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Inspired!, True Stories Behind Famous Art, Literature, Music, and Film, Maria Bukhonina

Inspired!, True Stories Behind Famous Art, Literature, Music, and Film,  Maria Bukhonina

Inspired!: True Stories Behind Famous Art, Literature, Music, and Film by [Bukhonina, Maria]

Genre:   Biographies and memoirs

I love the stories about who, why and how inspiration brought about paintings, stories and relationships so this was a fun read.

I’m a bit of a wiki addict and this was very much like reading that, but in a bit more depth.
There’s some fascinating stories here, and I was absorbed reading about them. I didn’t read right through, but picked up and put down absorbing individual stories, rather than info-dumping with too much.
My husband brought me some paperback about individual artists a few years back and some of this overlapped but there was also much more that I didn’t know, which let me onto a fact finding mission via the internet for more details.

I’m always pondering how and what inspired works, and thinking if things were different, if people hadn’t met in that way, or perhaps not at all, if their families had been more or less supportive, it makes me wonder just how things evolve.
In my own case it was being suddenly disabled and retired from work that led me down the art path – if things had been different would I have taken that journey or gone a different way. so much of our lives interacts with what we do that there are many possible different ways unfolding over the years.

If you like not only looking at paintings, reading books, watching films and going to theatre but researching how these things came about you’ll find this a fascinating read.
I have it as a kindle file and its ok like that but its one of the few books that I feel are best appreciated in traditional prints format.

Stars: Four, an interesting and absorbing read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Call to Arms: Year-long survey reveals which book advertiser offers best value for money

Reblogged from http://nicholasrossis.me/
Interesting reading for authors. I recently had an email with a survey on what I enjoy in romance reads, and I think this kind of data is important for authors.

You can write any book of course, and you can choose what you want it to be about and that’s your choice but if you want to make a living then you need to know what readers of your genre want. Having written your book data like this from Nicholas is important so you don’t waste your precious funds on places that don’t deliver a return.
It mentions Facebook – I’m assuming that’s some kind of ad promotion rather than just posting on own sites, and hoping others pass it on – I’ve found lots of gems that way. Read a brilliant one last night on KU that I found via that kind of FB post

Patricia Finney  Love without Shadows Love without Shadows by [Finney, Patricia]

 

From: http://nicholasrossis.me/2016/11/04/call-to-arms-year-long-survey-reveals-which-book-advertiser-offers-the-best-value-for-money/

Last year, I shared with you the result of my Call to Arms, on my very popular post, Book Marketing Results 2015. I now have collected enough data to follow up with this year’s results. Like …

Source: Call to Arms: Year-long survey reveals which book advertiser offers best value for money

Farm To Table: 50 Recipes for Clean Eating (Clean Diet Cookbook)

Farm to Table Colleen Seward

Farm To Table: 50 Recipes for Clean Eating (Clean Diet Cookbook) by [Seward, Colleen]

Genre: non fiction, cookery, lifestyle

Healthy eating – we see that pushed out all the while don’t we? Yet its usually in the form of buy this supplement, try these health ready meals, or sometimes there are recipes, but they have four hundred ingredients, some of which needs sourcing at daybreak on the summer solstice, while wearing a robe made of unicorn hair…well, that’s how it feels:-)

None of that here, just simple, easy recipes, with ingredients available everywhere.
Colleen doesn’t push any one super food, but more the idea of a properly balanced diet, where making meals from basic ingredients naturally keeps the preservatives and additives to a minimum.
She puts forward the argument for food that’s as fresh as possible, grown without too many extras but doesn’t take the somewhat fanatical “if its not organic its no good” stance. Too many books seem like they are preaching, too pushy and make the reader just switch off. Colleen’s persuasion is more gentle and accepts that sometimes a compromise is needed.

You could start by changing just one meal a day – or even just four a week, something like that, and once you start to get into the routine and appreciate the taste of real food, ingredients that aren’t chemically enhanced, hopefully you’ll want to include more in your life.
Using this book is simple, its dived into sections full of easy to follow recipes that don’t take hours to make, and are easy for even those new to cooking.
Start by adding a few a week and take it from there.

