Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts

Monday, July 14, 2008

Book Review: Staging a Comeback by The Makeover Guy

picture of cover of book of Staging A Comeback by Christopher Hopkins with a picture of Christopher sitting with his hand on his cheek, holding three makeup brushes, with 15ladies in seperate pictures at the bottom of the book

Book Review: Staging a Comeback: Revival for Women Over 45 by Christopher Hopkins -- The Makeover Guy (of Oprah-fame ).

Although this book was primarily written for women over 45, there were so many things I wish I had known when I was 25. Although his transformative makeovers were of women belonging to the baby boomer generation, there is a plethora of information on fashion, makeup, personal style, and hair for women of all ages.

When I say transformative, see for yourself.

picture of a dark-haired woman in glasses wearing yellow-gold crocheted sweater and turtleneck and black pants, on a blue gray background

picture of smiling woman with short brown hair, hoop earrings, short burgundy jacket, black pants on a light gray background

Seeing is believing: See more makeovers.

While reading the book, I felt like I was sitting in Christopher's stylishly outfitted office having a personal consultation.

I learned that I should dress not only according to my horizontal shape but also my vertical shape. The Makeover Guy gives you easy instructions on how to measure your body vertically and horizontally and then advises you how to take those factors into consideration when choosing clothing.

In my personal consultation with Christopher, I learned what shoes to wear or not wear --

  • Round-toed shoes make your feet look bigger
  • Pointed-toe shoes slenderizes your feet
  • Square-toed shoes shortens and broadens your feet
  • T-straps slenderize your feet
  • Ankle straps shorten your legs

    -- to how to dress my small-breasted body --

  • Cowl necks
  • Ruffled tops
  • Oval scoop tops
  • Strapless ruffled tops

    -- to how to dress my long torso --

  • Wider belts that match the slacks or skirt
  • Raised empire waist
  • Jackets that sit above the hip bone.

-- among a myriad of other tips.

Staging a Comeback also helps you identify your personal style. You can also visit Christopher's web site and take the Personal Style Quiz.

According to Christopher,

The goal is to identify and simplify—to hone in on your core image. Embrace it. Define it. And, if you like, season it with a bit of your shadow image for interest. You may even have two shadow images. Just remember, the goal is to make life easier—to focus on what truly defines you. Beauty is in simplicity. Now that you’ve defined your IPS -- individual personal style -- you will find it helps ground your fashion, hair, and makeup choices when in doubt. There is freedom in solidifying a unique identity. Reflecting the authentic you makes feeling “right” easy and a daily pleasure.

Surprisingly, the results of the quiz indicated that I was as romantic as I was dramatic. I am still adjusting to the results.

Whether you are 25 or 45 or 65, Christopher Hopkins' Staging a Comeback is an education in and of itself. Where else can you get a personal consultation with The Makeover Guy for the price of 5 gallons of gas...or a ticket less expensive than Oprah.

Reviewed by Beckie

Related articles:

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Book Review: The Surgery-Free Makeover

picture of GirlWoman's beauty product creams sitting in front of the light blue book entitled The Surgery-Free Makeover

Sunday Book Review: The Surgery-Free Makeover by Brandith Irwin, M.D.

I received this book from the publisher last week and thought, "Not another makeover book!" To my surprise, The Surgery-Free Makeover is all you need to know for great skin and a younger face.

Brandith Irwin, M.D., is board certified in dermatology and medicine and is the author of Your Best Face. Named Seattle's "top doctor" by Seattle Magazine, she has also appeared on Today and Oprah.

The renowned doctor knows that women are tempted with thousands of thousands of beauty products, so she writes a prescription as to what we really need. The Surgery-Free Makeover is chock full of useful and sensible information for the woman who doesn't want to undergo invasive plastic surgery.

Here are snippets of the book, but to get the full value, you must read it from cover to cover:

Cleansers: Cleansers are on your face for about fifteen seconds twice a day, hardy long enough to have any therapeutic effect on your skin. Dr. Irwin recommends Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleaner, among others.

