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ARCs Book Reviews Books Featured Historical Nonfiction Nonfiction

The Warship Tyger: The Master Shipwright’s Secrets Behind a Restoration Warship by Richard Endsor

A magnificent illustrated history of HMS Tyger, a fourth-rate ship of the Navy of Charles II.

Inspired by the recent discovery of mathematically calculated digital plans for a fourth-rate ship, written by the Deptford master shipwright, John Shish, The Warship Tyger is an illustrated history of the HMS Tyger, one of the smaller warships of the Restoration period.

Tyger was originally built in the middle of the 17th century and served in the Anglo-Dutch Wars. It was sent to Deptford for rebuilding at the end of the wars in 1674, but the ship was left to deteriorate over the next few years and ended up as a sunken wreck at the bottom of the great double dock. Eventually, the yard officers at Deptford wrote that there was “no such thing as the Tyger” and wanted to pay off the last warrant officers belonging to her. However, King Charles II decided otherwise and kept her on the books to eventually reappear as a “rebuilt” but in fact, entirely new ship in 1681.

This book is replete with beautiful and detailed illustrations of the construction of the Tyger and explores both its complicated history and its complex rebuilding, complete with deck plans, internal sections, and large scale external shaded drawings. The title also explores associated ships including another fourth-rate ship, the Mordaunt, which was purchased into the navy and had a dimensional survey made of her at the time by John Shish. A rare contemporary section drawing of another fourth-rate English ship and constructional drawings of Shish’s later fourth-rate ship, St Albans are also included.

The Warship Tyger: The master shipwright's secrets behind a Restoration warshipThe Warship Tyger: The master shipwright’s secrets behind a Restoration warship by Richard Endsor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Osprey Publishing for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

This book was outstanding both in content and narrative! I love anything maritime so this one was like candy for me.

It was filled with interesting details of ship building, particularly centered around those built in the 1600s, portraying the star of the show, Tyger.

The ins and outs of what it took to acquire materials, calculate, design, and build a ship that was seaworthy at that time was just incredible.

Woven into the organizational and technical feats were personal diary entries, old documents with their characteristically fine penmanship of elegant swoops of Ws, Ys, and Cs, inventory lists, maps, and beautiful illustrations showing ornate designs such as cherubim and lion faces carved at the bow. The pictures were pretty to look at and the addition of people characters to show scale was a nice touch and I liked that the illustrative style was consistent with the paintings of the day.

I really appreciated the extensive research put into this, it was super comprehensive!

This book would make a great study reference and conversational piece as both a coffee table book and for any private or public library.

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ARCs Book Reviews Books Classics Featured Nonfiction

Canoeing in the Wilderness by Henry David Thoreau

Essayist, poet, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817–62) ranks among America’s foremost nature writers. The Concord, Massachusetts, native spent most of his life observing the natural world of New England. His thoughts on leading a simple, independent life remain a foundation of modern environmentalism, as captured in Walden, his best-known work.Canoeing in the Wilderness, the 1857 diary of a two-week sojourn in Maine, chronicles the author’s travels with a friend and a Native American guide.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the Maine woodlands were still in pristine condition, inhabited by a handful of Native Americans, pioneer farmers, the occasional lumberjack, and a rich and diverse wildlife population. Thoreau’s poetic yet realistic observations of the landscape are accompanied by his accounts of day-to-day events. From camping by the waterside and waking to birdsong to enduring mosquitoes and cloudbursts, he writes with grace and clarity that bring the American wilderness to vivid life.

Canoeing in the WildernessCanoeing in the Wilderness by Henry David Thoreau

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Dover Publications for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

Loved it.

I’d recommend this to anyone. I found it to be an incredibly relaxing read especially during these moments in time, the perfect novella, palette cleanser, reflective, a great way to gain perspective and become grounded and mindful of the lovely things in life.

I loved how soothing the writing rhythm was, both poetic and philosophical, yet easily attainable and enjoyable without being overly complicated. It read with ease as if I was sitting around a campfire listening to the master tell stories of great adventure and oral tradition.

