Friday, November 24, 2017

Life on the Victorian Stage by Nell Darby

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Life on the Victorian Stage
by Nell Darby


ISBN-13: 9781473882430
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Released: Nov. 19, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
The expansion of the press in Victorian Britain meant more pages to be filled, and more stories to be found. Life on the Victorian Stage: Theatrical Gossip looks at how the everyday lives of Victorian performers and managers were used for such a purpose during the nineteenth century. Viewed through the prism of Victorian newspapers, and in particular through their gossip columns, this book looks at the perils facing actors from financial disasters or insecurity to stalking, from libel cases to criminal trials.

The book looks at how technological developments enabled the press to expose the behaviour of actors overseas, such as when actor Fred Solomon's' bigamy in America was revealed. It looks at the pressures facing actors, which could lead to suicide, and the impact of the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act on what the newspapers covered, with theatrical divorce cases coming to form a significant part of their coverage in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Other major events, from theatre disasters to the murder of actor William Terriss, are explored within the context of press reportage and its impact.


My Review:
Life on the Victorian Stage looked at newspaper coverage and court case records regarding actors, actresses, and theatre-related disputes in Victorian (1837-1902) England. Many of the cases were from the 1880s and 90s, partly because of better communication about incidents that happened outside of Britain. The author also talked about changes in newspaper coverage, communication technology, and laws that impacted what was reported.

The book initially looked at court cases involving things like licensing theatres, libel against actors/actresses, bankruptcy, and breach of (acting) contracts. The author then relayed stories involving fan letters, stalkers, threats by audience members to make noise and ruin a performance, violence or theft in and outside of the theatre, charges of prostitution occurring at a theatre, and murder of or by actors. He then talked about the personal lives of the actors and actresses: sex, seduction, breach of promise (to marry) cases, child support cases, marriages, divorce, bigamy, deaths, and theatre disasters (like fire).

I found some of these sections a little repetitive as the cases cited were rather similar. Other sections were more varied or contained more information, which made them more interesting to read. Overall, though, it was an 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.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn by Margaret Willes

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The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn
by Margaret Willes


ISBN-13: 9780300221398
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press
Released: Sept. 19, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
An intimate portrait of two pivotal Restoration figures during one of the most dramatic periods of English history. Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn are two of the most celebrated English diarists. They were also extraordinary men and close friends. Through the richly documented lives of two remarkable men, Willes revisits the history of London and of England in an age of regicide, revolution, fire, and plague to reveal it also as a time of enthralling possibility.

Pepys was earthy and shrewd, while Evelyn was a genteel aesthete, but both were drawn to intellectual pursuits. Brought together by their work to alleviate the plight of sailors caught up in the Dutch wars, they shared an inexhaustible curiosity for life and for the exotic. Willes explores their mutual interests—diary-keeping, science, travel, and a love of books—and their divergent enthusiasms, Pepys for theater and music, Evelyn for horticulture and garden design.


My Review:
The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn is a biography of both Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn. The author quoted from their diaries and personal correspondence, but she generally summarized what was said (probably because that's easier to read and understand).

She divided their lives into several themes: public careers and wider context of what was going on, descriptions of their family and major friends, their involvement in the Royal Society and interest in science, Pepys' interest in the theatre and music, Evelyn's interest in gardens and gardening and his books on horticulture, and their libraries (books, ballads, prints, etc.). The author also threw in some information about tea, coffee, and chocolate along with other imported consumer goods (including flowers and other plants).

These men lived through the Restoration of Charles II, the plague, and the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was interesting to see their views on what was going on and to get a sense of what life was like at that time. It's a quick look at what was happening and what some people's attitudes and interests were like. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those interested in this time period in England.


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.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

An Herbalist's Guide to Formulary by Holly Bellebuono

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An Herbalist's Guide to Formulary
by Holly Bellebuono


ISBN-13: 9780738753034
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
Released: Nov. 8, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Explore the ancient art of formulary. Organized by body systems, this essential guide provides an easy understanding of physiology and explains how herbs function, helping you design a holistic treatment for acute and chronic conditions. Bellebuono shares her step-by-step method of formulary with examples to illustrate the art of combining plants for specific illnesses, preventative care, and overall wellness.


My Review:
An Herbalist's Guide to Formulary is not a book you can use by itself unless you have an extensive knowledge of herbs. The author provided only very brief information about the herbs, focusing mainly on how the human body works (digestive, cardiovascular, brain & nervous, immune, hormones, etc.) and her formulas. By which I mean, use 2 parts tonic (supportive, long-term usage herb) to 1 part tier 2 herb to 1 part tier 3 herb to 1 part tier 4 herb.

So she'd talk about the respiratory system, for instance, and then list some herbs (tier 1, tier 2, etc.) that would be helpful for various problems with the respiratory system. She'd even suggest specific formulas (2 parts yarrow, 1 part sage, 1 part....taken as tincture). However, she didn't suggest how much of the herb to use (or even say how much was safe). The closest she got to giving amounts was "a small amount." As in, use kelp only in "small amounts due to high sodium content." (And she didn't mention the high iodine content here, which is a greater concern.) She didn't suggest how often or long one might take the formula. She didn't explain how to mix the herbs or make pills, tinctures, etc. She assumed you already know all this about herbs.

Also, I found enough basic errors that I stopped trusting her information. While she generally had good information, she'd say things like constipation is caused by too much fiber (but the opposite is true). She suggested eating yogurt when you have an ulcer, but the current medical advice is to avoid all dairy when you have an ulcer. In one spot, she said to avoid dairy for that condition, then a few sentences later she suggested eating yogurt. She also said some things that were confusing due to not fully explaining what she meant. So she said several times that you shouldn't take garlic long-term, only much later explaining that she was referring to raw garlic. I believe I was reading an advanced reader copy, so maybe the errors will be fixed in the final copy.


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 6, 2017

Dickens and Christmas by Lucinda Hawksley

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Dickens and Christmas
by Lucinda Hawksley


ISBN-13: 9781526712264
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Released: Oct. 31, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Charles Dickens survived childhood poverty to become the most adored and influential man of his time. Written by one of his direct descendants, this book explores not only Dickens’s most famous work, A Christmas Carol, but also his all-too-often overlooked other Christmas novellas. It takes the readers through the seasonal short stories he wrote, for both adults and children, includes much-loved festive excerpts from his novels, uses contemporary newspaper clippings, and looks at Christmas writings by Dickens’ contemporaries.

To give an even more personal insight, readers can discover how the Dickens family itself celebrated Christmas, through the eyes of Dickens’s unfinished autobiography, family letters, and his children’s memoirs. Readers will journey through the Christmases Dickens enjoyed as a child and a young adult, through to the ways in which he and his family celebrated the festive season at the height of his fame. It also explores the ways in which his works have gone on to influence how the festive season is celebrated around the globe.


My Review:
Dickens and Christmas is a biography of Dicken's life with a focus on Christmastime--how his family celebrated Christmas at various times in his life, what books he released, and even changes during his lifetime in how people celebrated Christmas (partly due to the influence of his Christmas stories). The author quoted from books, articles, and Dicken's personal letters to show what Christmas was like for his family and in general.