Sunscreens: Sunscreen is the most important product you can use on your skin every day. Dr. Irwin helps you choose the best sunscreen for your skin. Some of her recommendations include Neutrogena Healthy Defense, Lancome UV Expert 20 with Mexoryl SX, and a new one I'm going to try, Blue Lizard Australian Face Sunscreen SPF 30.

Toners: Toners are generally useless in my book.

Moisturizers: Moisturizers are worth using. Dr. Irwin likes Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream, Olay Total Restoration Lotion, among others.

Repair Creams: The only products that have been proven to work to reduce wrinkles at this time are the vitamin-A cousins (Retin-A, Renova, Tazorac), some antioxidants like vitamin C serums, some hydroxy acids, and possibly creams containing cell-growth factors or peptides.

According to Dr. Irwin, there are lots of questions remaining as to the efficacy of antioxidants and cell growth factors in skin cream, but she thinks a repair cream should be part of your skin care regimen. Some of her recommendations are TNS Recovery Complex, Replenix Cream, Olay Regenerist (which was also tested against nine other wrinkle creams by Consumer Reports and it was the most effective), SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, and Neutrogena Healthy Anti-Wrinkle Cream with Retinol.

Beyond the creams: Dr. Irwin gives you a personal consultation and discusses the cost, longevity, risks of Botox, line fillers, laser, Thermage, peels, and microdermabrasion.

Food lifestyle and skin connection: Eat six foods with color a day, eat more fish, eat less sugar, and drink plenty of water.

Lifestyle changes to make your skin glow: Sleep seven to nine hours a night, limit alcohol and coffee consumption, exercise four to five days a week, wear sun-protective clothing, have your vitamin D level checked!, decrease stress, stop smoking.

Menopause and your skin: Use creams that build collagen (Retin-A, Cellex-C, and alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids), a gentle scrub like Bobbi Brown's Skin Refining Cream, and fractional resurfacing lasers like Fraxel.

Brains on Beauty: The Surgery-Free Makeover is brains on beauty. Dr. Irwin cuts through the myriad of confusing options to get a face-saving plan that will work for every woman and every budget. It's a must-read for any woman contemplating buying a skin cream all the way to Botox and Fraxel.

Happy reading.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Book Review: Style Statement

picture of the book Style Statement by Carrie McCarthy and Danielle LaPorteau-then-tic, adjective

not false, or copied; genuine; real

not counterfeit or copied

Some days you get it just right. From the clothes you put on to how your home looks to the kind of work that you do, you're comfortable in your own skin.

And then there are the times when nothing seems "to fit." There's a disconnect between who you really are and how you're living, what you're wearing or the kind of work you're doing.

What would you say, in moments like that, if someone offered you a guide? Wouldn't life be easier if you were given crystal clear insight into what makes you tick and how you can use that knowledge to live an authentic life in everything you do just by answering questions?

You have the opportunity.

Style Statement by Carrie McCarthy and Danielle LaPorte is a powerful take on style and authenticity that cuts across all aspects of your life.

Through their consulting business McCarthy and LaPorte have helped hundreds of men and women discover and apply their unique style statements. With the release of their book, they're handing you the key to discover your own.

What is a style statement? A two-word phrase that defines where "your essence meets your expression." The first word, your foundation, represents 80% of who you are. The second word is what motivates and distinguishes you.

Karen Hamilton, publisher of The Best Kept Secret, a newsletter and resource for women over 40, spoke by phone with CarrieMcCarthy recently at Carrie's office in Vancouver.

Karen: How did you and Danielle create and develop this idea inthe first place?

Carrie: I'm a former interior designer. I found I was becoming more of a "dictator" than a designer. Clients would ask me, "What's the new, hot style?"

I didn't want to create projects that were about me; I wanted to get to know my clients more. So I developed a questionnaire and called it a Style Statement. It became a very successful and popular tool.

I was introduced to Danielle and did a Style Statement with her. We just clicked. Eventually we launched our business.

Karen: What are the benefits to someone having a personal style statement?

