Ever wished you could live in a more romantic era?

Romantic era my hiney! (5 stars)

This is quite possibly one of the most fascinating and funny books I've read about women in history. I always knew the Victorians were a strange lot by current standards but woah. You couldn't pay me to deal with the hygiene issues and garments/torture devices let alone the patriarchal living. Nope. Super nope.

Oneill shares this knowledge with enough humor to make it digestible for all. Post-read I've got even more respect for the women who survived the era. Because even though society is still trying to tell us ladies to be ashamed of our bodies and desires, at least in this era we get to choose to wear corsets or not, we have indoor plumbing, boxed wine and Netflix.

Notes: ARC received via NetGalley.

Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill

History, Women's History, Etiquette, Humor
Audio/Digital/Print (320 pages, LITTLE BROWN)
Have you ever wished you could live in an earlier, more romantic era?
Ladies, welcome to the 19th century, where there's arsenic in your face cream, a pot of cold pee sits under your bed, and all of your underwear is crotchless. (Why? Shush, dear. A lady doesn't question.)
UNMENTIONABLE is your hilarious, illustrated, scandalously honest (yet never crass) guide to the secrets of Victorian womanhood, giving you detailed advice on:
~ What to wear
~ Where to relieve yourself
~ How to conceal your loathsome addiction to menstruating
~ What to expect on your wedding night
~ How to be the perfect Victorian wife
~ Why masturbating will kill you
~ And more
Irresistibly charming, laugh-out-loud funny, and featuring nearly 200 images from Victorian publications, UNMENTIONABLE will inspire a whole new level of respect for Elizabeth Bennett, Scarlet O'Hara, Jane Eyre, and all of our great, great grandmothers.
(And it just might leave you feeling ecstatically grateful to live in an age of pants, super absorbency tampons, epidurals, anti-depressants, and not-dying-of-the-syphilis-your-husband-brought-home.)


Book Review: Hidden Universe Travel Guides: The Complete Marvel Universe

Pack your bags! (4 stars)

I truly got started as a comic book reader through Marvel titles like Daughters of the Dragon, Runaways, and X-23. Thanks to Marvel Studios I've come to appreciate and love other parts of the Marvel-verse, but there's still a lot to explore. And that is one reason this book was really fun to go through.

If you've ever wanted to travel the Marvel universe it looks like no stone has gone unturned here. To cap it off and make it a truly entertaining read though is the notations from the Guardians of the Galaxy. If you love the Guardians I think this is actually a collector's must-have.

Overall, this was a fun read that occasionally felt a little repetitive but is sure to amuse Marvel fans from all corners of the cosmos.

Notes: Review copy received via NetGalley.

Hidden Universe Travel Guides: The Complete Marvel Cosmos: With Notes by the Guardians of the Galaxy

Humor, Travel, Comics
Digital (160 pages, MARVEL COMICS)
Check out these hilarious notes!
The ultimate guidebook to Earth, the Nine Realms, and other dimensions from Marvel Comics, as told by Peter Quill, Rocket, Groot, and the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Ever since Super Heroes like Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy started stomping around planet Earth, we’ve had to open our horizons a little and embrace the wider reaches of space. If you’re thinking of journeying to one of the many new realms for a little R’n’R, then don’t leave home without Hidden Universe’s guide to the cosmos. Whether you’re looking to enjoy the divine splendor of Asgard or soak up the multicultural atmosphere of intergalactic waypoint Knowhere, this is the book for you. It even provides some tips on surviving excursions to Planet Moord and Chitauri Prime, if you like your vacations to be on the extreme side.
• SEE THE COSMOS – Features information on the hot spots, history, and culture of more than forty locations in the Marvel Universe, including Planet X, Halfworld, Weirdworld, and the Planet of the Symbiotes.
• REDISCOVER EARTH – Get the lowdown on some of the Earth's most exotic and mysterious locations, such as Wakanda, Latveria, the Savage Land, and New Attilan.
• GET INVALUABLE ADVICE – Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot, aka the Guardians of the Galaxy, have filled this book with their own unique travel tips, from where to get a drink in Alfheim to dealing with Ego the Living Planet.


Book Review: Pigments of Your Imagination

A good place to start. (4 stars)

I've been in an awful creative rut for about a year now. I just can't seem to make my innate abilities flow. It happens to many creative types but I think we all handle it differently. One of my ways is by looking into new materials or types of creative expression (writing and digital art are my usual areas of strength). It's often just what I need to kickstart my mojo.

Something I've been really interested in recently is alcohol ink. I wasn't sure where to get started or how to even use it when I picked up Pigments of Your Imagination. After reading it I don't think working with alcohol inks is really for me but I love the effect, the variety of styles, and overall how fresh it feels. If you've been interested in learning more about how to create with alcohol inks I think this is a fantastic resource.

Notes: Review copy received through NetGalley.

