Blogging for Books: The Naturalist

Just in time for Father’s Day, Blogging for Books gives me the chance to get the daddiest of dad presents.


This is only the second time I’ve used this platform to gift books I otherwise wouldn’t read, and it does diversify my reviews.

President Theodore Roosevelt is my dad’s favorite historical figure, and he is always looking for new TR books. Unfortunately for my dad, he doesn’t care that much about the presidency, but he is 100% here for reading about Amazon explorations and Teddy’s work creating our natural parks.

So thanks, Darrin Lunde, for saving me an awkward trip to Lowe’s!*

Lunde, a Smithsonian employee, uses The Naturalist to take an interesting look at T.R.’s relationship with the great outdoors and the impact that had on his political career.

This isn’t one of my great areas of interest so it’s hard to rate the book. Certainly it was well-written but I had a hard time getting through it because I just didn’t care that much. However, if your dad is like my dad and has tried to style their life around being Teddy Roosevelt, I think this book will be a hit.

Basically, if TR or political histories are your bag of ducks, then I think this book will be a hit. If you’re like me and you’d rather read about society ladies having seances, it’s not going to have much WOW factor.

The book retails for $28 (hardcover). It can be purchased from Penguin’s website, but I suggest you hit up your nearest brick-and-mortar bookstore to snag this one for dad before his big weekend.



*I spoke too soon, after writing that intro a bat got into our apartment and I had to go to Lowe’s and ask a sales associate “which of these gardening gloves looks like they could best withstand a bat bite?” Spoiler Alert: They don’t rate for that.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


Blogging for Books: Owls

Owls: Our Most Charming Bird by Matt Sewell

This review is basically one big gift recommendation, so sucks to me for not having it done before Christmas so y’all could absorb my wisdom.

In my defense this book arrived after we had left on our trek to visit Manbeast’s family and even though I used it as a gift for him he didn’t get it until tonight.

So this is a first: first book I’ve ever given as a gift, first book I’ve ever reviewed the night I received it!


Manbeast loves owls. He would agree with the subtitle of this book, they are Our Most Charming Bird. I generally think they are terrifying. But author/illustrator Matt Sewell has charmed even my hardened heart. Each owl is given a short blurb and a beautiful illustration. I usually cannot stand to look at a barn owl because I find them so upsetting, but Sewell makes them look majestic and -dare I say- cuddly.


The illustrations are seriously gorgeous, and the owl descriptions are factual with a dash of irreverence.


Manbeast has already ooohed and aaahed over ever impeccable illustration in the book and loved the few descriptions he actually read. This book is a must have for any owl lover.

Owls by Matt Sewell: Our Most Charming Bird Book.


I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Irreverent Reviews: One Hand Washes the Other (OHWTO)

I found out about Etsy seller One Hand Washes the Other (OHWTO) through the now-defunct (I think) blog Lipstick and Lightsabers. Poking around on the internet lead me to some really great reviews of their Black Magic soap, and as someone who is always on the lookout for things that will make my face feel unoily but also not dry I decided to check it out. The Black Magic soaps come in several options, a small round bar, a large uh, is that a rectangle?, bar, and two different whipped soap varieties. What I really wanted was the cream soap, but I didn’t want to spend $13 on something I wasn’t sure would work with my skin, so I went for the small round bar. 

Having used that product for several week (with breaks on weekends for other soaps), I feel confident that my next purchase will be either the larger bar or one of the whipped soaps because it is working out splendidly for me. The bar is almost too lovely to use, with a wonderful design on the top. It is a true, inky black- but not from any dyes, that’s just the color the ingredient combination makes. It also doesn’t contain any artificial or added scents, but it does utilize tea tree oil as an ingredient. Tea tree oil has a very strong scent that I don’t find pleasant at all, but the Black Magic bar doesn’t have a very strong scent, you can just  tell it’s there. Honestly, it works so well that I would go ahead and keep using it even if it were more pungent.

Now, OHWTO may not use artificial scents in that particular soap bar, but there is quite the fun and expansive scent library that can be used in perfumes (like this masterpiece) and also the other kinds of soap. I also picked up a bar of the exfoliating soap– it has a piece of loofa um, baked? molded? inside of it to provide an exfoliating scrub. I love using it on my feet, elbows, and yes, even my butt. The scent I selected was raspberry gingerale, and it really does smell like the soda. I would be quite content to receive that scent on another product, and I will keep buying the loofa bar.

They’re all round, can I call them bars? Am I creating soap sacrilege? Whatever.

I’m so impressed with the quality of the two items I purchased that I would easily consider buying more of the soaps (I mean, beer soap!!). I actually announced to all my friends that I was buying them soap for Christmas and they all rolled their eyes at me, but I know once they try it they will like it. Black magic bars for everyone! (Just call me Soaprah*) 

I also received a stylish business card, a lollipop (that I haven’t sampled yet, review pending!) and a solid perfume sample of the scent “Drama.” Drama is not a bad scent. It is not a scent that I would choose to wear as a perfume, but I would not mind having it in a soap. I feel like it is a muskier, more conventional smell then say… raspberry gingerale. I actually might give it to one of my friends, I think she would find it quite pleasant.

The TAT was a little slower than I’ve gotten used to experiencing from indie companies BUT when you consider what you’re getting it’s not bad at all. Speaking speculatively, I’m sure they can make backstop of popular items like the Black Magic bar, but how many people are actually ordering raspberry gingerale loofa soaps? The items are all handmade, and that takes time, especially for a custom order. It just means that if you’re going to be ordering these as gifts I would recommend placing an order at a decent interval in advance. I’ll probably make my Christmas order around Halloween, but also I have Christmas Gift Neurosis and am freaking out because I don’t have all my shopping done yet and THAT’S JUST WRONG.

I would encourage everyone to check out the Black Magic bar, if nothing else. I mean, there are samples, so what have you got to loose?

*I am so sorry for that.