Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Weed-Free Gardening by Tasha Greer

Book cover
Weed-Free Gardening
by Tasha Greer


ISBN-13: 9780760373231
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Cool Springs Press
Released: April 12th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Spraying chemical herbicides isn’t a smart solution for eco-conscious homeowners or pet parents. If that’s the case for you, the weed control prevention and control strategies outlined here by author Tasha Greer will have you growing flowers, vegetables, shrubs, and trees with little to no weed competition. Tasha’s organic approach hands you methods for both preventing weeds early in the growing season and managing weedy intruders year-round.

Control annual weeds by disrupting their natural lifecycle. Learn the whys, hows, and whens of weed-inhibiting mulching techniques. Eliminate deep-rooted perennial weeds by eradicating them at their source. Meet the best and most effective weeding tools available to homeowners. Discover many ways to keep weeds out of the vegetable garden while ensuring healthy and productive soil. Implement a practical plan to gain long-term control over weeds. In addition, you’ll find resources for weed identification, tips for getting rid of invasive plants, useful ideas for handling areas completely overtaken by weeds, and dozens of “weed hacks” to make life in the garden so much more beautiful.


My Review:
Weed-Free Gardening is a guide to organic gardening methods to control weeds. In the introduction, she talked about what a weed is and a history of weeds. She talked about different categories of weeds, from plants that you didn't intend to grow there but which might be helpful to plants that will take over your garden if you don't get rid of them quickly. She talked about a wide variety of techniques and tools that you might try out, but this was more of an overview of different things to try and why they work. She explained how these techniques disrupt the weed's lifecycle, starting with preventing germination with things like mulches or no-till techniques. There's enough information to be able to try out these techniques and see which ones work best for your situation. Overall, I'd recommend this gardening 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, March 1, 2022

The Brain and Pain by Richard Ambron

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The Brain and Pain
by Richard Ambron


ISBN-13: 9780231204873
Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Released: March 1st 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Pain is an inevitable part of existence, but severe debilitating or chronic pain is a pathological condition that diminishes the quality of life. The Brain and Pain explores the present and future of pain management, providing a comprehensive understanding based on the latest discoveries from many branches of neuroscience.

Richard Ambron--the former director of a neuroscience lab that conducted leading research in this field--explains the science of how and why we feel pain. He describes how the nervous system and brain process information that leads to the experience of pain, detailing the cellular and molecular functions that are responsible for the initial perceptions of an injury. He discusses how pharmacological agents such as opiates affect the duration and intensity of pain. Ambron examines new evidence showing that discrete circuits in the brain modulate the experience of pain in response to a placebo, fear, anxiety, belief, or other circumstances, as well as how pain can be relieved by activating these circuits using mindfulness training and other nonpharmacological treatments. The book also evaluates the prospects of procedures such as deep brain stimulation and optogenetics.

Current and thorough, The Brain and Pain will be invaluable for a range of people seeking to understand their options for treatment as well as students in neuroscience and medicine.


My Review:
The Brain and Pain explains how the human body senses pain and the parts of the brain involved with suppressing, increasing, or even caring about the pain. The author used scientific language and expected you to remember what each technical term meant so you could understand what he explained later. The target audience seemed to mainly be people who are developing drug interventions (as he explained potential pathways to target), but he did talk about how meditation, placebo, and hypnosis can change how we experience pain. He described in detail how the body senses an injury on your skin, then he talked about visceral pain. He talked about how current drugs work to suppress pain, what we know about chronic pain, and the challenges faced when developing a pain drug. Overall, the book was very informative. I learned some interesting things that anyone can do to help with pain.


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


Thursday, February 24, 2022

The Big Book of Invisible Technology by Chloe Taylor

Book cover
The Big Book of Invisible Technology
by Chloe Taylor


ISBN-13: 9781646112517
Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: Rockridge Press
Released: July 21st 2020

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Learn to see how modern technology is all around us―a hands-on approach for kids 8 to 12. Bluetooth brings beautiful music to your ears―but how, exactly? Using technology and building with technology are two different skill sets―and a twenty-first-century kid will need to understand both. The Big Book of Invisible Technology offers ways to explore how things work for kids in fun, hands-on ways.

