Book Review – Backyard Chickens: How to keep Happy Hens by Dave Ingham.

backyard-chickens_cvr4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Murdoch Books for providing me with a paper copy of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

And what a book it is too. As corny as it sounds, it really is something my whole family can enjoy. This was proved many times when I went to read it to find my children had “borrowed” it and were either reading it themselves, or outside reading it to our chickens.

backyard chickens feathers

Our children (or chooks) have been book marking the book!

Though I will state here and now I don’t think you need to have chickens (or book stealing children for that matter) to find this book enjoyable and useful.

It covers all the needed basics of setting up some backyard chooks for yourself – shelter, feeding, watering, common ailments, etc. It’s all there and all written about in a manner I loved as it was factual, but enjoyable and entertaining all at the same time.

And, as much as my kids loved reading it and using it to ensure our chooks were being looked after appropriately, that does not make this a childish or immature book. It’s something young and old interested in sharing their yard with some feathered girls will love.

Oh and Mr Fox came a calling for the first time ever while I was reading this book…. No, not blaming ‘Backyard Chickens’ or Mr Ingham for that. We have just been very lucky in the years we’ve had chickens to not meet him until now. What was most shocking – despite the demise of Pepper the Australorp – was Mr Fox came for a visit at about 11am! Following guidance from Mr Ingham’s fine book we have done our best to improve security on the yard. The pen they are put in at night still has not failed us… but obviously when they are free ranging the yard during the day, we had left gaps in our yard, despite it being surrounded by a 5 foot, concrete embedded metal fence. We know that fence was good at keeping foxes at bay as, when we were chasing the critter around the yard  – after penning the remaining girls in cat carriers – it couldn’t jump over our fences to escape! But we followed it to the gap at the front – bushman’s gate of wire and lumber – and have since sealed it tighter.

So, you could say ‘Backyard Chickens’ was here at the right time! We are now down to 6 chooks, but it could have been worse! And come next spring the useful guide in the back as to the different sorts of chickens that make the best backyard buddies, will be used to get more girls. We will then follow the wise words in the ‘Flock Management’ section and go from there.

Can you see this book is very relevant to us? And such an essential addition to ensuring our feather babies have the best life they can and keep giving us those giant, golden yolk eggies!

Finally, I will also say that, despite growing up with chickens in my life and knowing most of their ins and outs and foibles, I still found ‘Backyard Chickens’ a good read as it did cover some stuff I didn’t know. Backed up some the stuff I already did and helped share my love of chooks with my children.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. And not just to people who already own chickens in their yards, but people who care about where their eggs come from and are considering getting their own chooks to ensure their egg providers are getting the best treatment. Mind you, pasture eggs are also a good option… but that doesn’t give you a chook to chat while you hang out the washing.

Would I buy this book for myself?

I may have to if my kids keep stealing my current copy! 😉 If I lost it or had to replace it (after too many chickens were taught to read it) then yes, yes I would buy it. For now I am very happy and feel very honoured to have been gifted a paper copy.  If my kid’s school ever gets chickens again, I might just need to buy a copy and donate it to them as it’s really a book for adults and children alike to read, learn from and enjoy.

In summary – an excellent, very comprehensive book aimed at Australian’s learning to raise their own backyard chooks.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants by Stefani Bittner, Alethea Harampolis.

Harvest

3 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Ten Speed Press for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Wow, what an interesting book! I really wasn’t too sure what to expect from it… but I did indeed love what I got. I was thinking it was going to be a cook book on how to grow, harvest and eat in season… but no. It was that and then some! Cooking, decorating, healthcare, cleaning – all in season and from locally sourced materials. Wonderful.

And, being a Ten Speed Press book it was simply filled with gorgeous images of the materials to use and the things they can be made into. I do love their photographic imagery as it just adds to the glorious indulgence of the books they produce.

But I have to admit, being the open and honest gal that I am, that there was just something that didn’t click with me and ‘Harvest’. I’m not too sure if it was because it was a bit of a book of everything so – to me – gave it more of a coffee table/ waiting room read than a useful book. Or it might have been the fact I am the wrong audience, locationally, for this book. As in, I am in Australia where Ten Speed Press caters to a North American audience. This is totally my fault and something I accept and expect when asking to review their books… But I do love the things they produce and so I find myself drawn again and again to their work.

Both these faults lay with me the reader and not the book. I just didn’t click to it liked I had hoped to, but it is a simply amazing, fact filled, creatively delicious tome. Okay? Blame me, not ‘Harvest’!

Would I recommend this book to others?

Actually, this is a hard one to answer simply due to the feeling of “coffee table book” I got from ‘Harvest’. As in, a book that is displayed on your coffee table and occasionally thumbed through for mild entertainment but not actually a book you would read to use and replicate the recipes and ideas within the pages. BUT! As I have said, this is just my opinion and, seriously, what the heck would I know, right?

