Posts Tagged ‘review’

Reference Books Review

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

If you are looking for information than reference books are one of the places that you can look. Whether you are looking for something current or in the past, you will be able to find what you are looking for. There are several different types of books that you can turn to. There are almanacs, yearbooks, atlases, maps, charities, consumer guides, dictionaries, directories, encyclopedias, etiquette, genealogy, language and even the obituaries.

  • What other types of reference books are available?
  • How far back can these books date?
  • Can I learn about my family tree?
  • Are there books that have famous sayings?

These are all very good questions that you may be asking yourself. Many of the reference books that are available are able to help guide you in the right direction if you are looking to start a new project or even a new career. For example, publishing books can point you in the right direction on how to get your book published and even give you many of the publishing companies that you can write to. This can help you to save a lot of time trying to figure out which companies to submit your work to.

You will also find reference books for writing, general AAS, transport, research methods, fun facts, trivia, thesauri, information sciences and library. Of course, each one of these has its own type of listings as well. For example, if you need a directory, you will be able to find one for art, business, economics, careers, jobs, charities, education, film & the performing arts, internet, law, medical, museums, sports, trade, commerce, travel writing and universities, colleges and schools.

If you think that there is only one type of dictionary than you need to think again. You can find a dictionary for Braille & sign language, children, clichés, English, foreign languages, glossaries & terms, picture, quotations, slang & idioms, subject dictionaries, synonyms & antonyms, thesauri and usage guides. By having the knowledge that there are several different types of dictionaries that you can choose from, it will help to narrow down the search for the information that you need.

  • Are reference books considered to be educational?
  • Do they cover a wide variety of subjects?
  • Who do I turn to with questions?

What titles are available?
No matter what topic you are looking for, there is a wide variety of titles available for each. You can find the Guinness World Records, Big Book of Top Gear, Writers and Artists Yearbook of 2010, and even The Official Manchester United Annual 2010. If you are looking for a reference book that can give you help, you will be able to find The Writers Handbook, Public Affairs for Journalists, Your Writing Coach and Read at Home: Flashcards Wordgames. These are helpful reference books that you can use to help children learn how to read and pronounce words and even how to get your very own writing career off the ground.

You will also find reference books such as Naming Your Baby: The Definitive Dictionary of First Names, I Never Knew That About England, Collins Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary, Hippo Eats Dwarf, The Daily Telegraph Military Obituaries, The Elements of Style, Doing a Review in Health and Social Care, Delia’s Happy Christmas, Business Research Methods, Wide Sargasso Sea, Talk Spanish and Get Her Off the Pitch!: How Sport Took Over My Life. All of these books and many more are available to you in the reference section.

Some of these books are filled with information for you to be able to expand your knowledge and others are filled with helpful information so that you can learn something or be able to teach something to someone. One of the important things is to shop and look under the correct category. If you are unsure, it could take longer to find just what you need, which can become very frustrating and make the process take too much time.

What type of help can I get?
You may be wondering what type of help you can get with a particular book that you are reading. One of the best ways is to join a discussion group so that you can speak with others who are currently reading the same book or to speak with someone at the place you purchased it. By doing this, you may be able to get the answers that you need to your questions. It is also the perfect opportunity to be able to speak with others and get their insight on the book you are both reading.

Asking questions is helpful in the respect that you can see the other side of the equation so to speak. It can help to bring things into focus by hearing someone explain the answer to you as opposed to trying to figure it out in your reading. This is also a great way to make new friends with others that have the same thing in common as yourself. This is great quality time for just you and can be relaxing and enjoyable.

There are many people that like to join in on a group discussion and you can meet once a week or once a month. When doing this by telephone or by a meeting online, you are able to speak with people from all walks of life and with those that live on other places. This means that you are able to meet and speak with people from everywhere. Giving yourself the opportunity to call in and ask questions about your book, such as a particular chapter, if there are other books that follow the one you are reading and if it has helped someone else is a wonderful way to be able to get a better perspective of what you are currently reading.

So, if you are currently on a chapter that you are stuck on, or maybe you are looking for information in a dictionary and you cannot seem to find the answer that you need, join in to speak with others.

Mind, Body & Spirit Books Review

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Complementary Medicine
Complementary medicine, although often used in conjunction with traditional Western medicine nowadays, is not actually taught alongside Western medicine. A practitioner of complementary medicine will focus on treating their patient holistically: this can take the form of acupuncture, Ayurvedic medicine, herbalism or a range of other alternative practices that are defined by the various complementary and alternative medicine bodies. One of the more definitive guides is Bartram’s Encyclopaedia of Herbal Medicine, originally written by Thomas Bartram. In this definitive guide to the herbal remedies that can be used to alleviate any symptoms and information about many illnesses, you will find just the information you require to decide whether to obtain treatment for yourself through traditional or complementary medicine.

What’s more, Bartram’s Encyclopaedia of Herbal Medicine has been organised in alphabetical sections that makes it easy to locate whatever you are looking for. You will actually find this book on our website, amongst the Mind Body and Spirit section, in stock and available for you to order today. Bartram’s Encyclopaedia of Herbal Medicine is, in fact, such a well-thought-of book that even Members of the International Register of Consultant Herbalists use it to thumb through as a useful reference book. There is certain criticism levelled at this encyclopaedia – mainly due to its allopathic approach – but, over and above all, this encyclopaedia is an interesting and well-written treatise that uses the best in complementary medicine to recognise and treat various symptoms of illness.

