Thursday, July 20, 2017

Simply Electrifying by Craig R. Roach

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Simply Electrifying
by Craig R. Roach


ISBN-13: 9781944648268
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: BenBella Books
Released: July 25, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Electricity is at the core of all modern life. It has transformed our society more than any other technology. Yet, no book offers a comprehensive history about this technological marvel. Until now.

This book brings to life the 250-year history of electricity through the stories of the men and women who used it to transform our world: Benjamin Franklin, James Watt, Michael Faraday, Samuel F.B. Morse, Thomas Edison, Samuel Insull, Albert Einstein, Rachel Carson, Elon Musk, and more. In the process, it reveals for the first time the complete, thrilling, and often-dangerous story of electricity’s historic discovery, development, and worldwide application.

Written by electricity expert and four-decade veteran of the industry Craig R. Roach, Simply Electrifying marshals, in fascinating narrative detail, the full range of factors that shaped the electricity business over time—science, technology, law, politics, government regulation, economics, business strategy, and culture—before looking forward toward the exhilarating prospects for electricity generation and use that will shape our future.


My Review:
Simply Electrifying is a history of electricity for the average person. Anything technical regarding an invention, experiment, or scientific idea was explained in simple terms. It was mostly a collection of biographies of people who made a major impact on the history of electricity and how we use it. The author also talked about how politics, technology choices, and economics have impacted how we use electricity. I'd recommend this book to those who'd watch a documentary on the topic, as it had a similar feel.

He covered Benjamin Franklin (how the Leyden Jar worked, lightening experiments), James Watt (invented improved steam engine, which was used for electrical generation), Michael Faraday (link between magnetism and electricity, invented electric motor, electric generator), James Maxwell (electromagnetic waves), Samuel Morse (telegraph) and the transatlantic cable.

Thomas Edison (inventions needed for an electricity industry, like electric light bulbs, wall switches, power lines, generators), George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla (AC/DC current wars, AC electric motor, Tesla coil), Samuel Insull (economy of scale to lower pricing and make electricity affordable).

FDR's New Deal for electricity (more hydro power and proposed government action and regulation), the building of Hoover Dam, the Tennessee Valley Authority and David Lilienthal (public versus private utilities), coal mining and use and John L. Lewis (labor strikes), Albert Einsten, nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants, the modern environmental movement, California's electricity crisis and competitive reform, President Obama's Clean Power Plan, climate change, George Mitchell's shale gas revolution (fracking and natural gas usage), and Elon Musk's vision for the future of electricity set against the lessons learned from history.


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 11, 2017

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

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Jane Austen at Home
by Lucy Worsley


ISBN-13: 9781250131607
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Released: July 11, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Take a trip back to Jane Austen's world and the many places she lived as historian Lucy Worsley visits Austen's childhood home, her schools, her holiday accommodations, the houses--both grand and small--of the relations upon whom she was dependent, and the home she shared with her mother and sister towards the end of her life. In places like Steventon Parsonage, Godmersham Park, Chawton House and a small rented house in Winchester, Worsley discovers a Jane Austen very different from the one who famously lived a 'life without incident'.

Worsley examines the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to her, and the varying ways in which homes are used in her novels as both places of pleasure and as prisons. She shows readers a passionate Jane Austen who fought for her freedom, a woman who had at least five marriage prospects, but--in the end--a woman who refused to settle for anything less than Mr. Darcy.

Illustrated with two sections of color plates, Lucy Worsley's Jane Austen at Home is a richly entertaining and illuminating new book about one of the world’s favorite novelists and one of the subjects she returned to over and over in her unforgettable novels: home.


My Review:
Jane Austen at Home is a look at Jane Austen's life from the perspective of what her daily life was like. Starting with her family and her birth, we learn what the house was like, how she was educated, what her social life was like, and so on. The author used letters, guidebooks from the time, old records, etc., to reconstruct what her daily life was like throughout her life and in different homes. She included many quotes from Jane's letters to her sister (and others), so we get to hear Jane's opinions in her own words.

The author mentioned Jane's marriage prospects and her path to publication, but she brought out the reasons why she might choose to marry or reject an offer and looked at how Jane found time to write, how she lived with a brother (who was her advocate with the publisher) when double-checking the galleys, and so on.

I really enjoyed how she pointed out real people and occurrences that happened in Jane's life that have echoes in novel. Since I enjoy learning about Georgian and Regency daily life and enjoy Jane Austen's stories, I found this book enjoyable on many levels. I'd highly recommend this interesting 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Pinks by Chris Enss

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The Pinks
by Chris Enss


ISBN-13: 9781493008339
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Two Dot Books
Released: July 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Most students of the Old West and American law enforcement history know the story of the notorious and ruthless Pinkerton Detective Agency and the legends behind their role in establishing the Secret Service and tangling with Old West Outlaws.

But the story of Kate Warne, an operative of the Pinkerton Agency and the first woman detective in America, and the stories of other women who served their country are not as well known. From Kate Warne’s part in saving the life of Abraham Lincoln in 1861 to the lives and careers of the other women who spied during the Civil War, these true stories add another dimension to our understanding of American history. Their stories are richly illustrated throughout with numerous historical photographs.


My Review:
The Pinks is a collection of true crime and spy stories and some biographies. The author talked about several of Kate Warne's cases and about various other women who worked as spies during the Civil War. We're told a little about Pinkerton, his detective agency, and how he hired Kate Warne in 1861. We get details about a couple cases that Kate helped solve (before and after the war). These cases were interesting, especially as the Pinkerton team was hired more to gain confessions than gather clues.

But most of the chapters talked about spying just before and during the Civil War. Kate Warne, Hettie Lawton, Vinne Ream, Elizabeth Baker, Mary Touvestre, Elizabeth Van Lew, and Dr. Mary Edwards Walker were all involved in spying for the Union during the war. I don't think that they all worked for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, though.

Some of the chapters described details about what the woman did and discovered, but some missions were covered only in general terms. The chapter on Dr. Walker focused more on her ambitions and what happened after the war than on what she did as a spy. One chapter was more about submarines and the battles involving the Merrimack and the Monitor than about the women who passed on information about the submarines.

I'd expected more details about Kate Warne's life or a focus on the detective cases involving the first female Pinkerton operatives. Though the book focused more on spying and gave only a brief look at these women, it was interesting to learn some of the things these women did.


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 27, 2017

Just for Fun: Drawing by Lise Herzog

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Just for Fun: Drawing
by Lise Herzog


ISBN-13: 9781633222816
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster
Released: May 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
With Just for Fun: Drawing, aspiring artists and art enthusiasts who have never before picked up a pencil can follow incredibly simple step-by-step instructions and discover how to draw everyday subjects. Each featured subject starts with basic lines and shapes, and slowly progresses with each new step to a fully rendered, completed drawing.

