When the frost starts to chill on the pumpkins, I reach for a book. Cozy up with one of these titles in my Advice Sisters Fall 2018 book review roundup.
This season I’m focusing on books that help you explore, be inspired, be more thoughtful, and feel the creative urge (DIY holiday gifts are trending).
Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, self-help or crafts, these books are a treasure-trove of good reads.
NON FICTION BOOKS:
Non-Fiction doesn’t just mean biographies, autobiographies and text books. These books offer you great ideas for holiday gifting as well as great reads.
Gotham Graves Famous Graves Found Around New York City Volume One and Volume Two by Joe Farrell and Joe Farley (Sunbury Press Inc. December 2015 & October 2017) are large paperbacks that will have you saying: “I see dead people!”
Look at the photos and read the information about the rich, famous (and otherwise) infamous people who are buried in NYC’s boroughs and you’ll be entertained, for hours.
Volume One features a potpourri of people you may or may not know, from Ed Sullivan and Nelly Blye, Dave Van Ronk, and Jackie Robinson, just to name a few.
Volume Two continues the melange of people with luminaries such as Gil Hodges, Harry Chapin, Malcolm X and so many more. My favorite part of the books is actually seeing photos of the graves themselves.
There is nothing ghoulish about these fascinating books. You can visit the graves for yourself and see who else is buried there (the books offer other famous names).
Find Out About Fashion:
Fashion: The Essential Visual Guide to the World of Style by Karen Homer (Aurum Press May 2018) is a treasure trove of information about the world of fashion.
Read about topics from clothing and trends to the fashion business, fashion eras, and much, much more. Instead of photos, there are original illustrative drawings, fancifully and beautifully done.
Learn all about international sizing. Check out information about accessories. Aspire to the style of models and celebrities. Find out what makes fashion “tick” from head to toe.
It’s not your usual fashion book. You’ll find more information than you ever thought you needed to know. It will definitely up your fashion IQ and make a great gift idea for the holidays.
It’s hard to ignore a title like You’re Not Lost: An Inspired Action Plan for Finding Your Own Way by Maxie McCoy (Tarcher Perigee August 2018).
As a reviewer and also an author of self-help books, I tend to keep this genre to a higher standard. So many of these books sound like they will offer lots of hope and help, but in reality, offer little once the ideas are taken off the printed page.
Many are overly verbose or pontificate about how you’re full of flaws you can fix. However, You’re Not Lost doesn’t resort to admonishing you about how what’s wrong with you. Instead, the author focuses on building your self-confidence and encouraging you to try.
Even the title, doesn’t say you are lost (which you probably are if you’re reading this book). Instead, it implies that you already have all you need within you (with help from the book) to move forward.
The book is focused on women who feel trapped and can’t figure out how to move forward because they lack self-confidence. It is well organized so you aren’t washed over by too many ideas at once,
There is a lot of inspiration and motivation throughout this book especially If you have been disappointed by “life and career” advice in the past.
Let this book help you out of your doldrums. Even if you’re just looking to boost your energy and confidence level, reading You’re Not Lost can help you to move forward!
The advice: “write about what you know” comes through in these fiction books that a convincingly authentic,
Relationships in South Africa:
What is life really like in South Africa and how to relationships between men, women, and in-laws differ? Love Interrupted by Reneilwe Malatji (Catalyst Press 2018) is a debut book of short fiction stories that might just be the true view of how South African Women view their romantic (and other) relationships.
The situations in many cases are similar to those in the United States (e.g. a bridal shower where the hostess brings in a stripper). The reactions to the situations reflect the different standards and culture of South African middle-class women.
Another example is how a mother in law can bring her daughter in law to the brink of despair as the younger woman is forced to cook and clean and keep the house (while pregnant) as the elder woman mercilessly criticizes her to everyone.
From drinking and abuse, a baby born the wrong color; and a man who smashes his high-end vehicle through his garage door…there are so many fascinating and different ways men and women view marriage and relationships,
These fiction stories probably cut very close to the actual ones the author has heard or experienced. It’s a window into a different way of life.
A Romantic Remembrance:
I love stories about music and musicians, so I had high hopes for Margot’s War by Ty Knoy (Archway Publishing September 2018).
It’s Mr. Knoy’s debut fiction novel featuring a pianist named Margot Renard and the newly-widowed Nicolas Rohloffse, grieving for his departed wife Gayle.
