Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Reviewing The Reflections Of Queen Snow White

Snow White The Woman

I just recently read the book The Reflections Of Queen Snow White and wanted to share my review with you all. I think that we all have grown up with the fairy tale of Snow White, her friends the seven dwarfs and of course Prince Charming. I am sure we read the story in a the fairy tale books and have watched the movie version by Walt Disney. Those two versions leave us with Prince Charming and Snow White living happily ever after once the Prince kisses her back to life after having eaten the poisoned apple. For most of us that is where the story ends but what was their lives like after that life awakening kiss? 

The author, David Meredith, has written an insightful tale of what life might have been like for Snow White after she marries Prince Charming. Mr. Meredith takes us to a realistic world of the woman Snow White that is not meant as a continuation of a child's fairy tale but more a story for adults to read.

I am going to admit that there were parts of this book that were difficult for me to read, not because they were poorly written but because they touched a nerve in my soul. The original fairy tale only insinuates that the evil Queen mistreated dear Snow White but this book tells in realistic detail the abuse that the young Princess suffered under her step-mother's tutelage. The story shows us vividly the mistreatment and the scars left locked away in her mind many years after the abuse was over. It was hard to read but it was so very accurate in the damage done to one who has suffered abuse. One who has suffered from abuse recognizes the truth in the story.

"Mirror, Mirror on the wall. Who is the fairest of them all?"

Mr. Meredith writes this book with the premise that Snow White is depressed after her wonderful Prince Charming dies from old age. This isn't just the veiled suggestion of depression but a very accurate depiction of what deep disabling depression can be like. Having experienced the depths of depression myself, the author describes it very well which makes me think that he writes from what he knows. It is honest, heart wrenching and realistic. Depression isn't pretty, not even for a Queen but it is real and not portrayed often enough for people who haven't walked in those shoes to comprehend. The author did a fine job, even though it is hard to picture Snow White that overcome with despair. Depression knows no boundaries, it doesn't come to just one sector of a culture; it can touch any life from the poorest of souls to even a Queen. 

I referenced the mirror above that the evil Queen step-mother used. It is a huge part of this story. I don't want to give a lot away about the book so I will be careful about what I say from here. Suffice it to say, we can see a lot in the reflections of a mirror. If we look hard enough, we might even be able to see our soul, troubled as it might be. 

So far, I have painted a rather dark description of this book. It is dark in several places but life itself can be a dark and frightening place. This story needs to touch on the darker parts of a human's life in order to also show hope. There is hope or at least there should always be hope in one's life. Sometimes it may be hard for us to see a glimmer of hope but it is there; we just have to dig really deep to find it. 

The story is also about inner strength, something that many of us fail to see in ourselves. When we have suffered abuse, lost a loved one or any of the other things that life throws at us that causes us to fall into a deep depression; we feel that we are weak and can't possibly get through this dark journey. Are we strong enough to face those inner demons that torment our soul? Can we let go of the anger and bitterness we feel from the mistreatment, the feelings of abandonment when a loved one dies and heal the wounds of hurt? Can Queen Snow White? Does she have the strength to look in the mirror at herself? Will she find her happily ever after in a new way? 

We often gush over a book that was light and fun to read. This isn't a book that you will gush over but I can say that I liked it. It hurt to read some of it, it brought back some of my old demons or at least the memories of them. It also reminded me of the strength it took to overcome my own depression. It reminded me of hope. It made me stop and think about life and the souls who might be next to me who are battling their own demons. It reminded me that the answers are always within us; we just have to have the courage to look inside and deal with what we see. It is a story that will stay with me for a long time. It is real, it is a bit raw but most of all it has a good strong message about life and all of the hurts we can encounter and overcome if we choose to.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Monday, May 30, 2016

Fun Holiday Review for "Water a Flower Day" ~ May 30

Illustration of watering can watering a row of flowers in pots
Source: Pixabay

We are all familiar with the rhyme “April showers bring May flowers," so having May 30 designated as 'Water a Flower Day' seems appropriate.

No one knows the origin of this day, but gardeners and flower fanciers are glad someone created this day.