Saving the nitty-gritty technical aspects of drawing for the more advanced student, Just for Fun: Drawing simply touches upon key drawing concepts and fundamentals, including perspective, proportion, volume, shading, and composition, among others, that are relevant to a beginner's core understanding of the craft. With its abundance of approachable and contemporary drawings, as well as loads of tips, instruction, and inspiration, Just for Fun: Drawing will have even the most artistically challenged individuals mastering the art of pencil drawing in no time.


My Review:
Just for Fun: Drawing is an art book to help beginners learn how to draw. It combined text describing what to do and why you do it with simple, step-by-step drawings. This allows the person to learn how to draw cats in general, for example, not just the pose shown in the book.

I'd recommend this as a good beginner artist book for tweens and teens (or older). It's done in a style that should keep a younger person interested, but it also taught some basics found in adult drawing books. So we learn how to draw basic shapes--in perspective--and how to add simple texture and shading.

The book began by describing what drawing tools to use, and you can start out with as little as a common pencil and a sheet of computer paper. Other tools were described, but you don't have to start fancy. We then get the step-by-step "add a circle here and here, combine the shapes, add some texture" instructions. These usually involved four steps that were easy to understand and weren't complex to draw.

We're taught to draw animals like cats, big cats, dogs, wolves, rabbits, horses, cow, and birds. There were brief descriptions on how to draw people standing and in motion, the parts of the body, and clothing. And we learn to draw nature in part (like a tree, flower, or water) or as a whole landscape drawing. The finished drawings should look recognizable without being complex to draw.


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.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Foundations of Drawing by Al Gury

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Foundations of Drawing
by Al Gury


ISBN-13: 978-0307987181
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Released: June 13, 2017

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

Book Description, Modified from Amazon:
From a leading art instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, a complete survey of drawing as an art form covering its history, materials, and key techniques.

Foundations of Drawing is a comprehensive and authoritative overview of the history, aesthetics, methods, and materials of the drawing medium. Throughout, clearly defined demonstrations provide easy access to the practice of drawing as well as the history and development of core drawing techniques. Richly illustrated, the book contains reproductions of the finest master drawings from the fifteenth century to the present.

Unlike other drawing instruction books that focus on step-by-step lessons exclusively, Foundations of Drawing provides readers with the context and background to help understand just why these materials and methods are so vital for successful drawing.


My Review:
Foundations of Drawing is an art book about the history, tools, materials, and techniques of drawing. I wish I had this book when I started learning how to draw. My original art instructor and many art books assumed that I already understood what various drawing terms meant or what mediums best worked with what paper. This book is cheap considering it'll save you money by explaining what supplies you really needed for what you want to do.

The book started off with a brief history of drawing, which looked at the various periods to see what styles dominated or changes took place. The author then described the various drawing tools and materials, including how to best use them and what papers or brushes work best with which mediums. This was so helpful and explained why I've felt frustrated at times. He also explained the advantages and disadvantages of the various mediums. He included watercolor and other paints when used in a "drawing" style.

He then covered a wide variety of drawing skills, like how to hold drawing tools; use grids; blend; erase; use line, shape, and hatching; create light and shade, and more. He clearly explained the various terms and how to do the skill. There were illustrations either showing a finished work that used a technique or demonstrating how to do it. A lot of the drawings were of nudes or figures, though he did describe the steps to take to compose and draw still life, interiors and architecture, as well as portraits and figures.

I expect to regularly consult this book until I settle down to a favored medium and style. I'd highly recommend this as a reference book for students and self-taught individuals who are serious about learning to draw. Don't expect a lot of step-by-step drawing projects but rather the basics of how to draw well that you can apply to any project.


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 19, 2017

Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor by Barbara Roth

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Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor
by Barbara Roth


ISBN-13: 9781633221956
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster Publishing
Released: May 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Whether in your backyard or while traveling the world, Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor is an inspirational, easy-to-use reference guide for artists who seek to expand their artistic horizons in new and adventurous ways.

After a basic overview of tools and materials, learn how to find inspiration and beauty everywhere and in everything. Discover how to create a portable pack-and-carry supply box to create art spontaneously, even while on the go. Basic drawing and painting techniques, approachable step-by-step projects, and instructions for working with tools outside the studio demonstrate how easy it is to draw and paint without too much advanced planning.

Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor inspires artists of all skill levels to embrace their creative side to create beautiful works of art wherever they might be, from Monet's garden in Giverny, France, to sitting in their car on a rainy morning.


My Review:
Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor is a art book that will help you create a portable watercolor kit or get set up to paint during short breaks. The author described what tools and materials are best suited for portable watercolor painting. She briefly described how to sketch a scene and then paint it, and how to do this from a photo. She very briefly described color theory and different watercolor techniques. She then provided 12 step-by-step painting projects that are fairly simple to draw and paint. The cover painting is one of those projects.

The author's basic technique is to sketch out a scene then paint in the colors with watercolor (without getting too detailed). While the author did give some tips that would be helpful for beginners, it's aimed at people already familiar with the basics of watercolor. For example, there are no pictures of what a "puddle of paint" looks like or how to do a flat wash. She assumes that you know what that means or can guess based on her text descriptions.

In the step-by-step projects, she tells the reader what colors to use for different objects and what technique to use to apply it. The changes between the steps were small enough that I could see what was being done and didn't feel confused about what she was describing. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those who like her style and want to go more portable.

I've tried a few of the step-by-step projects, and my end product looked better than my watercolors ever have in the past. I think it's having the pencil or ink along with the watercolor. I'm glad I tried out 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Quest for Security, 1715-1740 by Penfield Roberts

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The Quest for Security, 1715-1740
by Penfield Roberts


Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Harper & Row
Released: 1963

Source: Bought at a Friends of the Library book sale.

Book Description:
Series about changes in Europe from medieval period to "modern" period.


My Review:
The Quest for Security, 1715-1740 is the eighth book in The Rise of Modern Europe series. It covered all of Europe during 1715-1740. The chapters were organized by topic. Some quotes from people from that time helped make it more interesting. The author's writing style was also more readable and interesting the the earlier books in this series that I've read.

The author talked about the changes in political and religious power, how wars affected things, economic and social changes (especially the changing concept of personal property), and new ideas in art and science. I was very interested to learn that the people we think of as "land owners" didn't actually own the land but merely had certain rights regarding the land (like rents, annuities, etc.). Now I wish I had a book that solely explored this topic as this book only covered one point in time.


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, June 6, 2017

Mysteries of the Ancient World by National Geographic

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Mysteries of the Ancient World

ISBN-13: 9780870442544
Hardback: 233 pages
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Released: May 1, 1979

Source: Bought at a Friends of the Library book sale.