Mr. Rohloffse may be sad, but he has been infatuated with Margot, a woman who captured his heart years ago.
It is a tempting premise and the journey to reveal Margot’s truths is an interesting idea.
Unfortunately, and I hate to say this…I just wasn’t won over.
This stilted dialogue and a plot that plods out of the gate means you really must want to stay the course and read the book. I lost interested about halfway through although I did read the whole thing,
I don’t want to be discouraging, so I’ll just say that if you don’t snore through the first half, you’ll be rewarded in the second with an interesting tale about music, loss, and love.
Crafty DIY Books:
Fall is a time to stay indoors more. Why not do something fun and creative? I’ve selected four books that also help you make nifty holiday gift ideas.
Maybe your mom or grandma had their own “DIY” recipes for health and wellness, but if they didn’t, The Simple Guide to Natural Health by Melanie St. Ours (Adams Media August 7, 2018) is one of those books you’ll want on your shelf for reference.
That said, some of the 150+ home remedies you are probably aware of already or can figure out easily on your own (e.g. adding some essential oil to a piece of cotton fabric and tossing it in the dryer instead of a pre-made dryer sheet. or how to make a pomander.
Additionally, some of the suggestions require ingredients that might not be easy to get in your hometown. Some seem dubiously wacky (e.g. emergency “Band-aid” by pressing Cayenne Pepper into your cut).
However, there are plenty of suggestions for things you can make that could save you money (DIY massage oil or body butter) and you will know exactly what ‘s in that bottle or jar you’ve made.
This book has a gazillion suggestions. If there’s a downside, it’s the lack of photographs or illustrations. It would have been helpful, especially in the section about finding botanicals that are growing wild.
Fizz Boom Bath! book by Isabel and Caroline Bercaw ( Rock Point August 7, 2018). is the work of teenage “sisterpreneurs” and the founders of Da BOMB Bath fizzers. They share some of their secrets to making successful bath bombs, body scrubs, and more.
This book was written by teens and shows in its youthful vibe. That doesn’t mean adults can’t join in the fun.
While sparkles and bright food coloring (I wonder what that would do to my pristine white tub) may not be in the cards, the facial masks could be fun, and the recipes use easily available ingredients.
Not all of the recipes are unique and it would have been nice if the authors advised readers about tub cleanup, bathing hazards, or allergies.
Still, I love easy suggestions (e.g. a lemon and 1/4 cup of sea salt for a body scrub can be something all your own (I’d substitute grainy sugar). This book will spark your creativity to make more beauty booty of your own.
No one on Earth had a smartphone before 2007 and now we can’t live without them. Actually, many people can and do.
For many, paper planners are still a must-have and there are plenty of people who don’t completely trust what’s on their phones. Considering the amount of time you spend with a paper organizer, making it look good is a nice idea.
That’s the focus of The Planner Book: Stylish Projects To Creatively Organize and Commemorate the Day to Day by Jean Sagendoph and Dawn de Vries Sokol (St. Martin’s Griffin, August 7 2018).
Those who like to scrapbook, or who really like DIY projects will love this cute book filled with ideas not just about organizing your organizer, but also lots of ideas to make you love your organizer, and organizing.
Some of the 24 projects are simple and others take a lot more effort. It’s the kind of “crating” isn’t for everybody.
If you have the time to make bookmarks with ribbons, bows and bejewel them, great! The ideas are cute cute cute.
There is also a newbie’s guide to bullet journaling that can really help make your day more successful and more fun. If you don’t know what it is, get The Planner Book!
If you like Counted Cross Stitch you’ll love Improper Cross Stitch 35+ Properly Naughty Patterns by Haley Pierson-Coc ( St. Martins Griffin August 7, 2018). Counted cross stitching is easy to do, and the book gives you the basics so you can hit the ground running.
The feature is 32 cross stitch patterns you can make into your own masterpieces. Some of the sayings are kind of dorky (E.g. Cat Lady for Life) but for the more adventurous.
For the more adventurous, there are more ribald sayings including F–K embellished with a lovely floral design.
The actual designs are super simple so even the most clueless beginner can start making frame-able holiday gifts, or maybe, tea towels!
Who knows? Maybe one of these will become a family heirloom!