Showing posts with label reference. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reference. Show all posts

Book Review: Easy Frugal Cookbook: 100 Satisfying Recipes That Won't Break the Bank by Sarah Walker Caron

Easy Frugal Cookbook: 100 Satisfying Recipes That Won't Break the Bank by Sarah Walker Caron aims to give readers the ability to make hearty meals that are tasty, budget-friendly, and nutritious. Recipes include dishes like Crispy Coconut Drumsticks or Open-Face Turkey Sandwiches for everyone in the house for just $5. All it takes is the right recipe, a few tricks, and a little planning to make the most of your food budget. The cookbook offers budget tricks and tips to lower the cost of ingredients even further.

Easy Frugal Cookbook is a book that offered something very much needed, ideas for keeping your family fed for less money than you might expect. The recipes are easy to follow, practical, and include ingredients that are common and generally easy to get. I did find it to be very simple, and as someone that grew up in a very frugal home as a child and still of the same mentality, a little condescending. However, that could just be because of my mindset when reading and the fact that very little of the book was new to me. I think this book would be most helpful for readers that are just getting started in their adult lives, or those that have never really thought about cooking or a budget before. Some of the recipes gave me ideas, but for me including recipes like scrambled eggs, sandwiches, and wraps was a bit basic- although I know there people that need instruction for the things I no longer need to think about.

Easy Frugal Cookbook is a cookbook for those just starting out cooking and thinking about budgeting. This might be a good gift to those striking out as lone adults for the first time or adding members to their household and needing to readjust the budget.

Early Book Review: SuperSimple Chemistry and SuperSimple Biology: The Ultimate Bitesize Study Guide by DK Children


SuperSimple Chemistry: 
The Ultimate Bitesize Study Guide by DK Children is currently scheduled for release on June 23 2020. It is an aid for coursework, homework, studying for tests, and a comprehensive guide for grades 6-10. Each topic is fully illustrated to support the information, make the facts crystal clear, and bring the science to life. A large central image explains the idea visually and each topic is summed up on a single page, helping children to quickly get up to speed and really understand how chemistry works. Information boxes explain the theory with the help of simple graphics and for further studying, a handy "Key Facts" box provides a simple summary you can check back on later. 


SuperSimple Biology: The Ultimate Bitesize Study Guide
 by DK Children is currently scheduled for release on June 23 2020. This biology book for kids 12+ years old is ideal for home and school learning. From reproduction to respiration and enzymes to ecosystems, this guide makes complex topics easy to grasp at a glance. Perfect support for coursework, homework, and studying for tests. Each topic is fully illustrated to support the information, make the facts crystal clear, and bring the science to life. For key ideas, "How It Works" and "Look Closer" boxes explain the theory with the help of simple graphics. And for studying, a handy "Key Facts" box provides a simple summary you can check back on later. 

Both of these books are exactly what one would expect from the titles, and the publisher. They are crisp, clean, and bright looking resources with concise and well written text. The sections are well organized and the pages are formatted to keep readers focused. I liked the balance of illustrations, charts, text, and the key facts boxes. I think resources like this are well timed (although I know they have been around previously) with everyone learning from home for months, and the worries about losing ground with studies, and the possibility of more home learning in the future for many. This would be useful both as a personal resource to support classroom work, as a resource in the classroom, or independent study for those interested in the specific field of study. 

Book Review: The Easy Baked Donut Cookbook: 60 Sweet and Savory Recipes for Your Oven and Mini Donut Maker by Sara Mellas

The Easy Baked Donut Cookbook: 60 Sweet and Savory Recipes for Your Oven and Mini Donut Maker by Sara Mellas is newly published cookbook. Who doesn’t love a good donut? From sugared or sprinkled to frosted or filled, donuts are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth and sweeten your day. The best part is you don’t need to fuss with frying to whip up these fun, flavorful treats at home. Theses donuts can be made in an oven or donut maker, providing plenty of tried-and-true tricks and tasty recipes for beautifully baked donuts, donut holes, mini donuts, and more. From sweet staples, such as Old-Fashioned Cake Donuts to creative savory bakes like Jalapeno-Cheddar Cornbread Donuts, this donut cookbook serves you dozens of delightfully simple recipes to match every craving, along with perfectly paired frostings, glazes, and toppings.