My Book Description:
The book covers cave paintings, neolithic Jericho, Çatal Hüyük, the Egyptian pyramids, the oldest known Indian cities, the various megaliths in Europe, the Minoans, the Mycenaens, the Etruscans, and the Easter Islander stone heads.


My Review:
Mysteries of the Ancient World looks at some ancient, mysterious civilizations. The author(s) write about visiting site, what they see, and what the people working on the site think about what the various structures were used for (which involves a lot of speculation). The basic attitude was that these ancient builders were intelligent, capable people. They simply didn't leave behind explanations of some of their more mysterious works.

The book covered cave paintings, neolithic Jericho, Çatal Hüyük, the Egyptian pyramids, the oldest known Indian cities, the various megaliths in Europe, the Minoans, the Mycenaens, the Etruscans, and the Easter Islander stone heads. About half of the book is full-color pictures of the sites and artifacts found there. I really enjoyed the pictures, and the text was interesting (though it's more a survey of ideas than a close look at the structures).


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 30, 2017

The China Study Family Cookbook by Del Sroufe

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The China Study Family Cookbook
by Del Sroufe


ISBN-13: 9781944648114
Paperback: 302 pages
Publisher: BenBella Books
Released: May 30, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
So you've learned about the benefits of a plant-based diet, but now you need to successfully make the transition and convince your family to do the same. The China Study Family Cookbook is the family-friendly cookbook and guide you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to make plant-based eating easier and even more rewarding for your family.

Chef Del Sroufe--author of The China Study Quick & Easy Cookbook and Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook--provides 100 easy, flavorful recipes—with reinvented family classics. The cookbook includes:

Mac & Cheese
Cream of Tomato Soup
White Bean and Squash Chili
Wheatberry Sloppy Joes
Meatball Subs
Hush Puppies
Creamed Corn Casserole
Breakfast Tacos
Biscuits and Gravy
Peanut Butter Cookies
Chocolate Donuts

The China Study Family Cookbook offers stories from plant-based advocates whose whole families have adopted a plant-based lifestyle—and how they got their spouses and children on board. It also gives tips for getting your kids involved in the kitchen and fostering their love of plant-based cooking. The China Study Family Cookbook even includes strategies to negotiate the family menu from families made up of both those who eat plant-based and those who don’t.


My Review:
The China Study Family Cookbook is a whole food, plant-based (vegan) cookbook containing 100 recipes. It's intended for families, so most of the recipes were for 4 or 6 or 8 people. The author also explained how to get kids involved with making the food (so many of the recipes are fairly easy to make). He also assumed that the reader had little experience in the kitchen, so he explained things like knife safety.

The cookbook is targeted at people who are used to popular, Standard American Diet foods. He has healthy versions of hot cocoa, baked donuts, Mac & Cheese (with no cheese), meatballs (with no meat), and so on. The intent is for a similar taste and texture experience, but with much healthier ingredients. Some recipes did use gluten-containing grains or tree nuts (if this is a concern for you), but others didn't. There were pictures of the finished products, many of which looked very tasty.

There were also some short articles about people who went vegan, why, and how they did it when the rest of their family wasn't interested in eating vegan. Overall, I'd recommend this cookbook to people with families who are interested in adding more whole-food, plant-based meals to their 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Book of Greens by Jenn Louis, Kathleen Squires

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The Book of Greens
by Jenn Louis, Kathleen Squires


ISBN-13: 9781607749844
Hardcover: 328 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Released: April 11, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
From one of Portland, Oregon's most acclaimed chefs comes this encyclopedic reference to the world of greens. It's for any home cook who wants to cook delicious, vegetable-focused meals, but is tired of predictable salads with kale, lettuce, cabbage, and the other usual suspects. Chef Jenn Louis has compiled more than 150 recipes for simple, show-stopping fare, from snacks to soups to mains (and even breakfast and dessert) that will inspire you to reach for new greens at the farmers' market, or use your old standbys in totally fresh ways.

Organized alphabetically by green, each entry features information on seasonality, nutrition, and prep and storage tips, along with recipes like Grilled Cabbage with Miso and Lime, Radish Greens and Mango Smoothie, and Pasta Dough with Tomato Leaves.


My Review:
The Book of Greens explains how to use 40 varieties of leafy greens in your cooking and provides 175 recipes that include those greens. These are not "healthy" recipes. She adds the greens to dishes that use cheese, cream, eggs, fish or meat and use a lot of oil or sugar. Since she's trying to get a specific blend of taste and texture, I doubt the dishes will taste as good if you remove or replace some of the ingredients. She's traveled a lot, so there are recipes from other cultures in addition to adding greens to more Western foods.

The book is organized around the Greens information pages. The Greens are listed alphabetically and include pictures of the greens and information about what season they grow in, what foods they pair well with, and how to choose, clean, store, refresh, and cook them. After the information page for a specific Green, she provided recipes that used that Green. The recipes usually served 4 but varied between serving 1 and 12 people. Some recipes were simple, while others had many steps and involved more time and effort.

The book also had a few templates, like for how to make a salad (add a food from this list, then add a food from this group, and so on). I did find the information pages about the greens to be useful, but I'd expected a book that helped healthy eaters to find new, tasty ways to eat their greens. But it's more targeted at foodies than health nuts.


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, May 16, 2017

YumUniverse Pantry to Plate by Heather Crosby

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YumUniverse Pantry to Plate
by Heather Crosby


ISBN-13: 9781615193400
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: The Experiment
Released: May 16, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Cooking at home is good for you, but sometimes it’s nice to eat without planning (and shopping) ahead of time! Enter YumUniverse Pantry to Plate: Improvise Meals You Love—from What You Have!—Plant-Packed, Gluten-Free, Your Way!

In this one-of-a-kind recipe playbook, healthy living enthusiast Heather Crosby shares ingenious master recipes that home cooks can customize endlessly. For example: Pick any grain, one or more veggies, and a complementary aromatic, sauté them together in your choice of sauces, and voilà! You’ve just improvised a hearty, nutritious “scramble.”

Are you a recipe renegade who likes to bend the “rules”? A new vegan or vegetarian seeking more kitchen confidence? Are you tired of going shopping for just one missing ingredient in a recipe? Infinite possibilities await you in your own YumUniverse!


My Review:
YumUniverse Pantry to Plate is a vegan (no meat, dairy, or eggs), gluten-free cookbook. The author provides 30 recipe templates that you can customize based on what you like (or have on hand). She also provided 100 recipes based off of those templates so you can see some of the possibilities. Most of the recipes take between 15-40 minutes to create.

These recipes look fairly simple in terms of cooking skill required. However, the author didn't spend much time explaining how to cook or what the different ingredients can bring to the overall taste, so it may be hit or miss in terms of the resulting taste of the dish. Also, many of the recipes had a lot of added sweetening and/or oil, though these were usually optional additions.