Despite divination being described as an abomination in the Quran [Surah IV, The Table], with equal hostility to divination being shown by Bible, there are still many thousands of people around the globe who turn to divination to foretell future events. This may be in a social context just as much as in a religious context, although divination is more ritualistic than the practice of fortune telling is. Gregg Braden is an author who has written a number of books on ancient cultures, their prophecies and what the future may hold. Amongst our pages in the Mind Body and Spirit section you will find one of Gregg Braden’s newest contributions: ‘Fractal Time: the Secrets of 2012 and the New World Age’ which focuses on events that are predicted to occur during the winter solstice period of 2012: events which could see the eradication of the human race and herald in a new period of enlightenment.

In this latest book Braden draws on geological records and quantum physics and interweaves teachings from the Bible, the Torah and from the Mayan and Hopi to come up with events that are predicted to occur during the latter months of 2012. According to divination, time has a cyclic pattern, with a pattern occurring within a pattern – hence the title for this latest book. The Earth is based on a 5,125 year cycle whereby this being the time it takes to cross the ‘galactic equator of the Milky Way’ – together with a cycle of 25,625 years signifying the evolution of the equinoxes. I would hate to give away the secret punch-line of the book – but you need to read what happens at the culmination of these cycles. Gregg Braden tells all in his latest book on divination.

Earth Based Religions
Any religion that revolves around care and love for nature and the land around us could well be described as an earth based religion. In fact, although not represented in so many words, there is a correlation between Gregg Braden’s description of fractal time and the Gaia hypothesis. The Gaia hypothesis suggests an amalgamation between the different physical components of the Earth which, taken together, interrelate in a multifaceted and integrated manner that assimilates climatic conditions and the biochemical environment on Earth, ensuring they are sustained within a pre-arranged homeostasis.

Amongst our section on earth based religions, there is a book written by Drunvalo Melchizedek that relates the story of the indigenous peoples’ ceremonies relating to the relocation of the Kundalini serpent. The book is called ‘The Serpent of Light: The Movement of the Earth’s Kundalini and the Rise of the Female Light, 1949 – 2013’. This book does relate to various earth based religions – the book is highly recommended as a good read, whether you believe in earth based religions or not.

The world of mythology tends to be interpreted somewhat differently according to whether it relates to Greek mythology or whether it refers to comparative mythology or whether it simply relates to stories from antiquity, upon which many traditions come to be based. Geraldine McCaughrean tends to be of the persuasion that focuses on Greek mythology and her book ‘The Orchard Book of Greek Myths’, found in our Mind Body and Spirit section of our website, features 16 popular Greek myths. All are retold by McCaughrean in a unique and interesting manner, with each story delightfully illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark who studied at the Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art and who, in 1988, won the Mother Goose Award as ‘the most exciting newcomer to children’s book illustration’.

Most readers who have reviewed her book on Greek mythology describe her writing with dynamism and profundity, depicting the activities of the characters she includes with colour and excitement. There are other, more erudite readers who recognise that McCaughrean has confused various Roman and Greek gods – such as the story of Pluto and Persephone, if completely accurate, should be entitled ‘Hades and Persephone’. Personally, I think this is a minor offense: it may be an error between Roman and Greek gods but I am sure that most of her readers will forgive her once they become enthralled in the activities of Icarus and the Sun, and the story about Pandora’s Box. 

There are many other sub-sections amongst the Mind Body and Spirit division of our website. There are books on occultism [read about Yehudda Berg’s ‘The Power of the Kabbalah’]; paranormal and unexplained phenomena such as that represented by William Cooper in ‘Behold a Pale Horse’. This book is an absolute must – regardless of your own personal beliefs: read it with an open mind and you are bound to thoroughly enjoy this book. We have another section with a wide range of books dealing with parapsychology, such as Ted Andrews’ ‘How to Uncover Your Past Lives’. ‘Practising the Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle can be found in our section of spirituality whilst the section on thought and practice may well give you food for thought: have a read of the Urantia Foundation’s ‘The Urantia Book’. I am sure you will find this a stimulating subject of conversation.

Humour Books Review

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

When you think about books for humor, you may think of books that are filled with just jokes and funny stories. But, there are many different categories that fall under the topic of humor. These include but are not limited to automotive, business, cats, dogs and other animals, collections, anthologies, comic strips, computers, internet, cooking and believe it or not even doctors and medicine have books that fall under this category. You may be wondering, what could possibly be funny when it comes to medicine or even the automotive industry? There are many books that have been written about each one of these categories and many of them teach something in the process.

There are titles such as Raiders of the Lost Car Park, Motorworld, What Not to Drive, Dilbert 2.0,The Little Book of Management Bollocks, Where Does it Hurt, Everybody Poos, Aches & Pains and Your New Baby. You will find that each one of these books has something to say in the field of their choice.

  • Are there other types of books on humor?
  • Will I be able to find other topics and subjects in the humor category?
  • Are there books on humor for young children?

Other Categories in humor
There are quite a few other categories that are available on the subject of humor. You will find fiction, hunting, limericks, parodies, political, puns, rural life, word play, science, sports, tv, urban legends, love, sex, satire both general and classic as well as humor books for children. Each one of these categories of course has their own sub-category on the different types of books that you will be able to find. You can even find encyclopedias and essays that are all about humor.

Some of the books that you can find in these categories are The Encyclopedia of Immaturity, March Hares and Monkey’s Uncles, Puckoon, A Children’s Treasury of Milligan: Classic Stories and Poems, Shark in the Park, The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry, The Science of Supervillians, Science with a Smile, Brunvand Choking Doberman, Too Good To Be True: The Colossal Book of Urban Legends and The Bro Code.

Many of these books are written by famous actors and actresses while others are written by famous authors. You will find writers such as Barney Stinson, Tom Friedman, Ben Elton and Allan Morrison. Each of their books has something to say about something specific and they all have their own sense of humor on the subject that they have written about.

Children’s Humor
When it comes to humor for kids, the range goes from the young to the teenager. Many of the books that you will find with humor in them can actually teach your young one something. These books include Fox in Socks (Dr Seuss Green Back Books) and The Story of the Little Mole. Of course, there are books that are just plain funny for kids to read. These include The Silliest Joke Book Ever, Waddle Lot of Laughs Joke Book, Girls are Best, Harry Hill’s Whopping Great Joke Book, Joke Book (Sponge Bob SquarePants) and My Very First Joke Book.

There are quite a few different categories in the children department when it comes to humor books. You will find cartoons, collections, jokes, riddles, anthologies and humorous verse. It depends on the sense of humor your child has on what they will find funny and what type of books you should by. It is also important to remember that although you may feel that a certain type of book is great for your child, not all authors will appeal to your sense of humor as well.

A wise decision would be to look at several different authors before you decide to make your final choice on what to buy for your child to read. This way you will be able to find the type of books that your child likes and the authors that appeal more to their sense of humor for future purchases as well.

Humor in General
It is very important that we all have a chance to laugh and to make others laugh as well. Smiling and laughing is a very important part of being healthy in both mind and body. Being able to share a book with someone that can make them laugh and or smile is a great gift to be able to give someone.

If you are unsure of what type of book to purchase for either a child or an adult, a group discussion is always a great way to ask questions or to call and speak with someone that sells books. This gives you the opportunity to be able to ask questions about a particular author or a book that you are considering. You may even have questions about a book that you yourself have read because you were confused and did not understand a particular part.

As you can see, there is a great variety that you can choose from when you are looking for a book that can make you laugh. There is a funny sense of humor, a dry sense of humor, medical humor (I guess we all need to laugh at our doctor’s once in awhile) and even a chance to walk down memory lane with books about our past history, television shows that we have watched or even movies that we have seen.

So it doesn’t make a difference what type of interest you have or the types of interests that your friends or children have. You are going to be able to find something for everyone that they are going to find funny and humorous. Don’t forget that you can also join in on a discussion so that you can talk with others to ask questions about what you have read or to just talk about the parts you thought were super funny and share your laughter with someone else that will understand just what you are talking about. You can also get ideas on books that you may want to read.

Horror Books Review

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

An anthology is a collection of short stories, each one complete in themselves and each written independently by different authors. One of the best anthologies, ‘Shadows’, won the World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology. It was published by Doubleday between 1978 and 1991, and was edited by Charles L. Grant. This anthology is more classic horror than many contemporary horror books today: there is little violence perpetrated. Most of the horror comes from understated episodes where a presage or premonition is anticipated – with things that occur within everyday settings – that contributes to the development of the horror. 

Another anthology, this time edited by Douglas E. Winter, was published in 1988 and contained a selection of short stories where all but one are original to this particular anthology. This anthology is entitled ‘Prime Evil’. An older anthology, published in 1964 by Arkham House to mark their 25th anniversary, was ‘Over the Edge’ which was edited by August Derleth. Personally, I am not a fan of horror stories, although I am sure many of you reading this will write in telling me that horror stories are the best thing since sliced bread! I am sure you will find some interesting titles within our Horror section: anthologies such as ‘Song of Innocence and of Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul’. This anthology is edited by William Blake and published by Oxford Paperbacks. To add to the thrill of horror, you have full colour illustrations throughout. 

Classic Horror
Who else could we possibly have for classic horror than Frankenstein? In our section on classic horror we have included ‘Frankenstein: or ‘The Modern Prometheus’: The 1818 Text’. This is written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and is in her original wording. Then, published by Wordsworth Classics, is ‘Doctor Jerkyll and Mr Hyde’ that was written by Robert Louis Stevenson and, classic horror just would not be complete without the Dracula stories written by Bram Stoker. These are all true classic horror tales. 

Contemporary Horror
When it comes to contemporary horror, try reading Neil Gaiman’s book, ‘The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes’. This features the tale of somebody who, while seeking the physical manifestation of death, meets up with the King of Dreams. Basically, if you are going to read this book, don’t put it down until you have finished the chapter on ’24 hours’ – after that, if you’re not hooked, I will be very surprised! Of course, no contemporary horror could possibly be complete without a contribution by Stephen King. Try reading his book ‘The Dark Tower’ if you want to be spooked! Even reading the synopsis on our website is enough to make me shudder! 

