The Power of I Am: Two Words That Will Change Your Life Today by Joel Osteen (2015)

powerofiamI listened to Joel Osteen’s The Power of I Am on audio. It is a motivational CD that builds up your character and how God is in the center of your being.

Want to learn more? Watch Pastor Osteen on Oprah’s Lifeclass.

Skinny Bitch: a no-nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous! by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin (2005)

skinnybitchThis book sure tells it like it is! Skinny Bitch is great if someone would like to change bad eating habits and lose some weight.

Check out an interview with author Rory Freedman to learn what lead to the book.

 
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The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (2003)

devilwhitecityErik Larson takes an unusual approach in The Devil in the White City and ends up telling a tale of two men who played a role in the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago in this classic true crime book. Architect Daniel H. Burnham's story focuses on the building of the impossible, creating an extravaganza in spite of time, budget, personnel, and weather constraints. It was the showcase of technology that ushered in the 20th century and still has remnants in Chicago to this day. On the other hand, serial killer Herman Mudgett's story is filled with terror and gruesome details of the killings that went on in the background of the wonder of the World's Fair.

Larson masterfully balances the sick cruelty of Mudgett with the financial and architectural details of the creation of the fair along with interesting tidbits of Chicago history to tell the story. Just when the reader cannot take the unspeakable horrors any longer, he changes gears to the most minuscule detail of the fair planning or statistics of attendance. It doesn't create confusion, but rather makes the reading bearable. And it is a story that needs to be read.

Dinner: The Playbook: A 30-day Plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal by Jenny Rosenstrach (2014)

dinnerplaybookThis book has changed the way I use cookbooks. Dinner: The Playbook was super inspiring for me because it was made by someone who understands that not everyone has bajillions of hours in the day to be able to whip up a ten course meal. Jenny Rosenstrach is someone with a life outside of cooking, which makes her recipes far more relatable.

The recipes are separated into two categories: Go-To Weeknight Meals and Keep the Spark Alive Meals. The Weeknight Meals are neither stressful nor time intensive so you’re able to complete them after you get home from a busy day of working. She also provides tips what can be done ahead of time to make it go by even faster. Keeping the Spark Alive contains meals meant for when you have a day off and you feel like making something special for yourself and/or loved ones.

So far, I’ve tried three of her Go-to Weeknight meals (shrimp rolls, mac and cheese, and zucchini fritters)—and all three have been successes! A personal observation about the zucchini fritters: save them for a day you have more time than usual. While the recipe is simple, you have to dry the grated zucchini with towels (paper or cloth) before cooking it. It took what felt like forever (at least the effort was worth it!) but definitely not a meal when you just want to go straight to bed after eating. Out of the recipes I tried, the shrimp rolls by far were my favorite. Simple and quick, but absolutely delicious!

Check out this cookbook if you’re looking to spice up your everyday meals!

A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman (2015)

curiousmindThe great title and eye catching cover do not disappoint. Brian Grazer describes the concept of his curiosity conversations and how they have shaped his life. For almost 40 years, Grazer has sought out important people from all walks of life to learn about what makes them tick. He lists all interviewees and details many engaging encounters with well-known figures. The work confirms curiosity as a virtue in a hectic world. It became a tool to overcome his dyslexia and research his award-winning films, as well as satisfy his curious mind. Hollywood memoir and promotion of creativity rolled into an enjoyable journey in A Curious Mind.

The English Garden by Cecily Brown and Jim Lewis (2015)

englishgardenI chose The English Garden for the art (by Cecily Brown) but really enjoyed it for the story (by Jim Lewis). Both the artwork and the story were good and could stand on their own. I was expecting more like Monet and Brown's work is more modern. The story is a great short story that takes you on a journey with the main character, Trevor. You’ll keep turning each page for more; the story ends perfectly, leaving the reader wanting more.

Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World’s Greatest Art Heist by Stephen Kurkjian (2015)

masterthievesA work of fiction, B.A. Shapiro's The Art Forger, actually enticed me to read Master Thieves, a nonfiction account of the Gardener Museum's unsolved 1990 art heist. Stephen Kurkjian's primary sources and journalist's style leads readers on a journey through the underworld of Boston to uncover possibilities to solve this twenty-five-year-old crime. His personal involvement in the story and contacts in the FBI and the mob make each scenario credible. Art historian, true crime aficionado, and mystery lover alike will be captivated to learn more about the clues and the suspects. Some may even want to get involved. After all, there is a $5,000,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the thirteen stolen art pieces.

Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs: Creative Techniques for Joining Motifs of All Shapes by Edie Eckman (2012)

connectshapesHave you ever wanted to create a crocheted afghan but never knew where to start? Grab Connect the Shapes! Edie Eckman’s book has 101 crochet motif ideas for projects to work on. Not only does the book teach you how to do individual motifs, but how to join them once you’ve made a few as well. Say sayonara to unfinished blankets!

It also has basic instructions in color theory and how to crochet and in the front of the book for beginners! The patterns range in difficulty to the most basic to ones challenging for even veteran crocheters.

The colors used in the samples are vibrant and so eye-catching that you’ll want to get started on a new project right away. Check it out today to get started. Remember, winter is coming!
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Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale (1980)

catchmeThis true life adventure is almost too over the top to be believed. The movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio pales in comparison to the book. At a very young age, Frank Abagnale set out on a life of crime that took him all over the world as he impersonated a Pan Am pilot, masqueraded as a supervising resident of a hospital, and practiced law without a license. He cashed over $2.5 million in forged checks and was known by the police of 26 foreign countries and all fifty states as "The Skywayman." His descriptions of narrowly escaping capture will make your jaw drop. When he is ultimately captured, he pays a heavy price. Catch Me If You Can is an exciting real story which will keep you on the edge of your seat.

This is a Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (2013)

storyofahappymarriageThis is a beautiful collection of essays by one my favorite authors, Ann Patchett. The essays range from a humorous recounting of driving a Winnebago through the Badlands to her sage advice for writers. Patchett's insights into her own life and the world around her are moving. This is a Story of a Happy Marriage is a truly enjoyable read.

Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (1994)

Bird by Birdbirdbybird is Anne Lamott's book on writing. She covers a wide variety on life and writing including chapters called "Sh**ty First Drafts," "Jealousy," and "Writer's Block." She begins with a simple example from 30 years ago of her then 10-year-old brother struggling with a report on birds that was due the next day. He didn't have any idea on how to even begin. Their father came to comfort him and said that he all he needed to do to complete the report was to take it "bird by bird." It is a simple and touching beginning that summarizes the entire book. This book is inspiring and hopeful to all writers and artists who are struggling to complete their writing goals. I recommend it to anyone who likes to create.

The French House by Don Wallace (2014)

frenchhouseThis is a charming narrative of a family claiming a piece of a beautiful French island for themselves. Don Wallace's description of the natural beauty of Belle-Ile makes you want travel to this remote island and climb the cliffs to the beach.

Despite the fact that Don and his wife Mindy are just barely scraping by in New York City, they decide to buy a ruined house in a small village on Belle-Ile. Repairing it enough to make it inhabitable takes 8 years and multiple trips to the island. There are ancient village rules for building a sane and moral house that take some serious negotiating. Wallace relays the bonds they form with the village neighbors, his struggle with the French language and their love of surfing with a humorous touch that make The French House an enjoyable read.

Eye to Eye: Photographs by Vivian Maier (2014)

eyetoeyeVivian Maier was a nanny, not a professional photographer. Her work was never published until after her death. Her vision and talent were incredible. Maier, with her Rolleiflex in hand, captured the essence of her subjects and their time. Much of her work told a story of the people of Chicagoland in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, but her travels took her all over the world. With Maier, it was all about the people. Regardless of location, she managed to capture breathtakingly ordinary moments in time through the eyes of people all over the world – check out a sample in Eye to Eye.

The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter (2009)

The Monuments Men is a remarkable story of a unique chapter in the history of World War II. The author uses the key battles of the war in Italy, France, and Germany to document the story of the men who risked their lives saving the fine art treasure of Europe, which General Eisenhower saw as the symbols of “all that we are fighting to preserve.”

As Adolf Hitler was attempting rule the western world, his armies were seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. A special force was created by the Allies to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture. Behind enemy lines, often unarmed, these American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Monuments Men, found and saved many priceless and irreplaceable pieces of art.

This book is recognition of the work of these brave individuals and a very good read.

Majestic Hollywood: the greatest films of 1939 by Mark A. Vieira (2013)

A few years ago on Shows ’n Tunes, I wrote about movies released in 1939. Majestic Hollywood provides short articles on fifty great movies that were released that year. Each article provides small bits of information about each film, such as stories about the stars in the picture; stories about the directors, producers, and writers; short movie reviews written by some of the critics at the time the film was released; and other miscellaneous information. There are also beautiful black and white photographs for each film of either the stars or scenes from the movies.

I recommend this book by Mark Vieira for anyone who enjoys movies from the golden era, students of cinema, and anyone who loves well made movies. Also, there are some movies discussed in the book that I have never scene and I plan to see them soon.

 
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