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    $14.50
    1. Simple Times: Crafts for Poor
    $36.00
    2. My Passion for Design
    $13.19
    3. LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary
    $7.84
    4. What's New, Cupcake?: Ingeniously
    $9.49
    5. Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See,
    $9.49
    6. 365 Cats Page-A-Day Calendar 2011
    7. At Home: A Short History of Private
    $9.90
    8. The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single
    $17.79
    9. The Dangerous Book for Boys
    $9.57
    10. Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could
    $15.49
    11. You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught
    $23.10
    12. The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition
    $23.10
    13. Heart of the Artichoke and Other
    $15.99
    14. Encyclopedia of the Exquisite:
    $14.99
    15. Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for
    $11.49
    16. Mom's Family Calendar 2011
    $22.97
    17. The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
    $31.50
    18. Dogs
    $9.59
    19. I Like You: Hospitality Under
    $26.40
    20. The LEGO Book

    1. Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People
    by Amy Sedaris
    Hardcover
    list price: $27.99 -- our price: $14.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 044655703X
    Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
    Sales Rank: 39
    Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    America's most delightfully unconventional hostess and the bestselling author of I Like You delivers a new book that will forever change the world of crafting. According to Amy Sedaris, it's often been said that ugly people craft and attractive people have sex. In her new book, SIMPLE TIMES, she sets the record straight. Demonstrating that crafting is one of life's more pleasurable and constructive leisure activities, Sedaris shows that anyone with a couple of hours to kill and access to pipe cleaners can join the elite society of crafters.



    You will discover how to make popular crafts, such as: crab-claw roach clips, tinfoil balls, and crepe-paper moccasins, and learn how to: get inspired (Spend time at a Renaissance Fair; Buy fruit, let it get old, and see

    what shapes it turns into); remember which kind of glue to use with which material (Tacky with Furry, Gummy with Gritty, Paste with Prickly, and always Gloppy with Sandy); create your own craft room and avoid the most common crafting accidents (sawdust fires, feather asphyxia, pine cone lodged in throat); and cook your own edible crafts, from a Crafty Candle Salad to Sugar Skulls, and many more recipes.



    PLUS whole chapters full of more crafting ideas (Pompom Ringworms! Seashell Toilet Seat Covers!) that will inspire you to create your own hastily constructed obscure d'arts; and much, much more!
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Rollicking Good Time from Cover to Cover!, November 4, 2010
    I'm almost never compelled to write online reviews, but I feel like I need to write one for Simple Times because it's an absolute gem! If you enjoyed Amy's first foray into the world of how-to, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, you will love Simple Times. Everything that made I Like You such an immensely entertaining romp is back with a vengeance! It's comprised of the same kind of humor and the exact same kitschy, homemade style that makes I Like You such a blast. Take the brief crafts chapter at the end of I Like You, and imagine if it had continued. That is exactly what Simple Times is: A sequel to--a continuation of--Amy's first book. There are a couple differences, however. I Like You is a very real hospitality guide (in addition to being my go-to cookbook) and contains a lot of genuine information and useful tips in between the jokes. The informational/text portions of Simple Times, on the other hand, are mostly jokes. You will garner some real information from it (particularly the chapters on rabbit care and making sausage, if you're into those things), but by and large, the text is humor. I read it cover-to-cover and was constantly busting up laughing. As far as the crafts go, think of crafts you made in scouts or Bible school as a kid. This is mostly what you'll find in Simple Times. Some are jokes (i.e. using a plastic sandwich bag as a condom), but many are very real, and if nothing else, will act as a springboard for inspiration and ideas... which leads me to the instructions. When flipping through the book, make sure you don't skip reading the craft instructions. Many of them are uproariously funny! Some of the instructions are vague, but that's kind of the point of Simple Times--not necessarily to teach the reader step-by-step, but rather to inspire ideas and imagination. Visually, Simple Times is identical to I Like You. Colorful photos jump off of every page, and Amy portrays an array of characters, from Jesus, to a hormonal teenager, to [my personal favorite] a crotchety old candyman, all with incredible costumes and special effects make-up.

    If you're buying Simple Times with the expectation of a serious, Martha Stewart-esque tome that will teach you how to create extravagant centerpieces for your perfectionist sister's wedding, you will be completely foiled. But that would just be your own fault, because if that's the type of book you're looking for, then what on earth are you doing with an Amy Sedaris book in the first place????? Notice how this book is listed not only in the crafts & hobbies section, but also under PARODIES. Sure, Simple Times is a crafts book, but mostly it's a rollicking good time. If you are unfamiliar with Amy Sedaris, do yourself a favor and look her up before buying this book--or at least take a careful look through the preview here on Amazon. She is first and foremost known as a comedienne, and her brand of humor is not for everyone.

    The only other thing I want to mention is about the audiobook. The audiobook is FANTASTIC. Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello read on it together, and it is crazy entertaining. That said, if you're looking at purchasing the audiobook, make sure you get the hardcover to go with it. Simple Times is all about the visuals.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Boozy, Bawdy, And Brilliant--Amy Sedaris Might Be Sniffing The Glue, November 9, 2010
    I have eagerly been awaiting "Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People" ever since I fell in love with Amy Sedaris' previous masterpiece of entertaining etiquette "I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence." How do I love Amy Sedaris? Let me count the ways. But one thing I never expected was to be turning to the woman that unleashed Jerri Blank (the ultimate 46 year old high school freshman) on the world for hosting, household (and in this bit of madness) crafting advice. This boozy and hilarious "how to" guide is both absurdly funny AND seriously practical, especially if you like your crafting on the more ironic side. I understand that some of the "serious" crafters out there are upset by some of the more colorful text, but this is clearly a comedic parody--Sedaris, in both books now, straddles the fine line between insanity and usefulness. Oh well, maybe she stumbles over it as well. Come on--the book is called "Crafts For Poor People!" Shouldn't that be enough warning for the more serious minded amongst us?

    The book is expertly put together and absolutely beautiful. The photos and illustrations are influenced in equal measure by an intoxicated sixties housewife aesthetic and a certain trailer park chic. And Sedaris' whimsy shines in her costumes, characterizations, and bizarrely inappropriate selection of crafting ideas. The anti-Martha Stewart, Sedaris isn't afraid to embrace real life when confronting crafting challenges. A great deal of fun and worth every penny. I was so blown away by "I Like You" that I purchased 5 copies to give out for Christmas this year. I am now going to pick up additional copies of "Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People" to make it a bad taste gift set! It's time to unleash the genius and the madness of Amy Sedaris on my friends that haven't had the pleasure--and this is the perfect vessel. KGHarris, 11/10.

    5-0 out of 5 stars People....it's our dear Amy, what did you expect?, November 6, 2010
    Listen, I love this book. Love it. I am a child of the sixties, and I grew up with many of the crafts she demonstrates and gently pokes fun at. I mean, I can remember pop cans being turned into wind chimes, pipe cleaner art, pom pom art...I can even recall my (by then) senile grandma gluing glitter to anything and everything she could get her hands on. My own pride and joy was a bullfighting mosaic I fashioned out of corn and dried beans. It was a simpler time...it was fun...but visiting it through Amy's tongue and cheek book is a blast. The pictures are great; the humor jumps out at you off every page. Enjoy.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Gift For Everyone!!!, November 3, 2010
    Excellent book!! Contains lots of gift making ideas especially for those pesky relatives whom you really hate! LOL! It will guarantee that you'll never have to endure another horrific holiday get together in the future!
    BTW: My dog used my copy for a chew toy and it came out the other end as a highly edifying tome about the politics of the 15th century! Multi useful!! I'd recommend it to anyone!

    4-0 out of 5 stars My opinion, December 12, 2010
    This book has beautiful photographs, but the instructions are hard to follow. For instance, the steps for creating fingerless gloves is knit gloves, and then cut the fingers off. But how do I knit them in the first place? I'm so confused. I prayed for instructions, but, as always, my prayers weren't answered.

    I appreciated the sections on crafting with disabilities, but it neglected to cover crafting for the humorless. I think a lot of 1-star reviews would have been 5-star reviews had the author included this important and so often underappreciated group.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Amy Does It Again!, November 13, 2010
    For all of those reviewers who complained that this craft book is "too racy" or "not for serious crafters", did you even bother to read the summaries provided on Amazon first? Take a glance at "I Like You", Amy Sedaris's previous book? GOOGLE Amy Sedaris, for God's sake?! The book is titled "Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People" and yet you were surprised and disgusted when you read it? What did you think you were getting into?

    Amy Sedaris is a crafty lady, but she definitely likes to have fun with her topics and there really isn't any subject taboo to her. This is a fun, hilarious book that will definitely evoke nostalgia for those junky camp crafts and Girl Scout projects. It deftly parodies old craft books, while adding laugh-out-loud details that fans of the acidic humor of Amy (and Paul Dinello) have come to love. Forget the haters; pick this book up if you have even a trace of a sense of humor!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Laughs: 1,001! (Cringes: 999!), November 22, 2010
    SIMPLE TIMES: CRAFTS FOR POOR PEOPLE is a satire on the life and economic times of the "olden days." It's also a parody of today's big, beautiful crafting books, with a thousand (intentionally messy) illustrations showing hundreds of (intentionally lame*) homemade crafts for every personality and room of the house, and using every available material. (*I wonder what it says about me that I'm honestly interested in the thumbtack art and balloon art, the penny bookmark, rusty-nail wind chimes and tampon ghost!)

    Fair warning: This book is by Amy Sedaris, in collaboration with other creatives like Amy Sedaris. It's a bit darker and cruder than I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, her book about entertaining. If you don't know Amy, think Sarah Silverman -- both begin sentences in an innocent, extra-polite voice that lures you in and then veers without warning into a shocking incorrectness that alternately makes you laugh out loud and cringe at the wrong, wrong, wrongness. A chapter here on crafting safety is particularly gruesome ... and hilarious.

    (Review based on a copy of the book provided by the publisher.)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Outlandishly Hilarious!, December 25, 2010
    First off, if anyone would even open this book at all and not understand that it is satire, complete humor, and entertainment, then they have totally missed the boat.

    This book has made me laugh harder than any book I have ever read. Ever. Just looking at page 137 has made me laugh for 2 days. Stare into that eye and try not to laugh! It's my favorite Christmas present this year and maybe for about the last 20 years! Amy Sedaris is such a beautiful woman and it amazes me how she transforms herself into such frighteningly unattractive, yet hilarious caricatures. It's like her face is literally made of clay and she can mold it into anything.

    She is pure comic genius. There's no other way to describe her. She must be the funnest friend a person could ever have and I am envious of those who are among that group. It's my dream to meet her some day. (Don't worry Amy, I'm not like your "Number One Fan" or anything like that.)

    I have just begun reading the text and I have to keep putting it down to laugh.

    I would have paid ten times the price for this book and it would be worth every penny!

    5-0 out of 5 stars OMG!!! ROTFLMAO!!!!, December 25, 2010
    The hilarious replies to the 1-star reviews actually motivated me to buy this for my wife. This is by far the funniest book I've ever seen! So freakin' hilarious!!!

    HIghly recommended for anyone who digs laughing. :-)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Crafting for Humor, November 9, 2010
    I found myself smiling and chuckling aloud as I read through this book. Almost every page contains color illustrations and photographs showing comedian Amy Sedaris' wacky sense of humor. She tells the reader how to:

    "make something that doesn't exist and nobody has ever thought of or even dared to dream about. An object so exceptional that it cannot be described by words because there is nothing of this earth to compare it to."

    The inclusion of some chapters left me perplexed. "Crafting for Jesus" and "Making Love" appear to be inserted only for shock value. I did not find them at all funny.

    There's a dress code for craft clubs which includes "elastic is good" and "no straw hats." It seems they cause fires!

    Real recipes for fudge, cookies, and sausage are included. You don't need to be a crafters to enjoy this book.

    Note: contains profanity.

    Thank you to Karen Ukraine at Hachette Book Group for my copy. ... Read more


    2. My Passion for Design
    by Barbra Streisand
    Hardcover
    list price: $60.00 -- our price: $36.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0670022136
    Publisher: Viking Adult
    Sales Rank: 77
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    A lavishly illustrated personal tour of the great star's homes and collections.

    For nearly five decades Barbra Streisand has been one of the singular figures in American entertainment. From the cabaret to the Broadway stage, from television and film stardom to her acclaimed work as a director, from the recording studio to the concert hall, she has demonstrated that the extraordinary voice that launched her career was only one of her remarkable gifts.

    Now, in her first book, Barbra Streisand reveals another aspect of her talent: the taste and style that have inspired her beautiful homes and collections. My Passion for Design focuses on the architecture and construction of her newest homes, the dream refuge that she has longed for since the days when she shared a small Brooklyn apartment with her mother, brother, and grandparents. A culmination and reflection of Streisand's love of American architecture and design between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, the book contains many of her own photographs of the rooms she has decorated, the furniture and art she has collected, and the ravishing gardens she has planted on her land on the California coast. In addition to glimpses of her homes, Barbra shares memories of her childhood, the development of her sense of style, and what collecting has come to mean to her. My Passion for Design is a rare and intimate private tour into the world of one of our most beloved stars. It will be welcomed by her many fans and all lovers of the great achievements of American design.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great photos & interesting journey, November 17, 2010

    From reading the book, I get a clearer picture of the woman behind the unsurpassed talent. It's that thorniness in her character about having things be absolutely right. Perfect. That's the driving force in her success. And she does address this quest for perfection in the book many times, both the positive side and the annoying side. I get the feeling that this incredible eye for detail causes much internal turmoil and is a doubled edge sword of sorts. Through the book, one can appreciate the style, the taste and creative vision... I'm crazy for the millhouse with waterwheel by a stream... the grounds are breathtaking! Organic gardens, chickens with pale green eggs and more roses than the Rose Parade!!
    My favorite photo in the book is of her sitting room/office... dead flowers on the coffee table... papers stacked up on the desk... real life. Just like the rest of us.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Delightful book of Design, November 17, 2010
    As many long time Streisand fans and followers know, Barbra has collected art pieces,furniture & has had an eye for antiques,design and creativity from the beginning (about 50 years of collecting). I am glad a book of her recent efforts mixed with some treasures from the past have been put together in a nice book as such.I am just about done reading the entire book and I would recomend this for any fan of Barbra or anyone interested in design, antiques and style. A +

    5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Book, November 16, 2010
    This book came this morning and I've already devoured it. The time, thought, and patience (not to mention money) that went into the building of this compound is staggering. A beautiful book with interesting and insightful text. A great Christmas gift with beautiful photography and great color.

    Of course, a must-have for Streisand fans.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully made catalogue/book - not so much the house itself, December 4, 2010
    I looked through this the other week and I must agree with others that it is a beautifully laid out and designed BOOK - good quality paper, easy to read layout, in depth essays on the designs etc. But from a design point of view this house is not anything terribly ground breaking, exciting, interesting, or revolutionary. I found the decor cluttered and the spaces of the house claustrophobic, certain features of the house (wine cellar, 'shops', guest house and so on) boring and gaudy, and the whole thing a rather New Englandy-Funny Girl mess. It seems like what Ms Streisand was going for was a palatial, Cape Cod cottagey barn xanadu compound. She has not succeeded (no one ever will with that combo). If she's happy with her home - then I am happy for her. But this is not a design cornerstone, revelation, or epic. It is however - Original.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Her Passions proceeds to charity, November 17, 2010
    Yes, this book is a little pricey, but most of the proceeds are being donated for "Women's Heart Health" She was interviewed yesterday on Oprah and stated that she wants to raise 5 million and will "match" the 5 million. The name of the hospital she is working with directly escapes me but she has made women's heart health her personal mission because so many women die of heart disease. A great book on Barbra's passion for a great cause!

    5-0 out of 5 stars What a beautiful book!, November 22, 2010
    I received my book today and am so impressed with it from start to finish! I am so glad that I ignored the negative (hateful & jealous) remarks because this book is definetly for those who are interested in design and home decorating with beauty. It inspires great initiative for you to take what you like and apply it to your own decor (only using a lesser monetary scale of course). As a project, Barbra's book reflects her perfection shown in gorgeous photos and indepth commentaries! I am truly glad that I made this purchase and if you love beautiful designs/decorating, you will too. I love it!

    5-0 out of 5 stars BARBRA'S MAGICAL WORLD....., November 16, 2010
    The "SO- CALLED" book review by PJ Samith (one star) sounds more like a personal attack on Streisand more than a book review. How can you review the book if you didn't buy it or read it? Sad really. Since I have bought the book, and read almost half of it today, I think I'll rebut your review and give the book 5 stars. My only complaint is that a
    couple pictures have a pixellated look to them. Other than that, Streisand's attention to detail is amazing, and her taste impeccable. Getting a glimpse inside the worlds greatest star's world is worth the price alone. Barbra's writing feels like she is speaking right to the reader, telling you her personal stories and filling you in on all that it took to create this magical place. BRAVO Barbra!

    SIDE NOTE: MR. SAMITH....WITH ALL RESPECT, I was there in the stadium at Madison Square Garden the night of the "outburst". People payed good money to hear Streisand, Not it listen to some blow hard Republican shouting stuff from the stands. Mis. Streisand did the right thing telling him to "SHUT THE ____ UP!" She also said she would give him his money back if he wasn't happy. The thunderous applause that night showed that 98% of the audience think she did the right thing. So please don't blame that event for your review. Thank you!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful ! This book is great, November 16, 2010
    I'm so proud of this woman. To come from a poor childhood and become such a great success, she deserves everything life has to offer! yes there are many haters out there, but this comes from jealousy of things that we ourselves wish we had and sadly are without much to offer to society but bitterness, and at those people I simply "chuckle" Bless you Barbra and thanks for such a beautiful book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Proceeds of this book go directly to charity!, December 16, 2010
    I'm ordering this today. I have seens countless images of it on Oprah and GMA. Why would Barbra Streisand produce a book on design? Well, why not? Should she just stick to singing and acting? The woman has talent and she decided, after discovering the Heart Disease kills more women than all cancers combined, to use this book to raise money ( all proceeds go to her charity) and help rather than be silent. If this raises awareness and helps women in need like your Mothers, daughter etc., I hope she writes another book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars So much talent, PLUS such fabulous design!, November 16, 2010
    I was fortunate enough to tour Ms. Streisand's magnificent architectural masterpiece in the Malibu Canyon compound that she created, and then donated to the Nature Conservancy, and I was amazed and inspired, and never forgot it. So when I heard about the book she has written on design, I bought it immediately. What a delight to turn the pages and be transported into a dream world that ordinarily only Hollywood and smoke and mirrors could create. But Barbra did it! She made it real! What a heaven on earth she has created for her and her family and friends. How fortunate they are to live there and experience it, and how lucky we are to be able to savor it vicariously in the delicious pages of her book. Bravo Barbra for the book, and the home! ... Read more


    3. LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary
    by Simon Beecroft
    Hardcover
    list price: $21.99 -- our price: $13.19
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0756655293
    Publisher: DK Publishing
    Sales Rank: 121
    Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    In true DK style, LEGO® Star Wars™: The Visual Dictionary elucidates, illuminates, and
    excites even the most discerning LEGO Group, Star Wars™, and minifigure fans around the
    world.. Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Yoda, Luke Skywalker, and more are brought to life with
    dozens of little-known facts and hundreds of photos, as are accessories, vehicles, weapons,
    and even the Death Star! Learn about the history, manufacture, and construction of the
    minifigures of the Star Wars galaxy, and come away a LEGO® Jedi Master.


    LEGO, the LEGO logo, the Brick configuration and the Minifigure are
    trademarks of the LEGO Group. © 2009 The LEGO Group. © 2009
    Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All rights reserved. Production by Dorling
    Kindersley under license from the LEGO Group.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Stunning book, Love it!, October 7, 2009
    Very nice hardback book with lots of stunning pictures of what else? Star Wars Legos!

    We are big fans of Legos in general and this book did not disappoint. It came with a bonus Luke Skywalker mini-figure. As with all DK books, you get great pictures, thorough descriptions, and just a generally enjoyable book to collect or read.

    I bought 2 copies of this book, one to read, and one to collect.

    The only thing that bothered me a (very tiny) little bit was how the Luke Skywalker mini-fig was packaged. At first glance it looks like a much thicker book, but about half of the thickness is a spacer placed inside the book to make room for the mini-fig, so it lays flush with the front cover. I posted some pictures on the main item page if you want to see what I mean. Nothing that I would knock a star off for though.

    Overall, we are VERY happy with this book. Great price for a quality book that will not disappoint young and old!

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good but not great, October 10, 2009
    My 6 year old son and I like the book very much, but it is defineately not as detail oriented as we would have liked. Many of the sets only get 1 or 2 pictures and you do not get to see many of the neat pieces or accessories that come in each of the sets. I was hoping for at least a better description with what minifigures were with each set and the additional accessories. Many sets like the Clone Turbo Tank and the different Clone Walkers and gunships do not have pictures of what is inside of them or the pieces you can take out (like where you can sit all of your figures). Also, there were some misses on the variations of some of the minifigures (the new super battle droid that have a laser rifle arm). We would have also liked an index in the back since many sets are shown 1-3 times throughout the book. The Luke minifig is neat and the book does show some great stuff we hadn't seen in a while but it just seems they didn't try hard on this book. Another neat thing was one image of a set idea that was never made but developed for the Yavin base. Would have been great with some more examples of that. Also, the distant picture of all the star wars minifigs was not good enough for me. The inside of the book covers could have been a great place to reprint the star wars poster with all the minifigs that Lego put out last year as part of the 10 year anniversary. And couldn't we have gotten a sneak peek at the next batch Lego? C'mon. Overall a nice book, but some what disappointing with the lack of detailed photos and info for each set.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Can't get enough of it....diehard Lego Star Wars lover!, October 8, 2009
    This is a beautiful book!
    Title: The Visual Dictionary....of all the Lego Star Wars items out on the market!

    This book is organized very well.
    The book has 4 chapters: 1.Movie Saga, 2. The Clone Wars, 3. Specialists Sets, 4.Beyond the Brick (96 pgs total)

    It has pictures of all of the Star Wars Legos that have come out so far. There is a time-line that tells when each of the items came out, year by year and also episode by episode The pictures and descriptions are clear and colorful. Each of the Lego sets has a picture, the Lego #, number of pieces and the film episode. What more can you ask for?

    The book is hardbound and the cover has about an inch thick insert where the mini-figure is stored. This makes the book appear thicker than it actually is. I wasn't expecting that but the book is still nice and thick and full of great information for any Star Wars lover.

    A Great buy for under 15 bucks!
    This is a keeper for sure for my 7 yr old son who will be thrilled on his Birthday!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great for Lego Star Wars Fans and Collectors, October 7, 2009
    My son adores Lego, and the Star Wars sets in particular. When this book arrived in our mailbox, he was gone for hours, hiding in his room poring over all the sets he has, the sets he wants, the sets he missed out on, the evolution of the various mini-figures, everything else included in this volume. While this book would NOT be appreciated by someone who isn't a die-hard fan of the LEGO series, for those who collect, play with, and love the sets, it's a great book at a great price.

    The only problem with the book is that it will be out of date as soon as next season's Lego Star Wars sets are announced.

    On a final note, I didn't realize when I ordered that it also came with a unique minifig, which is already selling on Ebay for more than the discounted price of the book.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Great for the pictures, alas for the contents, October 19, 2009
    As a Lego Star Wars fan, I had great expectations of this book - so much so that after word that an exclusive minifig was to be included, I immediately preordered it. Now that it is in my eager hands, I have to review what I had expected of the book. I agree with some reviewers here that it is a just a Lego Star Wars catalogue, albeit a very good one. As someone who have just picked up this rather expensive hobby long after my last Lego set, it is a great chronicle of all sets past, present and all in between. With all the magnificent photography in the tradition of DK books, it is one fantastic 'catalogue'. For that it has served it's purpose.

    However, some of the content in my opinion, is repeat info for fans of the series. This is unnecessary for a book like this. I would rather have this book contain more information from a Lego point of view, like the great tibits of facts pertaining to some sets on some pages, rather than explaining how Darth Vader came to be. A cross between the recently published Lego DK book and the StarWars series would have been preferable for me, like the last 2 chapters on UCS sets and set development. I was done going through the book in less than an hour

    But still I'm giving it 3 stars for the excellent images, the timeline of all the sets, and of course, the exclusive Luke minifig.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Who decided on the printrun?, December 14, 2009
    We waited all year for this book -- but I guess we waited too long. Who decided how many books to print? Any parent of a star wars fan could have told you to print a lot.

    Way to make a kid's Christmas -- Mommy says there are no books left, child says 'Couldn't Santa make more?' Mommy grits teeth at DK sales and production depts.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Must Have for Lego Star Wars Fans!, November 30, 2009
    This book rocks! It's for kids that are into Lego Star Wars. I got it for my son for his 10th b-day, & he absolutely loves it!! It's like a dictionary for all the Lego Star Wars products. Some things we have never seen before, some we have in his collection- all the pics are colorful, and ours came w/ a free figure. (I did not buy this here @ Amazon) A must have for lego Star Wars Fans!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars DK does it again, November 18, 2009
    As a librarian, I have always been impressed with DK titles. They do such a great job with illustrations and for boys who are reluctant readers (usually), this is just the ticket. My 9 yr old grandson is really into Legos and although he is not a reluctant reader (just the opposite), it will be a hit on Christmas morning. I probably will have to rip it out of his hands to come to the dinner table.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great book for Star Wars and Lego fan, November 7, 2009
    My english is not good, but i try it.
    My son, 5 years old, he's a big fan of Lego Star Wars, I had bought the book for me, but I can now forget, he wants me to return the book no longer. the pictures and the layout are especially.
    I can only recommend the book. it's a great book at a great price.

    5-0 out of 5 stars What a great book, November 4, 2009
    For my two boys aged 7 and 9 these are prized possesions! There are great detailed photos and descriptions on all star wars lego sets. For kids that are right into star wars lego this is a must. ... Read more


    4. What's New, Cupcake?: Ingeniously Simple Designs for Every Occasion
    by Karen Tack, Alan Richardson
    Paperback
    list price: $16.95 -- our price: $7.84
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 054724181X
    Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    Sales Rank: 161
    Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    The endlessly imaginative duo who turned cupcaking into a national pastime is back, with utterly new, eye-popping creations anyone can make. Create a race-car cupcake, a robot cupcake, or ravishing jewelry cupcakes for a birthday party. Surprise the family with Chinese takeout dinner cupcakes on April Fool's or serve up a goofy chocolate moose. Captivate Mom with a bouquet of  long-stemmed rose cupcakes and build sand castle cupcakes with the kids. All you need are candies from the corner store and cake mix and canned frosting. 
     
    So what is new, Cupcake?
    • Dozens of "EZ" projects that use just a few ingredients--perfect for kids and parties.
    • More pictures, brighter colors, bolder designs.
    • More faux-food creations-- so real you won't believe they're cupcakes!
    • More comical critters and the cutest pets ever!
    • More irresistible party centerpieces to celebrate hobbies, from golf to knitting.
    • More spectacular holiday cupcakes: Valentine's, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
     
    You'll end up with cupcakes so striking that you won't want to eat them -- but so delicious you'll have no choice!
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Cupcake, it's not just a noun anymore..., April 15, 2010
    "Cupcaking," it seems, has joined the ranks of verbs like "scrapbooking." Where once a cupcake was a tasty treat, now it's an arts and crafts project. I must admit that I came to this book with a misconception. I thought the point was to create something good to eat. It is not. What's New, Cupcake is a triumph of style over substance. To eat the creations in this book is not only beside the point, it's bordering on sacrilege.