The main focus was on Dicken's life and included details about his writing. We get summaries and extensive quoting from his first five Christmas releases (A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life, and The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain) and excerpts of the Christmas scenes from his other novels and short stories. Mixed in with the biographical details were tidbits about traditional Christmas foods, decorations, presents, and activities. You couldn't create your own Dicken's-style Christmas from this book, but you can get an idea of what it was like.


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, November 3, 2017

Everyday Watercolor by Jenna Rainey

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Everyday Watercolor
by Jenna Rainey


ISBN-13: 9780399579721
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Released: Oct. 10, 2017

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

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
This guided watercolor-a-day book is perfect for beginning watercolor artists. From strokes to shapes, this book covers the basics and helps painters gain confidence in themselves along with inspiration to develop their own style over the course of 30 days. Featuring colorful contemporary art from Mon Voir design agency founder and Instagram trendsetter Jenna Rainey.


My Review:
Everyday Watercolor is a how-to for those who want to learn Rainey's bleed-painting watercolor style. In this technique, you paint in the darkest part, then use clean water to wet the lighter areas, and a final stroke joins the two to create a bleed of the dark into the wet areas. She claims you can control the process, but I found her hints about this so vague it was just a matter of trying different things until I liked what I was getting.

Each lesson lasted between 30-90 minutes, with the first few lessons being shortest. In the lessons, you learn how to paint various leaves, flowers (roses, paradise flower), plants (trees, cacti), fruit (papaya, dragon fruit), animals (chickens, hummingbird, toucan, elephant, macaw), and several landscape or collage-like paintings using these objects.

The book is aimed at complete beginners to watercolor, but she wants you to buy expensive, professional-quality watercolor paper, paints, and brushes. I really liked the idea of teaching the basics (color theory, basic strokes for round brushes, etc.) during actual painting practice, but I think a complete beginner would find the book confusing and frustrating at times.

Some examples: On page 13, she tells you to include both warm and cool colors without explaining these new terms (until a later lesson). The illustrations often had confusing subtitles, like two swatches of green paint with "Winsor Green + Lemon Yellow Deep" under them. The way the text was placed, I initially thought one swatch was supposed to be the green and the other the yellow rather than two greens that you can make using those two paints. She frequently urged "add lots of water," leaving it mostly up to the reader to figure out how to keep the paint from escaping the desired bounds. As her technique requires "lots of water" yet "not too much," more advise on this from the very beginning would have been useful to a complete beginner. However, artists who are more used to the runaway tenancy of watercolor will probably turn out some nice finished lessons.


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 31, 2017

River Master by Cecil Kuhne

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River Master
by Cecil Kuhne


ISBN-13: 9781682680742
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Countryman Press
Released: Oct. 31, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
In 1869, Civil War veteran and amputee Major John Wesley Powell led an expedition down the uncharted Colorado River through the then-nameless Grand Canyon. This is the story of what started as a geological survey, but ended in danger, chaos, and blood.

The men were inexperienced and ill-equipped, and they faced unimaginable peril. Along the way there was death, mutiny, and abject terror, but Powell persevered and produced a masterwork of adventure writing still held in the highest regard by the boatmen who follow his course today.

With never-before-used primary sources and firsthand experience navigating Powell’s legendary route, Cecil Kuhne brings this remarkable chapter of frontier history to life.


My Review:
River Master describes the 97-day 1869 Powell expedition down the uncharted Colorado River. They went into the unknown with the intent to map and do a geological survey of the Colorado River. These ten men had never been on a river, let alone handled whitewater. Their boats were less than ideal for this trip. Yet not a single one drowned, despite many dangerous mishaps.

The author quoted from or summarized the information in the journals written by the men during the trip and records of later interviews with them about the trip. He describe what the trip was like, including the friction caused by running out of food, the danger, and personality conflicts. He also talked about James White's earlier trip on the Colorado River and some later expeditions, including one in 18871/72 led by Major Powell. He talked about Powell's official report, which was written like a journal but was much more colorful than the terse entries made during the actual trip.

The intent of this book was to accurately portray what happened on the trip, so the description was interesting and exciting but didn't include the questionable stories from the later official report. While I enjoyed this amazing story, I think whitewater rafters could better appreciate just what these men went through since much of what was recorded talked about the rapids they encountered. 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Christmas by Judith Flanders

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Christmas
by Judith Flanders


ISBN-13: 9781250118349
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Released: Oct. 24, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Christmas has always been a magical time. Or has it? Thirty years after the first recorded Christmas, the Pope was already warning that too many people were spending the day, not in worship, but in partying and eating to excess. By 1616, the playwright Ben Jonson was nostalgically remembering Christmas in the old days, certain that it had been better then.

Christmas is all things to all people: a religious festival, a family celebration, a period of eating and drinking. In Christmas: A Biography, bestselling author and acclaimed social historian Judith Flanders casts a sharp eye on myths, legends and history, deftly moving from the origins of the holiday in the Roman empire, through Christmas trees in central Europe, to what might be the first appearance of Santa Claus – in Switzerland – to draw a picture of the season as it has never been seen before.


My Review:
Christmas is a history of how Christmas was celebrated, mainly in the British Isles, Germany, and America. The author repeatedly stated that Christmas was never primarily a religious holiday as many non-religious-focused activities have always occurred on the day. As most people didn't get the day off work for most of Christmas history, this seems an odd argument. The author came across as believing that Christians who push for more focus on the intended purpose of the holiday (celebrating Christ's birth) shouldn't do so because it's never been celebrated solely by people spending the day in worship and church services.

The author talked about when a day was first chosen to celebrate Christ's birth up to recent times. She examined written sources for what was actually done on Christmas (and New Years) and organized this information in roughly chronological order. It would have been easier for me to remember the progressions if the development of Christmas trees, for example, had been examined all at once rather than in chunks throughout several chapters.

She focused on European customs, mostly English, Scottish, German, and how these mixed and were added to in America after it was colonized. Basically, different areas had different customs or variations of a custom. Many of these customs were not specific to Christmas but became attached to the Christmas season. It wasn't until the mid-1800s that people created an ideal, traditional Christmas (which never existed) and increasingly standardized Christmas legends and activities.

She covered the origins and development of Santa Claus, Christmas trees, decorations, carols, cards, and candles, nativity plays and scenes, holiday foods and alcoholic drinks, gift-giving and wrapping gifts, advertising, parades, and holding special Christmas religious services. She explained kissing boughs, wassailing, mumming, role switching, and 12th Night activities. She talked about how Christmas was banned in several areas for a while and how the day changed into a child-focused holiday. She talked about how Washington Irving's and Charles Dicken's fictional depictions influence how people celebrated Christmas and how radio, film, and TV movies further created new Christmas traditions.


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, October 20, 2017

Mehndi for the Inspired Artist by Heather Caunt-Nulton

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Mehndi for the Inspired Artist
by Heather Caunt-Nulton, Alex Morgan, Iqra Qureshi, Sonia Sumaira


ISBN-13: 9781633222410
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster
Released: Oct. 17, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Mehndi for the Inspired Artist presents artists with a step-by-step approach to creating a variety of skillful designs, including traditional and globally influenced patterns, as well as modern mehndi designs.