Stories centered on depicting appreciation for and observations of the natural world including adventure trails to canoe running, surrounding forest environment, woodland animals, and relationships with the Indians.

Thoreau’s stylistically simple, yet deeply personal and thought-provoking journal entries never fail to refresh my mind.

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ARCs Book Reviews Books Featured Historical Nonfiction Nonfiction

Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins by Ariane Thomas, Timothy Potts

Mesopotamia, in modern-day Iraq, was home to the remarkable ancient civilizations of Sumer, Akkad, Babylonia, and Assyria. From the rise of the first cities around 3500 BCE, through the mighty empires of Nineveh and Babylon, to the demise of its native culture around 100 CE, Mesopotamia produced some of the most powerful and captivating art of antiquity and led the world in astronomy, mathematics, and other sciences—a legacy that lives on today.

Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins presents a rich panorama of ancient Mesopotamia’s history, from its earliest prehistoric cultures to its conquest by Alexander the Great in 331 BCE. This catalogue records the beauty and variety of the objects on display, on loan from the Louvre’s unparalleled collection of ancient Near Eastern antiquities: cylinder seals, monumental sculptures, cuneiform tablets, jewelry, glazed bricks, paintings, figurines, and more. Essays by international experts explore a range of topics, from the earliest French excavations to Mesopotamia’s economy, religion, cities, cuneiform writing, rulers, and history—as well as its enduring presence in the contemporary imagination.

This volume is published to accompany an exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa March 18 to July 27, 2020.

Mesopotamia: Civilization BeginsMesopotamia: Civilization Begins by Ariane Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Getty Publications for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

Fascinating! This book captured the fascinating work, with all the exciting elements of discovery adventure of many of the world’s firsts in both documentation of earliest civilization and supportive artifacts.

I think most people would say that they have wanted to be an archeologist or paleontologist at one point in their childhood and the discovery of Mesopotamia is ultimate. As an adult I get a bit of that recurring excitement when gardening, wondering what I will dig up, year after year. Wondering what it would be like to happen upon evidence of a lost civilization, to find buried treasure, pottery, dinosaur bones. This book took me there.

I love how it was organized, opening up with beautiful geographical maps, followed by timelines of settlement and people group chronology. More history books should model this just to set the stage for easing the reader in.

It felt like I was stepping into a museum. Everything was well-curated and flowed in ways that made sense with respect to both the timeline and subject matter. Occasionally some of the writing was a little bit dry, but I didn’t mind too much. I don’t know much about the behind the scenes/interworking of museums and how artifacts gets acquired and curated. So when this book covered how items have been strategically placed to form full-fledged museums and as featured pieces in others, I felt my interest becoming much more immersive into this type of content as I read on.

The catalogue of exhibitions and mentions of modern and futuristic contributions such as 3-D printing at the end of the book was stellar. I will look forward to visiting the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa and this will make a great conversational/coffee table book!

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ARCs Book Reviews Books Educational Featured Nonfiction

Butchering Chickens: A Guide to Humane, Small-Scale Processing by Adam Danforth

The space, setup, and equipment required to raise and process poultry are minimal when compared to other types of livestock, which is part of what makes chickens such an appealing choice for small-scale meat producers. Expert butcher and teacher Adam Danforth covers the entire slaughtering and butchering process in this photographic guide specifically geared toward backyard chicken keepers and small-farm operations invested in raising meat responsibly.

With step-by-step photos, detailed instructions, and chapters dedicated to necessary tools and equipment, essential food safety measures, how to prepare for slaughter and process the birds quickly and humanely, how to break down the carcasses into cuts, and how to package and freeze the cuts to ensure freshness, this comprehensive handbook gives poultry raisers the information they need to make the most of their meat.