The Easy Baked Donut Cookbook is a cookbook for every donut lover, particularly those of use that do not want to fry. Spending the last twelve weeks or so home with my family I have made all of my tried and true recipes, ran out of flour and yeast, and resupplied while looking for new things to try. This book was well timed, and inspired me to make some donuts. I am lucky enough to have a donut pan, and plenty of other pans, and was happy to find some new things for my weekend baking. I thought the introduction, including the basic techniques and supply lists were nicely done, and as a fellow New Englander the explanation behind writing the book resonated with me. I thought the recipes were easy to follow, well labeled, and detailed. I like the variants and options were also included, because I love to fiddle with recipes and find these suggestions helpful both in deciding if my idea will work and if the author already came up with something even better. There are several recipes that really caught my eye, some I was ready to try right away and others needed a shopping trip to complete so had to wait a bit. I was impressed that there were gluten free, vegan, and boozy recipes. The classics went over the best in my house, like the chocolate cake and pumpkin donuts- but the glazed blueberry and several filled donuts were also well received. 

The Easy Baked Donut Cookbook is a great resource for bakers that want to try their hand at donuts, without frying anything. Frequent bakers might want to add this to their cookbook collection, dabbles might want to borrow it from the library for the first look through to decide if they will use it often enough- I have a feeling I will be needed a paper copy.

Early Book Review: New World Sourdough: Artisan Techniques for Creative Homemade Fermented Breads; With Recipes for Birote, Bagels, Pan de Coco, Beignets, and More by Bryan Ford

New World Sourdough: Artisan Techniques for Creative Homemade Fermented Breads; With Recipes for Birote, Bagels, Pan de Coco, Beignets, and More by Bryan Ford is currently scheduled for release on June 16 2020. Learn how to make a sourdough starter, basic breads, as well as other innovative baked goods from start to finish with Instagram star Bryan Ford's (@artisanbryan) nontraditional approach to home baking. With less emphasis on perfecting crumb structure or obsessive temperature monitoring, Ford focuses on the tips and techniques he's developed in his own practice, inspired by his Honduran roots and New Orleans upbringing, to ensure your success and a good return on your time and effort. Ford's recipes include step-by-step instructions and photographs of all of the mixing, shaping, and baking techniques you'll need to know, with special attention paid to developing flavor as well as your own instincts.

New World Sourdough offers readers exactly what the title promises, an accessible guide to sourdough and recipes to use the starter. The descriptions and instructions are well written and easy to follow, and the photographs of the dough and finished product are very well done. I am still not a fan of the ingredients list being off to the side rather than at the top of the recipe, but it worked better for me here than it has in other cookbooks. I like the approachable style of this book, and it has made me a little more comfortable with my attempts at sourdough, which was feeling a bit too much work after some less than successful attempts while home  maintaining social distance from the rest of the world. There are a few recipe that on my list of things to try out soon, and we will see if they turn out nearly as well as I hope.

Early Book Review: The Screaming Hairy Armadillo and 76 Other Animals with Wild, Wacky Names by Matthew Murrie, Steve Murrie

The Screaming Hairy Armadillo and 76 Other Animals with Wild, Wacky Names,  written by Matthew Murrie and Steve Murrie, and illustrated by Julie Benbassat, is currently scheduled for release on June 9 2020. It is a a science-based illustrated celebration of creatures notable for their bizarre, baffling, and just-plain-funny names. Meet the Waxy Monkey Tree Frog, who lives high in the forests of South America—the “waxy” refers to its skin secretions and the “monkey” comes from its long, simian fingers, perfect for climbing. The White-Bellied Go-Away Bird—guess what its cry sounds like? Plus the Fried Egg Jellyfish, the Sparklemuffin Peacock Spider, the Bone-Eating Snot Flower Worm, and many more. While the names of these species are undeniably curious, the heart of the book is their just-as-curious habits, appearance, abilities—and the stories of how they acquired their unusual monikers. There are over 70 creatures in all,  with full-color illustrations and photographs and detailed text.

The Screaming Hairy Armadillo and 76 Other Animals with Wild, Wacky Names was a really interesting read. I have always been a fan of learning about the weird and wacky of the world, so some of the animals described (like the naked mole rat and blobfish) were not new to me. However, most of the creatures were at least partially unknown to me- and frankly man of their names could double as awesome band names. The artwork was simply amazing. The images were very well done, with great detail, and added significantly to the book as a whole. The text was well written, and while some of the terminology was advanced definitions and explanations were woven perfectly into the text. I like that there was also a glossary at the end of the book, along with some resources for further reading and information on conservation. I also liked the use of text boxes and small commentary on almost every page. I found the balance of science and humor kept the reader's attention and interest which in turn keeps them reading. My daughter just might be getting this book for her next birthday.