A World of Flowers

There are over 400,000 types of flowers in the world.  I found this list of the top 12 most beautiful flowers in the world:

  1. Rose
  2. Bird of Paradise
  3. Calla Lily
  4. Magnolia
  5. Water Lilies
  6. Tulip
  7. Orchids
  8. Dahlia
  9. Chrysanthemum
  10. Plumeria
  11. Gazania
  12. Passion Flower

It's not surprising (to me) that the Rose is Number One on this list.  What is YOUR favorite flower?  As you can see by the above postcard photo (available on Zazzle), Cynthia Sylvestermouse of the Review This! blog likes the Rose of Sharon.

My Favorite Flower is the Lilac

I have always loved Lilacs.  As a child, the back door of our house had lilac bushes on either side, one white and one lavender. To this day I can remember the lovely lilac scents in the Springtime.  

And our city, Rochester, New York, is famous for the Lilac Festival held every Spring in May in Highland Park where over 1200 lilac shrubs and bushes can be found.  Mary Beth Granger (mbgphoto) here on Review This! offers this lovely photo of Lilacs by the Water in her Zazzle Store.

Crafty Flowers

A collage of handmade coasters with floral designs
Floral Coasters on Etsy

I like to craft and I love flowers, so it was natural to me to create a few floral beverage coasters as a way to keep flowers in your home year-round. And these flowers never need watering! These, and a variety of floral design beverage coasters, can be found on Etsy in the Coastal Crochet Crafts shop.

Pansy Coaster

Image of a Pansy flower on a beverage coaster
Pansy Beverage Coasters

Pansies are lovely on your tabletop as beverage coasters.

The word Pansy means "thought" and the pansy flower is considered a symbol of remembrance.  These pansy design floral coasters would make a thoughtful hostess gift or housewarming gift. 

 A pretty complement to your home decor, these pansy coasters are available in my Etsy Shop, Coastal Crochet Crafts.

Yellow Jonquil Flower Coasters

jonquil floral coaster
Jonquil Floral Coaster

This is a lovely set of beverage coasters handmade using plastic canvas and acrylic yarn. The design is a yellow Jonquil flower with green leaves set on an eggshell-white background. The Jonquil flower is a member of the Daffodil family of flowers of the genus Narcissus. 

Daylily Floral Coasters

Daylily image of a floral coaster
Daylily Floral Coaster

This Daylily design is on a set of four beverage coasters with a design of a single daylily on each. Although daylilies come in a variety of colors, I chose the melon shades for this set.

Handmade using plastic canvas and acrylic yarn in melon orange and peach, the daylily design sits on an off-white Ecru background. Each coaster measures 4 x 4 inches.

Black Eyed Susan Beverage Coasters

Black Eyed Susan image of a coaster
Black Eyed Susan Coasters

The Black Eyed Susan flower is part of the Sunflower family of flowers.  

This is a set of four beverage coasters with a Black-Eyed Susan flower design. 

Handmade in plastic canvas and acrylic yarn in yellows and greens with a dark brown center, the design sits on an eggshell-white background. The coasters are square, measuring 4.25 x 4.25 inches each. 

Celebrate 'Water a Flower Day'


Water a Flower Day is a yearly reminder every May 30 for us to show our flowers how much we appreciate them for their beautiful colors and fragrant blossoms. 

Whether you like to smell the flowers, grow the flowers or photograph flowers, never forget to WATER the flowers!

Check out the links below from some of the contributors on Review This! for advice on how to grow and photograph your favorite flowers!

Book pages and roses
Image source: Pixabay

There are many books about Flowers to be found on Amazon by clicking

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day Music - Duty, Grace, Thanks and Faith

Memorial Day Photo by Sylvestermouse
Photo by Sylvestermouse

Every year on the last Monday in May, now known as Memorial Day, the United States honors those who have served.

Across the land, citizens bow their heads to thank those who put their lives on the line and shed tears of pride and pain for those who paid the ultimate price.

This celebration weekend will be filled with food, family gatherings, reflection, and music.

If your gathering needs the right song with just the right words, you'll want to add these message-driven country songs to your playlist.

