Wednesday, August 5, 2020

"The Grown-Up Girl's Guide to Style" by Christine Schwab

This book is a fun style guide for mature women.  It really is aimed at women who are above 40.  I wished this was conveyed on the cover.  As someone pushing 30, I consider myself a grown up girl in the sense that my style is more sophisticated than it was as a teen.  That being said, however, I do not consider myself in the same style category as someone 40+.  While I learned some classic fashion tips, I did not like how the book promoted plastic surgery.  I believe in aging gracefully.  While we won't look the same at 60 as we did at 20, I do not think that justifies needles or going under the knife.  The biggest takeaway I took from this book is that one should always stay current while not chasing the latest fad.  Your hairstyle from 10 years ago may need a revamping, but that does not mean you need to jump on the bandwagon of women shaving half their heads.  Stay true to yourself but also get with the times.  Also, as you age, cover up more.  While I don't think showing excess skin is classy at any age, it certainly seems to be less socially appropriate the older a woman gets.

Friday, July 31, 2020

"The Color of Style" by David Zyla

This is a fun book all about getting to your true colors.  It focuses on nature, encouraging readers to match their wardrobe colors to the colors of their eyes, skin, and hair.  While I really enjoyed this book, I wish it had pictures.  As much as I read about color, it'd be nice to see color!  Also, by just going off of my natural coloring, I have no purple or green.  Both of these are colors I really like to wear.  Nevertheless, I did learn that I could use more blue clothes.  I have blue eyes but a mostly pink wardrobe.  Speaking of eyes, I have a ring of yellow around my pupil.  According to the book, this would be my base color or my own personal version of black for formal events.  As much as I love yellow, I am not so sure it would look formal for a suit or work event.  This book has made me more curious about color and style, though, and I plan on reading more books on the subject.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

"How to Win Friends & Influence People" by Dale Carnegie

This book is a tried and true classic on the basic essentials of human relationships.  Whether you are looking to win friends, a spouse, sales clients, a job interview, you name it, this book will help you.  Using the principles of psychology that were as true thousands of years ago as they are today, Carnegie explains the way to succeed.  The methods highlighted in this book are by no means extraordinary or mind altering.  I'd venture to say they all make sense and that most people know them on a subconscious level.  However, we all need a good reminder from time to time.  Just like everyone knows the benefit of exercise, not everyone remembers to do it on a daily basis.  Some ways to win friends and influence people are to let them do the most of the talking, provide genuine appreciation, remember and use people's names, ask questions to get people talking about themselves, and more.  A fascinating point was about arguing.  Even if you are right and someone is wrong, very few people admit to being wrong.  If anything, being corrected just makes them resent the corrector.  That being said, it is good to avoid arguments and word things in such a way that your opponent feels he or she is winning and gaining an advantage.  I could go on and on, but you should just read this book for yourself!  I got the audio book CD and listened to it while driving, so that's a good option, too.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

"The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" and "Spark Joy" by Marie Kondo

Both of these books are all about the process of tidying.  From clothes to kitchenware to photos to cards to letters and more, these books explain it all.  The basic premise is that people should keep only those items which spark joy.  If you have old clothes that don't fit or are unflattering, they need not be kept.  If you have piles and piles of papers, go thru and only keep what you need or desire.  If your bathroom is a mess, go thru and slim down the items to just the nicest of the nice that make you feel special.  I have tidied up my own apartment and am still in the process.  While I'm not done yet, I can say I've seen a dramatic improvement in my life.  I am happier when surrounded by the things I love--instead of having those things buried under piles of junk. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

"Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire" by Jen Hatmaker

This is a quintessential ladies self-help book.  Divided into several sub parts, this book focuses on identifying one's personality, needs, wants, social desires, and more.  Who are you?  What makes you happy?  What are you passionate about?  What would you like to change?  Where do you need help?  What friendships do you need to gain?  What friendships do you need to let go of?  Written from a Christian perspective, there are some religious undertones.  However, this book does lean liberal in many of its stances.  Overall, this book was a fun read and kept me entertained.  It reminded me that I need to constantly check in with myself to see what's working, what's not working, and where I need help / change.  You are unique and special.  Get to the core of who you are and live that to the fullest.  When it comes to your life, stop apologizing and stop asking for permission. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

"Journey of the Pearl" by A.E. Smith

This is a fascinating historical fiction book set during the Bible times shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus.  It centers around the centurion who crucified Jesus and tells his story.  Readers meet the Roman centurion and travel with him through his various trials, tribulations, struggles, and dangers.  There are backstabbing centurions, conniving slave owners, cruel masters, and more.  Famous characters like King Herod and Saint Peter also come into the scene.  This was a very fast paced story full of many twists and turns.  Since this book is of the Christian genre, there is emphasis on Jesus but not so much that it detracts from the rest of the story.  Regardless of your religious beliefs, this is a great adventure of a book that will keep you turning the pages.  My only complaint is that so many of the character names were exotic and unfamiliar to me, which made it difficult to keep up and follow along with who was who.  

Thursday, March 5, 2020

"The Old Testament Case for Nonviolence" by Matthew Curtis Fleischer

This book exceeded my expectations in many ways.  It really made me think and challenged my worldview in the sense of how I interpret the Bible and think of God.  I didn't necessarily agree with everything the author wrote, but that's okay.  It gave me a lot to chew on, and I am grateful for that.  My favorite chapter was chapter 1.  It went into how the culture of the ancient near east (ANE) influenced the early Old Testament writers.  While some stories in the Old Testament may seem barbaric by our modern sensibilities, in light of other ANE customs, they were actually very progressive and merciful (by comparison, at least).  Fleischer poses the argument that much of the "violence" in the Old Testament is not necessarily what God wants or even representative of God's true nature.  Rather, God was using baby steps--or as Fleischer labels incremental ethical revelation--to educate ancient man.  Just like how a first-world missionary in a third-world tribe wouldn't start pointing out everything wrong but would instead tolerate some things for a bit until the natives are mature enough for more change...God did the same with ancient man.  The rest of the book is really good theologically, too, but I have to say the first chapter really hit me the most.  Since this book is written by a Christian, there are many New Testament references included alongside the Old Testament ideas.

Friday, February 21, 2020

"Beyond Your Wardrobe" by Bethel Grove

This book is brand new, and I read the uncorrected version.  The whole concept is that women need to be modest.  Written from a Christian perspective, the author explains how God created women, cares for women, and loves women.  As sacred and special, ladies need to honor their bodies like the treasures they are.  There are several Bible passages quoted, as well as personal anecdotes from the author.  In terms of fashion, there are several tips and advice on particular pieces of clothing.  The book discusses tank tops, leggings, dresses, skirts, pants, Halloween costumes, prom dresses, swimsuits, undergarments, and more.  The notion of fit is also detailed as someone can be completely covered but wearing clothing that is too tight.  The point is not to have a bunch of rules but rather to come from a place of humility and honor.  Girls don't need to just follow a set of rules.  Rather, the end goal is having a heart after God.  I enjoyed this book and it gave me some fashion ideas to think over.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

"Unbusy" by Andy Dragt

This book is all about how to get more accomplished in life.  Instead of being overwhelmed by feelings of busyness and "running out of time", the tools and strategies in this book help readers get done what they actually want to get done.  What sets this self-help book apart from others is that it relies on the physics of flow in nature to explain what naturally "unbusy" life looks like.  Readers are encouraged to think of their purpose and meaning in life by creating a mission statement.  From there, they derive their values and priorities which drive their daily / weekly / monthly activities.  The goal isn't just to do more in less time or to throw off all responsibilities in the name of "rest and relaxation".  Rather, the goal is to have a balance where readers do more of what they want, when they want, with a purpose, and with meaning.  There is also an emphasis on recording one's life patterns and discovering what tasks one does each day that do not align with one's higher purpose (e.g.- time wasters!).  Overall, this book was very inspirational and gave me some good food for thought in terms of how I spend my own time.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

"The Power of Style" by Bobbie Thomas

This is such a fun book!  Centered all around style, Thomas aims to show readers just how beautiful they are and how beautiful they can become.  The book is divided into two parts.  The first focuses on inner beauty (cue the applause!) while the second focuses on outer beauty.  I love this concept because even the most "good looking" people can feel ugly.  To be truly beautiful, one needs to feel good on the inside before the outside ha any effect.  Thomas walks readers thru various exercises in personality, strengths, and so on.  Then readers dive into color analysis, body shape analysis, and shopping tips.  I learned so much from this book that I am going to go thru my closet right now!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

"At Home with Madame Chic" by Jennifer L. Scott

This is the third book of Scott's that I have read and I have enjoyed it just as much as I've enjoyed her other books.  Focusing on the French chic lifestyle, this book teaches women how to cultivate inner peace in their home lives.  From removing physical clutter to removing mental clutter to providing music playlists and recipes, this book has it all.  There are major sections devoted to morning, afternoon, and evening.  The steps and advice are meant to make one's home more pleasant, enrich one's relationships with family, and RELAX.  Women, especially homemakers, are often run aground exhausted from tending house and kids....all the while looking like a hot frumpy mess.  However, it doesn't have to be that way.  Whether single or married, kids or no kids, women of all walks of life can learn how to cultivate serenity, mystique, style, peace, and--most of off--the essence of chic...and look good doing it!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

"The Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey

This is a time-proven process book on how to get financially fit.  Dave Ramsey is both a TV / radio finance personality as well as someone college educated in economics.  Ramsey explains how so many Americans are drowning in debt.  People buy things they don't need with money they don't have to impress people they don't even like.  Factor in compounding interest and people ending up paying far more than they initially swiped their credit card for.  Speaking of credit cards, Ramsey encourages readers to cut up their credit cards, budget their income, and only spend cash money on what they can actually afford.  After setting up an emergency fund, readers are encouraged to tackle their debts from smallest to largest.  This may involve a downgrade in lifestyle or even selling off a new leased car to purchase an older more affordable vehicle.  What I liked was the stories throughout the book.  People from all walks of life share their money struggles and how they turned their financial lives around using Dave's tips.  Most of the people in the book make less than $50,000 a year yet manage to eliminate debt and save for retirement.  If they can do it, so can you!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

"Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic" by Jennifer L. Scott

What a lovely book on poise.  Focused on dignity, style, and class, this book is a must for lady readers.  Scott goes over how to dress oneself, do hair, do makeup, how to talk, how to walk, and so much more.  There is a great emphasis on posture and using proper language.  No slouching and swearing for Madame Chic!  More than physical appearances, being chic is about lifestyle and self-confidence.  Scott encourages readers to treat everyone they encounter with respect and not stoop to anger outbursts, gossip sessions, or entertainment that is improper / not enriching.  Scott learned about how to be chic while traveling in Paris.  While I don't live in France and have never visited, I do feel more Parisian after reading this book.  Look out world, chic Teresa is here to stay with poise!  :-) 

Monday, January 6, 2020

"Lessons from Madame Chic" by Jennifer L. Scott

What a fun and lovely book this is!  Jennifer writes in a style that is half-memoir, half-advice.  Sent to Paris in college for a study abroad program, Jennifer is thrust headfirst into the French culture.  Through her host family--whom she charmingly calls Family Chic--she learns so much about how to live a better life.  There are lessons on fashion, the capsule wardrobe, removing clutter, reducing consumerism, and more.  There is a great emphasis on using the best one has in the moment.  Don't save those fancy dinner plates or luxury dress for "someday" that may never come.  Use and wear your best items now!  Part of that involves getting rid of (or donating) anything that is less than top quality.  That reduces the temptation to use second-rate items.  Enjoy your food, exercise, walk with your head held high, and learn the art of mystique.  There are so many wonderful lessons in this book, and it was super fun to read.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

"The Curated Closet" by Anuschka Rees

This is a necessity for ladies seeking to update their closet and wardrobe.  Unlike other books that are just full of fashion fads that are here today, gone tomorrow, this book focuses on the reader.  There are multiple prompts, quizzes, and activities for the reader to fill out.  Readers will analyze their current wardrobe, their body shape / type, their colors, their styles, and--most important of all--their lifestyle.  Readers will figure out what energy they want to put into the world and then how to build outfits around that.  There is an emphasis on making one's closet fit one's lifestyle.  In other words, if someone works at a corporate job five days a week and goes out socially once a month, it does not make sense to have more "going out clothes" than "work clothes".  As Rees says, one must shop for their real life...not their fantasy life.  The author also helps readers curate outfit uniforms, capsule wardrobes, essentials, basics, statement pieces, and more.  There is even a section on seams, fabric quality, fit, and shopping advice.  A curated closet is full of go-to pieces that can be worn in multiple combinations.  Don't waste money on fast fashion that wears out and can not be combined into multiple outfits.  Rees wants readers to curate a closet that is perfect for them.  I can not recommend this book enough!

