Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Country House Library by Mark Purcell

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The Country House Library
by Mark Purcell

ISBN-13: 9780300227406
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press
Released: Oct. 31, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Beginning with new evidence that cites the presence of books in Roman villas and concluding with present day vicissitudes of collecting, this generously illustrated book presents a complete survey of British and Irish country house libraries. Replete with engaging anecdotes about owners and librarians, the book features fascinating information on acquisition bordering on obsession, the process of designing library architecture, and the care (and neglect) of collections.

The author also disputes the notion that these libraries were merely for show, arguing that many of them were profoundly scholarly, assembled with meticulous care, and frequently used for intellectual pursuits. For those who love books and the libraries in which they are collected and stored, The Country House Library is an essential volume to own.

My Review:
The Country House Library looks at privately owned books in Britain and Ireland from the Roman Britain villas in the 1st century to the country house (and town house) libraries of more recent times. The author talked about the types of reading material, including information like the languages they were written in, the materials used, how they were stored and organized, and how they acquired. He also explored where the books were kept and the furnishings in those rooms (if known). He talked about known private book collections--who owned them, how many (or what value of) books they owned, and significant or commonly-owned titles in those collections. He also talked about what happened to various collections, like destruction in fires or dispersal through selling, inheritance, and such.

The author also talked about changes in how and why books were acquired, the types of books deemed desirable, how books were stored, and such. He included people's descriptions of various collections and rooms to give an idea of how people viewed these collections at the time. This book included beautiful, full-color pictures of libraries, significant books, and paintings that show people reading books. There was enough focus on changes in collecting habits, storage, and such that I found the book very interesting.

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, December 26, 2017

The Healing Powers of Tea by Cal Orey

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The Healing Powers of Tea
by Cal Orey

ISBN-13: 9780806538266
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Citadel
Released: Dec. 26, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
It picks you up and calms you down, warms you and refreshes you. With black, white, red, green, and herbal varieties, there’s a tea for every taste, and now this time-honored superfood is trending as the drink of choice for health-conscious people of all ages and cultures. With The Healing Powers of Tea (sweetened with lively stories) you’ll learn the hottest tips to improve your health.

*Discover how black and white teas are heating up the beverage world with antioxidants and nutrients that lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and fight off inflammation, viruses, and bacteria.

*Drink teas and tisanes to give yourself more energy, less stress, treat the common cold, insomnia, and more!

*Enjoy comforting and tea-licious recipes like Warm Scones with Jam and Devonshire Cream, Assorted Finger Sandwiches, Scrumptious White Tea Scallops, and Russian Tea Cookies paired with the perfect brew – hot or iced.

My Review:
The Healing Powers of Tea includes stories from the author about her experiences involving tea, some legends and trivia about tea, and some health benefits of tea. The author is a health journalist, so you'll get the type of information found in magazines: soak your feet in tea or use tea-infused tea products for a spa day. Recipes for making tea-related foods (like scones) or hints on how to use tea or tea leaves in certain foods. Trivia like the first use of tea bags, the origins of some of her favorite tea companies (like Lipton), and mentions of tea in ancient records. Interviews with Tea Masters asking things like how they got involved with tea.

She defined tea terms. She covered basic information about white, green, and black teas and tisanes (spices, fruits, and herbs). She also talked about the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet and suggested possible menus and recipes to pair with your tea. She talked about how people use tea for weight loss, anti-aging, and in beauty products. She had a section on using tea for 50 health conditions, but the information tended to be repetitive. For example, tea is anti-inflammatory, so she recommended it for a variety of inflammatory conditions. She had a new entry for each condition and just repeated her advice each time, but with a new personal story tacked on about how well it worked for her.

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, December 19, 2017

The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook by Victoria Moran, JL Fields

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The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook
by Victoria Moran,
JL Fields

ISBN-13: 9781944648688
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: BenBella Books
Released: Dec. 19, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook is more than a cookbook; it's a complete guide to going vegan, navigating the culinary, nutritional, and social landscape of plant-based eating. Victoria and JL, along with over a hundred certified vegan lifestyle coaches, share more than 100 of their favorite plant-sourced recipes. Inside, the vegan and just veg-curious will find delectable and accessible recipes like:

PB&J Sammie Smoothie
Sweet Red Chili Potato Skins
Pepperoni Pizza Puffs
Sicilian Orange Salad
Best Split Pea Soup
Smoky Black Beans & Greens
Crisp Mocha Peanut Butter Bars

My Review:
The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook is a book about anti-animal-exploitation motivated veganism. While the authors were aware that not everyone becomes vegan for that reason, this theme came up throughout the book. The last chapter even talked about choosing vegan clothing, furniture, and such. The first part of the book explained how eating vegan doesn't have to be difficult, expensive, etc.

The recipes were contributed by many different people, so they varied from health-conscious to comfort food minus the animal products. This also meant that certain types of food got mentioned multiple times, like 4 different recipes for lasagna. The recipes served from as few as 2 people all the way up to 14 people. Many times, the recipes called for store-bought vegan "cheese," "butter," "meat," or egg replacer. Perhaps this was to make the recipes less complicated or sound more familiar to meat eaters. Tofu and other soy products showed up fairly frequently. Substitutes were suggested if the recipe called for known allergens.

The recipes covered breakfast, snacks, soups and salads, one pot meals (slow cooker, multi-cooker), supper, and desert. There weren't many pictures of the finished foods. I didn't realize until now how influenced I am by pictures to convince me that a recipe will look and taste good. The book seemed aimed at people who are easing into cooking vegan or those curious about vegan snacks and meals. I'd hoped for more health-focused recipes and tips on the unique challenges of cooking vegan (in the sense of being able to make your own recipes).