The Screaming Hairy Armadillo and 76 Other Animals with Wild, Wacky Names is a fun and informative read that I think will be a favorite for middle grade and older readers.

Early Book Review: Northeast Medicinal Plants: Identify, Harvest, and Use 111 Wild Herbs for Health and Wellness by Liz Neves

Northeast Medicinal Plants: Identify, Harvest, and Use 111 Wild Herbs for Health and Wellness by Liz Neves is currently scheduled for release on May 26 2020. It is a guide to finding, identifying, harvesting, and using 111 of the region’s most powerful wild plants. Readers will learn how to safely and ethically forage, and how to use wild plants in herbal medicines including teas, tinctures, and salves. Plant profiles include clear, color photographs, identification tips, medicinal uses and herbal preparations, and harvesting suggestions. Lists of what to forage for each season makes the guide useful year-round. Thorough, comprehensive, and safe, this is a must-have for foragers, naturalists, and herbalists in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Northeast Medicinal Plants is a well organized and detailed guide. I like that the book takes the time to explain some of the most important, and sometimes ignored, factors of identifying and gathering plants, like making sure you have permission before harvesting from private property. The explanations of the use, preparation, and  the aspects of the plants that aid in identification. Even though I have made my own tinctures and grown my own ingredients in the past I found the information to be laid out in an accessible manner that lends itself to being referred back to as desired. I liked that the basics never read in a condescending tone, which sometimes happens when someone tries to talk about things that are second nature to them but might be new to others. I also liked that the importance of understand the nature of each plant is stressed, as some as very poisonous, some have very useful roots but problematic leaves or stems, and so on. The details about the individual plants and their use to be well done and comprehensive, and I learned quite a bit about some of my favorite, and least favorite, plants that can be found in my backyard and surrounding areas. I also really enjoyed that Neves included and comprehensive list of references and resources, as dedicated readers and wildcraft enthusiast can further expand their understanding and possibly lend a hand with conservation. I also found the photography to be very well done and worth enjoying in its own right.

Northeast Medicinal Plants is a valuable resource for anyone that is interested in the wild herbs of the area, and how to use them. I think it would be a good addition to public libraries and for the personal libraries of those that are interested in the subject matter.

Book Review: Beginner's Guide to Whiskey: Traditions, Types, and Tastes of the Ultimate Spirit by Sam Green

Beginner's Guide to Whiskey: Traditions, Types, and Tastes of the Ultimate Spirit is a nonfiction book by Sam Green. It shares whiskey's rich history, the detailed process from grain to glass, the main types of brown liquor, and, of course, the fine art of savoring handcrafted whiskey. 

Beginner's Guide to Whiskey is an accessible guide to the history, varieties, making, drinking, and meal pairing of whiskey. I have been fascinated by whiskey for years, but am not a big drinker and have been intimidated by the varieties with no clear idea of where to start exploring whiskey without wasting time or money. This guide explained the differences between how the difference types are made, and in turn how they vary in taste. I really liked the charts at the end of each chapter giving some suggests as to where to start and what they each taste like. Making cocktails, and pairing drinks with food are covered as well, which I found helpful. I think i specifically liked the accessible narrative tone of the writing, and the reassurance that there is no wrong way to drink whiskey. Drink what you like, responsibly of course, and enjoy it. Neat, on the rocks, with water, or as part of a cocktail- the important part is finding what you enjoy and doing so is what matters.

Beginner's Guide to Whiskey is a well written, researched guide with suggestions that have put a few things on my mental shopping list.

Early Book Review: Running Wild: Awesome Animals in Motion by Galadriel Watson, Samantha Dixon

Running Wild: Awesome Animals in Motion is a children's book written by Galadriel Watson and illustrated by Samantha Dixon. It is currently scheduled for release on April 14 2020.
A squid jets through the ocean like a rocket, a cheetah races after a zig-zagging gazelle, a fishing spider walks on water with its eight hairy legs. All animals must move. Whether on the hunt for something to eat, on the run from being eaten, or in search of a mate or a safe place to live, their lives depend on motion. In this introduction to biomechanics Watson draws on biology, physics, and other sciences to show readers the incredible ways a variety of creatures move to meet their everyday needs—and overcome the physical forces working against them. Its accessible style and design keep readers engaged, amd the illustrations and mechanical diagrams reinforce STEM concepts on each spread. 

