AdviceSisters Book Review: 10 Great New Books for ME TIME
Private Time. Me Time. Time for reflection. Time for relaxation. Most of us get less and less of it. One way to make the most of it is with a book. Take even a few moments away from what you’re doing to read a few pages of a book and you can be transported away from your workday and your worries, to worlds beyond, and new thoughts and ideas. In a world getting every more visual, good writing and great stories are still at the heart of powerful inspiration and communication.
To inform, inspire and entertain you, The Advice Sisters have curated a list of ten books for body, mind and spirit, with some romance and a few really good stories, too. We hope you like our selection. If any of these titles interest you, there are links to purchase them immediately. Come back and share your thoughts about them.
Alison Blackman, Editor in Chief, advicesisters.com
It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond by Julia Cameron with Emma Lively (Tarcher Perigee April 2016): the title is almost as long as the book is wordy. I like the idea, and I like the author’s positive attitude. But she made the same mistake I made when I wrote my first relationship advice book: Recruiting Love: Using the Business Skills You Have To Find the Love You Want Cyclone Books 1998) . I wanted my readers to follow all the steps necessary to find lasting love so my co-author and I offered stories, worksheets, cartoons, more stories, and lots and lots of step by step ways to get to your goals. But we added so many steps, it overwhelmed readers. They wanted a quick fix, we offered them a journey. At the same time our book was published, a silly lttle book called: “The Rules” was launched, which basically said you could find a man if you just did a few simple things. The strategy wasn’t good for lasting love, but it was easy. Consumers bought The Rules in droves, while our book that insisted reader do work for love, sold out it’s modest run. The Rules Authors knew that people wouldn’t work too hard, and while the two women who wrote it both got divorced, and then broke up their partnership with eachthey did get famous and make money. And that’s my issues with Julia Comeron’s book. It’s good, but it’s just got too much to wade through to get to what you need. It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again has good information for a population that can often feel forgotten, lost, and depressed, but it’s just not user-friendly.
The Midnight Watch: A Novel of the Titanic and the Californian by David Dyer (St. Martin’s Press 2016) is a unique take on that iconic ship and the story everyone knows — the Titanic struck and iceberg on the evening of April 12th 1912, and tragically, so many passengers died for lack of lifeboats. That’s the basic story. Heroic stories and stories of cowardice abound in conjunction with the Titanic. But this book isn’t about those. It’s not about the greed of the Cunard line, the attitude of the first class passengers, the heroism of those who did stay behind or the cowardice of those who didn’t. It is about the Californian, the ship that was close to the Titanic and didn’t respond to the ship’s distress calls. Second Officer of the Californian Herbert Stone saw the rockets, and he alerted the Californian’s Captain, Stanley Lord, but Lord didn’t go to the ship’s bridge to check the situation out for himself.So the Titanic’s distress rockets went ignored and 1,500 died. Had he come to the aid of the ailing ship, the story might have had a different ending. The Midnight Watch is a fictional account of what might have taken place that night on both ships told through the eyes of the SS Californian crew, a Boston newspaper reporter and through the eyes of the family of third-class Titanic passengers who died that night at sea. The idea is fascinating and the story is of course, riveting, but the book could use more editing, That takes nothing away from the fascinating tale.
Hell Hath no Fury Like a Woman Scorned, so the saying goes. That must be the case the of the author of Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life: The Chump Lady’s Survival Guide by Tracy Shorn
(Running Press May 2016). So much of the author’s advice seemed reasonable if a bit rough, directed towards the woman who has been cheated on but for whatever reason, just can’t seem to leave. What bothered me wasn’t the advice, but the angy, angry, angry tone of it. I’m a woman who has been offering relationship advice to people all over the world for many years, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that you must keep your own emotions out of the mix. The advisor’s experiences, socio-economic status, religious views, personality and other such things are different than those of the audience. Ms. Schorn has ignroed this, adminoshing all readers to “leave the bum” without thinking that there are sometimes extenuating circumstances why a woman might choose to stay with a cheater. Maybe she is also cheating, or she has other reasons that are reasonable. Her simple admonishment of “just leave, he is a lying creep” isn’t a responsible way to to advise someone you don’t know, let alone in print. Furthermore, while cheaters should not be applauded or excused for their actions, one should not be made to feel guilty for staying with a cheater, but the author does just that. I get the sense that the author used this book to share her own experiences and purge her soul, but there is just too much angst on these pages for someone really grappling with a cheater to make a wise choice with this book, unless one can recognize, ignore, and carefully side-step the personal diatribes.