I've tried several of the recipes. They tasted good, and one was quite tasty. One turned out to be less work than the template format made it look like. Overall, I felt like these recipes were more for committed gluten-free vegans than for tempting people to eat more vegan meals.

The templates: For breakfast, a veggie and grain stir-fry, granola, pancakes and waffles, muffins, warm cereals, or breakfast cookies. In addition to some recipes for sauces and creams, she provided templates for compotes and fruit butters, coconut yogurt, and dairy-free milk. For lunch and snacks, it's gluten-free crackers, amazeballs, dairy-free fermented cream cheese, dips and spreads, crunchies, fermented veggies, bites and tots, veggie fries, and soups. For main meals, it's cheesy comfort food, epic salads, veggie sushi makis, tacos and wraps, 'banza bakes, veggie burgers, and hand pies. For sweets, it's cookies, crispy bars, brownies, coconut-based ice cream, and crisps and crumbles.


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, May 8, 2017

The Dawn of a New Era by Edward P. Cheyney

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The Dawn of a New Era
by Edward P. Cheyney


ISBN-13: 9780061384004
Trade Paperback: 389 pages
Publisher: Harper Torchbooks
Released: 1962

Source: Bought at a book sale.

Book Description from Amazon:
The first book in The Rise of Modern Europe series. The merit of this book consists in its mature presentation of the best results of modern scholarship within a broad but defined range of topics. Its value is enhanced by authoritative bibliography, compiled, like others in this series, with helpful critical comments.


My Review:
The Dawn of a New Era is the first book in The Rise of Modern Europe series. It covered all of Europe during 1250-1453. The chapters were organized by topic rather than chronologically.

The author talked about how this was a period of expansion in trading, which led to a growing middle class that had wealth. These merchants could then lend their money, which kings needed, so they were increasingly included along with the nobles and the clergy in government-related councils. He talked about how this worked out in various countries.

He talked about various peasant-class insurrections, the Hundred Years War, and the decline of the power of the Catholic church over governments. He talked about John Wyclif, the Lollards, and John Hus. He talked about the increased use of vernacular language in speech, literature, and university, church, and government documents. He talked about Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, and Giotto. He also talked about Marco Polo and the Far East as well as the eastern frontier of Europe.

Frankly, it reads like a textbook. Some parts, like the section on the insurrections, came across as disconnected facts that I'm unlikely to remember. However, I did find interesting the sections that showed how one thing lead to another (like the rise of middle class wealth led to their representation in the government).


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.


Friday, April 28, 2017

The PlantPure Nation Cookbook by Kim Campbell

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The PlantPure Nation Cookbook
by Kim Campbell


ISBN-13: 9781940363684
Paperback: 319 pages
Publisher: BenBella Books
Released: March 24, 2015

Source: Bought through Amazon.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The PlantPure Nation Cookbook brings the powerful, science-based approach to nutrition from the movie to your kitchen with some of the same mouthwatering recipes that kick-started the revolution, promoting the health benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet.

Author Kim Campbell is the wife of PlantPure Nation Executive Producer and Director Nelson Campbell and daughter-in-law of Dr. T. Colin Campbell, coauthor of The China Study and father of the modern plant-based nutrition movement. She is also a culinary contributor, recipe developer, and cooking instructor at Campbell Wellness, a health and wellness business. In PlantPure Nation Cookbook, she shares more than 150 extensively tested, 100% plant-based recipes that she has created and cultivated over 25 years of vegan cooking.

With a foreword by Dr. Campbell, The PlantPure Nation Cookbook is also filled with tips, tricks, and grocery lists for people interested in a whole food, plant-based diet.


My Review:
I've now tried about 15 of the recipes from the The PlantPure Kitchen by Kim Campbell. All of them turned out well and were so tasty that I didn't miss the meat, dairy, eggs, or added fat. My dad, who enjoys meat, agreed to go vegan for 10 days to lower his cholesterol. He discovered that he enjoyed these recipes so much that he's willing to eat them whenever we make them. So we decided to buy the author's other cookbook.

The PlantPure Nation Cookbook is a whole food, plant-based (vegan) cookbook containing 150 recipes. Again, this would be a good cookbook for someone new to cooking vegan meals from scratch. The author provided cooking tips and most of the recipes were pretty simple to do. She does use gluten-containing grains and tree nuts in some recipes.

The author described plant-based substitutes so you can convert regular recipes. There were also short educational articles (usually relating to the movie) at the end of most sections.

There were pictures of the finished product for each recipe, and they looked very tasty (which I can't always say about vegan foods). I've made several of these recipes now, and they're as tasty as the recipes I've tried from her other cookbook. They're full of flavor and have nice textures. There are times I think "that combination of foods doesn't sound yummy" yet it always turns out well. Overall, I'd recommend this cookbook to those interested in adding more whole-food, plant-based meals to their 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What Regency Women Did For Us by Rachel Knowles

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What Regency Women Did For Us
by Rachel Knowles


ISBN-13: 9781473882249
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Pen & Sword Books
Released: April 30, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Regency women inhabited a very different world from the one in which we live today. Considered intellectually inferior to men, they received little education and had very few rights. This book tells the inspirational stories of twelve women, from very different backgrounds, who overcame often huge obstacles to achieve success. These women were pioneers, philanthropists and entrepreneurs, authors, scientists and actresses women who made an impact on their world and ours. In her debut non-fiction work, popular history blogger Rachel Knowles tells how each of these remarkable ladies helped change the world they lived in and whose legacy is still evident today.


My Review:
What Regency Women Did For Us provides short biographies for 12 women who were remarkable in their time and who lived during the Regency period. They included business women, scientists, authors, an inventor, and women who used their money to help others.

For each woman, we learned a bit about their childhood, their adult life and career, their later life, how others described them, and their legacy. Some still have a wide, lasting impact (like Jane Austen), but others don't. Eleanor Coade, for example, ran a successful artificial stone business and some pieces made from this stone still exist. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting read to fans of short biographies.

Eleanor Coade (1733-1821) - business woman
Caroline Herschel (1750-1848) - astronomer
Sarah Siddons (1755-1831) - actress
Marie Tussaud (1761-1850) - business woman
Mary Parminter (1767-1849) - traveler, mountaineer, philanthropist
Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849) - author
Jane Marcet (1769-1858) - author
Sarah Guppy (1770-1852) - inventor
Jane Austen (1775-1817) - author
Harriot Mellon (1777-1837) actress, business woman
Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) - reformer, nursing
Mary Anning (1799-1847) - fossilist


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, April 17, 2017

The Truth About Vaccines Docu-series

Maybe you've heard some about parents who are delaying or refusing to vaccinate their children. When in the news, they're generally portrayed as anti-science, anti-reason, and endangering not only their children's health but everyone else as well. It's a "don't listen to them; only stupid people would" tactic that I'm seeing more and more often, which now makes me want to listen to the people dismissed that way. I mean, we all want what's best for our children; they must have reasons that seem very compelling to them. It makes sense to really listen to those concerns and see if they're good ones.

