I had a lot of fun creating the February 2021 book review roundup for advicesisters.com with six pairs of books. The books in pair feedback were positive from you as well. So now, I’m doing it again! Two books in each category just happened to fall into place together. Which of these have you read or would like to read? I welcome your comments!
Two Can’t-Put-It Down-Books:
When you read a novel, sometimes you can figure out the ending before you ever completed the beginning. The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia (paperback Dundurn Press, June 2021) draws you in slowly and keeps you wondering. You won’t want to put it down.
The story is about Julie and Nwabulu, two women who couldn’t be more different from very different circumstances. Later in late, when both women are established, they find themselves bound together (literally) as victims of a kidnapping. With nothing to distract them, the women begin telling each other the story of their lives.
Readers of this book will not only get a good story out of it, but they’ll also learn something about the culture of Nigeria, especially when it comes to attitudes towards women. It’s a page-turning, eye-opening, full-of-drama read with a surprise ending. I couldn’t stop until I got to the very last page. This book will be published on June First, 2021 so you don’t have too long to wait. I think it makes a nice pair about someone very special with the book below. Buy This Book
The old adage “write about what you know” definitely works for this debut novel about a man’s refusal to yield to his disability. It’s a tale of love, hopelessness, and hope called Blind Man’s Bluff: A Memoir by James Tate Hill (WW Norton February 2021).
James was diagnosed with Leber’s heredity optic neuropathy, which made him legally blind. Unwilling to ask for help or even disclose to friends and lovers that he has only has blurry peripheral vision, he fakes it until he makes it (sort of) using a tiny bit of sight while putting himself through all sorts of awkward and uncomfortable scenarios. James desperately wants to be a serious, published writer. My assumption is that since the publication of Blind Man’s Bluff, he is one now.
I really felt frustrated by James who struggled to look “sighted” when he really wasn’t. I kept thinking while reading “why doesn’t James just admit that he has a disability?” But I can’t possibly begin to put myself into the author’s shoes. Maybe he was afraid people would reject him, or perhaps he didn’t want pity or even sympathy.
Whatever the actual motives of the author, the book is a brutally honest and sometimes self-effacing view of someone who doesn’t give up. However, the book is personal and you can’t help but want him to succeed. Blind Man’s Bluff was another book I couldn’t put down until I’d turned the very last page. Get This Book
Two DIY Books To Make Life Lovelier (this pair helps you try something new):
Skincare for Your Soul: Achieving Outer Beauty and Inner Peace with Korean Skincare by Jude Chao (Mango Publishing 2021). Ms. Chao is a K-beauty blogger (K-beauty). I like the idea of someone who can break down some of the more unique features of K-beauty. I also like the fact that the author explains what some of the more unique ingredients are, and what they are supposed to do.
Truly, she packs a ton of information into this little book, although much of it is common knowledge. You can find plenty of the same on advicesisters.com’s Beauty section.
If I’d been the author I might have called this book “Skincare for your Seoul.” K-beauty really does have so much to do with ritual and self-care. One issue is the sheer amount of ritual involved in some of the skincare and self-care routines might put off a very busy woman. Beauty rituals are wonderful, as long as they fit your lifestyle.
Thumbs up also to the fact that the author doesn’t hawk specific products. All in all, it’s a nice little beauty primer. I’d give this one a friend who just seems a bit clueless about how to care for her skin. I’m suggesting the hardcover version (you can get a download too) in my link because it’s a keeper and a welcome gift. Buy This Book
Have you ever wanted to have a garden, but didn’t try because you think you just don’t have space? Micro Food Gardening: Project Plans and Plants for Growing Fruits and Veggies in Tiny Spaces by Jen McGuiness (Quarto April 6, 2021) will inspire you. There are easy-to-follow instructions for a wide range of projects, from windowsill pea shoots to a bicycle basket lettuce garden.
Some of the food-yielding plants will require different climates, but many can be done indoors. Some can also be started indoors and planted in a garden later on. But no matter what, you will find all of these “small” gardens to whet your imagination. Grow mico basil in a disposable muffin on your windowsill. There are even instructions on how to make a worm bin and be eco-friendly while providing your little plants with lots of nourishment.
The photos are lovely and the instructions for the most part are something anything can do. Many of the projects just use things you already have. . I loved this book! It’s also a great way for parents to teach their children about growing their own. Who knows? They might become farmers, someday! Get The Book
Two Unusual Book for Cooks (this pair takes beloved food and makes it exciting):
Whenever I ask my husband what he’s like for a weekend breakfast the answer is always the same: “pancakes!” I couldn’t help reading the new cookbook entitled: Pancakes Make People Happy by Sharon Collins, Charlotte Collins and Courtney Wade (Hatherleigh Press (February 23, 2021). The book has more than 75 recipes nicely organized by classic, savory, brunch, international, seasonal, dessert, and unusual.
Pancakes, you see, really come in all sorts of types, shapes, and sizes. They’re not just the plain ones you get in a box of instant mix. These take more effort, but some of them really are enticing and the photos, even better. You can even make pancake muffins and sheet pan pancakes. Now that warmer weather is here, forget the frittatas and things you have to put in the oven and make pancakes on the stovetop. They’re also arranged by difficulty. I might not be the healthiest to eat pancakes every day. However, this book really makes you want to do just that! Buy This Book
Tuscan Women Cook: Nonnas, Memories, Recipes by Coleen Kirman with Rhonda Villardo (Tuscan Women Cook LLC 1021) is a lovely tribute to well Tuscan women who cook mouth-watering food. There are 50+ recipes generously shared by the nonnas of the village of Montefollonico and neighboring towns.
While you might not be able to join in a hands-on week in Tuscany, you can still make some of the easier recipes tonight from this large paperback cookbook, using what’s already in your refrigerator and pantry. The photos are truly yummy. The descriptions make you imagine that you are not just in your kitchen, but on a sunlit terrace or perhaps bringing out a beautiful antipasto to your guests in a beautiful garden.
Most of the recipes are not really out of reach of the beginner cook. However, there are plenty of things to challenge an accomplished cook as well. Pour yourself a glass of (Italian) wine, read the recipes, and start cooking! This is definitely a book I’d gift to a friend who can’t go a week without eating some Italian food other than pizza (but there’s a recipe for pizza dough, as well). Buy The Book