Reading is one of those activities that you can do just about anywhere and any time, to bring some joy, insight, and excitement to your life. What kind of book appeals to you? I’m suggesting a dozen new books to download or buy in your local bookstore. Let some of these excite and inspire you!
More book reviews are on the way. Please tweet us @advicesisters #books and let us know what topics you’d like us to cover, or share a suggestion of one of your favorite books.
Food and Drinks:
Cheese Beer Wine Cider A Field Guide to 75 Perfect Pairings by Steve Jones and Adam Lindsley (Countryman Press March 2019) is worthy of your consideration if only as a pretty photo book because the photos are great. Obviously, it’s a lot more than that.
The book to my mind is sort of a “cheese pairings for dummies” book. The authors own cheese stores and obviously know a lot about cheese. They pass on suggestions to you to pair with a wide range of beer, wine, and ciders, many of which I assume might not be easily available.
I would say that their pairings are well done, but there is just one cheese selected for each beverage so if you’re not really good at pairings, you might feel a little lost. It would have been helpful if the book also helped readers to learn how to pick other cheeses that work or don’t work, and what to look for.
That aside, there is plenty of information about each cheeses’ provenance and a chance to learn about some unusual brands of beers, cider, and cheese.
The book is a fun place to start learning about cheese pairings, but just a jumping off point to make great decisions on your own.
Men make the best chefs, so the saying goes. You won’t get any argument from the authors of Husbands That Cook by Ryan Alvarez and Adam Merrin (March,2019, St. Martin’s Griffin).
As an editor, shouldn’t this title really be: Husbands WHO cook?) But that aside, inside you’ll find more than 120 vegetarian recipes.
Ryan and Adam are obviously married. They are the creators of a blog with the same name who make their delicious dishes from a tiny kitchen (so no excuses if you live in a small space as well).
As with most cookbooks, the style of cooking has to appeal to you. These dishes are all vegetarian and I have no doubt that they will enhance the lives of those who live a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle.
I wasn’t all that excited by the recipes. They just didn’t appeal to me or seemed overly complicated. Not everyone needs to indulge in one pot dinners, but a busy person who isn’t so much into cooking might find gathering dozens of different ingredients to make some of these dishes, daunting. dish, daunting.
On the other hand, the personal stories and comments are delightful and they’re such a cute couple. The “husbands love story” angle is sweet.
I admit, there are some inventive recipes in the book that should appeal to anyone who likes healthy foods. Their orange-pecan overnight french toast could become your new brunch party favorite.
There are a plethora of new tell-all books from people who have suffered serious anguish but survived. Such is definitely the case with Wholly Unraveled: A Memoir by Keele Burgin (Little A, April 2019).
Like “The Girl in the Treehouse” (see below) Keele grew up in a non-traditional environment.
Her father was a leader of a Catholic Cult called the “disciples of Light.” They prayed in tongues, had arranged marriages, and women were not able to work outside the home or wear makeup or even dress as they wished.
Keele (Kathleen) had a father who seriously terrorized and abused her, once at gunpoint, another time by forcing her on a horse not ready to be ridden.
She was raped, and her mother simply ignored it. Unable to handle her trauma(s), drug use, eating disorder and inability to sustain normal relationships, Kathleen finds herself at Madonna House. It’s a remote Catholic community where she is deprived of everything she knows and every creature comfort.
In silence and through serious suffering, she finds who “Kathleen” is, She finds her way out of misery into the light.
Wholly Unraveled is not a perfectly written book, but it is a very authentic and interesting look at how a child can be damaged and still find her way.
At first, I thought Saturday’s Child by Deborah Burns (She Writes Press, April 2019) was an homage to the author’s beautiful and exotic mother. However, it’s more than that. It is also the story of a daughter living in the shadow of a very intense and exotic mother, finding it difficult to break free to become her own person.
Deborah’s mother Dorothy seemed to have it all including beauty, brains, and a magnetic pull people found nearly irresistible. This is the kind of mother that is a very tough act to follow. The author tried everything she could to bond with her mother but she always seems elusive.
Deborah was raised in a household with her aunts, the alluring mother Dorothy didn’t even seem real to her daughter until the daughter grew up and realized that her mother was not a fantasy, but someone with real issues and imperfections.
The second third of the book is about the author’s journey to becoming a person in her own right. The book offers something of value for a variety of age groups.
It’s a must-read for anyone who had (or has) a complicated relationship with their mother.
I saw Jennifer Asbenson interviewed on television earlier this year on the Dr. Phil Show and she appeared to be reasonably “normal.”
But it’s clear from her book The Girl in the Treehouse: A Memoir by Jennifer Asbenson (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 23, 2018) that nothing in Jennifer’s life was ever really normal.
She grew up in a home without heat, running water or an inside bathroom. Her parents thought the rain was a free way to shower and she was the oddball kid at school.
