Advicesisters.com Reviews Eight New Books for March 2013
All Grown Up Now:
Kenneth D. King is an haute couture designer in New York and a sewing and tailoring expert with an obvious love of beautiful fabrics, and a keen eye for detail. His couture clothing and accessories are in many private collections, have appeared in music videos and television commercials, and are in the permanent collections of a number of prestigious museums. Writing is also among Mr. King’s talents. He has written books on design and sewing technique and is also affiliated with Threads magazine, among others.
All Grown Up Now by Kenneth D. King (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (January 17, 2013), is an autobiography that is more about relationships and growing up to lead the life you envision, rather than one specifically about fashion or design. Hefty at 388 pages, the book is styled (no pun intended) as a play or film of his life’s journey so far, starting with Kenneth’s childhood, and finding his way, gay and young, in Oklahoma. He longs to be “all grown up” so he can take control of his life. As he moves through to young adulthood, he meets a number of colorful characters who help to shape his career and his future.
Between work and learning about gay culture, he discovers the trappings that make for some of the “finer things” in life but struggles to establish himself in his career and with other men in relationships. Along the way, Kenneth finds himself in a complicated friendship with a co-worker named Mark, and Mark’s significant other, Victor. When Mark and Victor move to San Francisco, Kenneth finally follows. Without giving away too much of the storyline of the book (wait for the movie, that will surely follow), what will be revealed is a dark side of a relationship. What I took away most significantly from this book is that what you wish for isn’t always a road paved with “fabulousness” no matter how hard you try to make it so.
All Grown Up Now: A Friendship in Three Acts will inspire you, entertain you, and keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next. The author is a talented writer with a knack for telling a good story. I have had the pleasure of meeting him in person, and he makes a lasting impression on you. The man is genuinely charming and extremely creative. How could you not love a designer who tells you he wants to learn wig-making, just so he can design clothing with that technique!
Kenneth’s book will make you feel as though he’s telling his story just to you. This is an intimate look at the quest for identity, success and ultimately, peace of mind. All Grown up now is an unusual book that makes for great reading. Buy it online at Barnes and Noble or Amazon. And, if you love fashion, you will truly enjoy seeing some of Kenneth’s designs. Kenneth is an avid collector of watches, and you can see some of his re-interpretations of watches as well as a gallery of his clothing designs, at: www.kennethdking.com.
A Complaint Free World:
Do you know someone who is a constant complainer? Author and Christ Church Unity Minister Will Bowen has met thousands of them. His book, A Complaint Free World – How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted (Three Rivers Press) is now in paperback. I thought I’d reviewed the hard cover edition of this book when it was initially published several years ago, but apparently, I had demurred on a review.
The idea of not complaining is so enticing, it’s worth considering. Unlearning any toxic habit, such as controlling how much you complain, is a lot easier than it looks. Bowen’s method is deceptively simple. The device to control your whining tongue is nothing more than a plain rubber wrist bracelet you wear (for 21 days) to remind yourself not to complain. Every time you complain you have to move the rubber bracelet to the other wrist and begin the count-down to 21 days all over again. If you try this, you’ll realize it’s very difficult. According to the press literature, Bowen challenged himself and his congregants to remain complaint-free for 21 days, and that initial experiment became an actual movement that has impacted tens of thousands.
The idea is based on the not-so-simple principles of general semantics. What you say impacts what you do. If you change your words, your thoughts will change as well. Bowen claims a high success rate, but you’d have to be very motivated to completely stop complaining the rest of your life. What is good about the book and the method, is that it can make you more mindful of how much you probably gripe and moan in any given day and thereby reduce the amount you complain. But if you can’t stop the complaints I don’t think you should feel guilty because most people are compelled to complain at various times. Bowen’s book might not change your life, but then again, it possibly, could.
Dead Celebrity Cookbook:
The Dead Celebrity Cookbook: A Ressurection of Recipes from More than 145 Stars of Stage and Screen by Frank Decare (Health Communications 2011) brings the recipe book genre to life (pun intended) with a cute compilation of recipes from deceased stars. Depending upon your age, you might not recognize such greats as Dinah Shore or Jack Parr.
