BOOK REVIEW: Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening by by Carol Wall

Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall

Blurb

Carol Wall, a white woman living in a lily-white neighborhood in Middle America, was at a crossroads in her life. Her children were grown; she had successfully overcome illness; her beloved parents were getting older. One day she notices a dark-skinned African man tending her neighbor’s yard. His name is Giles Owita. He bags groceries at the supermarket. He comes from Kenya. And he’s very good at gardening.
Before long Giles is transforming not only Carol’s yard, but her life. Though they are seemingly quite different, a caring bond grows between them. But they both hold long-buried secrets that, when revealed, will cement their friendship forever.

*My Book Review*

DISCLAIMER: This book/eBook being reviewed was provided free of charge by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Right away I fell in love with this book – even though it is, strictly speaking, not a gardening book. Instead it tells the story of a woman who is grappling with cancer, age and her life in general.

Carol can be quite a whingey whiner but her struggles are real and you cannot help but be pulled into her life. And, heck, aren’t we all a bit pompous and self important within our own internal monologue?

On the other hand, Giles is one of those people everyone aspires to be. He is kind, thoughtful and loyal to his friends and family. He is also struggling with issues in his life and deals with them in a completely different way to Carol.

At times I found this book a struggle to read. Not because it was awful, but because of the raw emotion the author manages to evoke in the reader. I cried at several points through this book (and once while sitting at the bus stop), but the story was worth every heartrending tear!

While I loved this book and it tugged at me emotionally, I found, at times, the characters supporting the two main characters were not given much justice. They appeared as Carol and Giles needed them and then disappeared without consequence afterwards. I really would have liked to see a more personal interaction between the main characters and the supporting ones.

Overall, I am giving Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall 4 out of 5 stars. make sure you have the tissues ready though!

Purchase

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE |BOOK DEPOSITORY

Links

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS | RANDOM HOUSE

 

Advertisements
Posted in Books | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEW: Grow a Sustainable Diet by Cindy Conner

Grow a Sustainable Diet by Cindy ConnerBlurb

Everyone loves to prepare a meal with ingredients fresh from their own garden. But for most of us, no matter how plentiful our harvest, homegrown produce comprises only a fraction of what we eat. And while many gardening guides will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about individual crops, few tackle the more involved task of helping you maximize the percentage of your diet you grow yourself.

Grow a Sustainable Diet will help you develop a comprehensive, customized garden plan to produce the maximum number of calories and nutrients from any available space. Avoid arriving in August buried under a mountain of kale or zucchini (and not much else) by making thoughtful choices at the planning stage, focusing on dietary staples and key nutrients. Learn how to calculate:
Which food and cover crops are best for your specific requirements How many seeds and plants of each variety you should sow What and when to plant, harvest, and replant for maximum yield
Focusing on permaculture principles, bio-intensive gardening methods, getting food to the table with minimum fossil fuel input, and growing crops that sustain both you and your soil, this complete guide is a must-read for anyone working towards food self-sufficiency for themselves or their family.

*My Book Review*

DISCLAIMER: This book/eBook being reviewed was provided free of charge by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

This is one of those wonderfully inspiring books that made me want to rush out into my garden and get stuck into growing ALL of my own food. Cindy Conner takes the reader on a comprehensive journey into what is involved with having a diet that is completely sustainable – and grown entirely by the reader.

There is no fanciful chitter chatter about sustainability being a walk up the garden path her either. Conner makes sure the reader knows exactly what they are getting themselves into, and, yet, still makes them want to follow this arduous path. She is a very intelligent woman when it comes to growing things in the garden, although, at times, she tends to be a little jaded. However, I imagine this comes with the territory of teaching and learning sustainability and not having everything get through to the target audience – at least she is entirely honest.

At times I found this book to be a little too concise. I know this should be a good thing because she certainly does explain everything in great detail, and to some this will be a blessing. However,  this is common trait I find with organic gardening and self sufficiency books, and it is not one I am really overly fond of. While many readers will love the fact that there is an answer for everything in this book, others will find the information overload exactly that – an overload. I am a big believer for not sweating the fine print in gardening – just get out there and give it a go!

But this is a minor criticism for a book that is filled to the brim with inspiration, so I am giving Grow a Sustainable Diet by Cindy Conner 4 out of 5 stars!

Purchase

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Links

WEBSITE | BLOG | GOODREADS

About the Author

Cindy Conner is a permaculture educator, founder of Homeplace Earth, and the producer of two popular instructional DVDs on sustainable gardening. Her passion is exploring growing a complete diet in a small space while minimizing the use of fossil fuels.

Posted in Books | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEW: Local is Lovely by Sophie Hansen

Local is Lovely by Sophie HansenBlurb

Local is Lovely is a seasonal guide to the fruit, vegetables and meat that Australian farmers produce. Beautiful recipes, tips for the home and family, and stories and interviews with and about local producers – because local is lovely.