Butchering Chickens: A Guide to Humane, Small-Scale ProcessingButchering Chickens: A Guide to Humane, Small-Scale Processing by Adam Danforth

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Storey Publishing for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

An excellent resource! Whether you’re a farmer, rancher, processor, butcher, chef, culinary student, home cook, educator, or perhaps a humanitarian navigating your way through local customs and yearning to make some yummy chicken enchiladas like myself, there is much insight to glean from this book. It contains everything you wanted to know about how to butcher a chicken in the most safe and humane way with as little waste as possible. It would make a great gift!

I appreciated that this book was well-written, well-organized, and well-researched for both presentation style and content. The step-by-step guides, balance of both technical terminology and ease of reading, as well as scientific rationales were appealing for the complete range of those who identify themselves anywhere on the spectrum from novice to expert.

Supplies, safety with emphasis on proper sanitation, alternatives to steps in the butchering process, cuts for ideal presentation and culinary purposes, different cooking methods, as well as pros and cons of each storage method were discussed in satisfying detail. The glossary and resource section was a thoughtful bonus. I really enjoyed the tips on obtaining a better flavor profile and maintaining desired textures which explored interesting aspects of the bird’s diet and product preservation.

Also the photography was outstanding and the carved whole boneless chicken was impressive!

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ARCs Book Reviews Books Featured Fiction Horror Mystery Thriller

She Has A Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be by J.D. Barker

A haunting tale of suspense, rendered with the masterful skill only Barker could muster.

After the loss of his parents, young Jack Thatch first met Stella as a child—this cryptic little girl of eight with dark hair and darker eyes, sitting alone on a bench in the cemetery clutching her favorite book. Gone moments later, the brief encounter would spark an obsession. She’d creep into his thoughts, his every waking moment, until he finally finds her again exactly one year later, sitting upon the same bench, only to disappear again soon after…

SHE HAS A BROKEN THING WHERE HER HEART SHOULD BE conjures thoughts of early King and Koontz. A heart-pounding ride that creeps under your skin and will have you turning pages long into the night.

She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should BeShe Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be by J.D. Barker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Hampton Creek Press for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

An excellent book, one I couldn’t put down!

I could stop there and just make a recommendation to read it, but I can’t help myself to explain as to why when it comes to critiquing and there were a lot of things I loved about this book.

Starting with the overall premise and writing. There was a uniqueness both in original idea and writing style. I saw similarities to other namely authors, perhaps with some influence, but this author writes with a certain distinguished, intriguing sentiment that is all his own. It was like having a weird dream that only makes sense in your mind, materialized, taking risks in writing style, and then the retelling of such a story done right.

To begin with, it had all the essentials of what makes a good opener for a book. It sucked me in within the first few lines and chapter. I got a feel for the context, personality, setting, time frame, all with a taste of mystery, built as a nice set up with all the elements that readers crave when starting and continuing to enjoy a book like this, especially since it crossed into many types of genres. It was the seamless delivery that was carefully constructed.

Within each scene there was an ease to reading. Perhaps it was the way that each sentence was crafted. They were not so rule-hugging and rigid, formulaic, or formal, but appropriately written to enhance both personality, character growth, and the flow of the story. The writing pushed the boundaries, embracing the realm of creative thought and feeding it right back into the story.

I really appreciated the story because the detective work didn’t overtake it. Terminology wasn’t constantly being defined and explained, but instead jumped right into an occupation with use of the norms and lingo in conversation as they are understood among the people that use them. If you’ve ever read more than one mystery or crime novel, you will understand this and know that it is not uncommon to see stories get interrupted and cluttered with a bunch of backstories, rationales of behavior, or an over-explanation of job duties, procedures, and protocols that can so easily take you out of the story rather than be a natural progression of it.

I appreciated that there was not grab a thesaurus, word substitutions for adjectives, action verbs, words for said, and transitionals just thrown in, but actual descriptions told in unconventional ways which was both refreshing and compelling. Breaking of traditional rules by leaving in run-ons and fragments only added to the story, keeping the logical flow, the pace, the conversation, the thought-process, to speak for itself.

