Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Drawing and Painting Expressive Little Animals by Amarilys Henderson

Book cover
Drawing and Painting Expressive Little Animals
by Amarilys Henderson


ISBN-13: 9781464214905
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Quarry Books
Released: July 6th 2021

Source: review copy from the publisher through Amazon.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Author, artist, and popular Skillshare instructor Amarylis Henderson presents her practical and creative techniques for drawing and painting animals in a variety of mediums and styles, from realistic to cartoon. Learn about the sketching and painting mediums you’ll use in your work, including watercolor, inks, and markers. Discover the scope of sizes and shapes of animal features from nose to tail. Basic shapes, postures, and poses to convey a range of animal emotions and expressions, from sly and sneaky to angry to curious. Draw and paint more than 30 animals--from dogs, cats, and horses to cheetah, bison, and platypus--and investigate 18 different styles and treatments, including using color in unique ways, enhancing cuteness, and combining watercolor with other mediums.

As you explore your creative options, you’ll find that working small is an easy way to relieve pressure and open yourself to play as well as to learning the techniques and approaches that Amarilys shares in this book.


My Review:
Drawing and Painting Expressive Little Animals shows how the author draws and watercolor paints 33 different animals, including some birds, marine animals, and reptiles. She started with a few pages providing tips about observing how different animals have different legs, eyes, etc. The "expressive" part seemed to be two pages pointing out how sloths and dogs appear happy while snakes and foxes look sly.

She then provided step-by-step instructions for drawing and painting an animal, with illustrations (about 8-10 steps per animal) along with some very basic text instructions like "add the front legs." Some of the painting illustrations were taken at an angle (showing her working), so the example we're supposed to mimic is not quite in correct proportion. The author assumed that you already knew how to draw and watercolor paint as she'd tell you to do certain techniques but never explained how to do them. She did point out some tips when painting animals, like make the spots random.

Contrary to most art instructors, she had you start with drawing the animals face (including eyes and mouth) before adding the neck, body, legs, and tail. For painting, she skipped sketching the basic proportions and just painted the body shape in step one. I used to do this, but my animals never were in proportion. I finally realized why most instructors have you start with basic body shapes (in proportion) for the entire animal before refining the details. So her instructions don't really work for me.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Immune by Philipp Dettmer

Book cover
Immune
by Philipp Dettmer


ISBN-13: 9780593241318
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Random House
Released: November 2nd 2021

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Second only to the human brain in its complexity, your immune system is one of the oldest and most critical facets of life on Earth. Without it, you would die within days. In Immune, Philipp Dettmer, the brains behind the most popular science channel on YouTube, takes readers on a journey through the fortress of the human body and its defenses. There is a constant battle of staggering scale raging within us, full of stories of invasion, strategy, defeat, and noble self-sacrifice. In fact, in the time you've been reading this, your immune system has probably identified and eradicated a cancer cell that started to grow in your body.

Each chapter delves into an element of the immune system, including defenses like antibodies and inflammation as well as threats like bacteria, allergies, and cancer, as Dettmer reveals why boosting your immune system is actually nonsense, how parasites sneak their way past your body's defenses, how viruses work, and what goes on in your wounds when you cut yourself.

Enlivened by engaging graphics and immersive descriptions, Immune turns one of the most intricate, interconnected, and confusing subjects—immunology—into a gripping adventure through an astonishing alien landscape. Immune is a vital and remarkably fun crash course in what is arguably, and increasingly, the most important system in the body.


My Review:
Immune explains how the different parts of the innate and adaptive immune systems work. This was written by a science writer rather than someone who actively studies the immune system, so it's written for the average person. He used memorable analogies to explain what goes on, then explained it in "science talk" and finally summarized it all again to make sure the reader understood. I have some science background, and I thought the author did a good job of explaining this complex subject without simplifying to much. (His chapter on the lymph system included more information than a whole book on lymph that I recently read. It wasn't more difficult to understand, just more thorough.)