Starting with a brief introduction, readers will learn how to create a range of henna designs following the easy, step-by-step demonstrations of professional henna artists. Artists will then learn to incorporate their designs into a variety of DIY art projects, as well as transfer them to a range of surfaces and decorative items for a unique, personal touch. Using a variety of tools and materials, Mehndi for the Inspired Artist is sure to inspire endless DIY craft projects with both traditional and contemporary mehndi patterns that will delight henna enthusiasts of all ages.


My Review:
Mehndi for the Inspired Artist provides instruction on how to create basic mehndi patterns and how to use these designs on do-it-yourself projects (usually using acrylic paint instead of henna). The authors started by briefly explaining the history of using henna to create designs on the skin. They included a recipe on how to make your own henna paste and how to use it on skin.

The various artists then gave stroke-by-stroke pictures showing how to draw some basic mehndi designs (paisley, several flowers and vines, an arch, mandala, peacock, bands and borders, braids, etc.). Even a child could follow the directions and create the patterns.

Next were the step-by-step projects with pictures illustrating each step, and the end results looked beautiful. I expect a beginner's projects won't look quite so neat (as in, clean lines), but everything takes practice. The projects included decorating an envelope, candle, picture frame, wooden monogram letter, animal-skin tambourine, wooden jewelry box, wooden table coaster, charger plate, mason jar, and making pendants. They didn't explain where you might get some of the less-available supplies, which might have been useful, but I suppose you can find them online.

I've used henna to create temporary body art in the past, but I wasn't using traditional designs. I enjoyed learning more about how to create traditional designs and make up your own variations. I'd recommend this book to those interested in basic mehndi patterns and designs.


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 17, 2017

Journey by DK Publishing Staff

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Journey
by DK Publishing Staff


ISBN-13: 9781465464149
Hardcover: 440 pages
Publisher: DK
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
An illustrated account of human movement, travel, exploration, and scientific discovery—from the first trade networks in ancient Sumer to the epic Voyager missions.

Human journeys arise from all manner of impulses, from migration and the search for food, to pilgrimages, trade, scientific curiosity, or simply the quest for adventure. Journey traces each through lively accounts, alongside the biographies of conquerors, explorers, and travelers; stories of technological innovation; literary journals; and works of art. Themed spreads and feature panels capture the romance of travel with evocative accounts, archive images, historic maps, and artifacts, while catalog spreads add glamour and nostalgia, showcasing objects and documents associated with the rise of travel, such as postcards and passports. A textured cover with a picture-perfect image and shiny finishes make it ideal for gift-giving.

Produced in association with the Smithsonian Institution.


My Review:
Journey is an illustrated book reviewing the history of travel. The book started with ancient civilizations (Minoan, Egypt, Polynesian, Persian, Greek, Asian, Roman, etc.) and discussed the reach of their trading and the technology they used (like the type of boat and how accurate their maps or traveler's tales were).

Then we moved chronologically through history to learn about famous explorers, well-known journeys, and accounts of various travels. We learned about the rise of new technologies (like trains, bicycles, or airplanes), how they changed over time, and how they changed society. We also learned motives for travel (usually trade related), about popular trips like the Grand Tour or popular destinations like spas, and about things that developed to support travel (like highways and hotels). We learned about when a technology--like flight--first came about, but also why and when it became widespread or popular.

There were pictures of things like reconstructed ancient boats, various models of cars or airplanes, travel posters, famous explorers, historical maps and maps of the route taken by the explorers, paintings of various events, and more. At the back of the book, there were brief biographies of famous explorers and travelers. After that were listings of various trips (like to the Wall of China or along the Livingston trail) and the sights you might see. Overall, I greatly enjoyed this interesting and informative book and would recommend it.


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, October 10, 2017

Held Hostage by Dennis Flynn

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Held Hostage
by Dennis Flynn


ISBN-13: 9781947290075
ebook: 287 pages
Publisher: WildBlue Press
Released: Aug. 22, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
What do you say to prevent someone from committing ‘suicide-by-cop’? Or has a gun pointed at a hostage? Or an armed man who has barricaded himself in a hotel room? Or a despondent woman who is threatening to kill herself?

Veteran police negotiator Lieutenant Dennis Flynn spent nearly two decades responding to more than a thousand of these and other high-intensity incidents with the Crisis Negotiations Team in Las Vegas, Nevada. His goal? Bring ‘em out alive!

A behind-the-scenes view of life-and-death situations that police negotiators face and how they were resolved one way or the other under the bright lights and glitter of Sin City.


My Review:
Held Hostage is about how hostage negotiators (now called Crisis Negotiations Teams) work in Las Vegas. Lieutenant Dennis Flynn worked as a part of the negotiator teams in Las Vegas from 1998 to 2015. He responded to over a thousand incidents, including suicide attempts, barricade situations, pseudo-hostage and hostage situations.

He started by briefly explaining about how he got interested in being a negotiator, the training he took, and the different positions/jobs on the team. He then provided details about ten incidents that he worked. He described the situation that the police responded to, what the scene was like when the CNT arrived, what they did, and why. He also analyzed what could have been done better and any changes they made to their procedures based on what they learned. He included pictures of the places these incidents took place so you can see what they were dealing with.

The author wrote in a way that a person unfamiliar with police, SWAT, or negotiator tools and terminology can easily understand what was going on. I better understand the challenging situations they face and how they deal with them. I'm amazed that they will spend hours talking people out of committing suicide, but horrified that passersby will call out to these hurting people to jump. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those interested in what negotiators 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.


Friday, October 6, 2017

The Last Christians by Andreas Knapp

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The Last Christians
by Andreas Knapp


ISBN-13: 9780874860627
Paperback: 233 pages
Publisher: Plough Publishing House
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Amazon:
Andreas Knapp, a priest who works with refugees in Germany, travelled to camps for displaced people in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq to collect stories of survivors – and to seek answers to troubling questions about the link between religion and violence. He found Christians who today still speak Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, the language of Jesus. The uprooted remnant of ancient churches, they doggedly continue to practice their faith despite the odds. Their devastating eyewitness reports make it clear why millions are fleeing the Middle East. Yet, remarkably, though these last Christians hold little hope of ever returning to their homes, they also harbor no thirst for revenge.

Inside Syria and Iraq, and even along the refugee trail, they’re a religious minority persecuted for their Christian faith. Outside the Middle East, they’re suspect because of their nationality.

The kidnapping, enslavement, torture, and murder of Christians by the Islamic State, or ISIS, have been detailed by journalists, as have the jihadists' deliberate efforts to destroy the cultural heritage of a region that is the cradle of Christianity. But some stories run deep, and without a better understanding of the religious and historical roots of the present conflict, history will keep repeating itself century after century.