You probably will at least recognize some easy to make dinner ideas from the original Star Trek cast (e.e. Gene Roddenberry, James Doohan, and DeForest Kelly), and there’s an entire “I Lunch Lucy” section of strange but interesting recipes from everyone’s favorite redhead, Lucille Ball. I believe the original version of this book was published in 1962, and this is a newer version in soft-cover.
That may be why you’re not reading about Jimi Hendrix or River Phoenix (or maybe the more recent dead celebrities just made “reservations” instead of cooking something). That aside, you get a small bio of each star along with the recipe(s) offered, and along with some suggestions for modern updates to the recipes. You might find yourself watching some classic movies you missed along with trying some classic recipes. The book is fun, nicely organized, and simply fun to peruse. Fun for your next movie night, or just...fun!
Wouldn’t it be great if you never had to pay for toothpaste or tuna fish again, and were even generous enough to be able to donate these sorts of goods to charity without paying for them? Well, according to Joni Meyer-Crothers (of TLC’s Extreme Couponing show) along with Beth Adelman, you’ll learn how to be just that kind of savvy shopper if you read Extreme Couponing: Learn How to Be a Savvy Shopper and Save Money...One Coupon at a Time (NAL Trade Paperback Original, March 2013).
The book gives you all the basics of couponing, including how to maximize your savings, when to shop, how to shop, and even when to shop. The book is well written and well organized, but it’s not as easy as clipping a few coupons and putting them into an envelope. We’re talking extreme here, and extreme needs time, patience, and even (dare I say it?) skill. For those who live in small spaces, stockpiling items simply because they are cheap or free, would be an even more expensive pursuit, taking valuable space (not to mention time).
In reality, finding, organizing, maximizing and toting your coupons isn’t just a clip away, it’s hours a day, away. I would guess that the person compelled to spend a couple of hours a day perusing coupon web sites, hob-nobbing with others who pursue coupons, begging neighbors for their Sunday paper inserts or foraging for them in recycling piles, researching discounts with a practiced fervor, and organizing shopping expeditions as thoughtfully as one prepares a family for a vacation on safari, is one is desperate need of either money for basic essentials or it’s a hobby or an obsession.
If you really need to feed your family, of course you’ll do whatever it takes, but for most people, using a cents-off coupon now and then is the norm. Extreme couponing is a lifestyle that most of us can’t or wouldn’t embrace. However, if you’re hoping to hit the big time with coupons, Joni Meyer-Crothers lays it out in a way that might actually enable you to do it with some success.
For the rest of us, this particular book is less a “lifestyle bible” than a way to learn a few money-saving tips. You might be able to do that without paying for this book, but in some ways it was worth the $15.00 as an amusing and educational read. I wonder if somewhere, there is a coupon for dollars off on Extreme Couponing????
Dream Poems and Notes:
Poetry is a special form of communication. You either get it or you don’t. That’s kind of how I feel about Night Thoughts: 70 Dream Poems & Notes from an Analysis by Sarah Arvio (Random House 2103). The newly-minted little book of poems is the third by this poet, who apparently has won a number of awards and honors, including the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Guggenheim and Bogliasco Fellowships and former poetry teacher at Princeton.
The depressing, tortured and sometimes scary scenes Arvio paints with words in her poems are supposedly the results of the psychoanalysis she experienced, in order to come to terms with a life in crisis (and through the study of dreams). The Notes in this elegant little book supposedly reveal the meaning of the dreams (as she told them to her analyst) and so forth.
While the images are original and interesting, I found them disjointed. It took too much effort to piece together Arvio’s world. Luckily for the author, she has. I don’t feel that I’m versed enough in the art of poetry to judge whether or not these poems are good, bad, or simply a way to take psychoanalysis off your taxes as a business expense. If you like the kind of writing that fosters dark thoughts or you’re a bit of a voyeur, checking out someone else’s pain, is pretty intense….but you still might not want to read it before bedtime!
Family History Revealed:
Every now and then I am offered a novel for review that I initially don’t warm up to, and then discover, with a little persistance, that the book is really quite charming. That’s how I found The Truth About Love & Lightning, by Susan McBride (William Morrow February 2013). At first i just thought it was another book about a young woman and her angst, but I was very wrong (and I’m glad I kept reading).
