Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Royal Art of Poison by Eleanor Herman

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The Royal Art of Poison
by Eleanor Herman


ISBN-13: 9781250140869
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Released: June 12, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Hugely entertaining, a work of pop history that traces the use of poison in the royal courts of Western Europe from the Middle Ages to the Kremlin today. For centuries, royal families have feared the gut-roiling, vomit-inducing agony of a little something added to their food or wine by an enemy. To avoid poison, they depended on tasters, unicorn horns, and antidotes tested on condemned prisoners. Servants licked the royal family’s spoons, tried on their underpants and tested their chamber pots.

Ironically, royals terrified of poison were unknowingly poisoning themselves daily with their cosmetics, medications, and filthy living conditions. Women wore makeup made with mercury and lead. Men rubbed turds on their bald spots. Physicians prescribed mercury enemas, arsenic skin cream, drinks of lead filings, and potions of human fat and skull, fresh from the executioner. The most gorgeous palaces were little better than filthy latrines. Gazing at gorgeous portraits of centuries past, we don’t see what lies beneath the royal robes and the stench of unwashed bodies; the lice feasting on private parts; and worms nesting in the intestines.

In The Royal Art of Poison, Eleanor Herman combines her unique access to royal archives with cutting-edge forensic discoveries to tell the true story of Europe’s glittering palaces: one of medical bafflement, poisonous cosmetics, ever-present excrement, festering natural illness, and, sometimes, murder


My Review:
The Royal Art of Poison is about how royals and famous people died in the Middle Ages to the present day from many different causes but blamed an enemy using poison. Sometimes they were correct. The author looked at how people died from poorly cooked food, diseases and filthy living conditions, medications and cosmetics containing poisons, or doctors using excessive bleeding, purging, and other treatments. The author also talked about the various antidotes and preventive methods used by royals to avoid being poisoned.

Then she looked at more than 17 specific, famous people who died under suspicion of poisoning--from Henry VII of Luxembourg, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1313 to Napoleon Bonaparte in 1821 plus a list of poisonings in Russia and elsewhere in more recent times. She provided a brief biography of the person, a detailed and gory description of their death as recorded at the time, what the people at the time concluded was the cause of death, and a modern forensic analysis of cause of death. When the conclusion was poisoning, she didn't attempt to guess who did it unless someone confessed to it. Overall, the writing style and information kept my interest, but the details of the deaths were a bit gory for me (though necessary for the forensic analysis).


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Anywhere, Anytime Art: Gouache by Agathe Singer

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Anywhere, Anytime Art:
Gouache
by Agathe Singer


ISBN-13: 9781633224964
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster Publishing
Released: May 1, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Gouache paint has a long history, but it’s often associated with watercolor and multimedia art. Until now, that is! Trendy artists with large social-media followings are reinvigorating gouache, making this the ideal time to add this medium to your toolbox...or start your art journey with it!

Like the other books in the Anywhere, Anytime Art series, Gouache explores this medium in a portable, approachable, and contemporary way. Basic painting topics, such as tools and materials, techniques, and color theory, are presented in an easy-to-read, visual style. The subsequent step-by-step projects focus on various subjects that artists can find anywhere, whether they’re home or out and about. Artists can learn to paint their favorite things, including plants, flowers, cats, patterns, and more.


My Review:
Anywhere, Anytime Art: Gouache is a guide to using gouache aimed at people who have never tried it before. The author provided some very basic tips and techniques for using gouache along with some very simple, stylized painting projects to get you experimenting with the medium. The patterns, flowers, birds, and cats in the 12 projects are very basic and easy to do following her instructions because you aren't attempting realism. The author had an encouraging tone and promotes fanciful painting for fun and relaxation. I've been painting with gouache for several years now, so I didn't learn anything new. However, this book could be useful to someone new to gouache or even to painting.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Quench by Dana Cohen; Gina Bria

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Quench
by Dana Cohen;
Gina Bria


ISBN-13: 9780316515665
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Hachette Books
Released: June 12, 2018

Source: ebook ARC review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads
Many of us are dehydrated due to moisture lacking diets, artificial environments, and medications. Yet drinking too much water can flush out vital nutrients and electrolytes. Here is where "gel water" comes in: the water from plants (like cucumber, berries, aloe), which our bodies are designed to truly absorb right down to the cellular level.

Quench offers a five-day jump start plan: hydrating meal plans and the heart of the program, smoothies using the most hydrating and nutrient-packed plants. Another unique feature of their approach is micro-movements-small, simple movements you can make a few times a day that will move water through your fascia, the connective tissue responsible for hydrating our bodies. You will experience more energy, focus, and better digestion within five days.