Genres & Characters
If you take a look at this section of genres and characters you will find a range of pretty diverse titles – books such as ‘The Turn of the Screw’ that is published by Penguin Popular Classics. Written by Henry James, it tells the story of the governess living a delightful life whilst sensing a powerful presence of sinister and profound evil. This book is classic Henry James at his best. Horror – yes, but this title is much more than horror: it’s a book you will have to read. We’ve all heard of the ‘fairer sex’, well Mike Ashley’s book might help you revise that epithet. Try reading his book ‘The Darker Sex: Tales of Death and the Supernatural by Victorian Women’. This book is an absolute feast of some of the best in Victoria writers – Emily Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte Riddell, Mary Penn, plus others. It makes for powerful reading, with each story written by a different hand, in their inimitable styles. It makes a very enjoyable book. 

I think many people view the Victorian women, in retrospect, as being delicate females always reclining around with ailments when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. These women were pretty resilient – they had to be: after all, there were no antibiotics around when they were ill. They just had to overcome it through their own inner strengths. As a result, death was always stalking close by, invariably a visitor to most families at some time or another. What could be more natural than these Victorian women authors writing about ghosts, death, the afterlife and precognition – as well as suicide which was still illegal at that time. 

Some of the most insightful writers of that era contribute stories to this book – women such as Elizabeth Stuart Phelps whose leap to fame followed the publication of a book she wrote about a mill fire which occurred in 1859 and featured the deaths of innumerable mill girls. Nine years’ later she wrote ‘The Gates Ajar’ which increased her popularity ratings but, what she really became famous for was her re-telling of the legends of King Arthur which she re-set into the 19th century. Meanwhile, Violet Quirk wrote completely different literature while Mary Braddon and Charlotte Riddell developed the art of the ghost story, making this genre appear darker than it was before. 

How to scandalise the public and get away with it! Sir James George Frazer seems to have perfected the art of that with the 12 volumes of his book ‘The Golden Bough: a Study in Magic and Religion’ which was published between 1890 and 1915 and which we feature in our reference section. Sir James George Frazer has been classed as the founder of modern anthropology and, reading this treatise you can see why. Sir James George Frazer aimed these volumes at a wide reading public and introduced to them the concept of discussing religion and magic in an unemotional fashion rather than relying on the theological perspective.  

The book unfolded more as an anthropological treatise than a fictional book of the time and caused a bit of a rumpus due to his discussions of Jesus being thrown open to possible non-Christian ridicule. He dealt with fertility rites and mystic deities and incorporated myths and magic alongside discussions on religion – hardly surprising he caused such uproar in the era this book was published!

Home & Garden Books Review

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

There is a considerable depth to the genre Home and Garden. It can be taken at face value, or the concept can be stretched to include other ideas: those such as the delightful trilogy written by Claude Michelet and translated from his original French by Sheila Dickie. The books are about the Vialhe family who live around the south-central region of France: they relate the lives of the family, who are farmers from around 1900 to more recent times. If you are looking for a book to spirit you away, these have to be the ones to do it: ‘Firelight and Woodsmoke’ is the first book in the trilogy – a truly lovely read that transforms you back onto the farm at Brive around the turn of the 20th century. 

Continuing in a similar vein, how many of us lost ourselves in the delightfully evocative story of Mary, Dickon and Colin and the magic that unfolds in ‘The Secret Garden’? Well, now there’s a sequel, written by Susan Webb. The book relates the tale of what has happened to Mary, Dickon and Colin when they meet up ten years’ later at Misselthwaite. The book is called ‘Till All the Seas Run Dry: A Sequel to “The Secret Garden” – if you enjoyed ‘The Secret Garden’ you will absolutely love the sequel. 

Animal Care & Pets
What do Rowberrow, Saska and Shantung have in common with a chiffon gown and a teapot in the fridge? Doreen Tovey, that’s what! You will find an array of these charming and very funny books in our Home and Garden section under Animal Care and Pets. Doreen, very sadly, passed away in January 2008 and I am sure her many readers who followed the tales avidly of her family of Siamese cats miss her enormously. Many a time I have laughed out loud at her antics, chasing one of her donkeys around while wearing a chiffon gown and looked forward to reading more about Mrs Binney and Father Adams.

From ‘Cats in the Belfry’ to ‘More Cats in the Belfry’, ‘Cats in May’ and ‘Donkey Work’, Doreen Tovey certainly kept her readers amused: you will find all these titles in our Animal Care and Pets section. When Doreen Tovey wasn’t busy writing and tending to her naughty felines, she was President of North Somerset RSPCA and President of the Siamese Cat Club and also the West of England Cat Club – a busy lady who will be very much missed.

Moving from England to America, Cesar Millan seems to be someone who inspires some very powerful feelings in people – they either love him or hate him!  Either way, he’s popularly visible and a force to be reckoned with! Let us know what your own views are – meanwhile, we stock a good range of books by Cesar Millan, such as ‘Puppyhood: Through Puppyhood and Beyond’ written by Cesar Millan and Melissa Jo Peltier and ‘Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar’s Way to Transform Your Dog….and your Life’. These are excellent books on animal care and pets focus on Cesar’s way – and, despite much criticism levelled at his methods, I have used these methods to train my own dogs from very young puppyhood and now, as they are approaching the 12 months’ mark, I have a pack of charming, well-mannered dogs who show me respect and love as their pack leader.