Country Songs for Your Memorial Day Weekend and Beyond
These Song Choices Speak to Duty, Grace, Thanks, and ultimately, the Soul's Peace, Faith

American Soldier by Toby Keith

Those who serve do so with a sense of duty to family, country, and a better world. They don't do it for the glory, they don't do it for the money, they just do it, and although they give a piece of their soul, they don't want to die, but if that happens, they do it for us. That's what a sense of duty is.

They are out there, on the front lines, seeing, feeling, living things we'll never fully understand ... things they never want their kids to have to live through. Their sense of duty goes beyond one lifetime. That's what this first song is about.

Listen to this song, and you'll feel the heartbeat of an American Soldier:

The Angels Came Down by Kevin Costner & Modern West

(Yes, that Kevin Costner)Modern West performed this song in April 2014 at a ceremony where a memorial was dedicated to five men who died in  Afghanistan.

The song was written with the Civil War in mind. The lyrics provide grace through the visual of angels coming to rescue souls from blood-stained battlefields.

The haunting lyrics paint a picture of the ultimate sacrifice and ultimate love. They experience the grace of angels carrying their souls to a place of peace. The best lyric is, "They left no one, and they placed no blame" -  what this world has the potential to be, no blame.
(Lyrics) And the Angels came down to the fallen men
and they held their hands as they prayed for them
they carried their souls beyond the moon and the sun
they prayed for them one by one
The Angels worked so hard for so many years
to heaven and back again, they shed so many tears
they left no one and they placed no blame
walking all alone in the southern rain

I Want You to Live, by George Canyon

As a Canadian writing this article, I want to thank all who have served and continue to serve on both sides of our border. No matter our political leanings, we all share a few things in common: The lands of the free and prayers that our men and women return home to us safe and alive.

Our tears are your tears; your tears are our tears. We're neighbors sharing the longest free border in the world. To those of you who have lost someone, no matter which side of the border you live on, know that I include you in my prayers and thank you with every breath we and our children take. We see the gift of our loved ones smiling faces come courtesy of many before us who paid for that freedom with their life. It will never be forgotten.

This song by Canadian Country Artist George Canyon says it well; 'I Want You to Live.'

(Lyrics) "Takes all of her strength to go through his things; it feels like she's holding him again, the letters he wrote, the books he read, and some of the shirts still have his scent."...

While we pray for peace, we thank all who have served and continue to serve, making the ultimate contribution toward mankind's achieving that goal: perfect union.

Believe by Brooks & Dunn 

I'll end this selection of songs for Memorial Day with this message of faith delivered in lyrics that tell the story of a little boy and his close friend, 'Old Man Wrigley.'

Old Man Wrigley, who served in the Navy, positively influenced this young boy's life. This little boy, now a young man away at school, receives a call from his mom to inform him that Old Man Wrigley died. The news hits him hard.

The passing of his old friend causes this young man to reflect on this sweet old man who taught him more about Purpose than he had imagined in the springtime of his life.
(Lyrics) I can't quote the book
The chapter or the verse
You can't tell me it all ends ... In a slow ride in a hearse
You know I'm more and more convinced
The longer that I live
Yeah, this can't be
No, this can't be
No, this can't be all there is
These words by Brooks & Dunn sprinkle light on the pain of loss. Your loved ones, my loved ones, are still with us. When that salty water leaks out of your eyes, there's a hand you can't see wiping away that tear. I believe.

Hold on to love; you'll take it with you.

With Love, Always, Barbara

You Can Find these Four Songs to Add to Your Playlist Here

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Memorial Day Recipes Reviewed - Part II


Image of the American Flag
Source: Sylvestermouse

Memorial Day - a patriotic remembrance holiday and the one thought of as the beginning of Summertime - is usually filled with activities, celebrations, family get-togethers and, most importantly, food.  Whether you have an indoor, sit-down meal with family or an outdoor picnic in the backyard or at a park or beach with a group, deciding on the perfect menu is fun.

Once you have your main dish Memorial Day meal planned, perhaps from ideas listed on Memorial Day Recipes Reviewed - Part I , here are some suggestions for the dessert part of your day of celebration.

Grill Cupcakes


Grill Cupcakes, image from a recipe for same
Recipe and Photos by Chef Amber of Hot Springs, Arkansas for FrugalMomEh.com

If your Memorial Day meal involves food cooked on the grill, these Grill Cupcakes would make the perfect complementary dessert for your backyard barbecue.  Recipe and whimsical design featured by Elizabeth of Canada on her delightful blog Frugal Mom Eh.