"A Change of Heart" by Claire Sylvia with William Novak

This phenomenal book is the memoir of Claire Sylvia...the woman who got a heart-lung transplant.  It tells her remarkable story both before and after the transplant.  Plagued with a heart issue from childhood, Claire is tired and sick for most of her life.  As a professional dancer, this is incredibly difficult.  When Claire can no longer keep pushing on and is at death's door, she gets approved for a transplant.  The identity of her donor is confidential yet Claire has dreams about the donor.  She has so much information about the donor that she ends up tracking down the donor's family and amazing them with the information she has (which was not disclosed to her since hospitals have a strict donor confidentiality policy).  Claire also has physical and mental changes from the transplant--craving beer and chicken nuggets when she normally did not like those foods.  Claire even starts a support group for others in the transplant process.  There she learns that she is not alone in the changes she is experiencing.  This book really makes readers think of what the heart really is.  Is it just a pump or is it something more?  Is the brain the only part of the body that carries memories or is the concept of other parts of the body holding memories (i.e.- "cellular memory") the true reality?  Where does the spirit go when one dies, and how is it related to the physical body?  Questions like these and more are addressed both from Claire's own personal experience, the experience of those in her transplant support group, and scientific discoveries referenced at the end of the book. 

Thursday, December 19, 2019

"Dresses to Dream about" by Christian Siriano

This coffee-table-style book is hard cover and full color.  It chronicles about two dozen of Siriano's most iconic and famous dresses.  There are the actual dresses on mannequins, the sketches, images of fabrics being tailored, and then some information / quotes related to each dress in question.  While I could appreciate the dresses as art, I wouldn't necessarily say that I could picture myself wearing many of them.  First of all, many of them are so fancy I would be incredibly overdressed should I wear them.  Secondly, many of them do not appear to be functional or flattering.  For instance, many dresses are sleeveless with unflattering top sections that would likely cause anyone larger than a size 0 spill out of.  Nevertheless, this was a fun book and gave me some fashion inspiration.

"Bloom" by Kro Maclear and illustrated by Julie Morstad

What a fun and inspiring little book this is!  Hard cover and full color, this children's book is all about the story of fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli.  Elsa grew up in the 1920s/1930s and loved flowers.  She sought to see the beautiful in everyday life.  In spite of discouragement from friends and family, Elsa decided to take on a fashion career as an artist.  While she didn't "make it big" until in her late 30s, Elsa never gave up.  She introduced shocking pink colors into fashion and came up with one-of-a-kind designs that gave Paris something to talk about.  

"How to Dress for Succes" by Edith Head

This is one of the few books that, while it has more words than pictures, it gets the message of fashion across rather well.  Edith gives age-old advice for how women can use their wardrobe to achieve success (whether that be in business, marriage, family, etc).  The tips are both practical as well as comical as Edith gives examples of outfits that scream success vs failure.  Readers will get an idea of how to start dressing for success by defining what it is they want, observing how others acts / behave / dress, analyzing their own bodies / shapes / colors, making an inventory of their closet, and so on.  There are even chapters on how to dress one's children and husband.  Overall, this book was such a fun delight to read.  Whether you like it or not, people will and do judge you based on appearances.  Why not use that to your advantage?  As someone who has dressed many famous celebrities, Edith can attest to the fact that even the most sought-after movie-star has her own flaws - she just dresses well enough to hide them while simultaneously drawing attention to her best features.  Pick up this short fun book today if you want to learn how to dress for success! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

"How to Never Look Fat Again" by Charla Krupp

This book is equal parts humor and equal parts genuine fashion advice.  The basic premise is that women can look either slim or fat depending on what they choose to wear.  Countless examples and photos prove this examples.  The woman at the same height and weight can look drastically heavier or slimmer based on her attire.  Issues such as big busts, large rears, bellies, thick calves, flabby arms, thick ankles, wide shoulders, thick necks, back fat, muffin tops, and more are covered.  There are various lists of what to do vs not do, as well as examples from celebrities.  While I like the overall idea of using clothes to slim down, I appreciated how Krupp encouraged readers to exercise and eat healthy such that they can get closer to their ideal weight that's best for them.