Still, I would tell people this feeling of mine but then tell them to go check it out for themselves as my failure to connect with it doesn’t make it a bad book. It makes me a bad choice of audience.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Sadly no. I mean, I can see myself borrowing it from the library again and again when I want help with something in season… if it is covered, might not be due to my location… but I can’t see myself owning it. I mean, I don’t even own a coffee table… I don’t drink coffee! 😉

In summary: a factually and visually stunning book to help you use what grows around you and in season. Just not a book for me.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – The Chinese Kitchen Garden by Wendy Kiang-Spray.

Chinese kitchen garden

4 out of 5

I would like to thank Timber Press for providing me with a free ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

What a gorgeous book and so well constructed too. You not only get the history and justified passion of Ms Kiang-Spray for cooking and gardening, but you get a bounty of helpful information on how to grow and use these products for yourself.

I loved the mixture of ‘Old World’ and ‘New World’ within the pages too. Generations of a family passing on their gardening and cooking passions showing how key they can be to raising happy, healthy people. Wonderful.

I grew up in the city of Darwin, where the Chinese culture had played a strong role in its history and creation (well, that’s how I remembered it) and so I grew up with mostly Cantonese style foods as a common thing. So to learn how easy to grow, cultivate, harvest, use and cook some of those ingredients of my childhood – talk about a comfort food cook book!

As to the formatting side of things – which I always talk about – the layout of this book is perfect. Well-constructed, easy to read from cover to cover as well as to spot reference as needed. It includes clear and precise instructions on both gardening and cooking.

Would I recommend this cook to others?

I would and I wouldn’t. I mean, I do feel you need to have a passion or connection to authentic Chinese/ Asian foods to get the most out of this book. Please don’t get me wrong, there are many “common” foods also explored within this book, but the overall theme is what the title says it is.

So, yes I would recommend it… but only to those who I know would appreciate it for what it is. A book on growing and cooking your own food and a family keeping in touch with all aspects of the cultures that created it through food.

Would I buy this book for myself?

I’m honestly not too sure. I mean, I loved reading it and found quite a few tips, tricks and recipes in it I would love to refer back to again and again… but this is the type of book I would want in paper format and I just don’t think I loved it enough to give up any of my precious physical bookshelf space for it. Oh I am a horrible person, we all know that! I loved this book and feel it has just so much goodness to give and share… but I am being stingy with my shelf space. Sorry.

In summary: It is not just a book on family, or on how to grow things or even how to cook. What makes it special is it is a lot of all three. Loved it.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – The Art of Stone Painting by F. Sehnaz Bac.

art-of-stone-painting

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Dover Publications for providing me with a free ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

I initially requested to review ‘The Art of Stone Painting’ for my two very artistic daughters to look over with me, but I soon fell in love with it myself and am now dying to have a go!

This proves it’s a great book for young and old alike I guess! Plus it comes across as good for all skill levels as the initial projects are very basic and simple, and the further you progress into the book, the higher the skill level required. But, in all honesty, if you’re a beginner like me and paced yourself and did each project as you go – one a week or longer – you could quite easily have the skill level required to do the trickier ones when you got to them! And if you are already experienced in this sort of art, you could easily pick and mix skills from throughout the book.

As I am a formatting and layout diva, here is my take on those – excellent! Clear, concise formatting, every picture and all the instructions are clearly marked and easy to follow. There is a great introduction into this type of art and includes the materials needed. So it truly is a great book for all ages from I’d say around the 8 to 10 year olds and up… But I am basing that on my own children who are very arty and love to read. All the same, the instructions and clear and easy to follow for children and adults alike. I, personally, would still do the project along with the child – one for them to make, one for me, as it’s something I’d love, we’d both enjoy and would give us some creative time together.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. The projects, instructions, clear images – all of it so simple and easy to use that it encourages people to give stone painting a go. Anyone interested in having some “me” time, or even parent and child craft time would really enjoy this book. So many things to try and so many ideas to share.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Yes I would, and it’s in my Amazon wish list right now. Loved it, was inspired by it and can see it as a fantastic way to spend some crafty hours with my children in the coming years ahead.

In summary: An easy to follow, inspiring and highly creative book that will have everyone’s inner artist wanting to try stone painting.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review -Make in a Day: Paper Flowers by Amanda Evanston Freund.

make-in-a-day-paper-flowers

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Dover Publications for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

This is most definitely the perfect book to do with your kids on those days they are stuck inside and bored! Creative, colourful and oh so easy to follow!

And I do love how it shows the reader how to make some flowers from paper your children can colour in, or even dye with food colouring, rather than you needing to have a whole rainbow of crepe paper stashed away.

Though I will add, if you were to but this book I seriously would have a stash of the needed papers, glues, straws and tape put aside just for the days it is brought out to entertain. And I really do think it will indeed entertain! I have a 7, 9 and 12 year old – all of which loved the ideas and instructions. Yes, the younger the child, the more you would have to help out – but don’t helicopter, let them do it.

The layout and formatting was clear and easy to follow. Each flower had a bit of an introduction and all in all the only thing I felt it lacked was a bit of a glossary at the back about the different equipment needed, and an index. But maybe that is just me being a tad pedantic. It is a child’s craft book after all.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. ‘Make in a Day: Paper Flowers’ would be the perfect book to include in your craft library and one that you and your children  – of varying ages – could turn to again and again when they want to be creative and crafty and make gifts, decorations or just while away a rainy day indoors.