My Review:
The Last Christians is about Syriac Orthodox Christians and other Christian groups that have existed in the Middle East long before Islam. The author is a German priest who came in contact with Christian refugees from Iraq and Syria. In 2015, he traveled to the Kurdish region of northern Iraq and collected the stories of those he met (most of whom fled Mosul when Islamic State fighters took over). He also helps Christian refugees in Germany. He relates their stories, plus stories about similar events in 1915 when the Ottoman Empire (specifically, Turkey and Kurds) carried out a holocaust against the Christians living there.

The author wants to inform people about the history and persecution of these Christians and to ask people to help them even though they're not Protestant or Roman Catholic. His suggestions on how to help included ways to reach out to Christian refugees (which seemed more aimed at European countries) and trying to get Muslims to condemn violence in the name of religion. Syriac Orthodox Christians are dedicated to nonviolence and forgiving their enemies, and the author feels that the rest of the world has a lot to learn from their example.

While it's rather depressing reading, overall, I'd recommend this book--especially to those who are in a position to help these refugees.


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, October 3, 2017

The Magic of Food by Michael T. Murray

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The Magic of Food
by Michael T. Murray


ISBN-13: 9781451662979
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Atria Books
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Food affects our body, mind, and health in many remarkable ways. And certain foods are almost magical. Michael Murray’s years of research and clinical experience have led to a definitive understanding of how specific foods affect us. He presents his findings on phytochemicals and other nutrients and why they’re the new “vitamins”; discusses specific healing foods; and explains the principles to follow for eating the most magical foods every day. Here also are practical and prescriptive recipes and helpful guidelines for better and delicious eating.


My Review:
The Magic of Food is basically another "follow my healthy diet" book. I'm interested in "foods that act together to produce a total effect...that is greater than the sum of the individual foods" (from the ARC book description). However, what I got was a list of individual foods and the research done on the health benefits of that food or phytonutrient that food contains. And the book was very scientific; he even explained the chemical structure of fats and the structural differences between Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9 fats.

The author started by looking at several societies that live long, healthy lives and briefly explained what foods he thought contributed to that health. Then he looked at good fats versus bad fats, superfood fruits and veggies, and the health benefits of various common spices and herbs. He explained his recommend eating habits then provided some sample meal plans and some recipes. He recommended eating more (and a variety of) plant foods, more fish and less red meat, and eating 3 meals and 3 snacks each day. At the end, he included a list of some health problems (like anemia, constipation, hives, MS, and RA) along with some studies about what foods might help that condition.

While he recommended avoiding GMO canola, for some reason he didn't talk about other GMOs like soy when he suggested foods like tofu and soy milk. He spent some time talking about Glycemic Load and strongly recommended eating low GL foods, then he recommended juicing fruits and veggies (which removes the fiber and makes them into higher GL foods). And then he suggested using a fiber supplement to get enough fiber in your diet. So that didn't seem logical to me. Overall, though, the information was good.


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, October 2, 2017

Fire Road by Kim Phuc Phan Thi

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Fire Road
by Kim Phuc Phan Thi


ISBN-13: 9781496424303
Trade Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Tyndale Momentum
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
"Get out! Run! We must leave this place! They are going to destroy this whole place! Go, children, run first! Go now!" These were the final shouts nine year-old Kim Phuc heard before her world dissolved into flames—before napalm bombs fell from the sky, burning away her clothing and searing deep into her skin. It’s a moment forever captured, an iconic image that has come to define the horror and violence of the Vietnam War. Kim was left for dead in a morgue; no one expected her to survive the attack. Napalm meant fire, and fire meant death.

Against all odds, Kim lived—but her journey toward healing was only beginning. When the napalm bombs dropped, everything Kim knew and relied on exploded along with them: her home, her country’s freedom, her childhood innocence and happiness. The coming years would be marked by excruciating treatments for her burns and unrelenting physical pain throughout her body, which were constant reminders of that terrible day. Kim survived the pain of her body ablaze, but how could she possibly survive the pain of her devastated soul?

Fire Road is the true story of how she found the answer in a God who suffered Himself; a Savior who truly understood and cared about the depths of her pain. Fire Road is a story of horror and hope, a harrowing tale of a life changed in an instant—and the power and resilience that can only be found in the power of God’s mercy and love.


My Review:
Fire Road is a memoir that describes how Kim Phuc found peace for her soul. She told her life story, which includes descriptions of the bad things that happened (the napalm burns, how political officials prevented her from pursuing her dream and used her as a propaganda tool) and how these events affected her emotionally and physically. However, she didn't dwell on the bad things so it's a sad but not depressing story during these worst parts. She initially followed her family's religion with great devotion, but the gods didn't help her. When a Christian pastor came into her orbit and answered her questions, she realized that Jesus also bore scars and endured pain.

As she told the story of her life, she also told the story of her spiritual growth and how God provided for her. She described how, as a new Christian, she fought depression and a desire to commit suicide by memorizing Scripture and praying the Psalms back to God. She talked about how she slowly came to forgive those who abused and wronged her by praying for them (as Jesus instructed us to do). And she talked about how she deals with the physical pain by singing praises to God (among many other things).

I'd never heard of Kim Phuc before, partly because I was born several years after she was burned. I found her story interesting and touching. People who do know her story will likely enjoy knowing some of the things that have happened in more recent years. As Kim acknowledges, everyone carries their own scars and pains, though not all are as obvious as her scars. I'd recommend this story to anyone, but especially to those who want to know how she found peace despite the pain and scars she still carries.


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, September 28, 2017

Creative Marker Art & Beyond by Lee Foster-Wilson

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Creative Marker Art & Beyond
by Lee Foster-Wilson


ISBN-13: 9781633223394
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster Publishing
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Are you a doodler? Coloring-book graduate? Fine artist? No matter your skill level, you’re sure to love our route through the world of drawing with markers.

This great guide kicks off with basic tools, materials, techniques, and color pointers. From there, you’ll jump into creative prompts, easy exercises, and step-by-step projects. Creative Marker Art & Beyond will have you trying a new medium and drawing with markers in no time.

We also include helpful advice for successfully composing drawings, building and layering colors, shading, and adding pen, not to mention giftable artwork done on a variety of fun, accessible surfaces. Create nature scenes, patterns, flowers, colorful trees, animals, and more with Creative Marker Art & Beyond.


My Review:
Creative Marker Art & Beyond provides instruction on how to use markers to create basic, stylized marker art. It appears to be for an audience like beginning DIY crafters or people who enjoy adult coloring books who are ready to try making something on their own. The book started with some basic information about markers and ways to use them. You don't need much in the way of equipment to get started, nor does it appear to cost much to try out. She gave information on techniques throughout the book and provided practice pages in the book.

The author dove right into the step-by-step projects, starting very simple and getting a little more elaborate by the last projects. Each project applied the techniques learned previously in the book so you can see how you use them. The photographs showed each step, and each step moved forward slowly enough that you don't get lost or wonder "how did she get there?" or "how did she do that?" She covered a variety of surfaces (glass, wood, paper, fabric, stone) and types of markers (permanent markers, paint markers, brush markers, etc.). Projects included personalized notebook covers, custom wrapping paper, rock art, a decorated glass frame, and more.