Patriotic Red, White & Blue Chocolate Cookies

Patriotic Red, White & Blue chocolate cookies
Source: Two Sisters Crafting

Cookies are a dessert that is perfect for a picnic in the park or at the beach as they are portable, needing no sit-down plate or fork to eat.  These Red, White and Blue cookies would make a patriotic and fun dessert for Memorial Day.  And they are 'chocolate' too. Yum! 

white blue chocolate candyChocolate cookies with Red, White and Blue Holiday M&M Mix are a quick, easy and fun holiday dessert for any of our patriotic holidays, Memorial Day, Flag Day, 4th of July or Veterans Day. 

This recipe comes from the Two Sisters Crafting blog

Flag Fruit Dessert


Flag fruit dessert image
Source: Family Fresh Meals

For an indoor holiday meal (in case rain spoils an outdoor event this Memorial Day), fruit always makes a wonderful dessert.  Corey of Family Fresh Meals came up with a patriotic way to display a fresh fruit platter with her Easy Flag Fruit Dessert.  Using blueberries, and red fruit such as cherries, strawberries and raspberries, she spread her fruit flag out on a serving tray. A bowl of blueberries represent the field of stars background in the top left corner, then rows of red fruits make the red stripes.  Since there isn't a white fruit, she came up with little pretzels covered in yogurt or white chocolate for the white stripes. Very clever and a light & satisfying tasty dessert.  This dessert could also be served on other patriotic holidays, such as Flag Day and the 4th of July.

Patriotic Pies

American Flag blueberry/cherry pie
Source: Cassie Johnston on eHow

Then there are patriotic cakes and pies. This homemade American flag blueberry/cherry pie decorated with pastry stars and topped with vanilla ice cream would be a sensational finish to your  Memorial Day meal. Recipe is by Cassie Johnston on eHow.

Memorial Day Meals

Hope everyone enjoys a terrific and tasty Memorial Day with these menu ideas and recipes for Patriotic Main Dishes and Desserts. 

To make your Memorial Day celebration complete, add in some Patriotic Music.  Enjoy your weekend!

Happy Memorial Day!


Memorial Day Recipes Reviewed - Part II written & presented by:

Wednesday Elf


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Friday, May 27, 2016

Memorial Day Recipes Reviewed - Part I

The Main Course


recipes menu for memorial day
Memorial Day is historically the date we set aside each year to honor and remember those who gave their lives for our country while serving in the U.S. military.  It is always observed on the last Monday in May.  The entire weekend before Memorial Day, families & friends all across the US gather together for parties and picnics.  We celebrate our freedom, our nation, the beginning of summer and the end of the school year.   We decorate with red, white & blue, we sing patriotic songs, we laugh, we love, we remember, and we eat

In preparation for the weekend of festivities, the contributors of Review This sought out some great recipes for Memorial Day to share.  Today, we will start with the main course.  

Recipes for the Grill

The days that fall right between spring and summer make the perfect time for an outdoor party.  As a few of the grilling experts gather around the grill, the rest of us mingle, laugh and enjoy tasting the appetizers on the buffet table.

It is an afternoon full of fun and good food!  

Not sure what you are going to grill yet?  Well, here are a few suggestions.  

 Coca Cola BBQ Ribs Slow-Cooked Barbecue Ribs Honey & Beer Glazed BBQ Chicken


Memorial Day Recipes Cooked Inside to Be Served Outside

Picnics with family and friends are always great, but sometimes we want to be able to cook the main course ahead and serve it once the guests arrive.  That means no on has to actually man the grill during the party.

Here are a few Memorial Day recipes that you cook indoors, but can be served inside or out. These recipes are also very child friendly so you may want to include them even if you plan to grill too. 


A Fruit Treat for Our Vegan & Vegetarian Readers

We all have vegan or vegetarian family members or those who are on special health diets.  We certainly do not want them left out of the fun and food.  

You can create this beautiful fruit bowl by simply combining the red, white and blue fruits in a patriotic bowl. 

Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and watermelon stars are the perfect combination!   They are also delicious added to lemonade, although you may prefer pineapple stars for the drink.  Either the fruit bowls or the patriotic punch served in a beautiful crystal pitcher would be a real crowd pleaser as well as a lovely presentation.

red, white & blue lemonade
Red, White & Blue Lemonade for a Patriotic Punch Drink

 Wilton Stars Nesting Metal Cutter Set

To Make the Pineapple or Watermelon Stars in the Patriotic Fruit Bowl or Lemonade

Simply cut them out with cookie cutters. 

I tend to prefer the metal cookie cutters when cutting fruit or cake simply because they have sharper edges.   With the Wilton metal cookie cutters, I get a nice sharp point at the tips of each of the stars.  Because this set comes with 4 cutters in the various sizes, it is really the perfect choice.  You can choose the actual size of the stars to fit the bowls or serving dishes you are using.  Because they nest, they are much easier to store.

One note:  If you are going to let little hands help you cut your fruit, opt for the plastic set of cookie cutters made by Wilton.  The edges of the cut may not be as precise, but the child's finger will be safe.


We will be continuing our Memorial Day Weekend Celebration

Please join us for our featured Memorial Day Dessert Recipes and for the Patriotic Celebration in Music.

May all of your Parties and Travel over this
Memorial Day Weekend be Safe and Fun!

Memorial Day Recipes Reviewed - Part I written & presented by:
House of Sylvestermouse

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Reviewing Tips for Photographing Beautiful Sunsets

Sunset at August Busch Conservation Area photo by mbgphoto
Sunset at August Busch Conservation Area

Most photographers agree that the minutes before and after sunset provide some of the best lighting for taking photographs. Although I have read and heard that theory many times, I often, either for convenience or desire, try to photograph at different times. When I compare my photos that I have taken over the years, I find that the best ones almost always were taken during the pre and post sunset time periods.
On this page, I will share with you some of the photos that I have taken and some of the techniques I use to capture these images.
all photos are by the authorT-mbgphoto


Preparing for Your Photo Shoot

On a recent spring evening my friend, Teresa and I set out to capture some sunset photographs.  We wanted to catch the reflection of the sinking sun and the colors of the post sunset sky on water, so we went to a nearby area where there are several different lakes.  August A Busch Conservation Area is just a few miles away from us so we decided drive out and check out the lakes in the area. We made sure we arrived about an hour before sunset so we could check out which lake would be best to capture the types of photos we wanted to take.  After driving around several lakes we decided lake #6 would best fit our needs.  We could park on the east side of the lake and get some nice shots of the sun fading into the western sky and horizon.  The other feature we liked about this lakes were a couple of small boats tied up on the eastern shore that would make a nice foreground feature for our photos.

Tips for Preparation

  • Make sure you have batteries charged and room on your memory card
  • Search out the best place to get the photo you want
  • Set up your tripod and camera ahead of time ( a tripod will result in the clearest photos, especially after sunset)
  • Using an off camera remote is helpful (helps to alleviate camera shake)

Take a few shots before sunset

Taking a few shots early will help you to determine the best places to set up your camera.  The light just before sunset can be really nice for capturing flowers and other objects.  The soft light will bring out the details of an object. The first photo shows our set up photo.  The next two show the effects of the soft lighting during the time just before sunset.  Notice the beautiful details in the rose photo.
sunset photo by mbgphoto

flowers at sunset photo by mbgphoto

rose photo by mbgphoto

Camera, Lights, Action

We had our cameras set on tripods, the light came from the setting sun and now we were ready for action.  We took several shots as the sun was setting.  I always like to capture the various stages of a sunset.  For these shots I had moved my tripod away from the boats and to an area where I could capture the sunrise framed by the tree and grasses in the foreground.
sunset photo by mbgphoto

sunset over a lake photo by mbgphoto

sunset behind the trees photo by mbgphoto

The Sun has Set but we are not done Yet

The time right after sunset can produce some wonderful colors in the sky.  It is different each time so you just have to be patient, wait and be surprised.  On this day some beautiful pink colors came out of the clouds after sunset.  The first photo was taken a short time after sunset.  A lot of times new photographers are then ready to pack up and leave thinking they have gotten all the good photos.  But look at the second two photos and note how about 30 minutes after sunset the sky takes on a deep blue color.
sunset photo by mbgphotosunset photo by mbgphoto