Antiques & Collectables
You may have a collection of vinyl record albums that you collected as a young adult and wonder whether your collection is worth anything. If so, you may be interested in the ‘Rare Record Price Guide 2010’, collected from the Record Collector Magazine and edited by Ian Shirley. This collection of price guides consists of 1400 pages containing 100,000 entries for you to check the value of each of your cherished records against. You never know – you may be sitting on a fortune! Despite the wide variety of entries, however, there does seem to be some missing that you would have thought should have been included, such as punk singles. You will also, no doubt, notice wide variations in the guide prices of various albums. Use this book as a guide only – but, it should give you some idea of the price of your precious record collection. 

There are plenty of other antiques and collectables out there. ‘Boys Toys: an Illustrated History of Little Things that Pleased Big Minds’ by Jed Novick is another excellent book within this category. It features traditional toys from the 60s, 70s and 80s that provided such pleasure at the time and which have now become collectibles in their own right. Another book that you will find interesting if watches and clocks are your thing is the book written by Anthony Whiten: ‘Repairing Old Clocks and Watches’. Meanwhile, of interest to those celebrity watchers, take a look at ‘Secrets to Contacting Celebrities and Public Figures: 101 Ways to Reach the Rich and Famous’. These books are just the tip of the iceberg – this section within the Home and Garden category is rich in an amazing diversity of subjects: just dive in and see what you come up with! 

Buying & Developing Property
What better way to start this section that a book on how to clean and manage your household chores: you may as well how to do it before you get stuck into the task of buying and developing property! Written by Kim Woodburn, ‘The Cleaning Bible: Kim and Aggie’s Complete Guide to Modern Household Management’ provides you with all sorts of labour-saving tips on how to clean your house and marvellous ways with sodium bicarbonate and white vinegar! There is also a wealth of other subjects under various sections within the category of Home and Garden – sections such as Carpentry and Woodwork; Crafts; DIY and Home Improvements; Gardening; and Interior Design and Decoration. 

When you are buying and developing property, however, each of these sections are worth delving into – you never know when you are going to need ideas on colour schemes, provided by Kevin McCloud in his book ‘Kevin McCloud’s Colour Now: An Expert Guide to Choosing Colours for Your Home’ or learn how to carry out simple plumbing with RD Treloar’s book ‘Plumbing RD Treloar 3rd edition: Heating and Gas Installations’. There are books galore on our website that will help you when you are buying and developing property, with books to help you with decorating ideas; colour ideas and even furnishing ideas – in fact, plenty to keep you occupied on all your projects from now onwards.

History Books Review

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Learning about history can be extremely rewarding. It can, however, be a somewhat intimidating subject to start studying. When you are faced with the totality of human history, it can be hard to decide where to begin. The easiest way to start is by exploring a historical time period which interests you. You can pick a specific time period, such as World War I or II, or you can chose to explore the history of a certain area of the world. At the beginning of your studies, you will probably have many general questions, such as:

  • How did Europe come to dominate so much of modern history?
  • Was North America destined to become a super power?
  • Does the past have any bearing on the world today?
  • Does history have any bearing on an individual person’s life?

Many people enjoy easing into history and historical questions by reading historical fiction. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is a popular choice and can lead people to further study Renaissance art, culture, and history.

History of War 
Many people begin studying history by looking at the history of warfare. Military History and Maritime History can be fascinating subjects. You can study the wars themselves or the political figures who orchestrated the events.

Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940-45 by Sir Max Hastings is a detailed portrait of Winston Churchill. It is a fascinating introduction to England during the modern wars. Learning about the war periods can be disturbing. You might have many questions about the very nature of war.  

Some questions might be: 

  • Does war define human history?
  • Should you define historical time periods by the wars that were fought?
  • If history is written by the victors, can we ever have a truly accurate account of a war?
  • Can lessons from history help us prevent future militarized conflicts?

Whispers from the Ancient World 
Once you explore modern military history, you might want to learn more about Ancient History and Civilization. Understanding the roots of civilization is key to a broad historical education. For thousands of years, a liberal arts education was based around ancient history and ancient languages such as Latin and Greek. In the modern era, our knowledge of the ancient world has been enhanced by Archaeology. Books that explore the ruins of ancient buildings and villages offer a fascinating glimpse inside the daily life of the ancients.

Another way to see ancient civilization through the eyes of those who lived at that time is by reading accounts recorded by ancient historians. Both The Histories (Oxford World’s Classics) by Herodotus and The Peloponnesian War (Classics) by Thucydides are respected accounts of the ancient world. These accounts, however, are not entirely accurate. Historians in the ancient world were not as concerned with making sure every detail of their histories was factually accurate. They wanted to tell stories; they wanted to flatter the people in power. This former inclination to change history troubles some people. They see remnants of this in modern life and it raises many questions:  

  • Have people changed since ancient times?
  • Were ancient governmental systems better or worse than today’s governments?
  • Is it possibly to find an unbiased ancient historian? What does this say about our own modern historians?
  • Has the discipline of history improved since the days of Herodotus and Thucydides?
  • Do any groups or individuals still try to change history to suit their purposes?

Politics as Usual 
The political machinations of the ancient world are just as exciting as the today’s Political History. The history of each political system in the world is a long history. Thousands of small cultural movements contributed to the adoption of each governmental system. It is impossible to study political history without exploring Social & Economic History as well. Academic history studies have only been interested in political history for a short period of time. Of all historical studies, it is the youngest. Political history intersects with Cultural History. The questions you will have will be related to culture as well as politics.  

  • Will the two party system in America last indefinitely?
  • Is democracy the best form of government?
  • Is an economically successful communist country possible?

