Tuesday, April 24, 2018

How to Draw People by Jeff Mellem

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How to Draw People
by Jeff Mellem

ISBN-13: 9781440353161
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: North Light Books
Released: April 24, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In How to Draw People, author Jeff Mellem teaches beginning artists how to draw the human figure, from stick figure to anatomically accurate person, in clear, easy-to-follow lessons. More than just a reference, this book provides the step-by-step instruction to teach you to draw the human figure and the anatomical knowledge to draw it realistically.

In each chapter, called "levels," you'll learn core concepts for drawing the human figure. Each new chapter builds on the previous one to give you the skills you need to add complexity to your drawing. By the end of each chapter, you will be able to draw the figure with greater detail. By the end of Level 5, you will be able to draw an expressive figure with defined muscle groups in a variety of poses both real and imagined. With clear step-by-step demonstrations and check-ins along the way, How to Draw People is the beginner's guide to drawing realistic figures.

My Review:
How to Draw People is an art book on how to draw human figures. The author teaches this by using a 5 level method that introduces figure drawing in a simple way and builds up to a fully realistic figure. The first level involves learning to draw an advanced stick figure--first just getting all the parts down, then trying to get the parts in proportion--and also learning to do gesture drawing. The second level involves drawing a simplified skeleton. The third level is a more refined figure using merged boxes and cylinders to create the volume of the figure. The fourth level adds on the largest, outer muscle structures. The fifth level is drawing a fully realistic human figure.

The last two levels took up much of the book as they illustrated the outer anatomy of the body and how to draw it. Each chapter had exercises for you to practice until you master that level of drawing. There were step-by-step demonstrations for each new skill or body part. I have read the whole book but am currently working on level four. I feel like the book has helped boost my confidence and my drawing skill in figure drawing. Overall, I'd recommend this book to beginners in figure drawing.

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.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Light Shines from the West by Robert C. Baron

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The Light Shines from the West
by Robert C. Baron

ISBN-13: 9781682751640
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Fulcrum Publishing
Released: April 3, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
An exploration of the innovations and expansions that have shaped the West and the American landscape from 1800 to today, this book shines a light on the people and places integral to the development of our nation. Robert C. Baron has been joined by five others in writing this important book. Contributors include Elizabeth Darby, Page Lambert, Dr. Bruce Paton, Daniel Wildcat, and Donald A. Yale.

My Review:
The Light Shines from the West is a collection of 12 essays written by 6 different people about the development of the American West, from the Louisiana Purchase to present day. The intent was to include information on the people who lived in the West before American Easterners arrived and to look at factors that made living in the West a unique experience. The essays were still basically from the European/Eastern American viewpoint of events and about their migration into the West. Each chapter was on a new topic (though there was some repetition by other authors), and we're only provided with an overview or survey of the topic.

The essays talked about how the land of the West was acquired, what it was physically like, the various deals that have been made with the American Indians up until present day, who settled Canada and Mexico and their expansion and consolidation, a brief history of the development of transportation and communications which allowed more rapid settlement and less isolation in the West, reasons people went West (agriculture, mining, logging, Homestead Act, etc.) and it's economic development, a multi-ethnic look at women's role in the West, what rural life was like, political issues, and more.

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.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Secret Houses of the Cotswolds by Jeremy Musson

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Secret Houses of the Cotswolds
by Jeremy Musson

ISBN-13: 9780711239241
Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher: Frances Lincoln
Released: March 1, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
A personal tour of twenty of the UK’s most beguiling castles, estates, palaces and manor houses in this much-loved area of western England, including Daylesford, Stanway, Sudeley Castle and Hilles House. Author and architectural historian, Jeremy Musson, and Cotswolds-based photographer Hugo Rittson Thomas, offer privileged access to twenty houses, from castles and manor houses, as well as eighteenth- and nineteenth-century mansions, revealing their history, architecture and interiors, in the company of their devoted owners.

In the footsteps of artists and designers including Humphry and George Repton, and Victorian visionary, William Morris, who inspired the arts and crafts movement, and others such as Detmar Blow, Norman Jewson, Clough Williams-Ellis and Oliver Hill, we find a series of fascinating country houses of different sizes and atmospheres, which have shaped the English identity. Each house has their own story, but their distinctive honey-coloured stone walls, set amongst rolling hills, in different ways express the ideals of English life. Most of the houses included here are privately owned and not usually open to the public. In this beautifully produced book, they can now be enjoyed through the eyes of their owners, as well as an experienced architectural historian, and an award-winning photographer.

