, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Publisher website:
Imagine a childhood where riding horses, playing in the woods, and hunting for food was part of everyday life; where a grizzly bear, a raccoon, or a squirrel was your favorite pet. But imagine, too, being an orphan at the age of six, being forced off your land by U.S. soldiers, and often going hungry. Such was the childhood of the first great American Indian author, Charles Eastman, or Ohiyesa (1858-1939).

Carefully edited for a younger audience by multiple award-winning author and editor, Michael Oren Fitzgerald, Indian Boyhood recalls Eastman’s earliest childhood memories. He was born in a buffalo hide tipi in western Minnesota, and raised in the traditional Dakota Sioux manner until he was fifteen years old. He was then transplanted into the “white man’s” world. Educated at Dartmouth College, he went on to become a medical doctor, renowned author, field secretary for the YMCA, and a spokesman for American Indians.


My Review:
Indian Boyhood is a picture book for ages 4 and up and it's an edited version of Charles Eastman's autobiography about his Dakota Sioux upbringing. Charles Eastman, or Ohiyesa, lived from (1858-1939) and wrote eleven books from 1902-1918. This book tells how he was raised by a grandmother due to losing his parents while very young and how they were forced off their land, but also about his wild-animal pets, hunting, and learning to be a warrior.

The illustrations complement the text by showing details of Indian life that aren't specifically mentioned in his narrative. Information about these extra details is included at the end of the book. The illustrations are done in the same style as that shown on the cover. All royalties are donated to various American Indian causes. I'd recommend this book to children interested in what a Dakota Indian childhood was like in 1858-1873.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: See more on the publisher's website.
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Friday, May 27, 2016

Healing Berries by Kirsten Hartvig

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Healing Berries
by Kirsten Hartvig


ISBN-13: 9781848991552
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Watkins Publishing
Released: April 19, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Berries are among the healthiest foods on the planet. Every month, new research is published describing the health-giving properties of a well-known or recently discovered berry. Most berries are easy to store and use out of season: they can be dried, preserved with alcohol or sugar, or frozen, and most of us can now find a wide selection of berries in supermarkets and specialist healthfood stores.

This book is a celebration of the health-giving properties of berries, as well as a treasure-trove of fabulous ways to use them in your cooking. The book includes 50 profiles of the healthiest and most popular species - including a├žai, cranberry, blueberry and redcurrant. Renowned nutritionist and naturopath Kirsten Hartvig also offers more than 100 recipes, from breakfasts and preserves to juices and liqueurs.


My Review:
Healing Berries is a guide to buying, storing, and using berries. In the first half of the book, the author provided profiles for 50 berries from all over the world. These include a few that you don't think of as berries. She provided historical and general information about each type of berry, where to find it, how it's commonly used, how to store it, a brief nutrition profile, and health benefits.

In the second half of the book, the author provided 100 recipes from around the world. They sound fairly simple to do, and many contained berries you can buy locally. They're intended to be healthy recipes, so the author suggests using organic, whole foods as ingredients. She included recipe variations for vegans. The recipes were for snacks, salads, soups, baked goods, deserts, preserves, juices, smoothies, liqueurs, breakfasts, and main dishes. Most of the recipes take between 10 to 40 minutes to make and serve 4 people.

The berries covered were: acai berry, aronia/chokeberry/barberry, bearberry, bilberry, blackberry, black currant, blueberry, boysenberry, caperberry, cherry, cloudberry, cranberry, crowberry, damson, dewberry, elderberry, goji berry, golden berry, gooseberry, grape, honeyberry, huckleberry, Indian gooseberry/amla, jujube/Chinese date, juniper, Kiwi fruit/Chinese gooseberry, lingonberry, loganberry, mulberry, Oregon grape, persimmon, raspberry, redcurrant, rose hip, rowan, salmonberry, sea-buckthorn, seagrape, serviceberry, sloe, strawberry, strawberry tree, sumac, thimbleberry, tomato, ugniberry, whitecurrant, whortleberry, wineberry.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Fashion In The Time Of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) by Melinda Camber Porter

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Fashion In The Time Of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603)
by Melinda Camber Porter


ISBN-13: 9781942231103
ebook: 82 pages
Publisher: Blake Press
Released: May 16, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Fashion in the Time of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) was a hand written thirty-four page document on eight inch by twelve inch lined British school tablet paper with thirty-one separate drawings on white paper. Melinda Camber Porter wrote and illustrated this book as a school report in Second Grade (Class 2), where she attended The City of London School for Girls. Melinda's reference material appears to originate from the great British fashion writer and illustrator of the 1930s, Dion Clayton Calthrop, who wrote and illustrate many books on English fashion from 1050 A.D. to 1750 A.D.

