Creative Coding In Python

Thanks to NetGalley, I was able to read a digital ARC of Creative Coding In Python by Sheena Vaidyanathan. Important things first, I love the robotic octopus gracing the cover, it’s so ominously cute, and this book teaches Python 3.

The book dives right in with a short introduction covering what coding is, why to learn to code specifically in Python, how to install Python, your first line of code, functions, errors, algorithms, pseudocode, and flowcharts! A lot of information is squished into these first few pages, but I think it’s explained well, and without too much detail which can bog a beginner down.

The rest of the book is split into into five chapters which teach you to create your own simple chatbots, art masterpieces, adventure games, dice games, and finally your own apps and games. Each chapter focuses on a main topic and a project to code, and also introduces various concepts along the way, ending with a number of on-topic exercises. Some of these exercises are new, while some use newly acquired skills to develop further complexity to code written for previous chapters.

Creative Coding In Python is well-written with clear, concise explanations, is aesthetically pleasing, includes a number of exercises to tackle, and even introduces some rather advanced topics, such as graphics and GUIs. Plenty of ideas and resources for further development of coding skills are listed at the back as well as a handy glossary of terms.

I’d have thought this book was brilliant as a tween, and I think it’s pretty great as an adult. Definitely a book to buy!

The Complete Book of Calligraphy & Lettering

Book cover of Complete Book of Calligraphy and LetteringThanks to NetGalley, I was able to read a digital ARC of The Complete Book of Calligraphy & Lettering: A comprehensive guide to more than 100 traditional calligraphy and hand-lettering techniques. The book begins with a short overview of calligraphy, and then is split into three main parts; Traditional Calligraphy, Modern Hand Lettering and Creative Lettering Projects.

The first part, Traditional Calligraphy, has five chapters, and is fantastic. Chapter 1 deals with the tools and materials needed, how to set up a work area, how to get started and then moves on to the parts of the letters and how to prepare the paper correctly. Chapter 2 discusses the various basic calligraphy styles, while chapter 3 shows a variety of traditional alphabets. Chapter 4 is all about illuminated calligraphy, both the supplies needed and techniques used, and even has information on colour theory. Chapter 5 deals with contemporary calligraphy and highlights the different fundamentals and techniques used in more modern lettering.

Part 2, Modern Hand Lettering, is split into the following three chapters; Flourishes and Embellishments, Illustrated by Hand, and Chalk Lettering.

Part 3, Creative Lettering Projects, is by far the shortest part of the book and contains three different projects to tackle. Starting with making personalised journal covers, moving on to making quotable art, and finally an idea for calligraphied place settings.

The first part of the book is tremendous, and easily my favourite part. With so much good information for beginners, I think the book is worth buying for the first five chapters alone. The second part is also interesting and has lots of helpful information, but I didn’t think the projects in the third part lived up to the rest of the book. However, my lack of enthusiasm for the projects didn’t detract from the rest of the book which is very good. I will be adding this one to my shelf.

Not Your Mother’s Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook

Book cover of Not Your Mothers Cast Iron Skillet CookbookThanks to NetGalley, I was able to read Not Your Mother’s Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Lucy Vaserfirer. In the introduction Vaserfirer discusses why to use cast iron cookware, and which types she recommends. She also details what one can cook in cast iron, and what the various sizes of skillet are suitable for. I particularly appreciated that the skillet sizes were listed in both inches and cms here. She then goes over the various tools and utensils that are useful for cast iron skillet cooking, some of which are also pictured in a keyed photo. An in-depth overview of different cooking methods follows, before a couple of exhaustive sections on cleaning and maintenance, another on seasoning and then finally restoration. The introduction ends with a section full of information on the recipes to follow, and the ingredients they use.

There are six recipe chapters; Eggs and Breakfast, Starters and Snacks, Mains, Sides, Sweets and Bakes, and finally Spices and Sauces. Each recipe has an introduction with serving suggestions and yield, a recommend skillet for preparation, the cooking method used, followed by the ingredients and then finally the directions. The ingredients are listed both in cups and grams or ml, and the size in both inches and cms. Oven temperatures when applicable, are listed both in Fahrenheit, Centigrade and gas marks.

I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, but the way they are presented is wonderful and I truly wish all cookbooks would list them in the same manner. Even if the recipes haven’t been tested in metric, not having to convert cups to grams is a huge boon, and makes life easier for those of us who prefer to use scales in the kitchen. My only quibble, and it is a small one, is that I would have loved more photos of the finished dishes. Other than than, I think this is a very nice book and I will be attempting quite a few of these dishes once I’ve seasoned my skillet.

Fashion in the Middle Ages

Cover of the book Fashion in the Middle Ages

Thanks to NetGalley I received access to a digital ARC of Fashion in the Middle Ages by Margaret Scott in exchange for an honest review.

A foreword by Elizabeth Morrison is followed by an introduction and then the three main chapters, Dressing for the Moment, Dressing for the Job, and Dressing for Another Time, Another Place, before a glossary of terms, and suggestions for further reading.

This book is fascinating and I’m so grateful for having the chance to read it. Tons of interesting information illustrated by lots of pictures with illuminating (heh) captions. In my copy many photographs were of very low quality making it hard to make out the details described by in the text, but I assume that is a feature of the digital ARC and not part of the final copy.

I enjoy reading historical fiction, biographies of historical figures, and playing faux-medieval fantasy roleplaying games, so this book was very much a delight for me. The glossary alone is exceptionally helpful when trying keep the difference between miniver and ermine straight in my head, or remembering just what samite was again. I will happily add a copy of this book to my collection as soon as possible.