    Clearly, I am an old-fashioned baker, or at least one cut from a different cloth. "Recipes" from cake mixes and the use of twinkies and mini-donuts as additional construction elements are anathema to me. Now that my biases have been disclosed, I will admit this: The photographs of the projects in this book are AMAZING. The finished projects are gorgeous--more akin to sculptures than snacks. For the, er, baker who aspires to such feats, this book should be equal parts instructive and inspirational.

    For Luddites like myself, who are as interested in the edibility of their cupcakes as the attractiveness, there is definitely useful information. I advise using real recipes as a starting place. But there is much that can be learned about types and manners of icing and frosting, how to achieve textures, creative ways to use candies and other decorative elements, and more. It may encourage you to a more ambitious level of creativity.

    This is a book for an extreme cupcaker. Perhaps there are far more of you out there than I realize. For you, this book may well be the bible of cupcaking. For the more moderate cupcakers like myself, take what you can from the book and then ooh and aah over the pretty pictures.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Egg mold helpful hints, May 29, 2010
    I enjoy this book immensely and find the recipes to be very creative. Anyone else who whines that the recipes are cute to look at but inedible should stick to their boring cake recipe and frosting duo. I can tell you right now, they will never garner as much attention at a party as the recipes in this book do.
    The first recipe I tried from this book was the Easter eggs which requires molding eggs out of candy melts from plastic Easter eggs. After a frustrating hour of maybe getting one egg out of 8 to not break while unmolding I ended up with barely three and a half candy eggs and a pile of shattered attempts.
    The second recipe I tried was the "all cracked up" or the eggs on the back cover of the book. I dreaded doing egg molding again, but this time I came with several ideas and they worked!! So, I'm passing along my ideas so they can maybe help someone else who ran into the same problems I did.
    First, I filled the inside of the eggs with the candy melts and then used a brush to cover up the bare spots. A knife or spoon will not work because they scrape the sides.
    Don't be stingy with the candy melts. If the candy is spread too thin it will shatter. If I could see the color of the egg clearly through the candy I would add more.
    Using a plastic squeezable bottle I would spread an excess layer of candy melts along the inside edge of the plastic egg on one side. After it chills this layer will harden and create an overextended "lip" of candy to grip with your fingers so you have a place to grip and won't create so much pressure on the sides and shatter the candy in the egg
    I put the molds in the freezer simply because I was too impatient for the fridge. I'm not sure if that changed anything, but they were very hard when I took them out.
    Next came the unmolding which was always a challenge because even with the plastic eggs greased that candy would not come out no matter how much you tapped the top or pull from the inside of the egg. So, I tried a different approach. While still cold from the freezer I took a hair dryer and used it on the outside of the egg. It only takes seconds and you need to evenly distribute the hot air on all sides (not underside obviously) otherwise you'll melt the candy. Exerting careful pressure and gripping the "lip" you created the egg will easily slip out. If it won't, heat it up a little more.
    With this technique I had none break which was a certain change from my experience with the previous recipe. The end result was amazing with candy eggs that when served in the egg cartons made many guests assume that they were real eggs. I will certainly do this recipe again and I hope that these hints will help someone not give up on the "egg" recipes

    5-0 out of 5 stars Too Cute for Words, March 19, 2010
    What I found the most striking about What's New Cupcake is the photography by Alan Richardson. The pictures are so vibrant and colorful that they almost seem to jump off the pages. This is a good-sized book, at about 9" x 10", so they are also nice sized and detailed photos. The cover photo with the "Rubber Duckies" cupcakes is too cute for words.

    What's New Cupcake starts out like a craft book with a list of needed materials and tools. Nothing unusual is needed and most are items that would be already on hand, except for the variety of colorful candies. The instructions for decorating the cupcakes are clear and the Karen Tack's designs are fun and very decorative.

    The first chapter, April Fools Play, has cupcakes that look like something entirely different. How about cupcakes that look like a sub sandwich or a banana split? There are sections with ideas for all of the major holidays and party ideas for children and grown-ups.

    Just a couple of examples of the design titles are:

    Busy Bees (a honeycomb of cupcakes)
    Mum's the Word (beautiful flower cupcakes)
    Fur Balls and String Monsters (You have to see it!)
    Shower Heads (baby faces)
    Knit One, Frost Two (knitting needles and yarn - my personal favorite)

    Along with the decorating instructions there are quick dressed up cake mix recipes for cupcakes, frosting, and sugar cookies.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I love this book!!!!, May 14, 2010
    This is the best cookbook I have ever gotten! All of the recipies are easy and fun, and it gives you alot of techniques and tips that are very helpful. Some people may say that the candy combinations are gross but it says you can substitute the candy and use different kinds, which I think is good. I think that it is definitley worth the money because it gives you so many different decorating recipies and it even gives you a cupcake recipie and different frosting recipies in the back. So, if a kid like me can say that they are easy and fun(and yummy!)then it is definately worth getting if you love cooking.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I can do these, June 27, 2010
    I am not a fan of decorating cupcakes. the area to work within is far too small and the work is labor intensive. These creations can go either one of two ways. really detailed or a serious mess. Mine ususally go for the serious mess. while reading through this book for the first time I found myself saying over and over "I can do that" Each page had detailed instructions and fantastic photos to work from. I am very happy with my purchase and know I will get years of use from this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Just Ducky!, May 12, 2010
    Loved the book! All the different cupcakes are amazing!!! We have picked out several to make for the next occasion.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great sequel!, May 1, 2010
    Lots of great ideas in this sequel to "Hello, Cupcake". I like having the "easy" rating on some of the cupcakes since I work with kids and they need easy things to do.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Some great ideas..., March 22, 2010
    I am a huge fan of the Hello Cupcake book so I couldn't wait to get What's New Cupcake? I love some of the ideas but a few of the designs were similar to what was in the first book. I like the use of jolly ranchers to make some really cool decorations for the cupcakes! More than anything I think both of the books are great for ideas to make your own cupcake decorations...seeing the different candies used is great because sometimes it's hard to think of things in a particular color. All in all I highly recommend this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Just as awesome as the original!, March 20, 2010
    If you liked Hello, Cupcake!: Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone Can Make then you'll love this book.
    Everything you need to decorate will be candies that you are familiar with (it never asks you to use fondant).
    My favorite idea is "Chinese Takeout," where the cupcakes are decorated to look like Vegetable Fried Rice, Pork Lo Mein, and of course, a Fortune Cookie. (This is in the "April Fools" section of the book.)
    The first one I will probably make could be "Gingerbread Village," where the cupcakes are decorated to look like Gingerbread houses - for my brother-in-law's housewarming party.
    One feature that this book has that "Hello Cupcake" didn't have, is the "EZ" stamp on the more simpler recipes.
    As with "Hello Cupcake," this is mainly a how-to-decorate cupcake idea book, and not a recipe book for different flavors of cupcake batters, etc. Although it does have some recipes for different flavors of cupcakes that you can make, it is mainly a decorating book. The pictures are beautiful.
    Along with "Hello Cupcake," these are two of my favorite recipe books.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Love the pictures, consider making them!, September 21, 2010
    These cupcakes are just adorable but I have to wonder if the time and effort pay off in the end. I have Hello, Cupcake I bought it on my birthday! I made the corn on the cob ones for my neighbors next door! They were expensive to make too! I love these little cupcakes they are just so cute! But! if you just want to make them for fun a batch will cost you over $20 if you don't already have the supplies on hand! The instructions are clear and the pictures are totally the funnest part of the book! I still haven't made any from this book, and I plan to on my winter break I'm thinking on the apple ones :D ... Read more


    5. Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know
    by Alexandra Horowitz
    Paperback
    list price: $16.00 -- our price: $9.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1416583432
    Publisher: Scribner
    Sales Rank: 134
    Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    The bestselling book that asks what dogs know and how they think, now in paperback.The answers will surprise and delight you as Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist, explains how dogs perceive their daily worlds, each other, and that other quirky animal, the human. Horowitz introduces the reader to dogs’ perceptual and cognitive abilities and then draws a picture of what it might be like to be a dog. What’s it like to be able to smell not just every bit of open food in the house but also to smell sadness in humans, or even the passage of time? How does a tiny dog manage to play successfully with a Great Dane? What is it like to hear the bodily vibrations of insects or the hum of a fluorescent light? Why must a person on a bicycle be chased? What’s it like to use your mouth as a hand? In short, what is it like for a dog to experience life from two feet off the ground, amidst the smells of the sidewalk, gazing at our ankles or knees?

    Inside of a Dog explains these things and much more. The answers can be surprising—once we set aside our natural inclination to anthropomorphize dogs. Inside of a Dog also contains up-to-the-minute research—on dogs’ detection of disease, the secrets of their tails, and their skill at reading our attention—that Horowitz puts into useful context. Although not a formal training guide, Inside of a Dog has practical application for dog lovers interested in understanding why their dogs do what they do. With a light touch and the weight of science behind her, Alexandra Horowitz examines the animal we think we know best but may actually understand the least. This book is as close as you can get to knowing about dogs without being a dog yourself. ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars It's good, but not fantastic. Not many spoilers in this review., September 17, 2009
    After having read this book weeks ago (advanced copy), I was left a little unsatisfied. I'd give it 3.5 stars if could.

    It's more of a cursory glance at canine cognitive ethology rather than a definitive volume, but if you're looking for a good introductory to canine cognitive ethology, this would be a great starter. The anecdotes are sweet and the science is pretty good, and written in a way that the regular Joe Dog Guardian can read it without breaking his brain.

    HOWEVER. There is one VERY glaring "scientific" experiment that I feel she used for a bad conclusion, a conclusion whose inclusion of the flawed scientific experiment betrays the entire premise of the book itself.

    In the section on "Hero Dogs" (dogs that have responded to emergencies and saved the lives of their owners and people in general), Horowitz details what she calls a "clever experiment" with dogs where

    "owners conspired with the researchers to feign emergencies in the presence of their dogs, in order to see how the dogs responded. In one scenario, owners were trained to fake a heart attack, complete with gasping, a clutch of the chest, and a dramatic collapse. In the second scenario, owners yelped as a bookcase (made of particleboard) descended on them and seemed to pin them on the ground. In both cases, owners' dogs were present, and the dogs had been introduced to a bystander nearby--perhaps a good person to inform if there has been an emergency.

    In these contrived setups, the dogs acted with interest and devotion, but not as though there was an emergency...

    ...In other words, not a single dog did anything that remotely helped their owners out of the predicaments. The conclusion that one has to take from this is that dogs simply do not naturally recognize or react to an emergency situation--one that could lead to danger or death." (pp.239-240)

    I really don't understand how she could have come to this conclusion after having written over 200 pages on how a dog sees, smells and relates to its world (the "umwelt" of a dog). She didn't consider that the dogs knew that their owners were faking? She wrote herself that a dog can sense the most minute changes in a person's own body chemistry, right down to sensing cancer and other things like an increase in heart rate or adrenaline. A person faking a heart attack isn't going to have the same body chemistry/physical changes that a person having a REAL heart attack is going to have, so in a sense--there is no faking a heart attack around your dog (believe me, I've tried, LOL--it was only playing/testing, but none of my dogs seemed to care if I plopped over in bed, "dead"). Same goes for adrenaline levels when you're in immediate danger, like when you're drowning (and I believe this was one of the examples she used just before this horrible "deduction" of hers; a dog saved the life of a child that was going to drown). And if a person was faking being hurt under a particleboard bookcase, I'm pretty sure that the dog could sense that, too.

    Anyway. That was the only part of the book that REALLY got me going "Hmmmnnn...no." Other than that, it's a good read, but left me wanting more (a whole lot of it sucks you in, but then you're left with a little bit of an unsatisfied thirst for more science and more talk about how dogs are in the world; the end chapter seemed a little rushed to me, too).

    5-0 out of 5 stars It's a Dog's World, October 13, 2009
    Scientifically, we might know a lot more about rats than we do about dogs. There are some experimental labs that have dogs as subjects, but lab rats get a lot of scientific attention. Dogs get a lot of domestic attention, but scientific study of dogs, and the ways they get along with humans and with other dogs, has not been a high concern. That may be because we think we know dogs; they are frank and open, and we live closely with them. Alexandra Horowitz thinks we don't know enough, and some of what we know is wrong, and she is out to change our perception of dogs and to do it scientifically. She has to work at making herself a detached observer; she might be a psychologist who has studied cognition in humans, dogs, bonobos, and rhinoceroses, but among the first sentences of her book _Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know_ (Scribner) is, "I am a dog person." Is she ever. She didn't deliberately make Pumpernickel, her mixed breed live-in friend (she is an advocate for adopting mutts), a subject of scientific study, but Pump was her entrance, for instance, to the dog park where she could film the interactions of other dogs for acute detailed study later. She gives loving anecdotes of the late Pump in every chapter to illustrate her more objective findings, nicely showing how her scientific examination of dogs paid off in her understanding of her own dog. There are people who worry that scientific examination of any phenomenon takes away the mystery and specialness of the phenomenon, and among the fine lessons in this amusing and enlightening book is that this is far from true.

    Dogs do not sense the world we do. To take one of Horowitz's examples, a rose for humans is a thing of visual and olfactory beauty, and also has connotations of a love gift. Dogs are having none of this. It is just another plant among all the plants that surround it; it does not look attractive, and unless some dog has urinated on it recently, it does not smell attractive. Otherwise, the rose doesn't exist. The dog's world is one largely of smells. Everyone knows that dogs are better at detecting odors than we are. It isn't just that they can smell more scents, at thinner concentrations, than we; it's that they gaze at the world by sniffing, and it presents a very different world from ours. Smell, for dogs, has plenty of meanings, but one of them is time. A strong spell is new, a fading one is old. Not only that, but the future may be borne on a breeze if the dog is walking upwind. In scents, the dog doesn't just experience the current scene in an olfactory way, "...but also a snatch of the just-happened and the up-ahead. The present has a shadow of the past and a ring of the future about it." Dogs are evolutionarily descended from wolves, and sometimes dog owners are advised to treat their dogs as lower-caste members of a pack. Horowitz prescribes caution in such interpretations. Dogs are not wolves and have cast away many wolf traits during their evolution. A person (non-wolf) attempting to subdue a dog (non-wolf) in wolf fashion is missing what is special about the human-dog bond. Dogs, for instance, like eye contact; wolves avoid it. There are many experiments described here (some of which Horowitz has herself been in charge of), and one of them involves "gaze following". Dogs can look at our eyes, and can tell where we are looking, so they look over that way, too. The sections of the book that are the most fun are the ones on play. Dogs play more than wolves do, and unlike most animals, they play as adults. It is a bit of a mystery; it isn't essential for dogs to play to get their needed social skills, and it does cost energy and the risk of injury. Horowitz describes the play cues dogs give that can only be seen by humans using very slow video replays, but which keep the play non-aggressive for the participating dogs. Dogs are good at following these rules; a strapping wolfhound and a tiny Chihuahua can negotiate a play session efficiently, with the former handicapping itself to enjoy the mock aggressiveness of the latter.

    Horowitz has provided a useful service in her brightly-written summary of experiments and current theories on the minds of dogs. I have an idea that people keep dogs around not just because of their goofy affection for us, or because they are so entertaining, but simply because they are interesting. It is fun to see how a creature who has evolved an intelligence different from our own gets along in the world. Horowitz's book helps explain that interest, and heighten it.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Could not finish it, September 19, 2009
    I expected to love this book. Unfortunately, it leaves a lot to be desired.

    First, there is surprisingly little information in it. The author touches on each subject so briefly that only the most superficial observations can be made. Dog body language gets maybe two pages and includes such revelations as the meaning of a tucked tailed (discomfort and/or submission). Is there a dog owner in the world who doesn't already know that? Note: if that's new to you and you own a dog, stop reading this review and find a dog trainer immediately. In the 250 pages I managed to read, I found two things of interest: the description of canine vision, and speculation on a potential flaw in experiments on dog intelligence (to wit: dogs know that humans are great providers of food, so if a dog that gives up on the puzzle in front of him and runs over to the researcher for help, maybe he's being smart, not dumb).

    Second, the author spends way too much time bemoaning human chauvinism. Apparently, all research into animal behavior is done to shore up our belief that humans are the rightful masters of the earth.

    Third, the tone of this book is insistently, forcibly whimsical. Sometimes it hits the right note, and I did find myself laughing out lot a few times, particularly at an anecdote about a doberman put to work guarding a collection of valuable teddy bears. Unfortunately, it's more often grating, and I found myself rolling my eyes at the little vignettes about the author's dog that start every chapter. It truly pains me to write that, as love between a dog and an owner is such a wonderful thing.

    Fourth, the text has some odd contradictions, one which is noted by the reviewer below me. The author also starts one chapter raving about dogs' almost preternatural ability to understand our intentions -- and supports this assertion by noting how easy it is to fool a dog into thinking you've thrown a tennis ball.

    Finally, I came to the point where I had to put the book down. The author begins to describe dogs' sense of personal space, which she gets almost entirely wrong. She makes a common mistake in saying that dogs have a much smaller radius of personal space than we do. This may be true of ultra-friendly, well-socialized dogs like many retrievers, but it is *not* the norm. Dogs are in fact extremely concerned with personal space, and much of what we know about their communication involves conveying the boundaries of their "bubbles".

    The final straw was here: "Repeating itself on sidewalks across the country is a scene that demonstrates the clash of our sense of personal space: the sight of two dog owners as they stand six feet apart, straining to keep their leashed dogs from touching, while the dogs strain mightily to touch each other. Let them touch!" This is horribly bad advice. There are a thousand reasons why two strange dogs should not be allowed to greet each other unrestrainedly, first and foremost that lunging towards another dog is actually very aggressive behavior. Dogs have a plethora of signals indicating that their interest is respectful, including look aways, medium-to-low tail carriage, and a sideways approach. A dog that jumps straight up into another dog's business is socially inept at best, and intending harm at worst.

    Instead of this book, I would recommend almost anything by Temple Grandin (who isn't always right either, but has a fascinating perspective), Turid Rugaas, Karen Pryor, or Brenda Aloff.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best Dog Book Ever, September 17, 2009
    As an avid reader of dog literature I approach each new entry in this field with a mix of trepidation and eagerness. Will it merely be a rehash of things I already know? Will it be a sophmoric jumble of memoir and whimsy? Or will this be the book that truly broadens my understanding of the world of canids? Inside of a Dog falls into the last category - plus some.
    This book is hands down the finest exploration of canid intelligence that I have ever read. Horowitz writes with a crisp, almost puckish tone - it draws the reader in effortlessly. The book is a delightful blend of an examination of the latest developments in the world of scientific study of dog cognition, and Horowitz's own experiences with her dog as she became one of the scientists who study this animal.
    She is one of those writers of whom you think that they could make anything seem interesting. It is to our benefit that she has chosen to do this with dogs.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and poetic, September 27, 2009
    This is a fascinating book, full of terrific details and interesting research about dogs. So many of the specific elements that she describes still stick in my head. There's great material in here, for instance, about dog's noses and how they smell, and how much they encounter the world through scent and odor. It's not simply that Horowitz tells us that dogs have a powerful sense of smell; it's that she goes well beyond that to help us think about how different their sense of time must be, for instance, since they are smelling old smells along with new ones at the same time. That's just one example of many. The book is chock full of the latest research about dogs, but told in a winning and delightful manner.

    That's worth stressing: the writing in this book is great. It's colorful and idiosyncratic. Sometimes the syntax of a sentence is intriguing all on its own. The book is fun to read, in part, just because Horowitz writes so darn well. And, I should add, with a fair bit of whimsy and playfulness. She is a talent as a writer, as well as a scientist. And she makes the science accessible, interesting, and sometimes laugh-worthy.

    But the book is also wonderful because it's so full of Horowitz's own enthusiasm for how great dogs are. She's a scientist, but she's hardly clinical. Her excitement about dogs comes pouring out in the small praise-of-dog moments that abound in the book. I feel like I finished the book not only knowing more about dogs (and impressed by all the things that Horowitz knows), but wanting to spend more time with dogs, looking at other people's dogs on the street, and thinking about when we might be able to get a dog of our own again. Her interest in the dog-human relationship -- which is so much the focus in the last chunk of the book -- spills over with her joy in it, and it's an infectious joy.

    I can't recommend this book highly enough. I plan to give it as a gift this year to all my dog-owning and dog-loving friends!

    2-0 out of 5 stars Some nice stories, November 5, 2009
    Sadly, this is one of many, many books that are filled with assertions, not facts. We now have an enormous amount of information about dogs thanks to scientists who decided that the reason for not studying dogs because they weren't in their "natural habitat" is incorrect. Living with humans IS a dog's natural habitat. They are, in fact, our first domesticated animal. Trustworthy books on the dog include those by Vilmos Csanyi, If Dogs Could Talk, or Lindsay, the three volume treatise, the Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training.

    But even better is to do your own work understanding your dog. Buy the Brenda Aloff book, Canine Body Language or the Abrantes book, Encyclopedia of Canine Behavior. Then watch your dog, study your dog, see what he does when presented with various stimuli.

    As to horrible mistakes based on, perhaps, just her dog (the fallacy of reasoning from the particular to the general) is Horowitz's comment on meeting another dog. She's right AND she's wrong. When two dogs meet, they SHOULD be allowed to do the "sniff test," etc. on a loose lead. Why? Dogs that are restrained may respond negatively out of what some believe is the "frustration" of not being able to make a dog-like "meet and greet." This is very similar to fence behavior between two dogs which presents the same difficulties for the dog. Two dogs on opposite sides of the fence often start barking and snapping. When allowed to meet without the fence in between, there is a far more subdued "conference." As a member of a rescue group, I have witnessed this over and over and have stopped using the "time-tested" recommended "first have them meet on opposite sides of a fence" approach to introducing one dog to another (A far better approach is to find a partner and walk the two dogs together for a mile or so.)

    So her recommendation is, on the surface, a good one, loose lead meeting, good. Unfortunately, two completely clueless dog owners (remember, I'm in rescue) can't possibly tell if their dog or the other one is "targeting" the other dog or just harmlessly anxious to meet this canine passerby. "Oh, but my dog/other dog is wagging their tail." Ah, wagging. Here's an example where a little studying of the Abrantes book would pay dividends. Wagging comes in lots of varieties. Is the tail going around madly in circles or is it high and stiff and wagging back and forth slowly like a metronome...it makes a difference. Did one of the dogs avert their eyes? How about the approach? Did one dog attempt to approach the other dog from the side or are they both coming towards one another head to head. And of course there are the tailless Dobies and Rotties, so you need to look at other signals, ears, lips, body language. I don't normally allow my dogs to meet other dogs on the street because there is too much risk and very little reward. If you like to walk your dog on busy streets, teach your dog to "heel" or "on by" when meeting another dog. See, for example Koehler or Patricia Burnham.

    All in all this book is like most of the mass media junk, sitting on shelves in your favorite book store, either filled with anecdotal information or making statements unsupported by anything other than the uncited "study." There are good books on dogs, but they are far and few between, the McConnell series comes to mind as well as Be the Dog by Duno, The Dog's Mind, by Fogle or the Domestic Dog by Serpell.

    But if you have a dog, then you really have the best available information curled up next to you. Just don't draw conclusions based on "human logic" or what's more accurately called anthropomorphisms. What I mean, for example, is the call we often get (by the wife) about a recently adopted dog, that the dog is urinating in front of the husband as soon as he walks in the door. And the husband (it's invariably the husband) is sure that the dog is doing it for spite and no matter how loudly he screams at the dog, the dog continues to pee as soon as he walks in the house. Well I am sure most of you know what's going on here. Dogs don't do anything for spite (their range of emotions are far simpler than ours). The dog is being deferential. It's what dogs do to show submissiveness to a senior, more dominant animal. So we tell the wife to tell the husband to stop screaming at the dog and make believe he actually is happy to see the pup...or feel free to return the dog to us and go out and get a nice stuffed animal

    As to this book, unless you're in the book store, sipping a latte while skimming the book (and looked up the reviews via wi-fi...or you're a relative...pass...

    5-0 out of 5 stars FABULOUS E-BOOK FOR ALL DOG GUARDIANS!, August 9, 2010
    I am a long time dog guardian and dog lover and have read many dog-related books. This book is about the best I have ever experienced in terms of improving one's understanding of dogs and their actions. Not only was the book well-written in an interesting and easy to understand style, the audiobook was also exceptionally well spoken. I learned many new things from this book, and I also appreciated the many references to dog rescue groups and the promotion of mixed breed dogs at shelters/rescues over pure breed dogs as family pets.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Nosing Out the World, April 23, 2010
    Alexandra Horowitz, the author of this book, has a PhD in cognitive science and studied cognition in rhinos, bonobos and dogs. As the order indicates, she came to dogs last as objects of scientific study and in this her career mirrors the efforts of cognitive scientists generally who (as she notes in her book) have only turned seriously to dogs in the last twenty-five or so years, perhaps because the nearly omnipresent dog was mistakenly thought to be a simple and uncomplicated creature. As most dog owners will tell you, nothing could be more wrongheaded than to think of dogs as simpletons of the animal kingdom.

    Using the findings of many dog studies, mostly from the last thirty years, Horowitz shows that dogs are marvelously complex creatures whose senses and brains are exquisitely attuned to their environment, a large part of which is humans. Dogs know their world well, and humans intimately. Part of this comes from the intense focus that dogs bring to bear on us and part from the array of extraordinary sensory equipment that they use to focus. Dogs' sense of smell, for example, is (practically speaking) infinitely better than ours and easily able to detect chemical "tells" about our emotions, state of mind, and past and present activities.

    Horowitz takes us on a grand tour of dogs' sensory apparatus and how it compares to the human equivalent. She explores what is known of their social behavior, including the many signs and signals they use in dealing with one another and with us; and she discusses their emotions and psychological processes, including cognition and the possibility of canine self-awareness.

    Horowitz's overriding purpose is to let the reader share something of how a dog actually perceives, interacts with, and communicates with the world and other creatures. She repeatedly points out that we do a disservice to the complexity and uniqueness of dogs when we either anthropomorphize them (see them as limited humans) or treat them as insensate creatures which exist merely for our convenience.

    Horowitz does all this in a direct and interesting style that neither over complicates things nor talks down to the general audience for which it is intended. She gives many clear factual examples to illustrate her points (providing factoids for those inclined to amaze their friends). With her main narrative she also mixes frequent mini-essays talking about her personal relationship with her obviously much loved dog Pumpernickel (usually called "Pump"), revealing herself as a dog lover as well as a dog scientist. She also provides simplified notes for those who may wish to explore her sources.

