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Mary Berry Everyday

Mary Berry. BBC Books (IPG, dist.), $45 (320p) ISBN 978-1-78594-168-9

Berry, known to most Americans as the doyenne of sweets on The Great British Baking Show (which she hosted from 2010 to 2016), presents savory recipes for everyday cooking. The book itself is beautiful: all pastel colors and a charming country kitchen tableau of food. Berry’s goal has always been to make food appealing and simple, and this book succeeds well. There are recipes for canapés that look fancy, but are easy to prepare, such as Thai crab poppadom canapés; smoked salmon and red pepper and spinach bites; and an artichoke and garlic dip. Berry combines flavors from around the world with recipes that include Yuzu salmon with buttered leeks, and Panang chicken-and-rice stir-fry. There are British classics, all with a Berry twist, including herb-crusted lamb cutlets with creamy mint sauce; beef and ale stew with horseradish spiral dumplings; and very posh fish cakes. Naturally, there are irresistible desserts, such as peach sponge pudding, rhubarb and ginger ice cream, and lemon meringue and strawberry cupcakes. Readers may have problems with some British terms (swede for rutabaga, aubergine for eggplant, and tin for cake pan), British cake pan sizes, or calls for a pint of milk or ounces of butter. Berry emboldens home cooks in this cookbook perfect for serving family, as well as entertaining. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Round to Ours: Setting the Mood and Cooking the Food: Menus for Every Gathering

Laura Jackson and Alice Levine. Quadrille, $35 (272p) ISBN 978-1-84949-959-0

In their first book, Jackson and Levine, hosts of London’s swanky Jackson & Levine supper club, offer a guide to creating supper clubs and dinner parties. This lush, beautiful book serves up large helpings of aspiration, along with a side dish or two of inspiration; aimed at millennials, it’s as much about style as it is about the recipes (the authors also have a line of housewares). The book is broken up into meals (brunches, lunches, and dinners) and further into themed menus, including “Mexican Fiesta,” “The Forager’s Table,” and “Afternoon in Provence.” For Americans older than 30, some of the ideas will be recognizable as Martha Stewart redux, such as setting the table with mismatched plates found at garage sales. There are recipes for every occasion: whole-roasted mackerel with sorrel yogurt for a spring dinner; elderflower pressé jelly for outdoor dining; and deep-fried olives with ricotta, for an impromptu meal. There’s even a “Hair of the Dog” brunch menu for those suffering the after-effects of a night out, which includes a recipe for Retox While You Detox juice—a combination of cucumber, kale, ginger, and a healthy dose of vodka. While ingredients are given only in metric measurements, a conversion chart is included, but this may be unwieldy for American cooks. That said, this is a wonderful cookbook for entertaining, with recipes that are simple and clever. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Twinsight: A Guide to Raising Emotionally Healthy Twins with Advice from the Experts (Academics) and the Real Experts (Twins)

Dara Lovitz. Familius, $16.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-945547-72-0

This parenting manual from Lovitz, a children’s rights activist, blogger (Some Twinsight) and mother of fraternal twin girls, is like a cup of weak tea when what the parents of twins really need is a cup of strong coffee. Lovitz does usefully identify particular issues as uniquely important to twinship, including emotional co-dependency, competition and comparison, and one-on-one parent time. However, her advice is colored by her assumption that, first and foremost, twins must always be treated and recognized as separate people, despite the possibility that the duo may want to be seen as a unit, or that identical and fraternal same-sex or boy-girl pairs present different scenarios. Her earnestness is to be admired—the book emphasizes the modern parenting principle of validation, and listening mindfully to each child’s feelings and being empathetic. In fact, much of her twin-specific coaching really amounts to basic parenting technique appropriate for any set of siblings. Lovitz supplemented her own experience by consulting psychologists, educators, and adult twins (and triplets), but her book seems more like one mom’s adventures in overparenting than a generally useful guide. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain

Thomas Lickona. Penguin, $17 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-14-313194-6

Lickona (Raising Good Children) offers practical if old-fashioned advice about raising kids with good character amid an increasingly politically toxic and entitled cultural context. Parents will be heartened by studies showing that kindness­—a concern for the happiness of others, driven by goodness—is a human capacity from an early age. However, Lickona’s alarmist just-say-no attitudes toward the challenges of electronic device use and teen sexuality limit his work’s applicability to 21st-century problems. Similarly, one of his preferred teaching methods, stories with moral messages like the Narnia series, will be too heavy-handed for many modern kids. A long list of conversation starters for families feels significantly more timeless, and the author’s general call to be more present for the other people in one’s life would be well-heeded. Lickona does not throw much of a lifeline to families in crisis, but he projects a strong attitude, supported by a solid toolbox of ideas, to make kindness and its associated virtues a daily presence in homes and schools from the start, and to tweak already functional families into becoming the best people they can be. Agent: Robin Straus, Robin Straus Agency. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Add One Stitch Knitting: All the Stitches You Need in 15 Projects

Alina Schneider. Barron’s, $18.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-4380-1089-2

Blogger Schneider’s slim but attractive book encourages knitters to branch out from basic knit and purl stitches with simple yet elegant projects that require the know-how of only one additional stitch. The book includes 15 projects, each of which introduces a new stitch and provides instructions for making a practice swatch and a project using the new technique. Projects include slip-stitch mittens, the seed stitch headband, and a basic throw pillow cover. Schneider writes that the book is suitable for absolute beginners; however, many of the projects require knowledge of knitting abbreviations and basic knitting and purling. Some projects, like the one using basket-weave stitch, which includes a complicated sequence of three variations of stitches, are difficult for even advanced knitters. The book is filled with appealing photos of finished projects in earthy tones, but the instructions for the projects themselves are text heavy and, as a result, hard to follow. Intermediate or advanced knitters will welcome this book; beginners should steer clear. Color photos. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Modern Scot Patchwork: Bold Quilts Inspired by Iconic Tartans