From the invisible Internet to driverless cars and drones, this book shows you how things work for kids, using step-by-step experiments. Then apply your knowledge and learn how you may, one day, bring real and important change to our lives. Are you ready to solve some of Earth’s biggest challenges with technology? The future needs you.

In this book on how things work for kids you’ll discover: Important tech-related words are highlighted in bold along with their definitions, in a virtual dictionary of how things work for kids. Nine applied experiments will inspire you to learn while doing―like taking apart and safely rebuilding an old keyboard or remote control. Discover how to brainstorm as you plan ways to positively influence our planet.


My Review:
The Big Book of Invisible Technology provides a simple overview of how modern technology works. It's targeted at ages 8 to 12, and the word variety used is appropriate for that age range. However, the concepts were discussed at a level that younger kids could follow. The author provided some history about the technology and gave a simple explanation of how it worked. There were also a number of activities like pretending to code by telling someone what to do to complete a task. Since there are whole books out there that teach kids in this age range to actually code, I felt like these were very simple activities and not very challenging for this age range. The author covered coding, the Internet, Bluetooth and cellular technology, robots, smart devices, 3D printing, drones, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality. There was also a section about what might be possible in the future, but it was mostly prompting the reader to dream about what they might like to see.


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


Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Mindful Artist: Birds and Botanicals by Monika Cilmi

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Mindful Artist: Birds and Botanicals
by Monika Cilmi


ISBN-13: 9781600589263
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster Publishing
Released: February 8th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Mindful Artist: Birds and Botanicals features tips, techniques, and step-by-step projects for working mindfully with Japanese ink and brush pens to create elegant artwork featuring birds, flowers, plants, and more.

While harnessing the power of meditation, you will learn to create personalized pieces in black ink as well as color. There's no need to follow the instructions exactly; just make what inspires you. Begin with an introduction to mindfulness and the connections between art and meditation. Then dive into detailed sections on the tools and materials needed to create the art in the book, as well as inking and coloring techniques, including brushstrokes. The step-by-step projects that follow take you through the process of creating your own ink-and-brush art, with large images that illustrate the techniques and detailed, easy-to-follow instructions for brushwork, adding color, and more. The layout design is airy and contemporary to match the art style.

The Mindful Artist series from Walter Foster Publishing encourages artists to enjoy working in their favorite media to create relaxing, reflective art. With this series, artists of all skill levels can learn to focus on enjoying the creative process, rather than worrying about the end result.


My Review:
Mindful Artist: Birds and Botanicals described meditative brush pen drawing for 11 birds and 5 flowers. The projects didn't look like specific types of birds, though they were posed in a variety of positions. The flowers were also usually vague "flowers" rather than specific types. The author focused on describing how to make the experience meditative rather than on things like proportion. The point was the process, not the end result. The text and step-by-step illustrations showed what part to draw next. There were some tips on getting the stylized look using brush pens, but most of the instructions were along the lines of "draw a few short, curved strokes around the center." Most of the projects were in black ink, but some added bright colors. Overall, I'd recommend this book to people interested in "mindful" 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, February 1, 2022

A Taste for Poison by Neil Bradbury

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A Taste for Poison
by Neil Bradbury


ISBN-13: 9781250270757
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Released: February 1st 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
As any reader of murder mysteries can tell you, poison is one of the most enduring—and popular—weapons of choice for a scheming murderer. It can be slipped into a drink, smeared onto the tip of an arrow or the handle of a door, even filtered through the air we breathe. But how exactly do these poisons work to break our bodies down, and what can we learn from the damage they inflict?

In a fascinating blend of popular science, medical history, and true crime, Dr. Neil Bradbury explores this most morbidly captivating method of murder from a cellular level. Alongside real-life accounts of murderers and their crimes—some notorious, some forgotten, some still unsolved—are the equally compelling stories of the poisons involved: eleven molecules of death that work their way through the human body and, paradoxically, illuminate the way in which our bodies function.

