Book Review: Wild Witchcraft

wildwitchcraftTitle: Wild Witchcraft

Author: Rebecca Beyer

Genre: Non-Fiction, Witchcraft, Foraging

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Witchcraft is wild at heart, calling us into a relationship with the untamed world around us. Through the power of developing a relationship with plants, a witch—beginner or experienced—can practice their art more deeply and authentically by interacting with the beings that grow around us all. Bridging the gap between armchair witchcraft and the hedge witches of old, Wild Witchcraft empowers you to work directly with a wide variety of plants and trees safely and sustainably.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

What I really appreciated about this book, was the obvious amount of heavy research that went into it. There is so much information involved in this book, everything from practical gardening knowledge, to a look at the historical roots of herbs being used in witch craft. This is not one of those books where you can flip through and get a few facts – it’s pretty extensive.

I loved that with each plant listed, you got not only information on how and where to grow it, but the historical uses of it in folklore and witchcraft, how long till you can harvest it, and what foods and medicines it’s used in. There’s even a brief section on poisons and their effects (clearly with a warning not to use them under any circumstances), and also good foraging practices to help preserve nature and resources. I was impressed by just how much information was presented.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in witchcraft, foraging, and herbs as a solid place to start and gain some practical knowledge.

Book Review: Raising Chickens For Beginners

cover-raising chickens for beginnersTitle: Raising Chickens For Beginners

Author: O. Banks

Genre: Non-Fiction, Chickens, Homesteading

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Have you been toying with the idea of becoming more self-sustainable?

Are you exploring the option of raising chickens?

Do you have absolutely no idea where to start?

Then you’ve come to the right place!

Written with a complete beginner in mind, this easy-to-understand guide will give you the confidence you need to expertly navigate this amazing and unimaginably rewarding world.

Accompanying you every step of the way, Otis Banks will help you discover the joys of raising chickens and help you go from an anxious beginner to a seasoned pro, before you even realize it.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

If you are looking to get into chicken raising and you aren’t sure where to start, I think this book is an excellent place to look for a wide variety of chicken-care-related information. I found the topics it covered to be fairly comprehensive – if a bit surface level. This book doesn’t really get into the finer details and science… but that’s why it’s for beginners. I thought it did a pretty good job of relaying a lot of information in an easy-to-read way, and it covered a wide array of things – from diseases and their treatment, to what types of feed and bedding to use.

The book was well organized, easy to read, and digestible in the way each section was cut up into little chunks of text. I’d recommend it as a decent place to start.

Book Review: The Homesteading Encyclopedia

51xZ7U7CuELTitle: The Homesteading Encyclopedia

Author: Kelly Reed

Genre: Non-Fiction, How-To, Homesteading

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Discover how to start your homesteading journey the right away… and avoid making expensive beginner’s mistakes.

Are you thinking about moving to a country homestead, but have no idea how to start planning?

Do you want to raise your level of self-sufficiency, but live in a small city apartment and don’t know how to do it?

Just imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have to rely on municipal power or water grids (or pay those expensive bills every month).

Not to mention the joy and health benefits of growing your own organic food, instead of being forced to buy supermarket food infused with dangerous chemicals and pesticides.
Does this sound like a lot of work?

You’re right. It is.

Planning your homestead journey can take weeks, or even months if you’re a complete beginner.

You would have to read numerous books, research the farthest corners of the Internet, and spend thousands of dollars on consultations.

And even after all that planning, there are no guarantees that you wouldn’t miss something crucial… something that would make a huge dent in your budget and make you regret starting this blasted thing in the first place.

That’s how it goes for most first-time homesteaders — they make mistakes, lose money, learn from the experience, and spend more money to make it right.

If you don’t want to be one of them, you’ve come to the right place.

You don’t have to plan everything yourself. Actually, you don’t have to plan anything yourself.
We’ve done it for you.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This was a fantastic resource as someone who’s been looking into homesteading for a while now. The book was incredibly thorough on its topics – everything from looking to property and researching local laws, to different breeds of cows. The book didn’t go too far into the technical details, but it covered a lot of topics enough to give you a good idea of what else to research.

I found the book well organized and easy to read through, and I think if you’re new to homesteading and need something that covers a lot of the relevant topics, without getting lost in the minute details, this is a fantastic place to start.