sunset photo by mbgphoto

 Patience Required

These next two photos show the difference in waiting those extra minutes just after sunset to get the perfect photo.  I was shooting at Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis for a photography workshop. The instructor had told us to set up and wait for the sky to turn a deep blue.  I waited, and waited and took the first photo.  It was ok but I didn't think anything that great.  Then I waited a bit more and the sky turned an even deeper blue and as a bonus a sliver of the moon was in my photo.  I think you will agree the deep blue really made the photo.  Patience paid off.
Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis photo by mbgphoto

Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis after sunset photo by mbgphoto

Products from my Photos

Here are some Zazzle Gifts I have made from photographs that I took in the "golden hour" after sunset.

Fountain at Sunset Poster
Fountain at Sunset Poster by mbgphoto
See other Sunset reflections Posters at zazzle
He is Risen! Easter Message Card
He is Risen! Easter Message Card by mbgphoto
Shop for Easter message Cards online at Zazzle.com

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

3 Word Books Every Writer Needs: A Review

Writers Need to Use Precise Words

Words are the building blocks writers use to create their books, articles, and blog posts. In this post I will introduce you to three word books every writer needs to have for reference, not counting the dictionary you probably already have. These are the books I consult on a daily basis  as I  write. Do you have all of them yet? If not, it's time to get them. Between them you will always be able to find the right word for your writing project. I use all the books in the photo, but have only reviewed the three that are still in print. If you purchase from links on this page, I will get a small commission from Amazon, since I am an affiliate.

3 Word Books Every Writer Needs: A Review
Image © B. Radisavljevic

1. A Quality Thesaurus

Oxford American Writer's ThesaurusThe first Thesaurus I normally consult is the Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus. I have reviewed this one thoroughly in my blog post, January 8 is Thesaurus Day, along with the old Roget's Thesaurus. I used it because that used to be THE thesaurus, the only one most people used. There are more choices now. Roget's has been updated to dictionary form now, but you can still get a modern version of Roget's that retains the original organizational format if you  prefer it.  Whichever version seems more user friendly to you, a thesaurus is a must-have tool for  any writer. If you are hobbling along with an old version, it's time to update.

2. Descriptionary

A descriptionary is a thematic dictionary. You use it when you know what a word is related to, but not the exact word. Words are arranged according to subject. For this review  I'm using the Facts on File Descriptionary, Third Edition. 

Let's look at the Publishing and Journalism topic, for example. First are general terms, such as byline, circulation, feature,  and other well-known terms and their definitions. Then come fun words -- slang and jargon not widely known outside the industry. Here are a couple of examples I found amusing:

Afghanistanism  journalist's term for the avoiding of local controversy by focusing  news coverage on distant lands. 
blacksmith  an uninspired but industrious reporter who simply pounds out stories day after day.
Also under the Publishing and Journalism topic are Book Publishing, Book Terms, and Headline Types, all with their own lists of defined terms.

A descriptionary is just the book to have at hand if you are writing about a subject you are just beginning to explore that has a lot of its own jargon or technical terms that may not be familiar to you. My descriptionary covers Animals and Insects; Architecture; Art; Clothing; Electronics; Environment; Human Body and Mind; Language ( which far from just explaining grammatical terms, devotes several pages to drug and crime terms, urban street and rap slang, and words about words); Law, Magic and the Occult; Medicine; Military; Music; Occupations (where I found Publishing and Journalism); Performing Arts and Broadcasting; Physics, Chemistry and Astronomy; Religions; Sports; Tools; Transportation; Weapons; and Words and Expressions You Should Know.

That last topic purports to sum up the words every literate person should understand -- the ones you hear on the news or see in magazines, newspapers, and authoritative blogs.  You probably studied most of them in secondary school and were tested on them in college entrance exams. Also included are terms like according to Hoyle, Hoist with one's own petard, and genie out of the bottle. 

descriptionary thematic dictionary writers library border=Besides providing just the topical words you need for works in progress, The Descriptionary also can give you new ideas for additional subjects to write about. Although I'm using the Third Edition, the  Facts on File Descriptionary, Fourth Edition is now also available at Amazon. If you click through, you will see below the listing a tempting assortment of other word books for writers, one of which is The Master List for Writers: Thesauruses, Plots, Character Traits, Names, and More. Whichever you choose, be sure you have one of these thematic word books close to your desk when you write.