The text of this book is typed from the original hand written text and includes reproductions of Melinda Camber Porter's original drawings. The book also serves as a piece of history for The City of London School for Girls, and includes photos and awards of Melinda Camber Porter in the appendices.


My Review:
Fashion In The Time Of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) is about both Melinda Camber Porter and her report on English fashion in 1558-1603. The actual report described the clothing of English noblemen and noblewomen in some detail--from head to toe--and included changes in fashion and the names and uses of the different clothing items. In less detail, she described town and country clothing worn by men and women from the middle and lower classes and children's clothing. She drew nice illustrations for some of the clothing (see an example below), and I was impressed by the overall quality of her report. Though brief, it's very informative and even included some quotes from Elizabethan times describing clothing.

This book also included some information about the The City of London School for Girls and a short biography of Melinda Camber Porter. The appendix included a list of Melinda Camber Porter's writings and art exhibits, photos of the awards she won, quoted praise for her work, and a list of newspapers that ran her obituary.

I'd recommend this book to people interested in Melinda Camber Porter who would like to read her report on Elizabethan fashion.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Monday, May 23, 2016

The Acrylic Painter by James Van Patten

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The Acrylic Painter
by James Van Patten


ISBN-13: 9780385346115
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Released: June 2, 2015

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Blogging for Books.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Noted artist and School of Visual Arts instructor James Van Patten offers guidance on materials, processes, balance, and composition, and focuses on effectively using color in painting. He shows how acrylics can provide all painters with a vast range of possibilities for producing highly expressive art.

Readers will learn how to use acrylics to create a wide variety of effects--from watercolor-like transparency and the flatness of tempera and gouache, to the buttery quality of oil and collage adhesive and varnish--in everything from non-representational works to painterly realism to photorealism. Includes detailed step-by-step technical demonstrations and inspiring works by the author, his students, and other artists.


My Review:
The Acrylic Painter is a practical guidebook for those interested in painting with acrylics. You'll get the most benefit from his advice if you read this book before buying your supplies. I would have saved money and frustration if I'd had this advice. When I saw this book, I figured if the author could create huge, hyper-realistic landscape paintings using acrylic, he must know what I need to know! Indeed, he does, and he understands the types of things that a beginner with acrylics actually needs to know to enjoy the experience.

He discussed the pros and cons of different brands and types of acrylic paints. He also talked about what colors you need--he suggests starting with just five colors--and described the other supplies you'll need or may want in the future. He explained basic painting information like color theory, looking at the world in a way that helps you to paint what's actually there, and possible styles (abstract to hyper-realistic) and subjects (still life, portraits, landscapes). He also covered painting techniques like underpainting, using photographs and grids, tricks for painting hard edges, blending, glazing, and impasto painting. He ended by describing how to finish the painting's surface with protective layers and briefly described matting and framing your work.

There were some suggested exercises and demonstrations. They're practical things like how to blend large areas or create an underpainting. He used his and other people's paintings as illustrations to demonstrate various points from the text. While I'm getting fairly confident at painting in oil and watercolor, this book has definitely helped me understand how to successfully use acrylics.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Long Weekend by Adrian Tinniswood

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The Long Weekend
by Adrian Tinniswood


ISBN-13: 9780465048984
Hardcover: 334 pages
Publisher: Basic Books
Released: May 3, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
As WWI drew to a close, change reverberated through the halls of England’s country homes. Historian Adrian Tinniswood introduces us to the tumultuous, scandalous and glamourous history of English country houses during the years between World Wars.

The upper crust struggled to fend off rising taxes and underbred outsiders, property speculators and poultry farmers. As estate taxes and other challenges forced many of these venerable houses onto the market, new sectors of British and American society were seduced by the dream of owning a home in the English countryside. Drawing on thousands of memoirs, letters, and diaries, we learn of legendary families such as the Astors, the Churchills and the Devonshires.