So I've been watching this well-made docu-series, The Truth about Vaccines. It's for people wanting to understand the concerns about vaccines. The host did a good job of arranging the material and clarifying the concerns so the viewer can follow and understand them. And, frankly, I'm finding it heart-breaking to watch.

Parents should be told about these things before their children are vaccinated, but we're simply told that vaccines are safe and have saved the world from deadly diseases. Well, they're clearly not safe. The question is if they're worth doing anyway. Some of the doctors interviewed believe that some of the vaccines are worth doing, but not on the CDC schedule. Even they question vaccines like the HPV, which sound good but end up doing more harm than good.

I really should have told people about this series sooner. I suspect they'll still have a day where you can access missed episodes, and the first two episodes give a great overview of the arguments. But I'd highly recommend watching what you can, even if you only can access the later episodes. Here's the link to sign up for a free, limited-time viewing: https://go.thetruthaboutvaccines.com/?a_aid=1619624&a_bid=988aa9d6

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Law and War by Jonathan Swan

book cover
Law and War
by Jonathan Swan


ISBN-13: 9781473853379
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Released: March 30, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Within days of the outbreak of hostilities of the Great War, the English government introduced the Defence of the Realm Act. With several amendments over the years, this all-encompassing legislation resulted in the creation of hundreds of subsidiary regulations, many of which affected the lives of ordinary people in a way they had never expected.

Many, including the magistrates themselves, fell foul of the myriad orders, covering billeting, licensing, lighting and rationing, which were enforced by the new special constables. At the same time, the conscription of the criminal classes saw a huge fall in the normal workload of the courts and the closure of many prisons.

The magistrates responded as best they could. Some magistrates went to war; some lost their lives. Others served in the many voluntary organisations and committees that appeared across the country, such as the Military Service Tribunals or the Volunteer Corps.

The end of the war saw a further change to the old order when the first women magistrates were appointed, marking the birth of modern magistracy.


My Review:
Law and War looked at the many challenges faced by England's magistrates during the Great War as many new laws--often poorly worded or not well thought out--were put into affect. The author explained how things worked before the war and then during the war. He included a detailed overview of how the legal system worked prior to the war, which I found especially useful since I'm not from England.

The author quoted the laws (in part or in full) and described some court cases showing how people accidentally or deliberately broke those laws. He talked about military law and martial law, the Defense of the Realm Act, laws about billeting, enemy aliens, drunkenness and alcohol, lights showing at night, enlistment and exemptions, desertion and absent without leave, food prices and rationing, and laws specifically affecting women and children. He also briefly talked about fraud, special constables, and a few other issues.

I thought the book was going to be more about how the role of magistrate changed because of the war, and he did cover this. However, most of the book looked at the laws that were passed and how they affected people. The information was interesting, so I'd recommend this book to people interested in this aspect of WWI.


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, March 21, 2017

Another World by Patricia Mainardi

book cover
Another World
by Patricia Mainardi


ISBN-13: 9780300219067
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press
Released: March 14, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Taking its title from the 1844 visionary graphic novel by J. J. Grandville, this groundbreaking book explores the invention of print media—including comics, caricature, the illustrated press, illustrated books, and popular prints—tracing their development as well as the aesthetic, political, technological, and cultural issues that shaped them.

The explosion of imagery from the late 18th century to the beginning of the 20th exceeded the print production from all previous centuries combined, spurred the growth of the international art market, and encouraged the cross-fertilization of media, subjects, and styles. Patricia Mainardi examines scores of imaginative and innovative prints, focusing on highly experimental moments of discovery, when artists and publishers tested the limits of each new medium, creating visual languages that extend to the comics and graphic novels of today.

Another World unearths a wealth of visual material, revealing a history of how our image-saturated world came into being, and situating the study of print culture firmly within the context of art history


My Review:
Another World looked at developments in printing technology in the 1800s (like lithography) and how this promoted the development and popularity of caricature, illustrated magazines, comics, illustrated books, and popular prints. The author mostly talked about developments in France and England.

The author looked at the early experiments in these forms, like how the format and graphic language of comics developed as various authors/illustrators tried new things. He also talked about the first people to make illustrated magazines, comics, etc., and the challenges they faced. He talked about who bought these prints, magazines, etc., and what people thought about them at the time.

There were many pictures of these early caricatures and prints and of pages from the illustrated magazines, books, and comics. The author interpreted these pictures, which was nice since the political statements or cultural context would often have been lost on me. I found the information to be very interesting and easy to understand (though it's academic in tone). I'd highly recommend this book to those interested in illustrated prints and printing in the 1800s.


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, March 16, 2017

City of Light, City of Poison by Holly Tucker

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City of Light, City of Poison
by Holly Tucker


ISBN-13: 9780393239782
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Released: March 21, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Appointed to conquer the “crime capital of the world,” the first police chief of Paris faces an epidemic of murder in the late 1600s. Assigned by Louis XIV, Nicolas de La Reynie begins by clearing the streets of filth and installing lanterns throughout Paris, turning it into the City of Light.

La Reynie unearths a tightly knit cabal of poisoners, witches, and renegade priests. As he exposes their unholy work, he soon learns that no one is safe from black magic—not even the Sun King. Nobles settle scores by employing witches to craft poisons and by hiring priests to perform dark rituals in Paris’s most illustrious churches and cathedrals.

From secret courtrooms to torture chambers, City of Light, City of Poison is a gripping true-crime tale of deception and murder based on thousands of pages of court transcripts and La Reynie’s compulsive note-taking, as well as on letters and diaries.


My Review:
City of Light, City of Poison is a true crime book about a rash of poisonings that occurred in Paris in the 1670s. The book started by describing how violent Paris could be and how the first police chief of Paris cleaned up and lighted the city along with other efforts to reduce crime. Then a good bit of the book was about the king's various mistresses and the political maneuvering of certain people who played a role in the later trials.

The author used information in the interrogation transcripts to also describe the activities of various main players in the poisoning scandals--the women supplying the poisons and the high-class women who bought their poisons, love potions, or spells. She described the questioning of these people in detail, including grisly details about their torture. Finally, even the king's mistresses were being accused of using the spells. The king didn't want these accusations getting out, so all records of the affair were destroyed--or so he thought. We're told how these records survived so that the book could even be written.