The projects aren't super-fancy, but they are creative fun. Overall, I'd recommend this book to beginners interested in marker art.


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, September 26, 2017

Dear World by Bana Alabed

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Dear World
by Bana Alabed


ISBN-13: 9781501178443
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
"I’m very afraid I will die tonight.” —Bana Alabed, Twitter, October 2, 2016
“Stop killing us.” —Bana Alabed, Twitter, October 6, 2016
“I just want to live without fear.” —Bana Alabed, Twitter, October 12, 2016

When seven-year-old Bana Alabed took to Twitter to describe the horrors she and her family were experiencing in war-torn Syria, her heartrending messages touched the world and gave a voice to millions of innocent children.

Bana’s happy childhood was abruptly upended by civil war when she was only three years old. Over the next four years, she knew nothing but bombing, destruction, and fear. Her harrowing ordeal culminated in a brutal siege where she, her parents, and two younger brothers were trapped in Aleppo, with little access to food, water, medicine, or other necessities.

Facing death as bombs relentlessly fell around them—one of which completely destroyed their home—Bana and her family embarked on a perilous escape to Turkey.

In Bana’s own words, and featuring short, affecting chapters by her mother, Fatemah, Dear World is not just a gripping account of a family endangered by war; it offers a uniquely intimate, child’s perspective on one of the biggest humanitarian crises in history. Bana has lost her best friend, her school, her home, and her homeland. But she has not lost her hope—for herself and for other children around the world who are victims and refugees of war and deserve better lives.


My Review:
Dear World is a memoir by a seven-year-old about her experiences during war in Aleppo, Syria. Her mother also wrote short sections giving a mother's perspective on the events described by Bana. They don't talk about the grand scale of what was happening but described what it was like for a peaceful family caught up in a war in their city. We learned a bit about what Bana's life was like before war arrived in Aleppo, how life changed, what her family went through, and how they got out.

Bana wondered if people knew what was happening, so she started tweeting about it, including pictures and videos of the destruction. I haven't seen these, but she's a courageous young woman to do this when it endangered her life. The book included pictures of Bana's family during this time period and some of the destruction caused by the bombing. She didn't use graphic (as in, gory) descriptions but focused on how seeing the death, injuries, and destruction around her made her feel. This is a book that kids to adults should read, and it's a quick read, too.


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.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Marta McDowell

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The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder
by Marta McDowell


ISBN-13: 9781604697278
Hardcover: 390 pages
Publisher: Timber Press
Released: Sept. 20, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
A must-read companion to the Little House books. 2017 is the 150th anniversary of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birthday. Her beloved Little House series tells a classic coming-of-age story based on Wilder’s own family life and is a reflection of the pioneer spirit of the time. They are also deeply rooted in the natural world. The plants, animals, and landscapes are so integral to the stories, they are practically their own characters.

The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by New York Times bestselling author Marta McDowell, explores Wilder’s deep relationship to the landscape. Follow the wagon trail of the series, starting in the Wisconsin setting of Little House in the Big Woods to the Dakotas and finally to Missouri. Throughout, you’ll learn details about Wilder’s life and inspirations, discover how to visit the real places today, and even learn to grow the plants and vegetables featured in the stories.

The artful package includes original illustrations by Helen Sewell and Garth Williams, along with historical and contemporary photographs.


My Review:
The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder is a companion book to the Little House books. We're told the locations and dates for each book in the series. Going book by book, the author explained things like the history of each location and what was typical for the area at that time. She also gave more detail on the plants and farm work mentioned in the books. There were many pictures and illustrations of the places, tools, and plants. She included maps showing the locations where Laura lived.

Basically, each chapter was a companion to a book or location in the series: Wisconsin Woods (Little House in the Big Woods), New York Farm (Farmer Boy), Prairie of Kansas (Little House on the Prairie), Creekside in Minnesota & Iowa (On the Banks of Plum Creek), The Dakota Prairie (By the Shores of Silver Lake and The Long Winter), Settled Farm & Settled Town (Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years), and Great Plains to Ozark Ridge (The First Four Years). The author also covered Laura's life at Rocky Ridge Farm and Rock Home (based on letters, newspapers, and other writings).

She ended by describing the places that a person might enjoy visiting if interested in seeing the places where Laura Wilder lived. She also included a list of plants mentioned in the books for those interested in planting those flowers, trees, etc. The book was a fun, quick read. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting book to fans of the Little House series.


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, September 18, 2017

The Englishman's England by Ian Ousby

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The Englishman's England
by Ian Ousby


ISBN-13: 9781910670859
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Thistle Publishing
Released: Sept. 12, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
The English tourist industry is not the modern creation we often suppose. Ian Ousby investigates the landmarks chosen by the English for their leisure travel over the centuries. He looks in particular at four types of attraction still prominent on the tourist map of England: literary shrines, country houses, picturesque ruins and the natural landscape. All these first became objects of fashionable attention during the eighteenth century, when improvements in transport combined with a spirit of practical inquiry to breed the first generation of travellers who called themselves ‘tourists’.

Drawing on a wide range of sources - journals, travel books and guidebooks, novels and poems, as well as many engravings – Ian Ousby traces the canons of taste which led the early tourists to seek out places like Stratford-upon-Avon, Chatsworth, Tintern Abbey and the Lake District, and records the stages by which these places acquired the trappings of the tourist attraction. Above all, he shows the development not just of an industry but of a state of mind marked, from its earliest phase, by the underlying fear that tourism is fated to spoil or even destroy the very thing it most admires.


My Review:
The Englishman's England looked at what sites and objects drew the interest of the eighteenth century tourist. The author looked at traveler's letters, diaries, journals, and guide books to see what sites they visited and what they thought about them. He often quoted from these sources. If one tourist talked about a place, others soon came to visit until it turned into a tourist trap. Locals sold mementos, guides demanded fees, stations were marked out for ideal viewing of a scene, or cannons, singing, or instruments were used to heighten the traveler's experience.

The author looked at the literary shrines they visited (graves or monuments to an author, the places the author wrote about, their birth places, etc.), their opinions about various fancy country houses (and the fees and attitudes of those allowing or guiding these tours), the draw of ruins like Stonehenge or of old abbeys and cathedrals, and places in the Peak District and Lake District that drew people for the caves, crags, and views. He talked about changing tastes reflected in how they viewed various sites and what they criticized.

These sites were usually under private ownership at the time, so what the owners did with the sites provoked discussion about how far a site (like a ruin) should be preserved in its present state or developed to accommodate tourists. Overall, I'd 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.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Start Your Own Etsy Business by Jason R. Rich

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Start Your Own Etsy Business
by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc.,
Jason R. Rich


ISBN-13: 9781599186092
Paperback: 180 pages
Publisher: Entrepreneur Media Inc.
Released: Sept. 12, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Whether you’re a master crafter, a carpenter, a jewelry designer, or have become passionate about making the best home d├ęcor in town, now is the time to go from hobby to full-time business owner. And with million shoppers ready to discover your unique offerings it only makes sense to join the largest, most successful online community of creative entrepreneurs on Etsy®.