    This is an excellent, well-written and delightful book.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Popular book, if you want science..., October 7, 2009
    A scientific book on the dog's mind is 'Canine Ergonomics' by William Helton (2009).Canine Ergonomics: The Science of Working Dogs. Reacting to other viewer's comments, keep in mind that this is a popular book. If you are looking for a scientific book on how the dog's mind works read Canine Ergonomics.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Inside a Dog...still unsure, November 1, 2009
    The book was strong on anecdote and personal experience but a bit short on hard science and firm vet science. ... Read more


    6. 365 Cats Page-A-Day Calendar 2011
    by Workman Publishing
    Calendar
    list price: $12.99 -- our price: $9.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0761157352
    Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
    Sales Rank: 249
    Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    There are cat calendars—and there's the cat calendar. Year after year, 365 Cats is the numero uno in over-the-top feline attitude and adorability. On every page you'll find one (or more) of the hundreds of lovable winners of the 2010 Cat Calendar Contest. Meet fluffy Himalayans, Russian Blues, and Havana Browns. Wary Rexes and sleek Siamese. Smoky shorthairs, striped tigers, colorful calicos, and piles of supersoft kittens—impossible to resist. They're slinking through flower beds, lapping milk, hanging out in baskets, snoozing in sunbeams, chasing butterflies, and just acting like their goofy, inscrutable, endearing selves. Accompanying the fullcolor photos are quotes, breed facts, health and care tips, and lore.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars 365 Cats Page-A-Day Calendar, November 23, 2010
    Anyone who loves cats would enjoy this calendar. Yes, there is a cat photo for each day of the year, all submitted by cat owners around the world. The photos sometimes have specific information about the cat in the photo, or sometimes there is a tidbit of "cat information" inspired by the photo. I have purchased this calendar every year for many years. Information is included in the calendar to submit your own cat photo for the following year's calendar - and several years ago I had one of my cat's photo published in the calendar!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Love it, September 29, 2010
    I have purchased this desktop calendar yearly for at least the past 8 years. I love the pictures and anecdotes. I have sent in pictures of my cats, which of course I think are cuter than the ones on the calendar, but they have not used them. ;)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best Desktop Cat Calendar Around, November 23, 2010
    I have been a devoted fan of this little desktop calendar now for 13 years. I look forward to the new one each year, and have to stop myself from peeking at all the pictures. In my opinion, there is no better desktop cat calendar. Lots of them out there, but only one like this. I received an "off brand" page a day calendar as a gift a few years ago and refused to use it, as it was not my beloved 365 Cats.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Cats Page-a-Day Calendar 2011, October 24, 2010
    My wife and I have had the appropriate Page-a-Day cat calendar on our breakfast table for many years. Each day we reveal the next page and laugh (mostly) or sympathize with the pictured feline's owners, because we have had as many as four cats at a time and have experienced (live!) many of the scenes depicted. Now and then we have shown our cats the calendar photos, but they don't appreciate them as much as we do. Silly cats!

    4-0 out of 5 stars cat calendar, December 19, 2010
    I have been getting this calendar each year (for about 6 years) for Christmas for an elderly family member. The 2010 calendar though it had plenty of cute cats, and she enjoys each and every day, she brought to my attention how dark the pictures seemed. I agreed that in the 2 months that were left, there were more than a few photos that were printed so dark, that even my good eyes had trouble distinguishing parts of the surroundings of the cats, especially when the cats were dark. I bought another for 2011. When she opens it, I will be anxious to check the photography quality.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Annual gift, November 21, 2010
    I love this calendar. The photos are excellent. I sometimes disagree with the judge selections of annual and weekly winners, but that is why judges exist! This has been a perennial gift to my sister and myself for many years. ... Read more


    7. At Home: A Short History of Private Life
    by Bill Bryson
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $28.95
    Asin: B003F3FJGY
    Publisher: Doubleday
    Sales Rank: 97
    Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    From one of the most beloved authors of our  time—more than six million copies of his books have been sold in this country alone—a fascinating excursion into the history behind the place we call home.

    “Houses aren’t refuges from history. They are where history ends up.”
     
    Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in a part of England where nothing of any great significance has happened since the Romans decamped. Yet one day, he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as he found it in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to “write a history of the world without leaving home.” The bathroom provides the occasion for a history of hygiene; the bedroom, sex, death, and sleep; the kitchen, nutrition and the spice trade; and so on, as Bryson shows how each has fig­ured in the evolution of private life. Whatever happens in the world, he demonstrates, ends up in our house, in the paint and the pipes and the pillows and every item of furniture.

    Bill Bryson has one of the liveliest, most inquisitive minds on the planet, and he is a master at turning the seemingly isolated or mundane fact into an occasion for the most diverting exposi­tion imaginable. His wit and sheer prose fluency make At Home one of the most entertaining books ever written about private life.


    From the Hardcover edition.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars Going Round the House(s), June 2, 2010
    Is there anything Bill Bryson isn't interested in? He moves from one subject to the next with equal amounts of genuine enthusiasm. And we're not talking about just the really remarkable stuff - a lot of what gets Bryson going seems quite mundane. Mousetraps, for instance. Once he has you hooked, you too realize that even mousetraps are pretty fascinating after all.

    There's no point looking for a theme to At Home, even though it's nominally a social history of the home, specifically Bryson's home, a former rectory in Norfolk, built in 1851. Going from room to room is just an excuse for Bryson to expound on whatever he finds interesting. It might be best to take the book as a series of loosely connected magazine articles or short essays. You can skip around without losing the thread, because there isn't one.

    Most of the history is Victorian, but there are side trips to the prehistoric Britain, 19th century America, and the recent past. This is not an academic book, so there are no footnotes, which is a shame. Although Bryson usually credits sources within the text, now and then he makes an outrageous statement without attribution. One that had me scrambling for some supporting evidence was a claim that Elizabeth I admired, then scooped some silverware into her purse at dinner in a nobleman's house while on her annual royal progress. Even more remarkable was a statement that one third of all women in London aged 15-25 in 1851 were prostitutes. Really?! After browsing through the lengthy and excellent bibliography, I found the instruction to go to Bryson's website for notes and sources, but found only that they are "coming soon."

    Chances are you won't be interested in everything that takes Bryson's fancy, but no worry. If you find your attention waning during a discussion of furniture varnishes, it isn't long before he's off to vitamins or Thomas Jefferson's wine collection or �tzi the Ice Man.

    I'll admit that I might have skipped this book if Bryson's name wasn't on the cover, and wondered if it could have been published at all without his name and popularity. His early works are still my favorites, more or less in the order they were written. The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America still makes me laugh, so does Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe, and Notes from a Small Island, and I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away (Notes from a Big Country). I expect I'll continue to read just about anything Bryson writes, but I have to agree with some other reviewers who look forward to his travel writing more than his excursions into weightier topics.

    3-0 out of 5 stars missing Bryson's usual wit, and not quite what it claims, September 20, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    There are two major factors that make this one of the least entertaining books by Bill Bryson.

    First, it's nearly humorless. One can't read In a Sunburned Country, A Walk in the Woods, or I'm a Stranger Here Myself without laughing until you cry at least a few times, and snorting in amusement often enough that you think twice about reading in public. This book, though, had a handful of lines that might provoke a quirk at the corner of your mouth, and that's about it.

    Second, it's not at all what it claims. Despite repeated assertion that this book is about how all history ends up in the home, it's much more an exercise in History Through the Lens of the Home. Most chapters have nearly nothing to do with the room to which they're linked. The chapter on the Larder is entirely about servitude in England. The two are linked only in that the larder is one of the rooms typically visited only by servants. The chapter on the Garden, possibly the most tightly coupled example of chapter room and topic, dabbles briefly in the history of artificial fertilizers, but then spends the majority of its words on parks, public and private. In no chapter is there a round-up at the end where Bryson links back what, exactly, Olmstead's plans for Central Park in New York City have to do with a home's garden, and there's not even a pretext of assuming the latter at all affected the former. I'm still not clear on why the Drawing Room was coupled with a vast survey of British architecture.

    What we're left with is a scattered history of mostly the past few hundred years and mostly England, though with a solid dose of United States, some continental Europe, and a smattering of the rest of the world. It's interesting, sometimes fascinating, but also undirected and repetitive. For example, two chapters discuss architecture extensively.

    And then, of course, the dwindling descriptions of the house and rooms themselves. At the beginning of the book, there are often several paragraphs at the beginning of each chapter explaining what the room is. Most of us haven't heard of a Larder, and while we may know that those big open residences of the old days were called Halls, we may not really think of a hall in a modern house as a sort of stripped down shrunken version of the same. By the end, he doesn't even bother. The chapter on the Attic contains no description or explanation of the room's heritage. These, along with the repeated references to Mr. Marsham, the clergyman who built the house, attempt to link the somewhat random bits of trivia into a narrative but end up just feeling a little bit tacked-on.

    Mr. Bryson goes to great pains to link bits of historical trivia - making sure we remember that the man involved in pushing England to recognize and protect its ancient sites was a descendant of a man mentioned in a previous chapter who fell down a well - but doesn't expend a fraction of that effort doing what he stated was his intention: showing how history ends up in the home.

    5-0 out of 5 stars History as it should be taught, July 25, 2010
    This book changed my world. Well, at least my perception of my world.

    At Home is a fascinating account of how we got where we are today, domestically speaking. I read it whist living in a non-western, non-English speaking country and it illuminated for me the historical reasons behind some of the assumptions I make which are at odds with the society I'm currently living in, like why I think my dining room should be bigger than the one in my rented house is. Sure, knowing dates of major battles is important, but this book is history as it was meant to be: relevant, enlightening, and funny.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, enjoyable, fantastic history of home, comfort, and human innovation. Buy this., September 16, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    I adore this book. I sat up late reading it, and I woke up at 4:30am (really) to continue reading it. I expect to press the book into the hands of several friends with a stern warning about returning it *immediately* after they finish.

    Yet, I have a hard time summarizing the book in a manner that will make you understand my enthusiasm. When I tried to explain to someone why this book was so wonderful, she crinkled up her nose and gave me a "You gotta be kidding" look. This book discusses so many topics, from the history of the toilet to the reasons behind the 1851 Great Exhibition to the impact of world exploration on furniture building, that any description sounds like Bryson threw a jumble of facts into a book and had done with it. On the other hand, I explained to my friend just one of the anecdotes (the one that ends with "Nothing -- really, absolutely nothing -- says more about Victorian Britain and its capacity for brilliance than that the century's most daring and iconic building was entrusted to a gardener") and she got interested. And she giggled.

    Because somehow, amazingly, Bill Bryson ties together this collection of historical anecdotes and "what really happened" within a clear and recognizable structure: the Victorian parsonage in which he and his wife live, which was built in 1851. The chapters walk us through each room and the items within it. In "The nursery," for instance, Bryson debunks the oft-cited premise that "before the 16th century there was no such thing as childhood;" talks about Victorian tools for childbirth (and how a doctor's reluctance to adopt obstetrical forceps in 1817 changed history when Princess Charlotte died in childbirth); discusses the slow evolution of child labor laws; and mentions how Fredrich Engels embezzled from his family business to support his friend Karl Marx in London. And, honest, that's just a sample. Bryson doesn't flit from one subject to another, or at least it never seems like it when you're reading; he goes into exhaustive depth about a lot of subjects, like the fascinating person you wish you were seated next to at a dinner party (but somehow never seem to be).

    And besides: He is funny. Bryson has a wonderful droll sense of humor that made me laugh aloud many times, though it never gets in the way of imparting information. On several occasions I interrupted my husband to read him a a section of text -- something that usually annoys him -- and he forgave me every time. Here's one of them, in a section about the popularity of household servants: "At Elveden, the Guiness family estate in Suffolk, the household employed sixteen gamekeepers, nine underkeepers, twenty-eight warreners (for culling rabbits), and two dozen miscellaneous hands -- seventy-seven people in all -- just to make sure they and their guests always had plenty of flustered birds to blow to smithereens." There's plenty of ways Bryson could have said that formally, but the insertion of his personal view made me giggle. (And, oh, estate visitors managed to slaughter over 100,000 birds every year, so those staff were not idle.)

    By the time I finished reading the book, I was struck by several things: How often coincidence influences history; the number of brilliant technical innovations introduced by people with absolutely no business sense (one example: Eli Whitney and his partners demanded a 1/3 share of any cotton harvest, without recognizing how easy it was to pirate the design of the cotton gin); how often people were oh-so-sure of things that weren't so (like what causes disease); and how many amazing inventions we take for granted.

    I urge you to buy this book. If nothing else, reading it will mean that YOU are the fascinating person whom everyone wants to sit next to at the next dinner party.

    4-0 out of 5 stars The topic almost doesn't matter., August 6, 2010
    This book is very much in the fashion of his Short History of Nearly Everything. It contains almost no first person narrative and mostly tries to adhere topic. The topic is so broad, however, that almost anything can be in some way connected to it and at times it feels a bit sprawling. That the stories bear some passing connection to the topic is hardly surprising. It would be hard not to. But, I didn't read this book as a scholarly work. I wouldn't want to read that book. Bill Bryson's talent for selecting the funniest, remarkable, shocking, gruesome and just plain interesting things about any topic, means that if he wrote a book about the history of fingernails, or hammers or shoelaces, I would read it.

    My one serious gripe with the book is the lack of illustrations. There are some pictures, but countless other times, when he's describing some invention, or article of clothing, or building, and going on about how remarkable it is, I found myself running to wikipedia to see what he was talking about.

    Basically, if you like Bill Bryson, you will like this book. If you've never read any Bill Bryson before I would recommend starting with a different book. A Walk in the Woods is a good one.A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

    3-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, October 28, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    If you are expecting Bryson's usual humor and wit, you will be disappointed in this book. He leads the reader by hand and discusses minutiae of everyday life in England, how things came to be and where they came from. If the average reader has this much time to devote to such things, then go ahead. However, for Bryson fans of A Walk in the Woods and I'm A Stranger Here Myself, this will be a pure disappointment.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Meandering, September 22, 2010
    Bill Bryson provides an entertaining and eclectic look at his house and ours in his new book, At Home: A Short History of Private Life. I take some exception to this being "short," since at 500 pages, it seemed long, but for a history, or for all that Bryson could have included, I guess for him, short it is. Since his own house was built in the mid-nineteenth century, there's an extra focus on Victorian times, and since the first owner was a rector, his life and time are well-covered. I came away from this book with reams of useless information that I'm certain to inject with confidence in some future conversation. Any reader who likes a meandering story filled with wit will find lots of interesting anecdotes and factoids on these pages.

    Rating: Three-star (Recommended)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully eccentric, September 4, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    If this book were a house, it would be one of those charmingly odd edifices put up by a single builder with a determinedly eccentric vision. The floor plan might be odd, and it might be a little hard to say exactly what architectural style it is, and on occasion you might find a gable where you'd expected a chimney. But you'd love it anyway.

    _At Home_ doesn't really have a theme, or an argument to advance. Rather, it's an interwoven fabric of anecdotes, historical tidbits, excursions, diversions, and useless but fascinating facts. Its organization (as a tour of the author's house) is just enough to give it structure and keep it from being a mere collection of curios. To pull this off requires absolutely top-notch writing skills--and Bryson has them.

    Still, this isn't a book to read in search of a cohesive understanding of much of anything. Rather, it's a book to be rambled through, eying the delightful scenery. (There's a more-than-passing resemblance to James Burke's _Connections_ series.) For example, the chapter on "The Passage" touches on the Eiffel Tower, the Vanderbilts, Thomas Edison's mania for concrete houses, the telephone, and the biggest mansion in Palm Beach, Florida. I'm not sure how much information any given reader will retain, but with writing this good, who cares?

    This is a big, sweeping story. It combines very broad historical scope with closely-observed minute detail. I did spot one or two places where Bryson's facts are incomplete or open to dispute. (To take a trivial example, the relationship among bushels, quarts, and liters is mis-stated.) I'm happy to let them go as quibbles; in general, Bryson is pretty good at overturning anecdotal history and providing a good, well-sourced, thoughtful synthesis.

    So don't look for a thesis, and don't approach _At Home_ as a textbook. Its joys are those of breadth, not depth. Step right in. Wander around. Make yourself comfortable. You might even get a little lost, but you won't mind.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Mr. Bryson, please get out of your house and start travelling again, November 20, 2010
    Good grief. 'Slugging through...' was the word used by both me and my friend as we described this laborious diatribe from good ol' Bill. This thing is (as always) well researched, but somewhat like reading an encyclopedia Britannica article - without the humor of said Britannica humor.

    This thing was awful. It's not strung together well and the 'rooms' have little, if anything, to do with the topics. He's resting on his laurels and it's time to give him a gentle shove.

    While I've loved 'A Brief History' and everything else I've ever read from him, it's time for Mr. Bryson to get back to what he does best: venture forth and tell us about the world. I wonder what he would think about the Antarctic...

    The only reason I finished this was because Bill Bryson wrote it. Otherwise I would have left it at the 25% mark without a single regret.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Historical Nonfiction - Wonderful for History Buffs, November 18, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Bill Brysons latest work is hard to pin-down categorically. It's supposed to be about his house - home in England, but it's really more than that. The famous author goes into detail about everything historical.

    Everything from how and when bricks were made and used to LOTS on Englands most famous architects & architecture from days gone by. I can imagine anyone interested in architecture would get a kick out of reading this book. He talks about Thomas Edison and other famous figures in American history, and trends in foods, spices, and basically - you name it - it will probably come up in this book!

    Having said that - I don't find it to be one of his best works. I put it down and didn't look forward to picking it back up for days at a time. I was never riveted to the subjects at hand, and actually, it felt more like I was studying for a test than reading for leisure.

    This book proves that Bill Bryson can write anything and make it fairly entertaining. And, apparently he can write anything, and get it published. ... Read more

    8. The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941-2009
    by Gourmet Magazine
    Hardcover
    list price: $18.00 -- our price: $9.90
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0547328168
    Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    Sales Rank: 12
    Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review


    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars A history, with recipes and photos, of the cookie at Gourmet Magazine, October 3, 2010
    As a longtime subscriber to both Gourmet and Bon Appetit, I used to tell people that I liked Gourmet for its savory recipes and Bon Appetit for its sweets. This new compilation of the best cookie recipes, decade by decade, from Gourmet confronted me with the fallacy of that statement. Some of my long-time favorite cookie recipes, including strawberry tart cookies and cranberry pistachio biscotti, can be found here. The best part of this book, however, is not the recipes, as good as they are, but the history behind them. The division of the recipes by decades offers glimpses into trends, subscribers, changing culinary tastes and abilities, and, of course, the focus of the magazine itself.

    Interestingly, when the magazine was first published in 1940s and people baked more than they do today, the cookie recipes were much more simple, with tastes that highlighted a few ingredients: butter, nuts, spices. Even in the 1950s, when baking ingredients were more available, the cookies remained somewhat homey and classic, with gingerbread men, lace cookies, and sesame-seed-coated queen's biscuits taking center stage. In the 1960s, however, Gourmet's cookies started taking on a more international note; as the editors note, commercialized air travel and growing national unrest led to more daring recipes. As the book states, "not a single one of the four cookie recipes that appeared in Gourmet in 1963 was of American origin." With this new internationalism came other recipes with more sophisticated lists of ingredients and flavors. By jumping ahead to the 2000s, Gourmet's final decade, one can see how much American tastes have changed: many of the cookies are classics with gourmet twists that make them look more like professionally baked treats than homemade lunch box snacks. Because the book contains a full page photograph of each recipe, it is obvious that later recipes focused as much on aesthetics as taste, while most earlier ones were content with a plain appearance.

    Because this book contains recipes exactly as they appeared in the magazine (with some recipe notes for clarification), contemporary bakers may be somewhat taken aback by the format in the earlier decades, as their directions are "remarkably casual, a kind of mysterious shorthand that assumes that each reader is an accomplished cook." While I dispute that these early recipes require any sort of advanced experience, they are definitely written out as though one person is describing the process to another, with ingredients not listed separately but as part of the instructions. (Separate lists of ingredients don't appear until 1982, when recipes were "no longer able to count on the readers' experience.") In some ways, I found the earlier recipes easier to follow because I didn't have to worry about going back and forth between adding sugar and reading how much sugar was called for. The amount was right there in the text.

    But how are the recipes themselves? Absolutely wonderful. Not a single one of the recipes I tried missed, although, obviously, some recipes, such as the sparkling lemon sandwich cookies, took more time and effort. From the humble honey refrigerator cookies to the sophisticated coconut macadamia shortbread, these recipes will please contemporary palates.

    -- Debbie Lee Wesselmann

    3-0 out of 5 stars Decent recipes... awful design., November 5, 2010
    I was really disappointed with this book, being a lifelong gourmet devotee. The recipes and history of each are good, and up to gourmet standards. But the pictures feel like they were just tossed together in a hurry and are not all that appetizing. The reason for the low star level though, is the layout of the book. It is, to be blunt, horrid.

    The photos are on the right hand pages and at the top of the left hand page is the title of the recipe and a blurb about it's history. Aside from a very unwelcoming font, all fine. But after the introductory paragraph is a huge chunk of white space, and then the recipe and directions are crammed together in a small and undifferentiated font in the bottom quarter of the page. It is hard to read and even more difficult to follow when trying to actually cook anything. The result is an altogether cold, difficult to use book. I'll probably copy out my favorite recipes onto recipe cards and resell the book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Simply Perfection, November 16, 2010
    I love the recipes and cookie photographs in this retrospective of the best cookies published in Gourmet Magazine. The bold graphic design of the photographs is stylish and quite attractive although I see some other reviewers disagree. To have a photograph of each cookie is helpful whether the design choice appeals to everyone or not.

    Like most pastry cookbooks there is no nutritional information provided, but I don't think any of us want to know that when we are baking cookies. But if looking for a book that caters to a particular dietary restriction, like vegan or gluten free, etc., this is not the book to buy. The pages are high quality paper and I found spills wiped up well. This hardback book stayed open, laying flat on my countertop no matter what page I turned to, so a cookbook holder was unnecessary.

    Included are seventy heavenly recipes from Gourmet Magazine's 68 year history. I have many cookie cookbooks so deciding whether to add another one to the group is dependent upon the recipes, so I am listing all of them here in case others use that method when selecting a cookbook. Cookie recipes in the book include: Cajun Macaroons, Honey Refrigerator Cookies, Scotch Oat Crunchies, Cinnamon Sugar Crisps, Date Bars, Moravian White Christmas Cookies, Old Fashioned Christmas Butter Cookies, Jelly Centers, Brandy Snaps, Chocolate Wafers, Navettes Sucrees (Sugar Shuttles,) Palets De Dames, Coconut Bars, Benne Wafers, Biscotti Di Regina (Queen's Biscuits,) Oatmeal Molasses Cookies, Lace Cookies, Brazil Nut Crescents, Gingerbread Men, Pine Nut Macaroons, Brown Butter Cookies, Cottage Cheese Cookies, Curled Wafers, Fig Cookies, Ginger Sugar Cookies, Apricot Chews, Mandelbrot (Chocolate Almond Slices,) Florentines, Galettes De Noel (Deep-Fried Wafers,) Shoe Sole Cookies, Speculaas (Saint Nicholas Cookies,) Dutch Caramel Cashew Cookies, Crescent Cheese Cookies, Kourambiedes (Greek Butter Cookies,) Almond Bolas (Portuguese Almond Cookies,) Lemon Thins, Irish Coffee Crunchies, Bizcochitos (Anise Cookies,) Linzer Bars, Bourbon Balls, Cloudt's Pecan Treats, Chocolate Meringue Biscuits, Spritz (Norwegian Butter Cookies,) Souvaroffs (Butter Cookies with Jam,) Pecan Tassies, Pastelitos De Boda (Bride's Cookies,) Mocha Toffee Bars, Pistachio Tuiles, Cornetti (Almond Cookies,) Mocha Cookies, Jan Hagels (Cinnamon Almond Wafers,) Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti, Aunt Sis's Strawberry Tart Cookies, Basler Brunsli (Heart-Shaped Chocolate Almond Spice Cookies,) Coconut Macadamia Shortbread, Anise-Scented Fig and Date Swirls, Chocolate Coconut Squares, Gianduia Brownies, Skibo Castle Ginger Crunch, Walnut Acorn Cookies, Cranberry Turtle Bars, Scandinavian Rosettes, Biscotti Quadrati Al Miele E Alle Noci (Honey Nut Squares,) Polish Apricot-Filled Cookies, Mini Black and White Cookies, Chocolate Peppermint Bar Cookies, Trios, Glittering Lemon Sandwich Cookies and Grand Marnier Glazed Pain D'Epice Cookies.

    The recipes I prepared are Brown Butter Cookies (amazing,) Mandelbrot (visually beautiful and equally delicious) and Gianduia Brownies (I was intrigued by the addition of Nutella in the batter -- fabulous result.) One of the other reviewers mentioned the Strawberry Tart Cookies so I tried those too. They are perfection and as with the other recipes I tested, a keeper. I will make these recipes again and again and plan to continue working my way through the rest of the book.

    A variety of flavors and cookie styles grace the pages which should appeal to cookie lovers of all types. This book would make a great addition to any cookbook library and a welcome gift for both novice and experienced bakers.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I love this book !, November 17, 2010
    I just received this book in the mail a few days ago and it already is one of my favorite cookie books! I have made several cookies out of the book and they all turned out fantastic !

    I have read some of the other reviews (some complaining of the photos) and I have to say I totally disagree - the photos clearly and simply illustrate and show off the cookie in question. I like the little blurbs about each cookie (under the title) and I love the layout - the cookies are listed by year. This way, when I want to bake a more simple (but still tasteful) cookie, I choose one from the 40's (when a lot of ingredients where rationed), and when I want to be a bit more extravagant, I choose one from a later decade.

    The only thing I would do differently, is making the print of the recipes a bit larger. However, I do like the fact that the ingredients are in bold print - it makes my mis-en-place much easier .....

    Overall, I think this is a very successful cookie book !!

    1-0 out of 5 stars Wow, what horrible design, December 16, 2010
    I love a cookbook I can cuddle up with AND with recipes that work. Here, the recipes might be fantastic and I love the listing in chronological order, but for a working book, the design is horrible with minuscule hard-to-read ingredient lists and instructions at the bottom of the page. It's tempting to take the vast white space between the description and the ingredients and rewrite them so they're legible to work from.

    The editors in Gourmet never should have approved this. They must have known better.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Picture of every cookie, November 4, 2010
    I guess I was hoping for a book that would make me salivate when I opened it and looked at the pictures. I will say that there are pictures of every cookie, which in my book is a book is a plus, but these are not appetizing looking cookies. I feel slightly guilty for saying this, but I wish that I hadn't bought it. The cookie monster inside of me says yuck to most of the cookies. They may be gourmet, but I would have passed on this book had I seen it in a book store. I would not recommend this to any of my friends or family. I would say to look at in a book store if you are able before you try to buy this.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best cookie book to date., December 24, 2010
    This has to be the best compilation of cookie recipes published yet. The 70 recipes included here cover the entire history of the Gourmet Magazines run and include some real favorites. Among my favorite is the Gingerbread Men, Ginger Sugar Cookies, Oatmeal Molasses Cookies, and the Moravian White Christmas Cookies. These recipes are keepers, everyone of them.

    With the history behind the cookies, The Gourmet Cookie Book is a real keeper.

    I highly recommend.

    Peace always

    4-0 out of 5 stars Fun to read, December 4, 2010
    I love cookbooks, so I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one. However, when push comes to shove, will I make many of these recipes? Probably not. The earliest ones are pretty old-fashioned now; lard? Dates? Cornmeal? And the more modern ones are fine, but nothing so groundbreaking, or so fantastic sounding, that I feel an urge to get the ingredients and make them ASAP.