My Review:
The Long Weekend is a look at English country houses during the 1918-1939 period. The focus seemed to be the fate of the country house: who was selling, buying, renovating, redecorating, or building them. The author gave specific details about changes made to certain houses (including royal country houses) and the careers of certain architects or interior decorators. He included some general information about why it was difficult to sell old country houses, why people were selling them, various building or decorating trends, alternative uses found for country houses, and such.

A few chapters covered what a country house party was generally like, the various jobs of the servants, the role that some country houses played in politics, notable fancy dress balls, and various sports done at country houses (with some details about bird hunting). He also talked about Americans who bought English country houses.

I think I would have enjoyed the details about the decorations and changes if there had been more pictures of what the houses looked like before and afterward. As it was, I felt like I had details without the context to make it interesting. I'd also expected this to be more about the activities done at these houses, especially on the weekends. Instead, the book felt like a patchwork of information about country houses. The book was interesting, but I think it'd appeal most to those interested in architecture, interior decoration, and the people who owned these houses.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Morgue by Vincent DiMaio, Ron Franscell

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Morgue
by Vincent DiMaio
& Ron Franscell


ISBN-13: 9781250067142
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Released: May 17, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Dr. Vincent Di Maio and veteran crime writer Ron Franscell guide us behind the morgue doors to tell a fascinating life story through the cases that have made Di Maio famous-from the exhumation of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald to the complex issues in the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

Beginning with his street-smart Italian origins in Brooklyn, the book described cased from among his 40 years of work and more than 9,000 autopsies. Suspenseful stories, revealing anecdotes, and macabre insider details from one of the country's most methodical criminal pathologists.


My Review:
Morgue is a collection of true crime stories. This book mainly covered eleven cases that occurred between 1969 and 2012 in Dr. Vincent Di Maio's career. In each case, Dr. Di Maio performed the autopsy or was called in as a consultant, but it's not just about what happens in the morgue. Yet we are talking autopsies, so some details were gory, though clinically described.

The cases were described with vivid details, starting with the lives of the people involved and the events leading up to the murder. We're told how murder was suspected or what was known about the murder, the detective work that solved the crime, and details about the court cases. In some of the cases, the facts were distorted by conspiracy theories or the media due to racial controversy. I appreciated having "just the facts." He didn't claim to know the motives, just what the evidence indicated.

He covered cases that showed different aspects of the autopsy (identifying the person and what killed them) and of his job. The stories were well-written and very interesting. While his frustrations with the system do occasionally leak through, he seemed more interested in the truth (is there reasonable doubt?) than in making people think he can solve every crime. I'd recommend this book to people interested in true crime stories.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Impossible to Ignore by Carmen Simon

book cover
Impossible to Ignore
by Carmen Simon


ISBN-13: 9781259584138
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education
Released: April 22, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
A groundbreaking approach to creating memorable messages that are easy to process, hard to forget, and impossible to ignore―using the latest in brain science. Audiences forget up to 90% of what you communicate. How can your employees and customers decide to act on your message if they only remember a tenth of it? How do you know which tenth they’ll remember? How will you stay on their minds long enough to spark the action you need?

Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience and cognitive psychology, Carmen Simon, PhD, reveals how to avoid the hazards of random recall and deliver just the right amount of content. This practical guide is filled with case studies and examples. Whether you’re giving a presentation, conducting a meeting, delivering training, making a sales pitch, or creating a marketing campaign, these field-tested techniques will help you develop content that speaks to people’s hearts, stays in their heads, and influences their decisions.


My Review:
Impossible to Ignore is about how to improve the likelihood that people will take away the message that you're trying to impart, remember it, and act upon it. It's mainly aimed at business situations like meetings, sales interactions, ad campaigns, or seminars, but the basic principles can be applied to other situations. The author provided helpful real life and theoretical examples on how to apply the basic principles.

The author explained discoveries about how we form memories or are motivated to take new actions and then explained how to use this information to affect other people's memories and actions. She talked about what we remember and what we forget, expectations, anticipation, surprise, and novelty. She discussed the differences between getting people to remember the gist of what you said versus what's needed for people to remember exact information. She talked about the amount of information to include and how to inspire others to talk about you.