I had thought the book would be more about how the early police conducted investigations, but apparently that involved arresting suspects, putting them in unpleasant prison cells, and eventually questioning them. They did have some crude tests to identify any potential poisons that were found, but autopsy was pretty limited in its usefulness in terms of identifying death by poison. I could have lived without learning the graphic details about the torture involved. Other than that, though, it was written in an interesting way and I'd recommend the 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, February 28, 2017

Container Gardens by Southern Living Magazine

book cover
Container Gardens
by The Editors of Southern Living Magazine


ISBN-13: 978-0848745813
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Oxmoor House
Released: March 7, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description from Cover:
Over 200 Fresh Ideas for Indoor and Outdoor Inspired Plantings. Lack of space? Lack of time? No gardening experience? Need inspiration? Is it the doldrums of winter? No matter the issue, Southern Living magazine has the answer to make sure everyone has a beautiful garden year-round with the brand's newest book on container gardening. Container Gardening is a smart and sensible guide that covers the basics for the beginner as well as inspirational ideas for the experienced gardener. There are step-by-step techniques and tips on planting and care for indoor and outdoor container gardens.


My Review:
Container Gardens discussed indoor and outdoor container gardening, though the focus was mainly on outdoors. It's written for people in the South, zones 6-10, though much of the advice would be relevant anywhere. The book covered how to select containers, using potting soil, and choosing and arranging the plants. There were many pictures showing various arrangements along with the information about which plants were used. This would be a great book if you want advice or ideas on how to arrange the plants and the containers to best effect.

For outdoors, they talked about hanging pots, window boxes, on porches and such, on pedestals, on walls, and using a trellis. They talked about annual and perennial plants (including bulbs), small woody plants, and (briefly) succulents. For indoors, they mainly told you what plants might do well indoors and how to arrange these plants to look pretty. They very briefly talked about terrariums, air plants, and topiaries. Indoor ideas took up 32 pages, edible plants took up 42 pages (mainly listing information you'd find on a seed package), and outdoor plants took up 107 pages.

The book made container gardening sound like a breeze, but I already know it isn't that easy. I was disappointed that I didn't glean much to help with the problems I've had with growing perennial herbs in containers. Part of the problem is that I'm aiming for the long-term and this book focused on arrangements intended only for a season (like Fall) or, at most, Spring to Fall.


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, February 23, 2017

The History of Newgate Prison by Caroline Jowett

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The History of Newgate Prison
by Caroline Jowett


ISBN-13: 9781473876408
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Released: Feb. 28, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
As the place where prisoners, male and female, awaited trial, execution or transportation, Newgate was Britains most feared gaol for over 700 years. It probably best known today from the novels of Charles Dickens including Barnaby Rudge and Great Expectations.

But there is much is more to Newgate than nineteenth-century notoriety. In the seventeenth century it saw the exploits of legendary escaper and thief Jack Sheppard. Author Daniel Defoe who was imprisoned there for seditious libel, playwright Ben Jonson for murder, the Captain Kidd for piracy were among its most famous inmates.

This book takes you from the gaols twelfth-century beginnings to its final closure in 1904 and looks at daily life, developments in the treatment of prisoners from the use of torture to penal reform as well as major events in its history.


My Review:
The History of Newgate Prison covers the history of Newgate from its initial building to its closure. The author broke the history down into chunks of time: 1188-1499, 1500-1699, 1700-1769, 1770-1779, and 1800-1902.

She described how Newgate was run (administrative structure, fees for provisions and such, etc.), what life was like for the inmates, what crimes would result in a stay at Newgate, the punishments for those crimes, and how all of these things changed over the years. She described the attempted and accepted reforms to the system (including some changes to the legal system) as well as some famous or typical cases from each period.

I found the book to be a very interesting and informative without getting dry or academic in tone. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those interested in learning more about the goal/prison system in England during this time period.


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, February 14, 2017

Reconstructing Ancient Linen Body Armor by Gregory S. Aldrete

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Reconstructing Ancient Linen Body Armor
by Gregory S. Aldrete


ISBN-13: 9781421408194
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Released: March 1, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Alexander the Great led one of the most successful armies in history and conquered nearly the entirety of the known world while wearing armor made of cloth.

An extensive multiyear project in experimental archaeology, this pioneering study presents a thorough investigation of the linothorax, linen armor worn by the Greeks, Macedonians, and other ancient Mediterranean warriors. Because the linothorax was made of cloth, no examples of it have survived. As a result, even though there are dozens of references to the linothorax in ancient literature and nearly a thousand images of it in ancient art, this linen armor remains relatively ignored and misunderstood by scholars.

Combining traditional textual and archaeological analysis with hands-on reconstruction and experimentation, the authors unravel the mysteries surrounding the linothorax. They have collected and examined all of the literary, visual, historical, and archaeological evidence for the armor and detail their efforts to replicate the armor using materials and techniques that are as close as possible to those employed in antiquity. By reconstructing actual examples using authentic materials, the authors were able to scientifically assess the true qualities of linen armor for the first time in 1,500 years. The tests reveal that the linothorax provided surprisingly effective protection for ancient warriors, that it had several advantages over bronze armor, and that it even shared qualities with modern-day Kevlar.


My Review:
Reconstructing Ancient Linen Body Armor is a detailed study the authors did on linen corselets using ancient written and visual sources, and what they learned from their reconstructive archaeology efforts. The writing style was formal, yet the information was not difficult to understand or process. The authors realized that their audience was not solely academics, so they wrote in a manner accessible to everyone. They stated that they realized not all of the chapters in the book would equally interest all of their readers since this book would likely have a varied audience: academics, history buffs, reenactors, and others. I was initially interested in the reconstructive archaeology chapters, so I was surprised by how interesting I found the initial chapters.

There were a number of black and white photos and 6 color photos, mainly of ancient art showing this type of armor and of their experiments. The photos did an excellent job of showing what the text was describing. The main text was 168 pages long and used a somewhat denser, smaller-font text than "popular history" books. The next 38 pages were text description of the hundreds of images of linen body armor in ancient art that were used as the basis for this study so others who wish to can find them. The next 44 pages contained the "footnote" information. The biography and index each took 12 pages.

Chapter 1 discussed the mentions of linen armor in ancient texts and the images of Type IV/linen body armor in ancient art. It also described how flax was grown and processed in the ancient world. Chapter 2 discussed common elements seen in the visual sources and the different variations seen--things like how the shoulder straps were secured down, decorative elements, etc. Chapter 3 talked about what type of material was used to make this Type IV armor--only linen, only leather, a combination, metal inserts or scales? And if it was only linen, was it many layers of linen sewn together or many layers of linen glued together or stuffed and quilted linen?

Chapter 4 talked about their reconstructive archaeology efforts to make both sewn and laminated (glued layers of) linen armor. There was enough detail that I felt like I could do the process myself if I wished to. Chapter 5 talked about how they tested the armor, and chapter 6 gave the results (including both charts of numbers and a summary of the data in the text). They mainly tested with ancient arrows, but they also tried other weapons (swords, mace, spear, etc.). They also compared the linen results to tests on the effectiveness of bronze armor. Chapter 7 talked about the practical usability of the armor--mobility, ease of construction and repair, effectiveness of the repair, ability to withstand rain and river crossings, if it got hot when worn in full sun, the weight compared to bronze armor, etc. Chapter 8 talked about who might have made the linen for the armor and the cost in labor or money to produce a linen corselet.