Book Review: Seven Drafts

cover-seven draftsTitle: Seven Drafts

Author: Allison K. Williams

Genre: Non-Fiction, How-To, Editing/Writing

Rating: (3.5) 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Seven Drafts: Self-Edit Like a Pro from Blank Page to Book divides writing and revision into distinct stages, with a new focus in each draft. Allison’s frank, funny voice encourages writers to tackle even big editing tasks with a sense of humor and a feeling that someone who understands is on their side. After sections on story, elements of writing craft and structure, seeking and using feedback, and the publication process, Seven Drafts goes beyond the technical and into the mindset of a writer. How can envy be employed to fuel your own work? Where do you find a writing community? How will literary citizenship influence personal process?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m a bit on the fence with this book, but I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt. This book had a lot of useful, solid information on the editing and writing process, and if you aren’t sure where to start, or just need some helpful reminders, I think this is a solid book that’s going to give you a pretty good understanding of what needs to be done and the kind of questions you should be asking yourself about your book.

That being said, the book didn’t optimally deliver this information. I found the “introduction” – which dragged on and was overly long-winded – to be sloppy. There was a lot of self-aggrandizing from the writer about their qualifications, lots of fast-paced questions, and a rundown of why you need seven drafts… but I don’t think that’s necessary. You really don’t need seven drafts. You can be more efficient than this, and waste a lot less time. That isn’t to say that you can’t have 7 drafts, or 8, or 9 if that is what you need to get your book written, but it isn’t something you should be aiming for unless you have severe trouble getting started with your writing, and this sort of repeated drafting of an incredibly messy start helps you work through that specific issue. With some solid preparation and plotting, you can whittle that down significantly.

I wish the author had spent more time cutting down the filler in this book to make it more concise, and more efficient to look up helpful information, rather than rambling on and doing little asides, and repeating the same information to try and support their reasoning for why you need seven drafts. Rather than a reference or informational book on how to draft, it came across more like a self-help motivational drafting book, and those are two very different things.

Overall, the book was okay. It had useful information, but you’re going to have to slog through a lot of wordiness to get to it. Take your time, get a highlighter.

Book Review: The Gardener’s Guide To Starting Seeds Indoors

review-the gardener's guide to starting seeds indoorsTitle: The Gardener’s Guide To Starting Seeds Indoors For Self-Sufficient Backyard Homesteaders

Author: Elizabeth Grove

Genre: Non-Fiction, Gardening

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

So, you want to grow your garden from the start of the seed…

Perhaps, you have experience starting seeds outdoors but want to discover what it takes to start them indoors!

Or you are a complete beginner to gardening and want to learn from the start of the seed!

Or you are somewhere in between where you have gardening experience but have grown an interest in starting your plants from the seed!

Starting seeds is one of the most important skills to have in becoming more self-sufficient.

And let’s face it, who doesn’t want to start their gardens earlier?

Whether or not you have gardened before, if you have never grown plants from seeds, then that means you have to rely on someone else to get those plants; local stores, friends, etc.

This book will allow you to become 100% self-reliant in growing plants from seeds this season and all the years to come and have the most fun doing it!

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This was a little gem of a gardening book. I found it to be well formatted, easy to read, well organized, and it provided a ton of information on seed starting. An array of topics was covered, from starting seeds in window sills to using grow lights, hardening them off for the outdoors, and how much sun and water plants need to thrive. I’ll be honest, I don’t have much of a green thumb, and I’ve been struggling to get my seeds to survive past the first week, so I’m really excited to put this information to good use.

If you’re a budding gardener that is interested in growing your own food or even just flowers, I’d highly recommend picking up this book as a beginner’s primer.

Book Review: Beginner’s Guide To Preserving

review-beginner's guide to preservingTitle: Beginner’s Guide To Preserving

Author: Delilah Snell

Genre: Non-Fiction, Cookbook

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Whether you’re a gardener, a hunter, or just a curious home cook, preserving food can be a practical way to produce a wide range of delicious flavors—from sweet and summery strawberry jam to spicy kimchi and savory smoked bacon.

The Beginner’s Guide to Preserving is packed with detailed information and beginner-friendly guidance for a variety of preservation methods, plus 65 flavorful recipes to put these techniques into action. Learn the essentials of food preservation, and get instructions for pressure and water bath canning, fermenting, dehydrating, salting, smoking, and freezing.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book did a fantastic job of being a fairly comprehensive guide to food preservation. The book contained a lot of information, tips, and recipes for an array of different types of foods. I liked that the book was easy to read, well-organized, and contained information on all of the different ways to preserve food, not just canning. I think the author did a spectacular job of being very thorough.

If you’re interested in preserving food, I would definitely recommend you pick this book up – I think it’s an invaluable resource to have on hand.

Book Review: The Biology Book

review-the biology bookTitle: The Biology Book

Author: DK Publishing

Genre: Non-Fiction, Biology

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

The science of biology is the story of our quest to understand the living world and explain how its organisms work and interact – whether microbes, mushrooms, or mammals. In answering these and many other questions, we’ve discovered the mechanics of plants, animals, and the human body; explored the mysteries of DNA and genetic inheritance; and learned how to develop vaccines that control diseases.