The recipes are simple and its easy to ring the changes using the ideas for one meal and replacing certain ingredients – pork for chicken, mushrooms instead of peppers or sweet corn, things like that.
The main proposal Colleen puts forward is that the most important thing is that ingredients are as fresh as possible and as free from additives etc.
Go to farmers markets, get to know your butcher, fishmonger and greengrocer and you can find out that info.
Supermarkets have a bad name, undeservedly IMO, and the same idea works there – most have dedicated butchery etc so speak to staff, find out how fresh your food is, where its been, how its been treated.
Its your body, take care of it. You won’t put cheap, second grade fuel in your car and expect it to perform top class and its the same with your body.

I found this an interesting read, especially as I tend to eat this way anyway, having been brought up on home-grown fruit and veg and meals from scratch.
In the long run its much cheaper than ready meals too, and with a little forethought so easy to do.
Living alone now I tend to make a batch of meals, casseroles, cottage pies etc and freeze in portions so I have home made ready meals. You can do the same even if you’ve a big family, just double up on the main ingredient and freeze half. Than all you need to do is put your meal in the over for 40-60 mins or so from the freezer,add some salad or fresh veg, maybe some crusty bread and you’ve a meal with very little prep that’s nutritious, healthy and tastes good.

Stars: Five, excellent practical read to start a healthy approach to eating.

ARC supplied by author

Second Chances, FROSH 2, Tree Houses Reimagined, A Vampire’s Honor,

Second Chances, FROSH 2,  Mónica B. Wagner

Second Chances: FROSH #2 by [Wagner, Mónica B.]

Genre: Romance, New Adult.

Gah!! third part isn’t out til next year… that’s just what I hate about trilogies and duologies, you’re hooked in to the story, racing along with the characters and then..The End, For now anyway, come back next year 😦

I loved the first book, First Blush but that was last year and a few hundred books back, so when picking this up although I could recall roughly the story and the main dramas the intensity had gone, and I was confused by some of the references such as the Tanner/Ellie kiss..I just can’t remember that, what prompted it, why it happened.
Books like this are great because they allow the space for the author to really expand the characters and the plots, but its the waiting that’s so hard. I get the most from these by rereading when all parts are out, going straight from book 1 to 2 and then to 3. Still, next year *sigh*

Its another terrific read, packed full of dramas and angst.
Ellie and Grant have parted after the revelations of the last book, but there’s still the feeling that they are on the edge of getting back if only they would talk, see each other, one of them take that step.They both still have such strong feelings for each other and I was rooting for them to move forward.
Ellie’s still dealing with the fallout, getting bullied and blamed for the situation, even though she was a victim too and not the one who caused the issue. Its easier to blame her though, than to look at the years of abuse and failings of the booster system. Now the problems have stepped up and Ellie is scared – when will it stop? Is it really worth staying here given her reputation is in tatters and Grant seems lost to her? He asked for space and she’s given it, but will he ever want to go back to her?
Then there’s the gorgeous Charlie, he’s really such a Gem, a true Gentleman. I remember loving him in book one and he’s still that same incredible, intelligent, caring and genuine man. Wish there were more like him, and given how hard its been for him and his mum he’s a real credit to her, has some values that would make the world better if we all shared them.
He’s been hiding though, behind his created anonymous podcaster Dr Love, a fun thing that’s become really popular and a huge question for the students, they love Dr Love, but who is he? He’s the man Charlie would really like to be, cool, popular, able to fit in easily. You can see Charlie’s issues by looking at how he’s shaped Dr Love.
Then there’s his girlfriend Devon. She’s got issues too- on the face she has it all, money, popularity, self confident and yet her family are fractured and she’s trying to put it all right. Her parents are more concerned with reputation than rightness, and her brother has had drug and alcohol problems which of course get covered up for the family rep.
I’m kind of mixed about Devon, can’t remember really feeling strongly about her in book one but here – she’s all the things I hate, selfish, self obsessed, a bully, a real b itch in fact! Yet Charlie thinks the world of her and she does seem to think much of him. Opposites attract and all that.
I love the family dinner and Lobster Woman. Poor Charlie, he seems to see a different side to Devon and its well hidden from the rest of us. What will happen when he sees her as we do? Or will she change? Can she change? Does she want to? She likes the ease of her life, the way money sorts out most problems and its a lot to give up.