The author started by speculating about when the various parts of the immune system evolved. Throughout the book, he marveled at the complex, amazing immune system and how it evolved. He next talked about how the skin protects you and how the innate and adaptive immune system react when you're wounded. He then talked about mucus membranes and explained how the immune system fights a viral (flu) infection starting in your nose. He explained the individual parts of your immune defenses and how they work together. He also talked about allergies, autoimmunity, cancer, and how you don't actually want to boost your immune system (you want it in balance) and things you can do to support proper immune function (quit smoking and reduce stress). There were occasional graphics showing parts of the immune system or how it worked, but they're difficult to read on my Kindle. Overall, I'd recommend this informative, easy to follow 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.


Thursday, October 28, 2021

Mixed Media Color Studio by Kellee Wynne Conrad

Book cover
Mixed Media Color Studio
by Kellee Wynne Conrad


ISBN-13: 9781631599965
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Quarry Books
Released: August 24th 2021

Source: review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Based on Kellee Wynne Conrad's popular former online True Colors Art Program, the lessons in Mixed Media Color Studio include color explorations designed to strengthen skills and confidence. You’ll learn how to develop your own unique style using acrylic paint, pastels, graphite, ink, and more. See how to mix colors to make signature palettes and get inspired to try new, exciting combinations of colors, materials, and methods that will take your artwork and imagination further.

The imaginative projects include expert information on how to work with colors to evoke moods, emotions, and energy for dynamic landscapes, calming seascapes, vibrant abstract florals, layered architectural pieces, and much more. Discover easy techniques that add texture, details, and interest to your artwork.


My Review:
Mixed Media Color Studio explores color theory while creating abstract, mixed media art. The author started by briefly covering tools and materials, the basic terms and ideas of color theory, and how to create a unique, signature color palette. She prefers using primary cyan, magenta, and yellow but did cover other combinations (some of which weren't really primary colors). She then had a series of step-by-step projects that explored color theory: making a color wheel using primary colors, acrylic painting with complementary colors, high-key/low-key schemes, grays and browns, contrasts, and then green, blue, orange, purple, red, black, and finally yellow as a focal color.

The painting was done in acrylic with inks, graphite, and pastels used along with other mixed media elements to create the finished project. The steps were more about explaining the actions and intent of each step rather than detailing how to make an exact replica of her painting. There were useful pictures illustrating each step. This book will appeal to abstract, mixed media artists who want to explore color theory.


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 12, 2021

Lymph & Longevity by Gerald Lemole

Book cover
Lymph & Longevity
by Gerald Lemole


ISBN-13: 9781982180256
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Scribner
Released: October 5th 2021

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Learn how you can boost your immune system and help prevent virtually every major medical condition—including cancer, heart disease, neurological disorders, GI issues, and obesity—by keeping your lymph system healthy, as explained by renowned cardiologist Gerald Lemole.

The lymphatic system serves as our body’s maintenance department and has a direct effect on our cardiovascular, neurological, and immune systems. At last, renowned cardiothoracic surgeon and pioneer in the study of lymph Gerald Lemole explains in straightforward language why the lymphatic system is the key factor in longevity and disease prevention, and how improving lymphatic flow can help our bodies eliminate the toxins and waste products that contribute to injury, inflammation, and disease.

In ten short chapters he demystifies the lymphatic system, describes how powerful it is, and shows how to maintain a healthy lymph system to combat specific diseases and health problems—from heart disease to cognitive function to weight management. Featuring sidebars with charts and graphs that illustrate basic principles, The Healing Power of Flow also includes flow-friendly menus, recipes, and information on supplements, as well as basic yoga and meditation guides.


My Review:
Lymph & Longevity is an overview of how the lymphatic system works, why good lymph flow is important to long-term health, and ways to get your lymph moving. He talked about using food, supplements, exercise, and different relaxation techniques to help improve lymph flow. He even included recipes and described a yoga-pose sequence for improving lymph flow. He initially talked about how poor lymph flow can cause chronic health problems, like heart and brain problems. He didn't get very technical, and it's written in a conversation tone that's easy to read and understand. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those who don't know much about the lymphatic system and why it's important.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Encyclopedia of the Ordinary Things by Stepanka Sekaninova

Book cover
Encyclopedia of the Ordinary Things
by Stepanka Sekaninova


ISBN-13: 9788000061283
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Albatros Media
Released: October 5th 2021

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
We use them daily, pass them by, and it never occurs to us to stop and think about where they came from. Shoes, umbrellas, toothbrushes, toothpicks, socks, dolls, and so on and so forth. How did they come to be? Who invented them? How did they develop and change over time?


