Choose a book in 2016 for looks, cooks, love and more
By Alison Blackman
The Winter months are the perfect time to curl up with a good book, learn something new, or inspire you and others for “New Year, New You.” I chose these six books because they focus on topics that will help make your life easier, more successful, more fun, and more beautiful! Please enjoy and leave comments. Share this review on social media (our links are below the feature).
According to drag queen extraordinaire Ru Paul, Dita Von Teese is “the definition of true glamour.” Dita Von Teese is a burlesque goddess who is as beautiful in person as she is on the stage (I’ve met her more than once, and she’s lovely inside and out). She’s got a distinctive style, with black pageboy style hair, ruby red lips, exaggerated brows, and a porcelain complexion. In Dita’s large and heavy 400-page, coffee-table sized book on beauty called Your Beauty Mark “The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour (Dey Street Books 12/01/15- $30.00 hardcover) , she credits actress Betty Grable as being her muse. “What Would Betty Do?” she opines. Whether strutting around in suggestive poses, in lingerie (or less), or meeting the public in a soigne gown, Dita’s look can’t work that wlel on everyone. But with co-author Rose Apodaca, any woman can learn a lot about Dita’s beauty routines, techniques, and how to pull off something more glamorous than us mere mortals are ordinarily be used to. The book has many full color, simply stunning photographs. Most of these are of gorgeous Dita in various (and somewhat suggestive) poses (it might become your young son’s favorite book). The point is not to try and look like Dita, but to get some insight about the various looks Dita embraces, and use some of the techniques for yourself to add more glamour to your life and look. Take a peek into Dita’s beauty world and you’ll find much of the same advice your mother gave you, but you’ll also get some insight from some of Dita’s professional”friends” such as makeup artists, hairstylists, etc. The book is beautiful. It’s a $45.00 splurge that might make you feel (and look) better starting 2016. It is sold out in many places, but you can still find it on Amazon Kindle $29.49
Hungry Healthy Happy: How to nourish your body without giving up the foods you love by Danni Martin with photographs by Jacqui Melville (Jacqui Small LLP March 2016 $25.00 hardcover), will give you meal and snack options to help you have a healthier 2016. In essence, the nicely organized book focuses on how to nourish your body without giving up the foods you love. In other words, this book attempts to adjust standard recipes you like, with healthier ingredients. I was so excited when I first saw the book, and obviously the author lost a lot of weight through her own recipe substitutions. However, as I began to read the recipes, I saw a distinct pattern – some of which you might like (or not) depending upon what your nutritional goals are. For example, the author liberally uses fat-free Greek yogurt as a substitute for butter, cheese, milk and cream in nearly every recipe that requires fats. This might be healthier (although yogurt has sugar), but yogurt, no matter how creamy it is, won’t make your food really taste close to the original. Another example of a healthy substitute that just doesn’t seem like a great fit is the recipe for quinoa sushi. It looks beautiful in the photo, but the Japanese use sticky, sushi rice for a good reason. There was one recipe I particularly liked, for Coconut Lime Chicken, which uses coconut milk and spices, and seems easy enough to make. However, it’s not quick: with prep and cooking time it takes about close to 3 hours (marinating 2 hours, preparation and cooking of the good nearly another hour). I love the idea of healthy substitutes and applaud the author for her personal accomplishments, and the photos make each dish look mouth-wateringly good. Depending how you view it, this book will either give you all that you need for a healthier 2016, or just languish with other cookbooks you don’t use very much. Decide for yourself whether this cookbook is for you. Visit the web site http://www.hungryhealthyhappy.com to learn about Danni and how she lost 98 lbs, check out some recipes, and more.
Chris Salgardo’s Book, MANMADE: The Essential Skincare & Grooming Reference for Every Man ( Pam Krauss Books December 1, 2015, $30.00) is a good investment for a man to makefor himself, or as a gift for “New Year, New You” part of 2016 (and way beyond). Chris Salgardo is the President of Kiehl’s, a skincare company that has been around since 1851 and whose excellent products the Advice Sisters review on a fairly regular basis. When I first started writing beauty reviews, a few decades ago, there were few products just for men, and not that many men responded to them. Back then, our male readers told us that they just used whatever products were lying around in the bathroom (if any). Since men are action and results oriented I knew once they understood what products could do for them, they’d buy their own and might be eager to try other products. Things are different today and virtually every man of any age uses “something” just for them. But Manmade isn’t just about how to use grooming products. Mr. Salgardo explains why they’re important, and why grooming is essential. To a beauty expert like me, the advice is fairly basic, but for most men, he offers a holistic tour of men’s health and grooming, for a man, by a man. The book is neither preachy nor prissy, as it goes through issues of hair, face, shaving, facial hair, eyes, nails, hands, feet, fragrance, bodycare and even man-scaping. I liked the examples –real men in the real world. The books encourages men to to do better for themselves in a rational, non-threatening way. It is the kind of book a teenaged boy who is just becoming aware of grooming, would really benefit from, and every man of every age will find tips and pearls of wisdom that help make their lives, better and more attractive.