Even brand names, literary remarks, and historical references were mentioned without excessive descriptions or nouns to follow which made for an even smoother read. It just worked. Perhaps because the author knows his audience and can take liberty in allowing the reader to connect with the time and place, and feel like the story was just written for them.

With each character, the narrator voice was spot on consistent and distinguishable with actions, thoughts, and feelings, even through growth. The reminiscent parts were not only accurate to events but also perspective, really true to the time. The voice of internal conflict and insight was appropriate for each character age group. For example school-age memories and dialogue was told from a child’s mind, reflecting the safe, carefree life of youth, and also included the irrational fears and immature actions that resulted. I appreciated the attention to detail, even the accuracy of a growing boy’s height according to growth charts, which made it all the more believable even within the domain of nonfiction, paranormal, and fantasy.

I liked that it took me back to childhood memories of required reading, riding bikes to Circle K, skid-marks in gravel, and the fear of tetany. It made me want to reread Great Expectations, even though I haven’t had an inkling to ever read it again since its requirement in grade school. The desire to read another book as stirred up by a book you’re currently reading is always a success in my mind.

There were also comedic references that were sometimes overt, sometimes subtle, and so very funny.

Lastly I loved the internal dialogue referencing deeper meanings in life.

All-in-all, it reminded me of the momentum, thrill, and excitement of choose your own adventure books, the joy in anticipation and satisfaction of what comes next.

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ARCs Book Reviews Books Educational Featured Nonfiction

Gardening Your Front Yard: Projects and Ideas for Big and Small Spaces by Tara Nolan

Gardening Your Front Yard is an active, inspiring resource that shows you how to treat your front yard like a backyard without sacrificing beauty, from choosing the right plants to building front patios and walkways

Gardening Your Front Yard: Projects and Ideas for Big and Small SpacesGardening Your Front Yard: Projects and Ideas for Big and Small Spaces by Tara Nolan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Quart Publishing Group- Cool Springs Press for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

I love looking through gardening magazines and this book was like a lovely indulgence for me!

There were step-by-step project ideas and designs that I will look forward to creating for my garden. The instructions were clear and thorough.

I enjoyed the many ideas that were presented. It was more of a diary-style, experience-based look at front yards rather than a strict how to, which I appreciated. I was also left with wanting just a bit more.

With that said I hope to see a part 2 follow up. Perhaps it was the teaser (according to my interpretation) I found myself becoming fixated on. I would have loved to have read more about the author’s own adventures in gardening from a design perspective. Which I’m sure is the case for all of our gardens though, as projects are always under completion, but I would relish in seeing before and afters, and the rationale behind them.

I would love to see an extension about what would differentiate the front from the back a little more. It did touch on curb appeal and being mindful of HOA observances which was excellent. I would enjoy a bit more detail on layering and mimicking nature within the confines of integrating non-native plant life as well as working with different woods, metals, stones, and plastics… and more information about design principles, color options, matching or not matching housing structure, how to convey mood, etc… which are typically so important when showcasing the front yard because everyone sees it and there is less creative control when you want to be whimsical but not have it looking like an every day yardsale which I could totally see myself doing. I thought the hedge piece was the most complete at illustrating the how to concepts I was looking for as they relate to choosing a design for privacy, height, and aesthetic goals. I’d like to see more of that in the way it was presented.

All the photos and ideas were beautiful and inspiring nonetheless! And it was thoughtful to include shoutouts to wonderful resources. It introduced me to new concepts such as thriller, filler, and spiller.

This was a unique book with a lot to offer as putting edibles in the front yard is a rare find in and of itself! I am looking forward to implementing some of the designs and making some of the projects contained in this book. It would be a great resource guide for any gardener or a great house-warming gift and I am looking forward to reading more from this author.

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ARCs Book Reviews Books Educational Nonfiction

Garden Alchemy by Stephanie Rose

Garden Alchemy is a hands-on guide for do-it-yourself gardeners who want to turn their garden into gold using natural recipes and herbal concoctions (while saving both time and money!).