Sorenson – the man with the answers, Devon’s childhood friend and her go-to guy is still around though we don’t see as much as him. I feel for him, he wants Devon but she’s blind to it, she wants Charlie, though she did want Grant before…tangles all round then, and of course there’s a couple of new players too in this book.
One of them is Rebecca, one of Charlie’s students who looks set to throw things awry in her effort to attract his attention. The second one is  Tali,  who does drama in her spare time and becomes a friend to Grant. I think she wants more than friendship, but am I right or off base?
Does Grant still really want Ellie or am I wrong there too. Will Tali come between them. Will Ellie stay or go, will they get back, will Devon and Charlie stay together or will Rebecca and Sorenson interfere. What about the scandals, and the bullying – can they pass or will they still cause such problems. Is Devon’s brother really clean or still hiding his problems from everyone.

Its another story full of questions and ends on yet another cliff-hanger, Gah! By next year book one will be a faint memory, and I’ll have forgotten from this one all the little subplots that make it such a great read.
Still, there’s always the Wallow to look forward to, the back-to-back reading fest where I can indulge myself in these characters and not lose the momentum  😉

Stars: Five, another fun drama filled read, but oh…the wait 😦

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Tree Houses Reimagined, Luxurious Retreats for Tranquility and Play,  Blue Forest & E. Ashley Rooney

Genre:  non-fiction

Tree houses – they conjure up rustic structures, made of old bits of wood roughly nailed together by kids in the boughs of old trees don’t’ they? Well, a look at this book will certainly challenge that perception.

These aren’t  playhouses – except for few very lucky kids, but structures built to blend into the landscape,  intended  to create a stunning contemporary retreat, or create a fairy tale structure.
Its hard to find a  favourite, there’s so much thought gone in to them. I love the ones that mimic the “real” tree-house ideal though, ones that use imagination and create fairy-tale strictures. Maybe its just that living close to nature in the way Fairies etc are supposed to means that these houses can feel real to me, be places I’d love to live. And maybe I’m just still a child of the 70’s in my heart, and a lover of all things nature and natural.
I would adore to have some of these, to live in them and become part of the land. Its self sufficiency made up to date, made beautiful. Yes you can live in a wood cabin, work the land, survive that way, but how much more satisfying to do it while living in homes like these…

They have more going for them than just stunning appearance though, the whole live-with-nature ethic is worked in to most of them, with materials used, water, waste and energy very carefully thought out, well designed to make use of local natural features and to cause least harm to the land. I’ve been drooling looking through this book, just adore the places created, and wish, wish, wish I could afford something like this in my garden.
They aren’t just kids playhouses, but places for holidays, for holding meetings ( one of them can hold 40 adults!), to be used as a home office, or for businesses like Yoga studios, where the idea of creating a place to work from natural materials to fit in with nature and become part of the landscape is an extension of the Yogic ethos. they truly are places of relaxation.

I’ve been reading this on my Kindle Fire and that really shows the illustrations well. I’ve been waving it in front of visitors, friends and family for past few weeks, and making them all drool too. We all agree the things created here are incredible, the thought that’s gone in to each very well researched and carried out, the book is one to treasure, to inspire and to build dreams with.

Stars: Five, a stunning, visual feast for nature lovers, inspiring creations for those talented enough to build them. *sadly not me 😦 I need a goodly lottery win! *

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

A Vampire’s Honor,  Carla Susan Smith

A Vampire's Honor (Vampire's Promise) by [Smith, Carla Susan]

Genre: Romance, Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Onto book three and ..Gah! Ack! It ends in a cliff-hanger…and I just so, so hate them, despise them.
The good part is that book four is due in Oct, just a month after this one releases so its not too long to wait. what makes me so cross about this type ending is when authors end book in cliffies and then sequel gets delayed and delayed until suddenly its 2, 3 even 4 years since you were left hanging. Thankfully Carla has book four lined up ready to come out soon after this one – Thank You Carla!!