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, December 15, 2017

The Little Exile by Jeanette Arakawa

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The Little Exile
by Jeanette Arakawa

ISBN-13: 9781611720365
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Stone Bridge Press
Released: May 16, 2017

Source: ARC Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
After Pearl Harbor, little Marie Mitsui’s typical life of school and playing with friends in San Francisco is upended. Her family and thousands of others of Japanese heritage are under suspicion and forcibly relocated to internment camps far from home. Living conditions in the camps are harsh, but in the end Marie finds freedom and hope for the future. Told from a child’s perspective, The Little Exile deftly conveys Marie’s innocence, wonder, fear, and outrage. This work of autobiographical fiction is based on the author’s own experience as a wartime internee.

Jeanette S. Arakawa was born in San Francisco in 1932 and was interned in the 1940s at the Rohwer War Relocation Center in Arkansas.

My Review:
The Little Exile is autobiographical fiction describing the author's life around the time of WWII. It reminded me of reading "Little House on the Prairie." We get stories about interesting things that happened in her life, but it also shows how they were treated. It's written from the viewpoint of a child rather than an adult looking back to when she was a child. She started by describing her life in San Francisco leading up to WWII, then how they were treated after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Many people remained friendly with her family, but the FBI sent some people to check out her father and they had to give up their radio. Then they had to move inland. Then they had to go to a temporary internment camp, then take a long train ride to Arkansas, then stay at this new internment/relocation camp for several years. We also learn how her father found a job in Denver, and they left the camp and moved there until they could finally "go home" to San Francisco.

She described how they were treated, both the good and the bad. The internment camps certainly weren't pleasant or fair, but they were actually better than I'd thought. They could watch movies, get jobs at the camp to earn a little money, and order things and correspond through the mail. They had a school of a sorts and a hospital. Well, read the book to learn what it was like. 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, December 12, 2017

The Psychobiotic Revolution by Scott C. Anderson

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The Psychobiotic Revolution:
Mood, Food, and the New Science of the Gut-Brain Connection
by Scott C. Anderson,
John F. Cryan,
Ted Dinan

ISBN-13: 978-1426218460
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: National Geographic
Released: Nov. 7, 2017

Source: ARC review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Written by the leading researchers in the field, this information-rich guide to improving your mood explains how gut health drives psychological well-being, and how depression and anxiety can be relieved by adjusting your intestinal bacteria.

This groundbreaking book explains the revolutionary new science of psychobiotics and the discovery that your brain health and state of mind are intimately connected to your microbiome, that four-pound population of microbes living inside your intestines. Leading medical researchers John F. Cryan and Ted Dinan, working with veteran journalist Scott C. Anderson, explain how common mental health problems, particularly depression and anxiety, can be improved by caring for the intestinal microbiome. Science is proving that a healthy gut means a healthy mind—and this book details the steps you can take to change your mood and improve your life by nurturing your microbiome.

My Review:
The Psychobiotic Revolution is about how certain gut microbes positively or negatively affect your mood and what you can do about it. The main author wrote in a mildly humorous way and for the common person. While he'd use scientific terms, he immediately defined or described what those terms meant. The other two authors are people actively doing research in this field. They double-checked the content of the book and were occasionally quoted when explaining something they've discovered.

Much of the book was an overview of what we know about gut microbes--what they are, how they might affect our moods, how our gut microbe composition changes from birth to death, how it changes from your mouth to toilet bowel, and such. The last chapters talked about helpful probiotics (including what to look for in a probiotic) and how to change your diet to support psychobiotics and discourage microbes that can make you depressed or anxious. They looked at common health conditions that are often accompanied by depression or anxiety and talked about what probiotics have been found helpful in studies. By the end of the book, the reader is equipped to make positive changes. 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, December 5, 2017

The Art of Brush Lettering by Kelly Klapstein

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The Art of Brush Lettering
by Kelly Klapstein

ISBN-13: 9781631593550
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Quarry Books
Released: Nov. 28, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Popular Instagram brush lettering artist Kelly Klapstein takes a simple, serene approach to teaching the art of creating beautiful letterforms with easy to use and richly colored brush pens. Kelly begins by guiding you through the tools you’ll be using, and the best ways to position pen, hand, and paper.

Kelly demonstrates a range of basic strokes along with drill sheets for practice and improvement. In addition to providing detailed instructions and tracing guides for both lowercase and uppercase alphabets, Kelly gives tutorials on freestyle lettering, faux calligraphy, and special effects. Also included are lowercase and uppercase A to Z exemplars for both large and small brush pens. Drill sheets, tracing guides, worksheets, and exemplars are included at the back of the book.

My Review:
The Art of Brush Lettering is an art book about using brush markers to create Copperplate-type lettering. The author described how she enjoys doing lettering as a meditative exercise. She then described in detail your choices in tools (markers and paper), how to store your markers, how to hold the marker, how to practice the downward and upward pressure used in brush lettering, and finally how to do every stroke of every letter (lower and upper case) in the main style of lettering that she likes. She even talked about proper posture and stretching your hand and neck muscles. She also explained some additional lettering styles (modern, bounce, etc.) and effects (shadows, highlights, patterns, etc.). Finally, she had some worksheets for you to practice on.

While the author provided detailed instruction for beginners on using markers for lettering, she focused on only one style. Yes, she described how other styles work, but her focus was on the reader perfecting one main style. If you simply want to learn brush marker calligraphy and like her chosen font (or don't care what font you start with), then this should help you do 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.