Follow Sophie Hansen as she takes us on a journey with the farmers and producers she loves to cook with. From delicious, ripe stonefruit through to wholesome freshly milled flour, you’ll learn everything you need to know about eating local, direct from the source.

A gorgeously illustrated celebration of Australian rural life with a focus on fresh, local food and mouth-watering recipes.

*My Book Review*

DISCLAIMER: This book/eBook being reviewed was provided free of charge by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

This book was like sitting down for a chat and a well deserved cuppa with a long lost friend. I found, right from the first page, I was pulled into this book.

Essentially, this book is a cookbook, yet it gives the reader so much more. Each recipe is set out with easy to follow instructions. And they are SO EASY to make too. I love it when I can just pull out a book, check what ingredients I have and then just make it. There are no hidden surprises within the recipes and the food is just delicious.

What I love the most about this book though is that it is set out season first, produce second. This layout will ALWAYS win me over with a cookbook. Being someone who cooks seasonally, it is great to go directly to that season and get ideas for what is available in the garden, rather than the other way around.

There is also plenty of the author’s anecdotes about farm life – real farm life too, not the romanticised version either! So readers who are looking for more than just another cookbook will be pleased with this book.

Overall, I am giving Local is Lovely by Sophie Hansen 5 out of 5 stars!

Purchase

AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Links

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Posted in Books | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEW: The Put ’em Up! Preserving Answer Book by Sherri Brooks Vinton

The Put Em Up Preserving Answer Book by Sherri Brooks Vinton

Blurb

Do you have questions about preserving food? Sherri Brooks Vinton has the answers! In this handy Q&A reference, Sherri answers 399 of the most commonly asked questions about canning, pressure canning, refrigeration, freezing, drying, and fermentation, including how to apply these techniques to specific fruits and vegetables. She also addresses setting up your kitchen, choosing the best varieties for your needs, making substitutions, and much more. With this kitchen companion in hand, even complete beginners will soon be putting up the harvest, safely and easily.

*My Book Review*

DISCLAIMER: This book/eBook being reviewed was provided free of charge by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Right from the outset, this book does not shove the ‘growing your own is better‘ mantra down the readers throat. Not that there’s anything wrong with that mantra – it’s true after all, it’s just that when you read a lot of self-sufficiency books, it gets to be overkill after a while. 😉 Yeah, it’s still there, yet in no way does it feel like a Jehovah’s Witness has just knocked on your door!

The information is concise without being bland, in depth where needed and simplified as required. The section on sterilising is particularly detailed without being boring to read – no mean feat for such an import section! I also love the quick little ‘Kitchen Tips‘ scattered throughout the book.

Now, for the questions. Some are random and seemingly obscure (Can I use golden beets instead of red in my recipe?) yet they are all relevant and timely in relation to the topic. In fact, I found I enjoyed these odd questions more than the generalised frequently asked questions, as it bought the reader completely into the topic and there was an immersion level there that wouldn’t normally be achieved with your standard FAQ fact sheets.

And what about recipes?

Yep, this book even has some recipes to get you started!

Over all, I am giving The Put ’em Up! Preserving Answer Book by Sherri Brooks Vinton 5 out of 5 stars!

Purchase

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Links

WEBSITE | GOODREADS | TWITTER | PINTEREST

Posted in Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEW: Groundbreaking Food Gardens by Niki Jabbour

Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden by Niki Jabbour

Blurb

Vegetable gardens can be designed for flavor AND fun! Niki Jabbour, author of the best-selling The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, has collected 73 plans for novel and inspiring food gardens from her favorite superstar gardeners, including Amy Stewart, Amanda Thomsen, Barbara Pleasant, Dave Dewitt, and Jessi Bloom. You’ll find a garden that provides salad greens 52 weeks a year, another that supplies your favorite cocktail ingredients, one that you plant on a balcony, one that encourages pollinators, one that grows 24 kinds of chile peppers, and dozens more. Each plan is fully illustrated and includes a profile of the contributor, the story behind the design, and a plant list.

*My Book Review*

DISCLAIMER: This book/eBook being reviewed was provided free of charge by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

This book is engaging from the very beginning, roping the reader in and creating a sense of familiarity with the author and contributors as you are introduced to what is in store. Not to mention the tasty little morsels of information scattered throughout the book that give you extra ideas, hints and tips about establishing your food garden.

Each groundbreaking garden is concisely explained without bogging the reader down with the details – inspiring rather than absolute. The images are also gorgeous and help to complete the picture for the reader. There are plenty of fresh new design ideas for the experienced gardener as well as a wealth of information for novices.

