Watercolor the Easy Way

Author: Sarah Berrenson
Publisher: Better Day Books
Genre: Art
ISBN: 978-0-7643-5982-8
Pages: 128
Price: $24.99

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Watercolor painting can be an enjoyable pastime, if you know what you’re doing. But if you haven’t picked up a paint brush in years and art classes aren’t available or affordable, Watercolor the Easy Way will help guide you.

First, we learn the basics: supplies, color palette and mixing, brush and water techniques. Then we try these out in fifty different motifs. Each exercise provides a line drawn outline for us to copy, along with the color palette and brushes to use, and step by step instructions. The book is printed on sturdy paper that easily props open to study while working.

If you’ve wanted to learn watercolor painting but felt too intimidated to try it, Watercolor the Easy Way would be a great introduction to the art. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, children, dogs

Why Do Dogs Sniff Butts?

Author: Dr. Nick Crumpton
Illustrator: Lily Snowden-Fine
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children / Dogs
ISBN: 978-0-500-65223-7
Pages: 48
Price: $16.95

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Have you ever wondered why dogs sniff butts? Or what their wagging tails mean? Do you know about the various jobs dogs were bred to perform? Or why dogs chase cats? If you’re fascinated with man’s best friend and just want to know more about them, Why Do Dogs Sniff Butts? is the perfect book for you.

Filled with lots of interesting facts about dogs, this illustrated book is a fun read for kids or any dog lover. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, children, nature

Whose Track is That?

Author: Stan Tekiela
Publisher: Adventure Publications
Genre: Children / Nature / Animals
ISBN: 978-1-59193-958-0
Pages: 52
Price: $14.95

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If you were hiking in the woods and came across an animal track, would you be able to identify it? Whose Track is That? is a fun way to learn which animals might make the tracks you find.

This book features animals tracks for 11 different animals. First, we see a close-up photo of what it looks like, along with a description and a clue as to what it might be. Then when we turn the page, the animal is identified, along with photos and interesting information about it. The appendix shows all animal tracks with some additional pointers to help in identification.

Stan Tekiela has created another fun activity book for kids with his beautiful photography and knowledge of nature. I highly recommend Whose Track is That?

Reviewer: Alice Berger

cats, mystery, tween

Ra the Mighty: The Great Tomb Robbery

Author: A.B. Greenfield
Illustrator: Sarah Horne
Publisher: Holiday House
Genre: Middle grade / Mystery / Cats
ISBN: 978-0-8234-4240-9
Pages: 256
Price: $16.99

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Ra the Mighty has just successfully solved his last case, and now he’s settled back into his usual and very enjoyable pampering as Pharaoh’s Cat. When his friends Khepri (a dung beetle) and Miu (a kitchen cat) suggest they need a new mystery to solve, he’s not initially excited. But when Ra sees the damage done during a tomb robbery and suddenly finds himself stranded in a worker village, he realizes he must act quickly.

Working in teams, the friends split up, accompanied by a distant cousin of Miu. They tackle the evidence and determine who is the most likely suspect. But would a daring nighttime visit to the tombs be the most helpful investigation of all? Ra must use all his wits to stay alive and return to Pharaoh’s court.

Ra is quite the character, as he shares his thoughts on personal grooming – both his and Khepri’s. He’s also a reluctant sleuth, preferring to nap when others are searching for clues. But when it really matters, Ra is willing to rise to the occasion and save the day. The Great Tomb Robbery is a light-heated and enjoyable read for all ages.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


The Frugal Book Promoter

Author: Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Publisher: Modern History Press
Genre: Writing / Promotion
ISBN: 978-1-61599-468-7
Pages: 292
Price: $24.95

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If you think the best way to promote your book is to find a good publisher to handle it for you, then this book is not for you. The best way to promote your book is to do it yourself – and the more frugally, the better! And the best place to start is The Frugal Book Promoter.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson has developed a well-rounded plan to get the word out about your book without breaking the bank. She’ll teach you how to develop your own mailing list, build a media kit, and create opportunities for speaking events, along with many other tips and tricks to let the world know about you and your book. These tips are a goldmine of information, carefully spelled out and ready for you to use in your marketing efforts.

Book promotion can seem scary to newbies, but with The Frugal Book Promoter as your guide, your success is almost guaranteed. Follow these tips and watch your book sales skyrocket!

Reviewer: Alice Berger

nature, science

Fossils for Kids

Author: Dan R. Lynch
Publisher: Adventure Publications
Genre: Nature / Science / Fossils
ISBN: 978-1-59193-939-9
Pages: 188
Price: $12.95

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Kids love seeing dinosaur skeletons in museums, but probably don’t know much about fossils and how they’re formed. In this introduction to paleontology, we learn about ancient life and their fossils.