So after all the deep drama in book two this one feels a bit less intense, but its still got a huge amount going on. Its a while since I read the last book, and ideally I’d have reread it before starting this but as even time was limited 😉 All was fine though, as I continued reading the full events came back to me. It’s so clever the way authors weave little things from earlier books into major plot angles in later ones. Sometimes its just a tiny thing, a throwaway remark, and I like to challenge myself if I can pick them up – I spotted one in this book that led to some big events later, but I’m sure there’s more I missed. Its why I love to read a series back to back when all parts are out, I get really engrossed, pick up things I missed first time round, and its a great way of enjoying a story, getting totally immersed. Don’t try reading this without books one and two though – you’ll be lost.

You’d think Gabriel and Rowan could get a break after all the things that have happened but no, once more it seems events and certain others are against them, and the dangers start up from Rowan getting abducted, and end in what looks like could be a permanent separation.
How can that be when she’s his Promise?
Well, there are always little details, little clauses in agreements, and Rowan does tend to rush into things without thinking of the consequences. This time her impetuousness really comes back to bite her with a vengeance.

I love Rowan and Gabriel, loved seeing some of his history with Aleksei, and of course Anazstazia, and of course there’s the wonderful Tomas. The five really do make up the core of this book, with the introduction of an old enemy, and someone new coming in who seems to have a desire to cause trouble – why though?
Well, as always who knows? Seems Rowan’s Demon from the last book may have got a few irons in the fire too. Its left on a real gut churning cliff-hanger, where it looks like things could be permanently split for Rowan and Gabriel – I can’t believe he hasn’t worked some way out though, can’t see him just rolling over and giving in, but what he can do I’ve no idea.
Good job its not me writing but Carla or it would be a weepy ending, and not the happy tears kind of crying!

Another fantastic, engrossing novel, and I Just Can’t Wait for book four!

Stars: five, roll on book four.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Kinky Sprinkles, L.A. Witt and Farm to Table, Colleen Seward

Kinky Sprinkles,  L.A. Witt

Kinky Sprinkles by [Witt,L.A.]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I love L A Witt’s writing and have read quite a few of her books now, so looked forward to this one.
It covers something I’ve often wondered – what happens when two people fall in love but don’t share sexual tastes?
Sometimes its a choice thing for people but sometimes in cases such as this they have a need for certain practices as opposed to just enjoying them.

André is like that – he needs to be a Dom, needs to dominate and hurt people to be satisfied. He wants to be with Joel though, who’s just got out of  a two year, very bad relationship with a sadistic Dom who wasn’t a good one, wasn’t safe, didn’t respect his sub and look to his needs.
He doesn’t want to go back there. and only got into the role because of his ex. He’s not interested in that, not going there again.

So what happens in those kind of cases? Usually we get the perfect blend, sub meets Dom, someone who wants pain meets a Sadist – its interesting when two opposing sides want to be together and I suspect that’s far more likely to happen than the usual way portrayed in romance reads. So I was interested in how LA would let things play out, what solutions she’d come up with..
I loved Joel, hurt by his ex in more ways than one and yet he’s still got an inner core of strength that allows him to say No to André, to explain he just doesn’t want to go there, isn’t a natural sub.
Andre too is lovely, he doesn’t want to hurt Joel, isn’t interested in doing that to someone who doesn’t want it, but they decide neither can make things work long term, either Andre will give up what he needs or Joel will do something he doesn’t want to and one will start resenting the other. Not a good start to a relationship.
They each try to stay apart and yet circumstances keep bringing them together, and wow – the heat between them is scorching, sensual and addictive. Each time is sort of “we can’t keep doing this” but then they can’t stay away, and neither can get interested in others.

Finally Joel comes up with a solution – well, something they can try anyway and to be honest its blindingly obvious.
WARNING – SPOILER AHEAD

He suggests an open relationship where Andre can play with others….sounds good but though it doesn’t outright say, the inference is that Andre will be having sex with others too..
What!! I didn’t see that coming and don’t understand why they go that route. We’ve already been told André likes the play most, that’s the bit he really gets off on, and can stop before sex, getting with someone else after for that – its how he and Joel had their first encounter after all.
Why couldn’t they repeat that? Joel likes watching, he could watch and then when its over he and André could satisfy the need for sex, no need for others to get involved in that side of things.
Maybe its just me, but I have trouble with the being in love with one person but wanting sex with others, and here it was so needless. It spoiled what would have been a five star read for me…still, it’ll suit others and maybe you won’t feel as strongly as I do.