Running Wild: Awesome Animals in Motion is a well written and organized book. I found the tone and writing style to be engaging, explaining things that I had not necessarily known before without being condescending or talking down to readers while covering some basic information and vocabulary as well. The balance of keeping readers from multiple knowledge starting points engaged with out leaving some behind or bored is extremely difficult, but Watson managed it quite well. I think the illustrations were very well done. They worked to further engage readers and enhance their understanding of the information discussed and the vocabulary used. I like that Watson included information on the research they did, and a few books from the researcher relied on most heavily in writing this book. However, I would have enjoyed some more suggestions for further reading and research for interested readers.

Running Wild: Awesome Animals in Motion is a well written, engaging book that will appeal to engineering, science, and animal lovers alike. It is informative and interesting. 

Book Review: Once Upon a Word: A Word-Origin Dictionary for Kids—Building Vocabulary Through Etymology, Definitions & Stories by Jess Zafarris

Once Upon a Word: A Word-Origin Dictionary for Kids—Building Vocabulary Through Etymology, Definitions & Stories by Jess Zafarris shows readers of all ages that the English language is made up of words from different places, events, and periods of time. Each of those words has an exciting story to tell us about where, when, how, and why they came about. It has easy-to-understand definitions and awesome word-origin stories, helping readers understand the history and meaning of English words, improve vocabulary and spelling, and learn to play with language. Explore how weird words like gnome, fun words like zombie, and common words like caterpillar came to exist. Discover why some words sound funnier than others (like cacklesizzle, and twang) and why some groups of words start with the same few letters (like hydratehydrogen, and fire hydrant). 

Once Upon a Word is an accessible and entertaining resource for readers of all ages. I like that it uses the history of words, the building blocks of words, and how different languages have created and continue to change the English language. After the rundown on the building blocks and things that have shaped language starts the actually dictionary part of the book- explaining each word in detail. This is a great tool for gaining a better understanding of favorite or interesting words, but it is not the most entertaining part. I really enjoyed the two sections that follow, which explore food  and music related words. Since food and music are two of my favorite things I found this to be very interesting.  I think that this would be a good classroom or school library resource for middle grade readers and older. However, it might also be helpful to those approaching the high school horrors of standardized tests that seem to be very important to their adults. The understanding of the roots and building blocks of words that are laid out in the beginning of the book can help all readers with their vocabulary and the ability to guess the correct meaning of most words- especially in a multiple choice test. I thought that some of the color and formatting choices really broke up the text on the pages nicely, making the read book as a whole less intimidating to readers. 

Once Upon a Word is a well organized and written resources that will help its readers understand some of the building blocks and influences of the English language while offering some humor and interesting tidbits along the way.

Book Review: The Easy 30-Minute Cookbook: 100 Fast and Healthy Recipes for Busy People by Taylor Ellingson


The Easy 30-Minute Cookbook: 100 Fast and Healthy Recipes for Busy People by Taylor Ellingson is a collection of recipes that are budget-friendly, health-conscious, and super tasty—and all of them can be made in half an hour or less. No need to be an experienced home chef. This cookbook can show you how to make good, fresh food at any skill level and help you make your kitchen as convenient as possible, with guides to the best equipment and ingredients to keep on hand. Some of the included recipes are: Mixed Berry Pancake Muffins, Pesto Turkey Burgers, Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad, and One-Skillet Cashew Chicken. This cookbook includes recipes tagged with icons for No Cook, One Pot, 5-Ingredient, or Superfast (10-minute) meals.

The Easy 30-Minute Cookbook is a book geared towards helping people eat healthier, faster. I like that the book starts with the basics, the information and tricks that new cooks might need to make informed decisions and speed up their cooking time. I found all of it to be common sense, and things I had been doing for years, but those just striking out on their own or just moving past pasta and the basics. The recipes are easy to follow with, with clear instructions and good tips and tricks for substitutions and shortcuts when applicable. I like that while the recipes aim for healthy and using fresh ingredients when possible, there is still some fat and richness with lower fat suggestions rather than ignoring the fact that we can all treat ourselves to an alfredo sauce if the mood strikes. Some of the recipes looked fantastic, and gave me ideas of things I might try to mix things up in my own cooking. However, not much struck me as terribly new or original- perhaps because I spend way too much time watching the Food and Cooking channels. I do think that this might be a valuable book for those just starting to have an interest in cooking more, or cutting back on take out for whatever reason. 