    The strength of this book is in the historical look back at the food styles of the times, through the fascinating lens of what Gourmet magazine was featuring at the time.

    I disagree with other reviewers who say the photos aren't satisfactory; I think the photos are wonderful, and there is one for every single cookie recipe, a full-page photo facing a full-page recipe. I love that.

    However, also as other reviewers have said, this book does fall victim to the oh-so-modern problem of using full graphics capabilities to produce a "cutesy" layout that isn't terribly practical for a cookbook. For instance, the introduction is printed in a nice, large, readable font...but the designers chose to print the words in pale gray (on white paper) instead of black. On the recipe pages, there is the description of the cookie, a huge block of white space, then the recipe itself, which is in a small font and in narrative format, with no list of ingredients. For instance: "Take 1 cup of flour, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda and set aside. In a large bowl beat 2 eggs..". Kind of tedious to stand in the kitchen and read a paragraph while you're measuring ingredients.

    Recommendation: Would make a nice gift, and I'm glad I read it, but its strength is its great appeal to lovers of food writing -- not necessarily as a go-to cookbook for 21st century cookie bakers in the kitchen.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Gourmet let me down!, December 18, 2010
    I bought this book sight unseen because I trust Gourmet to put out a good book. This book is completely uninspired. There is a picture of every cookie, but I think even I could of taken more creative photos. I feel like they just threw it together knowing it would sell with their name on it. Oh, how I miss my Gourmet coming in the mail every month! I'm gonna cry.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing Cookie Book, December 15, 2010
    I was a subscriber to Gourmet magazine since the early 90's and so now that it is painfully absent I definitely had to get this book. The book is fascinating as it goes through each decade and looks back at how cookies can tell you a lot about how our country ate. The cookie recipes themselves are excellent. This cookbook includes recipes that I have bookmarked from my past magazines to be on my "must bake" list. I have already baked the Bride's cookies, Cranberry Turtle bars, Chocolate coconut squares, and Pecan Tassies (I use walnuts), and they are really the best of their kind. I find the pictures to be really interesting in a graphic design kind of way. I plan to buy this as a gift for my friends who are avid cookie bakers. ... Read more


    9. The Dangerous Book for Boys
    by Conn Iggulden, Hal Iggulden
    Hardcover
    list price: $26.95 -- our price: $17.79
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0061243582
    Publisher: William Morrow
    Sales Rank: 244
    Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    The bestselling book for every boy from eight to eighty, covering essential boyhood skills such as building tree houses, learning how to fish, finding true north, and even answering the age old question of what the big deal with girls is.

    In this digital age there is still a place for knots, skimming stones and stories of incredible courage. This book recaptures Sunday afternoons, stimulates curiosity, and makes for great father-son activities. The brothers Conn and Hal have put together a wonderful collection of all things that make being young or young at heart fun--building go-carts and electromagnets, identifying insects and spiders, and flying the world's best paper airplanes.

    The completely revised American Edition includes:

    The Greatest Paper Airplane in the World
    The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
    The Five Knots Every Boy Should Know
    Stickball
    Slingshots
    Fossils
    Building a Treehouse
    Making a Bow and Arrow
    Fishing (revised with US Fish)
    Timers and Tripwires
    Baseball's "Most Valuable Players"
    Famous Battles-Including Lexington and Concord, The Alamo, and Gettysburg
    Spies-Codes and Ciphers
    Making a Go-Cart
    Navajo Code Talkers' Dictionary
    Girls
    Cloud Formations
    The States of the U.S.
    Mountains of the U.S.
    Navigation
    The Declaration of Independence
    Skimming Stones
    Making a Periscope
    The Ten Commandments
    Common US Trees
    Timeline of American History

    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars My 6 year old went nuts for it., May 15, 2007
    I bought this book after seeing the author on the Colbert show (or was it the Daily Show?). I loved the idea of the book and ordered it from Amazon immediately.

    On arrival if found it exceeds my expectation. It reminds me a lot of the Popular Mechanics books from the 30's & 40's that I found in my grandmothers attic when I was a kid.

    The style is archaic, which is part of the charm. My 6 year old son, who really isn't into "chapter books", went nuts for this book. I think this mostly had to do with the title, but as we scanned each chapter together he seemed to get more and more excited.

    Before his bed time we read "coin tricks", "Girls" and he started planning how to get the badges found in the back of the book. He managed to learn the "French Drop" and proceeded to show everyone his new trick. Tomorrow he wants to hear about hunting and cooking rabbits.

    My wife was a bit nervous about the book, especially after seeing the section on hunting and cooking a rabbit. But I think she liked the section on "Girls" and she realizes that this book is targeted to boys, not Moms.

    It's definitely a hit. I will be reading chapters out of it to my son for some time to come. But I don't mind and will probably learn a thing or two myself.

    Update:

    It's more than a year later. The book is dog-eared, dirty and worn but my (now) 7 year old still reads and loves this book. I doubt there is a better review you can get from a 7 year old.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Breath of Fresh Air, May 30, 2007
    I have been thoroughly enjoying the book, as has my son and thousands of boys (and dads!) in Great Britain and the US. What is it about this book that brings such excitement to so many?

    If I had to offer my opinion, I would say that the appeal of this book is that it does not ask any boy to apologize for being a boy. Our culture is infested with the demand that boys forgo their God given call to grow up to be men, largely because we have adopted an unhealthy view of just what a man is. Whether our example be found in Homer Simpson, Ray Romano or the dad on Family Guy, men are portrayed as selfish imbeciles in a large portion of the media. Women are shown to be compassionate and intelligent, and they are usually given the role of the one who fixes the problems created by men. I have no doubt that most women are compassionate and intelligent, but the common negative portrayal of men is presented far too often, and frankly I'm tired of it.

    This book has a different take on what it means to be a boy, which is important because boys grow up to be men. From a biblical standpoint, men are meant to lead their families and churches by serving them. Where can you find such a concept on the television? You can't. This is yet another reason to get this book in the hands of a boy and his dad and get them outside to explore the world, whether that be an excursion in the woods or even just in the back yard. But how does this book portray a boy? What ideals are encouraged?

    I'm glad you asked.

    I simply cannot take this book section by section. There are instructions meant to get a boy started in tying knots, making a bow and arrow, fishing and many other activities. These are expected out of a book about being a boy. But included with such topics are other mini-chapters about the wonders of the world, grammar, historical battles, understanding latitude and longitude (something I never grasped in a classroom), the Declaration of Independence, poetry, Latin phrases, literature the Ten Commandments and also how to talk to girls.

    I mention talking to girls last, not because it is the last topic, but because I would like to highlight it for a moment. The first piece of advice about girls is to listen to them. The second is to avoid a long string of nervous jokes by listening to them. I'm sure that my wife wishes I had this book as a child! After this, romance is mentioned. Buying flowers is often not a good idea if you are young, because the girl will know your parents purchased them. I wouldn't have thought of that. Anonymous valentines are a good idea, due to the suspense the girl will have trying to figure out who's eye she has caught. Vulgarity of all forms is to be avoided at all costs. Respect for girls is given the utmost priority.

    Is this what is so dangerous about this book? Is it the high value the authors place upon girls or is it the very fact that they say that girls and boys are not identical? Is it the suggestion that every boy should have band-aids available for the inevitable mishap, because our bodies do heal? Or is it the way this book portrays a healthy boy in a way that expresses both a boy's natural desire for adventure and the ideal of respectfulness for others? I really can't say for sure.

    If I had to pick one way that this book is considered dangerous and why it has met some opposition, I would say that it is because The Dangerous Book for Boys resonates so well with dads who can only wish such a book was available to them when they were growing up, and because their sons by and large are reveling in the contemplation of spending Sunday afternoons and long summer days with their dads, rediscovering what it means to be a boy with their father acting as the primary instructor.

    I give this book my highest praise and encourage every dad to buy it for their sons. If you have a boy, you really need to get this book. If you don't have any boys, I'm sure you know somebody who does.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Pride of Ownership, May 10, 2007
    Some books you hang onto because they are useful, or well written, or happy memories are associated with them. And then there are the select books that are so handsome, you keep them because of pride of ownership. THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS is a keeper in all these categories. It is so durable and well designed, it is an absolute pleasure to hold and read.

    As to its actual contents, it sits at the pinnacle of nonfiction for early teen and 'tween boys, alongside The Big Book of Boy Stuff by, er, yours truly. Anyway, the chapters in DANGEROUS BOOK are a glorious, encyclopedic hodge-podge. They range from the historical ("The Golden Age of Piracy") to the esoteric ("Grinding an Italic Nib"!) to the quite daring ("Understanding Grammar").

    My kudos to the Brothers Iggulden for this retro look celebrating the secrets of boyhood. And again, neither gender nor age should restrict its readership; this book looks great sitting on anyone's nightstand.

    5-0 out of 5 stars It's too dangerous!, June 13, 2007
    And great for it!

    It's dangerous because it brings back values from a time when personal responsibility was assumed, not assumed to be absent. Hunting with airguns is dangerous, but teaches that meat doesn't arrive on Earth wrapped in clear plastic. Anything to do with spies is dangerous, but codes and invisible inks are fun, can be used responsibly, and are an important part of history (n.b. the role of espionage in the American Revolution). Doing things with electricity like making batteries, electromagnets, and pocket lights is dangerous, but teaches some of fundements of the technologies that drive the modern world. Soccer is dangerous, I've seen kids break bones playing it, but it is good healthy fun, and the kids who broke bones openly and loudly resented having to sit out games while they recovered. Girls are dangerous in so many ways, but when treated with respect can make life better. Grammar is dangerous, especially in the hands of an attorney, but creates quite an advantage for those who master it.

    All these things and more are discussed, and alternatives to XBox, Gameboy, PlayStation, etc are offered. This book is incredibly dangerous to proponents of a 'managed society' where everyone is protected from everything, and everyone is free and happy in exactly the proscribed fashion. And I'm OK with this. Because "the Dangerous Book for Boys" also encourages responsibility, manners, education, self-reliance, creativity, and a host of other values that receive lip-service but little actual support in mainstream America.

    Several reviewers have expressed their displeasure with the phrase "for Boys". Get over it. Get some perspective; if this is the most important thing you can take a stand about, go visit a third world country and watch children walk half a mile for water every day. Who cares what it says on the cover? I bought it with a blond, blue-eyed, [...] girl in mind, and she loves it. If it is such a heartache to you, quit whining and write "The Dangerous Book for Girls" while my daughter reads this one.

    For the rest of y'all, get this for any boy or girl of any age. This book is excellent and an investment in the future.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Dangerous Book for Boys, June 16, 2006
    I bought this book for my nine year old nephew. When the box arrived and I opened it, the appearance of this book literally took my breath away. It is a large, beautifully fabric bound book with gold leaf lettering. Very retro and charming. Looks like it could have been pulled off of a bookshelf in the 40's. As I watched my nephew thumb through the chapters I saw and felt his excitement as he found sections on fossils, baseball, knots, bows and arrows, pirates and so much more. He is very excited to try everything he found!! I'm a woman in my 40's but I want a copy for MYSELF!!! Buy this book...you'll be glad you did. Oh, and go ahead and get that extra copy for yourself while you're at it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars If only..., May 1, 2007
    My mom wouldn't let me go to summer camp because she thought I would drown in a lake. Consequently, I couldn't use a power tool until I was twenty-five years old. And I still can't tie a decent knot. If only I'd had this book! Especially the chapter about girls. Absolutely crucial information for any boy and it's written by witty and learned authors. I've already bought a copy for my three-year-old son. N. Smith author of Stolen from Gypsies.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect for moms of boys, April 18, 2007
    As a mom of two boys (who happened to grow up in a household with three sisters and no brothers), I needed this book. Sometimes I am at a loss over what skills to teach my boys. How to tie knots, play chess, shoot marbles, skim rocks, build a go-cart...it's all in here. With diagrams and sketches, the book feels like a manual you'll return to time and time again. It even includes poems every boy should know, such as Whitman and Frost. Would make a wonderful Mother's Day or Father's Day gift for parents of boys.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A great book for bonding!, May 20, 2007
    I got this book for myself [mom of a girl] because I used to be quite a tomboy as a child and my daughter seems to be heading that way too:) But, I am planning to get this for my dad for Father's Day so he can try some of the skills in this book with my younger brother. Its a great book...in an age where most kids' idea of fun is staying indoors and either being glued to the TV or playing video games, this is a timely reminder that the greatest joy in life is to exercise the mind and hands in healthy, intelligent, adventurous pursuits, preferably outdoors! The skills covered in this book are diverse in levels of difficulty, but all of them are unique and though some may seem quite dated , it is also refreshing to come across a few from my childhood days:) Highly recommended for the young and young-at-heart!And the lovely red cover with illustrations is an added bonus!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Not just for boys and their fathers!, May 16, 2007
    I bought the UK version of this amazing book two years ago--and amazing it is! History, sport, battles, nature, girls, grooming, science, knots, magic tricks. . .it may *look* a bit nostalgic, but it's very, very applicable to every boy's life. . .and his mom's and his sister's, too. I loved, loved, loved this book (60 year-old-mother of a daughter here) and would give it 10 stars if allowed! Delight your boy--or girl--young or old--with this thrilling book! On my shelf right next to the Harry Potters and the Enid Blytons! ... Read more


    10. Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love
    by Larry Levin
    Hardcover
    list price: $19.99 -- our price: $9.57
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0446546313
    Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
    Sales Rank: 249
    Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    In the bestselling tradition of Rescuing Sprite comes the story of a puppy brought back from the brink of death, and the family he adopted.

    In 2002, Larry Levin and his twin sons, Dan and Noah, took their terminally ill cat to the Ardmore Animal Hospital outside Philadelphia to have the beloved pet put to sleep. What would begin as a terrible day suddenly got brighter as the ugliest dog they had ever seen--one who was missing an ear and had half his face covered in scar tissue--ran up to them and captured their hearts. The dog had been used as bait for fighting dogs when he was just a few months old. He had been thrown in a cage and left to die until the police rescued him and the staff at Ardmore Animal Hospital saved his life. The Levins, whose sons are themselves adopted, were unable to resist Oogy's charms, and decided to take him home.

    Heartwarming and redemptive, OOGY is the story of the people who were determined to rescue this dog against all odds, and of the family who took him home, named him "Oogy" (an affectionate derivative of ugly), and made him one of their own.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Have tissues handy, August 31, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    I was hooked by the picture of Oogy on the cover. The story did not disappoint.

    This is a noble dog, an inspirational dog. (As someone says to the author, "When was the last time you heard of a fighting dog who was inspirational?" I don't have the quote exactly right, but it's just what I was thinking while reading.) Oogy had a horrendous history - he was literally a throw-away dog when Larry Levin and his sons first met him. Somehow Oogy's spirit and love for all creatures survived an unthinkable ordeal and shone through to all who met him, even when he was close to death and in incredible pain. This is an amazing animal, and the narrative works best when Larry Levin makes the story about Oogy. Of course it is also about a family, but it is mostly about this amazing dog.

    True animal lovers - vets, rescuers - recognize the special nature of this animal. People seeing him on the street are initially put off by his appearance but quickly won over by his personality.

    The writing style is straightforward which works well with the compelling and emotional nature of the story. I cried early and often. It is a quick read but it will stay with me for a long, long time.

    Minor quibble: it seemed that the author was way too hard on himself every time Oogy suffered some pain, and obsessed with making it up to Oogy for the unthinkable experiences of his early life. Mr. Levin is apparently an attorney with a very flexible schedule that allows him to spend a lot of time at home, and his bonding with Oogy is so complete that he occasionally seems to lose perspective.

    Another quibble is the title. Everybody loves Oogy. That's the whole point.

    I think the story works so well because this is basically a normal family whose lives are touched by an extraordinary dog. Oogy is the miracle. Very highly recommended.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great for dog lovers, September 11, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    I am so in love with Oogy after reading this book, I feel like he's MY dog, rather than the Levin's family member! After being used as a bait dog in a dog fighting ring outside Philadelphia, this sweet, loving, and near-death dog arrived at an animal hospital and basically began the fight for his life.

    Larry Levin and his young twin sons went to the animal hospital for a difficult reason as well, being forced to put their elderly cat to sleep. As they were leaving Oogy had wriggled out of his cage and tackled one of the boys to the ground, covering the boy with kisses despite the painful injuries he was still suffering from. The Levins knew they had found a new family member!

    Bringing Oogy home was not easy, as the poor pup was missing an ear and had a face full of scar tissue that required a lot of care, but the boys and their father were determined to make him fit into their family. What started as a tragedy became a beautiful ending, with a loyal, friendly, and happy dog taking the place of the beaten puppy that first arrived at that animal shelter.

    If the sweet face on the cover doesn't first draw you in, the first few pages certainly will. Author Levin writes in a to-the-point, readable manner that will have you finishing the book in no time. I read it in one morning on the train to work! You'll want to keep turning the pages, as this little dog puts a huge smile on your face and inspires you to want to help other animals like him.

    I have also rescued a dog that was deemed a "difficult breed" and have loved every second of being her person. Oogy's story just solidified my belief on rescuing dogs. I highly recommend this inspirational read!

    4-0 out of 5 stars There truly is a human family for every dog..., September 1, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    I am sorely tempted to give the book 5 stars because any story about an abused dog finding a perfect family deserves high praise, but that would be a bit disingenuous on my part, so I give it about a 4.4 rating. I can't say I found the book to be a big tear jerker, books such as Saved: Rescued Animals and the Lives They Transform, Found Dogs: Tales of Strays Who Landed on Their Feet are more the type that get me. This story does not wallow in the cruelness that happened to Oogy when he was a pup, rather it showers you with all the love he found when he was turned over to the animal hospital and then given to the Levins.

    The story of Oogy is compelling and I truly think the Levins are wonderful people. The author and his 2 sons basically fell in love with Oogy at first sight. I have to admire someone who can just give in to that feeling with such utter ease, with no doubts and no internal debate about whether it is right or not. He saw Oogy with all his physical faults, but just knew he had to have him regardless. The stars aligned for the Levins that day when their paths crossed with Oogy. Huge kudos also go to the animal hospital and the woman who fought to save him in the first place.

    There is a bit of background story about the Levins and their 2 sons, but it is interesting and leads up to Oogy's adoption. I read the book in one day, but in recalling it in my head, the time line gets a little jumbled. I think in the story the author jumps around to different events, such as near the end of the book he talks about a trainer he brought in when Oogy was younger. It kind of seemed like that was added as an afterthought, when it could have been placed early in the book. I do like stories to follow a sort of chronological time line and there aren't many dates or ages given for Oogy that help me to place how old he is during the story. That is just a little pickiness on my part though.

    The author comes across as a very easy going, humorous person. That is fortunate for Oogy because his behavior in the early years is not something that everyone could have withstood. Sleeping on the dining room table. Barking at you while you eat. Needless to say Oogy is a bit spoiled, and as a big fan of the Dog Whisperer, that can cause some issues. Oogy was definitely not an aggressive dog, but he seemed to think he was on equal footing with all the humans there. He seemed to do what he wanted to do when he wanted to. But you know what, it works for them, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    In all, it is a good book. I have read numerous animals stories (Amazing Gracie: A Dog's Tale, Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat and Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat), and while this one kept me reading and in love with Oogy, it didn't have quite the polish of these other books. Hmm, maybe that is how Oogy would have wanted it though.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Ugliest dog with the biggest heart, November 27, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    I have met Oogy a couple of times at the dog park, and I can attest to what a sweetheart he is. You sense that about him immediately as you see him running and playing with the other dogs. It never occurred to me to be concerned that he might be a threat to my dog. His personality exudes "cream puff." I remember when I first saw the scar going down the side of his head, I thought he must have had cancer. Mr. Levin told me he had been a bait puppy. I was horrified, and all I could think of to say was, "I'm glad he has a good home now." After reading the book, I can see that was an understatement. The devotion Mr. Levin and his family have shown this dog is almost unfathomable.

    When I learned that Mr. Levin had written a book about Oogy, I couldn't wait to read it. After learning about the horrors that this innocent little puppy went through, I think what amazes me most about Oogy is that he was a sweet, loving, and outgoing dog from the get-go, despite what he had been through as a bait puppy. He wanted to bond with the humans who had rescued him, and he showed them such a high level of trust. He truly has a heart of gold. He went on to become a spoiled (but not too rotten) dog, with his humans going to great lengths to express their love and devotion. Okay, I'm a believer in doggy discipline, so I think they went a bit far, but I have to admit you can't blame them for wanting to indulge Oogy's every whim after the rough start he got.

    Like Marley & Me, the book of Oogy is not just about the dog, but also about the family and how they came to be together before and after the dog came into their lives. And it is particularly about the bond between the author and the dog. My only complaint about the book is that it was not told in chronological order, so there were times when information given later in the book would have been helpful or appropriate in the earlier sections. For me, this made it seem a bit disjointed, and I couldn't discern a reason for telling the story in this fashion. That aside, this is a very fast and satisfying read, full of doggie love just dripping off the pages. The earlier section about Oogy's ordeal is mercifully short, but it's important to get through that section to fully understand his story. This book is a must-read for people who love their pets, especially those who believe that abused animals deserve a chance at rehabilitation.

    Mr. Levin noted that he was considering training Oogy to be a therapy dog for -- among others -- wounded veterans. What a wonderful way to show that it's possible to rise above past suffering and have a wonderful life.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Bridget's Review, September 28, 2010
    I am a HUGE dog-lover. I will never understand how some people can be so cruel to a helpless animal. This book made me cry so hard but it also made me smile. It's amazing how a dog can come into your life and change you just because you took the time to look at them. My dogs are not pets, they are a member of my family. I take care of them and they take care of me. They are my Oogy. If you are an animal lover, you HAVE to read this amazing story.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Yeah for Oogy!, September 4, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    I admit that I love books where a dog overcomes incredible odds and gets a happy ending. And that is exactly what you'll find in this book.

    Oogy tells the tale of a very special dog - as a puppy, Oogy was used as a bait dog (a dog used to train fighting dogs). Left for dead, he somehow gets saved by a wonderful vet and staff at a clinic where the author and his family are clients. They meet Oogy and it's basically love at first sight - even with a lopsided face, this family recognized a special dog.

    Even though this dog has no reason to trust humans, Oogy bears no ill will - he adores his family and they adore him. The author's love for his dog is obvious. And along with the tale of adopting Oogy, the author also relates about the adoption of his sons.

    The author's style is very casual - you feel like he's sitting there next to you telling you about Oogy. Unlike Marley and Me where the book goes into depth of the almost day-to-day life with Marley, this is more of an overview and talks about some specific incidents of life with Oogy. Though I found some slow parts, it's a quick read and I finished the book in an evening.

    The thought of what this dog went through as a bait dog brought tears to my eyes. But overall, it's a positive book that tells the story of a special dog who overcame incredible brutality and the special family who saw beyond his looks and his breed and adopted a fabulous dog.

    A great book for those who love dogs but I'm sure any lover of dog breeds who are used for fighting will really love this book.

    4-0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2 Stars -- Emotionally Uplifting!, November 9, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Oogy is the story of a puppy brought back from the brink of death, and the family he adopted.

    On an extremely "down" day in 2002 when Larry Levin and his twin sons took their terminally ill cat to a vet to have their beloved pet of many years put to sleep, their lives suddenly got brighter when the ugliest dog they had ever seen ran up to them and captured their attention and hearts. The dog, only a few months old, was missing one ear and had half his face covered in scar tissue as a result of being used as bait for fighting dogs. From the moment they met it was love at first sight for both Oogy and the Levin family.

    Levin tells his story of how Oogy had a heartwarming and lasting impact on his family in a very emotional and uplifiting way; yet does so without getting overly dramatic about all the pain and suffering this young dog had to endure. It is a book that any animal lover won't be able to put down or get out of their head after finishing it. Oogy and the Levins are a pleasure to get to know, and this book is one I'd very much recommend.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An uplifting tale that every pet lover will enjoy., November 23, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    I loved reading this book. I expected a sad tale about humanity gone wrong or a self-serving memoir of the perfect animal rescuer and all his good deeds. This book was neither. It was an easy read, fun, uplifting and joyous. I couldn't put the book down and finished it in one sitting. If you are an animal lover and a softie for that special pet that needs a home, you will enjoy this book. Oogy is a dog that is so ugly he becomes cute. I took one look at the cover of this book and had to read more about this special dog. As an eight week old puppy, Oogy had been used as a "bait" dog in a dog fighting ring. He lost his ear, cracked his jaw, and was left for dead. A kind policeman turned him in to a very special veterinary hospital and through the devotion and skills of some amazing animal lovers, he was saved. Larry Levin and his two sons happened to be in the vet's office with their elderly cat when Oogy came bounding out of the back on his way to a walk with one of the vet staff members. The Levin family knew right away that Oogy was a special dog and they wanted to adopt him. This book is the story of how Oogy and the Levin family came together. It is a tale of devotion, unconditional love, and the capacity for forgiveness despite the roughest of beginnings. Oogy brings love and growth to this family (and pretty much everyone he meets). Oogy is not perfect, the Levins are not perfect, but it is clear that they are perfect for one another. I highly recommend this as an easy read!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A heartwarming story: In the tradition of Marley & Me., October 20, 2010
    In the tradition of Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog and A Buffalo in the House: The True Story About a Man, an Animal, and the American West, two of my all-time favorites, Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love demonstrates how love transcends between an owner and his dog. Rescued by police after his face is mauled as a "bait dog," Oogy is adopted by the author Larry Levin and his family. Levin shares their experiences together with eloquence and genuine insight. As an owner of three rescued dogs, I highly recommend this book.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Gotta Love Oogy!, October 17, 2010
    I'm torn on how to rate this book. Oogy's story is gripping, the writing is not.

    Oogy was just a puppy when he was used as bait for fighting dogs. Police rescued him, an amazing veterinarian staff saved his life, and the Levin family eventually adopted him. Larry Levin attempts to piece together Oogy's beginning, as well as tell us the tale of Oogy's life after adoption. However, his writing is sort of a mess, particularly in the first third of the book. At times it reads more like a personal memoir than the story of Oogy.

    Levin's timeline is all over the place and his writing is often dry. For me, there were too many small, unnecessary details (such as the minutiae of cooking breakfast) and not enough of the details that make Oogy's tragic story a heartwarming tale of love and redemption. ... Read more


    11. You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness
    by Julie Klam
    Hardcover (2010-10-28)
    list price: $24.95 -- our price: $15.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1594487766
    Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover
    Sales Rank: 300
    Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    The hilarious and heartfelt chronicle of a woman learning the secrets of love, health, and happiness from some very surprising teachers: her dogs.

    Julie Klam was thirty, single, and working as a part-time clerk in an insurance company, wondering if she would ever meet the man she could spend the rest of her life with. And then it happened. She met the irresistible Otto, her first in a long line of Boston terriers, and fell instantly in love.

    You Had Me at Woof is the often hilarious and always sincere story of how one woman discovered life's most important lessons from her relationships with her canine companions. From Otto, Julie realized what it might feel like to find "the one." She learned to share her home, her heart, and her limited resources with another, and she found an authentic friend in the process. But that was just the beginning. Over the years her brood has grown to one husband, one daughter, and several Boston terriers. And although she had much to learn about how to care for them-walks at 2 a.m., vet visits, behavior problems-she was surprised and delighted to find that her dogs had more wisdom to convey to her than she had ever dreamed. And caring for them has made her a better person-and completely and utterly opened her heart. Riotously funny and unexpectedly poignant, You Had Me at Woof recounts the hidden surprises, pleasures, and revelations of letting any mutt, beagle, terrier, or bulldog go charging through your world.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars A shared experience

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    A Boston Terrier was my father's engagement gift to my mother. Another was my seventh-birthday gift. As I approach Medicare, for the first time in my life I don't have a Boston Terrier. My 10th one died recently at age 15. At some point during our dog's illness, my husband and I decided that this was our last dog. It was a rational, logical, and realistic decision based on our ages and circumstances. So why am I so uncommitted and unconvinced by it? This book reminded me.

    Not everyone melts when they see a Boston Terrier. Buggy eyes and flat noses aren't most people's idea of doggy beauty. There are prettier dogs, bigger, fluffier, more colorful, more and less energetic, equally smart and funny. But there is more to these little creatures than their looks. Their personalities dovetail perfectly with mine and we understand each other. (Exactly what that says about me, I don't know). Every important moment in my life has been shared with, at least, one. I still come home and look down, I still check garden gates, I still look at dog toys at the grocery store.

    The author is even more of a dog person than I am. She tells the story of, not only her own dogs, but of dogs she has provided foster homes for (something I admire tremendously in others and would never be able to do). Reading her book feels like having a conversation with a friend you have much in common with. She shares the good times along with the sadness and the every-day frustrations and inconveniences.

    But most of all, she shares how these little loves who don't speak still manage to help you understand the complexities of life as well as the simple truths we might not have, otherwise, noticed. She shares how dog and human meet halfway to communicate with each other and fill each other's empty spaces; how they silently seem to bring out the best in us, and how they help us become more human as well as humane; how a dog relationship helps you develop virtues such as patience, loyalty, commitment, and unselfishness, as well as self-esteem and competence.

    Her dogs and mine have had much in common and I confess to tearing up, now and then. But, just as in the real-life dog/human relationship, the joy far outweighs the pain.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Inside the Mind of a True Dog Lover

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Julie Klam's "You Had Me At Woof" is just a perfect read - funny, smart, and at times serious. I will be the first to admit that I was never a dog person until I got my dog, and even still, HE is the only dog I like. But I think Julie has turned me around and sold me on the idea that other people's dogs are pretty great too.

    While not specifically a "how to" book on happiness, it's clear that Julie discovered to be fulfilled beyond the role of wife and mother, she needed to help these abandoned dogs find forever homes, and it's a noble calling. The book provided great insight into the whole world of rescue dogs, and the people who rescue them. I found myself rooting for the dogs, and for Ms. Klam.

    A thoroughly entertaining read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars "I am richer in every way because of the dogs I've known"

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)

    Right now the demand for dog books can scarcely be sated. Being one of the insatiable readers of these dog books, I got my hands on Julie Klam's You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness and thoroughly enjoyed it. Klam is an accomplished writer with a great sense of humor, and she would need one, living as she does in a Manhattan apartment with her husband, daughter, and a variable number of small dogs who can't be counted on to mind their manners.

    Julie has a passion for Boston terriers. She got her first Boston when she was thirty, depressed, underemployed and alone. She really wanted to meet a man and eventually get married but...well, she got a dog to bridge the gap and bonded with little Otto right away, making him the complete focus of her attention. Not all readers will relate to her indulgence of Otto, but many people feel the same way about their canine companions--and many others feel a strong enough bond to understand why others might go that far. For Julie, her relationship with Otto was unselfish and nurturing, helping her to transition to other relationships.

    Fast forward to Julie married and raising a daughter. For me, the most interesting aspect of her story was her work with a Boston terrier rescue organization. She got involved in picking up Bostons from shelters and organizations and placing them in foster homes, while working to find "forever homes" for these appealing pooches. It was not her intention to foster dogs, never mind adopt, but somehow...somehow...we keep finding Julie with a macrame of leashes walking a tangle of little dogs through the streets of Manhattan. Some dogs just wriggled their way into her heart. In one memorable passage, Julie describes her dogs' incorrigible behavior while being walked, and offers this explanation: "It's that saying 'All dogs go to heaven.' They hear it all the time. Why bother curbing yourself if you have this Get Out of Hell Free card?"

    From the sometimes eccentric dog owners, to the big-hearted people who always make room for a dog in need, to the personality-packed little dogs themselves, you'll find this book rewarding and full of pure entertainment. A must-read for anyone crazy about dogs.

    Linda Bulger, 2010

    5-0 out of 5 stars Julie had me by page 10!!! Excellant book for Pet Lovers

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    IF the title isn't cute enough, the reader will soon meet even cuter Boston Terriers that Julie has devoted her life to rescue. She starts off the book with her own story, this book is somewhat of a memior, but is so much more. I did hold my breathe in the beginning because I really didn't want to read another woman's tale of her narsasitic life while after being lead to believe this was truly to be a dog's tale. It is just that....a story about her dogs, with also details of her personal life woven in the story. She does such a great job telling all the stories of her own pets (Otto and Bev) and her rescue pets (there are many). I enjoyed so much reading about her last rescue of the book Dahlia. What a sweet dog. Just a story about Dahlia would have been enough to fill the pages of a book. What I love about this book is that through Julie telling her story of serving these lovable (sometimes unlovable Boston Terriers), is that you learn more about Julie then if she would have just written about the birth of her daughter Violet, her marriage, her career, and her friends, while briefly mentioning these heartwarming dogs on the side. I think since Marley and Me came out that there is a new generation of authors that want to write that sort of book, but really just ends up writing more about themselves than their relationship with the pets they are suppose to write about.

    Julie really has a heart for these dogs. You don't see her complaining about the constant pee and poop (I am sure vomit is there somewhere even though she doesn't mention it) in her apartment. SHe loves these dogs and the details she writes about each of them does each dog justice. I applaud all her fellow rescue workers in this book.


    I am not sure if the reader will learn the secret behind being happy after reading this book, but it is obvious that Julie has found what she loves in her dogs, and she does a really great job communicating that through her unquie writing style in her book.

    I would highly recommend this book!!! I loved it!!!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars If You Love Dogs, Expect to Love This Book!

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Julie Klam has a good title for this book: "You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness." The secrets of happiness are complicated. And the dogs she had were pretty complicated, too. But yes, one at a time--or two at a time!--they came into her life and transformed it.

    I wrote about a book about therapy dogs, who along with their owner-handlers provide other people with great emotional and even physical benefits, through visiting them. I have an assistance/service dog, which are dogs who provide disabled people with physical aid. Both of these jobs for dogs are effective far beyond the exact tasks the dogs perform. Dogs are mysteriously very, very special.

    As the author's experiences make clear, there is a whole lot of work in taking proper care of a dog, and a whole lot of differences among dogs. Picking the right one for yourself is not easy and not a sure thing. It is so very, very important to get this right, because dumping off a dog that isn't working out like you expected is, well, it's wrong.

    What you need to do if you can't keep a particular dog is to return the dog to the breeder if possible, or if not, find the dog a new home. Rescue groups like the one our author worked with for years make a huge difference in finding dogs new homes and standing by them to find them ANOTHER home if that one doesn't work.

    Klam grew up on a large property in the country with Mastiffs--enormous dogs--and as a New York City apartment dweller, came to Boston Terriers and mixes. She made good choices about her dogs, with the help of knowledgeable rescue people.

    So many books about dogs are just too upsetting for me to read. This one is a real page turner, and has a great message, too. Her dogs, and the help she had from knowledgeable dog people, made her life much better. Wow.

    Highly recommended book!

    5-0 out of 5 stars I'm NOT a dog person --- and I beat my paws for this book
    I am not a dog person. Or a cat person. Or, for that matter, a fish, hamster or snake person. It's not that I don't like pets --- though I don't. It's that I don't like creatures with short life spans cohabiting with us. Maybe you've noticed: They have a bad history of not living long. And dealing with grief generated by dead animals --- that's optional, isn't it?

    I taught Julie Klam at NYU's Tisch School. She was smart, ironic, destined for some kind of media career. I would not have said that, eight years after graduation, she'd be working at a dead-end job in the insurance business, living alone and taking anti-depressants. Nor would I have said that the way out of loneliness and tedium would, for her, start with a dog.

    But as "You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness" attests, you let in a dog into your life, he makes his way into your heart. (If you give a mouse a cookie....) And then you become a dog person. A serious dog person. Though, if you're Julie Klam, "serious" gets bent into irony, self-deprecation and outright humor along the way.

    Blame it on Otto, her first Boston Terrier. Julie had to go all the way to Pennsylvania to adopt him. When she got him home, he went straight for her bed: "He sat in it like he'd been there all his life. And as with everything else he did, I took it as a sign of genius."

    Love? Literally: "I thought about him every minute we were apart, brought him everywhere the law allowed, fed him everything I ate, carried him up to my sleeping loft every night and tucked him under the covers, his head on the pillows next to mine. All my energy was put toward making him happy. It was the best relationship I've ever been in."

    And an instructive one: "I took care of him and he took care of me. Within six months of adopting him, I grew up." Through Otto, she learned "the give-and-take that is needed to succeed in a relationship." Soon she was married. And writing. (As readers of her first book --- Please Excuse My Daughter --- know well, Julie Klam is very funny, in a young voice/old soul way.)

    Otto led her to animal rescue --- taking in dogs destined to be put down and helping them find new homes. This is not without its nightmares. Some dogs have rotten personalities. One gets killed in traffic. Some are abused or untrained. And it's not as if Julie Klam is magic with animals --- she thinks of herself as "the dog mutterer."

    I know that every dog is special and that yours, dog lover, is the most special of them all. But there's something about Julie Klam's dogs and dogs-in-transit that's very fun to meet on the page.

    Or is it really Julie Klam?

    5-0 out of 5 stars This book will touch your heart
    Julie Klam has written a previous memoir, "Please Excuse My Daughter," which revealed the promise of a writer just beginning to flower. With this latest memoir, "You Had Me At Woof," we discover a writer now in full bloom, or in this case, full bark. Woof!

    This is ostensibly the story of Klam's relationship with her beloved Boston terrier, Otto. But it is truly much more than that. "Woof" traces Klam's journey (sorry for that cliche') to becoming a decent human being. Not that she wasn't already. But Otto gave Klam his love. And she returned it in full measure. That, my friends, was a relationship. They adored one another. And Otto taught Klam how to truly love another being. She's still doing it. Klam has a husband now and a daughter-after the passing of her sweet Otto, Klam has opened her heart (and her home) to even more Boston terriers who needed some compassion (and some love).

    You will love this book! I guarantee it....WOOF!

    5-0 out of 5 stars For dog lovers
    If you love dogs, especially Boston's you will enjoy this book. Good stories with lots of info on what its like to get involved with breed rescue.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Kind of Irresistable
    If you've read Julie Klam's previous life tale ( Please Excuse My Daughter ) you know she's Catskill's 'stand-up' hilarious. Which what I was expecting in this book about her life with dogs. And in that I was disappointed. Her love for Boston Terriers sends her in amusing directions and into laughable situations. And while she can't help but see the comic aspects of keeping her demanding daughter, her sympathetic husband, and multiple mutts happy and contented, this is a pretty serious book about people and animals. You don't have to be a dog owner to enjoy her stories of rescue. Good read.
    ... Read more


    12. The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition
    by Cook's Illustrated Magazine
    Hardcover
    list price: $35.00 -- our price: $23.10
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0936184744
    Publisher: America’s Test Kitchen
    Sales Rank: 250
    Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    With The New Best Recipe, we invite you into America’s Test Kitchen where you will stand by our side as we try to develop the best macaroni and cheese, the best meatloaf, the best roast chicken, the best brownie, and nearly 1,000 more best recipes for all your favorite home-cooked foods.

    Behind this book is a deeply felt understanding of how frustrating it can be to spend time planning, shopping and cooking only to turn out dishes that are mediocre at best. With The New Best Recipe in hand, you will have access to a wealth of practical information that will not only make you a better cook but a more confident one as well. In fact, as long as you follow our instructions, we guarantee that these recipes will work the first and every time.

    We have also included 800 illustrations showing you the best way to do almost everything from how to carve a turkey and beat egg whites properly to how to frost a layer cake and set up your grill. Also, get valuable information on how and when to splurge on that expensive knife or baking pan and when the basic model will do just fine. We also explain the science of cooking since understanding the science of food can help anyone become a better cook.Complete with recipes ranging from appetizers to desserts, The New Best Recipe ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Cook and the Baker (who hates to cook) both love it, November 5, 2004
    I'm the Baker. When my husband-to-be first came to my house to cook me a dinner, he rummaged through my cabinets and said "Where are your pots and pans?"; then he looked through the pantry and fridge and said "Where is your FOOD?" I had to explain that, in my vocabulary, "cook" is a verb meaning "to put into a microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes." Food? Small boxes in the freezer, of course.

    I tell you this so you'll understand how improbable it is that the first thing I tackled from "The New Best Recipe" was chicken stock. A real-deal chicken stock, I'm talking here--the kind that turns to a jelly when cooled, is deep gold, and can improve nearly any dish you add it to--the kind that takes eight or ten hours to make, the classic way.

    See, I had picked up this massive (1028-page) book in the bookstore and idly opened to the Soup chapter, where I read a three-page explanation of how to make real chicken stock in one hour. They detailed all the blind alleys they'd explored in trying to come up with the perfect recipe for stock--the different cooking techniques, times, ingredients--until they'd found a way to make rich golden stock in an hour. The technique was, er, unorthodox to say the least, but it all seemed to make perfect sense, so I bought the book and decided to try to make a stock to present to the Cook as a fait accompli.

    Holy smoke, it worked! And I gotta tell you, if I can make a couple quarts of chicken stock between the time my daughter gets home from school and the time my husband gets home from work, then you can too.

    So, enough anecdote; now for details.

    ----------

    1. The book is a compilations of recipes from Cooks' Illustrated magazine and the America's Test Kitchen TV show (which I've never yet seen). The title seems presumptuous: "best" according to whom? Isn't "best" a matter of taste? Well, yes, but they are at pains to describe for nearly every recipe just what they MEAN by "best." Here's an example, for pound cake:

    "...the main difficulty with pound cakes of the classic type is textural. Cakes might be said to have five 'texture points': moist/dry, soft/hard, dense/porous, light/heavy, rich/plain. To contemporary tastes, cakes must be relatively moist and soft; the three remaining texture points are negotiable.
    "The problem with pound cake is that we ask it to be moist and soft on the one hand but also dense, light, and rich on the other. This is an extremely difficult texture to achieve unless one resorts to baking powder, with its potent chemical magic. Air-leavened cakes that are light and soft also tend to be porous and plain, as in sponge or angel cakes; moist and dense cakes inevitably also turn out heavy, as in the various syrup-soaked Bundt cakes that are so popular. From pound cake, we ask all things."

    Or for broiled salmon:

    "We set out to find the best way of cooking a whole side of salmon, enough to feed eight or more guests, in the oven. We wanted fish that was moist but not soggy, firm but not chalky, and nicely crusted, with golden, flavorful caramelization over its flesh. If we would work some interesting flavors and contrasting textures into the bargain, all the better."

    Or for roasted potatoes:

    "The perfect roasted potato is crisp and deep golden brown on the outside, with moist, velvety, dense interior flesh. The potato's slightly bitter skin is intact, providing a contrast to the sweet, caramelized flavor that the flesh develops during the roasting process. It is rich but never greasy, and it is accompanied by the heady taste of garlic and herbs."

    In other words, before telling you how to make X, Y, or Z, they tell you what you're shooting for. I appreciate this. Mostly my goals and theirs coincide, but if they don't I'm aware of it BEFORE I start to cook.

    2. After they describe the goal, they tell you the variations they tried to achieve it. This might include fiddling with cooking temperatures and times, number or type of ingredients, cooking techniques, tools, containers, phase of the moon... whatever! The folks in those test kitchens apparently have an infinite supply of time and money, not to mention patience.

    So, for the chicken stock, they tried blanching, roasting, and sauteing the chicken; backs, wings, legs, or the whole chicken; carrots, celery, onion: yes or no? A sidebar details issues like what kind of chicken to buy, how to cut it up, and tips for storing the stock once you've made it.

    You find out what works, and why, but also what didn't work, and why not. Knowledge really is power. Time after time in the past I've followed a recipe (or so I thought) and messed it up--with no idea of where I went wrong or how to fix it. Most cookbooks assume that cooks just don't make mistakes. This one tells you just about everything you could do wrong, so you won't.

    By the way, I LOVE it that they attribute techniques and recipes found in other sources (including, in the case of pound cake, recipes from 1772, 1824, and 1985).

    3. Is there some science about your ingredients or techniques or equipment? You'll learn about it. Why is is that butter and eggs for a cake should be at room temperature? Some cake recipes say combine everything at once ("quick mix" technique) and others say to cream suger with butter, then add the eggs and flour. Why do they both work? What's the difference in the end result? And what about those dark non-stick cake pans? Will they change anything? You'll find out.

    4. After you understand the issues around your recipe, they give you the recipe itself. Many have three or four variations given after the main recipe. Each step is spelled out clearly, with both visual and time cues (e.g., "until the pork is in small, well-browned bits, about 5 minutes"), often accompanied by clear B&W illustrations and useful sidebars.

    5. There are separate mini-essays on ingredients and equipment, comparing them a la Consumer Reports. We learn which are the best brands of chocolate chips for cookies (with different recommendations for thick/chewy vs. thin/crispy, no less!) and which paring knives were rated best.

    I found a chart that lists the volume of medium, large, extra-large, and jumbo eggs. For that alone, I'd have bought the book, since the Cook (who's also the shopper) buys XLs, but the Baker's recipes all assume Ls. Now I actually know by how much they differ (8:9 is the ratio, in case you wondered).

    6. Have I mentioned that everything I've made so far has rocked?

    ----

    Downside? The Table of Contents and the Index both stink like the stinkiest of stinking fish. Does 22 lines ("Pork... 385", "Cakes... 823") seem to you like enough detail for the contents of a thousand-page cookbook? Me neither, especially as the individual sections don't have their own ToCs. This is ridiculous. But the index is even worse. Tiny print, uniform font sizes for all three levels of indent, no indicator letters at the top of the page to remind you where you are, and a distinct lack of cross-indexing make it a near-total waste of time. Someone could make a lot of people happy by preparing sectional ToCs and a decent index for this massive tome.

    We don't accept every single bit of information in this book (the Cook has a serious bone to pick with them vis-a-vis their unflattering assessment of bluefin tuna, for instance), but for each item we disagree with, there are ten that have us nodding in agreement.

    It could be described as a scientific cookbook, but that might leave you with the impression that it's dry and colorless. Quite the contrary--I find it fascinating reading, especially the parts about how they screwed up.

    The prose is not lyrical or charming, as The Joy of Cooking frequently is, but it's truly engaging in its eagerness to give you all the tools you need to succeed. I doubt there's a cook in America who couldn't learn something from this book. I think it's that rare cookbook that is equally suitable for beginners, experienced cooks, and everyone in between; as much fun to read like a book as it is to use as a manual. Get it!

    5-0 out of 5 stars These Recipes Consistently Deliver, January 6, 2005
    I consider myself an experienced cook but I have had frustrating experiences with cookbooks and recipes I'd find in magazines and newspapers. Something would sound wonderful, I'd buy ingredients, spend hours cooking and the results would be...OK. Not terrible, not inedible, but a disappointment none the less. Even cookbooks that I love and contain recipes I think are wonderful would also have recipes that I found pretty so-so. In fact, in many cookbooks the ratio of successes to non-successes is pretty small. Finding The Best Recipe (the edition that preceded this one) was a revelation for me. Each recipe I tried was a success. When The New Best Recipe was published, I bought one immediately and was thrilled to find so many new recipes.

    This is now my go-to cookbook, the first place I look when I want to find a recipe, and a book I check other recipes against when considering recipes from other sources. I use this book in the way my mother used the Joy of Cooking when I was growing up in the late 60s and early 70s. And just as Joy was the book she used when she needed a recipe for a classic like beef stew or a then fashionable food such as quiche or cheese fondue, The New Best Recipe has recipes for classics (spaghetti and meatballs, pot roast, coq au vin, shrimp scampi) and also has recipes for foods that have hit the American culinary radar more recently such as pad thai, beef fajitas, and pozole. In fact the huge range of foods is one of the things that makes this cookbook so wonderful; for instance, the pasta section includes recipes for lo mein, tuna noodle casserole and ravioli.

    This is a great book for beginners because of the detailed explanations of how the ultimate recipe was achieved which include discussions of different techniques that were considered or used and why they were rejected, as well as the many sidebars which give information on technique and equipment. Plus there is nothing that teaches you to cook like cooking, and nothing that keeps you cooking as much as having success. But it is a book that an experienced cook will find just an interesting and useful. I have been cooking for years and I have learned from this book.

    This is not (and does not represent itself to be) a low-fat cookbook. The recipes are about achieving maximum flavor and taste. It is also not (and does not represent itself to be) a cookbook full of fast recipes. However, this book contains so many recipes that low fat and fast recipes can be found among them. The recipes are always clear and easy to follow, and the results will speak for themselves.

    I love cookbooks and have many but if I were forced to have only one cookbook, this would be the one

    5-0 out of 5 stars Absolute best cookbook, November 16, 2004
    I've been cooking for over 40 years, but I still consider myself a very bad cook. I almost always use a recipe, but if I don't have something, or don't want to bother with some technique, I try to substitute. Not a good idea for me. Or often the recipes don't include little details that they assume cooks will know, but I don't. I look through numerous recipe books and think I've found the best one for something, but it often doesn't come out perfectly. But that's all changed now! This book is amazing at not only giving you terrific recipes, but it explains why the cook made the choices she did in creating the recipe. It is so fun to read the background of how they created the perfect recipe for something and they discuss all the other things I would have done and why those things don't lead to a good product. I've tried one recipe from each chapter and had so much fun because they all came out terrific.

    5-0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THOSE MAMMOTH COOKBOOKS, January 26, 2005
    I'll be honest. I've never really been one who likes these huge, mega-recipe cookbooks as I've always preferred smaller, more specialized books. This one did come as a surprise as a friend loaned it to me who just raved about it. The recipes are culled from the pages of Cooks Illustrated Magazine which I am not overly familiar with. With a 1000 pages and 1000 recipes, you're sure to find a LOT that you can use.

    One thing important to note is that these recipes are not simply thrown into the book. Cooks Illustrated tests these receipes in their kitches many times, evaluating all facets of the recipe from ingredients and preparation to cook times and equipment. More than just recipes, the book acts as a guide to everyday kitchen techniques, many designed for the novice but certainly still valuable to more experienced cooks. There's also great advice on buying cookware and utensils, as often your receipes are only as good as the equipment you use to make them.

    Everything from simple casserole dishes and crockpot favorites to more elegant receipes can be found within its pages. The receipes are VERY step-by-step, obviously written for the beginner in mind and will ensure a great meal everytime. Add to that the editors have put in a generous helping of over 800 illustrations perfectly complement the well-written and well-tested recipes.

    If you are going to own just one of these massive type cook books...toss out Betty Crocker...Give the Joy of Cooking the heave-ho...let the Gourmet Cookbook gather dust, and pickup this fantastic book. Simply put it's the best of its kind anywhere! Highest recommendation.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Be the most amazing cook ever, right now!, December 16, 2004
    Would you like to be a fabulous cook? Can't afford a ritzy cooking school? Ever wondered if the mortals in your kitchen could learn to cook like GODS??!!

    Wonder no more...this cookbook comes to us courtesy of the team at Cook's Illustrated magazine, which while not widely known, is the single best source of cooking information and recipes on the planet.

    Cook's takes classic recipes, deconstructs them and puts them back together, streamlined for the home kitchen but sacrificing nothing in terms of knock-your-socks-off flavour. Bonus: these recipes don't fail, unlike those in most other cookbooks.

    I was always a decent cook, but after finding Cook's Illustrated I became an amazing cook...this book will make you one too. I didn't know food could taste this good; you will produce dishes that rival 4 star restaurants, I kid you not. The directions are crystal clear, and you get lots of expert advice on how to choose ingredients and equipment. Most recipes show you master-chef level tips and tricks that are easy to learn.

    I can personally recommend the Coq au Vin p. 341 (my family literally begs for it), and if you cook the steak and Madeira pan sauce p. 389, they will probably name a religion after you. Other highlights, French Onion Soup p. 43, various pastas with garlic and oil pan sauces p. 238, Fresh Tomato Sauce for pasta (INCREDIBLE!!!) p. 241, Molasses Spice Cookies p. 785, Lemon Pie p. 907, Key Lime Pie p. 908, Creme Caramel p. 958. Well, you get the idea...I could go on and on, the recipes are so utterly delicious.

    This cookbook is kick-ass, world class. Everyone you cook for will wonder where you learned to cook like that. I have lots of cookbooks and almost never look at any of my old ones any more. This one is just that good!

    Get it, get it now, you will be so very happy you did, and so will any cook you get it for. The Best Recipe rocks.

    5-0 out of 5 stars they've made the mistakes so you do have to, May 21, 2005
    I LOVE IT! I'm excited about getting into my kitchen again. I have not had a failure since I bought it. I'm Australian, so American fare is not always my favorite style of cooking, mac and cheese and meatloaf? But living here, I have to deal with American ingredients, and to be honest I've had some spectacular failures since I've moved here. I can't totally blame having to work in oz and F.

    I was skeptical about the title and I'm really glad I overcame my bias. This book is good - REALLY good. Most people consider me a good cook, and I have a veritable library of cookbooks and recipes. While I did not really need 1000 more, I was intrigued enough to open the book - it fell open at a meat page which "finally" I was able to find a diagram to tell me what the various local meat cuts equated to what I was used to. I started flicking though earnestly. I stumbled across the Pork area, I'd just made pork chops that turned out the equivalent of industrial brake pads. Cooks test kitchen pointed out that today's leaner cuts of pork, needed to be treated differently. Cooked on a medium heat. I figured that what I just wasted in meat, the investment would be worth it, so I bought it home. Since then I've had tender meat, superb roasts, great pancakes, a fabulous summer pie. The book sits on my kitchen counter - it is the ultimate resource. I still use other recipes, but I find myself always coming back and consulting it and ultimately using the techniques it teaches.

    It explains the process of recipe building and talks about recipe variants, a great knowledge to go forth with if you are prone to substituting as I am. I've since subscribed to their magazine, bought their baking illustrated and look forward to their new barbeque and grilling book. I'm more confident than ever in my American kitchen, and I have the America's test kitchen to thank for it.