Kathy Allen. C&T, $29.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-61745-594-0

Quilt designer Allen, who makes modern table runners and bed quilts based on traditional Scottish tartans of lowlands and highlands, begins her charming book on Scot-inspired patchwork quilts with a vocabulary lesson. In Scotland, “tartan” means “woolen, latticed fabric,” and “plaid” refers to how the broad cloth is used, say, as a blanket or skirt. That established, she moves on to the basics of quilting techniques. The book includes patterns for six of Allen’s designs, which she selected for their “quiltability,” three of which are aimed at beginners and three at more experienced quilters. She also configures a gold and green tartan to honor her California roots and outlines six steps for readers who want to construct their own tartan design, including creating “merge” fabrics (ones that interweave others) and strip sets to provide the base for the patterns. Piecing these tartans into patchwork quilts is complex; however, Allen has simplified the process with a system, plus large graphics, charts, and tips. Allen delightfully includes each tartan’s family story, such as the Maxwell, inspired by the story of a man who escaped from prison dressed as one of his devoted wife’s ladies. The histories add texture to a book made to instruct kilted quilters­­—and non-Scots, too. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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How to Be a Craftivist: The Art of Gentle Protest

Sarah Corbett. Random House UK (IPG, dist.), $21.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-78352-407-5

Corbett, founder of the Craftivist Collective, a worldwide network of activists who use crafting as their method of outreach, practices what she preaches in this deeply felt, finely wrought how-to book. She encourages crafters—or even people who’ve never wielded a needle—to “gain wisdom from engaging with global injustices and looking for answers to problems while we craft, engaging our hands, heart and head.” Corbett divides her craftivist manifesto into two sections. The first addresses power in the process of slowing down, being mindful, and working creatively and communally. The second half of the book looks at the product, which, like the pink knit hats distributed among friends at the Women’s Marches, function as a gift and a message while being a catalyst for change through greater awareness. The book offers more guidelines for living with integrity as a craftivist than it does actual projects, which are briefly described in the book and accompanied by a footnote with a URL directing readers to the collective’s website for more concrete directions. Peaceful protestors will appreciate the thread of Corbett’s understanding encouragement. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Hype: A Doctor’s Guide to Medical Myths, Exaggerated Claims and Bad Advice—How to Tell What’s Real and What’s Not

Nina Shapiro, with Kristin Loberg. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-14930-5

Surgeon Shapiro (Take a Deep Breath) sets out to clear up medical misperceptions in this feisty, fact-filled diatribe (even the acknowledgment page complains that “hype abounds and needs to be bashed”). She tackles such questions as how to put risk into perspective (readers should worry more about eclairs than Ebola), how to understand the causation/correlation distinction, and how to make sense of medical jargon, with the overall aim of turning patients into savvy consumers and perceptive judges of information. Shapiro argues for accuracy on such topics as the efficacy of vaccinations (she comes down hard on the “antivaxx” movement) and shares research on the utility of vitamins (the main outcome of which, she claims, is “very expensive pee and poop”), drinking eight glasses of water per day (“follow the money” to the multibillion-dollar bottled-water industry), and juicing (skip the blender and just eat fruits and veggies). Her skeptical, no-nonsense approach and probing assessment of fact versus fiction make for lively reading that is likely to help readers make better health and medical choices. (May)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Grow Food Anywhere: The New Guide to Small-Space Gardening

Mat Pember and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon. Hardie Grant, $29.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-74379-377-0

Australian gardener Pember and American environmental consultant Seitchik-Reardon combine expertise in a gardening manual that’s fun but hard to follow for American readers. The book is well-grounded in the science of gardening, offering useful information about soil nutrients, water, and light that will edify gardeners interested in the hows and whys of what they are growing. A section dealing with plant pests and diseases is clearly written and user-friendly. But the bulk of the book profiles what to grow using Australian taxonomy and seasons. American gardeners won’t find information about growing bell peppers or Swiss chard unless they know to look under capsicum and silverbeet. The four climate zones that designate the best time of year to grow each plant don’t clearly correspond with the map of North America provided, which has six zones. While the authors’ sprightly tone and the book’s bright cartoonish design will appeal to many readers, the regional differences will limit the usefulness for gardeners outside of Australia. Color photos. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Color Me Floral: Stunning Monochromatic Arrangements for Every Season

Kiana Underwood, photos by Nathan Underwood. Chronicle, $30 (208p) ISBN 978-1-4521-6117-4

Underwood, who owns a floral design studio in San Francisco, schools readers on the particulars of color, shape, texture, and cut of floral arrangements in this gorgeous and effective guide. Her theme is creating arrangements by color and building her horticultural combinations from that point, using flowers, shrubs, twigs and leaves, and, in one case, bunches of grapes. The book is organized by the four seasons, which are then separated into color schemes. The color options themselves are surprising. In addition to the standard pink, yellow, red, and white, Underwood includes arrangements in peach, magenta, and black. She builds each arrangement in steps and includes photos—taken by her husband—at each stage. Using a pin frog (and eschewing floral foam), she indicates which specimen is inserted at what point, considering height, breadth, and mass. “Not a single flower goes unnoticed by my eye,” Underwood writes, and her book trains readers’ eyes to do the same. Color photos. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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