Our experts have teamed up with successful shop owners to provide you with Start Your Own Etsy® Business, an easy-to-understand, comprehensive blueprint that takes you through setting up, branding, marketing, and managing your store. You’ll learn how to:

• Create listings and marketing plans that attract the right customers
• Choose keywords and tags design to drive traffic to your shop
• Pick the right shipping and packaging methods to meet your inventory needs
• Define your brand with carefully crafted logos, product listings, and images
• Reach more shoppers with targeted social media and advertising campaigns
• Create storytelling product listings and professional looking product photos
• Decide when it’s time to turn your part-time hobby into a full-time business venture

Plus, gain worksheets, templates, resource lists and tips designed to go from passion to profits. If you’re ready to share your passion for your craft with millions around the world, this guide is for you.


My Review:
Start Your Own Etsy Business is a book about starting your own small business and effectively selling your crafts on Etsy. The book started with an overview of Etsy and starting your own small business. Then the author went into more detail about what's involved in setting up a small business, from business plans and tax IDs to inventory management and accounting. He talked about determining what you need to get set up, your costs and prices, your target audience, and branding.

He then described step-by-step how to open an Etsy account, set up your store, and add product listings. He also discussed fees, setting prices and shipping costs, taking (or hiring) professional photographs of your products, choosing and including search words, writing effective text to describe your product, and more. He also discussed promotion and marketing using paid advertising and social media.

He included advice from successful Etsy sellers, including specific things they did that increased their sells. I found this advice both interesting and helpful. The author included plenty of links to online help pages and included some sample worksheets. While this book will help anyone who wants to set up an Etsy account, it's targeted at those who want to create a profitable business from their crafting. 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond by Alex Lewin, Raquel Guajardo

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Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond
by Alex Lewin,
Raquel Guajardo


ISBN-13: 9781592337385
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Fair Winds Press
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Fermented foods help improve digestion, enable us to better assimilate vitamins and minerals, and strengthen the immune system. Of all fermented foods, drinks are some of the most versatile—and tasty! Think kombucha, kefir, and real ginger ale. Many of these items you can buy in the store, but making them at home is simple, economical, and even better for you. With just a few ingredients and materials, you can start brewing your own delicious beverages for your family.

Ferment Your Drinks is packed with innovative drink recipes, from healthy homemade sodas to traditional kvass and cider, that you can make in your home kitchen and enjoy all year long! Inside, you’ll learn:

--The history of fermentation and the value of traditional foods
--The benefits of fermented drinks to your health
--All the basics: the process, the tools, and how to get started
--How to use starters to make kombucha, kefir, root beer, wine, and others again and again
--Age-old recipes for kvass, switchel, vinegar, and mead
--Everything you need to know about why the recipes work, why they are safe, what to do if they go wrong, and how to modify them to suit your taste


My Review:
Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond explains how to safely make your own fermented drinks. The authors talked about why you should drink fermented drinks, provided an evolutionary history of fermented drink consumption, gave a simplified version of the science of fermenting foods, and described the tools that you need or might like to have to make your own fermented drinks.

They provided about 24 recipes that use fermented foods--plus other ingredients--to make a drink. Most of these were in the fermented cocktails section. The rest of the recipes were how to ferment a food, some part of which can be used as or made into a drink. They started with 6 master recipes for making ginger bug, yogurt, milk kefir, whey, vinegar, and water kefir.

The next chapter was about tea fermentation (kombucha and jun). Next were 6 recipes for vegetable drinks using brine from fermented beets, cucumbers, or radishes and making a juice out of kimchi and such. Next were 7 recipes for making bubbly sodas by fermenting hibiscus, coconut water, grapes, lemons, limes, oranges, or fruit juices. The last chapters covered recipes for fermenting mildly alcoholic drinks: 5 beer recipes (including root beet and ginger beer), 10 wines and ciders (including berry wine, apple cider, pear cider, mead, and rice wine), 4 Mexican drinks, and 18 fermented cocktails.

The instructions were easy to follow and most should be easy to do. They don't require expensive equipment or ingredients. I've made yogurt and kefir in the past, and I felt like they gave good instructions for those. It looked like the other recipes were as useful. I plan to try the ginger bug, apple cider (non-alcoholic version), and coconut water soda recipes soon.


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, August 29, 2017

Modern Watercolor by Kristin Van Leuven

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Modern Watercolor
by Kristin Van Leuven


ISBN-13: 9781633223561
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster Publishing
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
This dynamic and inspirational guide will set you down a path of exploration as you learn to play with watercolors. You will learn to effectively use basic techniques and principles to create beautiful, expressive works of art. From selecting your first watercolor paints to learning to blend colors into a unique palette, we are here to guide you as you begin your journey.

These easy-to-follow lessons will explore using watercolor on different surfaces, how to create basic shapes using fun techniques, and how to create myriad gorgeous effects that can be achieved with different brushes and strokes. You will even learn how to add layers of dimension and texture and how to work with resist techniques to create pretty patterns and gorgeous backgrounds.


My Review:
Modern Watercolor is an art instruction book for using watercolors. Kristin has a loose (not highly detailed or realistic) style. This is a good book for a beginner at watercolor as she provided plenty of pictures and clear instruction. When showing how to make a flower or animal, she explained how to achieve the desired affect rather than just a brief summary of what she did. By focusing on the techniques, the reader can learn to use watercolor not just replicate her paintings. Overall, I'd recommend this book.

She started by briefly explaining what supplies you need, then she explained basic techniques (wet-in-wet, etc.), color theory, and color mixing. She showed how the different types of brushes make a wide variety of marks, what brushes are good for certain marks, how to make basic shapes (circles, squares, etc.), and how to use watercolor brushes to make cursive lettering. She also covered various ways to preserve white and remove paint.

She showed step-by-step how to make several types of flowers, like peonies, roses (top view), pansies, tulips, and small flowers. She also demonstrated several types of leaves and foliage and how to put them all together to create wreaths (for framing text) or floral patterns (a wallpaper type look). She also did step-by-step demonstrations for several animals (fox, squirrel, chicken, pig, dog, cat, rabbit, beetle, butterfly, elephant, lion) and discussed how to create different human skin tones by mixing colors. She ended with some brief demonstrations for "abstract" landscapes (lakeside, sunset) and interiors (vintage and cottage living rooms). The animals and interiors were sketched before being filled in with paint.


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, August 28, 2017

Lettering with Purpose by Brittany Luiz

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Lettering with Purpose
by Brittany Luiz


ISBN-13: 9781633223424
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster Publishing
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Whether you’re hoping to personalize greeting cards, or just enjoy the art, hand lettering is an uplifting and compelling craft to learn. Aspiring artists and lettering enthusiasts will explore and deepen their understanding of this art form by delving into a variety of lettering techniques. You will also enjoy 100 reflective lettering prompts to spur the imagination and help readers answer the question: "What should I write?"

Your lettering journey will begin with lettering basics. This intuitive guide includes suggested tools and materials, the anatomy of letters, how to pair different lettering styles, and thorough tutorials on working with a variety of mediums. You’ll be creating striking layouts and compositions in no time.

