Book Review: The Complete Guide To Pickling

reviewcover-the complete guide to picklingTitle: The Complete Guide To Pickling

Author: Julie Laing

Genre: Non-Fiction, Cookbook

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Pickling is the best (and most delicious!) way to preserve all kinds of food, so it’s no wonder why it’s popular around the world. Whether you’re making your first pickle or you have years of experience, The Complete Guide to Pickling is packed with essential information and 125 flavorful recipes, including American classics and international flavors.

From Honeyed Bread-and-Butter Chips to Classic Kimchi, Scratch-Made Sriracha, and Southern-Style Pickled Shrimp, there’s something for everyone in this unique pickling how-to guide. You’ll find straightforward and scrumptious recipes for quick, fresh, and fermented pickles, as well as sweet and fruity pickles, hot sauces, relishes, salsas, sauerkraut, chutney, and more. Happy pickling!

The Complete Guide to Pickling includes:

  • Intro to pickles & pickling―Build your foundational knowledge with a brief history of pickling and helpful info about the different types of pickles.

  • Step-by-step instructions―Find detailed directions for canning and fermentation, choosing the right ingredients, and creating essential spice blends.

  • Tips for gardeners―Learn how to plan your garden to maximize your pickle potential, and use the bumper crop label to find big batch recipes for common produce.

Create your own delicious pickles with The Complete Guide to Pickling.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

If you are interested in learning about canning or pickling your own foods, The complete Guide To Pickling by Julie Laing is an invaluable resource. The book is packed full of knowledge, recipes, history, and troubleshooting tips for when things go wrong. The recipes are easy to follow and come with thorough instructions, making it difficult to mess up. I was happy to see a wide array of recipes, including vegetables, fruit, sauces, and a variety of mixed foods such as various kimchi and sauerkrauts.

I think this book would be a valuable resource for anyone looking to get into canning or fermenting, and I’m certainly happy to have it on my shelf.

Book Review: The Complete Book of Moon Spells

reviewcover-the complete book of moonspellsTitle: The Complete Book of Moon Spells

Author: Michael Herkes

Genre: Non-Fiction, Witchcraft

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Luminescent and ever-watchful, the moon is a powerful source of energy and a conduit for magical abundance, bestowing blessings from the universe to help you achieve your goals and desires. The Complete Book of Moon Spells provides down-to-earth guidance on the phases, folklore, and science of the moon, as well as contemporary life-changing moon spells you can perform to cultivate love, money, health, success, and happiness in your everyday life.

Discover a primer on the orbit cycles and phases of the moon, as well as how moon magic manifests in abundance. Create your lunar atmosphere with advice on various techniques for casting moon spells in alignment with the moon’s phases, including ceremonies to perform and the ingredients you’ll need. Once your intention has been set, watch it manifest with easy-to-follow moon spells, rituals, and potions for love, success, joy, and peace.

The Complete Book of Moon Spells includes:

  • Nighttime rituals―Live in magical abundance with more than 60 simple-to-do moon spells and potions divided by the 8 lunar phases, including additional considerations to make the most of each moon spell.

  • Many moons ago―Explore the mysteries of the moon with an overview of the history and modern practice of moon magic, the effects of each moon phase, and which cycles will yield the abundance you seek.

  • Magical mind―Whether setting an intention or self-reflecting, The Complete Book of Moon Spells provides space in each section to imagine, inspect, and inspire you on your magical journey.

Embrace lunar power and enrich your life each day with The Complete Book of Moon Spells.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

The Complete Book of Moon Spells by Michael Herkes was an interesting read for me as someone who isn’t a practicing witch but instead has approached this topic from a more academic standpoint. I’ve spent the past year reading a wide variety of modern witchcraft and Wiccan literature, as well as delved into researching the more historical aspects of the topic.

Though I don’t practice, I find the topic compelling. I would assume that if you are reading this review, you are likely a practicing witch, so feel free to discard what opinions I may impart here, or at least take them with a grain of salt.

Overall, I think the book was well written. It contains a good amount of historical background to moon-centered witchcraft practices as well as common mythologies. There is an abundance of spells and some potions included within these pages with clear instructions and lists of needed materials. There are also many affirmations and incantations. I think if you are a practicing witch, you’ll find this a good resource for a wide variety of spells.

As an outside observer of the practice, I only have one nitpick – which is that the author is not a poet, and the incantations are rhymed in the way of children’s literature – very sing-song in nature. I would encourage the practicing witch to find their own words if they feel the need. Having read quite a lot of modern witchcraft literature in the past year, I’ve found that most spellwork I’ve read comes with a sense of thoughtfulness and peace that I’ve found to be lacking in these incantations. That isn’t to say that they won’t be effective for you – but if the nature of how they are said bothers you as it does me, don’t feel discouraged from using your own words.

Book Review: The Complete Bee Handbook

reviewcover - the complete bee handbookTitle: The Complete Bee Handbook

Author: Dr. Dewey M. Caron

Genre: Non-Fiction, Animal Husbandry

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Explore the past, present, and future of bees, including their evolution, their ever-critical role as pollinators, and the ongoing threats that jeopardize their survival. Then, discover a short and sweet cultural history of beekeeping, the numerous applications of bee products, and tips on how you can support your local bee population.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

The book is a wealth of information if you’re interested in bees as a whole – from their origins long before man walked the earth, to recipes … but I wouldn’t call it complete. There’s very little about beekeeping involved, no information on identifying bee species, or how hives work past generalities.