But the most important and shocking thing about Jennifer’s life is that she was abducted by a serial killer who had already murdered 5 other women, and she survived.
Her mother didn’t believe her and Jennifer ended up in and out of mental hospitals and in dysfunctional relationships.
Retreating to an actual treehouse to write this book doesn’t seem like such a stretch after what she has endured. The book isn’t all that smoothly written, but the story? OMG!
Get Lost! A Travel Guide for Anywhere by Lee Crutchley (Tarcher Perigee March 2019). For sure, it isn’t your parent’s travel guide.
Each Page has a question and depending upon your answer, you will be directed to another page with a singular suggestion for a way to “get away from it all.” It is perfect for the “I am so bored” type.
For example, if you answer “NO” to the question “Are you Addicted to Your Phone?” you’ll be directed to be more social by looking at hashtags relating to your location and use them as a guide for the day. If you answered “YES to this question, you’ll be directed to a page telling you to “let your senses guide you” and slow down, etc.
This is trendy, especially for younger people who love decision making graphics that may or may not offer a predictable answer. However, I couldn’t help but wonder: do I really need to show I’m an animal lover by following dogs? Do I really need to be encouraged to draw a shape and follow it around in my area?
Maybe, especially if you aren’t creative and can’t think of anything to do on your own, But anyhow, it’s kind of fun.
A Travel Guider for Anywhere can help you plan some adventures to keep you from being bored. You might be really surprised at what you discover.
Gift Book Ideas:
What are you crazy about? Maybe you’re the one your friends call the crazy cat lady. Perhaps you’re the green thumb that has taken nurturing plants to a higher level. Workman has created some cute cute cute gift books for the Crazy Plant Lady and the Crazy Cat Lady (Workman April 2, 2109).
These types of gift books are always a little welcome pick me up or something to leave in your guest bedroom. The illustrations are lighthearted and sweet, Crazy Cat Lady by Agnes Loonstra (illustrations by Ester Scholten really capture the essence of what makes us a bit wacky about our furry four-legged friends.
The small and colorful square book even has cute kitty stickers in the back that you can use to show your “cattiness” on your personal possessions.
The Crazy Plant Lady by Isabel Serna is full of the same….things that identify you the “crazy” person (e.g. you can’t resist a plant sale even though your home is already over-run with dozens of plants).
There are also cute stickers to show your love of plants. At just under $13, these little books make a charming little gift idea.
A fun little book to give to your favorite curmudgeon is How to Die Alone: The Foolproof Guide to Not Helping Yourself, By Mo Welsh (Workman April 2019). This little gift book is a lighthearted look at the things that make you a less than a lovely person, friend, employee or lover.
It’s not really a self-help book. Really, the book is meant to be “funny.” However, there is real truth behind every single one of the tenants, from avoiding romance to being antisocial and therefore, a hermit.
You can’t help but see yourself, or someone else in these pages!
The author is a YouTuber with a modest amount of followers, but we don’t hold it against her. Get one for yourself and refuse to share it. (LOL).
Books I Didn’t Love (But You MIght):
Rarely if ever do I publish a negative review. Everyone’s taste is different, so it’s not fair to say a book isn’t worthy of your consideration. If I really felt it was poorly done, I won’t mention it. However, the books below didn’t appeal to me very much, but they might appeal to you. So I’m mentioning them in case you’d like to dig and read them.
Speakeasy A Novel (Lena Stillman series by Alisa Smith (Thomas Dunne Books (April 2018) is the kind of thriller you can read in an afternoon.
Lena Stillman is the main character who has added to her past, romance with a charismatic bank robber. It’s set during World War II, and this character could have been a really interesting window into what it was like to be a code-breaker and a woman at that time. But all the characters are shallow, I didn’t feel that I had any connection to go on and therefore, while the story was interesting, but it didn’t grab me.
Doublespeak by Alisa Smith St. Martin’s Press (April 2019 is book two in the Lena Stillman series, so it’s a follow-up to Speakeasy. I wish I could say that I really was absorbed by this one, but like the first book, the story is the thing, and the characters just seem secondary. Without any real feeling about Leana, I just didn’t care much about the book.
CBD oil and products are trending. They’re everywhere and in practically everything, you can think of. But is CBD oil the miracle cure for everything?
Yes, according to The CBD OIl Miracle by Laura Lagano (St. Martins Press March 2019), CBD oil can help everything from asthma to autism, creaky bones to cancer.
There is plenty of information in this book about dozens and dozens of medical conditions with who is at risk (that’s helpful). Read it for that information is you must.
However, I was horrified was that Lagano claims serious diseases and medical conditions can be helped or cured with CBD oil,
There is absolutely no valid proof or studies to back up her claims. The book IMHO is just irresponsible.
The author is a clinical nutritionist, not even a doctor or scientist. CBD oil is not safe and effective for everything and everyone (including children).