Pigments of Your Imagination: Creating with Alcohol Inks by Cathy Taylor

Art, Crafting, Hobbies
Print (200 pages, SCHIFFER)
Discover magic! Join the vibrant, prismatic world of luminous alcohol inks. Mercurial, versatile, inexpensive, and wildly colorful, alcohol inks are one of the newest mediums to hit the art community. This essential guide for working with alcohol inks has been greatly expanded, with new tips and techniques and more than 50 additional works from guest artists in an inspiring gallery. Discover how to choose which inks to use for each project and how to experiment with a wide variety of fascinating techniques and tools. Learn how to work on a variety of surfaces, including paper, glass, metal, fabric, and plastic, through detailed, step-by-step demos. Perfect for all levels, from the beginning craftsperson to the professional artist, Pigments of Your Imagination offers a broad insight into the expansive world of alcohol inks. Explore the limits of your artistic ingenuity, and jump-start your creativity!


Book Review: Make in a Day: Paper Flowers

Truly beginner friendly! (5 stars)

A childhood friend of mine had one of the most talented grandmothers I've met. She was a marvel with many mediums but it was her papercrafts that always had me in awe. Her paper flowers were gorgeous and so beautiful I never thought to even try making them.

To my astonishment, this book breaks several types down in ways that seem remarkably easy to follow. I'd dare even go so far as to suggest many of these can be done by a patient child. 

If you're interested in dabbling in paper flower crafting or trying to make a homemade gift for Mother's Day or perhaps Valentine's, I much recommend giving this book a shot. I really look forward to getting my materials together and giving a few of these projects a go.

Notes: Review copy received via NetGalley.

Make in a Day: Paper Flowers by Amanda Evanston Freund

Papercraft, Crafts, Floral
Digital/Print (64 pages, DOVER)
These colorful blooms will brighten any room — and best of all, you can make them in a day! You'll find that it's a cinch to add a spring-like air to any room with a bouquet of daffodils, a cluster of hyacinths, or a vivid bunch of favorite blossoms, and no previous experience is necessary.
Each book in Dover's Make in a Day series presents 15 projects with illustrated step-by-step instructions. The beginner-friendly projects are ideal for anyone wishing to whip up something simple but special. Creating paper flowers adds a personal touch and a dash of handmade charm. Supplies are easy to obtain and readily available at major craft stores. Other titles in the series include Make in a Day: Modern Wreaths and Make in a Day: Pompom Crafts.


Hack Your Workday Lunches

Hack Your Workday Lunches (5 stars)

After years of being a stay/work-at-home-mom I recently found myself with my first outside job in more than a decade. It's been awesome, except I was way out of practice in the packed lunch department. For kids it's often simple since mine in particular lives off of Goldfish and Go-Gurt. But when it comes to my lunch I need a little bit more to sustain me. 

Packed offers some really useful ideas to improve your lunch. If you're trying to eat clean or simply just eat more nourishing meals you'll find recipes, tips and tricks, and ways to make lunchtime something to look forward to.

If you hate to cook and/or don't like vegetables and pulses I think you may find a lot of this won't really be your thing. Yet, for those who genuinely want to try things like meal prep or taking your soups, salads, and sandwiches to the next level it's a book that I think will inspire you in ways that will make meal prep or cooking feel like self-care instead of drudgery. 

Notes: ARC received via NetGalley.

Packed: Lunch Hacks to Squeeze More Nutrients Into Your Day by Becky Alexander & Michelle Lake 

Release Date: February 14th

Recipes, Cookbook, Clean Eating, Meal Planning
Print/Digital (176 pages, NOURISH)
OMG love this lunch purse!
The workday packed lunch - so often a repetitive and disappointing affair - is easier than you think to get right; it just requires a little forward planning. Throw out the soggy sandwiches and fill your Thermos or lunch box with nutrient-packed goodies that are simple to prepare, delicious - and full of things that are good for you. Contemporary and seasonal recipes are supported by sound nutrition to bring you this hip and easy guide on lunch on the go. While food writer Becky Alexander shows you how to knock up simple and satisfying bites - from vibrant Skip to the Beet Soup to satisfying Good Mood Cookies - nutritionist Michelle Lake will explain how that lunch is doing you good. Chapters include:
• Get Up and Go for those breakfasts on the run
• Raw Goodness salads
• Filling Flasks of satisfying hot food
• Fork-free Fare: sandwiches, dips and other cutlery-free eats
• Snacks and Bites for the inbetween times and treats
By strategic shopping, making things ahead, and using your fridge and freezer craftily, creating exciting and healthy lunches every day becomes almost effortless. Health benefits of particular foods are featured throughout, so you know your blood sugar will be balanced, the nutrition will be packed in and your brain will be kept in top gear. Because work is harder when you're not fully fuelled!