My Review:
Secret Houses of the Cotswolds looks at 20 country houses, manors, mansions, and castles in this area. The book contained beautiful, full-color photographs of several angles of the outside of each house and of some of the rooms inside the house. The author talked about the history of each house, including who owned the house at various times and the changes they made to the inside and to the area surrounding the house. We also got some stories about what it's like to renovate or live in the house from recent or current owners. Overall, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to people who are interested in the large, historical houses of the Cotswolds.

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, April 10, 2018

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein

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The Trauma Cleaner
by Sarah Krasnostein

ISBN-13: 9781250101204
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Released: April 10, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Before she was a trauma cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst was many things: husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, trophy wife. . . But as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home, she just wanted to belong. Now she believes her clients deserve no less.

Sarah Krasnostein has watched the extraordinary Sandra Pankhurst bring order and care to the living and the dead: A woman who sleeps among garbage she has not put out for forty years. A woman who lives with rats, random debris and terrified delusion. The still life of a home vacated by accidental overdose.

My Review:
The Trauma Cleaner is mainly a biography of the person currently going under the name Sandra Pankhurst. He was born a boy, was adopted as a baby into an abusive family, married, and had children before abandoning his family to pursue life as a female. During this period, he went by several different names and did a variety of jobs, including drag queen and prostitute. He underwent gender reassignment surgery to become a woman and has had a very eventful life since then. Due to drug abuse in her past, Sandra has gaps in her memory. The author pointed out some spots where Sandra hasn't accurately remembered what happened, so I assume the author double-checked to make sure the story was reasonably accurate.

In addition to the story of Sandra's past, we're told about her current health problems and her job as a trauma cleaner. She's the person you call to get a house cleaned up in cases of flooding, hoarding, and death. The author watched the start of several clean-up jobs, most of them involving hoarding. She described in detail what the rooms looked like (the items on the counter, what was written or molding on the wall, etc.). She also provided some of the person's story as to why it got this bad and described how Sandra convinced the customer to let them clean as they're still not ready to let go of the rubbish.

When I requested a review copy of this book, it was described as a book about cleaning up these places (and I was curious about how it's done). We get hints about how it's done throughout the eight job scene chapters, but these details would only fill up a few pages--at most, a chapter--when put together. So I was disappointed. This book is more for those interested in the lives of people coping the best they can (though generally not very well) with the trauma in their lives.

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.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Defeating Dementia by Richard Furman MD, FACS

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Defeating Dementia
by Richard Furman MD, FACS

ISBN-13: 9780800728045
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: March 6, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Dementia. It's one of the most dreaded conditions we face as we age. Many people claim they would rather be diagnosed with cancer than dementia or Alzheimer's. What many don't realize is that dementia is not a forgone conclusion as we get older. Our own lifestyle choices and habits can have a significant impact--for good or ill--on our chances of developing the disease. And that means there's hope.

Drawing from the latest medical research, Dr. Richard Furman helps readers understand dementia and Alzheimer's and shows them how to make three powerful lifestyle changes that can help decrease the probability of developing this disease. He explains how eating the right foods, exercising, and sustaining an ideal weight can dramatically reduce the likelihood of developing dementia in the first place, and even how it can slow the progression of the disease in someone who has already received a diagnosis.

My Review:
Defeating Dementia described in detail the three stages of Alzheimer's, studies on the main risk factors that make you more likely to get dementia (sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol), and the things you can do that will greatly decrease your chances of getting dementia (and heart disease) like exercise, eating or avoiding certain foods, and not smoking.

This book was very encouraging. Even though there are no medicines to cure dementia, there are things that you can do in your forties and fifties to help prevent dementia later in life. These behaviors can also slow or stop the progress of the disease once it has been diagnosed. He recommended things like doing more physical movement, like walking or jogging 30 minutes each day for 6 days a week. Avoiding foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol, like red meat, cream, butter, cheese, and fried foods. Eating more fish, fruit, and vegetables. His recommendations were based on studies, and he summarized these studies in terms that non-scientists can easily understand.

However, it was depressing to read snippets throughout the book describing how his mother-in-law descended into dementia. He used the story to illustrate the changes that happen in each stage, but he also appealed to fear to motivate people to make changes. He made a strong case for his recommendations, so I didn't appreciate his using fear as well. Still, I'd highly recommend this book as I think he has good suggestions.

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.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

How to Read Gardens by Lorraine Harrison

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How to Read Gardens
by Lorraine Harrison

ISBN-13: 9781782406037
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Ivy Press
Released: March 5, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Garden visiting has never been so popular but how many of us really understand what we are looking at when strolling through a beautiful garden? Are we looking at an original landscaped site or a re-creation? Is the planting matter authentic or made up of modern hybrids? Are the steps and terracing in the Italianate style or are they Arts and Crafts?

The truth is that most gardens of any age are like a palimpsest: successive generations have changed and influenced the soft and hard fabric of the place over time. Inevitably many of the gardens we wander through today are an amalgam of changing fashions and circumstance. From the grandest estate to the smallest suburban plot, this book will enliven and inform every future garden visit.

My Review:
How to Read Gardens is a short guide to garden appreciation. The author started by discussing the various purposes for and types of gardens (pleasure, fruit, herbs, etc.). The section on styles (Dutch, English, etc.) talked about what was unique or different about each style and when that style was most popular. The tree section talked about the various ways they were used, pruned, and placed. The flowers section talked about the various ways they were placed (overall) and arranged (in the bed). The landscaping section talked about how terrain and water were used, added, or changed to create different looks (like wild or formal) or allow certain uses (like lawn games or mazes). The section on buildings talked about the different types of buildings added for practical purposes or for creating a certain look, and the same for the sections on architectural features and other features.

The text was brief and aimed at a person who is touring a garden to help them better understand what they are looking at and some reasons why a feature might have been used. Each section contained photos or illustrations showing what various features that you might find in a garden look like and the differences between them, like the difference between a pergola and an arbor. There were some mentions of when a certain feature was most popular or where it was popular (focusing on Europe and America). Overall, I'd recommend this book to people who enjoy touring gardens who want help identifying various garden features.

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, April 3, 2018

The Healing Power of Essential Oils by Eric Zielinski D.C.

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The Healing Power of Essential Oils
by Eric Zielinski D.C.

ISBN-13: 9781524761363
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Harmony
Released: March 13, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Blogging for Books.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Eric Zielinski, D.C., host of the Essential Oils Revolution summits, offers a guide to mastering essential oils for vibrant health and well-being, featuring dozens of recipes and formulations for restful sleep, reduced inflammation, balanced hormones, and more. For beginners, Dr. Z teaches everything you need to know to get started, including the top seven oils you should stock from Day 1 and the commonly used techniques and tools. He illustrates daily practices you can follow to enjoy the properties of essential oils, including a five-minute devotional using frankincense and neroli to set you up for a productive and stress-free day, and a simple bedtime routine harnessing the soporific effects of lavender.

Backed by extensive research, Dr. Z also supplies essential oil blends that promote hormone balance, reduced inflammation, improved digestion, increased immunity, and so much more. You'll be armed with over 150 recipes for every health need, and a special section on women's health includes dozens of formulations for PMS, fertility, pregnancy, candida, and menopause. Even those well-versed in essential oils will benefit from this thorough approach.

My Review:
The Healing Power of Essential Oils is targeted at people interested in or just beginning to use essential oils for health. I have been using essential oils for years and have read many essential oil books. I appreciated that the author approached essential oils from both a Christian perspective and a scientific one--that they are medicines and have complex chemical profiles. He explained the basics of essential oils without getting too scientific for a beginner. His recipes were not highly complicated and tended to use the same 15 or so oils that he recommended earlier. However, many of the recipes also had an oil or two that weren't on that list because the recipes replicated the exact oil combinations used in a study he cited.

The author based his information on scientific studies and information from experts. However, some of the scientific studies that he cited were based on animal studies, chemical components of the oil rather than the whole oil, or were done in a petri dish, so (as the author notes) we don't know for certain if the results accurately show how that oil will act in humans.

Most of the oils he recommended are not expensive, but a few are. Beginners often look at the price of a small bottle and balk at it without realizing how little you use at a time. Overall, I thought he did a good job of covering safety, suggesting useful essential oils have around, and providing instructions on how to use them. He included recipes for health, cleaning house, personal care products, and even pets.

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.