Cooking with Scraps by Lindsay-Jean Hard (review)

cookingwithscraps_hard_workmanBanana peels, apple cores, and fatty bacon ends are just a few of the items that will no longer be wasted with this new cookbook/guide from Food52 writer Lindsay-Jean Hard.

In the introduction, and in the lead-ups to the various recipes, the author writes about taking lessons from other cookbooks and tweaking recipes, and making them your own.  And this applies, she is the first to tell the reader, to her own. Continue reading


Cozy, Snowy Cuddles Touch and Feel (board book review)

cozysnowycuddlesIn the board book Cozy, Snowy Cuddles, a baby polar bear visits a child and parent pair (narwhals, huskies, seals, moose) on each two page spread, and returns to its parents, accompanied by a text that emphasizes different expressions of love and comfort.  Each pair includes a differently textured insert, mainly furs, for a tactile interaction with the story that begins with the snow’s applied texture on the cover.  The final text includes thanking God for cozy kisses Continue reading

First Impressions (no.1): 4 excerpts from Bookish First

I’ve started to participate in a new bookish community, and I thought I’d share a little about it and the mini reviews I’ve submitted there so far.  Bookish First is a website where readers can join a community that shares mini reviews on upcoming books, based on reading an excerpt.  All the fun of reading and reviewing a pre-publication book, but with less of a commitment!

bookishfirst_screenshot (screenshot)

And for those of us who enjoy getting free books, there are raffles and a points system.  To be entered into the raffle, you simply read the excerpt and post a brief review of one of the books that are within their raffle period. For each excerpt review you submit, in or after the raffle period, you are also awarded points.  Another way to earn points is to post your “First Impression” reviews sites outside of Bookish First, then submit a link.  Once enough points are earned, they can be redeemed for a copy of one of the books that are being raffled at the time of redemption.

“Free” is a slight misnomer, however, as a review of the full book is expected within three weeks of receipt if it is a raffle win.  In re-reading their website FAQ, I am slightly unclear on expectations for books redeemed with points, but I’m going to assume that a review is wanted for those as well.  This is a site whose purpose, after all, is to solicit early reviews.

Whenever I post these reviews based on excerpts to sites like Amazon and GoodReads, I include a statement such as “This review is based on a sample read through Bookish First and may be updated when the full, finished book is read. All opinions expressed are my own.”  This statement applies to each of the four First Impressions I am also sharing below.



Title:  No Less Days

Author:  Amanda G. Stevens

Publication:  Shiloh Run Press, May 2018 | paperback, 320 pages

First Impression:

Oh, this sounds good!  The title caught my eye, and when combined with the description, I became so curious. While the excerpt doesn’t get to the “meat” of the story yet, I am happily anticipating seeing where this story goes. Very intriguing!

Verdict:  I’d pay good money for this! However, I couldn’t wait for the publication date and read a digital galley through NetGalley.  You can read my NetGalley copy review here.


thepaintedartjournal.jpgTitle:  The Painted Art Journal: 24 Projects for Creating Your Visual Narrative

Author:  Jeanne Oliver

Publication:  North Light Books, July 2018

First Impression:

A novel and inspiring approach to journal making, I appreciated the practical way in which this artistic journaling method was presented. As the author shows in her explanation of tools and materials, this can be done with even the most basic supplies.

For those who love journaling, this may be a new approach to try. For those who aren’t inclined toward the typical “Dear Diary” or various craft store journaling crazes, this opens up new possibilities for both documentation and expression.

The Painted Art Journal presents a journaling method that may appeal to those with varying budgets and levels of artistic ability. The book itself is quite beautiful and would make a wonderful gift.

Verdict:  A lovely book for gifting or for your own use.  I’m interested in seeing the rest of the projects before deciding if I will buy a copy.


crochetanimalrugs_rott.pngTitle:  Crochet Animal Rugs

Author:  Ira Rott

Publication:  Sewandso, August 2018 | Paperback, 144 pages

First Impression:

This book has me wanting to pick up my crochet hook right now! Seven different animal rugs, along with accessory projects, are accompanied by vibrant pictures large enough that the stitch counters among us (meaning me) can use the images as references.

These adorable projects are rated for their difficulty levels, with the patterns both written and represented in charts. I particularly appreciate the images that show right and wrong sides, along with placement of directional pieces.

With a variety of animals sure to please most children (even ‘Cranky the Crab’ will be a very happy addition to bedrooms and playrooms), I have a feeling these rugs won’t be left on the floor by the littles in my life.

Verdict:  I might pay good money for this.  I do like to be as sure as possible about a crochet book before I purchase it, so I’m first in the hold line for one of the two copies ordered by my library district.  A full review is likely to be posted sometime this Fall.



Title: Putting the Science in Fiction: Expert Advice for Writing with Authenticity in Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Other Genres

Author:  Dan Koboldt, editor and contributor

Publication: Writer’s Digest Books, October 16th 2018 | Paperback, 272 pages

First Impression:

A great resource for budding Science Fiction writers, and others who want their science to be more realistic in their fiction. An approachable and practical guide, laced with humor, on how not to have your book thrown across the room. And for readers, a handy reference if you want to know when you should probably give that book a toss as well.

One for the keeper shelf!

Verdict:  As a reader, I’d like to read more before deciding if I will purchase a copy. If I ever get the urge to start writing in the genre, this may well end up on my reference bookshelf.  (Note:  This morning, the morning after composing this post, I woke up to find an email stating that I had won a raffle copy of Putting the Science Back in Fiction, so a review will be forthcoming within three weeks of receiving it from the publisher.)

book page
Photo by Skitterphoto on

The excerpts on Bookish First remind me of the previews often available on retail sites, with the added fun of being able to share and compare reviews of the first 20-ish pages and the possibility of a raffled or point-exchanged copy.  My first impression of Bookish First itself was that it seemed to skew towards Young Adult titles, but in my occasional visits to the site this impression has changed.  The emphasis on different demographics and genres appears to be more fluid than is apparent in a single visit.

The purpose of this post is to share all of the Bookish First mini reviews I’ve written so far with you.  This post was not solicited by Bookish First and is not affiliated with them in any way beyond my voluntary participation on their site.  The information presented here is based on my understanding only and should not be taken as representing Bookish First.  For official Bookish First information and to learn how you can participate, go to or click on the screenshot of the website at the beginning of this post.

If you try Bookish First (and I strongly recommend reading all of the ‘How It Works’ and FAQ before you sign up), let me know!