Carrie: Life has more ease. There is clarity and ownership of who they are. When you're authentic, choices are made with more confidence.

Karen: Take us through the process.

Carrie: In our consulting business, interviews are done on the phone. We have clients all over the world, even as far away as India and Australia. A session lasts 90 minutes. The first 45 minutes is spent in an open-ended question and answer session. We then take a 15-minute break while we review the material that was generated. Finally, we call the client back and give them their definition – their two word Style Statement. We look at the science behind it and discuss how the client can use that information.

The book takes you through the same process.

Karen: Tell us about the two parts of a Style Statement.

Carrie: Over the years, we've compiled a list of 40 words that are foundation words – your 80%. We found early on that 99% of people fit one of these words.

The 20%, the second word in the Style Statement, is your edge.

Karen: The women who will be reading this are primarily in there 40s and 50s. By this stage, one would think they have a pretty good handle on what they are all about. Will they be surprised by what they learn about themselves as they read your book and work through the questions?

Carrie: We found that most of our clients fall into one of two camps.

The first group are men and women who are totally blown away by what they learn about themselves. They often liken it to going for therapy.

The second group we call the "tweakers". Their Style Statement becomes absorbed in their lives and it becomes more absorbed as time goes on.

If you apply it and pay attention, you will get the benefit.

Karen Hamilton: Once we determine our Style Statement, how do we use it in our lives?

Carrie: We help you with this by giving you a tool called the Lifestyle Map. It shows people how they can use the spirit, look and feel of their Style Statement words in their homes, in their work and in their look. The map is a foundation for creating wish lists and to-do lists in your life.

To learn more about Style Statement, Carrie McCarthy or Danielle LaPorte, visit their website.

Karen Hamilton is the publisher of The Best Kept Secret, a weekly newsletter for women 40+. She is also a freelance writer with publishing credits in national newspapers, both local and national magazines, and several websites. Like the proverbial Seinfeld of the perimenopause set, Karen writes a weekly column about the minutiae of midlife in her humorous column found at The Best Kept Secret blog.

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Book Review: Flip the Switch: Proven Strategies to Fuel Your Metabolism and Burn Fat 24 Hours a Day

picture of the book cover of Flip the Switch

Forget dieting! That's one premise of Flip the Switch: Proven Strategies to Fuel Your Metabolism and Burn Fat 24 Hours a Day by Robert K. Cooper, PhD.

It's a one of a kind approach to turning up your body's thermostat or what he calls Meta-Stat, meta as in metabolic and stat as in thermostat, which he believes is the answer to burning fat.

Cooper's interactive book is based on a wide range of research -- nutrition, exercise science, physiology, psychology, chronobiology (the study of daily biological rhythms in the body and brain), neuroscience stress dynamics. It also includes easy-to-do exercises and tasty recipes to increase your metabolism.

What you will learn:

  • How sipping ice water can elevate metabolism by 30 percent for an hour and a half

  • How deep breathing can short-circuit stress

  • How light instantly revs up fat-burning

  • How momentary pauses ramp up energy levels

  • How a few easy moves can jump-start metabolism and build muscle

  • How to eat a diet of small but frequent meals to burn fat

  • How to perform frequent bouts of physical activity every 15 minutes to burn fat

  • How light elevates metabolism

  • How lack of sleep increases fat storage

  • How skipping meals can lower your metabolism

  • How sugar is a fat maker

  • How getting some activity 15 to 30 minutes after a meal burns fat

  • How green tea, iced or hot, can rev up metabolism and fat burning by 35 percent

  • How to get rid of muscular trigger points

  • How to stop the stress response

  • How hormones play a significant role in fat burning

  • How eating high glycemic carbs, like fat-free yogurt, can boost your serotonin -- your mood

You know you have a credible book when the bibliography section reads like a scientific Who's Who in Science and Nutrition. Flip the Switch is a good resource for anyone that wants to lose weight, fuel your metabolism, and burn fat in a healthy manner.

Stay moving.