What do women want? That’s the age-old question that men have been asking for centuries. When it comes to intimacy, every man would benefit by readinLesbian Sex Secrets for Men, Revised and Expanded by Amy Jo Goddard and Kurt Brungardt (September 2015 $16.00) . Obviously, this is a book for adult readers, so if you have any “young ones” reading this column, not that I’m making general comments about what’s in the book. The title gets your attention, and of course, women who love women certainly know how to make each other happy. The point is that if all women would simply communicate clearly about how they want intimacy with their partners, everyone would be a lot happier. Guys, don’t hate me for saying this, but women are either too afraid of hurting your feelings to tell you what they want, or you don’t listen, or both. Apparently advice given from a lesbian and a straight might be taken more seriously. This book is a blunt and detailed primer of techniques any man (or woman) can use to just offer more pleasure to their partners. The authors cover a lot of ground, as they’re not squeamish or afraid to tell it say it like it is. While there’s nothing really ground-breaking about what they’re suggesting, the big selling point for me as a relationship expert and a book reviewer is that the authors are not trying to be “clinical” but give straight answers to questions you might not have even thought to ask, along with a wide range of options” that will appeal to various types of interests in this area. The book is entertaining, informative, and a nice way to start 2016 off with your long term love, or someone new.
Reckless Gravity: (E-book) (Reckless Gravity Saga Book 1), is a quirky book by J.D. Mayall (Barrado Books 2015 Kindle $3.00 paperback $8.83) about a 19-year old rock star whose “glam rock” lifestyle begins falling apart when a police investigation begins to unearth a crime from her past. But what I didn’t realize until later, was that the author, J.D. Mayall was a self-proclaimed band groupie featured in the MTV documentary called, The Social Story of Concerts, 2004. She wrote the book as a cautionary tale to young women who think this kind of lifestyle is exciting. The book has a story line full of sex, drugs, rock & roll, and a lot of violence and risky behavior. It also sheds light on mental illness, and more than that, on abuse of young girls and women who may be too in love or too intimidated to leave an abusive relationship. While the plot is just “so-so,” the descriptions of domestic violence, drugs and addiction, and why women “stay” in unsafe relationships, is a cautionary tale that I found very interesting. I am not sure that I’d give this to a very young girl to read, but any mother who sees her teenager heading in this direction either as a groupie, as a girlfriend to an abusive boy, or getting into drugs, will want to buy the book and give it to her daughter to read. The lure of being close to a celebrity makes girls do all sorts of things that could cause them to be reckless, or cause them genuine harm. The author does a good job of incorporating all the negatives, without pointing a finger at anyone in particular or being preachy. You can buy this book on Amazon, and I’m including a link to the author’s website if you want to know more.
Sushi and Sashimi are not just beautiful to look at, they are healthy alternatives for “New Year New You.” However, the process of de-mystifying preparation and assembly and making it look good, is an art. With practice, you can learn how to make the perfect sushi rice, and how to re-create even some of the more complicated sushi and sashimi types. The key is to learn how and practice. The Complete Guide to Sushi and Sashimi: Includes 625 step-by-step photographs by Jeffrey Elliot & Robby Cook (Robert Rose 2015 Approx. $30.00) has 625 step-by-step photographs along with easy to understand explanations of what you need in terms of tools, fish butchery, and much more. The author Jeffrey Elliot graduation from the Culinary Institute of America, and worked with Zwilling J.A. Henckels USA among other things, and offers really good advice about choosing, maintaining and use knives. Robby Cook is the executive sushi chef at Morimoto New York. The book is a spiral hard-bound book that make it easy when you’re cooking to flip through to the various sections and keep them pages flat. After reading this book and purchasing a few tools and ingredients, you can start to master a fabulous skill (thanks to the illustrative photos and text). Eat healthier, better and with more joy. Sushi and sashimi is challenging for some, and it takes time and patience, but you can do it, with this book as your guide.
The books in this review are (mostly) to inspire you for “new year, new you” but a new book by stand-up comedian, actor, and general eater, Jim Gaffigan, Food: A Love Story (Three Rivers Press: $9.50) is a riotous collection of most of his better known food jokes. Gaffigan, who we often see eating pizza in the back rows of a little comedy club in New York City, is famous for his bits on cake, bacon, seafood, and of course, Hot Pockets ™ which he despises, but admit made him famous. And while the book is mainly a collection of routines, it is peppered with obviously personal observations as well as photos of, and stories about, his lovely (and very large) family. Honestly, the book made us hungry as Gaffigan discussed donuts (there is no excuse not to eat them), lobster (sea insects), Hot Pockets™ (a Pop Tart filled with nasty meat), and Bacon (the kind Jesus ate). We were also amazed at how well Gaffigan described many of the most famous restaurants and dives that he has visited as he tours the country doing his act. The descriptions were amazingly funny, and scarily, (mostly) true. If you like stand-up comedy, and who doesn’t, and if you eat food – real food, not kale and the like – you will love Gaffigan’s ode to all things edible. Gaffigan doesn’t strike us as a man who eats kale, but we chuckled off a few pounds, digesting the contents of Food: A Love Story. *thanks to Blogging for Books for this review copy