First, we are introduced to the various types of fossils and how they came to be. Then we see photos of various animal and plant fossils, along with descriptions of how they were formed, the time period they would have been found in, and where they would most likely be located today. Kids are either discouraged or encouraged to look for them, depending on the legality of collecting them.

Fossils for Kids is a comprehensive guide to paleontology, and serious fossil lovers will refer to it over and over again. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


The Bible in 52 Weeks

Author: Dr. Kimberly D. Moore
Publisher: Rockridge Press
Genre: Christian / Bible study
ISBN: 978-1-64152-815-3
Pages: 208
Price: $14.99

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Have you thought about reading the Bible in a year? Many reading plans can be found on the internet, but maybe you’re looking for something more. The Bible in 52 Weeks provides a full reading plan along with 52 weekly meditations, as you study the scripture for the week.

The scripture reading plan is more than a trip through the Bible, cover to cover. Mixing it up a little makes it easier to get through some of the books that readers often find difficult. Each week’s meditation focuses on one of the daily passages, followed by some probing questions to think about and other supplemental materials.

The weekly reading plan provides six days of reading with one day off to catch up. Catholics who want to use this book could use this day off to read the Deuterocanonical books that are not included in the reading plan. This is not an in-depth study guide, so serious Bible readers would probably be better off with a reading plan from the internet and a good study Bible. But if this is your first time through the Bible, The Bible in 52 Weeks would be a good introductory plan to use.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

biography, Christian, literary

Becoming Mrs. Lewis (Expanded Edition)

Author: Patti Callahan
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Historical fiction / Biographical novel / Christian
ISBN: 978-0-7852-1809-8
Pages: 448
Price: $17.99

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When Joy Davidman Gresham wrote to C.S. Lewis for the first time, she was seeking answers to her newfound questions of faith. Born Jewish, and an avowed atheist, she was confused at her sudden knowledge of the presence of God in her life. Over time, letters between the two became more personal and conversational, and Joy began to see Lewis as more than a friend and confidant. Becoming Mrs. Lewis shares a fictionalized account of their friendship, and ultimately romance, that took place over a decade.

Patti Callahan drew on many sources for this masterful recreation of their unlikely love story. Joy and Jack (as he was known to his friends) come alive in this well-written tale. Their story is compelling, and the reader is eager to get to know them better. Bonuses in this expanded edition include discussion questions, an imagined letter from Joy to Jack, a timeline of events in their lives, ten things you probably didn’t know, and some information about Oxford.

This is one of the best biographical novels I’ve read, and I couldn’t put this book down. I had to know how this romance would end, since I was unfamiliar with their story. I highly recommend Becoming Mrs. Lewis.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Fresh from Poland

Author: Michał Korkosz
Publisher: The Experiment
Genre: Cookbook / Polish / Vegetarian
ISBN: 978-1-61519-655-5
Pages: 256
Price: $19.95

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When I think of Polish cooking, the first things that come to mind are kielbasa and pierogies. While I absolutely love them, there is so much more to authentic Polish cuisine than I ever realized. Fresh from Poland shares some yummy vegetarian dishes for us to enjoy.

No Polish cookbook would be complete without pierogies, and a basic dough recipe is provided along with several intriguing and unusual fillings. For those who want to make their own farmer’s cheese, a recipe for twaróg shows us how. Various bread recipes tempt us, along with scrumptious desserts like pączki and angel wings. The main dishes and sides are filling, nutritious, and tasty, made from all natural ingredients.

Fresh from Poland is natural Polish cooking at its best. The recipes are carefully itemized, and there are full color photos of every dish. The book opens fully, remaining open on the table for ease of reference while cooking. Whole foods are prepared in delicious combinations to create a wonderful feast for the senses. I highly recommend this cookbook for any home chef who is interested in exploring some delightful new Polish dishes.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, nature

Garden Jungle

Author & Illustrator: Hélène Druvert
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children / Nature
ISBN: 978-0-500-65224-4
Pages: 32
Price: $24.95

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Tom is bored, so his mother sends him off to explore the garden. After a butterfly catches Tom’s attention, he and the cat begin to explore. Trees, birds, animals, and a pond suddenly turn into a jungle, and even the cat is now a leopard. What once seemed ordinary, now looks so much more interesting, as they see the sights together.

This unique book contains several pages with laser-cut silhouette images showing the garden as Tom sees it. These pages are gorgeous in their detail, but small hands will have a hard time handling them gently. Parents will want to supervise while children read this book, or even hold the book themselves to preserve the fine cutouts.

Children will delight in reading Garden Jungle as they see the ordinary come alive in new and exciting ways. They may even want to turn into backyard adventurers, themselves. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger