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Gardens in Detail: 100 Contemporary Designs

Emma Reuss. Monacelli, $45 (400p) ISBN 978-1-58093-399-5

Reuss highlights the full range of gardening styles, themes, and other possibilities in a stunning book that is encyclopedic in scope. She includes, for example, chapters on the garden as art; gardens around the world; urban gardens; and garden composition. The book simultaneously offers intimacy of detail through its 500-plus illustrations and color photos. These, along with the layout and organization, convey a feeling of welcome rather than overwhelming the reader. Creating a garden theme such as French New Baroque seems as much a possibility even for amateur gardeners as does Middle East Contemporary or English Arts & Crafts. All types of gardens are explained and dissected, and Reuss highlights key garden design principles (unity, simplicity, balance, and proportion, among others), giving readers a vantage point from which to see the architecture of the garden and to understand design choices. The book is a valuable resource for any gardener and an essential tool for the landscape designer. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

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The Wreath Recipe Book: Year-Round Wreaths, Swags, and Other Decorations to Make with Seasonal Branches

Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo. Artisan, $24.95 paper-over-board (272p) ISBN 978-1-57965-559-4

Harampolis and Rizzo, cofounders of the San Francisco floral design company Studio Choo, offer a collection of garlands, abstract arrangements, and the titular wreaths for every season. From the cherry blossoms and sweet peas of spring to the blackberry and lavender wreaths of summer, from gourd garlands in autumn to blonde blossoms of acacia and pastel camellia of winter, there is a recipe for the nontraditional on every page. Many wreaths include “ingredients” which can be removed and planted (succulents that have been used in summer arrangements) or repurposed (lavender hung upside down as a garland provides a jump on a future use as dried component). Framing their ideas as recipes, the authors assure the reader that anyone who can understand how to make lasagna can also make an ethereal crown of juniper, orchid, and air plants. A generous total of 400 color photos will leave the reader hungry for another container of persimmon branches. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Adventures in Fabric—La Todera Style: Sew 20 Projects for You and Your Home

Julie M. Creus. C&T/Stash, $25.95 (144p) ISBN 978-1-60705-962-2

Creus manipulates all manner of fabulously printed (and unprinted) fabric in her debut—she sews it, folds it, poufs it out, and crunches it down. An admirer of Kaffe Fassett’s colorful designs, Creus assumes a certain amount of comfort with fabric; to use the book best, a crafter will need to know her way around a sewing machine, a glue gun, and needle and thread—not to mention rotary cutters and polyester fiberfill. That said, the basic how-to instructions at the start of the book are particularly clear and friendly, with the best illustration of a surgeon’s knot most crafters will ever see. This is one of the few guides to manipulating fabric for decorative objects instead of clothing. Though this book is not for beginners, sewists with intermediate skills and beyond will have a blast whipping up these colorful, tactile objects. Standout projects include the inviting harlequin star pillow chair, the wearable gum-wrapper weave fabric cuff, and the enthralling lavish lantern ornament. Full color photos, pattern pullouts. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Just for You: Selfish Sewing with Your Favorite ‘SewCanShe’ Bloggers

Caroline Fairbanks-Critchfield and Sarah Markos. C&T/Stash, $26.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-60705-907-3

The premise of this sewing book is simple: 24 patterns aimed at women who love to sew. Instead of presenting baby clothes or home furnishings, this volume gets right to what women would actually enjoy sewing— that is, bags (the opening Sweetly Gathered Round Handbag is fashionable and simple); clothes (the quilting bee dress is a classic in the making, distinctively using quilting cottons); and accessories (a smartphone that cozy features a cute embroidered fox on the front). All of the designs come from the owners and contributors of the popular sewing blog SewCanShe. Like the website, everything here is bright, appealing, and just trendy enough. The book assumes a good grasp of sewing skills, although a later chapter does explain more complicated techniques. Step-by-step photos throughout should help make up for pattern instructions that seem brief, and patterns are included (although not made available to reviewers). Although few sewists want to be known as “selfish,” this book is going to make them act as if they are! Full-color photos, pattern pullouts. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

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One Woman 100 Faces

Francesca Tolot; photography by Alberto Tolot. Goodman/Carlton Publishing Group (U.K.), $50 (208p) ISBN 978-1-84796-083-2

Beyoncé hails Francesca Tolot as the “most extraordinary make-up artist of our time,” and this provocative, phantasmagoric collection of images from Francesca and her husband Alberto’s decades-long collaboration with model-muse Mitzi Martin is a testament to such praise. The Italian-born Francesca has worked with Elizabeth Taylor, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Beyoncé herself, to name a few; in addition to the faces of Oscar-winning actresses, you’ve seen her creations featured in fashion advertisements, commercials, and award shows. Francesca’s medium extends far beyond eyeliner and lipstick, including clay, paper, sheet music, lace, feathers, and gems. Alberto, for his part, reliably produces stunning photographs of Martin wearing his wife’s creations. The collection begins with brief pages of text: Beyoncé’s foreword, an introduction to the Tolot-Martin collaboration, an insightful interview with Tolot herself, and words from Martin, the woman of 100 faces herself. The rest of the book boldly unveils the face as a canvas for art and a theater of the imagination. Its stylish, bold images will not only impress readers, but may also cause them to reconsider ideals of fashion and beauty. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Champagne Supernovas

Maureen Callahan. S&S/Touchstone, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4516-4053-3

Like the life of a partier, this book from Callahan (Poker Face: The Rise and Rise of Lady Gaga) starts out terrifically exciting and fun but then turns repetitive and ultimately depressing. True, Kate Moss is a cool girl with a great look, and Marc Jacobs is a cool guy with a great eye. And while no one would ever accuse Lee Alexander McQueen of being cool—“He was self-conscious about his weight. He hated his face, and for the first few years of his career would only be photographed with his head wrapped in cling film or gaffer’s tape”—he was brilliant, at first. But then he too gets boring, repetitive, and very, very depressed. Ultimately, these three (along with Miuccia Prada and Consuelo Castiglioni, and others) do change the look of pop culture, from the glamazon to the waif, from hair metal to grunge, from Versace to Versus. In the meantime, they all consume loads of coke, heroin, and sex. Perhaps it’s a testament to Kate Moss’s ineffable style, but her chapters are the strongest, while Jacobs’s battles with fashion’s corporate overseers are the least interesting. The sections on the self-destructive McQueen simply feel ominous. Still, this book works as a fun, if cautionary, read about some of the folks who changed fashion in the 1990s. Readers will wonder when a similar trio will arrive to save us all from the Kardashians. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

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The New Puberty: Navigating Girls’ Early Development in Today’s World

Louise Greenspan, M.D., and Julianna Deardorff, Ph.D. Rodale, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-62336-342-0

A growing number of young girls, some as young as seven-and-a-half years old, have been entering puberty early. This accessible volume from clinical psychologist Deardorff and pediatric endocrinologist Greenspan examines the phenomenon’s causes and cases and offers strategies for girls and their parents to understand, manage, and possibly delay adverse physiological and psychological effects. Identifying three main “puberty prompters”—obesity, exposure to xenoestrogens and other chemicals that affect the hormone system, and social and psychological stressors—the authors suggest lifestyle changes including healthy nutrition, limited exposure to synthetic chemicals in household and beauty products, and the creation of a supportive family environment. They also discuss when medical intervention is appropriate and how to avoid future social and medical repercussions. While the media has, perhaps, sensationalized this topic, the good news is that while breast development, mood swings, body odor, and other signs of puberty may be evident in girls younger than in previous generations, the whole process now lasts longer, ending with menarche (the onset of menstruation) at an average age of 12 and a half. Urging parents not to “have the talk” with their daughters but rather to start an ongoing conversation as soon as possible, the authors share an abundance of action-based steps that should allay the fears of many panicked moms and dads and help girls to grow and thrive. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

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The “Perfect” Parent: 5 Tools for Using Your Inner Perfection to Connect with Your Kids

Roma Khetarpal. Greenleaf, $15.95 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-1-62634-103-6

Parents who are struggling to be the “perfect parent”—and in the process raise the “perfect child”—would do well to take some time out for this unusual guide. Khetarpal’s suggestion for setting your child on the path to future success, which is introduced early in the book, sounds simple: “If a child is happy to begin with, then all the other accomplishments naturally follow.” Any parent knows, however, that raising happy children isn’t all that simple. Using “emotional intelligence” and “personal empowerment,” Khetarpal’s approach is fundamentally different from many currently popular child-rearing approaches. She employs top-shelf experts (Deepak Chopra, Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld, Dr. John Gottman) to illustrate key concepts. She also shares five communication tools to help parents develop a strong and positive relationship with their children. A simple review section at the close of each chapter provides affirmations and quick takeaways that are also collected in a “ ‘Perfect’ Parent Toolbox” at the end of the book and are ideal for easy reference. The book itself isn’t perfect—it includes some cheesy therapist-talk (“dealing with the feeling”) and some concepts (“Honoring your child”) that may turn off some parents. Just as frequently, though, Khetarpal comes up with original and easily applied ideas that may prove lifesavers for the harried parent. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

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The Running Revolution: How to Run Faster, Farther, and Injury-Free—For Life

Dr. Nicholas Romanov with Kurt Brungardt. Penguin, $17 (240p) ISBN 978-0-14-312319-4

Former Olympic coach Romanov and fitness writer Brungardt (The Complete Book of Abs) offer a manual on how to run faster, more efficiently, and at greater distances while also decreasing the chance of injury. Drawing from the work of Scottish neurophysiologist Thomas Graham Brown, Romanov identifies three universal elements of running: pose, falling, and pulling, which in combination make up a natural form for running: the Pose Method. The book is divided into four parts, the first of which covers the basics: understanding one’s own body, starting a running journal, choosing the right shoe (“flat, thin, or flexible”), getting into the “athletic stance,” and capturing one’s stride on video, stretching, and following a strengthening routine. Part Two deals with structural strength, creating a new perception of movement and neurological patterns, and the improvement of biomechanics. Part Three introduces a nine-week regimen of running and drills. The fourth section discusses gearing one’s workout routine to one’s personal goal, whether that’s a 5K, a marathon, or simply a lifetime of running. Romanov’s years of research and practice, coupled with Brungardt’s instructional writing, should be inspiring and informative for casual joggers and marathon runners alike. Agent: Dan Strone, Trident Media Group. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

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The Skinny Gut Diet: Balance Your Digestive System for Permanent Weight Loss

Brenda Watson with Jamey Jones and Leonard Smith. Harmony, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-0-553-41794-4

In this diet guide, Watson (The Fiber35 Diet) and coauthors Smith and Jones promise readers the “inner weight-loss secret waiting to be revealed”: restoring “gut bacteria.” Watson begins by writing that, more than 30 years before, she was overweight and suffering from fatigue and migraines. Since finding her own solution, she’s become determined to help others do the same. Suggesting she has quite a following already, the book features plenty of enthusiastic quotes from former participants. The basic premise is that if people can identify what’s making them fat—sugar addiction or carbohydrates, for example—they can then escape the “vicious cycle.” There are plenty of ideas put forward here, from probiotics made simple to a handy “Teaspoon Tracker” featuring an equation to help dieters decode nutritional labels. And there’s some frank talk about bowel movements, acid reflux, and moods. But mostly, there are meal plans and lists of foods to eat or avoid during the “Get Lean Phase” and the “Stay Lean Phase.” Watson also includes over 50 pages of recipes—from butternut chowder to chicken Milanese to kefir ice cream. Watson’s matter-of-fact and upbeat approach may encourage readers who have previously failed at this approach to succeed. Agent: Bonnie Solow, Solow Literary Enterprises, Inc. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/15/2014 | Details & Permalink

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