Stars: Three, a fun read, but I wasn’t happy with parts of the solution

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Farm to Table Colleen Seward

Farm To Table: 50 Recipes for Clean Eating (The Healthy Foodie) by [Seward, Colleen]

Genre:  non fiction, cookery, lifestyle

Healthy eating – we see that pushed out all the while don’t we? Yet its usually in the form of buy this supplement, try these health ready meals, or sometimes there are recipes, but they have four hundred ingredients, some of which needs sourcing at daybreak on the summer solstice, while wearing a robe made of unicorn hair…well, that’s how it feels:-)

None of that here, just simple, easy recipes, with ingredients available everywhere.
Colleen doesn’t push any one super food, but more the idea of a properly balanced diet, where making meals from basic ingredients naturally keeps the preservatives and additives to a minimum.
She puts forward the argument for food that’s as fresh as possible, grown without too many extras but doesn’t take the somewhat fanatical “if its not organic its no good” stance. Too many books seem like they are preaching, too pushy and make the reader just switch off. Colleen’s persuasion is more gentle and accepts that sometimes a compromise is needed.

You could start by changing just one meal a day – or even just four a week, something like that, and once you start to get into the routine and appreciate the taste of real food, ingredients that aren’t chemically enhanced, hopefully you’ll want to include more in your life.
Using this book is simple, its dived into sections full of easy to follow recipes that don’t take hours to make, and are easy for even those new to cooking.
Start by adding a few a week and take it from there.

The recipes are simple and its easy to ring the changes using the ideas for one meal and replacing certain ingredients – pork for chicken, mushrooms instead of peppers or sweet corn, things like that.
The main proposal Colleen puts forward is that the most important thing is that ingredients are as fresh as possible and as free from additives etc.
Go to farmers markets, get to know your butcher, fishmonger and greengrocer and you can find out that info.
Supermarkets have a bad name, undeservedly IMO, and the same idea works there – most have dedicated butchery etc so speak to staff, find out how fresh your food is, where its been, how its been treated.
Its your body, take care of it. You won’t put cheap, second grade fuel in your car and expect it to perform top class and its the same with your body.

I found this an interesting read, especially as I tend to eat this way anyway, having been brought up on home-grown fruit and veg and meals from scratch.
In the long run its much cheaper than ready meals too, and with a little forethought so easy to do.
Living alone now I tend to make a batch of meals, casseroles, cottage pies etc and freeze in portions so I have home made ready meals. You can do the same even if you’ve a big family, just double up on the main ingredient and freeze half. Than all you need to do is put your meal in the over for 40-60 mins or so from the freezer,add some salad or fresh veg, maybe some crusty bread and you’ve a meal with very little prep that’s nutritious, healthy and tastes good.

Stars: Five, excellent practical read to start a healthy approach to eating.

ARC supplied by author

Taste of Persia, A Cook’s Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan. Naomi Duguid

Taste of Persia, A Cook’s Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan.  Naomi Duguid

Taste of Persia: A Cook's Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan by [Duguid, Naomi]

Genre:  non-fiction

I adore cookery books, and when they’re combined with real stories about the food in its natural setting, grow locally and eaten how the natives of that country eat it – well, its a wonderful treat.

I loved the recipes, beautifully illustrated and described so as to make me drool….While I’m reading I’m mentally going through my cupboards thinking “do I have that spice? This herb? Shall I try that recipe next time the family are all here?”
The little anecdotes that accompany the recipes are great, made me feel there with Naomi, made me want to shut my eyes and dream, feel the heat and dust, smell the fragrance of a myriad of spices and herbs, hear the babble of voices selling food on the markets.

I love books like this that set food where it should be, don’t take a recipe and present it in isolation. A strawberry picked straight off the plant on a warm summer morning tastes very different to one presented in the sterility of a supermarket. They’re both strawberries but we taste with our eyes and ears, use our senses to feels what’s around us, and that creates something more than just “taste” to me.

I’m an artist and when I see a painting I like I love to try to see who it was constructed, know the story behind the inspiration – that adds to my enjoyment as much as seeing the work does.In the same way when its food I want to think of where a recipe originated and how, why that cheese was used, why this spice was chosen to add flavour. Its how a recipe is built up what is so fascinating to me, and when we know the stories of the locals, know what food grows best where, and can see how those recipes developed over time that makes me best appreciate them. Sometimes its a simple as the UK tradition of roasts, casseroles, long slow cooking which developed over centuries where we were a heavily wooded isle so fuel was plentiful, and food could be left simmering all day while other tasks completed, but in countries where fuel was scarce, cutting food into small pieces or shreds and then quickly stir frying became the norm.
Then of course there are the things that grow best in each place, and the lack of refrigeration that led to highly spiced foods and curries developing in some countries, possibly to help disguise some flavours and to add an element of preservation. Herbs and spices can do so much more than just add flavour.

Food isn’t just fuel, but a time for people to gather and share experiences, and that comes over so strongly here and makes this book not only a visual feast but a whole learning experience too.

Stars: Five, a fabulous read, a cook book that appeals to the brain as well as the taste-buds.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

The Book Blogger Platform, Barb Drozdowich

 

 

Genre:  Computers & Internet, Professional & Technical

Well, like many people I fell into to blogging by accident a couple of years back. I love to read, added reviews on amazon of books I’d read and started getting authors requesting I read their books. From there I joined a site aimed at reviewers and saw they prefer those with a blog. I didn’t really understand the whole blog thing but had subscribed to a few art and novel blogs and saw that for me wordpress is easier than Blogger to use, so started a WordPress blog. From there it grew and I now have a product review blog too.

 

Blogging demands time though, its not a quick and easy route to free stuff, what you get out is determined by what you put in. To start I was confused, so many things to choose, to learn, different styles, themes, colours, fonts…I was guided there by my experience as a reader/user of blogs, but that’s where this book is useful. I’ve changed bits overtime, but I’m still reluctant to make too many changes in case I get it wrong. I still open a new window to make changes, so I can revert back to the old one if I mess up…and I do!

Barb has a series of YouTube videos – ironic really – linked to the book, and with the help of those I plan to make more radical changes when I’ve time. If you’re just starting its easier I feel to focus on the videos than try to make sense of what the book says. Much of the text is quite complex, and its not exactly riveting reading anyway is it ? These kind of books are always somewhat dry to read. I tend to do them in stages, give time to absorb new info.

There are things I’ve learned from this book, that I could incorporate, how to get more subscribers, how to encourage comments etc. Blogging really is second to me to reading, and is there to support my addiction to new books! That doesn’t mean I ignore it though or can treat it as inferior. I try to have a new book or product review each day, and its a personal choice what kind of content and how often you blog. Barb helps there – you need to focus on your aims, and mine is to get good books to read, and useful  products to review. For others is about trying to make money from the site, to attract adverts, get commissions from amazon etc. Each demands a different approach, and books like this help you see where to go, what to do.

I’d love to make money from my blogs – who wouldn’t? That demands even more time though and I feel my life is pretty full as it is, so currently I’m not going that route. In the future though who knows? Books like this do help take away the mythology surrounding how to make money from blogging.

 

In a way I did feel Barb let personal preference override her advice at times, often there was little to choose but she’d come down on one side without really explaining why. That doesn’t help readers work out how to choose for themselves.

There’s some interesting stats re blogs, but for me and I suspect many bloggers, that side doesn’t really get made the most of. What many really want to know is what makes the most effective blog for a good user experience. I’m not convinced this book really covers that, but it does offer lots of advice on where to go to find out things, and of course the YouTube videos which are excellent.

 

If you’re thinking about starting a blog don’t let the technical side put you off, in this book it sounds quite scary at times! Just start one up and learn as you go, using books like this to guide you but not rule your choices. Its Your blog You choose, having explored different options first. I call it the Suck It and See approach!