If you are interested in bees on the level of someone who’s been looking to learn a little more after seeing a few bees in their backyard – then yes, this is an easy book to pick up, and you will learn a little more about bees… but if you’re looking to get into the nitpicky details about bees, hives, and their taxonomy, this is not going to be what you’re looking for. It’s not a bad read, don’t get me wrong – it’s well written and easy to read, but you aren’t going to find all the information you’re looking for past casual information gathering.

Book Review: Complete Dehydrator Cookbook

cover-complete dehydrator cookbookTitle: Complete Dehydrator Cookbook: How to Dehydrate Fruit, Vegetables, Meat & More

Author: Carole Cancler

Genre: Non-Fiction, Cookbook

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

From sun-dried produce in ancient Egypt to salty air-dried fish aboard Viking ships, dehydration is one of the oldest, most versatile methods of preservation―creating foods that are compact, perfect for traveling, and great for a quick snack or backup meal. The Complete Dehydrator Cookbook is your all-in-one guide to easy, affordable home drying, pairing delicious dehydrated foods with easy-to-navigate guidance to get you drying in no time.

Whether you’re preserving seasonal crops or making protein-packed camping snacks, this dehydrator cookbook takes you through the ins and outs of dehydrating, storing, and rehydrating a wide variety of foods. The Complete Dehydrator Cookbook is also brimming with 125 simple dehydrator recipes for everything from stews and curries to herbal teas and spice blends to ready-to-eat breads, crackers, and cookies.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This is a solid and comprehensive dehydrator cookbook if you’re looking to get into storing food in a long-lasting and easy way. There are so many recipes contained within this book: fruits, vegetables, herbs, meat, fish, tea mixes… you name it. The recipes are super easy to follow, and I found a lot of them were for things I’d never even considered trying before. I highly recommend this book for people who homestead or like to prep and need to store foods for long periods.

Book Review: Phoenix Earth

review-cover-phoenixearthTitle: Phoenix earth: The Complete First Season

Author: Jaime Vendera, Melvyn Riley, Ronald Coleborn, Daniel Middleton

Genre: Science Fiction, Episodic

Rating: 1 Star

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Description/Synopsis:

After the final cataclysm claimed Earth, and seeding failed on Mars, the surviving humans had only one choice—seek out a new planet or die. Eventually, the surviving humans discovered Malakar, a small planet millions of light years away. In time, the two races merged, creating a new breed called Maluan. However, racism soon spread throughout the planet and the human and Maluans faced total extinction by evil Malakarans known as Creks. In a politically charged move to sweep the planet clean of all non-purebloods, the descendants of the human race are forced off Malakar to relocate to a planet dubbed X67 by Malakaran authorities. What unfolds is a maniacal scheme to destroy the Maluans and humans before they reach their new home, forcing them to leap at the speed of thought to a dead planet no one has seen in more than five hundred years: Earth.

Phoenix Earth follows the lives of an eclectic group as they bond together to stay alive and begin anew as they discover new alien races and struggle to help Earth rise from the ashes.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Let me preface this review by saying right off the bat: This book just wasn’t for me. I’m a fan of science fiction, and I understand that this book and it’s “episodes” were meant to remind the reader of TV episodes in written form…I love science fiction TV just as equally as I love science fiction in novels… but this didn’t work for me. I tried to get into this book and its episodes. I read a bit, I put it down, I picked it back up… for well over a year I floundered with trying to push through Phoenix Earth. I just couldn’t do it.

The story started off with a lot of backstory, and it made it hard to engage right from the very beginning. Parts of the backstory were skimmed over, and it felt as if I were missing a lot of explanations about what was going on. Sometimes the explanations I was given, didn’t seem logical. The exchanges between the Malakaran’s and the Humans didn’t seem equal, but were treated as if they were. Radiation was treated as actual poison—which was only one of many instances in which the science was questionable.

To be blunt, the story tried too hard. The science wasn’t well thought out, the backstory was long and convoluted, the naming of both characters, groups, and locations was hard to remember and often sounded kind of hokey. (see: Correctors of Abomination and Dyzm’nd). There were a few instances in which I caught missing words, and sometimes entirely made-up words (that were treated as if they weren’t made up… see: bastages). Sometimes the punctuation was questionable and words were overused (delicacies seemed to be quite common in their universe). The dialogue seemed forced and reminded me entirely too much of some early episodes of Star Trek… just, overwhelmingly dramatic and impersonal. At times the author seemed to be holding the reader’s hand, explaining or qualifying events in such a way that it sucked the impact and tension out of the scene.

All of these things were small in and of themselves, but when compacted down into the first 6% of the story…. it was too much. When the book came to the point where the narrator was comparing the events in the book to the Jewish Holocaust (more than once), I put the book down. I couldn’t do it.

I think the idea behind writing a series of episodic stories that fall into a larger story arc (as with TV episodes) is an intriguing idea… but there were too many times where I sat back and questioned the logic of the characters, the science behind the world building, and the quality of the writing. It shouldn’t be that difficult to read 6% into a book. I didn’t feel sucked into the story or engaged by the narrative. It was all right—but it wasn’t enough to balance out the less attractive aspects of the writing, and in the end I couldn’t finish the book.

Overall, I didn’t like it. I’m sure there’s someone out there that will eat this series up with a spoon…. it just wasn’t for me. I think to really get into the book you’re going to need a deep love for the science fiction as a genre, and the ability to turn off your inner science geek. If the accuracy of the science in science fiction is something you need to get through a novel, this isn’t going to be for you—but I think if you can turn that off and just enjoy the drama and entertainment value of the story, you’ll probably be able to enjoy it a lot more than I did.