The Easy 30-Minute Cookbook is a well organized and accessible cookbook. I think it would be the most valuable to those just starting to cook on their own.

Book Review: Cookies for Everyone: 99 Deliciously Customizable Bakeshop Recipes by Mimi Council

Cookies for Everyone: 99 Deliciously Customizable Bakeshop Recipes by Mimi Council offers readers the recipes and detailed instructions for baking a variety of cookies. From soft and chewy basics to sandwich cookies, biscotti, macarons, and Florentines, easy recipes to help home bakers master the art of cookies, including tips for gluten-free, vegan, and high-altitude baking. Mimi's Tips and Tricks walk readers through key steps and techniques, demystifying baking; her clear instructions cover everything from basic cookies to sandwich cookies and biscotti. And for anyone who thinks more sophisticated cookies (such as macarons and Florentines) are impossible to make at home, let alone for "special diets," think again -- Mimi's excellent counsel will have you baking up a storm in no time.
Cookies for Everyone is a well organized cookbook for cookie lovers. I love giving cookies for gifts around the holidays- so this book was perfectly timed for me. I like that the book offers the basic how to's, equipment advice, and ingredient information before even touching on the recipes, so that those that have never been bakers can catch up to the more experienced readers right away. I also liked that there are specific instructions at the beginning of each chapter- because making some styles of cookies require some different techniques even if the basic ingredients are the same. I also like the there are instructions for changing up recipes to be gluten free or at high altitudes included for recipes. No one needs to miss out on their favorite cookie or guess at how to make changes to a recipe. I enjoyed the selection of cookies in the book, and how well organized it was. I do have a collection of cookie cookbooks, and am someone that spends much time researching for the perfect set of recipes for my holiday baking. I have to admit that I am not likely to buy any more cookbooks, but if I were this might just make it in my collection. I do highly recommend it for library collections, and would certainly borrow it from my local library to revisit some of the recipes.

Cookies for Everyone is a solid cookbook with some great cookie recipes. It is well structured and written- making it accessible to new and experienced bakers alike. 

Early Book Review: Megabugs: And Other Prehistoric Critters That Roamed the Planet by Helaine Becker, John Bindon

Megabugs: And Other Prehistoric Critters That Roamed the Planet, written by Helaine Becker and illustrated by John Bindon, is currently scheduled for release on October 1 2019. Can you imagine a bug the size of a small crocodile? How about one bigger than a large basketball player? As scary as it may seem, supersized, insect-like critters such as these roamed Earth long before humans. In this peek into prehistory, award-winning science writer Helaine Becker introduces seven of these megabugs, the ancestors of modern-day insects, spiders, crabs and other arthropods, which lived from 480 million to 47 million years ago. The book explores when, where, and how they each lived, why they grew so big and what caused their extinction. Highly realistic illustrations show each megabug in its habitat. Each spread features one animal and loads of visuals --- such as a size chart that shows how big the animal could grow, a timeline placing it in its geological period and a map of where its fossils have been discovered. Sidebars provide further context on such topics as adaptation, fossils and the Permian Extinction. 

Megabugs is a very well written and informative book that hits a great balance. It is high interest with very accessible writing that does not talk down to readers or feel condescending due to the ease of reading. This can be a hard balance to strike, but I think they hit it perfectly here. I thought I had a good understanding of the critters that have, or currently, live on our planet due to my daughter's animal obsession and the amount of documentaries and non fiction reads we have shared. However, I did learn quite a bit from reading this, and had some of my understanding confirmed or expanded on. The organization of creatures of the past, today, and possibilities of creatures of tomorrow was good- and I liked seeing the size comparisons. I liked the charts and detailed diagrams of the creatures discussed- and found the illustrations of the creatures in their habitats to be very realistic and bold.I sometimes had to stop and just admire the skill and detail in the images and graphs because they were just that well done.  I thought the inclusion of a detailed glossary, suggestions for further reading, and index were important, and are sadly skipped too often. I think this book would be valuable for a wide range of interested readers. 

Megabugs is a great non fiction book for children and adults that have any interest in the history, present, and future of the creatures others might consider creepy crawlies. It is very well done and holds up well to multiple reads.

