Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Dirty Old London by Lee Jackson

book cover
Dirty Old London
by Lee Jackson

ISBN-13: 9780300216110
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press
Released: Oct. 15, 2015

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
In Victorian London, filth was everywhere: horse traffic filled the streets with dung, household rubbish went uncollected, cesspools brimmed with "night soil," graveyards teemed with rotting corpses, the air itself was choked with smoke. In this intimately visceral book, Lee Jackson guides us through the underbelly of the Victorian metropolis, introducing us to the men and women who struggled to stem a rising tide of pollution and dirt, and the forces that opposed them.

Through thematic chapters, Jackson describes how Victorian reformers met with both triumph and disaster. Full of individual stories and overlooked details--from the dustmen who grew rich from recycling, to the peculiar history of the public toilet--this riveting book gives us a fresh insight into the minutiae of daily life and the wider challenges posed by the unprecedented growth of the Victorian capital.

My Review:
Dirty Old London is a history of the sanitary movement in London in the 1800's. The author covered household refuse (trash/garbage), street mud (a mix of dirt, ash, dung, trash), night soil (from cesspools to sewers), corpses (changes in graveyards), bathing and laundry (how can the poor get clean?), public toilets (what to do when you just have to go!), soot (from boy sweeps to mechanical brushes), and attempts to clean up the slums including model housing for the poor.

The author talked about what had been done in the past, what people proposed should be changed and why, and what was actually done and where (since it didn't happen everywhere at once). We're given dates for when the idea was proposed and for the various tries that people made, so we see how long it took to make these changes--including changes in people's attitudes. There were quotes from government and association reports, newspapers and magazines, and even court cases.

I found the information easy to follow and extremely interesting. I'd recommend this book to people who are interested in how we "got to now" in terms of city and personal cleanliness in London and who want the details rather than a brief overview.

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 13, 2015

Face Paint by Lisa Eldridge

book cover
Face Paint:
The Story of Makeup
by Lisa Eldridge

ISBN-13: 9781419717963
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Abrams Image
Released: Oct. 13, 2015

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Makeup, as we know it, has only been commercially available in the last 100 years, but applying decoration to the face and body may be one of the oldest global social practices. In Face Paint, Lisa Eldridge reveals the entire history of the art form, from Egyptian and Classical times up through the Victorian age and golden era of Hollywood, and also surveys the cutting-edge makeup science of today and tomorrow.

Face Paint explores the practical and idiosyncratic reasons behind makeup’s use, the actual materials employed over generations, and the glamorous icons that people emulate and how they achieved their effects. An engaging history of style, it is also a social history of women and the ways in which we can understand their lives through the prism and impact of makeup.

My Review:
Face Paint is an overview of the use of makeup throughout history. The author mainly focused on the last 120 years, but she included a brief survey of the use of makeup throughout history in Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East.

The first section focused on makeup in ancient to recent history and included what types of ingredients were used as pigments, what tools were used to apply makeup, and trends in what part of the face was painted. But she didn't include details like actual historical recipes with directions. The rest of the book focused on the rise of mass-produced makeup. She described the origins of the first makeup brands, how trends were made, and changes that were made to improve products. She covered the history of commercial mascara, eye shadow, nail polish, lip stick, blush, powder & foundation, and bronzer.

The book contained many full-color photographs, including pictures of different products and historical ads. She also included many pictures of trend-setting women throughout history paired with short biographies. I'd recommend this book to people interested in trends in wearing makeup throughout history and how its use became so common in the last 120 years.

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 6, 2015

Adventures On The Queen Mary by Dave Wooders

book cover
Adventures on the Queen Mary
by Dave Wooders,
James Radford

ISBN-13: 0998877665544
Paperback: 274 pages
Publisher: The Perfect Page
Released: January 14, 2015

Source: ebook review copy through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Take an exciting trip back in time to the Golden Age of Ocean Travel on board the world's favorite liner -- the RMS Queen Mary. Enjoy a visual feast of new and archival photographs, many never before published. At 16 years of age, in 1957, Dave Wooders worked as a bellboy and, later, as a commus waiter on the Queen Mary!

My Review:
Adventures On The Queen Mary is a memoir about working on the RMS Queen Mary as a teenager. Dave Wooders joined the crew in June 1957 and worked on board her until 1959. This book is a collection of stories written down by Dave Wooders and loosely organized by James Radford. It reads like an older relative reminiscing about his fondest memories at a family gathering.

We're told about his various jobs (mostly as bellboy and commus waiter) and about the Queen Mary itself but also about the famous people he met and what the crew did in their free time. We're told about the things they did on board and on shore leave for entertainment, the clothing they bought, the things they brought back home to England from America, dating while being gone from his girlfriend so often, and what storms at sea were like. There were many interesting photographs of the RMS Queen Mary (inside and out) and of Dave Wooders (when on the crew and more recently).

He also talked about his other sea-going jobs and briefly about his life after he quit in Oct. 1961. He also made some trips to visit the Queen Mary after she was retired and made into a hotel. There was a reunion held on board, then he took his wife to see it, and then his sons. Some of the stories told earlier were retold in full here as he showed people the spot where the story happened. Dave Wooders' fondness for the ship and excitement of being at sea shine through in the stories. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those interested in what working on the RMS Queen Mary (and other ocean liners) 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.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Watercolor Course You've Always Wanted by Leslie Frontz

book cover
The Watercolor Course You've Always Wanted
by Leslie Frontz

ISBN-13: 9780770435295
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Released: August 18, 2015

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
This straightforward handbook offers a fresh approach to watercolor mastery that bridges the gap between theory and practice. Through discussion and demonstrations, Leslie Frontz shows readers how to eliminate common barriers to achieve beautiful, captivating watercolor paintings. Beginning with learning to see with an artist's eye, Frontz then establishes how watercolor painters build on this skill by making timely decisions throughout the creation process.

My Review:
The Watercolor Course You've Always Wanted is a watercolor instruction book. The author assumed that you have a basic understanding of how to paint with watercolor. However, this book is unlikely to contain much new for people who have read several books on the topic.

She covered information like: seeing with an artist's eye by finding the major chunks of light, dark, and medium color in a potential painting; using a full range of value in a painting; mixing color to get the desired results; using bright against dull color or light against dark color to draw attention; how to hold the brush for a "loose" look; choosing a horizontal or vertical format; what type of watercolor paper to use; suggesting texture through paper choice, spattering, scraping, stamping, or sprinkling (salt); and creating mood through light and subject matter.

Much of the book is demonstration rather than explanation. The finished demonstration paintings are so "loose" that a beginner has a good chance at attaining a similar result. However, if you like to know exactly what pigments were mixed to get what specific color and how that was brushed on the paper, then you'll be frustrated with the vague instructions. Before she even covered color mixing, she talked about mixing pigments--for example, ultramarine, phthalo blue, and alizarin crimson for a wash across the lower sky area--with little more instruction than that.

Some of the demonstrations were decent at showing the principle she was teaching. Others were less so, like the demonstration where she used spattering, scraping, stamping, and sprinkling. She used all of these techniques at the final stage of the demonstration, but I couldn't find some of them, like marks from sprinkling, and I was uncertain what parts were sponged. Basically, I've read other watercolor books that cover the same topics (and more) in a way that I found easier to understand and apply on my own.

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.