Why do authors love bad boys? Because they’re such fun to write about. Why do readers love books about bad boys? Because they’re such fun to read. Oliva Rigal is one of my favorite authors and (nepotism alert) I’m honored to also call her a friend. Although she lives in Paris, she met writer Ava Catori at a romance writer’s meeting in the United States a few years ago, and they’ve collaborated on a series of “bad boy” books: Flirting With Disaster, Flirting with Deception (and following): Flirting with Danger and Flirting with Curves. The first two books are touted as “stand alone” books but it helps to get to know the main characters and follow the series through from book One Flirting with Disaster. This book, Flirting with Deception is set in “Ocean Crest” on the Jersey Shore with hot young lovers and plenty of mixing, matching, danger, and family Mafia intrigue. Watch the relationships tumble around and wonder “what’s going to happen next?” As with all of Rigal’s books. she has a talent of putting together lively dialogue, an interesting plot, and believable characters, but the Jersey Shore/Mafia genre didn’t draw me in as much as some of Rigal’s others. This is just a personal preference but if I’m not really engrossed in the characters and the setting, I lose my interest. I love Olivia Rigal’s excellent, sexy and intelligent writing, but there are other books she’s written I adored, and this series just isn’t at the top of my personal list. But if you like this genre , jump at the chance to get the “Flirting” series, because it’s a big hit for this very talented writing duo.
Outmaneuver: OutManeuver: OutThink-Don’t OutSpend by Jeffrey Phillips and Alex Verjovsky (Xlibris, 2016) is a well-timed business strategy book, considering the current state of the economy. Phillips and Verjovsky argue that the business strategies are a lot like military strategy, and that it is difficult to succeed by simply bludgeoning the market. They claim that businesses, like armies, can succeed where others have failed through the use of what the military would call “fire and maneuver tactics” (stealth, insight, speed, innovation and movement). In classic business school style, the authors rely on dozens of case studies (e.g. the Spartan’s use of preemptive speed and movement to control Thermopylae in the famous battle of the 300 by simply fighting the enemy on the right grounds leading to a significant advantage for the Greeks). The authors compare this to a business example, that of Southwest Airline’s use of a point to point network rather than a hub and spoke system to succeed where other airline startups have failed. While the comparative case studies do a good job of demonstrating the importance of each of the maneuver strategies in a business setting, the book itself could have used more editing, as the text was often repetitive and could have been better organized. However, for a person wanting to start a new business, trying to expand a business, or just trying to work through the bureaucracy of a large organization, the advice presented in Outmaneuver could be very useful.
Suddenly Single After 50: The Girlfriends’ Guide to Navigating Loss, Restoring Hope, and Rebuilding Your Life by Barbara Ballinger and Margaret Crane (Rowman & Littelfield July 2016): Suddenly single in mid-life if that’s not what you had planned, can be shocking, and this book demonstrates how you can make life work after you find yourself single without warning. One of the authors became single after divorce, and the other after widowhood. As with so many of these books, if you don’t know where to begin, it’s a place to start if only a beginning. The authors have been there and done that, and honestly, calmly, compassionately, share their authentic experiences in a way that may help the next person enduring the same situation deal with it a letter better. Suddenly Single After 50 won’t solve a divorcee or a widow’s problems, but it will make them feel a little less confused and alone, and will help them figure out a few first steps to get back on their feet. It’s not a substitute for legal counsel, a dating guide or anything else that is specific, as it just touches on the basics. It could have also used a few graphics to break up the monotony, too. But still, I would recommend it to someone in distress who needs a boost.
World War II Novels about individual acts of heroism and cowardice in Nazi Germany will never stop fascinating us,. Therefore The Caduceous and the Swastika by Steven Hacker M.D. (Nano Press 2016) thrills with a tale of three young medical students who either become part of the Nazi regime, or fight against it. Readers might assume that medical students would be immune to political influence, but obviously, that’s not the case. According to the press literature that accompanied the book, many of the physicians who perished under the Nazis were the same dermatologists the author, Steven Hacker studied during his own medical residency. Dr. Hacker says the book is historically accurate even though the book is a fictional novel. This is Dr. Hacker’s second book (his first was a medical text). While it is well written in terms of dialogue and plot development, at 415 pages it could have been pared down a bit. The stories of the people involved, like real life at that time, are very grim and personally, I didn’t enjoy it and felt terribly depressed reading it. However, those who do love this genre will find the Caduceous and the Swastika a fabulous and engaging read.