This gardening recipe and project book is packed with over 80 ideas to naturally beautify your garden, using organic methods that regenerate your soil and revitalize your plants. By following the processes that are closest to nature, it brings the gardener in sync with the garden, allowing plants to thrive with less effort and less cost.

Garden Alchemy: 80 Recipes and concoctions for organic fertilizers, plant elixirs, potting mixes, pest deterrents, and moreGarden Alchemy: 80 Recipes and concoctions for organic fertilizers, plant elixirs, potting mixes, pest deterrents, and more by Stephanie Rose

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Quart Publishing Group- Cool Springs Press for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

I gleaned so much gardening knowledge from this book! I’d highly recommend it for any gardener’s library from novice to expert and anyone just looking for a leisurely book about starting and maintaining a garden.

I am more of a beginner to intermediate gardener myself and I’m always wanting to gain more insight into the how to of assessing and amending soil, growing a plant, and maintaining it for the long haul.

This was the perfect and most timely book for me. The information I’ve read online has been somewhat conflicting to me and this book does an excellent job at dispelling myths as well as reviewing personal and environmental safety concerns by employing homemade alternatives that are actually tried and true.

I loved the enthusiasm brought forth in the book along with the colorful displays, schematics, and step-by-step recipes that are easy to follow and complete, even if you begin with nothing or are in an area where resources are limited.

I will look forward to adding this one to my own gardening library and see myself referring to it time and time again, especially for the fun project ideas!

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ARCs Book Reviews Books Featured Fiction Humor

The Second Worst Restaurant in France (Paul Stuart #2) by Alexander McCall Smith

In a delightful sequel to the best-selling comedic novel My Italian Bulldozer , we are in a French village where the local restaurant’s haute cuisine leaves a lot to be desired–and two books into an astounding ninth series from one of our most beloved authors.

Renowned cookbook writer Paul Stuart, renewed and refreshed from his time in Tuscany, has returned to Scotland to work on his new book, The Philosophy of Food in Six Easy Chapters. Writing, though, is complicated by Paul’s changed domestic circumstances. His editor and new girlfriend, Gloria, has moved in with him despite not being specifically invited, and she’s brought her two rather demanding Siamese cats. When Paul’s cousin, Chloe, suggests Paul visit her in the French countryside, Paul jumps at the chance. However, once he arrives, he finds his fortunes tangled up with the infamous local restaurant that gives the book its title. In this story about a man who prides himself on his taste finding delight in the most unexpected places, we have Alexander McCall Smith at his most witty and charming.

The Second Worst Restaurant in France (Paul Stuart, #2)The Second Worst Restaurant in France by Alexander McCall Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Penguin Random House for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the First to Read program.

A fun story. Loved the setting, the description of food, the research it must have required to get the details just right, the tension between characters… I wanted a bit more though from the actual story.

There was a lot going on but there was sort of a lack of depth. I didn’t feel like it was really taking me anywhere, at least somewhere and to an extent I was hoping it would, especially given all of the other lovely factors that built the story to be something of more grandeur in nature and theme.

I must say I adore the covers of Alexander McCall Smith’s books and will be looking forward to checking out more by this author!

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ARCs Book Reviews Books Fantasy Featured Fiction

The Wolf’s Call (Raven’s Blade #1) by Anthony Ryan

Anthony Ryan’s debut novel Blood Song – book one of the Raven’s Shadow series – took the fantasy world by storm. The sequels, Tower Lord and Queen of Fire were both New York Times bestsellers. Now, Anthony Ryan returns to the world of this acclaimed fantasy series with The Wolf’s Call, which begins a thrilling new story of razor-sharp action and epic adventure.