Early Book Review: Cryptid Creatures: A Field Guide by Kelly Milner Halls, Rick Spears


Cryptid Creatures: A Field Guide, written by Kelly Milner Halls and illustrated by Rick Spears, is currently scheduled for release on September 24 2019. Cryptozoology is the study of mysterious creatures that fall between the realm of real and imaginary on the scientific spectrum. Cryptid Creatures: A Field Guide offers a closer look at fifty of these amazing creatures, examining the best possible evidence for each, including scientific papers, magazine and newspaper articles, and credible eyewitness accounts. These fifty cryptids are arranged in order alphabetically, and in addition to speculative illustrations, include details like when they were first reported, whether they are terrestrial, aerial, or aquatic, and each have a reality rating of 1 to 6, in which 1 means that the cryptid has been confirmed as a hoax, and 6 means the cryptid has been proven as real. This guide might inspire curious readers to investigate more on their own, and maybe even help to prove if a cryptid is a hoax or is real.

Cryptid Creatures: A Field Guide is a book that I think will be in my house hold as soon as it is released in print, as my children and I love this sort of thing. This book takes a look at some common (and some less known)  creatures of legend and lore. I like that fossil evidence, eye witness accounts, and scientific research is used to really look at whether these cryptid creatures could be real, or could have been in the past. I also like that the probability of these creatures existing is looked at logically to try to understand obstacles and dangers they would face, or could cause, in the areas they are expected to live. I also like how towards the end of the book the creatures are listed again, but by creature types rather than in alphabetical order. It is interesting to see how common some cryptid types are across cultures, while others are very specific to a particular region. The endpages with additional reading will help readers further explore the subject, and information on the creatures that interest them most.  I think this is a well done collection, and it will please many interested readers from a variety of ages and reading levels. 

Cryptid Creatures: A Field Guide is an interesting and well researched look at fifty creatures in cryptozoology. While this only touches the surface of such creatures and legends, it is a great resource and read for those interested. 

Book Review: Cuddly Crochet Critters 26 Animal Patterns by Megan Kreiner

Cuddly Crochet Critters: 26 Animal Patterns by Megan Kreiner introduces 26 soft, huggable, pillow-like animals that are easy projects for beginners and will be loved by children and adults of all ages. Fashioned from super-bulky, machine-washable, chenille-style yarn, the stuffed animals can be completed in just a few hours. These cuddly critters make great pillows for a child's nap time, homey accessories for a dorm room, comfy companions for travel, and great gifts, too! Based on the popular Japanese "tsum tsum" style, each project starts with a standard body shape and requires just some basic crochet stitches. As an added bonus, there are 12 additional "critter combinations" to make! Mix and match pattern pieces to create a koala, a zebra, a narwhal, and more. 

Cuddly Crochet Critters offers readers clear and accessible patterns and instructions for reasonably large crochet stuffed animals. I like the idea of the blanket yarn used in these patterns- it makes for faster work and larger projects, and less hand cramps than smaller works. With this in mind- I liked that the book offers tips and tricks for working with the special yarn, but I think they could have gone one step further and made the stitch instructions in the front of the book with the yarn readers would be using. This is done in the project instructions- but not the stitch tutorials in the very beginning. Having worked with both I have to say that there is a big difference in working in such different weights and it will take some getting used to for those that have never worked with it before. With all that said- the patterns are well written, and I think they will offer readers plenty guidance to complete these projects along with room further customization as they continue to create. The book offers a good starting point and clear instructions, but it is not something I can see adding to my permanent collection- rather I would borrow it from a library and return for the next happy crafter.

Cuddly Crochet Critters is a good introduction for fairly quick working amigurumi. 

Early Book Review: First Time Embroidery and Cross-Stitch: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide by Linda Wyszynski

First Time Embroidery and Cross-Stitch: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide by Linda Wyszynski is currently scheduled for release on September 3 2019. This beginner’s guide teaches everything you need to know about a variety of hand stitching techniques. It is filled with detailed descriptions of materials and tools, the easy step-by-step instructions for classic embroidery, crewel, and cross-stitch will have you creating and embellishing projects like jewelry, journal covers, pillows, fashions, and more with confidence.