Drawn from historical records and current news headlines, A Taste for Poison weaves together the tales of spurned lovers, shady scientists, medical professionals and political assassins to show how the precise systems of the body can be impaired to lethal effect through the use of poison. From the deadly origins of the gin & tonic cocktail to the arsenic-laced wallpaper in Napoleon’s bedroom, A Taste for Poison leads readers on a fascinating tour of the intricate, complex systems that keep us alive—or don’t.


My Review:
A Taste for Poison explored how eleven different poisons work on the body. The author covered poisonings using insulin, belladonna, morphine, strychnine, ricin, aconite, cyanide, potassium, polonium-210, arsenic, and chlorine. He told about one or more cases that used the poison, then described the symptoms, how it could be treated if caught in time, and the biological details about how the poison disrupts the normal functioning of the body to create the symptoms and death. Most of the murders were from the mid-1800s to modern day, with a focus on relatively recent cases in England and America. The cases were told briefly but in an interesting way. The biochemistry details were easy to follow, with enough detail to follow what goes wrong without getting too bogged down in the science. 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.


Monday, January 31, 2022

Tea by Kevin Gascoyne

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Tea by Kevin Gascoyne,
Fran├žois Marchand,
Jasmin Desharnais,
Hugo Americi,
Jonathan Racine


ISBN-13: 9780593197882
Paperback: 271 pages
Publisher: Firefly Books
Released: November 3rd 2011

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Tea is a comprehensive guide to non-herbal tea, the plant Camellia sinensis. Concise and authoritative text and an abundance of color photographs take the reader on an escorted tour of the world's tea-growing countries: China, Japan, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam and East Africa. Like a fine wine, it is the "terroir" -- a region's soil and climate -- that imparts unique characteristics to a tea. The book covers black, green, white, yellow, oolong, pu'er, perfumed, aromatic and smoked teas.

Topics include an overview of the history of tea, tea varieties, the worldwide export of tea, how tea is processed, signature tea cultivars, the art of making, serving and tasting tea, including tea ceremonies, and tea in cooking with 15 recipes. Also, a set of detailed charts, tables and graphs shows the caffeine, antioxidant and other biochemical properties of 35 teas.


My Review:
Tea provides a detailed look at the history and present state of tea in China, Japan, Taiwan, India (and, briefly, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam and East Africa). The book started by providing an overview of the history of tea and information about the different tea types: black, green, white, yellow, oolong, pu'er, perfumed, aromatic, and smoked teas. The authors then focused on specific countries and talked about where the tea is grow, how the weather affects the tea taste, the tea types that they grow there, if the tea is primarily for domestic use or export, and details about how they process the tea and about local tea drinking ceremonies. They ended with 15 recipes that use tea and some scientific analysis about what levels of caffeine and antioxidants are in various teas and how different preparation methods (steeping times, multiple infussions, etc.) affect the amounts of caffeine and antioxidant in each cup of tea. If you really like your tea and want to learn the details, this book has a lot for detailed information.


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


Thursday, January 27, 2022

The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Light by Katie Woodward

Book cover
Understanding Light by Katie Woodward

ISBN-13: 9780760372036
Paperback: 118 pages
Publisher: Quarry Books
Released: December 28th 2021

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Light is an informative guide to heightening the impact of your artwork by capturing the look and subtleties of light in any scene. In settings ranging from fields and mountains at daybreak to neon cityscapes at midnight, learn how to express light effects through color and value to improve and refine your drawings and paintings.

Artist and urban sketcher Katie Woodward offers strategies for selectively translating values for maximum effect, using your sketchbook to experiment with the effects of natural as well as artificial light, and considering many options for visual solutions through work contributed by experienced urban sketchers.


My Review:
Understanding Light is an excellent guide on what to observe and consider to better create a realistic sense of light in your paintings or drawings. This is for any medium, but the illustrations were mainly watercolor, pencil, and pen. While the author provided tips on using value and such to create a sense of light, much of the focus was on making sure that you see what's actually there rather than using the colors you expect to see. She also gave useful tips for what to consider or change if you realize what you're doing isn't working. I've heard some of this advice before, but it never really clicked until I read it so clearly explained here. Overall, I'd highly recommend this book to artists who are getting the hang of the basic skills of their medium and now want to improve their portrayal of light in a scene (urban or not).


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.