The Wolf's Call (Raven's Blade #1)The Wolf’s Call by Anthony Ryan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Penguin Random House for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the First to Read program.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! This is my first from this author and I was engrossed with the story from beginning to end. I thought it was very well written in the way the plot was constructed and how the characters fit seamlessly into the flow of battle encounters, as well as how the kingdom atmosphere was brought to life. It was a deep and intricate story with many fascinating layers. I will look forward to reading the next in series.

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ARCs Audiobooks Book Reviews Books Featured Fiction Mystery Thriller

Layover by David Bell

In this high concept psychological suspense novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Somebody’s Daughter, a chance meeting with a woman in an airport sends a man on a
pulse-pounding quest for the truth…

LayoverLayover by David Bell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Penguin Random House for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the First to Read program. I ended up converting my read to an audiobook which I purchased myself. It was narrated by Robbie Daymond which I’d highly recommend.

I enjoyed this book. The beginning was really quite capturing even though some bits were less believable for me as far as the actual plot goes. It was easy to get into and I liked the suspense being conveyed. I like the author’s way of writing character attributes and how the plot became multi-dimensional as each backstory and character quality reinforced the perspective of where he wanted to take me. This was done with ease and I felt myself melting into the story.

In a sort of charming way, I did feel that sometimes it read like a late 80s film. The kind where you yell at the screen saying “just call 911!” and where you click your tongue and say “I’m sure…” as you roll your eyes over the handling of evidence as authorities and medical personnel break protocol in most every way, even for a small-town, low caliber situation.

The middle got a little complacent and then the ending was not as satisfying to me. I think it was the new character introduction/development being a much later in the game, so the build up after a lull was not as intriguing as I wanted it to be/experienced in the beginning of the book.

I did convert to audiobook half way through, which was excellent and helped me during the lull I experienced. I suppose the lull was attributed to some of the drawn out dialogue taking place when I was wanting the story to just finally move forward and get back to more of the suspense that drew me in at the beginning.

Even with the less believable aspects, I still really enjoyed the story. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a thrill-type read and I will look forward to reading more from this author.

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ARCs Books Featured Fiction Historical Fiction Romance

Someone to Honor (Westcott #6) by Mary Balogh

First appearances deceive in the newest charming and heartwarming Regency romance in the Westcott series from beloved New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh . . .

Abigail Westcott’s dreams for her future were lost when her father died and she discovered her parents were not legally married. But now, six years later, she enjoys the independence a life without expectation provides a wealthy single woman. Indeed, she’s grown confident enough to scold the careless servant chopping wood outside without his shirt on in the proximity of ladies.

But the man is not a servant. He is Gilbert Bennington, the lieutenant colonel and superior officer who has escorted her wounded brother Harry home from the wars with Napoleon. He’s come to help his friend and junior officer recover, and he doesn’t take lightly to being condescended to – secretly because of his own humble beginnings.

If at first these two seem to embody what the other most despises, they will soon discover how wrong first impressions can be. For behind the appearance of the once grand lady and once humble man are two people who share an understanding of what true honor means, and how only with it can one find love.

Someone to Honor (Westcott, #6)Someone to Honor by Mary Balogh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Penguin Random House for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the First to Read program. I did end up purchasing my own audiobook version, which I would highly recommend.

This was a lovely romance story that highlighted family dynamics, courtship, and the coming of age of characters during the time period of the 19th century with a somewhat modern thought. I will say that the beginning did read more like a perpetual prologue, like a never ending overture, taking quite a while to get going. However I did come to appreciate it as it set up the groundwork for me being a first time reader of this series, especially as the later peaking plot arc paid off.

So hang in there early readers, also consider the audiobook version, it made all the difference for me personally. Once I got the audiobook version I ended up quite enjoying listening to the details of the family tree, interpersonal connections, internal conflict, and the direction it was going. It all tied in and became a very solid story.