First Time Embroidery and Cross-Stitch was a wonderful reminder for me, because I used to do a great deal of needle work but had switched most of my crafting time to crochet- mainly because I can read on my kindle when crocheting and that does not usually work out so well when working with a sharp needle. This has inspired me to get back to it and maybe get through some audio books or my Netflix queue instead of my reading pile once and awhile. I liked getting the refresher course on tools and supplies, and think that newcomers to the craft will get a good understanding of the options- but they might be a little overwhelmed. There are so many options out there that I had never even considered and details I was unaware of that I was eager to try something new, but all that information at once might be too much for someone that has yet to thread their first needle. Beginners might just want to take it in small pieces or read what they are interested in at the moment. I found all of the writing to be very accessible and clear, both in the supply descriptions and the instructions. The pictures and diagrams were helpful and were well placed for optimum usefulness. The handful of designs included were simple and well explained- a nice starter set for beginners. I now how a few personalized pattern ideas running through my head.

First Time Embroidery and Cross-Stitch is a nice stitch guide and a good resource for beginners. I would have liked a few more patterns and a little less about supplies that a beginner is not likely to need, however it offers exactly what the title suggests.

Early Book Review: Ask A Scientist: Professor Robert Winston Answers 100 Big Questions from Kids Around the World! by Robert Winston

Ask A Scientist: Professor Robert Winston Answers 100 Big Questions from Kids Around the World! by Robert Winston is currently scheduled for release on June 11 2019. This science book for kids poses 100 real-life questions from kids to Robert Winston on every aspect of science. Questions cover all the popular science topics, including human body: "Why do freckles come in dots on your face?"; physics: "Could you jump off the world?"; Earth: "Why is the sky blue?"; chemistry: "Why are there bubbles in boiling water?"; natural science: "Do dogs cry?", and space: "Why will the Sun explode and make us extinct?"
Ask a Scientist is a book that balances information and images nicely to answer questions and keep the interest of readers. I found the selection of topics covered to be nice and broad, well rounded in a way that will appeal to a wide range of readers. The text is accessible and has some humor, while never talking down to the reader. Too often the text of children's non fiction is too simple or condescending rather than inspiring, but this book has a solid tone that answers without that feel. I like that there were some nice labels for the images and more detailed bits of information on the pages for the most interested readers, while the main body of text was more comprehensive and interesting to all readers. I think this book is a great resource and one that some readers will devour whole while others might return for information on the subjects that interest them most.

Ask a Scientist is a well organized, and written, book that deserves a place in public libraries, schools, and homes. I think it will answer many questions for readers, and inspire them to continue to question and seek out answers.

Book Review: The Dictionary of Difficult Words: With More Than 400 Perplexing Words to Test your Wits! by Jane Solomon, Louise Lockhart

The Dictionary of Difficult Words: With More Than 400 Perplexing Words to Test your Wits! was written by Jane Solomon and illustrated by Louise Lockhart. ​What is a bumbershoot? Or a moonbow? And what does it mean when someone absquatulates? Find out all this and more in the Dictionary of Difficult Words. Test your knowledge with more than 400 words to amaze, confuse, and inspire budding wordsmiths (and adults). All of the words featured in this book are difficult to spell, hard to say, and their meanings are obscure to most children (and most adults)! Written with simple, easy-to-understand definitions by lexicographer Jane Solomon, this dictionary celebrates the beauty of the English language for family trivia time spent around the printed page.

The Dictionary of Difficult Words is a fun, educational, and useful book for all ages. I love that the book starts off explaining the various ways readers can explore and enjoy the book. In the beginning there are also great explanations about kinds of words and how to decode intimidating words and how to pronounce them. These are things that will always be helpful, even if I know I mentally mispronounce things all the time- especially if I have only read them and never heard them spoken. I love the words that were chosen for this book. Some are adjectives and adverbs that are used sparingly, but are just great words. Some are just fun to say, like bumbershoot (which I proudly already knew the definition for). I learned a few new words, and am trying to figure out how to use bildungsroman instead of coming of age tale in a book review without sounding pretentious.  The artwork is fun and adds extra layers of understanding, fun, and style to the book.  

The Dictionary of Difficult Words is a great book to have in home, school, and public libraries. It can help teach the use and functionality of dictionaries, and get readers to broaden their personal vocabulary in fun ways. This book is a win all around, and I think I need to add it to my personal collection.