3. Visual Dictionary

A visual dictionary is what I use when I've seen something but I don't know what to call it. Unlike a descriptionary, it only is useful for tangible objects that one can see -- not for ideas and abstractions.  Think illustrated charts and diagrams arranged by subject. Up until now, I've only had my old 1986 edition of the Facts on File Visual Dictionary. Its illustrations are black and white, but they do the job. Unfortunately, this edition lacks most of our new technology, but it was a great help when I was writing my blog post Watch a Forklift Reach Truck Load a Lumber Truck.  I knew nothing about construction or forklifts, except that I was pretty sure I was watching a forklift. I looked under the Heavy Machinery topic and drilled down to Material Handling. There I found my forklift reach truck and knew what to call it.

Today I started searching for something more up-to-date. I was delighted to see that DK had published a 2011 edition of its Ultimate Visual Dictionary. I have sold DK books for years.They combine gorgeous color illustrations with condensed information. The very detailed and cut-away illustrations all have their parts labeled down to the most intricate. I know that because I sat drooling over the 2000 edition at the library today and did not want to put it down. It is inviting and informative. It's easy to get lost in looking at all the attractive pictures. That means even children will want to look at it, but the information is on an adult level. I'll bet when you looked at the row of visual dictionaries above, this was the first to catch your eye.

I wanted to bring the book home with me. The one I own doesn't compare well to it. What The Ultimate Visual Dictionary covers, it covers thoroughly. It does lack coverage of of some more common household objects that are more extensively covered in the Facts on File Visual Dictionary and the Macmillan Visual Dictionary, a volume I also looked at  while at the library. It was a 2002 edition, and it was in color. Both books were  written by Jean-Claude Coreil, so the topics are very similar. Miriam Webster's Visual Dictionary is also written by Jean-Claude Coreil, so I'm guessing it has almost the same content as the Macmillan Visual Dictionary. It is recommended for anyone at least eight years old. It does not have a "look inside" feature as the Ultimate Visual Dictionary does.

One Million Things: A Visual Encyclopedia, is an entirely different animal than the other books. It will, for example, show you lovely pictures of leaves with a bit about each type, but it doesn't appear to show you the parts of a leaf in detail as the Ultimate Visual Dictionary does. I am drawing my conclusions on One Million Things solely by looking  at the few pages Amazon shows me. It's a beautiful book and I think any one of school age and above would enjoy it and learn a lot from it, but after all the books and descriptions I've handled and read about today,  the one I want to buy to supplement my out-of-date  Facts on File Visual Dictionary is still The Ultimate Visual Dictionary.   

Most of the books are used the same way. If you know the word and want to know what the object looks like, you use the index at the back to find the word in its visual context.  If you know the topic area,  you drill down more specific topics until you find the page and illustration that your word labels.

None of the books cover every subject and there is a lot of crossover. I would recommend getting The Ultimate Visual Dictionary and one other. Then you won't miss much. Links to all the books except the Facts on File Visual Dictionary, which has its own text linkcan be found pictured at the beginning of this topic.  If you write and don't have a visual dictionary, you could make good use of one.  Why not get one today?

Never Be at a Loss for the Right Word

If you have a comprehensive thesaurus, a descriptionary, and a visual dictionary, you should be able to find most of the words you need. Then your brain will select the most appropriate one for your context. Sometimes our brains just won't bring the words we know and want to use to mind, especially as we grow older. These books deliver them back to our brains again.

I was also going to include three other books I use often -- The Synonym Finder and a rhyming dictionary. They are helpful to have, but not as necessary as the ones I reviewed above. They are, however, in the photo of my well-worn books I used in the introduction

What reference books for words have you found most helpful? Please mention them in the comments. The comment box is just under the related posts, below. The sharing buttons are just below this last photo, which was designed to share on Pinterest. Why not pass this information on to other writers, students, or home school families?

3 Word Books Every Writer Needs: A Review

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