Review of Kiss My Aster by Amanda Thomsen

by Genevieve on June 13, 2013

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Every so often, a book comes along which challenges the limits of the media and shows how much is still possible with old-fashioned paper and ink. Amanda Thomsen’s new book Kiss My Aster: A Graphic Guide to Creating a Fantastic Yard Totally Tailored to You, is just such a book.

If you are in your 30s or 40s, you may remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books which let you personalize the story by skipping to a certain page if you wanted the protagonists to do X, or a different page if you wanted them to do Y. Kiss My Aster uses a similar concept, and has that same spirited combination of breezy adventure, interactivity, and sheer fun.

Kiss My Aster Review (5)

Every page is covered in full color illustrations, humorous yet effective tips, and little asides such as “How to spot a phony landscape architect” (tip: if he’s wearing white or sports a fake mustache, you may have a phony on your hands!). Section headings such as “Shrubs: The Khaki Pants of the Landscape”, “Dropping Acid (or Alkalinity)”, and “Annual Means Always Having to Say Goodbye” set the tone for what’s to come.

Kiss My Aster Review (2)Kiss My Aster Review (3)

The humor, clever illustrations, and interactive format of this book are so special that it would be easy to overlook the caliber of the advice. Amanda is known for taking a witty, Gen X approach to gardening, yet she also has a rare ability of simplifying the complex. Her advice is to-the-point, easy-to-understand, and most importantly provides the exact types of information that new gardeners really want and need.

This would be the perfect book to give as a gift to someone who is just beginning to consider how they can turn their boring patch of lawn into a true garden masterpiece. Obviously, it’s not the only book a new gardener will need, because there are no photos with design ideas or planting schemes to try. However, Kiss My Aster provides a thorough and encouraging framework for how to approach different kinds of landscaping projects, and grounds readers in the basics without putting them to sleep. This beautifully crafted book will become a well-worn and dog-eared addition to any new gardener’s library. (But don’t take my word for it – the book’s already got a number of very positive reviews from Amanda’s many fans!)

Christine, our first entrant, is the winner of this giveaway! Congrats, Christine!

Want to win your very own copy? Storey Publishing has offered up a copy of the book to one lucky US reader. Just leave a comment for your chance to win! I’ll pull the winner on Friday, June 21st. Good luck!

(Photos shown have been excerpted from Kiss My Aster (c) by Amanda Thomsen, illustrations (c) by Am I Collective, used with permission from Storey Publishing.)

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Christine Sutor June 13, 2013 at 6:01 am

This would be a perfect giift right now as I am getting into serious gardening!! Thank you for the book idea!!!

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Tess Burns June 13, 2013 at 9:40 am

Cooler than a bucket full of glitter and a lurky looking gnome!

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Jennifer Guerra June 13, 2013 at 9:42 am

I love the humor and illustrations in this book! Not intimidating and very user friendly!

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Teale Groesbeck June 13, 2013 at 9:44 am

This book looks great! very creative :)

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hortoccult June 13, 2013 at 9:46 am

I love Amanda and want her book!

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Holland H. June 13, 2013 at 9:46 am

I NEED Amanda’s awesome book so she can give me the knowledge I need to stop killing ALL of my plants. I’m a PLANT MURDERER!… Don’t you judge me, I want to be a good gardener.

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Liz Donaghy June 13, 2013 at 9:47 am

Love a gardener who can make gardening and landscaping approachable and not so hung up on the Latin names of plants!

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Chloe West June 13, 2013 at 9:51 am

I am a landscape designer and I must have this book… I am ashamed to tell people that I don’t yet have it… so I lie…. pssst… don’t tell anyone… slip me the book so I can stop my evil ways….

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Nancy Brown June 13, 2013 at 9:59 am

Finally, a fun guide to landscape design! It’s absolutely inspiring – and I might even get myself a unicorn. Thanks for telling us about it.

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cindy schiffgens June 13, 2013 at 10:03 am

Looks like a fun book.

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willow murawski June 13, 2013 at 10:09 am

whatever i do, i enjoy laughing about it. check out Amanda’s hilarious podcast, what few episodes there are of ‘good enough gardening’. i am planting by Amanda’s advice my gladious: dig a hole and dump the corms in; if they do not grow that is not my problem.

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Debbie June 13, 2013 at 10:19 am

I read Amanda’s gardening articles; I would love her book.

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Athena McMillen June 13, 2013 at 10:57 am

It’s a comic book for gardener geeks! I love it!

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jen June 13, 2013 at 11:58 am

I love following her on Facebook and can’t wait to read this book.

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Ellen June 13, 2013 at 12:56 pm

This book is so much fun… I’ve read it several times. There’s nothing else like it!

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Barbara Bach June 13, 2013 at 1:42 pm

There’s a talking unicorn! Seriously, this book is a need, not a want.

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Chris N June 13, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Always liked Amanda. Would love to have her book.

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Ed Remsrola June 13, 2013 at 3:09 pm

This looks like a fun read and I think I could use a stack of them to hand out to folks I meet along the garden path.

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Cathy F June 13, 2013 at 5:13 pm

looks like a great book to sit and enjoy until all this rain has slowed down and the ‘floods’ have receded ….!!!

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Desert Dweller / David C. June 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm

As always, your review / commentary is as good as such a book. I was given a copy, and it was about the best combination of informative, inspiring, intelligent, clever and hilarity that I’ve seen on gardens. I should get a friend a copy, who is notorious for being particular…she might even love it!

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Jennifer June 14, 2013 at 6:22 pm

I love the style of the book as well as the content! I’d love a copy.

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Gmarieb June 16, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Just read about her on intoGardens and would love to have a copy of her book!

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Marla June 17, 2013 at 11:36 am

Looks great! I have a friend with a new home, as in just built, empty inside and out. He was over with a list of plants and asked which to use to screen his place from his neighbors’. We toured my yard and I talked pros and cons of each of the ones on his list.

As a novice who is eager to learn, he really could use this book!! I promise to only flip through it before wrapping it up for him…

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Evelyn Vincent June 17, 2013 at 8:55 pm

I love your reviews Gen. I don’t have a copy of this book yet and would love a chance at it. Thanks!

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Jen. June 18, 2013 at 9:25 am

Oh, would love this as inspiration for our much belagered yard.

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Christine O. June 18, 2013 at 11:42 am

Gardening is fun and Amanda’s book looks like it takes that fun to another level of funtastical. Want it. <3

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Diane C June 19, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Ooh, that sounds like just the book I need! I’ve been rescuing neglected perennials in the house I bought for the last 2 seasons and am now ready to do some customizing to make the landscape my own.

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Diana June 8, 2014 at 8:13 am

Wow, just what I need for my new one acre lot in Northern Nevada desert where “oh, weeds won’t grow here” and the lot is past horse property with lots of wide open (weedy) space to fill. If we ever get past our war inpouring weeds, that is!

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