My Review:
Quench is about hydration through eating plants and through movement. I've been interested in the concept of a fourth phase of water since watching a YouTube TEDX presentation about it. This book used that same material and other information you can easily find on the internet, though she did include some information about fascia that I hadn't heard before.

The authors talked about how your body uses water and how dehydration may be a cause behind various health conditions. They talked about the fourth state of water, which naturally occurs in abundance in foods like fruits and vegetables. They talked about how eating whole fruits and veggies is a good way to hydrate and how movement, even small movements, helps to keep you hydrated. Unfortunately, I often didn't find the descriptions of suggested micro-movements to be clear and the simplistic illustrations didn't clarify things for me.

They also talked about hydration for anti-aging and in special populations, like children and the elderly. They included smoothie, soup, and other hydrating recipes and a 5-day plan of what to eat and drink to be optimally hydrated.

Unfortunately, they would often say one thing in one spot and then say something seemingly contradictory in another spot. For example, one of the authors talked about how great Yerba Mate is for hydration, but it's high in caffeine (which she doesn't mention). Yet they later strongly recommend that you minimize or eliminate tea and coffee due to its caffeine content. But then they talked about a study that shows that up to 4 cups of coffee will not dehydrate you. And they suggested adding a pinch of salt to every glass of water you drink even though salt is dehydrating. So it is a good topic, but the presentation was confusing at times.


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


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The China Study Cookbook by LeAnne Campbell, PhD

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The China Study Cookbook
by LeAnne Campbell, PhD


ISBN-13: 9781944648954
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: BenBella Books
Released: June 5, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
With more than 2 million copies sold, The China Study has been hailed as one of the most important health and nutrition books ever published, revealing that the traditional Western diet has led to our modern health crisis and the way to stop widespread growth of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer is through a whole foods, plant-based diet.

This new edition of the bestselling The China Study Cookbook takes the groundbreaking scientific findings of The China Study and puts them on your plate. Written by LeAnne Campbell, daughter of The China Study co-author T. Colin Campbell, PhD, The China Study Cookbook features even more delicious, easily prepared plant-based recipes that promote optimal health—with no added fat and minimal sugar and salt.

Inside, discover time-tested favorites and brand new dishes: Breakfast Home-Fry Hash, Fabulous Sweet Potato Enchiladas, No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars, Cheese(less) Cake, Chipotle Quinoa Salad, Green Banana Cassava Soup, Spinach Mushroom Eggplant Rolls, Yucca con Cebollas, and more!

Filled with helpful tips on substitutions, keeping foods nutrient-rich, The China Study Cookbook shows you how to transform your health and the health of your entire family, while contributing to the health of your community and the world—all while enjoying incredible, delicious meals.


My Review:
The China Study Cookbook is a whole food, plant-based (vegan) cookbook with recipes that use no added fat and lower amounts of sugar and salt. Most of the recipes were for 4-6 people and were fairly easy to make. The author started by talking about why she eats a whole food, plant-based diet, about the program she runs, and cooking tips like substitutes for animal products (dairy, eggs) and oil.

There were recipes for 13 breads and muffins (and fruit butters), 23 recipes for breakfast dishes (coffee cake, jams, french toast, crepes, smoothies, oatmeal, granola, pancakes, etc.), 27 recipes for appetizers and salads, 15 recipes for soups, 20 recipes for sandwiches and wraps, 30 recipes for entrees (burritos, pasta, stew, etc.), 25 recipes for sides (beans, beets, corn, sauces, etc.), 23 recipes for deserts (pies, cakes, cookies, etc.)

I've tried a few of the recipes and enjoyed them. Overall, I'd recommend this cookbook to people who are interested in adding more whole-food, plant-based meals to their diet.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes, Volume Two by Liese Sherwood-Fabre

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The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes
Volume Two
by Liese Sherwood-Fabre


ISBN-13: 9780998411248
ebook: 98 pages
Publisher: Little Elm Press, LLC
Released: May 13, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Fans of Sherlock Holmes, Victorian England, and history in general will all find interesting tidbits to carry away. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle references many everyday Victorian activities and aspects that are lost on the twenty-first century reader. These short essays provide modern readers a better understanding of Victorian England and greater insight into the world of Sherlock Holmes. His cases take on richer meaning when the reader grasps the subtilties of such details as the blue ribbon mentioned in “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box,” the doss houses Shinwell Johnson knew about, or how one contracted brain fever.

Originally published in Sherlockian newsletters across the world, these short essays carry the reader back to London, 1895 and the world of the most famous consulting detective. Topics covered include:

Horse racing, The Victorian Wedding, Boxing, The Temperance Movement, Fencing, London Smog, Brain Fever, Circuses, The Port of Dundee, Doss Houses, Vampires, Bradshaw’s Companion, Bicycles and the New Woman, Clergymen, Public Houses, Microscopes and Magnifying Glasses, Governesses, Ciphers and Codes, Eton, Cambridge and Oxford, The Art of Disguise, Typewriters, Brief History of Tea.