An Entire World of History  
Too many people focus exclusively on western history in their studies. There is an entire world of history, be sure you do not focus exclusively on western cultures, such as Britain & Ireland. Make sure that you dedicate at least some of your study time to eastern cultures. There are many excellent World History Texts available. Russia and China are fascinating countries. It is quite easy to get lost in their engrossing histories. Russia and the USSR, 1855-1991: Autocracy and Dictatorship by Stephen J. Lee is a great text to transition your political studies to Eastern cultural studies. You should also investigate some of the faiths of people in the Eastern world. Texts on Buddhism and Hinduism can help you better understand the historical story of people. Religious History Essays are often a source of insight. When you study, you should make note of any questions you might have.

  • Why is most history curriculum focused exclusively on Western culture?
  • Should you study the history of other cultures or just focus on your own?
  • Is it possible to relate to a history about a people from a different cultural background?
  • Should people study different religions to better understand the faith and culture of a nation?

The Basics of History Study
It is important to amass a collection of Reference material. Depending on what area of study you want to focus on, there are a few books you should have. If you are studying the British Empire, you should get a copy of The Penguin Historical Atlas of the British Empire (Penguin Reference) by Nigel Dalziel. You should augment your studies with as many Journals, Letters & True Accounts, as possible. Reading texts such as Her Own Life: Autobiographical Writings by Seventeenth Century Englishwomen provide a valuable insight into the real lives of people in history. In the end, that is the true value of history. Getting insight into those from the past, from all Countries & Regions, and learning how their struggles can relate to ours is a valuable lesson from history.

Health, Family & Lifestyle Books Review

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Health, family and lifestyle cover an enormous variety of subjects, including everything from pregnancy to childcare; health problems specific to men, how to lose weight and even medical issues and how to find your perfect family doctor. Included under this heading is beauty and fashion; complementary medicine; diet and nutrition; family and parents; fitness and exercise; health issues; medical and healthcare practitioners; men’s health and lifestyle; pregnancy and childcare; relationships; sex; women’s health and lifestyle and self-help books. A book you may find of particular interest is ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne. This book relates how the Laws of Attraction can have a major effect on your life and well-being. A film of the same name has also been made – I would suggest you read the book prior to watching the film.

Beauty and Fashion
When it comes to beauty and fashion, helpful books abound. Books such as James Wong’s book entitled ‘Grow Your Own Drugs: Easy Recipes for Natural Remedies and Beauty Treats’. James Wong has a MSc in Ethnobotany from the University of Kent so he knows his subject. Basically, the book covers all the various natural remedies that you can grow and distill in your own garden to use as complementary therapies and to produce many natural beauty products. It is certainly an interesting book and pops a lot of questions into your mind – read it to find out what I mean!

Complementary Medicine
James Wong’s book naturally drifts over into the sector on complementary medicine and, I would reiterate – this book is certainly worthy of more than a cursory glance. Another interesting and useful book on complementary medicine is Louisa L. Hay’s book ‘You Can Heal Your Life’, a book that has been a bestseller for a number of years. Apart from the interesting and useful information contained within the pages of her book, you will find exquisite illustrations by Joan Perrin Falquet on each page. Apart from highly recommending this book, I would suggest you read this book in conjunction with Rhonda Byrne’s ‘The Secret’ – each book complements the other and offers very closely similar messages.

Diet and Nutrition
There have probably been more books written on dieting than practically any other subject – fad diets, celebrity diets, dietician-recommended diets: in fact, you name it and it has probably been written about. Then we have the Harcombe Diet and the Holcombe Diet – and, of course, Paul McKenna ‘I Can Make You Thin’ which comes complete with a CD as well. The book by Zoe Harcombe ‘The Harcombe Diet – Stop Counting Calories and Start Losing Weight’ is actually a book based on very sound nutritional principles. The concept behind this book is easy to follow and makes sensible nutritional sense.

With regards to the Holcombe Diet, that is more of a lifestyle nutritional book that advises on cooking in a nutritional way. Holcombe’s book is entitled ‘How to Feed Your Whole Family a Healthy Balanced Diet, with Very Little Money and Hardly Any Time, Even if You Have a Tiny Kitchen, Only Three Saucepans (one with an ill-fitting lid) and no fancy gadgets – unless you count the garlic crusher’. The title is a bit of a mouthful (sorry about the pun!) but it does reflect the fun nature contained within the book. This is sound nutritional information, presented in a light-hearted, fun way that gets the message of healthy eating for the whole family across.

Family and Parents
Continuing with the theme of healthy eating for the family, Annabel Karmel has written a book about meal planning for the baby and toddler that continues to be a bestseller on the nutrition of babies and toddlers. The ‘Essential Guide to Feeding Babies and Young Children’ was first published in 1991 and hasn’t been out of print since. Annabel Karmel has now published the ‘New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner’ which features home-cooked meals based on fresh, natural ingredients and integrates menu charts to make it easy to plan your shopping trips in advance.