And what a LOT of information there is packed into this book! I found it hard to pick which one garden idea I would like to apply to my own backyard (since I have recently moved am an looking at re-establishing a food garden). Yet, I can’t wait to sit down and pour over this book some more until I find that one garden design that truly talks to my family and I.

I really can’t praise this book highly enough. There is so much to be gained, either from quickly flicking through or delving in and reading it from cover to cover.

Overall, I am giving Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden by Niki Jabbour 5 out of 5 stars!

Purchase

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Links

WEBSITE | BLOGGOODREADS | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

Posted in Books | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEW: Young Chicken Farmers by Vickie Black

Young Chicken Farmers by Vickie BlackBlurb

Would you like to be a young chicken farmer? Believe it or not, you don’t have to live on a farm to raise chickens chicken farmers live in rural areas, suburbs, and even in inner cities. Caring for chickens can be easy once you learn how to keep them safe, healthy, and happy. Young Chicken Farmers: Tips for Kids Raising Back yard Chickens will teach you how to care for your flock and have fun at the same time.

*My Book Review*

DISCLAIMER: This book/eBook being reviewed was provided free of charge by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Even though this was a book geared entirely towards young readers, I totally loved it!

There was LOADS of information here for new chicken owners but it was never bogged down. Children reading this book will get the facts about keeping chickens, but in a way that is entertaining and engaging.

The only downside I found with this book was the layout on my Kindle was just AWFUL. However, because I have the old keyboard Kindle, it just may be my Kindle at fault and later versions may not be affected at all, therefore, I will not be lowering my rating of this book because of it.

Overall, I am giving Young Chicken Farmers by Vickie Black 5 out of 5 stars!

Purchase

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE |BOOK DEPOSITORY

Links

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS

Posted in Books | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEW: The Insect Cookbook by Arnold van Huis, Henk van Gurp, Marcel Dicke

The Insect Cookbook: Food for a Sustainable Planet  by Arnold van Huis, Henk van Gurp, Marcel Dicke

Blurb

Insects will be appearing on our store shelves, menus, and plates within the decade. In The Insect Cookbook, two entomologists and a chef make the case for insects as a sustainable source of protein for humans and a necessary part of our future diet. They provide consumers and chefs with the essential facts about insects for culinary use, with recipes simple enough to make at home yet boasting the international flair of the world’s most chic dishes.

Insects are delicious and healthy. A large proportion of the world’s population eats them as a delicacy. In Mexico, roasted ants are considered a treat, and the Japanese adore wasps. Insects not only are a tasty and versatile ingredient in the kitchen, but also are full of protein. Furthermore, insect farming is much more sustainable than meat production. The Insect Cookbook contains delicious recipes; interviews with top chefs, insect farmers, political figures, and nutrition experts (including chef René Redzepi, whose establishment was elected three times as “best restaurant of the world”; Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations; and Daniella Martin of Girl Meets Bug); and all you want to know about cooking with insects, teaching twenty-first-century consumers where to buy insects, which ones are edible, and how to store and prepare them at home and in commercial spaces.

*My Book Review*

DISCLAIMER: This book/eBook being reviewed was provided free of charge by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Okay, so while reading this book, I discovered something very disturbing: I have Entomophagophobia. This basically translates to ‘A fear of eating bugs’. Didn’t know I had it, but now I certainly do! I spent the first half of this book gagging at just the thought of eating the food described.

The authors have attempted to introduce a very interesting topic: how do we convince the world to eat more bugs? It’s a great idea, by doing so we could help famine stricken countries by giving them the protein they so desperately need – and in a dose that is both likely more readily available as well as containing more nutrients and iron per gram than more traditional protein sources. Added to the equation is the fact that less land will have to be cleared and there will be a significant lowering of the protein carbon footprint thanks to the consumption of insects over hamburgers.

Will the western world succumb though? The authors do their best to try and entice the reader into an entomo-enriched diet. There are plenty of recipes that cover many different cultures in an effort to tease people with their proclaimed culinary delight.

Will it work though? Honestly, I’m not so sure.

Yet something weird happened two thirds of the way through this book, once they mentioned the fact that people eat honey (which, in a nutshell, is bee vomit), I started to be okay with this concept. This probably should have been the main focal point for the authors if they want westerners to try bugs, rather than the ‘save the world‘ route they took.

At times it really felt like the authors were forcing insect cuisine on the reader. Then, at other times, there was  a feeling that they were almost looking down on the readers, with their ‘we just need to trick the dumb humans into eating bugs and then we will be able to control the masses‘ attitude (at times). Yet, reading the interaction between the authors and the people they interviewed talk about their passion for bugs and treating them as a food source was inspiring.

Overall, I am giving The Insect Cookbook: Food for a Sustainable Planet by Arnold van Huis, Henk van Gurp and Marcel Dicke 3 out of 5 stars.

Purchase

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Links

WEBSITE | GOODREADS

Posted in Books | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment