Monday, November 28, 2016

The Capsule Wardrobe: 1,000 Outfits from 30 Pieces

Title: The Capsule Wardrobe: 1,000 Outfits from 30 Pieces
Author: Wendy Mak
Expected Publication: January 3rd 2017 by Skyhorse Publishing
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 240 pages
Genre: Fashion
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Skyhorse Publishing for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book

In a quick definition, a capsule wardrobe allows you to create multiple outfits from a few basic pieces. If you are like me and the idea of looking in your cluttered closet is getting a bit overwhelming; the capsule might be the next step in a wardrobe makeover.

Wendy Mak goes on to explain her vision of thirty necessary items, from 7-bottoms, 6-tops, 6-top layer items (blazer, sweater, jacket, coat, etc.), 3-purses, 6-shoes, and accessories. Work wear, weekend wear and going out are all included. This does not include loungewear or gym wear. This book is designed as a jumping off point and not something that is set in stone. Work with it and make it personal. Remember that each part must work with the whole.

Ms. Mak then goes into the specifics of style and color to add a bit more flare. She did lose me a bit here when she talks about skinny cuts. Not everyone has the body type for skinny so you will have to adapt. Presto change-o and you have a fast new wardrobe of 1,000 options.

Wait, not so fast, simple math tells you that the numbers do not add put. After a couple of pages of item suggestion and a few mix and match drawings of outfits you begin to realize that you are still not seeing 1,000 options.

Then you hit the appendix and this is where the whole idea fell apart for me. Changing an accessory or shoes or purse is not a new outfit. The same jeans and basic tank are used for the first 50+ outfit suggestions. Nope, I just knew that this was too good to be true.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

Title: And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
Author: Fredrik Backman
Published: November 1st 2016 by Atria Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover 96 pgs.
Genre: Literary Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Atria Books for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

This may be a short novella, but the impact is tremendous. Told through the eyes of his “numbers” grandpa, a little boy - Noah, who is more like his grandfather than his own “words” father Ted, learns the stories and fears of holding on to life’s most precious memories. How the square is getting smaller and smaller and how Grandpa’s family is both struggling to hold on to help him and to gently guide and let go at the same time.

The way home does not talk specifically about a place, but more of the comfort and memories that home entails. It is the people and the places. The stories and memories. The things that get lost over time and yet we try harder and harder to hold on to.

This is a story of compassion – surprising compassion from the most unlikely person. Sometimes we are too close to our own parents and it takes a grandchild to see through the blurred frustration that parents and children hold on to. The next generation is more open and willing to sit and listen to the stories and see both the hope and lament that is just below the surface.

As I said, this is a short novella that reads like a full-blown novel. Fredrik Backman is a master storyteller that knows just the right amounts to include without bogging down the reader with unnecessary drivel. The reader knows the amount of time that has passed and how the relationship between Noah and Grandpa has changed without going in depth with timekeeping and medical analyses. This book is not about a disease, it is about relationships, compassion, and wanting to spend as much time with a person that you love no matter what you are talking about or how many rocks you have to put under an anchor so you can always remember a child as a child.

I have underlined so much in this story that out of fear of quoting the whole book, I have not including any quotes. You will want to keep this novella close so you can read it frequently and I will guarantee that each time you do, you will get something different from the telling and take away a better understanding.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Magnolia Story

Title: The Magnolia Story
Author: Chip and Joanna Gaines
Published: October 18th 2016 by Thomas Nelson
Format: Hardcover, 208 pages
Genre: Memoir

Having been a follower of Fixer Upper since its debut, I was curious as to the background story on this driven couple. How could two people, who came from very humble beginnings, in thirteen short married years together, build not only a successful business, marriage and family, but also a loyal following to their very own show?

Joanna does most of the story telling and hearing how it was a fluke that they met, even more of a risk waiting around for Chip to show up for their first date, and how in time their own personalities meshed into a winning formula, makes for a very interesting read.

What I did not realize was how faith driven this couple is. From the beginning, Joanna talks about that voice guiding her and promising that if she listened, the path that was being set for her would take her beyond her own dreams. It might not have been an easy path but opening their hearts and their vision is what has brought them to where they are today.