Would I buy this book for myself?

I probably would, but would honestly have to leave the final say to my children, as they would be the ones using it the most. And I am pretty sure they would say yes.

In summary – a fantastic, simple little crafty book on how to make paper flowers. Easy to follow, well laid out, fun for the kids.

Until next time,

Janis

Book Review – Crystal Mindfulness by Judy Hall.

crystal-mindfulness

3 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Watkins Publishing for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Okay… I find it really hard writing this review – I’ve actually been putting it off for a couple of weeks. Why? Well, I want to say good things about ‘Crystal Mindfulness’ but I just didn’t fully connect to it as much as I had hoped.

I’m someone who believes in both Mindfulness and the focal point of energy from within you that can come from crystals – yes, I’m a hippy dippy weirdo, I thought we established that years ago! 😀

And I did find some of the mindfulness side of this book good… but I also felt I was only getting half the information sometimes. I really can’t place my finger on exactly what it was… but something just seemed to be lacking. And that sucks as the book is not to fault as it contains some very comprehensive and useful information. The sucky part is me and my failure to connect like I had hoped.

I also don’t agree with the fact that just looking at pictures of the crystals has the same effect as holding one. That just doesn’t sit well with me at all sorry.

Finally, the list of crystals wasn’t in alphabetical order or even, from memory, grouped into specifics – energy, heart, healing, etc. And, well, Ms Pedantic Me likes her reference material to be grouped and categorised in an organised manner before I am comfortable in using a book again and again. Yes there is an index, but I would much rather be able to thumb through to the right point that have to look things up each time.

Honestly, I really do feel all the issues I had with ‘Crystal Mindfulness’ come from me the reader and not the book itself. I feel it was just a failure to connect situation.

Would I recommend this book for others?

Probably not. I mean, this was the first crystal book I have read that also focusses on Mindfulness, but it just didn’t sit well with me as being a good book for people to reference. But this is solely down to my failure to connect and not the book. Don’t hate me, but I just can’t recommend something I couldn’t get into when it comes to crystals.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Pretty sure we all know the answer to that one. For me personally, there are better books on crystals (both metaphysical and scientific) and on Mindfulness out there. This book just wasn’t for me.

In summary: A lot of good and helpful information is covered in ‘Crystal Mindfulness’ but I just couldn’t connect… there was something about the layout that put me off. Reader error, not book error.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – 100 Plants to Feed the Bees by The Xerces Society.

100-plants-to-feed-the-bees

4 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Storey Publishing for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Okay, I will come out and say first that I love this book, feel we need this book and that all countries of the world need a version of this book adapted to their own native and introduced pollinators and plants.

I wanted to make that clear before I say the following as I fear some may take it as more negative than it is meant. I mean it as just an FYI, not as a bad thing, so PLEASE don’t take it as a negative…

Okay, here goes. I did have an issue with this book and it is totally the fault of the reader and has NOTHING to do with the book. Storey Publishing is a publisher based in the USA and caters for USA readers. And I knew this when requesting the book from all the way over here in Australia.

And so, my disappointment at it being a book focussed on looking at how to help save/feed bees and other pollinators in the USA was all my own fault. BUT! It did mean I couldn’t connect or get as enthusiastic about this book as I wanted to because the first series of plants listed aren’t available here, and if they are they are often classified as weeds and can’t be grown. But there were some plants listed that we can have in ornamental gardens and the last lot of plants listed are herbs and fruits trees… so all was not lost. And, as I’ve said the fault is totally with the reader – aka ME and not the book or listed plants.

That aside, the introduction about the need for pollinators, what they do, what they collect, what sorts of flowers they are attracted to, why we need flowers to attracted them even if the flowers seem to serve no other function – all great information that can be used worldwide!

The formatting of the book is excellent. It is set out to be easy to read and a great reference book. It shows the reader which pollinators are attracted to the plant, where the plant comes from (if native to America) or where it can be grown. Good quality colour pictures of each plant is used, the book gives a description of the plant and its uses for the pollinator and all in all some excellent, easy to read details suited for all levels of people interested in looking after the bees and pollinators more.

Would I recommend this book to others?

If they were located in the USA, then yes. Absolutely! If someone there wants to help save the bees and other pollinators; they need to get themselves this book.

If the reader is located in another location outside of North America, I would advise them of the location specific audience this book is aimed for. I mean, it still has some great information there that can be used globally, but I can’t see it as being as attractive to purchase for those not located in the USA. If that makes sense?

Would I buy this book for myself?

No I wouldn’t. And I think we all know by now that this is simply because I am not located in the right part of the world to get the best benefits from this book. Yes I picked up some good tips and advice from it, but this isn’t something I would own. Not unless they did an Australia specific one and then yes, it would be MINE! 🙂

In summary: A really good, easy to read reference book to help people of the USA help to feed and save bees and other pollinators.

Until next time,

Janis.

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