Book Review: Grow in the Dark: How to Choose and Care for Low-Light Houseplants by Lisa Eldred Steinkopf

Grow in the Dark: How to Choose and Care for Low-Light Houseplants by Lisa Eldred Steinkopf puts the spotlight on 50 of the best houseplants you can grow in your dim or dark apartment. Having a south-facing window doesn’t always guarantee you the best light to grow plants—especially if your window faces an alley or a tree-lined street. What’s the point of growing an urban jungle if tall buildings are blocking all your sunshine? This compact guide, designed to look as good on your shelf as it is useful, will help you learn how to make the most of your light so you can reap the physical and emotional benefits of living with plants. Detailed profiles include tips on watering your plants just right, properly potting them, and troubleshooting pests and diseases. You’ll also learn which plants are safe to keep around your pets.
Grow in the Dark is an informative read for those looking to keep their house plants alive, and to figure out what plants will best survive in your available spaces. The information is well organized and laid out in accessible segments with some labeled images to break up the amount of text. I found the information to be well researched and useful, but lacking the conversational tone or humor that I tend to enjoy woven through such reference material to make the read slightly less dense. This is more a point of personal preference that ban issue, I am sure there are those that prefer this straightforward style. I think this book is a good reference for readers to have handy when planning their plant purchasing and placement, or for interior designers to reference when planning to add plant life to a space. However, I think it is a better purchase for a library or professional that might regularly need the information than for a personal library. 

Book Review: Corner to Corner Crochet: 15 Contemporary C2C Projects by Jess Coppom

Corner to Corner Crochet: 15 Contemporary C2C Projects by Jess Coppom is a good introduction to 
corner to corner crochet--also known as C2C crochet. This style can be a good way to create colorful, graphic designs without having to learn complex colorwork techniques. Using basic crochet stitches you can create stunning, contemporary designs for home decor items and accessories. This is a collection of 15 modern projects all made using the C2C technique. Choose from patterns for six different afghans or blankets including a monochrome chunky throw and a beautiful Mexican style blanket. Other projects include pillows, a bathroom rug and some stunning items to wear such as a poncho, shawl and cowl.

Corner to Corner Crochet: 15 Contemporary C2C Projects was the perfect reading choice for me this weekend. I have been looking to start a new afghan, and frogged the last couple I started just because I did not really like the look or feel of them after I got a few inches in. I have always been in awe of those that take the time for serious color work in their crochet, but have never been willing to take that leap. I think with this book I am about to make that jump, because complex color work and color grams make so much more sense and seem much more accessible with the c2c technique than in more traditional stitches. The tips and tricks to help organize the colors and keep things untangled and working smoothly were wonderful and well worded. I think newer crocheters will be able to follow the instructions fairly well, and more experienced crafters will still find new and useful bits of information and inspiration to keep their minds and hooks moving along.

Early Book Review: Milk Soaps: 35 Skin-Nourishing Recipes for Making Milk-Enriched Soaps, from Goat to Almond by Anne-Marie Faiola

Milk Soaps: 35 Skin-Nourishing Recipes for Making Milk-Enriched Soaps, from Goat to Almond is a creative guide by Anne-Marie Faiola, which is currently scheduled for release on April 30 2019. Handmade soap can be extra-special with the inclusion of milk! Soaps enriched with milk can be creamier than those made with water, and milk's natural oils provide skin-renewing moisture and nourishment. In Milk Soaps, expert soapmaker Anne-Marie Faiola demystifies the process with step-by-step techniques and 35 recipes for making soaps that are both beautiful and useful. She explains the keys to success in using a wide range of milk types, including cow, goat, and even camel milk, along with nut and grain milks such as almond, coconut, hemp, rice, and more. Photographs show soapmakers of all levels how to achieve a variety of distinctive color and shape effects, including funnels, swirls, layers, and insets. For beginners and experts alike, this focused guide to making milk-enriched soaps offers an opportunity to expand their soapmaking skills in new and exciting ways. 

Milk Soaps is a well written and organized book for those that want to learn more about, and hopefully master, the art of making soap. I have dabbled before, and this book would be a wonderful resource for those looking to make a wide variety of milk based soaps, and to get more information and inspiration to help them become more comfortable and skilled in the process. I have to admit that I have not tried any of the recipes, because they are all cold process soap recipes, and the idea of working with lye water and the chemical processes involved honestly scares me- not just because I am a klutz, but also because of how interested my felines get with anything I am doing. However, having tried other styles of soapmaking I could easily understand and follow the recipes. I was inspired to try a few new things and learn a great deal about the techniques of cold process soap making. I found the information in the endpages to also be helpful, with common problems addressed and some resources that will come in handy to anyone looking to make soap.

Milk Soaps will be a valuable resource and inspiration for those looking to learn more about or master the process of making cold process soaps with milk as an ingredient. The recipes are well done, and leave room for further customization with offering insights and inspiration.