This new novel has some fantasy elements in it, but the main focus of the book is interpersonal relationships focusing on family, and romance and growing older and wiser. The book started out a bit slowly. Abby Brink has just separated from her long time, commitment-phobic boyfriend, only to find out she’s pregnant. Not sure what to do next, she retreats to her quirky family home, only to find that there’s a mysterious man who appears in the family walnut grove, whom they all believe might just be Sam, Abby’s long lost father.
From there, the book picks up speed. There are family disagreements, a few secrets, a few interesting characters, and history slowly revealed, all nicely designed to keep the reader entertained. There could be a happy ending –or not. Reading this lovely little book will reveal all…and you will want to pick it up and read it.
All That Matters?
Sometimes I find a book that I think might be interesting, but it is so strange, I can barely get through it. In All That Matters…the Light that is shining through us…. Channeled by Jean-Gerson-Greer (Balboa Press 2012) psychic researcher Jean Gerson-Greer writes a fictional tale that deals with a mystery and her (real-life) claimed connection to Mind Lucius, I-O & Co. a compendium of entities from the Christ Consciousness, who have worked through her for supposedly over 30 years. If that doesn’t confuse you, you’re off to a good start. The book begins with the story of doctor Emma Epstein, who visits a small town in Maine.
Although I’m not quite sure what parts are fiction and which are reality at times, she immediately meets two unusual cats…and that’s just the beginning in a line of connections with weird characters. Their actions, according to the book, affect everyone around them and the entire planet. I found it so hard to follow, that I’m taking the piece of the explanation of the publisher’s website to describe it for you: “Follow the adventures of Emma, her feline companions, and her dear friend, Harry Jonathan Spruce, in her quest to solve the problems associated with his family home in Maine which have affected his entire life. This mystery has been psychically dictated and deals with all sorts of phenomena that enable all involved in the story to find out what the LIGHT is and how the changes they make for themselves affect not only everyone around them but the entire planet as well. It illustrates to the characters in a small Maine community how all of them and all of their actions have been connected since the beginning of time, and why this has been so.”
That is the easy explanation! There are religious references and lots of new-age-y reasoning and voices of “others” that left me completely baffled. In all fairness, trying to follow the book, the storyline, and the reality or unreality of it all, exhausted me. In all fairness to the author, she uses a style that I didn’t really take too easily, but it might be just the thing to captivate you. I’m finding it difficult to say more, so I’ll just say that if you like strange stories, you may find this one to be very satisfying.
A Troubled Life and Salvation:
I’ll be right upfront about this: if I’d known that Liberty Alliance had published the book If I Live to Tell (a True Story) by Akeela Hayder Green with Michale Minkoff, Jr. (The Liberty Alliance 2013) I wouldn’t have requested it or read it at all. Liberty Alliance purports to be ” A network of websites dedicated to advancing Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
In fact, it is an organization that appears to be closely allied with organizations like the John Birch Society. However, I didn’t know this when I accepted the book for review. The publisher has a political and religious agenda that I don’t share, but that doesn’t take anything away from the author’s supposedly true story.
Some people have no luck and when faced with decisions, just simply spiral deeper and deeper into trouble. If the facts in the book are correct (and I’m guessing at least some of them are), Akeela had a troubled childhood with divorced parents who abused her in different ways. At 15, she was sent by her father for a two-week trip to Iraq to visit her father’s homeland.
In actuality, her father sent her there to stay and have an arranged Muslim marriage. Before that marriage could take place, a relative raped Akeela. Therefore, in order not to have to kill her for “honor,” she is married off to a poor man she has never met. The abuse she suffers through eventually end when her father allows her to return with her husband to England. Once there, the emotional abuse begins all over again. They say if you make one bad choice, you can always surmount it, but Akeela continues to look for salvation in others who continue to degrade and abuse her in various ways.
Finally, Akeela has some children, educates herself, and breaks free from husband number one, to suffer more with two other abusive husbands. She slips deeper and deeper into poverty and despair, finally working as a “dancer” in a strip club. Still waiting for a Prince Charming, she finds God instead.
The tale was so horrible and riveting, I literally got up in the middle of the night to finish reading it. The real letdown for me is that by the end. Instead of relying on her own talents to save herself, she puts a religious “message” into the final chapter. She is thinly disguising what I feel is just a vehicle to convince readers that Jesus saved her (and he can save you, too). I felt deceived by the religious agenda. The story is fascinating, but if you decide to add it to your reading list, be forewarned about what its real purpose may be.