Fitness and Exercise
Moving away from the theme of nutrition and dietetics, the fitness and exercise section features a pretty diverse collection of books from ‘Strength Training Anatomy’ by Frederic Delavier to ‘The Anatomy of Stretching’ by Brad Walker. A book that I have found in the Fitness and Exercise section is ‘Born to Run: the Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen: The Rise of Ultra-Running and the Super-Athlete Tribe’. This title is another mouthful, this time written by Christopher McDougall. It is a tale of endurance, of adventure – with that odd quirk that makes an ordinary book special. It should be way up there with the best sellers.  Basically, it’s a story of Christopher McDougall running across the planet where no man should have gone before – but, there is much, much more to this book – and I am not about to spoil it for you by telling you any more about it.  Read it for yourself – you will be very glad you did! 

Men’s Health and Lifestyle
One book I would encourage every man and his partner to read is the book by Professor Jane Plant: ‘Prostate Cancer: Understand, Prevent and Overcome Prostate Cancer’. Many men are only vaguely aware of their prostate until it starts causing problems with the ‘waterworks’. However, what men need to be made aware of is that prostate cancer really can be the silent killer – unless it is caught early enough. Prostate cancer rarely gives any obvious symptoms until it is too late but, if you are fortunate enough for it to be caught early enough, prostate cancer is completely curable.  

At present there are no routine tests to check for prostate cancer as the only real indication is the Prostate Specific Antigen in the blood. In a man of around 50 years old, his PSA level should never be above 3 –  and, if it is above that level, he needs to see his doctor. Get it checked out – it may be nothing but, if this indicator gives you an idea that all may not be well, at least you have been given a chance of treatment before it’s too late. If there is one book out of the whole of our book-site that I would recommend, it would be this one – it could save your life!

Food & Drink Books Review

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

The decision to learn how to cook and plan Meals & Menus can be an intimidating one. There are so many dishes and there is just so much to know. Plus, Food Writers make it seem so difficult. The important thing is to not feel overwhelmed. Focus on one category of cooking at a time. You can master specific dishes and build your confidence. At the beginning of your cooking studies, you will have many questions about food, cooking, and health in general. You can consult old cookbooks, Bestsellers, family, friends, and of course, the internet resources available to you.

•Is flavor more important than health concerns?
•Should organic foods be purchased, even if they cost more?
•What foods will please an entire family?
•Do I need to take a class or can I learn by trial and error?
•Is there a career for me in the culinary arts?
•How can Fish & Seafood be prepared safely?
The Basics of Cooking: Knowledge and Cooking Equipment
Before you even begin learning how to cook, you will have to make sure your kitchen is properly outfitted. Once you have the basic cooking equipment you can start collecting cookbooks that will increase your cooking knowledge. Eventually you will want to amass a large collection of Reference & Gastronomy cookbooks and Restaurant Cookbooks. Food & Travel Writing books are great reads. There are even cookbooks available that focus on a specific piece of kitchen equipment. When you purchase a cookbook that specific, like Slow Cooker (Pyramid Paperbacks) by Sara Lewis, you can be sure to make the most out of your kitchen device. A piece of kitchen equipment that sits unused in the back of the cupboard is just a waste of space.

•What are the basic kitchen tools needed to make most meals?
•If one is just starting out and trying to save money, what tools can he hold off on purchasing?
•Are fancy blenders and mixers really necessary?
Baking Delicious Treats
Few things are more delicious than a loaf of fresh bread pulled out of the oven. The smell of freshly-baked bread will bring your entire family into the kitchen, their mouths watering. Bread-making is not hard. There is some work involved, certainly, but if you follow the instructions and tips carefully you can certainly do it. When you master a few basic cooking skills, there will be no stopping you in the kitchen. You will, of course, need a basic manual to help you. Bake by Rachel Allen is an excellent text that can help you master some baking skills. Rachel Allen has some excellent cupcake recipes, especially. Baking is an almost entirely separate science from cooking and will raise its own queries.

•How do baking and cooking differ?
•Can I make substitutions in a recipe?
•Why do I need to mix wet and dry ingredients separately?
•What is the difference between cake flour, all purpose flour, and bread flour?
Baking can be a challenge but the treats you will learn to bake are worth the effort.

Barbecue: The Perfect Foods for Entertaining & Special Occasions
If you love to entertain, you should make mastering barbecue recipes a high priority. Everyone loves a backyard party in the summer. A plate of ribs, a few Drinks & Beverages, and a warm summer evening make for great memories. You will need some special equipment to barbecue successfully. A grill is a definite must have and a smoker is wonderful for imparting flavor into your cuts of meat. You will also want a set of basic grill tools, such as a grill spatula, brush, and tongs. For a complete list of barbecue tools, see Weber’s Way to Grill: The Step-By-Step Guide to Expert Grilling (Sunset Books) byJamie Purviance. This cookbook is sponsored by a grilling company that has been around for generations. It will certainly help answer your general grilling questions such as:

•Are cheap grills suitable for casual barbecuing?
•How do I control the temperature on a grill?
•What foods grill well?
•Are there any Puddings & Desserts that can be grilled?
Books are not the only place to get answers about barbecuing or cooking in general. Ask your friends and neighbors for their advice as well. One of the great things about cooking is that it brings people together. Barbecue specifically appeals to individuals of both genders. Even people who do not grill out personally have favorite dishes they would love to share with you. Grilling can bring together an entire neighborhood for food and fun.