My Review:
Encyclopedia of the Ordinary Things is about the history of ten common items and is targeted at ages 6-12 years old. The author covered skates, umbrellas, glasses, dolls, perfume, horse toys, toilets, toothbrushes, beds, and tights. Each item had several pages describing how the item changed throughout history and appeared in different cultures. It's not a lot of information, though, since illustrations took up half of the page space. These illustrations were stylistic rather than highly accurate. Each section concluded with two pages of related items, usually focusing on the inventor of the item (Velcro, zippers, skies, etc.). These were very brief so that several items would fit on each page.

I was disappointed that the author put in speculation when I would have preferred facts. For example, when explaining: "The soles of some prehistoric shoes were made from bear skin....Our ancestors believed that bear skin would give them the strength of the feared animal and protect them." How do we know what they believed? We don't. Prehistory means they didn't leave writing saying this. It's just a guess. I felt like it was misleading to call this book an encyclopedia due to how few items were covered, the speculation included, and the stylistic illustrations. The items weren't even listed in alphabetical order. If you just want a brief overview on these objects, though, it did have some interesting trivia.


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 28, 2021

The Story of the Country House by Clive Aslet

Book cover
The Story of the Country House
by Clive Aslet


ISBN-13: 9780300255058
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press
Released: September 28th 2021

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The Story of the Country House is an authoritative and vivid account of the British country house, exploring how they have evolved with the changing political and economic landscape. Clive Aslet reveals the captivating stories behind individual houses, their architects, and occupants, and paints a vivid picture of the wider context in which the country house in Britain flourished and subsequently fell into decline before enjoying a renaissance in the twenty-first century.

The genesis, style, and purpose of architectural masterpieces such as Hardwick Hall, Hatfield House, and Chatsworth are explored, alongside the numerous country houses lost to war and economic decline. We also meet a cavalcade of characters, owners with all their dynastic obsessions and diverse sources of wealth, and architects such as Inigo Jones, Sir John Vanbrugh, Robert Adam, Sir John Soane and A.W.N. Pugin, who dazzled or in some cases outraged their contemporaries.


My Review:
The Story of the Country House talked about the changes in the British country house (as found throughout the United Kingdom) from the Roman villa and Medieval manor house to modern times. The author broke the subject into time periods and talked about the social customs and developing technologies that influenced the layout and look of the houses. He talked about the people who built country houses (the owners and the architects) and about specific houses (including a picture, usually of the outside). He also talked about the different architectural styles and briefly about trends in landscaping styles, location selection, house size, etc. I'd recommend this book to those interested in the people who built and wider social context of British country houses.


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


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Garden Allies by Frederique Lavoipierre

Book cover
Garden Allies
by Frederique Lavoipierre


ISBN-13: 9781643260082
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Timber Press
Released: Sept. 28, 2021

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects that inhabit our yards and gardens are overwhelmingly on our side—they are not our enemies, but instead our allies. They pollinate our flowers and vegetable crops, and they keep pests in check.

In Garden Allies, Frédérique Lavoipierre shares fascinating portraits of these creatures, describing their life cycles and showing how they keep the garden’s ecology in balance. Also included is helpful information on how to nurture and welcome these valuable creatures into your garden. With beautiful pen-and-ink drawings by Craig Latker, Garden Allies invites you to make friends with the creatures that fill your garden.


My Review:
Garden Allies talks about the different types of insects and animals that you might find in a garden. It's not really a practical, how-to gardening guide since the focus wasn't really on the garden but on the animals that you might find there (and elsewhere). The author talked about various categories of animals and wrote a few pages about each category (like worms, bees, wasps, flies, beetles, etc.). It covered things like nesting habits, what they eat, social behavior, and why gardeners might appreciate having them in the garden. Each section ended with profile-type information: their official names, what they look like, etc. Black and white drawings of the mentioned critters were sometimes included, but I didn't find them particularly helpful in terms of insect identification. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those interested in learning more about garden animals.


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.