It was interesting to learn how effective and usable linen body armor turned out to be. I felt that the authors gave a fair/balanced analysis of linen body armor and of the possibilities about its manufacture and use. I'd recommend this book to those who think it sounds 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Disobeying Hitler by Randall Hansen

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Disobeying Hitler
by Randall Hansen


ISBN-13: 9780385664639
Hardback: 480 pages
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Released: May 20, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Anyone with even a passing interest in the Second World War knows about the plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944. But the story of the great wave of resistance that arose in the year that followed--with far-reaching consequences--has never been told before.

Drawing on newly opened archives, acclaimed historian Randall Hansen shows that many high-ranking Nazis, and average German citizens in far greater numbers than previously recognized, reacted defiantly to the Fuhrer's by then manifest insanity. Together they spared cities from being razed, and prevented the needless obliteration of industry and infrastructure. Disobeying Hitler presents new evidence on three direct violations of orders made personally by Adolf Hitler: The refusal by the commander of Paris to destroy the city; Albert Speer's refusal to implement a scorched earth policy in Germany; and the failure to defend Hamburg against invading British forces.

Disobeying Hitler shows how the brave resistance of soldiers and civilians, under constant threat of death, was crucial for the outcome of the war. Their bravery saved countless lives and helped lay the foundations for European economic recovery--and continued peace


My Review:
Disobeying Hitler covered the fate of civilians and German troops in German-occupied territory from July 20, 1944 to May 9, 1945. From the title and description, I was expecting a focus on "human interest" stories...individual's stories and what made them disobey. Instead, much of the book was a series of "this person did this action at this place and this time" overviews of various military battles and related actions. If you're familiar with the battles of the war, this listing of military actions might help tie the other events together in your mind. However, I'm not a WWII buff. I'd have found the book more interesting if the battle movements were even more briefly summarized as they usually added little to the "disobeying Hitler" aspects of the story.

The tone of the writing was scholarly and attempted to set the record straight--based on actual evidence--on some claims of heroic disobedience by German leaders. The author pointed out what they did and didn't do, and what others (civilians) contributed to the outcome.

The first 72 (of 332) pages covered a brief summary of WWII events that lead up to Valkyrie and a description of the events of the July 20, 1944 assassination and coup attempt against Hitler. After that, we're told stories--connected by battle reports--of various cities being saved. Hitler had commanded that the cities would be essentially left in rubble as the German army died in heroic last stands. Not everyone thought this was a good idea (especially the civilians living in these cities). They risked their lives to save the civilian populations and the city itself, and this often also involved the surrender of German troops. We're also told of cities that were destroyed. The stories were often described as an overview of the action rather than going in-depth into the details, personalities, and motives. Perhaps these details do not exist in many of the cases.

I thought that the more civilian-focused view of the defeat of Germany was interesting, but the viewpoint was more distant and action-focused than I expected. It was interesting, but not as interesting as I expected it to be.


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, January 30, 2017

A History of Courtship by Tania ODonnell

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A History of Courtship
by Tania ODonnell


ISBN-13: 9781781593486
ebook: 176 pages
Publisher: Pen and Sword History
Released: Jan. 27, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Tania O’Donnell takes the reader on a journey from medieval Courtly Love, through to the sexual license of the Restoration, and Victorian propriety. Learn about courting, writing romantic love letters and poems, appropriate gifts, proposing, and more. In the 14th century young men tried to impress the ladies with their footwear, donning shoes with pointed toes so long that they had to be secured with whalebone—presumably because size mattered! The author also recounts tales of classic romantic mistakes and scandals.


My Review:
A History of Courtship is a survey of courtship practices--mainly from the 1300s to the 1800s in England. The author described how couples met, beauty and clothing fads, acceptable gifts, improper behavior, the role of chaperons, love poems and letters, and areas of conflict after marriage. She also looked at the differences in practices between the rich and the poor. She described some scandals and other unusual stories to illustrate various behaviors. The material came from sources like diaries, guides on things like etiquette or letter writing, and preserved love poems and letters.

Keep in mind that this book isn't meant to be an exhaustive source on courtship, and the subtitle is a bit misleading. It's not about seduction techniques, and she didn't really cover 800 years. Most of the information was from the 1500s to late 1800s. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting and entertaining 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, January 24, 2017

The PlantPure Kitchen by Kim Campbell

book cover
The PlantPure Kitchen
by Kim Campbell


ISBN-13: 9781944648343
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: BenBella Books
Released: Jan. 24, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
The film PlantPure Nation has helped foster a growing community of whole food, plant-based eaters. Key to its success has been the PlantPure Director of Culinary Education Kim Campbell’s inspiring and delicious recipes like those she shared in her 2015 cookbook, The PlantPure Nation Cookbook. Now Campbell is back with even more inventive recipes bursting with flavor.

Campbell shares tons of new recipes that will turn any plant-based eater into a chef with ease. With compassion for the challenges of following a plant-pure diet, Campbell lends advice about the best natural sweeteners, the most useful kitchen tools for plant-based cooking, vegan-friendly substitutions for making recipes egg-free, dairy-free, meat-free, and even gluten-free, and whole a lot more.

From dips and spreads, like Crockpot Apple Butter, to classic dinners, like Welsh Rarebit, The PlantPure Kitchen’s recipes will inspire you to lead a more plant-pure life.


My Review:
The PlantPure Kitchen is a whole food, plant-based (vegan) cookbook containing 130 recipes. This would be a good cookbook for someone new to cooking vegan meals from scratch. The author provided cooking tips, suggested only a relatively small number of tools, and most of the recipes were pretty simple to do. While she used gluten-containing grains and tree nuts in some recipes, she suggested easy modifications for people with those concerns.

The author started by describing some commonly used foods in vegan cooking and how to use them. She also described plant-based substitutes so you can convert regular recipes. She gave shopping tips and tips on food storage and food prep. There were also a few, short educational articles at the start of each section.

Each recipe had a picture of the finished product, and they looked very tasty (which I can't always say about vegan foods). The recipes included some vegan versions of holiday or popular foods. There were 10 breakfast recipes, 7 bread and muffin recipes, 10 burger, sandwich, and wrap recipes, 15 dressing and sauce recipes, 14 salad recipes, 11 appetizer, dip, and spread recipes, 10 soup and stew recipes, 27 entrees, 11 sides, and 14 deserts. Overall, I'd recommend this cookbook to those interested in adding more whole-food, plant-based meals to their diet.

