Positivity is Layered into Baking Show

The morning and evening news in Indianapolis is usually filled with stories about shootings, child abuse, drug offenses, and murders. It is becoming harder each day to watch these news broadcasts. I find myself purposely looking for positive displays of humanity throughout the day in the outside world, on social media, in newspapers and magazines, and even on television, where I recently found a ray of positivity on a very dark day. The Netflix original series Nailed It! is a quirky reality show baking competition in which three home bakers compete to replicate a professional’s stunning creation, such as a perfectly crafted yellow fondant-covered and decorated emoji cake, in the hopes of winning a $10,000 prize. In addition to being of a positive nature, Nailed It! is humorous with some silliness woven into the show. Nailed It! competitors, judges, and viewers all know there is absolutely no way anyone outside of a professional can nail the final round’s showstopper creation. This does not keep home bakers from trying. When the contestants fall short in some way, the judges avoid criticizing their efforts. Instead, all three judges compliment the contestants on some aspect of their baking or decorating skills or on their ability to persevere in the face of setbacks. Another aspect that separates Nailed It! from other baking competitions is that there are no eliminations during judging. Contestants who fare poorly in the first round are generally given extra help, such as a panic button, in the second and final round. One of the three judges will jump in to assist competitors who activate their panic buttons and reassure...

My Journey of Dealing with Death

I stopped blogging for more than a year due to being mired in grief over the loss of two close family members. The mental and emotional fog of my grief finally lifted several days before one of my best friends lost his battle with cancer. His death was not sudden, which allowed those of us who love him to adjust to the idea he would not be in our lives much longer. Knowing his death was imminent did not lessen my heartbreak or keep the grief fog at bay. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to tell my friend how important he is to me and what his being in my life for the last two decades has truly meant to me. During my grief-fueled writing hiatus, I read several books about death, the American funeral industry, cremation, burials and its alternatives, and cadavers. While this sounds odd and perhaps crazy to some people, I was on the hunt for information about how other cultures deal with death, mourning, grief, and their actual physical dead. My exposure to Midwestern open-casket funerals had left me feeling hollow and uncertain about my own emotions regarding death. I wanted to find some semblance of logic in the processes of dying and of dealing with the physical dead since death itself is unpredictable and wildly emotional. No two people deal with the emotional fallout of grief in the same way yet an entire community may deal with their dead in the same physical manner. This juxtaposition peeked my curiosity and set me on my reading journey.   The view from the crematorium One of...

Tale of Two Men Is One of Forgiveness

I am reviewing books through the Blogging for Books program in an effort to support my community’s Little Free Library, thus the addition of book reviews outside of the usual sexual health topics to Your Sexy Librarian postings. After being reviewed, the book gets stamped “Always a Gift, Never for Sale” and placed into a Little Free Library for others to enjoy. Convicted by Jameel McGee and Andrew Collins with Mark Tabb, which was released on September 19, 2017, is the story of two men, one an overzealous police officer who eventually becomes corrupt and the other a new father truthfully in the wrong place at the wrong time who becomes a victim of the other man’s corrosive and unlawful behavior. There is an element of racial tension in Convicted that is not sugar-coated nor ignored. Tabb is a well-known collaborative American writer with more than thirty books to his credit who helps weave together the story of McGee and Collins. Convicted shares incredible life lessons, from the consequences of dishonest public servants to how race profiling impacts the innocent to how forgiveness can empower an individual, in simple terms and uses language that is accessible to a vast majority of readers across many age groups. Even some advanced elementary readers will be able to comprehend the concepts presented in Convicted, which is good because young readers should read Convicted simply to better understand how poor life choices can impact not only an individual but those he comes in contact with as well. The message conveyed in Convicted is shrouded by a Christian slant that is continually pushed in the...