Book Review: It's All Absolutely Fine

This "Emotional Smoothie Recipe" is Grand (4 stars)

I hate winter. By early February I'm ready to crawl into bed and never come out. Vitamin D supplements help a lot but they don't quite make me laugh like a good humorous book can. I picked this one up not being familiar with Rubyetc other than having seen a comic or two online. It was totally worth trying a new comic.

Simple and goofy the art may be, but these comics are quite affecting. The kind that'll make you laugh until you cry because they're quite relatable if you suffer from mental illness as I do. In fact, I found the title fitting from two different angles... that of someone who says they're fine when they're not and that of someone who knows it's okay to be struggling, afraid, lacking confidence.

If you enjoy the work of Jenny Lawson or Allie Brosh this is right up your alley!

Notes: ARC received through NetGalley.

It's All Absolutely Fine - Life Is Complicated So I've Drawn It Instead by Ruby Elliot

Humor, Comics, Mental Health

Digital/Print (256 pages, ANDREWS MCMEEL)

Explore the highs and lows of modern life through the sharp, dark wit of Ruby Elliot—creator of the massively popular Tumblr account, Rubyetc, which has over 210k followers and growing. Ruby’s simple drawings of not-so-simple issues capture the humor and melancholy of everyday life. Her comics appeal to both new adults who are beginning to explore these subjects and to battle-tested veterans of the daily struggles of life with mental illness.
It’s All Absolutely Fine is an honest and unapologetic account of day-to-day life as a groaning, crying, laughing sentient potato being for whom things are often absolutely not fine. Through simple, humorous drawings and a few short narratives, the book encompasses everything from mood disorders, anxiety, and issues with body image through to existential conversations with dogs and some unusually articulate birds.
With each chapter a particular set of struggles is picked up, looked at, and squished about a bit using visuals before being put down again with a little more resolve. Problems related to mental health that can be very devastating and even isolating are discussed openly in a way people are often told not to, but this is as much a book about the human emotional experience that touches all of us as it is about mental health. Through the drawings, the reader is shown that it is okay to struggle, and that it is okay to talk about struggling, to not undermine oneself by yelling ‘it’s fine’ when it isn’t, and while all this is going on to know that it is absolutely possible to hold on to hope, and of course humor.
Building on Rubyetc's huge online presence, It's All Absolutely Fine includes mostly new material, both written and illustrated, and is inspirational, empowering, and entertaining. Hope and tenacity abound in this book that is as heartening as it is hilarious.


Book Review: The Recipe Hacker Confidential

Too abrasive for me. (2 stars)

I wasn't going to review this book... and then I saw how many people were giving it 5 star reviews and decided someone should be the bad guy. Because holy Cuisinart did this author's "voice" rub me the wrong way.

I'm always interested in ways to make recipes more nutritious, more sustainable, and just plain interesting. Which was why I thought this book would be great. Instead within the first 6 pages she managed to claim to not be perfect and then turn around and get painfully preachy. Her attitude just comes across as if there are only two ways people eat, bad and good. No inbetween. It's unrealistic and if you're someone who isn't already living a lifestyle that has no grain, gluten, dairy, soy, or sugar you may find it abrasive.

The recipes themselves look creative and delicious but each has a tip and an introduction that at times continues the preachy stuff.

I tried to make it through for the sake of finding some recipes to add to my rotation but just couldn't get past the author's black and white way of writing. Unless that kinda thing doesn't bug you (which clearly is the majority of reviewers) I'd say skip this one.

Notes: Review copy received through NetGalley.

The Recipe Hacker Confidential: Break the Code to Cooking Mouthwatering & Good-For-You Meals without Grains, Gluten, Dairy, Soy, or Cane Sugar by Diana Keuilian

Health, Cookbook, Gluten-Free
Digital/Print (264 pages, BENBELLA)
Unlock the secret to cooking mouthwatering and nutritious meals—without giving up your favorite dishes!
In today’s era of rampant food allergies, gluten-free popularity, and the rise of paleo eating, putting together a meal that will satisfy everyone at your table is easier said than done. With Diana Keuilian’s unique approach for “hacking” recipes, however, you’ll learn how to easily recreate beloved, traditional comfort foods without the grains, gluten, dairy, soy, or cane sugar.
The long-awaited follow-up to The Recipe Hacker, The Recipe Hacker Confidential is bursting with more than 100 new recipes and stunning photos that will tantalize your taste buds while trimming your waist, with lighter versions of your favorite recipes such as:
- Breakfast Pizza, Sweet Potato Mini Muffins
- Butternut Squash Spaghetti
- Easy Teriyaki Chicken, Maple Bacon-Wrapped Salmon
- Real Healthy Snickers Bars
- Cookie Dough Bonbons
Keuilian spills all her secrets on how to hack these recipes—and many more—while preserving the flavor, presentation, and enjoyability of each sumptuous dish. She also shares stories and musings throughout the book that will inspire, encourage, motivate, and propel you toward weight loss, better health, and culinary happiness.
The Rhialist (Rhianna Walker) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.