We Robot
July 1st, 2018 by diane92345

We Robot: “The day is coming when they will rival and surpass us in all sorts of fields.”

First seen in 1495 in Da Vinci’s sketches of a mechanical knight, robots are increasingly everywhere. From over 400,000 industrial robots made by one manufacturer to the future of skyscraper window cleaning. Even motion capture surgery and pilotless air taxis are available or soon to be available. Robots are moving across the human landscape like a Kilobot swarm. We Robot focuses on robots at work, in life, at war and in the future. It includes photographs, basic schematics and descriptions for 50 robots all with different functions.

We Robot would be useful for authors or illustrators if robots appear in their work. It is also just interesting how far we have come in the decades since the Jetsons’ Rosie or R2D2 and C3P0 from Star Wars. 4 stars!

Thanks to Quarto/Aurum and NetGalley for a copy.

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Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Modern Pressure Canning
June 20th, 2018 by diane92345

Comprehensive guide to Modern Pressure Canning with mouthwatering deliciously photographed recipes.

This cookbook includes an explanation of how pressure canning works, the necessary tools and step-by-step instructions within each recipe. The recipes begin with basic vegetables like carrots, green beans and corn. Next, the author moves onto more advanced vegetables such as pickled cauliflower and pineapple-flavored zucchini. The canned fruit section also includes pie fillings and a concentrated grape drink. The meat section includes pork, beef, poultry and fish plus bacon jam, soups, ground meats, and spaghetti sauce with meatballs. The final chapter includes tomato sauce, ketchup, red/green/peach salsa, chutney, bbq sauce, and poultry/beef/garlic/vegetable broth.

Ideal for gardeners who need to preserve their summer crops and anyone who wants to taste summer farmer’s market flavor in the dead of winter. Modern Pressure Canning is highly recommended for anyone who has a pressure canner. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Quarto Publishing Group/Voyageur Press, and NetGalley for a copy.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Vanishing Frontiers
June 9th, 2018 by diane92345

Vanishing Frontiers documents the changing nature of Mexican immigration and Mexico’s economy.

The wave of Mexican immigration to the United States is over. Both China and India send more immigrants. In addition, Mexico’s healthy economy has pushed wages higher leading to a large increase in the middle class. Cheap labor is no longer available in Mexico at least compared to other places in the world like China. Many, if not most, of the border factories have closed. Increasingly, Mexican companies are locating their factories in the United States to stay close to their selling zone. Despite these facts, 25-33% of American citizens dislike Mexico and feel Mexican immigration is a source of unfair trade competition and illegal drugs. Trump’s wall agenda feeds into those feelings.

If you are a supporter of Trump, you will not like Vanishing Frontiers’ overarching dislike of his policies.  However, there is some interesting information here about how countries move from third world to second. The world has changed with NAFTA and the book explains how the Agreement helps people on both sides of the border to better their lives. 3 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Perseus/Public Affairs, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Hanging Kokedama Potless Plants
June 8th, 2018 by diane92345

Hanging Kokedama: Potless Plants contains instructions for 25 beautiful Kokedamas. The book includes orchids, cacti, ferns, bulbs, herbs and even trees. Kokedamas are created by removing the plant’s pot and replacing it with moss tied with string or wire into a ball shape.

The instructions are clear.  The book gently teaches the necessary skills by beginning with the easier plants. There are excellent watering tips too for each plant type.

Great choice for the DIYer who enjoys a minimalist (think Ikea) perspective. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Jacqui Small Pub, and Edelweiss+ for a copy.

#FrugalFriday short review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Non-fiction Tagged with: , , ,

Peril in the Old Country
June 6th, 2018 by diane92345

Peril in the Old Country is a hilarious quest fantasy!

Sloot Peril is an accountant who has a nervous condition. He lives in the Old Country where swearing causes goblins to physically appear. There is so much bureaucracy that a union provides professional line waiters. Sloot is a patriot who despises the country just past the Old Country’s giant wall, Carpathia. What happens when he:

  • Is recruited to be the financial manager of his mega-rich boss’ son
  • Finds out a shocking truth about himself
  • Is recruited to be a Carpathian spy
  • Does the one thing his boss told him not to do—on his first day

The puns come fast and furious in Peril in the Old Country. There are running gags about swear words and shoes throughout. It is a zany ride. The world building is terrific and hilarious. Is it fantasy? Is it horror? I don’t know but it is highly recommended for readers looking for something different. This book is perfect for fans of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s style of humor. 42 stars! [sorry, wrong book] 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Black Spot Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Fantasy, Horror, Humor Tagged with:

Word is Murder
June 5th, 2018 by diane92345

“The word is murder. That’s what matters.” And so begins another original take on a thriller from Mr. Horowitz.

First person meta-mystery where the author plays himself as Dr. Watson to a memorable, recently  disgraced, consulting detective, Hawthorne. To avoid confusion, when referred to as Mr. Horowitz, I am speaking of the real author. I will use Anthony to denote the author character within the book.

Anthony is approached by an acquaintance, Hawthorne, to write a book about the case he is working on. Hawthorne is an outside consultant to the police whenever a particularly difficult case comes up. This case begins when Diana Cowper goes to an undertaker and plans her funeral down to the psalms and songs. Six hours later, Diana is dead, strangled in her living room. Hawthorne and his shadow, Anthony, inspect the murder scene, interview witnesses and decide on a lead suspect. However, Anthony quickly realizes that Hawthorne is an brilliant secretive unsympathetic homophobe. So Anthony decides the only way for him to continue writing the book is to investigate Hawthorne.

I love the concept of the Word is Murder but not so much its execution. Using Anthony as the narrator in a first-person mystery begs the question how can he be fooled by red herrings when his real self is writing them. It just feels like a manipulative con man is pulling the reader’s strings. However, the book’s conclusion is brilliant and well worth a read. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Harper, and Edelweiss for an advance copy.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

Sex and the City and Us
June 4th, 2018 by diane92345

Detailed look at the making of Sex and the City.

What adult or teen American woman has not seen themselves as a Carrie, a Miranda, a Charlotte or a Samantha? Sometimes all four in the course of a week. Sex and the City’s characters became the new archetypes of a generation as The Breakfast Club had for the prior era. Watching Sex and the City now, it seems almost old-fashioned in our gender-fluid racial-diverse millennial culture where tiny houses and recycling are fashionable and conspicuous consumption is not.

Sex and the City and Us tries to explain the magic of the series. It is well researched and interesting. However, the book was written so far after the end of the show that it seems culturally irrelevant, at least to me.

However, Sex and the City and Us is perfect for readers wanting to break into show business as either actors, writers, directors, producers or even costumers. There are many details about how the show was created and run from each of those perspectives. It also relates some of the issues of being in the business like waiting six months for the first episode to air. Should the actors, writers, and directors take other “permanent” jobs or wait to see if the show is a hit?

Sex and the City and Us is also a good choice for hard-core fans of the show. Many of the underlying reasons for some of the quixotic decisions within the show are explained.

For most other readers, it is a long slog. Still it rates 4 stars if you fall into one of the above groups!

Thanks to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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