When this book ended, you could tell that it was only the first step in a new journey. Chip and Joanna Gaines have more to tell, their stories and adventures will continue and with both this book and their many endeavors, I wish them the best of success and a beautiful lifetime together.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Dead Cold Brew

Title: Dead Cold Brew
Author: Cleo Coyle
Expected Publication: January 10th 2017 by Berkley Publishing Group
Format: eBook; Hardcover, 432 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Berkley for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Coffeehouse Mystery #16

Amazing how a shipwreck and a stolen legacy can change everything, but that is exactly what Clare Cosi and her ex-husband Matt Allegro are confronted with in the newest Coffeehouse Mystery. A book that the reader has to stay with for the long haul, as each turn you think that you have it figured out, even though some of the pieces fall in the way that you think they should, there are just enough random parts to keep you turning pages and coming up with new scenarios in your head.

A replica of the Andrea Doria is preparing to launch from New York, but there are a few last minute details. They are looking for a new trademark coffee that Clare and Matt are working on, a sale that will help Matt out of his newest financial difficulties plus, on the home front, a clandestine meeting with an attorney that will change the lives of both Matt and his daughter Joy. Add in the famous missing Occhio del Gatto (Eye of the Cat), a flawless ice blue diamond cut and set to mimic a cat’s eye, that might not be as missing as the legend goes and Clare confronting the realities that friendship has no legal status and you have another week in the life of a woman who can take on the world in cruel shoes.

The Allegro’s have interesting friends and even more interest family members. Is it possible that there has been an impostor in their midst for decades. A person that has been hiding secrets and in turn tearing families apart. This is yet another complication that this book delves into which is a good thing since the whole “Panther Man” scenario, though whimsical was a bit grating. No, I am not making light of what this character did, but it was distracting at best.

From the prologue, the reader is drawn into the history of the Campana family and the Andrea Doria, it is only sixty years later that the full Campana story comes to light and how intermeshed the Allegro family is with this jewelry business. Subterfuge is the main theme of this book, very few people are who they seem to be and the reader is constantly going back and forth between the good guys and the bad. You will find the usual cast of characters and with humor and style, the writing team of Cleo Coyle, has brought forth both a walking tour of New York and a tasty mystery to boot.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Small Great Things

Title: Small Great Things
Author: Jodi Picoult
Published: October 11th 2016 by Ballantine Books
Format: eBook; Hardcover, 470 pages
Genre: Fiction
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Ballantine Books for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

From the quote by The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King "If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way." Jodi Picoult draws the reader into the life of Ruth Jefferson, a forty-four year old labor and delivery nurse in Connecticut that is being charged with the killing of a baby whose parents are notorious white supremacist. Parents that are appalled by the idea that a black woman is caring for their newborn child and make it a point to have Ruth’s supervisor put a note in their son’s chart that no African-American’s are to go near their child. From that description alone, you would think that the book takes place in the 1950’s, but you would be wrong. This is modern day, a day where Ruth still needs to explain herself. A time where people are shocked that she has her nursing degree from Yale and lives in their upper class white neighborhood.

Told in alternating accounts from Ruth, Kennedy McQuarrie –Ruth’s attorney and Tuck Bauer the father of the newborn, the reader is brought face to face with the hatred and simmering anger that has brought these three people together. Ruth is fighting on many fronts, her sister Adisa is demanding that she step up and be a leader for her community, Ruth’s son Edison is coming of age with his own battles and responsibilities. Kennedy, the wife of an ophthalmologist, works in the free clinic so she could be the do-gooder in the family. Tuck the angry supremacist that found a home and became a leader within the skinhead movement and his wife Brittany who could not handle the death of her son and was later confronted by the mother that left her when she was a child.

Each person in this book had a strong voice and a story to tell. They each enlighten the reader and at the same time made their audience a bit uncomfortable about the realities that we all brush under the rug. The plotting is suspenseful and fast moving; you can feel the depth of each character and in some cases, their total disregard for human life. It is not until the very end, when Kennedy is forced to put Ruth on the stand, that the whole emotional kettle boils over. The years of anger are laid bare and Ruth finally has her say that she had kept bottled up for so long.

This book may anger many people, the people that do not feel that a white author should write a book from Ruth’s perspective. I disagree - I found this book to be remarkable from start to finish. In the past, I have not been a fan of Jodi Picoult’s work and questioned myself as to why I picked this one up in the first place, but after the first couple of chapters, I could not put it down. I encourage readers to take a chance, to open themselves up to the subject matter of this book and to possibly forgive the few sluggish parts and the rushed ending, but to take their time and find their tempo so that they can hear the story that is being told.