My Review:
The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of 24 short essays on the historical context of things mentioned in Sherlock Holmes stories. Each essay was inspired by a comment or incident in a Sherlock Holmes story, and we're told where the essay topic is mentioned. We're then given a brief history or background information on the topic. Sports were given a brief overview from origin to modern day, but other topics focused primarily on Victorian times. The footnotes show that most of the information was found online or in a small number of books about Victorian England, so you could look up much of this information for yourself if so motivated. However, it is an interesting and informative read.

Topics covered include Horse racing, Victorian Wedding Traditions, Boxing, Temperance Movement, Fencing, London Smog, Brain Fever, Turkish Baths, Circuses, The Port of Dundee, Lodging in Workhouses or Doss Houses, Vampires, Bradshaw’s Companion, Women Bicycling and Working, Vicars and Rectors, Public Houses, Microscopes and Magnifying Glasses, Governesses, Ciphers and Codes, Eton, Cambridge and Oxford, Principles of Disguise, Typewriters, Coffee and Tea.


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


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Creature Garden by Zanna Goldhawk, Harry Goldhawk

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The Creature Garden
by Zanna Goldhawk,
Harry Goldhawk


ISBN-13: 9781631064272
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Rock Point
Released: May 29, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The Creature Garden is filled with drawing and design ideas for over fifty animals, trees, plants, and even creatures of myth and lore. Each chapter features a beautifully illustrated opener, step by step instructions for all the animals featured, and interesting facts and folklore on the creatures being featured. This gorgeous art book contains both beautiful stylized art technique and interesting information about natural history, regional folklore, and animals both real and imagined.


My Review:
The Creature Garden is a step-by-step guide to drawing or painting stylized animals and plants. For each animal, the authors illustrated how to draw the basic shapes--circles, triangles, rectangles--and connect the shapes to give the basic animal outline. Then they showed which direction to paint and provided illustrations for adding color and patterns with additional details added in each step. The text mainly described information about the animal with a few tips on how to make a stylized animal recognizable.

They briefly talked about various materials you might use, like markers, watercolors, gouache, and acrylic. They showed how to make the patterns on animal coats. Overall, the illustrations do a good job of showing how to make these animals and plants, especially if you are comfortable with how-to art books with minimal text.

The authors showed how to draw a jaguar, snow leopard, tiger, lion, house cat, dog, wolf, fox, horse, deer, hare, panda, bears, sloth, elephant, giraffe, whale, dolphin, tropical fish, narwhal, octopus, seahorse, swan, flamingo, peacock, crane, owl, cardinal, butterfly, moth, damselfly, bee, phoenix, fairy, mermaid, unicorn, pegasus, griffin, centaur, hippogriff, and Asian dragon. They also provided step-by-step illustrations for several garden plants, forest plants, jungle plants, and underwater plants.


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


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Happy Cactus by DK

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Happy Cactus
by DK


ISBN-13: 9781465474537
Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher: DK
Released: May 15, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
In-depth profiles, care tips, and display inspiration for more than 50 popular cactus and succulent varieties. Practical advice, from potting to propagating. Unearth the secrets of different cacti and succulents, with profiles on more than 50 popular varieties. From the cute, flowering pincushion cactus to the wacky prickly pear, discover what makes your plant unique and how it might behave when treated with a little bit of love. Find out where to put it, when to water it, what to feed it, what to look out for, and how to encourage its distinctive traits, from flower stalks to fast growth.

Whether you're seeking a stylish houseplant for your apartment but struggling to keep more temperamental plants alive, or you're a green-fingered cactus enthusiast determined to get your precious plant to grow and flower this year, Happy Cactus is here to answer your questions.


My Review:
Happy Cactus is a gardening book about growing cacti and succulents as houseplants. The book started by talking about choosing a pot and soil, how much sunlight, fertilizer, and water they need, how to repot or propagate them, and dealing with potential pests. Then they provided specific details for about 46 types of cacti and succulents (with sidebars on related plants). These in-depth pages talked about characteristics of the plants (like height, potential pests, how fast it grows, and spines) and care instructions (how much sunlight it needs, when to fertilize and water, plus repotting, propagating, and flowering tips).

They talked about cacti that are only a few inches tall to those that can grow several feet tall. They talked about plants that have spines and those that don't. They even talked about cacti that are grown in a hanging pot. This book is a fun way to learn more about these plants and potentially find some that would suit your house. The only thing they don't really cover is how to find these plants, as some aren't going to be in your local stores.


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.