It is easier if you get it right to start – I’d like to change the “theme “ of mine but not sure if that’s going to involve a lot of work or be a simple job. If I’d chosen more carefully to begin that would have been better, but I was just swamped, overawed with all the choices. Looking at them with a book like this to hand would have helped me weigh up pros and cons.

I have the free wordpress blog but am thinking about changing to the paid one, really just because I like to be in control. I did fall foul of their policies by accident about two month into my venture and my blog was locked, but they were great at advising where I’d gone wrong and soon unlocked it. Having now made over 1600 book reviews I really don’t want to risk that again, but am still not sure what else I need to do if I change, what WordPress does – such as back ups – that I would need to build in. I suspect that’s true of many of us though.

 

Use this book for reference, use the YouTube videos, but don’t get put off by the jargon, the tech side. You can learn as you go – many of us have and TBH I think you never stop learning. Its a great hobby, whether you’re talking about books, products, hobbies or just using it as a kind of daily diary.

 

Stars: Four, a great reference but a little dry and hard going at times.

ARC received from Netgalley and publishers for review purposes.

Natural Hair Coloring, How to Use Henna and Other Pure Plant Pigments for Chemical-Free Beauty, Christine Shahin

 

Genre:  Non Fiction

Like so many people I’ve always coloured my hair. I like to change it up, and it makes me feel good when I see fresh glossy colour, especially now I’m a bit older (!!) and have a few grey strands. Back in the 70’s when I was a teenager we used to frequent shops selling natural products, dowsed ourselves in patchouli oil ( poor bus driver must have been nearly asphyxiated with a coachload of teens from my all girls school) One time I bought some Henna and duly coloured my long dark hair. The colour was lovely, a rich vibrant red. Unfortunately so was the bathroom grouting and floor, the bath sealant and the towels I’d used…Mum was Really Not Happy and Henna and anything like it was banned. Somehow I’ve never plucked up courage to try it since.

This book is full of helpful info and fabulous pictures with recipes for what was used in each. . I love natural products, make my own very often and hate using too many potentially harmful chemicals, and yet when faced with that or grey dull hair the chemicals win. Now maybe I’ll pluck up courage to have another go. Henna and Indigo I’d heard of but not  Cassia or Amla, and they are useful colours used either alone or combined to give more variety. Christine gives some really detailed info to accompany her images showing what was used and how long. Given that some need to stay on for eight hours I was wondering how she dealt with that – surely her customers don’t stay in her salon that long? And thinking of the mess I can get in with just 30 mins of dye, eight hours seems a recipe for disaster for those like me – who attract mess as my nan used to say “ like sh it to a blanket!!) Solution, cling film type wrap and some handy head scarves to contain it all, and look good whilst the dye takes. She doesn’t just say use a scarf though, but shows in detail how to fold and use to keep everything secure.

When talking about the dyes Christine gives some really helpful advice over how to tell the genuine product from that  mixed with cheaper and inferior ingredients. Not only will you not get the correct result with those, but of course they could be dangerous too. ( another of nan’s homilies “cheap always comes dear in the end” You do need to know exactly what you are using for best results, for safely and to avoid having wasted time and money. .

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Stars: Five, a terrific resource for those interested in natural hair dyes.

 

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

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Naturally Bug-Free, 67 Nontoxic Recipes for Repelling Mosquitoes, Ticks, Fleas, Ants, Moths, and Other Pesky Insects, Stephanie L. Tourles

Naturally Bug-Free, 67 Nontoxic Recipes for Repelling Mosquitoes, Ticks, Fleas, Ants, Moths, and Other Pesky Insects,  Stephanie L. Tourles

 

Genre:  Non Fiction

I hate dowsing myself in chemicals, the skin is our biggest organ and of course what goes On it also goes In it and I don’t like that. However we’ve a large garden with ponds, compost heaps and my lovely old horse Muska, so flies especially mosquitos are in abundance in summer – and warm spring/autumn days…We have bats too and they help but….While Him Indoors never gets bitten they seem to find me very tasty, and I spend my time trying not to itch the latest lovely bite. ( I’m prone to head lice too when the grandkids inevitably come home with them. are you itching yet reading this ??  ) I do use sparingly some chemical repellents, having tried unsuccessfully to concoct my own from essential oils. I tried once to make a fly repellent for my other horse ( died of old age ) Sylvester, a lovely dapple grey. I’d used walnut leaves and boiled them as suggested and applied as a wash over him. It smelled lovely, kind of Cedar-y but next day he was a dirty brown colour. Apparently walnut juice is what Romany’s used to use to cover up white patches on dark coloured horses when selling them…It wore off eventually but led me to be a bit wary of my experiments.