Additionally, artists will find a wide range of lettering styles and techniques demonstrated step by step, including brush calligraphy, bounce lettering, and more, plus complete alphabet ideas that include reproducible practice pages that can be used to perfect their skills. Once your artistic bones are there, move on to adding embellishments and flourishes! Add pizzazz to your work with frames, laurels and garlands, flowers, swirls, and more.

To cap it all off, a section of perforated pages at the back of the book contains fully illustrated frames, with blank openings so readers can fill them in with their own inspired lettered designs.


My Review:
Lettering with Purpose is a book teaching how to "letter" to personalize greeting cards and such. I once read a nib-pen calligraphy book that left me feeling so overwhelmed that I never even tried it. Besides, I wanted to use a brush and maybe not just with ink but with watercolor. Well, this was the book I was really looking for! The author teaches how to use markers or brushes (with watercolor) to make fancy-looking lettering.

She started by explaining the anatomy of a letter, how to make calligraphy-style letters, and suggested tools and materials. She talked about other styles of lettering, how to lay out a phrase to make a cool-looking design, how to digitize your work, how to add flowers and such as a way to fill in block letters or frame a phrase, and more. She provided a step-by-step guide for 5 easy-looking projects and 100 writing prompts to get you busy practicing various words.

This book left me feeling eager to try out lettering and made it seem both do-able and fun. I'd certainly recommend it.


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, August 25, 2017

So Close to Amazing by KariAnne Wood

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So Close to Amazing
by KariAnne Wood


ISBN-13: 9781496422019
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Tyndale Momentum
Released: Sept. 5, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
A debut memoir from the beloved Thistlewood Farms blogger, So Close to Amazing is a collection of hilarious and heartfelt reflections on getting it almost right--and how, instead of giving up, we can choose to simply embrace our real selves right where we are. It's about grace and learning from mistakes and rejoicing in every victory, no matter how small. Because when you find joy in the "you" God created you to be, you'll discover the amazing that was there all along.

Contains beautiful DIY project ideas anyone can do--Homemade signs, centerpieces, recipe walls, and more!


My Review:
So Close to Amazing is a humorous memoir by a DIY blogger. She mainly focused her stories on the challenges of moving from Texas to Kentucky and remodeling their "new" 100-year-old home in the country. The overarching theme was how she thought she'd done something amazing (perfect outfit, awesome project, etc.) only it didn't quite work out as she expected. She'd tell a story of something that had happened, wrap up with a life lesson (usually tied to her relationship with God), and then provide a step-by-step Do-It-Yourself project on 2-5 pages containing hand-drawn pictures with some instructions text.

The 12 DIY projects were: a hand-painted sign, too-short curtain rods, sanded and stained old table, large table centerpiece involving foliage, pottery wall mosaic, hand-painted linoleum "floor cloth," huge chalkboard calendar, giant recipe decoration, pillow with a monogram, rustic mirror, coffee crate dish display holders, and mason jar vases. She likes to work big, so the instructions were usually for projects that will take up a lot of wall or floor space. The instructions look do-able, but she assumed you already have basic work-working and other DIY skills.


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 22, 2017

Ladies of the Ticker by George Robb

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Ladies of the Ticker:
Women and Wall Street from the Gilded Age to the Great Depression
by George Robb


ISBN-13: 9780252082719
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Released: Aug. 15, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Long overlooked in histories of finance, women played an essential role in areas such as banking and the stock market during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Yet their presence sparked ongoing controversy. Hetty Green's golden touch brought her millions, but she outraged critics with her rejection of domesticity. Progressives like Victoria Woodhull, meanwhile, saw financial acumen as more important for women than the vote.

George Robb's pioneering study sheds a light on the financial methods, accomplishments, and careers of three generations of women. Plumbing sources from stock brokers' ledgers to media coverage, Robb reveals the many ways women invested their capital while exploring their differing sources of information, approaches to finance, interactions with markets, and levels of expertise.

He also rediscovers the forgotten women bankers, brokers, and speculators who blazed new trails--and sparked public outcries over women's unsuitability for the predatory rough-and-tumble of market capitalism. Entertaining and vivid with details, Ladies of the Ticker sheds light on the trailblazers who transformed Wall Street into a place for women's work.


My Review:
Ladies of the Ticker is a history of women involved in the American stock market from around the 1880s to 1920s. The author started by describing the laws (in England and America) that made it difficult for women to control and invest their own money and the changes that came about in the late 1800s that allowed more women to invest in stocks and bonds.

The rest of the book focused "the Gilded Age to the Great Depression." He started by describing how novels, magazines, financial manuals, and similar sources portrayed the stock market and women who invested in bonds or stocks. He then looked at records from two stock brokers showing what women actually invested their money in, their investment habits, and how they acted in their correspondence with the stock broker. He acknowledged that women didn't all behave the same way, yet there were certain general trends. He contrasted women's investment behavior to the records of men's investments and to how popular culture portrayed women investors.

The author also talked about fraud (involving banks, stocks, and bonds) that was directed at women or that was done by women. He looked at the women's rights movement and how they promoted financial education and empowerment for women. He talked about early women brokers, capitalists, and financiers. Some parts read like biographies. We're told about several women who tried to set up as a stock brokers, what the press and such said about the woman, what she said about her past, and what we know about what happened to her. We also learned details about several women who carried out sensational financial frauds.

This book had an academic tone. As in, I felt like the topic had been carefully researched and a balanced view presented. As a woman who is interested in this time period and who invests in stocks, I found it very interesting. 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, August 15, 2017

The Education of a Coroner by John Bateson

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The Education of a Coroner
by John Bateson


ISBN-13: 9781501168222
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Scribner
Released: Aug. 15, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Marin County, California is a study in contradictions. Its natural beauty attracts thousands of visitors every year, yet the county also is home to San Quentin Prison, one of the oldest and largest penitentiaries in the country. Marin ranks in the top one percent of counties nationwide in terms of affluence and overall health, yet it is far above the norm in drug overdoses and alcoholism, and comprises a large percentage of suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Ken Holmes worked in the Marin County Coroner’s Office for thirty-six years, starting as a death investigator and ending as the three-term, elected coroner. As he grew into the job—which is different from what is depicted on television—Holmes learned a variety of skills, from finding hidden clues at death scenes, interviewing witnesses effectively, managing bystanders and reporters, preparing testimony for court to notifying families of a death with sensitivity and compassion. He also learned about different kinds of firearms, all types of drugs—prescription and illegal—and about certain unexpected and potentially fatal phenomena such as autoeroticism.

Complete with poignant anecdotes, The Education of a Coroner provides a firsthand and fascinating glimpse into the daily life of a public servant whose work is dark and mysterious yet necessary for society to function.


My Review:
The Education of a Coroner is both a biography and a collection of crime stories. We're given details about how Ken Holmes got into a career as a death investigator (then coroner's assistant and later coroner), the training he received, and how he went about doing his job. We learn about the things Ken Holmes checked when he first came to a death scene, the importance of death certificates, and the difference between cause and manner of death. The author also explained how death notifications were done by the coroner's office, how they dealt with the media, how they interviewed people about the death, and many other aspects of Holmes' job.