There's a checklist list at the end so you can make sure you're using these principles and engaging the audience's imagination and senses. Overall, I felt like this book contained useful information.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Mindspan Diet by Preston Estep

book cover
The Mindspan Diet
by Preston Estep


ISBN-13: 9781101886120
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Released: May 3, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
The Mindspan Diet reveals a simple plan to slow cognitive decline based on studies of the diets of the “Mindspan Elite”—those populations that live longest with low levels of dementia. Startling in its revelations about healthy eating for those over the age of forty, it challenges us to rethink our approach to many common staples, including:

• Iron: While iron-fortified foods sound healthy, high iron intake can be toxic, especially for people over forty, and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease.

• Whole grains: Processed grains such as white rice, pasta, and flour are actually staples in the diets of cultures with the best cognitive health.

• Protein: Though it's considered by some to be a miracle macronutrient, high levels of protein are actually hard on the kidneys, promote cancer, and may accelerate the progression of dementia.

Includes more than seventy delicious recipes.


My Review:
The Mindspan Diet is based on the diets of people who live in regions with low dementia rates. The author came up with a personal diet based on these "Mindspan Elite." He doesn't work professionally with dementia or nutrition, but we're basically asked to trust that the diet he came up with includes the foods that are actually responsible for low dementia rates.

His diet requires you to cook or make a lot of your own food. His main point was that most Americans get too much iron in their diet due to iron-fortified foods and from supplements, but the mindspan elite tend to be borderline anemic. His argument was fairly convincing, but not enough that I'd follow his advice to donate blood on a regular basis to keep my iron levels low.

The rest of his advice sometimes didn't flow logically, didn't align with with experts, or left me feeling muddled. For example, he advised lactose-intolerate people to drink milk but lactose digestors to avoid milk. Apparently many people in "Mindspan Elite" areas are lactose intolerant, but I need a study showing that those lactose intolerant people consume milk and this is directly responsible for their lack of dementia. It could simply be something they manage to get away with, like his story of the 100+ year old who smoked.

Also, I was concerned by some of his recommendations. He recommended using olive oil or canola oil. He didn't explain how to avoid food fraud with olive oil, which is a problem with this oil. Canola oil and soy products may be fine in "Mindspan Elite" areas, but almost all canola and soy in the USA are GMOs. There are serious health concerns surrounding GMOs (including cancer), yet his recipes frequently included these foods.

Basically, I needed more proof and a clearer explanation before I'll go against long-standing nutritional advice.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Modern Poisons by Alan Kolok

book cover
Modern Poisons
by Alan Kolok


ISBN-13: 9781610913812
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Island Press
Released: May 5, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Written by a longtime professor of toxicology, this accessible book explains basic principles of toxicology in plain language while illuminating the most important issues in contemporary toxicology. Kolok begins by exploring age-old precepts such as the dose-response relationship and that a chemical’s particular action depends on its inherent chemical nature. He goes on to show exactly how chemicals enter the body and elicit their toxic effect, as well as the body’s methods of defense.

With the fundamentals established, Kolok digs into advances in toxicology, tracing the field’s development from World War II to the present day. The book examines both technical discoveries and their impacts on public policy. Highlights include studies of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in toiletries and prescriptions, the emerging science on prions, and our growing understanding of epigenetics. Readers learn not only how toxic exposure affects people and wildlife, but about the long-term social and environmental consequences of our chemicals.


My Review:
Modern Poisons explains the basic principles of toxicology for the average person. The tone was generally formal, and the beginning chapters were technical enough that it's helpful if you've taken at least a high school chemistry or biology class. He clearly explained any technical language, and I don't think most people would find the text confusing though you do need to pay attention. I would highly recommend this book to everyone as it's an important topic to understand.

The author began with information on how our body deals with toxins, how things are tested for toxicity, and how things have changed in testing as concerns have grown from determining lethal doses to include adverse affects at lower doses and toxins that aren't broken down. He discussed both natural toxins (like harmful metals and snake venom) and synthetic chemicals. I really liked the information on how our body absorbs chemicals through our skin, lungs, and digestive tract and how our body protects us from toxins. I feel like I can better sort out popular health claims now.

The author also talked about toxins in the air, water, land, and animals and how toxins are broken down (through biotransformation) or aren't (and so accumulate in animals higher up the food chain). He discussed drugs, pesticides, cosmetics, and food additives. He talked about historical issues (like DDT), newer concerns (like prions, persistent organic pollutants, multi-generational impacts, and antibacterial and pesticide resistance), and the social impact and regulation resulting from these concerns.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.