Making Quick & Easy Meals For You and Your Family
Cooking every night when you get home from work can be exhausting. Eating out for dinner every night, however, is both expensive and unhealthful. What you need to master then, are quick, healthy meals that you can throw together on a weekday night. Ainsley Harriott’s Low Fat Meals in Minutes by Ainsley Harriott is a great combination of quick and healthy. Diets & Healthy Eating do not have to suck up all your free time. You can also learn how to prepare healthy foods for baby quickly. Top 100 Baby Purees: 100 Quick and Easy Meals for a Healthy and Happy Baby.

Annabel Karmel is a great baby food manual for a new parent. Once you master some basic cooking techniques such as blanching and steaming vegetables, you can make healthy pureed dishes for your baby while you cook for yourself and the rest of your family. Healthy cooking, especially healthy Cooking for Babies & Children, raises a lot of questions.

•Does introducing an infant to a diverse array of foods prevent him from being a picky eater?
•What are easy, healthy meals that I can feed to an infant?
•Can I afford the fresh fruits and vegetables needed to be healthy?
•Are there healthy lunch options for taking to work?
•Are Vegetarian & Vegan meals more time consuming?
Cooking As a Way to Enjoy Life More Fully
Cooking is more than just a way to fill your belly. It is a way to enhance your enjoyment of life. The basics of cooking are really just the beginning. Soon you will be on your way to National & International Cookery, Wine & Winemaking and a world of culinary delight.

Comics & Graphic Novel books review

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

If you think that comic books and graphic books are only for the younger generation than you have the wrong impression. Both comic and graphic books are for the young and the young at heart alike. There are many of these books that seem to focus on teenagers such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Dog Days: (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) or Simon’s Cat. These books seem to grab the attention of young girls and the romantic side of things or young gentleman who are trying to find themselves. There are also many different categories for each of these types of books.

You can choose from anime, manga, cartooning, genre, characters, children’s, cult graphic novels, history and of course there are many different series that you can start to read as well. What anime and manga books are out there to read? If you are new to this type of reading or you are just wondering what is available, you have a wide selection to choose from. There is Maison Ikkoku, Nausicaa, Pokemon, Ranma 1 and Sailor Moon. Some of these come in volumes or in a series such as the Pokemon books. This is one of those books that children of all ages seem to love.

Of course, there are volumes and series that not only are for teenagers but for adults alike. Comics such as Batman which includes the Joker and the Dark Knight, Watchmen and of course V for Vendetta seem to be for people of all ages. There are also comics such as V for Vendetta and Dark Entries as well.

What Authors Are Available?
There are many different authors that have written these books. These would include Alan Moore, John Byrne, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, Todd McFarlane, Grant Morrison, Art Spiegelman and Grant Morrison. These authors have published some of the comic books that have become very popular. These include League of Extraordinary Gentleman, The Complete Maus, Watchmen, Batman and V for Vendetta. Some of these comic books have been made into movies which of course has increased their popularity. For those that do not like to read as much, they can catch one of them in a movie.

Cult Graphic Novels
Cult graphic novels tend to be about super hero’s or comic hero’s. You may be wondering who you or what would classify as a cult graphic novel. If you are curious to read about them or know who they are, here are some examples of just what you can get. They include: Astro City, Batman, Hellblazer, Invisibles, Judge Dredd, Justice League of America, Maus, Preacher, Sandman, Sin City, Spawn, Starman, Superman, Swamp Thing, Transmetropolitan, Watchmen, X-Men and of course the classics. Maybe you have read one of these great comics or perhaps you have seen a movie. No matter which you have done, you will be hooked no matter what your age.

The General Population
Now that you have read about some of the more popular types of comics, you may be wondering what is left to read? There are actually quite a few comic books in the general category that are both single editions and volumes. Some of these to select from are The Animators Survival Kit, The Boys (Volumes), 100 Bullets: Wilt, Fables, From Hell, Nemi, Skeleton Key Graphic Novel (Alex Rider), Angel (Volumes) and Lost Girls.

There is something for everyone when it comes to comic books and graphic novels. As stated earlier, you may think that comics are just for the young but as you can see here, there are many different books that are available and at your disposal. But what if you are not sure what to read or how to get the books that are of interest to you?

You can actually join a book club or a discussion group and get the opportunity to talk about a book or books that you have read and that others have read as well. It gives you the opportunity to be able to ask questions about the stories you have read to get answers to parts of the book that may have confused you.

They also give you the chance to give your opinion on the books that you have read as well. It is also a healthy way to have a great debate about a particular section when you feel one way and someone else feels another way. Having the opportunity to be able to discuss your favorite comic books with others gives you the chance to be able to make friends and spend some time speaking with others that understand your passion for comic books.

The Genre
One last category that is very popular is genre. This category actually covers horror, crime, mystery, fantasy, science fiction, super-hero’s and magic. In this category you are going to find the stories that can provide you with the thrills, chills, excitement and guessing. Here you will find books such as Vampire Knight, Angel, Homecoming, Dark Tower, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Sandman, Bleach, 100 Ways to Create Fantasy Figures and Jack of Fables.

All of these books fall under the genre category plus many more. By joining in a group discussion you are going to find other people that are just as interested in this category as you are. This means that you will be able to find someone that you can share your thoughts with about Angel. It is not as though you can walk down the street and just talk to anyone about this.

If you are wondering about what other books are available in the comic and graphic section, just take a look around and you will be able to find many different ones that are available for you and your children to read. Who knows, maybe with a little bit of research and finding out what your kids like to read, you may be able to find something in common and have something that you can share and talk about.