I would have liked to have seen more integration of 19th century verbiage/slang and perceptive forethought in the writing, but perhaps the lack thereof was intentional, giving it that more modern feel which could prove more likely relatable to today’s reader. This is especially because I did not feel that the circumstances were unique to the time or to how such a character may perceive and respond to such fall out today. As in the bastardization, the fear of abandonment, grief, being a widow, changes in social caste, a less than desirable surname, etc…

All in all, I really liked the expression, the setting, and character traits that were presented. The growth and maturity of the characters were captured quite nicely and I will be looking forward to going back to the start of the series and then continuing on after this book.

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ARCs Art Book Reviews Books Featured Nonfiction

A Field Guide to Color: Watercolor Explorations in Hues, Tints, Shades, and Everything in Between by Lisa Solomon

Play with paint, get creative with color, and discover your personal palette–a joyful, interactive workbook for creativity, self-expression, and deepening your understanding of how color works.

Color is one of the most profound ways we have to express ourselves. In this lively workbook for artists, graphic designers, hobbyists, and creators of all types, you will journal your way through fresh and enriching ways to develop a more personal connection to color in your art and life. Using watercolors, gouache, or any other water-based medium, dive into color theory and explore your personal style while playing with a balanced blend of experiments and color meditations. Discover a personal color wheel while exploring tints and shades. Experiment with color mixing while you make as many of one color as you can – and then name them all (honeydew green, avocado green, mint ice cream…). Through playful prompts and inspiring examples, and with lots of room for painting, this book will guide you to a new or expanded relationship with color and deepen your understanding of what color can do for you.

A Field Guide to Color: Watercolor Explorations in Hues, Tints, Shades, and Everything in BetweenA Field Guide to Color: Watercolor Explorations in Hues, Tints, Shades, and Everything in Between by Lisa Solomon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Roost Books for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

Such a fun, hands-on way to learn about watercolor from a book! I’d recommend this to anyone, whether you’re new to watercolor painting or a seasoned artist. It would make a great gift and an excellent time at a paint party, family time, and small group crafting clubs.

I have only recently started to pick up painting about a year ago, something I hadn’t done since probably high school. I’d classify myself as more of a novice, especially when it comes to watercolor and understanding color specifically. I learned a lot going through all the color exercises.

This book is well organized with fun activities and clear instruction. The overall content of the book as far as communication of color concept and application was intriguing and easy to follow.

I enjoyed the author’s methods, pacing, and personality that she brought into the book. It was wonderful to experience learning from art book from someone who conveys as much enthusiasm as she did. It really felt like I was taking a class in person, built on solid theory with personal experiences and touches on topics such as color meditation exercises which I had never heard of before. It was really good practice for me, especially the color matching and graduated color exercises which also incorporated learning shapes and lines.

There were a lot of amazing resources in the back including additional book recommendations, tools, supplies, and shops. I am excited to check out the classes offered as recommended by the book which can be found at Creativebug.

Because it’s set up like a workbook and I received a digital ARC, I was not able to try painting on the pages that are included in the published book, so I used my own watercolor paper and therefore, I cannot comment on that neat feature of the book other than it’s a really wonderful idea!

Check out my and my sister’s watercolor art from our paint party below.

MY FAVORITES LINES:

“My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.”

~My Heart Leaps Up, a poem by William Wordsworth

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My watercolor art.

Self Portrait (watercolor) | Erica Robbin
Self Portrait (watercolor) | Erica Robbin
Hibiscus (watercolor) | Erica Robbin
Hibiscus (watercolor) | Erica Robbin

My sister’s watercolor work from our paint party.

Piano Room (watercolor) | SillySallyMoon
Piano Room (watercolor) | SillySallyMoon
Sleeping in the Lily Pond (watercolor) | SillySallyMoon
Sleeping in the Lily Pond (watercolor) | SillySallyMoon
Morning Coffee (watercolor) | SillySallySomething
Morning Coffee (watercolor) | SillySallySomething
Evening Tea (watercolor) | SillySallySomething
Evening Tea (watercolor) | SillySallySomething

My sister is amazing at watercolor, you can see more of her artwork here. I hope to paint like her someday!

Do you paint or want to try learning watercolor painting?