So this book is a godsend, containing some amazing recipes for things I need, and as a fan of essential oils I’ve got many of the ones used. ( I recently got a couple of incredible sets for review too)  I’ll be buying a few more ready for the spring! Its interesting too that there are recipes for repellents for pets. My lovely Muska gets bothered by flies but hates sprays and the stuff sold for horses, so I’m going to try some of the pet ones on her, ones I can apply with a sponge. My daughter has two cats and two dogs so I might see if I can make stuff for them.

Its set out in a very easy to follow way. Often I feel non fiction reads are really better in print form as they’re hard to browse but this is in very defined chapters so its easy to go to a specific recipe or problem solution. Stephanie gives detailed info on the herbs and oils needed. I’ve always been interested in the use of herbs, use them a lot in cooking but I’ve never got round to using them as natural cosmetics and home cleaners. I grow quite a few so I’m going to try that starting with some simple potpourri – they beauty of making your own stuff is that you can tailor it to what you like, not be pushed by what someone else dictates. There’s so much in this ;little book, and its a fascinating, practical read.

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Stars: Five, a terrific resource for those interested in natural remedies.

 

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

 

The Flower Workshop, Lessons in Arranging Blooms Branches Fruit, and Foraged Materials, Ariella Chezar, Julie Michaels

The Flower Workshop, Lessons in Arranging Blooms Branches Fruit, and Foraged Materials,  Ariella Chezar, Julie Michaels

amazon UK buy link   Amazon com link

Genre:  non fiction, crafts and hobbies

I adore flowers, and even as a child I loved to forage in the garden making posies all year round and pick wildflowers on the way home from school, buttercups, milk meadow, kingcups and ferns from the commons and ponds, queen anne’s lace, pink clover, campions, wild scabious from the roadsides, bluebells and primroses from the woods, and of course tree branches with blosson or new leaves, and honeysuckle, wild roses etc. so when I saw this I had to have it!

Its a fabulous read for those who love flowers, not just for arranging but for themselves. There’s advice on growing them if you have space, buying wholesale at flower markets if you need large quantities, choosing best blooms from flower shops, or as I  did scavenging and using what’s seasonal. ( Of course conservation and legislation need to be kept in mind when doing that too, something that bever occurred to me as a child, though even then I only picked what was plentiful).

It also covers how best to make arrangements last, what containers to use to show flowers to their full beauty, how to match colours avoiding those awful clashing arrangements we see. Why on earth do people want vividly dyed artificial colours when there are so many beautiful natural ones. My heart drops when presented with a bunch of lurid fluorescent pink, bright unnatural blue and acid yellow chrysanthemums. Its lovely to get flowers – and for me they’re a present always welcome – but the first thing I have to do when given these is separate the colours and try to tone them down with pastels in complementary colours and lots of soft greenery….I swear the garden cringes when it sees me approaching with the secateurs yet again. Now I’ve read this book I’ve lots more ideas too 😉

The illustrations are drool worthy, gorgeous lush towering arrangements down to showing the beauty of flowers as individuals. I found it so great to see more unusual flowers used, along with tree branches and strands of ivy and other trailing plants. There really is an arrangement for every occasion here – from a simple get well posy for a friend, to lavish wedding or party full scale arrangements.

I read this on my kindle fire so could see the photos in full colour, but like most non fiction books I really think this would be best appreciated as a traditional print book, where the pages can be flicked through and the photos in much larger size show the details better.

 

Stars: Five, a great gift for any flower lover or buy as a treat for yourself!

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

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