Written in plain English, The Biology Book is packed with short, pithy explanations of more than 95 momentous ideas in science, from cell theory to evolution by natural selection. Themed chapters explore key areas of the life sciences including ecology, zoology, and biotechnology, tracing the history of scientific thought and introducing the scientists who shaped the subject, such as Carl Linnaeus, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Charles Darwin, and Gregor Mendel. Coverage of topical issues such as cloning, neuroscience, human evolution, and gene editing brings the story right up to date. Step by step flowcharts help to unpick complex theories, diagrams demystify biological processes, illuminating quotes make the ideas and discoveries memorable, and witty illustrations enhance our understanding of the science.

Whether you’re new to the subject, a budding botanist or molecular scientist, an avid student of the living world, or keen to keep up with and understand current ethical and scientific debates, The Biology Book is for you.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. The book does a good job of presenting a huge amount of information on Biology and its study. If you have more than a casual interest in the topic but don’t want to slog through scientific papers, then this book would be an excellent fit for you.

Although the book is toted as explaining big biology concepts simply, I don’t think that description is entirely accurate. This isn’t a beginner book – it’s more of a mid-range read. It isn’t something I’d recommend to a younger reader, but I do think it’s an excellent source of information, so I’d recommend it to someone who wants to learn more about biology, past what you’d find in the average textbook.

Book Review: Essential Pantry Cookbook

review-essential pantry cookbookTitle: Essential Pantry Cookbook

Author: Jen Chapin

Genre: Non-Fiction, Cookbook

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Make creative, flavorful meals with the power of your pantry.

Learn how to serve tasty meals with foods you already have in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. By focusing on 85 basic ingredients—70 long-lasting pantry items and 15 fresh ones—The Essential Pantry Cookbook gives you all the guidance you need to cook up inspired recipes that save you time and money.

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What I enjoyed about this cookbook was how simple the author made it. I love the idea of being presented with a limited list of ingredients and then given a whole host of recipes that can be made with those ingredients. Most of the ingredients given in this book are basic everyday ingredients that almost everyone has on hand in their pantry already, which makes it super easy to just flip to a recipe and get started – I don’t need to prepare much ahead of time or make an extra grocery trip.

I also really appreciate that the author included alternatives to ingredients, substitutions, and information on how long all of the foods keep in the freezer, fridge, and pantry. This is a fantastic basic resource for anyone to have on their shelf – especially if you’re like me, and trying to eat healthy, using mostly whole foods and simple ingredients.

Book Review: The Essential Slow Cooker Cookbook For Beginners

reviewcover-the essential slow cooker cookbook for beginnersTitle: The Essential Slow Cooker Cookbook For Beginners

Author: Pamela Ellgen

Genre: Non-Fiction, Cookbook

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Get the most out of your slow cooker with hands-off beginner recipes.

Discover the convenience and hearty flavors of slow cooking with the ultimate starter guide! Begin with a crash course on using and caring for your slow cooker, then explore 100 simple recipes, including roasts, chilis, soups, stews, and casseroles. With plenty of beginner-friendly advice, this slow cooker cookbook makes it easy for you to get a delicious and hearty meal on the table with minimal effort.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m new to slow cookers, but they are quickly becoming one of my favorite ways to make an easy meal for my family that doesn’t require me to stand in a hot kitchen and continually check on the stove. Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot of slow cooker recipes – so I was thrilled to pick up this book for some new recipes and ideas. Thank goodness I did!

Although I wish this cookbook had twice as many recipes in it, I know I’m just being greedy. What I loved about this cookbook was the variety of the recipes, and how simple they were. There isn’t a lot of prep work, or continually checking or adjusting the food. The ingredients for the most part are simple to find, and often on-hand. There is nothing more annoying in a cookbook than finding that every single recipe requires 10 things I’ve never even seen in a store. I’m super excited to try out a lot of these recipes.

I would definitely recommend this cookbook to anyone else who is new to cooking with slow cookers like I am.

Book Review: Survival Medicine

review-survival medicineTitle: Survival Medicine

Author: Thomas Coyne

Genre: Non-Fiction, Survival Guide

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

When an emergency occurs and help is far away, you want to be prepared to care for yourself and your loved ones. With this practical survival medicine handbook, you’ll have the skills you need to spring into life-saving action. You’ll find out how to prepare for and respond to emergencies when medical help and supplies are not available and keep your family safe in the aftermath of earthquakes, fires, and other disasters.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This is an amazing little gem of a book for anyone preparing to step into a wilderness situation – or heck, just in general. The book covers a whole host of information on first aid and survival medicine for emergencies, including check-lists, how to assess injury, consent, and treatment. I think this book is invaluable to keep on you, either in your car, or in your backpack anytime you are venturing out into the world.

Immensely helpful. I would highly recommend.