Feminist Manifesto Challenges Convention

I was asked by an intern at Hachette Book Group to review one of their recently released books and publish the review on Your Sexy Librarian because the book’s topic falls into my blog wheelhouse of sexual health and sexual issues. Unscrewed: Women, Sex, Power, and How to Stop Letting the System Screw Us All by Jaclyn Friedman is a manifesto on one expert’s view of female sexuality. Friedman is a speaker, opinion writer, author of several books about female sexuality, host of the podcast Unscrewed, and founder of Women, Action & the Media. Friedman did her homework and presents her argument in a concise manner, utilizing interviews and extensive research for Unscrewed. She references her material sources, which I find adds credibility to her writing, and compiled all sources, separated by chapter, at the end of Unscrewed in the notes section. One thing I disagree with is Friedman’s creation and use of the term “fauxpowerment.” I disliked this term immensely and feel it takes away from instead of adding to Friedman’s point of view. Although I understand Friedman’s ideas, I cannot easily explain in layman’s terms what “fauxpowerment” means in reality, even after reading Unscrewed. Perhaps reading Unscrewed as part of a college curriculum or book club will allow readers to discuss the topics Friedman broaches and provide different perspectives to her point of view. Maybe, as a group, other readers can better define “fauxpowerment” than myself as an individual reader since Unscrewed seems to be a suitable platform for group discussion as opposed to a solitary read. The front cover of Unscrewed is dull and uninviting with...

English Country Cookbook has Mass Appeal

I am reviewing books through the Blogging for Books program in an effort to support my community’s Little Free Library, thus the addition of book reviews outside of the usual sexual health topics to Your Sexy Librarian postings. After being reviewed, the book gets stamped “Always a Gift, Never for Sale” and placed into a Little Free Library for others to enjoy. I was thrilled to finally review a cookbook. I grew up surrounded by cookbooks and have a deep appreciation for beautiful cookbooks with photographs of every dish that provide clear directions as well. The Cottage Kitchen: Cozy Cooking in the English Countryside by Marte Marie Forsberg is a masterful cookbooks that did not disappoint. Forsberg, born and raised in Norway, learned to cook from her mother. She traveled the world, learning new cooking techniques along the way, before she settled in the English countryside. Forsberg began her blog, The Cottage Kitchen, in order to chronicle her new countryside life. This is Forsberg’s stunning debut cookbook. The Cottage Kitchen includes an introduction telling Forsberg’s traveling and cooking journey. It is well-written and full of beautiful details. The cookbook is broken down into seasons, includes an introduction section for each season along with a list of recipes for each season. Forsberg focuses on using quality ingredients (some will be difficult to find outside of American metropolitan areas) and provides both metric and American measurements in her recipes, which takes the guesswork out of converting metric measurements. The photographs of each dish vary in setting and style; not every dish was depicted on the same table using the same dishes and place settings....

Art Professor Explains Foundations of Drawing

I am reviewing books through the Blogging for Books program in an effort to support my community’s Little Free Library, thus the addition of book reviews outside of the usual sexual health topics to Your Sexy Librarian postings. After being reviewed, the book gets stamped “Always a Gift, Never for Sale” and placed into a Little Free Library for others to enjoy. My latest book selection is Foundations of Drawing: A Practical Guide to Art History, Tools, Techniques, and Styles by American artist Al Gury, who is a professor at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia (PAFA), which was released on June 13. Gury chairs the painting department at PAFA and has shown his works at several museums and galleries around the United States. Foundations of Drawing begins with Gury telling everyone why they need to buy and use his book. I was frankly turned off by this approach and, thus, struggled to finish reading Gury’s book as a result. At least there are redeeming qualities of the book that make up for this disappointing start. The cover of Foundations of Drawing is a gorgeous display of different drawing styles and is ultimately why I chose this book to review. The back cover copy is mediocre and does not tantalize readers. The body font is readable with a layout that is reminiscent of art textbooks, such as H.W. Janson’s History of Art. Gury covers the history of drawing, drawing with different drawing media, and drawing techniques. The absolute gems of Foundations of Drawings are the examples of different drawings throughout the book. Visually, these examples are like...

‘Leading Lady’ Delves Into a Long Hollywood Career

I am reviewing books through the Blogging for Books program in an effort to support my community’s Little Free Library, thus the addition of book reviews outside of the usual sexual health topics to Your Sexy Librarian postings. After being reviewed, the book gets stamped “Always a Gift, Never for Sale” and placed into a Little Free Library for others to enjoy. My latest book selection is Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing and the Making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker by Stephen Galloway, which was released as a hardback on April 25. Galloway, who lives in Los Angeles, is the executive features editor for the Hollywood Reporter. I really wanted to jump into and explore Leading Lady, which focuses on the career of Sherry Lansing, the former CEO of Paramount who is now a philanthropist. I struggled to even read this book. I honestly did not care one iota for the career exploits and the first world struggles of a Hollywood executive. With that said, Galloway is a good writer. He took a difficult subject and distilled it into a great story supported by 352 separate references. The front cover is rather boring and lacks the pizzazz of Hollywood. I am not sure as a reader if this is intentional; I feel like the cover should be more engaging. The body font is easy to read. The back cover copy is comprised of accolades from President Jimmy Carter, Meryl Streep and Michael Douglas. The information about Galloway on the inside back cover is limited to two small sentences that reveal little about the author. At $27 for the hardcover edition, Leading Lady...

Accepting Ourselves in a Material World

Fashion in the late 20th century was not a kind industry to the world at large. Consistently providing images of tall, super-skinny youth, the fashion industry does not typically showcase the differences of women’s bodies around the world in a positive and encouraging manner. Personally having grown up in the Vogue magazine shadows of lithe beauties such as German Claudia Schiffer, Canadian Linda Evangelista, Americans Claudia Mason and Michele Hicks, New Zealander Kylie Bax and Nederlander Esther de Jong, I was acutely aware I was as different from them as I was from the cheerleaders in my high school. Even blessed genetically with a high metabolism, a body proportionally balanced and the inability to sit still for more than 5 minutes, I did not resemble the images of the models in Vogue, a magazine I coveted in high school and college. The models all had gaps in their thighs, flat abdomens and long locks of hair. Breasts were either non-existence or perkily smallish. While I did not relate physically to the models in Vogue, I secretly loved looking at the clothing designs, the bright colors and bold patterns, the set locations in cities around the world and the confident attitude splashed throughout the photo spreads. The shoes alone were beautiful creations of cruelty requiring grace of movement and superb balance, which this born klutz simply does not possess despite years of gymnastic and tap dance lessons. At some point in college, I fell in love with my own body and embraced my curves, the lack of a gap between my muscular thighs and my perpetual pixie cut. As I became...

Physicist Explains the Science Behind Everyday Items

I am reviewing books through the Blogging for Books program in an effort to support my community’s Little Free Library, thus the addition of book reviews outside of the usual sexual health topics to Your Sexy Librarian postings. After being reviewed, the book gets stamped “Always a Gift, Never for Sale” and placed into a Little Free Library for others to enjoy. Guided by curiosity, my latest book selection is The Physics of Everyday Things: The Extraordinary Science Behind an Ordinary Day by American physics professor and author James Kakalios, which was released on May 16, with a selling price of $26 for hardback. Kakalios is the Taylor Distinguished Professor in the school of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Minnesota and the author of The Physics of Superheroes. Kakalios graciously acknowledges Domenica Alioto in The Physics of Everyday Things for suggesting his new book “follow someone through a typical day.” Alioto “coined the term ‘narrative physics’ to describe the book’s structure.” Her proposal was spot-on and helps transition the book from one item to another in a seamless manner. The Physics of Everyday Things is an amazing foray into science that chronicles a person’s journey throughout his day, from that first cup of morning coffee to driving a car to taking an overnight business trip. This day of physics lesson is reminiscent of the Science television show How It’s Made as it encompasses the same style of knowledge appreciation. Without spoiling The Physics of Everyday Things for other readers, my favorite sections are about how credit cards and proximity cards (such as work identification badges and hotel room...

Stand Upon Stars in the American West

I am reviewing books through the Blogging for Books program in an effort to support my community’s Little Free Library, thus the addition of book reviews outside of the usual sexual health topics to Your Sexy Librarian postings. After being reviewed, the book gets stamped “Always a Gift, Never for Sale” and placed into a Little Free Library for others to enjoy. My latest book selection is We Stood Upon Stars: Finding God in Lost Places by American author Roger W. Thompson, which was released as a trade paperback on May 2, with a selling price of $15.99. According to the back cover copy, Thompson “is a successful entrepreneur, collaborator, adventurer and writer” who “alongside his wife, travels, surfs, snowboards and fly-fishes – and is teaching his two young sons to do the same.” Raised in Ventura, California, Thompson takes readers on a journey throughout the American West as he recounts motorcycle rides with his grandfather and road trips with friends and family. Each chapter lovingly includes hand-drawn maps with animals and geographic details and highlights of where to acquire the best tacos and the best coffee along each route. Thompson notes the location of his favorite bookstores, fishing holes and fly shops on all these maps, which gives local flavor to each area he has traversed. According to the copyright page, all interior art is by Elain Thompson. She is not given any credit on the cover, which is unkind because her drawings add a personal spark to We Stood Upon Stars that would be noticeably missing without her artistic contributions. We Stood Upon Stars is not so much a...