The Complete Guide to Natural Homemade Beauty Products & Treatments: 175 Recipes by Amelia Ruiz (Robert Rose paperback 2016) is a guide to the fundamentals of natural beauty and how to make natural beauty products for virtually every part of your body. This book really excited me. Imagine never having to buy another mask or shampoo, bottle of scent or sun-care product? This book has recipes for the things you are likely to use most often in your daily life from soap to shaving cream, wrinkle cream to waxing. Many of the recipes are amazingly simple, such as Citrus Deodorant Powder with just 4 powdered ingredients you sift and put in a jar. But then I considered what it really takes to make it. Grinding up dried orange and lemon peel plus orris root in a fine enough powder to use effectively, plus obtaining similarly ground licorice root powder, and getting the right kind of shaker jar to dispense it, takes a lot more time and effort than simply going to the drugstore. Many of the recipes use ingredients you’ll have to get at a health food store or herb shop, or use “wet” ingredients (e.g. fruit, avocado, herbs) that won’t keep more than a few days. Your effort to make a mask or a yogurt cleanser will be rewarded with something lovely, all natural, actually edible in some cases, but many people just don’t have the time to do this regularly. Without preservatives, it’s not really a practical way to maintain a beauty regimen for most busy people. That said, for those who simply cannot use pre-made products, the recipes will give offer up new choices. Also, it’s a fun way to teach young people how to craft natural and healthy products at home. The book had beautiful photos and I loved seeing how I could possibly make just about anything. I’ll be keeping this one on my bookshelf just in case I have a little extra time and feel inspired to be creative at home!
It Began in Transylvania: A Memoir of Mistakes and Surprises By Renee Palmer (2015) is a book that will really keep your attention, especially if you love authentic life stories, and fashion. If you started the book in the middle (I’m not suggesting this) you might envy Romanian-born Reenee Palmer’s glamorous account of her life and connections in fashion, complete with celebrity contacts, and designer clothes. Start from the beginning of the book and you’ll realize she earned it all through intelligence and hard work — a child of Holocaust survivors, who grew up under the hardships of the Communist regime in Romania and finally fled to America, ending up in Queens. This autobiography (to date – she is very much alive) is a can’t-put-it-down account of one woman’s determination to live a successful life full of joie de vivre. Cheer the author as she struggles and triumphs through education, a number of mind-numbing jobs, into positions with renowned fashion design companies (she admits to getting herself fired from a least a few of these), to IBM, and as an entrepreneur on her own terms. What I liked so much about this book is that it’s not a fairytale, and it’s not self-congratulatory either. I’d consider this autobiography to be a printed “selfie” and that’s fine with me. Speaking of which, the book has lots of personal photos which were delightful, and the content is nicely edited. Ms. Palmer’s life is going strong, so I hope there is a second book being crafted.
If you dream of insects, does that mean something is bugging you? If soap is in your dream, are you coming clean about something? The Love, Sex, and Relationship Dream Dictionary by Kelly Sullivan Walden (Fair Winds Press, 2016) “tells all” when it comes to what’s in your subconscious regarding your love life. Well, maybe it doesn’t really tell you everything, but this nicely organized book of dream topics can give you a clue to what’s bugging you (see: “insects”) or help you reveal some inner issues (come clean with someone about an issue if you’re dreaming of soap, perhaps)? The author is a “dream expert,” a certified clinical hypnotherapist. I’d be willing to bet she’s heard a lot of people reveal things they didn’t realize they had on their minds. While a dream dictionary isn’t something you should follow terribly seriously, you might be able to get some insights that can help you move forward. If nothing else, it’s fun to read the over 1,000 descriptions and interpretations for common symbols, themes, images and characters. The book is organized by people and animals, time and place, physical objects, ideas and whims, and actions and scenarios. Keep it by your bedside and when you wake up, check the book for what you remember in last night’s dreams. That last dream you had might tell you a lot about where you’re going, and what is really on your mind. At under $20 it’s a fun gift, too.