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Book Review: Healthy Child Healthy World

picture of book Healthy Child Healthy World

Book Review: Healthy Child Healthy World (Barnes and Noble $20.76)

I have had the privilege for the past couple of months to be associated with Total Beauty, an online beauty resource that not only offers honest and up-to-date beauty product reviews, but has a Green conscience, too. Total Beauty, in association with, has sponsored a Totally Green Sweepstakes to help build awareness about going Green.

As you know, I'm not the Greenest book in the library, but I have made a concerted effort to educate myself, as well as you, by reading and posting as much as I can on the subject. Healthy Child Healthy World was my next step in the educational process.

You will learn the following:

  • How to prepare for your baby by detoxifying your home.

  • How to keep your home toxic-free.

  • How to de-mold safely (and you don't even need to use clorox).

  • How to choose fruits, veggies, fish, and the healthiest food for your kids.

  • How to make sure you and your baby practice safe beauty practices.

  • How to choose healthy and safe toys, including choosing a pacifier (clear silicone pacifiers are the safest).

  • How to keep your garden and outdoor spaces healthy.

  • How to improve your indoor air (open your window at least five minutes a day).

  • How to keep your pets healthy and safe, and learn how to make anti-flea sachets.

  • How to renovate safely.

  • How to take action outside and beyond the home.

Total Beauty and Healthy Child are both committed to helping reduce our carbon footprint and creating a healthier environment. As I have said before, don't overwhelm yourself. Start small. Every Green step is a step in the right direction...and don't forget to enter to win an eco-friendly Subaru from Total Beauty.

Have a healthy day,


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Sunday, April 27, 2008

My Beautiful Mommy: "That's a Stupid Book"

picture of My Beautiful Mommy book
Oh, my dear readers, about once a week, usually on Sunday, I have Catholic guilt about the superficial aspects of beauty blogging, specifically Girl-Woman blogging about the olfactory joys of a whiff of perfume or the best way to conceal those dark circles under your eyes when I should be writing about saving our world or how to muddle through the current economic crisis. Ah, but I am not nearly smart enough to even come close to those answers, so I will stick with what I do best.

To add to my accumulating Catholic guilt and just in time for Mother's Day, My Beautiful Mommy, by Dr. Michael Salzhauer, a child's companion to mommy's mommy makeover surgery was released. The book, on first glance, made my skin crawl. So to be fair, I went to the book store to look at it and read it from front to back before allowing further skin crawling or biased opinions to seep into this post.

Yes, mom's having a tummy tuck apparently because of you, darling -- but don't be scared when you see mommy all bandaged up like a mummy! Dang, mom's just getting more beautiful! And thank you, Dr. Schnozzer --oops, Dr. Salzhauer for helping Cody understand Mom's nose job.

Okay, Beckie, cut the cynical crap and give your readers "the other hand."

On the other hand, my heart honestly goes out to the mom that has to have reconstructive breast surgery as a result of breast cancer or a non-cosmetic procedure. In this case, My Beautiful Mommy could win the Nobel Prize in compassionate literature in my opinion.

But read the following from Newsweek and see if you experience parasethesias like I did:

"My Beautiful Mommy" is aimed at kids ages four to seven and features a plastic surgeon named Dr. Michael (a musclebound superhero type) and a girl whose mother gets a tummy tuck, a nose job and breast implants. Before her surgery the mom explains that she is getting a smaller tummy: "You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn't fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better." Mom comes home looking like a slightly bruised Barbie doll with demure bandages on her nose and around her waist. The text doesn't mention the breast augmentation, but the illustrations intentionally show Mom's breasts to be fuller and higher. "I tried to skirt that issue in the text itself," says Salzhauer. "The tummy lends itself to an easy explanation to the children: extra skin and can't fit into your clothes. The breasts might be a stretch for a six-year-old."

Brains on Compassion: I am sure the doc's intentions were good, but I truly have mixed emotions about this book. On one hand, my liberal mind can sympathize as to how difficult it must be to explain a mommy makeover to a child. If the mom is dead set on transforming her bod surgically, then by all means, help prepare the child in the best way possible. On that same hand, the child of a mom that needs reconstructive surgery as a result of an illness would surely benefit from this book.