    I think the greatest compliment is I've come back to Amazon to buy a copy for a friend that is about to get married. A true gift of domestic harmony.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Don't throw away your orignal "Best Recipe!", February 20, 2005
    This is a wonderful cookbook and I'm looking forward to exploring this edition as I did the original Cook's Illustrated Best Recipe. However if you own the original copy, be aware that this new edition is not simply an expanded version of the original. The editors have eliminated some of my favorite recipes and replaced them with others. The chocolate chip cookie recipe, which is indeed my favorite version of this classic treat, has been eliminated in favor a new thin & crisp variation. The quick cook carrots, which I love, have been dropped. I haven't done a comprehensive comparison between the two editions so perhaps it was just a fluke that several of the first few "old favorites" I tried to cook were missing, but I suggest you keep your original copy around just in case. However the new recipes I've tried have been up to the Cook's Illustrated standard, and I'm thrilled to have more recipes to try in one convenient cookbook.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A great resource for recipes and information, April 24, 2006
    I feel I need to refute the previous reviewer's allegations. I've had this book for a year and a half, and while I've always enjoyed cooking, this book has taken me to a new level, in both enjoyment and skill. I read it front to back (and have since subscribed to the magazine) and found it fascinating reading. I love the explanations on the development of each recipe. I've made at least a hundred of the recipes in here, and very few have failed me. Most have been amazing.

    Because I have not made either the Osso Buco or Beef Burgundy recipes the previous reviewer mentioned, I cannot attest to their quality specifically. However, one of the goals of these recipe developers is to take culturally traditional food and make it accessible to the American home cook. Many traditional recipes include ingredients and equipment that are not practical or available, and the recipes in this book do their best to work around this and still produce fantastic food.

    I have however baked both the Baguette and Rustic Italian Bread recipes from this book. When I removed the baguette from the oven, I realized that I had finally made a great baguette, after trying many other recipes. The crust was great and the crumb was perfect. (The taste was bland-I forgot to add the salt.) I've made the Italian bread several times and gotten a ridiculous amount of compliments on it.

    I've found their equipment testings valuable, even more so because they do not advocate buying tools that will be useful for only a specific food. Since reading this book, I've put my breadmaker, egg cooker, and deep fryer in storage, because the stove and oven can do it all. I've also found their tastings useful, especially because the magazine does not accept advertising. The science explanations peppered throughout the book have really wet my appetite for more kitchen science.

    I will admit that this book is not for everyone. A lot of people aren't interested in the "best" recipe, they're interested primarily in the easiest or healthiest recipe. Also, there are no color pictures. I don't find this too detrimental because a lot of the focus of the book is on developing the best recipe for classic dishes, like mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli, and I know what those are supposed to look like. There are line drawings to help explain techniques, and these are helpful.

    For me, this has been a great book. It's a large resource of recipes from a source that I trust, and because every recipe starts by explaining their goals, I know what to expect from the finished product. I've also been able to take what I've learned here and apply it to everything I cook. Perhaps most importantly, it makes me excited to learn still more about food and cooking.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Indispensable Kitchen Wisdom, November 15, 2004
    This book gives you the most thorough description of how and why to cook recipes a certain way for the sake of taste and efficiency that I have ever seen. It also rates various brands of kitchen equipment and provides simple but extremely useful graphics. Best of all, the recipes turn out consistently terrific food. I just got this book a few weeks ago and feel I can't live without it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I don't know anything about cooking, September 5, 2006
    I don't have experience cooking and I sure don't know much about cooking technique. I have personally made all the recipes my family has enjoyed from this book with "technical" help from my wife. When my wife has made "new" recipes from other sources, we don't know what the final product will be like. With this book, not only do they tell you what the final product should be like, it most likely will turn out that way. I've watched America's Test Kitchen and thought that I could make some of the recipes they prepared. I like how detailed the instructions are on the show and the book is even more detailed. I've seen Cook's Illustrated magazine in the book store and this book is similar though slightly condensed (explanations of the testing they did and why the final recipe is the way it is).

    While they have incredible detail on how and why, they do have to assume you have some rudimentary knowledge of cooking technique. So, when I tried the brownie recipe and it told me to "fold" the flour into the batter, I was clueless - fortunately, my wife supervises. As others have stated, they purposely change their recipe from "classic" recipes to make it more likely the average home kitchen has the tools required along with the ingredients being available at your supermarket.

    The brownies are incredible - the difference between out of the box brownies and the "classic" brownies is why people make food from scratch. Light and fluffy pancakes came out just the way they describe it...not the dense version I usually generate from packaged mixes (my wife had to give me a lesson on flipping pancakes - that's how inept I am in the kitchen). BBQ spare ribs with the BBQ dry rub - just like the ribs I had at "Smokey Bones" in the Atlanta area (the book tells you how to cook grill recipes for charcoal and gas grills). Cheese Straws drew rave reviews at a party (although not as pretty because my daughter and I couldn't get the twists described in the recipe so we just laid it out flat - the guests didn't care). Fallen chocolate cake (molten lava cake) was better than the local Chili's. Every recipe I've made has come out they way they said it would.

    As a totally novice cook, if I can get good results, then anyone should be able to do the same. As a novice cook, I do run into problems when timing is important when making a recipe the first time - like frozen dough becoming too warm because I took too long with something else before getting to the dough. They assume the average cook can get something done in X minutes while someone like me takes double the time. Fortunately, from America's Test Kitchen, I knew to just throw the dough back into the freezer when it got too warm.

    On my wife's advice, I am writing all over the book with my own notes on each recipe I make with any adjustments on spices or time allotments so each recipe will be MY Best Recipes.

    It's a great book. One day, maybe I'll let my kids use it and they can personalize it with the stains/spills they've put into the other recipe books we have (yeah, the books where the results are hit and miss). ... Read more


    13. Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys
    by David Tanis
    Hardcover
    list price: $35.00 -- our price: $23.10
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 157965407X
    Publisher: Artisan
    Sales Rank: 346
    Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Recipes from a very small kitchen by a man with a very large talent.

    Nobody better embodies the present-day mantra "Eat real food in season" than David Tanis, one of the most original voices in American cooking. For more than a quarter-century, Tanis has been the chef at the groundbreaking Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, California, where the menu consists solely of a single perfect meal that changes each evening. Tanis’s recipes are down-to-earth yet sophisticated, simple to prepare but impressive on the plate.

    Tanis opens this soulful, fun-to-read cookbook with his own private food rituals, those treats—jalapeño pancakes, beans on toast, pasta for one—for when you are on your own in the kitchen with no one else to satisfy. Then he follows with twenty incomparable menus (five per season) that serve four to six. Each transports the reader to places far and wide.  And for grand occasions, a time for the whole tribe to gather around the table, Tanis delivers festive menus for holiday feasts. So in one book, three kinds of cooking: small, medium, and large.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars A book for home cooks that's both accessible and original, November 4, 2010
    My wife used to be Somebody in the New York fine dining world. As for me, one of the only two jobs that's required my daily presence was as a French chef. But going out to dinner has pretty much disappeared from our lives.
    Our 8.5-year-old is the major reason. She has homework now, and reading, and piano pieces to practice, and although she is the-best-girl-in-the-world, we feel the need to sit with her in the early evening, whip in hand, while she gets it all done. Then there's the bedtime ritual --- my wife delivers a nightly lecture called "Bore Me to Sleep." By then, it's nine o'clock. Two hours until Jon Stewart. Haul in a sitter, rush to a restaurant? I think not.

    What's that? At a child-friendly hour, we could take the kid out with us? No, no, no and no. The Princess is in year four or five of a lycopene addiction so severe that her culinary parameters start at pasta and end at pizza --- no way is she going to sit in a real restaurant. And we tire of Sal's Pizza.

    So we cook at home. Sometimes for others. Mostly for ourselves.

    Few cookbooks are of much use to us. They're too fancy, too formal. They're too basic, too simple. They're too regional, too specialized.

    David Tanis, in "Heart of the Artichoke," gets it just right. No shocker there: He's the half-time chef at Chez Panisse --- he lives in Paris the other six months --- and he's a great representative for Alice Waters. That is, his thing is first-class ingredients, served with one twist --- a spice you wouldn't have thought of, a vegetable others would ignore. The result is familiar and novel, which is tr�s cool. To quote Ms. Waters: "David will give me a menu, and I'll imagine what it will taste like, and then it's nothing like what I imagined. That's the thrill to me."

    Tanis is well-traveled, and his influences range wide: Mexico, South America, France, Vietnam, Sicily. Indeed, he's such a citizen of the world that our own cuisine is an acquired taste:

    "When I cook American food, it's a little like when I conjure up my inner Italian or inner Spaniard --- it's a bit of a masquerade. If I crave American food, I have to go into my pretend-citizen mode. It's as if I'm doomed to travel the world in search of my real culture. It's not that I'm not American, it's that I grew up in Ohio, where there's no discernible regional cuisine --- unless you count funnel cakes. Owing to that particular geographical spot and era, I gained my knowledge of American cooking through other people's reminiscences. And the occasional foray into James Beard. There's something odd about having nostalgia for something I never really knew. It wasn't until I got out into the world that I learned about corn bread and gumbo, Indian pudding, chicken and dumplings, sweet pickles, and fried green tomatoes."

    Appreciate the irony: His "American" dishes are more satisfying than those of many American cooks because our cuisine is a midlife enthusiasm. He's sifted and chosen well --- the recipes we like best are native-born, if not exactly unvarnished Americana.

    And Tanis has sensible values that our can-do pragmatists would admire: "I'm a restaurant chef who has always preferred to cook at home." What is a home-cooked meal? Sometimes it's "a plate of potato salad and a beer," sometimes it's "much more than that." In this book, you get the range. First, it's divided into seasons. And then there are the secondary categories. "Cooking small" (meals when it's just you). "Medium" (menus for four to six people). And "large" (feasts for crowds).

    Tanis has preferences, which he shares in a charming opening section. After a meal, he likes fruit. Cookies? Yes, "but not giant cookies, and not chocolate chip, and not oatmeal." He travels with key provisions, starting --- smartly --- with harissa. He craves a ham sandwich, with butter, on a baguette, in a French bar. (He also likes tripe and makes his own chorizo, which is where we part company.)

    Some of his delightfully twisted recipes: fennel soup, zucchini pancakes, pork --- not veal --- scaloppini, fried fish with tarragon mayonnaise, broiled pineapple with rum. Many are shown with photographs you'd happily cut out and eat. (No wonder --- the photographer is Christopher Hirsheimer, half of the Canal House team.)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The chef who really GETS IT!, November 28, 2010
    I have given away as presents over 60 copies of David's first book. He cooks as I cook and eat ... only so much better. His book was not widely available in Australia's book shops. I stumbled over it accidentally and couldn't put it down.

    This second book, "heart of the artichoke ..." is just as wonderful. The recipes are manageable for the average cook and the taste results are authentic and superb. I cooked the de-constructed turkey for thanksgiving and it was simply stunning. Rave reviews from those at the table including 2 chefs. I will never roast a turkey the old way again. My love of Pho (iconic Vietnamese soup) comes from living a year in Saigon during the Vietnam war. It is the soup I must have often for comfort and confirmation that all is right in my world. David's recipe for Pho is absolutely authentic. The recipes are wide-ranging and very interesting. This book reveals more of David's attitude to food, life, living which has pleased me immensely. Anyone who always travels with chillies in his pocket is my kind of guy! This is a book to buy and never lend out. Everyone should have their own copy. It's the perfect Christmas gift. I have purchased 22 copies to give as gifts in late December.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Not just an artichoke, December 5, 2010
    David Tanis presents a cookbook that celebrates in season meals. It is not just recipes but his reflections on cooking these foods. He begins with a section on his kitchen rituals, remembering how he ate oatmeal, the first time he ate an artichoke, among others.

    The book is divided into seasonal menus: spring, summer, fall and winter, each with 5 menus His focaccia is amazing, as is the Digestivo with fresh berries and then the Molasses pecan squares are a favorite, we have even substituted walnuts with great success. Another section has 4 feasts and the recipes for them, including a deconstructed turkey.
    The index is done by ingredient, but could have used better spacing and highlighting. It is also frustrating to look up Focaccia and not have it listed, because it is not an ingredient.

    Tanis believes in simplicity and his food-recipes are not that difficult. They are different and simple but yet complicated flavors. This is an unusual cookbook for those that collect them and for those who would like to cook something that is a conundrum between simple and complex.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Good Eating, December 3, 2010
    David Tanis's new cookbook is great! I am a big fan of his earlier book (Figs) and this one is just as wonderful.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Miss leading title, December 20, 2010
    I was very excited to see a title of a cook book about articokes. I was not able to review the book inside to see what the recipies intaled. If I would have known that there was either one or two recipies I would not have bothered, now I own this cook book that I am not happy about and would not have bought if I knew that their was such few recipies with such a great title that was misleading. ... Read more


    14. Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights
    by Jessica Kerwin Jenkins
    Hardcover
    list price: $27.95 -- our price: $15.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0385529694
    Publisher: Nan A. Talese
    Sales Rank: 327
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Encyclopedia of the Exquisite is a lifestyle guide for the Francophile and the Anglomaniac, the gourmet and the style maven, the armchair traveler and the art lover. It’s an homage to the esoteric world of glamour that doesn’t require much spending but makes us feel rich.

    Taking a cue from the exotic encyclopedias of the sixteenth century, which brimmed with mysterious artifacts, Jessica Kerwin Jenkins’s Encyclopedia of the Exquisite focuses on the elegant, the rare, the commonplace, and the delightful. A com­pendium of style, it merges whimsy and practicality, traipsing through the fine arts and the worlds of fashion, food, travel, home, garden, and beauty.

    Each entry features several engaging anecdotes, illuminating the curious past of each enduring source of beauty. Subjects covered include the explosive history of champagne; the art of lounging on a divan; the emergence of “frillies,” the first lacy, racy lingerie; the ancient uses of sweet-smelling saffron; the wild riot incited by the appearance of London’s first top hat; Julia Child’s tip for cooking the perfect omelet; the polarizing practice of wearing red lipstick during World War II; Louis XIV’s fondness for the luscious Bartlett pear; the Indian origin of badminton; Parliament’s 1650 attempt to suppress Europe’s beauty mark fad; the evolution of the Japanese kimono; the pil­grimage of Central Park’s Egyptian obelisk; and the fanciful thrill of dining alfresco.

    Cleverly illustrated, Encyclopedia of the Exquisite is an ode to life’s plenty, from the extravagant to the eccentric. It is a cele­bration of luxury that doesn’t necessarily require money.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Lives up to it's name, November 12, 2010
    Encyclopedia of the Exquisite is a fantastically delightful read. It was clear when I read the introduction that the author and I are kindred spirits. This book engages the little girl in me who thought the glass doorknobs on our old house were made of diamonds and clearly had magical powers. Each entry is it's own adventure, like a peephole into a bygone era. The author writes clearly and beautifully, making each bit come to life on the page and the illustrations are gorgeous!
    I'm having to force myself to read only a little at a time to make it last longer, like I'd do with a fancy bar of chocolate. I'm already wondering if she'll consider a second volume, as I am now noticing exquisite things all around me that I'd love to know the story of. I know I'll be giving copies to friends for years to come, beginning with this Christmas!

    5-0 out of 5 stars earthly delights, December 6, 2010
    From Nectar and Ambrosia to Sequins, from Omelets to Frilly Lingerie, Jessica Kerwin Jenkins has compiled a handbook of pleasures, a guide to refinements, both exotic and humble. Readable and whimsical, it's a book to savor, like a big box of chocolate Truffles, which sublime fungus, of course, merits an entry--and a recipe. This is not a frivolous compendium; Jenkins has done serious research, so readers learn the Venetian origins of the Umbrella, and how it was used by Thai acrobats in performance. She also understands that the exquisite is not limited to the material world, and there are entries on Twilight, Wanderers, Far Niente, and the elusive Quintessence. There is an extensive bibliography, too, for those whose curiosity has been inflamed. And as an object, the book itself is exquisite, with deckle-edged pages, and a binding stamped with gold.

    5-0 out of 5 stars a total delight, December 11, 2010
    A delicious book. Kerwin-Jenkins has done meticulous research to bring us bits of way-off-the-wall history. Each entry is more fascinating than the preceding one. Did you know about the Elephantine Colossus at Coney Island, one of three huge buildings shaped like the animal that were all the rage at the turn of the century. A big blue one at the Paris World's Fair in 1899. Only one remains, the 65-foot Lucy at the Jersey Shore. And that is just the "E's!
    This is a jewel of a book to be savored very slowly.

    5-0 out of 5 stars awesome writer!!, December 2, 2010
    Each entry not only enlightening, but exquisitely written. This book is like a sequence of prose poems inspired by Joseph Cornell. I hope it's only the first of many volumes!

    5-0 out of 5 stars deightful book, November 12, 2010
    So engaging and well written is the Encyclopedia of the Exquisite. the illustrations are beautiful as is the general design of the book. it has been a surprisingly fun and educational read. can't wait to give it as a gift...
    ( make sure to read the introduction!)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Get a copy for every room!, November 15, 2010
    The title says it all - wonderful vignettes about well known as well as obscure treasures. I want a copy for every room of the house - I am delighted every time I pick it up.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful find!, November 10, 2010
    This is one of those great treasuries that you and your friends can revisit time and time again. Entertaining, amusing, and extremely interesting, this timeless catalog of the extraordinary makes a great holiday/birthday/housewarming gift. More sophisticated than your average "coffee table" book but not so high-brow that it can't be enjoyed by one and all. Each entry is a gem and the book surpasses the sum of the parts. I stumbled onto this and I'm glad I did!

    5-0 out of 5 stars I'm buying more to give as gifts this year, November 7, 2010
    I absolutely do not regret this purchase. Encyclopedia of the Exquisite is exquisite itself. It's a beautiful book filled with charming illustrations, anecdotes and facts about historical figures and phenomena of all kinds. Kerwin is an excellent writer who has clearly done serious research with an impressively wide reach, but she delivers is with wit and levity. Every entry is a short, concise piece so I have been picking it up and putting it down for days, skipping all around the book. I wish I had one in every room in the house. And it really is a beautiful book in itself. I am definitely buying a copy of this for everyone I know for Christmas. It's perfect.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Oops!, December 2, 2010
    I was interested in the book and clicked on the illustrated champange entry shown above. The very first sentence had a typo! These kinds of things are becoming routine and hardly elegant.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Lack of Creativity in subjects - nothing new to report, November 22, 2010
    While the book was well researched and I learned a few new things, I found the book extremely dull and boring. For example, the color black along with crickets, are labeled as "elegant delights." I like crickets and the color black is elegant but they are both predictable and nothing enlightening. I really wanted to like this book but in the end was bored and would not recommend it. ... Read more


    15. Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable
    by Faculty of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts Univer
    Hardcover
    list price: $26.00 -- our price: $14.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0547232829
    Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    Sales Rank: 359
    Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Our dogs are living longer than ever thanks to enormous advances in medical treatment and a highly evolved understanding of what they need to thrive. No one knows this better than the faculty of the Cummings Veterinary School at Tufts, who treat more than 8,000 older dogs annually. Their philosophy of caring for aging dogs combines empathy for each individual dog and owner, a comprehensive approach to patient care, cutting-edge science and technology, and a commitment to innovation. Good Old Dog brings their renowned clinic into your living room, arming you with essential advice to see your dog through his golden years.
     
    Featuring
    • Nutritional advice—not every senior diet is right for every senior dog
    • Emphasis on treating conditions common to older dogs so they live longer
    • How to evaluate complicated procedures and decide what’s right for your dog
    • The cost of caring for an older dog and how to shoulder the burden
    • How to identify cognitive decline and how to manage it
    • Advice on creating a healthy and comfortable environment
    • How to determine when “it’s time” and how to cope with the loss
    • And much more
     
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Well written with some exemplary advice, September 30, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Good Old Dog is a great resource for people who have an aging 4 legged friend of the canine variety.

    While a great resource, it is NOT comprehensive. This is, of course, not a negative as the book is expertly written and researched and includes plenty of "real dog" stories to help get some of the finer points across that may not be relayed easily during the more fact filled descriptions of issues. But it deserves to be pointed out; there are certainly many issues for aging dogs that just aren't covered.

    What is included are the top issues/problems/concerns that the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, which is one of the largest residency programs for Veterinary Medicine in the USA, see on a regular basis. According to the back of the book, they see 26,000 cases annually, 8,000 of which are for elderly dogs. I would say if they claim these are the top issues and concerns a person should have for an aging dog, they are likely right.

    If you're looking for a comprehensive of issues facing aging dogs, there really doesn't seem to be many if any out there.


    Did you know that an aged dog's nutritional needs differ from those of a middle aged dog? Do you know how to spot the signs of aging and do you know when you should begin looking at when to change the diet to one more suited to an older dog? After reading this book you will.

    Also included are chapters on joint care, cancer discussions, kidney failure, heart disease and dementia. In the more general care area there are chapters on changing the diet of an older dog (including wonderful information on supplements), what to anticipate in caring for your aging dog (an ounce of prevention...), how to keep your aging dog stimulated without over exerting themselves and finally, dealing with the decision most dog owners must eventually make, putting your beloved friend/companion/pet to sleep. For the last part, putting your dog to sleep, they don't really sugar coat it but they do give you some very, very fine pointers on how to know when the time to make the decision has come.

    The copy I have being a pre-release copy ("advance reading"), there is one thing I sorely miss from the pages of this book; an index. There is, according to the table of contents, a planned index of all the information included in the book. As this book paints itself as a reference for "keeping your aging dog happy, healthy and comfortable," it would be nice to have a way to quickly flip to the index and try to find the pertinent sections of the text this way. I give the 5 star review with the hope that this books includes a comprehensive index. I enjoyed reading this book and the invaluable information it provides, enough to actually purchase the final release for the index alone.

    While I don't currently have an elderly dog (my current dog is an 8 month old pup), reading through this book and applying what I've read to what we experienced prior to having our 14 year old Shetland Sheepdog put down last year, I kind of wish I had had this book then. Moving forward with my new puppy, I will be sure to keep hold of this book for the future and keep my eye out for signs of old age (which hopefully won't be fore quite a few years from now!).

    Also, it cannot be stressed enough; if you suspect your dog is sick, don't rely solely on any book for a diagnosis; get your dog to an animal hospital or your veterinarian RIGHT AWAY. This book is meant as a resource and supplement to REGULAR health check ups for your companion, not a replacement for proper veterinary care.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Mixed Review, November 2, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Anyone interested in this book is clearly concerned about proper care of their senior dog. I've had the pleasure of sharing my life with dogs for many years, and have recently been reading almost everything I can about them. What can we do to make our canine companions later years as comfortable and healthy as possible? Does the book assist in that goal? Yes and no.

    Although a book on senior dogs is needed, this one is not comprehensive, rather it is an over-view. Perhaps it is impossible to cover everything in one volume, but this isn't a lengthy book. I felt a number of areas were not adequately covered. Perhaps simply stating the book is a beginning point is sufficient.

    I found the chapter on proper canine diet, confusing. I did learn to look for the Statement of Nutritional Adequacy and to look for an indication that the food went through animal feedings tests using Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) procedures, rather than it simply met established nutritional standards. Clearly it is important to know the food was actually fed to dogs in a test environment.

    There is additional information regarding these standards which adds value to the chapter but, the information about lack of standards in the term --senior-- dog food seemed to contradict the author's solid faith in prepared food and question the motivations of the manufacturers.

    Apparently not only is there no legal definition for the term - senior -- but the ingredients may be unhealthy and actually cause problems to a dog previously doing fine on their old chow. The author mentioned increased sodium levels, higher fat and higher calories all inadvertently putting the senior dog at risk after their well intentioned human switches them to a diet presumably designed for the aging canine.

    Then there is the issue of by-products found in dog food. The author states that by-products are considered delicacies, like sweetbreads. Yes, some by-products are considered delicacies, but I doubt those bits are finding their way into the dog chow. When the term by-products is used in animal food it can mean anything from bird beaks and feathers to who knows what else. Books by holistic veterinarians focus much attention on how the life span of dogs is decreasing rather than increasing and that is largely attributable to both prepared diets and environment. It isn't that all prepared food is bad, but the lack of concern about by-products seemed at best, odd. So, I had difficulty reconciling the author's opinion about by-products while pointing out the lack of standards and then expressing faith in the chow.

    Another stumbling point -- the author explained that adding a few precious months to our dogs life actually equates to a much longer period in dog time. Apparently this point is so important he mentioned it several times in the book. Well, it may be true that three months to us is much longer to a dog, but we live in people time and to be blunt, dog guardians are paying for expensive treatments with people money not dog treats. It is noted that just because a treatment exists doesn't mean it needs to be done - and that is an important statement, and one not mentioned nearly enough particularly when the patient is a senior dog. Dog guardians are not always informed of that fact.

    One of my dogs is currently terminally ill. When she was diagnosed the oncologist suggested chemotherapy although it is proven to be ineffective with this form of cancer. How do I know this? It was clearly stated on the biopsy report. I asked why the ineffective treatment was being proposed and was told because it is the only thing available.

    I imagine it is difficult facing a client and being unable to provide any shred of hope. But people have a right to the full picture when making these decisions, difficult as it may be to hear. Whether I want to spend many thousands of dollars to add three months to the life of my precious senior dog is a personal decision, but it should be made with full knowledge that there is no assurance I will gain even a few months, and that the cost of the additional time includes many of my dog's remaining days spent in the veterinarian's office, stressed and perhaps in discomfort.

    The author mentions saving for future medical costs and having insurance, but that's not enough. I've encountered expensive procedures that insurance will not cover, and, when they do pay, often it is a small portion of the charge. For example, they paid nothing for knee surgeries on my dogs and ten years ago one of my dogs swallowed part of a presumably safe dissolvable dog bone treat. It became lodged in her throat. She needed an emergency endoscopy to locate it and either pull it back out or push it into her stomach. The charge was close to a thousand dollars and the insurance would cover only $150 of it.

    I increasingly feel that as medical treatment options for dogs advance, the veterinarians lose sight of common sense in approaching their human clients, and regrettably, some of their behaviors could be interpreted as self-serving. Saving for unexpected medical costs and having pet insurance are fine pieces of advice but in many cases, inadequate. Our vets need to be candid and pragmatic with us so we can make the best decisions for our companions and our families.

    Although I have mixed feelings about the book, there is genuinely helpful information contained in the last chapter. Given the subject matter, facing serious illness and saying good-bye are prominent issues in the book. And, the End-of-Life Decisions chapter provides great substance and advice. This chapter alone may be worth the cost of the book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Very comprehensive & quite useful, September 24, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    There's a whole galaxy of books about dogs, but the "senior years" have been relatively neglected. This excellent book, Good Old Dog, remedies that situation. Written by the faculty of the Tufts Cumming School of Veterinary Medicine, it covers just about every aspect of aging dogs' lives you could possibly want to know about. There are chapters on nutrition, arthritis, dementia, cancer and much more. I particularly appreciated the following areas:

    The caution about dog foods branded with "senior" in the name was very good. Also, the information in that chapter about dogs' caloric intake, how to read the labels on dog food packages, and weight control was as good as any I've read in a dog book, whether about aging dogs or otherwise.

    Since my dog can't easily or always tell me when she's not feeling well, it's especially useful to know about indicators or signs to look for to tell whether she may be having joint problems, kidney issues, or whatever. Good Old Dog is great about giving a lot of tips along those lines.

    The chapter on "End-Of-Life Decisions" was a bit hard for me to read, as I just lost Lady, a 15 year-old companion, a few months ago. However, I wish I had read this before she was put to sleep. In her final months, I got very tired of hearing two comments from well-meaning friends, "You'll know when it's time" and "she'll tell you when it's time." In my case with Lady, neither of those was true. Fortunately I got more practical advice from vets, but the chapter on this subject in Good Old Dog provides a great set of criteria to consider regarding the dog's quality of life, things I will definitely consider the next time I have to go through that awful decision again.

    One of the best things about the book is that it isn't just a dry recitation of medical knowledge. The book is filled with true stories of older dogs and their families that made it much easier for me to relate to the topics, and made the reading more interesting in general.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I Wish I Had This Book Sooner, October 17, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    It's unusual that I start with a conclusion. If you love your dog(s) and you want to know how to make their twilight years as comfortable as possible, buy this book without hesitation.

    After hanging on throughout the night, perhaps waiting for me to awaken so as not to leave me without a silent goodbye, my beloved dog of almost 15 years died in my arms at about 5:15 on the morning of September 27, 2009. In the final moments, major "systems" began to shut down rapidly. She began to go limp and I realized that I had maybe less than a minute with her. I thanked her for giving me a lifetime of love and loyalty and I told her that I was with her and that she didn't have to hold on anymore - she could go. Moments later, she stopped breathing for a few seconds, and then took a last gasp of air - her last breath. As I held her, I felt her heart beating, but that too stopped not long after her last breath. I was crushed.

    In the many years leading up to her final day, I often worried about being able to spot things and what to do to make her life as comfortable as possible. I had various growths removed from her skin, I put eye-wetting solution in her eyes several times a day when her tear glands stopped working. I build a ramp for her to climb into my pickup truck, remembering the days when she was so hearty that she could jump into the truck with ease even with the tail door up!

    As she grew older, I hoped that she did not suffer from any ailment and that she would just die of "natural causes". She did not have cancer or any obvious ailment. I was very surprised to read (in this book) that they don't just go of natural causes - that a severely diseased organ is always involved. If I had known that, would anything have been different? Probably not. But just knowing a whole lot more than I did would have been somewhat easier on me, and hopefully with my knowledge easier on my dog.

    This book is not lengthy, but it is packed with information. It covers everything you might need to know as an owner - what to expect down the road, how to care for your aging dog, how to spot certain telltale signs, and how to best see to the comfort and health of your dog until it's time to say your last goodbye.

    When I review a book, I normally go over more specifically what is covered, etc.. That doesn't seem necessary in this case. Let me just re-iterate - re-read the first paragraph of this review.

    Various members of my family own dogs. To them, a dog is something they own - not something they love like family. If you are reading this review, you are probably similar to me - you love your dog like a child. If so, buy this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Keeping your older dog healthy and happy., September 23, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    I found this book to be very informative, and user friendly in terms of understanding the medical problems in senior dogs.

    Since I have a senior dog, I could identify symptoms my dog is experiencing and relate these to my vet for further checking. My senior dog, a Chow Chow, is starting to slow down at age 11, and showing signs of hearing loss, and possibly dementia. After going over a checklist in the book for dementia, I realized his symptoms did not match those on the dementia list. I then read about hearing loss, and realized that my dog has experienced a hearing loss, causing some disorientation due to the condition. He no longer hears the doorbell, or other tones that used to excite him. Since his hearing is now poor, he is constantly at our side, afraid of being left behind.

    I also learned that phobias (such as fear of thunder), intensify as the dog ages. I now know to keep my dog in a closed bedroom, when a storm is expected and I must leave the house. Otherwise, the dog can injure himself. Mine was starting to hide in the bathroom shower, behind the glass door. This could be catastrophic. I make sure the bathroom doors are now closed during storms.

    I found all the case histories extremely interesting. Following each case, gave me insight into each dog, and how they are treated on an individual basis.
    Having had 6 dogs over our 43 years of marriage, as well as 8 grand dogs, we have encountered many of the issues cited.

    Something I didn't know, and found very valuable is that people who bring female dogs up from puppies should know that they should be spayed before 6 months of age. Otherwise they will greatly increase their chances of developing mammary cancer. I know from personal experience how devastating this is. I lost my beloved unspayed childless (children to us), Whippet to this disease. We ignored the hard bumps she started getting at 7 years of age. She lived till 12, but the last 6 months were painful for her, and for us.

    This disease is described in detail in this book along with recommendations on spaying and neutering before six months of age in both male and female dogs.

    My Chow has a large number of cysts in the neck and head and a number of these were removed last spring. The book describes different case histories and helped me to better understand my dogs condition.

    Another issue is dental care in dogs. A dog referenced in a case history, mimicked my mixed breed's condition some years back. As a senior dog, she had a bad dental infection causing her to be lethargic and she lost interest in eating. I thought she was dying. When she screamed when I patted her on the mouth, I took her to the vet. After the vet removed some teeth she was like a puppy again.

    Limping? My Chow has started limping and the book discusses limping issues. My mixed breed started limping shortly after the dental work that rejuvenated her. X Rays showed bone cancer. A specialist told me she had about 30 days to live. She was gone in 30 days. Truly disheartening after the dental work had increased her quality of life just months before. Now, every time one of my dogs limps, I dread the worst.

    Food and supplements.

    Wow. Probably the best chapter in the book.

    My take. No such thing as a senior dog food. Just marketing. Stay with what you've been using. Okay to switch to a quality lower calorie food though.
    Supplements. Same advice. I'm going to discontinue giving my dog Glucosamine. As far as buying food with Glucosamine. A waste of money. These added supplements may well cause problems with the dog's internal system. They overload it. My vet did prescribe Glucosamine. My dog is on it. I will discontinue it. I think these research vets are the ones to take advice from.

    I would highly recommend this book to anyone with a senior dog.

    It was written by compassionate vets who seem to treat each and every dog as if it were their own.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Like reading endless medical advertisements, December 8, 2010
    I purchased this for the kindle after hearing an interview with the author on NPR. I have cared for several senior rescue dogs and experienced the intensive veterinary care and guardian support such dogs can require near end of life. Hydration for kidney failure, treatment for cancer. Finally, the decision for euthanasia. I was disappointed in this book. It is basically an advertisement for intensive veterinary care with the Tuffs staff contributions as examples. The endless variations on cancer and heart conditions read like medical advertisements, particularly when involved with drugs and the fine details of surgical procedures. Typically, these expensive and invasive procedures only add a few months to an average dog's life. A general reading of these could only interest a medical provider. A dog's owner will only be confused in trying to self-diagnose, or maybe will find details of one particular condition relevant to their pet - would be easier to google and cheaper than the book. This is also a very poor book choice for Kindle - there are too many sidebar sections that do not allow one to page through them. As other reviewers have noted, the book is weak on diet, exercise, and training to help manage health issues. I was disappointed to not see probiotics covered, they have helped provide drastic improvement in my dogs with renal failure - extending their lives many months.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent General Guide, November 7, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    This book was produced by faculty members from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and is a valuable layman's guide to the care of the aging dog. Cummings maintains an active clinical practice that treats "more than 26,000 cases" of all types annually, including some 8,000 "older" dogs. The faculty contributors were assisted by Lawrence Lindner ("a best-selling collaborative author.)"

    The result is well suited to the target audience of laypeople with aging canine companions. Technical medical terminology is kept to a minimum and, when occasionally used, is clearly explained. The book is thus readily comprehensible to laypersons and affords them a reasonable basis for monitoring their pets so that professional attention can be obtained while many conditions are still treatable. The book also imparts a foundation of basic knowledge for discussions with the treating vet. The overall tone is frank and direct but by no means without compassion.

    The book is necessarily general in scope and is not a home diagnostic manual. Its aim is to facilitate home monitoring in the hope that caretakers will spot anomalies and swiftly seek professional advice. While aging dogs should receive more attention from vets in the normal course, the caregiver is still key in early spotting of problems.

    Other reviewers have commented extensively on the detailed contents of the book, so I will note only features that struck me. The book begins by discussing when a dog should receive increased attention because of aging. This generally varies according to size as well as to the life experiences of a particular dog. Key here is the fact that modern medical concepts of "dog years" are not so simplistic as the common popular ratio of 7 (dog) to 1 (human) ratio of legend. Reality is more varied and complex.

    A discussion on the diet of the aging dog follows, dealing with both fads (e.g. raw food diets) and with commercially available foods. The aim is to educate the caretaker not only about what the dog needs but how to cut through various claims to see that those needs are met. Here the book is bluntly disparaging when necessary (e.g. about a raw food diet and the claims by manufacturers for additives and supplements).

    The book then treats some common problems of aging dogs, ranging from urinary incontinence to diabetes and cancer and more. The same messages recurs: A list of the possible symptoms, cautions about signs that can be associated with several conditions and the need for early professional consultation. There is much on the immense advances in the last 25 years in treatments available for dogs. Scans, drugs and surgeries can now be done on a scale (and at an expense) similar to those available for humans.

    The book is frank about the expense involved in many treatments and very sensitive to the real limitations this may pose to a family's ability to afford the care. The authors discuss these issues with great sensitivity and provide advice on pet health insurance and other means of affording care. The authors also compassionately discuss end of life issues and decisions.

    Finally the book abounds with practical suggestions for dealing with common situations. There are, for example, suggestions for helping the dog handle arthritis (a simple and practical one is to place the food dish on a low table so the dog need not bend so far to get it).

    Overall this is an excellent book by expert people who obviously care deeply about animals. It is well worth the investment.

    4-0 out of 5 stars interesting book about caring for our old friends-- but some caveats, October 22, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    This book is an interesting collection of brief sections about various canine health problems. It is a nice tool to foster thinking about a broad range of prevention and treatment issues, but not a place to find detailed information about any issue.

    The following topics are covered:

    -understanding normal changes that occur with aging
    -nutritional advice
    -costs of care/making decisions about care
    -evaluating cognitive changes/dealing with dementia in dogs
    -creating a comfortable environment for aging dogs
    -canine cancer
    -joint issues/arthritis pain
    -determining if a condition is urgent, an emergency, or a non-emergency
    -end of life decisions


    I liked the sections I didn't have personal experience with better than those related to my dog (probably because an overview was satisfying if we are not facing that issue!). For example, the section on hemangiosarcoma (which my dog has) and other cancers (which previous dogs have had) didn't seem helpful at all-- I have discovered so much more helpful information through limited internet searches than was offered here. It also seemed to me that the authors routinely advocated maximum intervention (surgery, chemotherapy, etc.) and don't really grapple with the complexity of real-world end of life decisions.

    The reality the Tufts vets discuss is that many surgical and other interventions have an enormous cost (they use the figure of $5000-$10000 at one point, and in the introduction cite an example of a woman who spent $60,000 on her dogs care to extend its life by a few sickly months). I love my dogs like children, but $60,000 for a few miserable months in a veterinary hospital seems like mental illness-- suffering was prolonged, and this woman would likely lose her home. How could any responsible vet support that as a good decision, for dog or human family members?

    The authors advocate planning to be prepared for the decisions that may come, through savings, pet insurance, and other support for treatment. But they also advocate levels of expense that normal people simply can't manage, no matter how desperately they might wish they could.

    Overall a nice general reference to have on the shelf.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Can't praise it enough, November 5, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Good Old Dog is a wonderful resource for any owner of an elderly dog. Reading the advice in this book by the faculty of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine of Tufts University is empowering for anyone who has felt frustrated by the lack of information available, especially from your dog's doctor, on the care of your older pet. I have a 16-year-old Chihuahua. The advent of his old age has caused me more anxiety than my own approaching senior years.

    I used to worry about every little thing that affected my friend and was given no hope any of it could be fixed. For example, he has an arthritic knee that his vet has remarked about but offered no advice for fixing (probably because the only surgery done by his vet was sterilization and amputation). Because of Good Old Dog I am reassured he can have safe surgery on his knee and the benefit to him will more than outweigh the danger of the administration of an anesthetic. I know that the cloudiness in his eyes is normal for his age and does not necessarily denote cataracts. I also know that his age is not the deciding factor in how much longer he will be with me. My vet told me he rarely sees little dogs that old. Wow, that really cheered me up and gave me high anxiety. But according to Good Old Dog I can provide him with many more years of a comfortable life by monitoring his overall health and watching especially for those conditions affecting older dogs, and the book enumerated what those things are. Good Old Dog gives all sorts of practical advice, including the importance of your elderly dog's food. I thought I was being kind by feeding my dog only good lean chicken and beef, but I now know better. And I now know what to look for on the label of the dog food I need to add to his diet, and it's not necessarily the word "senior" in the name.

    For anyone who has been swayed by a veterinarian to go to great and unnecessary lengths to preserve the quality of life for your aged companion, this book will, as I said, empower you to make the right decisions for your friend. I was so concerned by my old fellow having a runny nose and cough that I followed his vet's advice to have test after test done. I walked out of his office late that afternoon minus over six hundred dollars and with not one clue as to what was wrong or how to treat it. Now my first resource (after having found a more ethical vet) is to pull out my copy of Good Old Dog. It's like having a veterinarian who specializes in geriatric canines on call 24/7. It is the single most valuable tool I have found to ensure I will do the best possible job of keeping my old dog healthy and content for as long as is humanly possible.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book!, December 3, 2010
    This is the best information about the older dog I have ever had. There is information that you can get from your vet, but this is for regular dog owners.
    I am sure this will help me in the future as I always adopt older dogs and help them through their retirement. ... Read more


    16. Mom's Family Calendar 2011
    by Sandra Boynton
    Calendar
    list price: $12.99 -- our price: $11.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0761157379
    Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
    Sales Rank: 463
    Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    The 17-month calendar that keeps Mom and the whole family organized, Mom's Family Calendar marries the organizational powers of a planner with the utter cuteness of Sandra Boynton's animal characters—those lovable hippos and cows, pigs, chickens, and dogs—hopping, dancing, and skipping through the grids. The grids run vertically, with five columns across the top (one for each family member) and the days of the month running down the left-hand side. There's plenty of room to write in every person's activities for each day, and Mom and Dad can easily see who's doing what, when. Includes a drop-down storage pocket, 500 stickers, and a write-on, wipe-off magnetic phone list to hang on the fridge. This is Family Central, with a big Boynton smile.


    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars I buy it EVERY year now!, June 4, 2010
    This is the best wall calendar for families with different schedules for each member. It is cute and fun and my kids like the funny animals on it. It has a designated MOM line and 4 other schedule lines for the other members of your household. This particular one I got for my sister-in-law so she could keep track of her son's doctor appointments, temps, and new milestones.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great organization for busy families, July 31, 2010
    I used this same calendar for the past 5+ years. It helps to keep you more organized. It's hard to write on the little box calendars. This calendar gives each person their own column so it's easier to read & keeps you more organized. I love this calendar!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Almost Perfect, September 26, 2010
    The layout of the calendar is great for a family of 5 or less. Having the dates as rows and each family member as a column makes it so easy to see who has what and when. The calendar month is 12 x 24 and each family members day box is 1.5 x 5/8. Some of the stickers included are useful (like the words: field trip, dentist, playdate, no school, 1/2 day, school event, vacation, travel, visit, birthday, party, dance class, music lesson, concert, recital, doctor, camp, game, practice, vet) Unfortunately most of the other stickers are really cute Boynton characters that are far too large to stick on any family members rectangle and still have room to write. There is a nice pocket that folds out at the bottom (3 x 12) for tickets and small pieces of paper you need to keep track of. My calendar was missing the phone list magnet so I can't say if that is useful or not.

    My only real complaint is that the calendar has the typical slick pages of a normal calendar. I wish they were not coated in this way so that it would be easier to write on it in colored pencils or pens. I have seen this done on other calendars marketed to mothers.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Mom Organizer, September 13, 2010
    Love the product - this calendar is a must for families over 3 people. It really lays it out for a day at a glance to get the big picture of the whole family's schedule.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best Calendar, September 7, 2010
    This is the best calendar in the world. I have 5 children and trying to keep everyone's schedule is very tough. I've used this calendar for the past 5 years and wouldn't ever try another. The boxes are big enough for everything I need to put in them and everyone gets their own column so I just need to look across the day to see what needs to happen that day, which is how I live, day to day. I would recommend this to every mom, whether one kid or 6 (although there are only 5 columns).

    5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect Family Calendar, September 6, 2010
    This is the perfect family calendar. It works great for our family of 4 and there is still another slot. This is the third time I have purchased this calendar and I plan to keep buying them.

    4-0 out of 5 stars great, September 2, 2010
    I just got this and I like it a lot has lots of space to write and is big enough for everyone to read. ... Read more


    17. The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
    by Ina Garten, Martha Stewart
    Hardcover
    list price: $35.00 -- our price: $22.97
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0609602195
    Publisher: Clarkson Potter
    Sales Rank: 396
    Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    For more than twenty years, Barefoot Contessa, the acclaimed specialty food store, has been cooking and baking extraordinary dishes for enthusiastic customers in the Hamptons. For many of those years, people have tried to get the exuberant owner, Ina Garten, to share the secrets of her store. Finally, the energy and style that make Barefoot Contessa such a special place are shown here, with dozens of recipes and more than 160 breathtaking photographs, in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

    Ina's most popular recipes use familiar ingredients, but they taste even better than you would expect. Her Pan-Fried Onion Dip is the real thing, with slowly car-amelized onions and fresh sour cream. Tomato soup is created from oven-roasted tomatoes and fresh basil to intensify the flavors. Meat loaf is as good as your grandmother's, but it's healthier because it's made with ground turkey and fresh herbs. The light and flaky Maple-Oatmeal Scones are baked with rolled oats, whole wheat, and real maple syrup. Now these and other famous Barefoot Contessa recipes can be prepared at home.

    Ina says that before she owned a specialty food store she often spent a week making dinner for six friends. Her experience at Barefoot Contessa has given her hundreds of ideas for creating wonderful parties in a few hours. And they're all in this book. Crab Cakes with Rmoulade Sauce can be stored overnight in the refrigerator and sauted just before the guests arrive. Cheddar Corn Chowder can be made days ahead, reheated, and served with a salad and bread for a delicious autumn lunch. The ingredients for Grilled Salmon Salad can all be prepared ahead and tossed together before serving. The batter for theRaspberry Corn Muffins can be mixed a day before and popped into the oven just before breakfast.

    Ina Garten teaches us how to entertain with style, simplicity, and a relaxed sense of fun. There are notes throughout the book for giving cocktail parties, lunches, and dinner parties where everything is done before the guests arrive. And there are easy instructions for creating gorgeous party platters that don't even require you to cook!

    With Ina Garten and The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, you have the perfect recipe for hosting parties that are easy and fun for everyone--including the cook.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars magnificent, December 13, 1999
    I had people for dinner a few nights ago, and no one can stop talking about the wonderful results. I tried the Indonesian Ginger Chicken, and it sure was tasty. I followed her easy directions, and marinated the chicken overnight-- which is a real lifesaver, since you're not in the kitchen, seasoning, while everyone else is gossiping in the living room. I love recipes where you can prepare ahead, and just pop them in the oven when you want to eat. That seems to be the focus of Ina's book-- have fun with whomever you're entertaining, while a scrumptous meal cooks in the oven. The only thing I would do differently with the Ginger chicken is to buy pre-minced garlic and ginger. Doing it yourself takes forever because of how much is called for in the recipe. All in all, I think this book is terrific, and I've read through each recipe many times, simply imagining the tastes and looks of the food. It's so well put together, and I think Ina owes much of the book's success to the wonderful photography. This is the kind of cookbook you pick up to read just for fun, even if you're not planning to use it that day. Great job! Buy this now!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Simple and Delicious!, July 23, 2001
    This is not your ordinary cookbook. It is a visual feast for all your senses. The photographs are stunning, the recipes are simple to understand, and the tips are actually very helpful. Ina Garten expertly walks you through preparation to presentation, and injects personal anecdotes throughout. I was left with the impression that she truly wants her readers to appreciate the simplicity and beauty of a great meal.

    The book begins with an introduction to fresh ingredients and again, the emphasis is on quality and simplicity. Ina guides us through a farmer's market of fresh fruits and vegetables, explaining what to look for and how to select the very best ingredients for our meals. In the midst of this primer, she delivers a simple recipe for fresh lemonade (a quick application of what we have just learned!), followed by a glossary of kitchen terms, and all accompanied by beautiful photographs. The first section is devoted to appetizers, and includes detailed instructions on what to serve at cocktail parties (and exactly how to serve it) and how to make and present an elegant, yet simple fruit and cheese platter. My favorite recipe from this section was the vegetable sushi. She then covers Soups (including home made croutons), Salads (the French Potato is tremendous!), Dinner Entrees (including a kitchen clambake and the famous Indonesian Ginger Chicken recipe), Vegetables (with instructions on creating a stunning vegetable platter), Desserts (the country dessert platter is perfect for small groups get-togethers!) and a section simply entitled "Breakfast" with a wonderful recipe for White Hot Chocolate and a short primer on how to make "the perfect cup of coffee". The book ends with details for assembling party food and has a complete resource section loaded with information on how to find specialty items.

    I own many cookbooks, but I have found this to be the most inspiring and entertaining that I have read. The recipes are simple, and quite delicious, making this a terrific resource for both the experienced and novice cook.

    5 Stars. Magnificent!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A cookbook one can trust, June 26, 2003
    When I see more than 100 reviews of a book, I usually balk at adding my own two cents worth to the mix. However, I am a big fan of Ina Garten and own all of her books (3 so far) and wanted to throw my opinions into the ring anyway.

    Many reviewers commented on the beautiful photos, but complained about the number of recipes. I can understand that point of view, but I would rather have a really good, dependable cookbook with 25 great recipes (and there are more than that in this book) than a cookbook with 100 recipes that are just so-so. It's the ol' quality versus quantity argument, I suppose.

    And about those photos -- I know that color photos add to the cost and bulk of a cookbook, but when they are beautifully done, as is the case with this book, it makes you WANT to try the recipes. On the other hand, I've got some gorgeous cookbooks with some stinker recipes in them. That's another reason why I love this book. You get beautiful photos AND really good recipes.

    Do you want a cookbook you can trust? This book fits the bill for me. I have made her recipes for the first time FOR GUESTS -- something that would normally create heart palpitations and have me reaching for that unnecessary extra glass of wine. Yet my guests and I have yet to be disappointed. I'd say that was cause for celebration myself.

    One other comment -- Garten emphasizes using fresh and good quality ingredients. If you do you will find her recipes work all of the time. I suspect that one or two of the less than satisfied reviewers here took some shortcuts or perhaps used a less than stellar ingredient.
    There is no substitute for fresh thyme for example when it is a PRIMARY flavoring. You might get away with dried thyme in a stew or soup, but not when it is paired with only fresh lemon, garlic, and olive oil for chicken. Stick with fresh herbs and don't buy cheap olive oil or substitute margarine (yuk) for butter and you will get good results. I think this applies to cooking in general, not just to Ina's recipes.

    Obviously I highly recommend this book and I think the majority will ultimately agree that it is a good choice. Looking forward to your next book, Ina!

    5-0 out of 5 stars I Used To Hate Cooking..., September 10, 2000
    Before I found The Barefoot Contessa I hated cooking. Even after building a new home with a large, beautiful, functional kitchen, I wasn't interested. In fact my oven didn't get used for the first two months. Then a friend recommended Ms. Garten's book and I liked it because it looked pretty on my countertop. Since the day I opened it, my husband says I'm a changed woman.

    My first attempt at a recipe was Parker's Split Pea soup, which is as delicious as my mother's (sorry, mom) and sooooo simple. If you can use a knife to chop veggies you're 90% there. The Rosemary Whitebean soup (use FRESH rosemary or don't even bother) enticed my neighbor to ask about the aromas she could smell from her yard. I then moved on to recipes that required more focus but are easily followed like Filet of Beef Bourginon (my husband's all-time favorite) and Swordfish with Tomato and Capers with Parmesan Smashed Potatoes served at a dinner party for eight (something I never would have even considered a year ago) where a guest inquired about whom I used for a caterer! Overall, extremely well written and simple to navigate your way through each recipe. Ina's side column notes are helpful personal touches, like why to use Kosher salt instead of table salt. (I had never even heard of such a thing...) The biggest rewards are hearing guests rave about MY cooking and, of course, enjoying the incredible food in my newly-discovered kitchen.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A great addition to my collection!, January 10, 2000
    Truly a beautiful book, with wonderful photographs and simple instructions. Worth its price if only for the Coconut Cupcakes, the Indonesian Ginger Chicken, and the Pan-fried Onion Dip. Be warned, however -- this is NOT low-fat cooking. For example, you can easily third the butter and oil in the Pan-frien Onion Dip with no detrimental effect on taste. Do use it for entertaining -- you will get rave reviews but still avoid a thickening waistline.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Worth the calories!, May 14, 2000
    Although I would not reccommend this cookbook to some one on a low fat diet, (butter seems to be a main ingredient) it is great for easy entertaining. The recipes are easy to follow and I have yet to meet with failure! Although, I found the roasted potato fennel soup a bit bland. The roast chicken is a brainless staple in my house. The grilled lemon chicken with satay sauce is perfect summer party food. Crab cakes, spinich pie, turkey meatloaf, onion soup - you name it I have tried it, all to elegant and delicious results! The coconut cupcakes were to die for. They are not light and fluffy (with 5 eggs and half a pound of butter?) but dense like a moist chewy macaroon... yummy! I found that half of the frosting recipe is more than enough. Cook with the Contessa and diet tomarrow!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Garten is a Gourmet Guru for Common and Uncommon folk, August 13, 2001
    I cook, a lot. My friends cook, alot. I really dread trying to buy cookbooks on line, hoping that they are worth not only the shelf space but the shipping and handling. I recieved this cookbook a year ago but never really explored it. I made one or two dishes, all were delicious, but until recently I had not delved into its pages. Wow. what a treat. Kind of like finding forgotten money in your pant pocket.I strongly encourage people to try the swordfish,carrots, fennel, beef bouruigon, banana muffins--I could go on and on. Every recipe is a crowd pleaser and they are easy. Garten's recipes involve fresh ingredients--most of which you already have on hand-- that are simply cooked with surprising twists. The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook is a must have for all aspiring and inspiring cooks. Makes a great gift and is a valuable addition to every cook's collection regardless of expertise.

    5-0 out of 5 stars It's a Great Cookbook!, December 14, 1999
    I love this book, I know the quantity is large but it really comes in handy when you are cooking for alot of people, parties, etc. All the recipes I have made have come out great! I have had great compliments on all the food I have cooked from this book. I have made the cupcakes for my company party which everyone loved. I have made the eggplant dip, the chocolate buttercream cake, the corn chowder(great), soup, parm croutons(great), Indonisian chicken (great), the shortbread hearts(great). It one of my favorite books!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful presentation and appealing simplicity, November 6, 1999
    We all fantasize occasionally about living the life of the rich and leisured in fabulous places like the Hamptons. So it's wonderful to be able to create the food they devour at their posh get-togethers for our own families and guests. This book is beautifully photographed and its layout is easy to use.The recipes have a simplicity about them that is very appealing. I made the Outrageous Brownies--with all that butter, vanilla and chocolate, they weren't cheap, but the recipe makes a huge pan. And it gave me a good excuse to buy a high quality half-sheet pan from Williams Sonoma! Only a raving lunatic would cut them into 20 pieces as the recipe states. They're far too rich. I cut them into 48, and they're still good-sized brownies that let you know you've been fed. Most of them went to my college-age daughter for finals week, where I'm sure they'll be scarfed down with enthusiasm. Made the Indonesian Ginger Chicken last night. It was a spur of the moment decision, so the chicken did not marinate overnight as the recipe directs, but it was still great and very easy. I chopped the garlic in the food processor and would do the same with the ginger when I make it again. Also note--unlike most in the book, it's a low fat recipe, with no added fat in the marinade ingredients. My meat and potatoes husband loved it, and I didn't tell him it was healthy! I'm looking forward to trying many other recipes, especially as the holidays approach.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Barefoot Contessa is the BEST!, April 30, 2004
    With an extensive cookbook collection, it is rare for me to make more than one or two recipes out of a single cookbook. This book would have to be the exception to that rule. I would highly recommend this book to any of you. I have a large family, the recipe sizes do not intimidate, and do not require doubling for our family gatherings. Ingredients are high quality, and fresh. I have made the Pecan Squares and taken them to work, handed out the recipe to nearly everyone. The Maple Oat Scones have been made approximately a dozen times, and are always a hit! Veggies roasted in the oven? Incredible. Buy it, you won't be disappointed. ... Read more


    18. Dogs
    by Lewis Blackwell
    Hardcover
    list price: $50.00 -- our price: $31.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0810996537
    Publisher: Abrams
    Sales Rank: 460
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Since the wolf first snuck into the caves of our ancestors to take warmth from the fire, dogs have been man’s constant companion. Dogs, multi-award-winning photographer Tim Flach’s stunning follow-up to the critically acclaimed Equus, delves deep into the psyche of this enduring bond with Canis familiaris to present an exquisite study of “man’s best friend.”

     

    From specimens on show at Crufts and Westminster to shelter dogs lovingly rescued by volunteers; from the grace and agility of racing greyhounds to adored domestic companions; from Afghan hounds to Hungarian komondors to Chinese crested, the images featured in Dogs promise to deliver one of the most appealing, popular, and exciting photographic tributes to dogs ever published. 


    Praise for Dogs:
    "The dogs he captures in these pages are, by turns, soulful, expressive, and winsome-- and all of them
    are stunning." 
    --Entertainment Weekly 

    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars EVERYONE'S BEST FRIEND, November 22, 2010

    As has been said every dog has his day but not until the insightful Tim Flach have dogs been captured in extraordinary photos capturing not only our best friends at rest, at work, and at play but also revealing the deep affection we have for them. As Blackwell writes, "There's a bond we have with the dog that goes beyond all other animals." How true!

    Tim Flach's photography is a work of art with each photo bringing the viewer close to the subject. It's difficult to describe the intimacy one feels. A Pug with startling blue eyes and endearingly wrinkled face gazes directly into the eyes of the viewer. Impossible not to love him! A proud German Shepherd looks trustingly from the page, a reminder that this breed is often a police or search-and-rescue dog. A honey colored Labrador Retriever pup with his snub nose and silky floppy ears is titled "Say You Love Me." Of course, we do!

    Precisely lit and thoughtfully cropped these photos are sheer beauty - a black Lab, Sadie, is shown with the prestigious Dickin Medal around her neck. The Medal was given for "conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty" while working with the British armed forces. Sadie's ebony coat gleams with the luster of midnight. A Golden Retriever's love of water is expressed in succeeding photos as the happy dog shakes water from his russet coat.

    "Information" at the back of the volume provides details about each dog photographed . DOGS is 216 pages of pure pleasure, a volume that will be enjoyed over and over again.

    Highly recommended.

    - Gail Cooke

    5-0 out of 5 stars spectacular, December 1, 2010
    I'd seen some photos, but the book, the real McCoy, is something different: so sophisticated, so flawless yet so affectionate.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Dogs by Tim Flach - WOW, December 24, 2010
    We purchased many of these books and presented them as Holiday gifts to our lucky friends this year. Tim Flach's photographic work and process is amazing, capturing the best in each breed depicted, with artistic skill not often seen. Turning each photograph into a work of art, it's a classic in it's own time for certain. ... Read more


    19. I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence
    by Amy Sedaris
    Paperback
    list price: $15.99 -- our price: $9.59
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0446696773
    Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
    Sales Rank: 363
    Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    The bestselling entertaining guide from America's most delightfully unconventional hostess is now available in paperback!


    Are you lacking direction in how to whip up a swanky soiree for lumberjacks?A dinner party for white-collar workers?A festive gathering for the grieving?Don't despair.Take a cue from entertaining expert Amy Sedaris and host an unforgettable fete that will have your guests raving.No matter the style or size of the gathering-from the straightforward to the bizarre-I LIKE YOU provides jackpot recipes and solid advice laced with Amy's blisteringly funny take on entertaining, plus four-color photos and enlightening sidebars on everything it takes to pull off a party with extraordinary flair.You don't even need to be a host or hostess to benefit-Amy offers tips for guests, too!(Number one:don't be fifteen minutes early.)Readers will discover unique dishes to serve alcoholics (Broiled Frozen Chicken Wings with Applesauce), the secret to a successful children's party (a half-hour time limit, games included), plus a whole appendix chock-full of arts and crafts ideas (from a mini-pantyhose plant-hanger to a do-it-yourself calf stretcher), and much, much more!
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars This book is frickin' insane and addictive! Amy Sedaris rocks!, October 27, 2006
    I have been enjoying Amy Sedaris's freaky-weird acting for years, so I had to snatch up this book the second I heard it was out. And, man oh man, I have been laughing for days. This is one addictive book, like a paper drug. I woke up this morning, and instead of thinking about my husband or cats or breakfast or my job, I imagined Amy Sedaris trying on pantyhose, and I thought "No Squirrels." (You'll understand after you read the book.) Then I wondered how on earth I would achieve that baked Alaska featured in her book.

    This lady works comedic magic with this book. I have never, ever, ever read or seen anything like this strange book.

    Yes, there is a plethora of valuable tips and recipes for entertaining, but the way Amy presents the info is nothing short of comic genius. The pictures are all gold. And her writing is rickety and charming. And wait till you find the secret poster! You will buy a locker just so you can hang it up!

    Mark my word, this book will be *the* gift to give this holiday season. It is destined to make Amy Sedaris a household name. Plus, it is extremely useful and entertaining.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Our Parties, Ourselves, November 23, 2006
    Partially a cookbook, partially a primer about entertaining and partially the random thoughts of an eccentric actress/caterer, I LIKE YOU is Amy Sedaris's hilarious guide to hospitality.

    Recommended for those who enjoy attending parties and people who get a kick out of hosting them, this is a quirky book that succeeds in offering valuable information while charming the pants off the reader. In this way, it accurately could be described as the bodice ripper of cookbooks.

    Chock full of photographs, illustrations, notes and invitations, I LIKE YOU can be enjoyed by randomly opening it to any page, but I can guarantee that if you start it from the beginning, you will find yourself engrossed in Sedaris's simple, tasty party chow and quirky but valuable tips and anecdotes about:

    * Party Strategy
    The second you decide to throw a party start making ice. Sedaris calls buying a bag of it "cheating."

    * The Guest List
    If everyone is the same, the party is a boring convention. Still you should avoid toxic combinations, like an astrologer and an astronomer, the newly divorced couple, and a serial killer and a drunken teenager.

    * Invitations
    Be specific about time, location and themes so guests can dress appropriately. If you don't RSVP immediately, hosts will worry you are waiting for a better offer.

    * Etiquette
    Don't arrive early unless specifically asked to. But do arrive on time, especially for a dinner party. Depending upon the host, consider practical gifts like toilet paper and stamps. If you want to bring wine, ask the hostess what she is planning to serve and bring a bottle of that. If you want to be graceful in an old world sort of way, send a bouquet of flowers the following day.

    * Adult Proof Your House
    Assume guests will snoop. Plan ahead and fill your medicine cabinet with marbles.

    * Try to Turn a Profit
    Capitalize on the chance to sell things to a house full of liquored up, generous guests. Set up a table of things you are selling for 25 cents. A strict hostess Sedaris has three rules for party sales: 1) it has to be a quarter, not two dimes and a nickel; 2) you break it, you buy it; and 3) you buy it, you take it away.

    Plus completely unrelated to cooking or hospitality, I LIKE YOU covers an array of other idiosyncratic suggestions about curling your eyelashes, staining your lips with cherry popsicles, removing hair color from your forehead, entertaining the elderly, proper rabbit care and the basics of grooming, handicrafts and gift giving. For all of these reasons, I wish I could give it ten stars.

    - Regina McMenamin

    5-0 out of 5 stars There are not enough Stars for this GEM!, October 12, 2006
    Well...you had me at "IdespiseAndreaHarner", but you are right on all other accounts.

    Miss Amy has done something really special this time, and it shows!

    First off, this book is HUGE! I hadn't imagined how thick it would be- it is literally jammed packed with everything you can imagine (and more, WAY more) from our hostess extraordinaire. The hard cover edition is solid as a rock, nothing flimsy about it.

    The recipes indeed appear to be "JACKPOT" and crowd pleasing-I cant wait to try them out. The scrap book feel to this book is ever-present, with zany crafts, priceless photos (old and new) and authentically stained recipe cards in scrawling print surrounding the main text. The party ideas and themed night suggestions are off-beat and creative. It is a much beloved addition to my Sedaris collection.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Tongue-in-check entertaining advice, November 27, 2006
    If you like Amy Sedaris's quirky sense of humor (e.g., Strangers with Candy), and you're into kitsch, then I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence is just the book for you this holiday season. If you avoid Comedy Central, however, and are uncomfortable around irony-laden humor, you best steer clear because Amy Sedaris's new book is a rollicking romp through tongue-in-cheek entertaining, far more amusing and satisfying than anything Martha Stewart could devise.

    Armed with her own brand of humor and a bottle of liquor, Sedaris is ready for any situation, from the unexpected guest to a death in the family. She explains in detail how to write invitations, plan a menu (by color, texture, theme, flavor, or decoration), and get guests mingling. But she also includes aspects of party throwing you may not have considered, such organizing some sale items to make a little money for yourself. Sedaris insists that she lets guests have their picture taken with her pet rabbit for 25 cents. Also, consider avoiding the following guest combinations: astrologer and astronomer, psychologist and psychiatrist, and serial killer and drunken teenager.

    Sedaris offers numerous recipes throughout the book, including some favorites from her Greek family. From "I Remember the War Cube Steak" for entertaining the elderly to spanakopita for a New Year's Day brunch, you'll have the crowd clamoring for more.

    You'll also find plenty of comical desserts like the heart-shaped cake that says "Stepmother" and the "Happy Coming Out" cake in the form of a butterfly. Of course, no meal is complete without Amy Sedaris herself covered in icing and sprinkles, and she gives us just that. (Be sure to check out the poster inside the cover for the pin-up version.)

    Throughout the book, Sedaris dresses in dated polyester outfits and drops hints on everything from how to put on pantyhose to how to wear a fall (woman's long hairpiece).

    The photos (by Todd Oldham, no less) and illustrations are hilarious, and even the book jacket will have you wiping your eyes.

    Armchair Interviews says: Surely, we all know someone this book would be perfect for.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Finally! A book about entertaining I can relate to!, October 17, 2006
    I don't think a book about entertaining has ever made me laugh to the point of tears before! Seeing peanuts! Gift ideas for nuns! Dad come home cake! Change your medicine chest from herbal remedies to something that works! The section on guest etiquette is priceless and hits the nail on the head. Todd Oldham's photography with its lurid lighting/drab hues is amazing. And the children's games section alone is worth twice the price of the book.
    This isn't kitsch of the moment--this defines an edge of humor that deserves a spotlight. Amy Sedaris gets it! Cheers to her and her wonderful book. It is a generous, warm, inspiring and hysterically funny treasure that knocked me over with happiness. I will enjoy it for years.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Hilarious!, November 28, 2006
    This book is awesome- I bought it for a friend for christmas and as soon as it was delivered I ended up reading the whole thing myself! I bought it for a friend who enjoys throwing parties (as I do). The recipes seemed good, and the writing was unmistakeably Sedaris! Even if the food is crap, this book is worth every penny as a conversation piece/entertaining read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars This book is off the hook, December 13, 2006
    I had no idea what to expect other than humor, obviously.
    This book has information on etiquette and manners, classic recipes, social suggestions, and tips in areas you would never expect. You can read it cover to cover, or open any page and start new every time. I have to mention the ridiculous (in a good way) photography, illustrations and various notes that dot each spread. A refreshing compilation.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The perfect gift for crude moms & gay uncles., October 31, 2006
    This book is raunchy, scatterbrained, offensive, and absolutely hilarious. What a purchase! Amy Sedaris has created a book on entertaining that is as freakishly detailed as her home decor. Every square inch of the book (including the book jacket/centerfold) is overflowing with absurd drawings, photos, recipes, crafts, family memories, and helpful hints, such as, "Gift Ideas for Early Menopause." The tone is of a 1960s cookbook with a narcotics problem. Although this is the type of book you want to curl up with and have a laugh - it is actually useful! The recipes are delicious (try the Tiddlywinks Toadstool Pie *yum*) and the entertaining tips take the pretentiousness out of throwing parties. Go Amy!

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Familiar Deadpan Sedaris Humor Infuses Hilariously Off-Kilter Tweak on Martha Stewart, October 20, 2006
    It's pretty obvious Amy Sedaris and I come from the same generation because her harmlessly subversive sense of humor and kitsch-driven cultural references feel very cathartic to me. With photos and narration that reflect the becalming tone of kitchen counter magazines like Sunset and Better Homes and Gardens circa 1967, this hilariously off-kilter satire of Martha Stewart's "Entertaining" books has the familiar comic actress in a new guise, the perfect party hostess, though Jerri Blank (her put-upon protagonist in "Strangers With Candy") does show up in the book. Sedaris is smart enough to know the book cannot be a complete satire, so she actually includes honest-to-goodness recipes. The zucchini fritters and the "Li'l Smokey Cheeseball" bring particular flashbacks to me of what my mother would have served at her mah jong parties as they watched "Mannix".

    It's the faux-patronizing context and wholly unappetizing photos where she gets to express the dry and sometimes twisted Sedaris wit. For example, the author has a chapter devoted to the particulars of entertaining lumberjacks. I especially like the idea of filling one's medicine cabinet with marbles to catch nosey guests in the act of examining the host's medications. Moreover, she gives etiquette pointers like not divulging a friend's inability to conceive during a guest introduction, and sound advice on what textures to have on your party platters -"crunchy will always punch up soggy," but "never have bumpy and lumpy on the same plate". Sedaris' deadpan approach and over-the-top images are exactly the tweak your lifestyle cookbook collection needs. I am hopeful that a TV series will follow whether it's on the Food Network or Comedy Central.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I like you too!, November 27, 2006
    Imagine a beautiful full color cookbook written by a 1950's single girl with a flair for entertaining. Now imagine that girl is drunk, and messy, and just a little bit crazy.

    I love this cookbook. It's the funniest thing I've read in ages, and full of ideas designed to educate, or at least entertain. It's jam-packed too, you could pour over just a few pages for quite some time and not catch all the tidbits and visual goodies there are to be found.

    Bottom line: buy it for the style, keep it for the substance. It's hilarious. ... Read more


    20. The LEGO Book
    by Daniel Lipkowitz
    Hardcover
    list price: $40.00 -- our price: $26.40
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0756656230
    Publisher: DK ADULT
    Sales Rank: 555
    Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Reveal, explore, and celebrate the fascinating LEGO story in The LEGO Book. From its beginnings in a carpenter's workshop and the development of the first plastic brick, to the group's current position as an international brand, a timeline highlights key moments in LEGO history.

    Fascinating facts on every significant LEGO product line, theme park, video game, artwork, competition, club, collectible and more combine with images from the LEGO Group's photo archives-many seen here for the first time-and inspiring ideas on how to make a variety of things from just a few bricks. Packaged in a beautiful slip case with cutting-edge design, this two-volume set also features Standing Small-a 96-page book celebrating the minifigure.

    LEGO, the LEGO logo, the Brick configuration and the Minifigure are trademarks of the LEGO Group. 2009 The LEGO Group.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Must for Lego Enthusiasts, October 10, 2009
    I pre-ordered this set for my 12 yr old son. I received it yesterday and I must say I am quite pleased with the set. I found myself thoroughly enjoying the colorful pages and skimming over all the mini figures and sets that have evolved over the decades. Viewing the pages provided a bit of nostalgia for me as I was able to share my own memories with my son. This set is great for the Lego Collector or enthusiast. I really enjoyed the overview of the history of Lego along with the timelines and descriptions of manufacturing, etc.

    If you are looking for "building tips" or "an idea book" this is not the book for you, instead I would look into the purchase of: "The Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide" by Allan Bedford, or the DK Lego Modelers series that have booklets containing ways to create characters using common lego pieces that you may already have in your collection.

    5-0 out of 5 stars What an amazing visual history of these little bricks!, October 8, 2009
    I had this pre-ordered quite a while ago, and it finally showed up yesterday!
    HEAVY, thick hard covers, in an even HEAVIER thick slip cover! Even the "bonus book" about the mini figure is the same wonderful quality. GREAT value for the money!

    What a brilliant look a the history of the LEGO brick and the company as a whole. For those looking for new and outrageous models you might be in for a bit of disappointment, as this is more of a visual history. I had so much fun remembering back with all the old sets they showed, and looking at the time line and thinking, "Was it REALLY 20 years ago I got that set for my birthday?"

    This book is all about the visual. There is a minimal amount of words per page, but they do a wonderful job at describing what is going on, and leading us through the journey, and not taking away from the well laid out pages.

    One other review complained that this was a "glorified catalog", but how else would you like to display almost 300 pages of toys? ANY book about a 50+ year line of toys will come off a bit catalog like, no matter how much you try to avoid that. I for one give kudos to the authors from cramming in so many sets and making sure the name and year of each set shown is displayed. These names and date help link the items to the time line, as well as give me a starting point to try and find an old copy of a set that this book brought out fond memories of!

    I love new and exciting builds as much as the next guy, that's why I am a Brick Journal subscriber (the compendiums are available here on Amazon, and well worth the money!), this book is not meant to do that. This book is a visual history of the entire LEGO system up to today. The book even included the current Space Police and Power Miners lines, and mentions the new Disney lines coming out next year, so you know the information is as up to date as possible in print form!

    5-0 out of 5 stars The LEGO BOOK,So good,I bought another, October 7, 2009
    I had this on order,for a long time,delivered yesterday,and it was worth the wait.
    This is 2 books in a slide in case and the quality is fantastic.One book on figures
    and building kits,and the other telling of the history of lego.Photography is stunning
    and the layout of both books is first rate.As you go through the pages,the images of
    supersized lego figures are a visual treat.As this was a gift for my grandson,who loved
    it,I ordered another the same day for myself,an owner of a 9 ft. Lego castle display
    with over 400 figures!

    2-0 out of 5 stars The History of Lego from 2000, February 11, 2010
    I've now read in their entirety both the Lego Book and the Minifig Book which form the core of this collection. As a collector of Legos since their heyday in the late 1980s (think Pirates) to the present, I've seen a lot of Lego memorabilia. When I received this book collection for Christmas, I was really, truly hoping that DK was intending to focus on the complete history of Lego and the Lego minifigure. Sadly, I was mistaken.

    Don't get me wrong, the books are beautifully illustrated in full color on quality paper in a cute little collectors box. But in the end, I feel rather let down. For the main book, I was let down by the content. The book focused on the history of Lego for the first dozen pages or so but then switched to the individual themes. I was actually okay with that. I mean, if you want to see the complete line of Legos from the 1950s to the present, buy the 2008 set collectors guide. I would have liked to see a bit more of a review of the early town and train themes and how they developed prior to the creation of the minifig, but I was generally okay with the content and quality of the brief history of Lego.

    The theme sections are what really got me down. I know Lego sponsored this DK book but, technically at least, this is not a Lego production. It is independent. It has no Lego set number, no Lego pieces, only pictures. Yet somehow it is very obvious from the very start that this book was designed and funded by Lego. The majority of the themes have at least one page focusing on the most recent sub-theme of a series. Be it the 2007 Castle line, the 2008 Space Police, the 2007 Clone Wars, or the recent City themes. They are very present throughout this book. What really irked me was the treatment of the Lego Pirates. They dedicate one spread to the 1989-1996 series of Pirates and another full spread to just the 2008 line. That just seems insulting. The 2-year Westerners series is crammed on the same spread as the Adventurers and Time Cruisers. Meanwhile, other lines like Star Wars (1999-present) get four full spreads or more. I couldn't even see examples of some of my favorite Space lines such as M-Tron, Blacktron II, or Spyrius. They just weren't there! The objectiveness of this "Lego Book" is very much in question and I would rather call it the "History of Lego from 2000" than anything else.

    My larger gripe, though, is with the accompanying Lego Minifigure book. Where the Lego Book lacked in content, the minifig book lacked in everything except visual appeal. Even at times that was in question, though. As with the Lego Book, the minifig book is in full color and on good quality paper. It fits snugly beside the Lego Book in its collector's box. Yet I have a feeling that significantly less time was spent on this younger cousin of the larger Book. Any editor who read this would laugh out loud. Indeed, I have yet to find a page that doesn't have a spelling, grammatical, or factual error. In almost all cases there are multiple such problems on the pages. Besides being about as non-comprehensive as the Lego Book, barely covering more than the last decade's worth of minifigures, the style of this book is extremely wanting. Many pages I have found odd and hardly interesting facts on the wrong page (the fact that Prof. Snape's head was the first glow-in-the-dark minifig part appearing on the page AFTER that minifig was shown comes to mind). In other places, the same exact minifig appears twice, sometimes on the same page even, often with a different date despite the fact that they are the same exact figure. In other cases, I have found incorrect dates for figures, or even incorrect names. One funny error notes that the Clone Wars in Star Wars took place over 300 years, rather than the canonical 3 years. In virtually all aspects, the minifig book lacks the quality-control checks and editing I would expect from DK. It is as though the people who arranged the hodgepodge of images also created the captions with absolutely no oversight. Were the minifig book sold separately, I would probably demand a full refund from the publisher out of sheer anger at the poor editing of this book. While the visual appeal is arguably good, the writing of some of the poorest quality I have seen in a publication.

    So, my advice is to buy this set if you want it purely for the images. It is a great visual feast of Legoness. However, if you expect deep content and a fun jaunt back into the history of Lego, I'd suggest you wait for another book because this will leave you scratching your head asking: "Didn't Lego make more sets before 2000?"

    1-0 out of 5 stars Nothing but a Catalog, June 18, 2010
    My wife and I are both big fans of Legos, and I bought these books for her, in the hopes of seeing the typically nice job DK does of displaying something's visual history.

    Both of these books devote a very small amount of pages to Lego's history, showing woefully few photographs of older Lego sets, Lego sculptures, and related items. The majority of the books is devoted to multiple page spreads of JUST the products which Lego has currently on the market. The photographs of these products are not even very interesting, and could have been lifted directly from Lego's own marketing material, for all I know.

    Its a dull work which almost reads like a product brochure, rather than what it purports to be, a tribute to a very fun toy with a long and interesting history.

    When my wife looked at the book, she politely asked me to return it, which I did.

    VERY DISAPPOINTED

    5-0 out of 5 stars My 9 year old nephew is in love with this book!, November 24, 2009
    I just gave it to him for his birthday today and I have achieved my goal which is to buy him the best possible gift and soldify my #1 Auntie Anne status! :) He is glued to this book and enjoying it immensely (to say the least) All kidding aside my only regret is that I gave him the book when I first saw him. I drive 1 1/2 hours to see him and as we went about our activites he lugged that heavy book everywhere and had his nose poked into it at every lull in activity! Needless to say I did not get his full attention that day but he was in "Lego book" heaven. This book is light years better than a catalog...there is no comparision. As an educator, I can see that it also is helping with his reading. There are lots of wonderful pictures, but plenty of text which encourages reading. Another plus!

    Have a great Christmas. I just had to write this review tonight for those of you that are looking to buy christmas presents for youth who are Lego fans. Oh and I also have a 4 year old nephew in the same family. Did not want to leave him out! He is a Lego fan too. Bought him a AMAZING Lego Duplo sticker book with 600 color stickers. I bought it at Barnes and Noble. Not sure if Amazon has it?

    5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome for any lego collector., October 9, 2009
    I have been waiting for this after my boys saw it in the catalog. What a surprise! This is an amazing value for the quality and size of these books. My boys are going to go nuts over these when I give them to them for xmas. It is even better than the 10 year old version that my kids have studied for ages. The amazing photos and facts are just what every collector is looking for! It is definitely more than a catalog.

    4-0 out of 5 stars 2 striking books for fans, November 23, 2009
    Overall, the book was great. It has a few minor inaccuracies, but they're negligible. This "book" is actually two books in one slipcover. One documents the Lego Group over the years - from the time that the founder was making wooden toys at the turn of the century to the more recent NXT programmable bricks, etc. The pics are striking, and the information given is interesting. It's by no means an 'academic' book, nor is it a thorough history of the company. It's more of a visual tour. It's fun to flip through the pages and review the models that I had as a kid that have since been long-lost. The minifig book is great too.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Photography and details will blow your mind if you are a Lego fan!, November 7, 2009
    I began collecting Lego for me about 6 months ago...not many moms have this hobby, but it is a blast. After 15+ years of picking up and sorting the %&**&^%$%^& things, I decided to collect some girlie ones for me....gorgeous pastel ladies who could live in gorgeous pastel houses except when they are under attack by my husband's mean old trolls.
    It took about 6 months of reading geeky product listings on [...] to figure out who is who and to whom they are related. Wish I had had the Standing Small minifigure book back then because it is just what I needed to identify and buy the female minifigs and house parts.
    The photography of the minifigs is out of this world; we tried taking photos of some of our minifigs, and it is extremely difficult to capture the quality of detail in this book. Also I now know which ladies came in which set, and which guys' bodies would be great for sex changes into lovely ladies. May the fun begin!
    The limited text (the pages are mostly filled with photos of Lego) explains how Lego developed in a chronological sequence that brings back happy memories of buying them 18 years ago for my then 3 year old son. The authors did a beautiful job of documenting the introduction of each set and type of Lego.
    If you enjoy playing and collecting Lego as an adult, a child or an in between, these two books are a blessing.
    For building ideas, read the above reviews as there are other sources more suited for building things not in the Lego sets. Our favorite is Brick Journal, which highlights many incredible creations each issue.
    This two-book set is a masterpiece of fine art and history and a very entertaining read. I could not put it down last night when my husband pulled it out of his car as a gift for me.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Real Deal, October 9, 2009
    Yes Lego fans, this is the real deal, Two high quality hardcover books with many, many glossy pics in a hardcover slipcase for AUD$60.

    Includes a beautifully produced overview of 50 years of Lego sets, plus a volume on 30 years of Lego minifigures.

    Great history, excellent photography, interesting design & manufacturing insights, heaps of "did you knows" Oh yes it's good. Very good.

    There is limited print material on Lego available of this quality. Buy this book now or regret for ever. Everything else is just bricks,.. and plates,.. and minifigs...

    A must for Lego fans. ... Read more


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