Update: I've tried several of these recipes now. They've all turned out to taste very good, and they weren't difficult to make. In fact, the "I won't give up meat" eater in our family tried each of the dishes because they looked so good and didn't look that different from his food. He agreed he'd eat those dishes when we had 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.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Teaming with Fungi by Jeff Lowenfels

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Teaming with Fungi
by Jeff Lowenfels


ISBN-13: 9781604697292
Hardback: 172 pages
Publisher: Timber Press
Released: Jan. 11, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Teaming with Fungi is an important guide to mycorrhizae and the role they play in agriculture, horticulture, and hydroponics. Almost every plant in a garden forms a relationship with fungi, and many plants would not exist without their fungal partners. By better understanding the relationship, gardeners can take advantage of the benefits of fungi, which include an increased uptake in nutrients, resistance to drought, earlier fruiting, and more. Learn how the fungi interact with plants, how to grow their own, and how best to employ them in the home garden.


My Review:
Teaming with Fungi is about using beneficial fungi in crop agriculture, gardening, nurseries, forests, lawns, and hydroponics. The author described the benefits to using mycorrhizae when growing many types of plants and what practices can support or disrupt their growth.

He named specific fungi known to work well with certain plants and described how to best apply them to your plants. He even described how to collect and grow your own if you don't want to buy them, though it looked like a lot of work to me. He also included a technical section on the biology of beneficial fungi and a detailed explanation about how they interact with plants.

Last year, I tried to use mycorrhizae in my organic gardening but felt like I hadn't applied them correctly to some perennial plants. Reading this book did enlighten me as to what to do to get the most out of beneficial fungi, and I'll feel more confident using them in the future.


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, January 10, 2017

Eat Wheat by John Douillard

book cover
Eat Wheat
by John Douillard


ISBN-13: 9781683500117
Hardback: 325 pages
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Released: Jan. 10, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Has gluten been found guilty without a fair trial? Eat Wheat presents the science on the other side of the gluten-free aisle. For example, ancient wheat has been shown to have twice the gluten content of modern wheat yet decreased inflammation two-fold and lowered cholesterol and blood sugar. So how could the more glutinous grain actually be healthier?

Dr. Douillard has seen more than 100,000 patients in his natural health practice, helping to improve their digestive systems and begin to eat wheat again. He explains how a breakdown in digestion has damaged the intestinal wall and leaked undigested foods and environmental toxins into the body’s lymphatic system, causing “grain brain” symptoms and food allergies. Although eliminating wheat and dairy from your diet may help your symptoms, it’s a temporary solution.

The book addresses the root cause: the inability to digest well and break down harmful pollutants and toxins that can lead to more serious health concerns. Backed by more than 600 scientific studies, Eat Wheat is a revolutionary guidebook to regaining your digestive strength and safely bringing wheat and dairy back into your diet.

It will also reveal the benefits of wheat and dairy; help you navigate around food toxins in modern wheat and dairy; detail how to flush congested lymphatics linked to food intolerance symptoms; teach you to follow natural digestive circadian cycles; help bring your blood sugar back into balance, and teach you proven exercise and detox techniques to reboot strong digestion and achieve optimal health and vitality.


My Review:
I've heard about gluten being linked to increased intestinal permeability in many people. Yet whole grains (including gluten-containing grains) are a part of the healthy Mediterranean diet. So who's right?

Eat Wheat looked briefly at the scientific studies that indicate benefit or harm from gluten or dairy. And it's clearly not as simple as "gluten is bad." The author explained the "leaky gut" link that gluten-free advocates are talking about but then pointed to a deeper, root cause of food sensitivities and digestive troubles--in the lymphatic system.

He explained how the lymphatic system works, why it might not be working well, and what you can do to heal your lymphatic system and leaky gut. He included some Ayurvedic principles, like eating more seasonally, but cited scientific studies to back up many of his recommendations. He sometimes recommend Indian foods and herbs, but you can find many of these in a good health food store. I felt like a person could more easily (and more cheaply) follow his healing program than some of the "heal your leaky gut" programs I've read about.

I felt that the author had many convincing arguments, and I intend to read through the book again. My brother's girlfriend has repeatedly done "elimination diets" and removed foods (including removing gluten) to the point that she can hardly eat anything. This book should help her heal so that she can tolerate many of those foods again. I'd also recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand leaky gut or the current gluten-free trend.


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, January 3, 2017

The Oxygen Cure by William S. Maxfield

book cover
The Oxygen Cure
by Dr. William S. Maxfield


ISBN-13: 9781630060510
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Humanix Books
Released: Jan. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley & Amazon:
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment which enhances the body's natural healing process by inhalation of 100% oxygen in a total body chamber, where atmospheric pressure is increased and controlled. In the United States, the FDA currently recognizes hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) for 14 conditions, including decompression sickness, embolism, crush injury, bone infection, burns, wound healing, severe anemia, and several others.

Now, in The Oxygen Cure, hyperbaric expert William S. Max eld, M.D., will convince you that HBOT is a vastly underused modality that deserves to take its place among frontline medical treatments. As a holistic treatment, HBOT targets the underlying disease or condition, not just the symptoms. The Oxygen Cure reveals how hundreds of studies on HBOT conducted around the world prove it works at the cellular level to help or heal many more conditions.

Full of hope-inspiring case histories and expert findings, The Oxygen Cure shows how HBOT not only benefits the sick and injured (including our wounded veterans), but may also reduce our country’s staggeringly high medical costs. HBOT often provides a safe alternative to drug therapy and dangerous invasive procedures.

Dr. Maxwell provides his recommendations for how HBOT can help treat conditions as varied as burn care, emphysema, arthritis, fibromyalgia, wound healing, stroke, congestive heart failure, autism, cancer, diabetes, and more. He offers strategies about exactly how HBOT should be administered and recommendations on where to seek the best treatments.


My Review:
The Oxygen Cure describes how hyperbaric oxygen therapy works, what it's used to treat in the USA, and additional conditions that it can be used for based on studies from around the world. The author looked at each type of injury or disease (like traumatic brain injury or burns) and described how HBOT has been successfully used. He included case studies describing the person's condition, their treatment, and the improvement seen when using HBOT.

While doctors could use this to become educated about how HBOT can be used, the main audience seemed to be the average person who is looking for help with some of these conditions. He described some clinics where they're informed about and willing to treat FDA approved and non-FDA approved problems, about what it'd cost, and even some ideas on how to potentially get your insurance to help pay for the treatments.

The author is trying to increase awareness so that more people can benefit from HBOT and hopefully prompt the FDA to recognize that HBOT can be safely and effectively used to treat many more conditions. It's very sad that our wounded veterans aren't getting more access to HBOT. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those interested in learning about HBOT and what it can do.


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.