We're also told about some of the cases he was involved in, from suicides and accidents to homicides. He talked about some big name cases, unusual or shocking cases, and about the many suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge. The accidents and murders were described with minimal gory detail and were more about the clues found while working the case. He gave more gory details about the suicides, though. I found the book very interesting and would recommend it to people interested in what a death investigator and coroner do and to fans of 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.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Visitor's Guide to Georgian England by Monica Hall

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A Visitor's Guide to Georgian England
by Monica Hall


ISBN-13: 9781473876859
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Released: Oct. 19, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Find yourself immersed in the pivotal world of Georgian England, exciting times to live in as everything was booming; the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the nascent Empire. You will find everything you need to know in order to survive undetected among the ordinary people. What to wear, how to behave yourself in public, earn a living, and find somewhere to live. Very importantly, you will be given advice on how to stay on the right side of the law, and how to avoid getting seriously ill.

Monica Hall creatively awakens this bygone era, filling the pages with all aspects of daily life within the period, calling upon diaries, illustrations, letters, poetry, prose, 18th century laws and archives.


My Review:
A Visitor's Guide to Georgian England describes what life was like in England from 1714 to 1830. It's a brief look at various aspects of life, so we might get details about the routine of getting dressed but more of a survey of the sports played at the time. Most of the information was about the middle and upper class, but it does mention the poorer class.

The author started by providing an overview of the time period and of the attitudes that people generally held. She then looked at clothing and makeup (what they wore, how you put it on, and the makeup they made and used); what location you might choose to live in and what type of job you might take; the diseases and such you might encounter and the treatments that could be offered; fitness and sports you might engage in (with descriptions of how they were different from modern versions). She also looked at the rise of etiquette; unusual (to us) laws, how to bring someone to trial, and possible punishments; what theatre, opera, circus, and pantomime performances were like; how the lottery worked and all the ways people gambled (cards, dice, horses, etc.); what topics children were taught, and some notables from the Enlightenment.

The writing style was lightly humorous and very readable. The book focused more on what was different, so don't expect a complete, detailed look at any subject. However, it was a fun overview of Georgian England with some interesting details thrown in. I'd recommend this book to those interested in how the Georgian's were different (and yet similar) to us.


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 1, 2017

999 CSI by Larry Henderson, Kris Hollington

book cover
999 CSI:
Blood, Threats and Fears
by Larry Henderson,
Kris Hollington


ISBN-13: 9781910670804
Paperback: 410 pages
Publisher: Thistle Publishing
Released: Dec. 1, 2015

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Machine guns, safe-blowers, sadomasochists, pythons and flesh-eating viruses, all in a day’s work for Scenes of Crime Officer (SOCO) Larry Henderson who, in 999 CSI provides an unforgettable insight into a life dedicated to forensics.

Larry, whose career with London’s Metropolitan Police started in 1971, a time when police officers were more than a little sceptical of science, soon proved his worth and attended every kind of crime scene, from terrorism to rape and from blackmail to murder - before he became the head of the Flying Squad’s forensic team during the busiest and most dangerous period of the legendary outfit’s existence. Soon, Larry was caught up in shoot-outs, pavement ambushes, record-breaking drug deals and tiger kidnappings, confronting some of the UK’s most terrifying villains along the way.

Larry’s groundbreaking work features some of the UK’s most notorious crimes - a key piece of forensic evidence from one of Larry’s murder cases is displayed at Scotland Yard’s infamous Crime Museum. At turns breathtaking, fascinating, hilarious and tragic, 999 CSI opens up a truly astonishing world that most people never get to see, a world filled with cruelty, matched only by the courage of those who work tirelessly for justice.


My Review:
999 CSI is a memoir about Larry Henderson's years working as a Scenes of Crime Officer in London. He worked as a SOCO from 1972 to 1994 in various districts (Sutton, Wimbleton, New Malden, BatterSea, Royal A District) plus the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory and the Flying Squad. He talked about some of the cases he was involved in as a crime scene examiner (grouped by district) as well as the people he worked with and some of how the work affected his home life. He covered a great variety of cases: robbery, burglary, fatalities of various sorts, bomb threats, blackmail, rape, bestiality, drug raids, arson, kidnapping, protests, riots, and more.

For each case, he briefly described what he did at the scene and his interactions with the victim if he thought it was interesting. Since he didn't want to teach criminals how to get away with a crime, he didn't give much detail about the techniques used to catch them. Combine that with most of the cases being robberies and burglaries, and you don't need to worry about gory descriptions (though you get the feeling that it's there). He did detail his grievances with some of his bosses, though. This is the second British policing book that I've read, and both seem to feel that politics within the police/detective/forensics system is preventing that system from working well.

It was interesting to see how the scene examiners worked during those years and what the author contributed to how future generations will do that job. It was also interesting to see how a variety of crimes were handled. However, since we only get the evidence collection aspect of the job for much of the book, it did get a little repetitive. I found the Flying Squad part more interesting because he had to think about the bigger picture as he coordinated multiple people. Plus he was often on the scene when the action happened. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting memoir.


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, July 25, 2017

Draw 50 Sea Creatures by Lee J. Ames, Erin Harvey

book cover
Draw 50 Sea Creatures
by Lee J. Ames,
Erin Harvey


ISBN-13: 9780399580178
Paperback: 67 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Released: July 25, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
In this new installment of Lee J. Ames's beloved Draw 50 series, readers will find easy-to-follow, step-by-step visual lessons on sketching and rendering all kinds of sea and ocean-dwelling creatures. Animals and plants from in and near the water featured in the book include clownfish, whale sharks, sea otters, dolphins, turtles and more.


My Review:
Draw 50 Sea Creatures is a drawing book. Except for some brief encouragement at the beginning of the book, there was no text describing how to draw the various figures. He usually provided 6 steps for drawing each sea creature. You build the creature by drawing the lines demonstrated in each step in the book. The final step showed the fully shaded-in plant or animal, but you're left to experiment to figure out how to create a similar shading on your line figure. Some of the animals with more complex texture patterns had "guides" drawn during step 5 to help you place the shading in step 6.

As I said, most of the figures had you add lines to lines to create the figure in steps 1 through 5 and then added shading in step 6. These were the easiest ones to do, in my opinion. Some figures had you draw guide lines in the first few steps (which are erased from the final drawing) before you start on the actual animal. I'd suggest looking at the whole sequence before drawing these as sometimes I found it easier to skip one or more of the guide line steps. The blade coral had so many guide lines and was so complex that I found the suggested sequence too messy to successfully follow.

The drawings were grouped by type (fish, shell animals, etc.) rather than difficulty level, so the complex figures were mixed in with the easier ones. I'd suggest starting with some of the easier ones to get used to this learning style. You can draw some decent looking sea creatures using this book--better than I could without the suggested steps. However, I now realize that I prefer to learn drawing from books that include more steps and/or text to explain the steps.


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, July 20, 2017

Simply Electrifying by Craig R. Roach

book cover
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.