Brains on Dumb: On the other hand, as some critics have already noted, mommy's explanation that her nose job will make her look "not just different, my dear — prettier!" does send the wrong message. This just makes my stomach roll, because will this be our legacy to our daughters and granddaughters? To achieve beauty, darlings, at all costs?

Jamie came home to attend a wedding this weekend and I wanted her opinion on this book. She read the post and said, "That's a stupid book." Profound words from a 24-year-old woman.

How do you girls and women weigh in on this one? I would love to hear your opinions.

Have a relaxing and healthy Sunday,


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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Book Review: The Park Avenue Nutritionist's Plan

picture of the book, The Park Avenue Nutritionist's Plan

I received The Park Avenue Nutritionist's Plan, by Jana Klauer, M.D., from Martin Press last week. Dr. Klauer, a physician specializing in metabolism and nutrition and author of How the Rich Get Thin, promises that if you follow her eating and exercising tips, you will have more energy, feel better, and look younger.

The book details the same 8 step plan for energy and vitality and energy eating plan recipes that Dr. Klauer recommends for her high profile, hard charging Manhattan clientele.

A nutrition "nut" since my pregnancy with Jamie -- I combined broccoli and mushrooms for their syngergistic immune-building properties and ate the combo every morning for eight months, and the smell gave The Hubster morning sickness -- I found a lot of new information of which I wasn't aware.

The book begins by sharing her four non-negotiable principles that you must add into your daily routine and never skip.

  • Daily aerobic exercise no matter how busy you are.

  • Add protein to every meal.

  • Eliminate processed carbs.

  • Eat a healthy breakfast.

The Part Avenue Nutritionist's Plan includes Dr. Klauer's advice on:

  • How to break the bad habit of constantly dieting.
  • Which foods will help you live longer and look younger.
  • Getting the most out of high protein snacks (Organic Valley Stringles cheese, which I just purchased -- not too bad; Cabot's Reduced Fat Cheese.)
  • How much water do you need. (Dr. Klauer suggests drinking a minimum of 2 to 3 liters of water a day, which can include mineral water. Pellegrino contains 120mg of calcium per liter.)
  • What to eat every day (berries, leafy green veggies, yogurt, fish, tea, olive oil, nuts).
  • What vitamins you should take (Omega 3, if you don't eat fish; Calcium with vitamin D; and Vitamin C, when your immune system is taxed).
  • Fitness test to determine your level of fitness.
  • Striving for nine servings of fruits and veggies a day (a serving equals one cup of uncooked veggies or 1/2 cup cooked veggies).
  • Which energy bars are actually good for you and which are no better than candy bars (The good bars: Larabar, Gnu Bar; Clif Bar; Luna Bar; Everyday Nutrition Bar; Dr. Klauer's product).
  • Why age 40 is the fork in the road (how lifestyle changes in young adults could delay cognitive declines).

The recipes, like the Selenium Salad and the Omega-3 Cake, are not only nutritious but give your brain a boost, too.

Selenium Salad
Serves 2
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic
2 bunches of arugula
Dressing of extra virgin olive oil and
balsamic vinegar
2 tuna steaks, 1 inch thick
Juice of 1 lemon
of 1 lemon
1 Brazil nuts, slivered
  1. Mix the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar together. Pour the mixture over the tuna and refrigerate for 3 hours.
  2. Wash the salad greens and dry them. In a salad bowl, toss the greens with the dressing of olive oil and vinegar.
  3. Grill the tuna over medium heat about 4 minutes on each side. Remove the steaks from heat and pour the lemon juice over them.
  4. Arrange the salad on plates and place tuna on top of each salad. Top with lemon zest and slivered Brazil nuts.

I have no doubt that Dr. Klauer's prescription would increase your energy, vitality, and help you lose weight, but with any plan, you have to follow it diligently. No sugar on this plan -- none, nada.
Let me know if you have tried other plans.
Bon appetit,


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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Beauty Product Junkie's Bible

picture of Don't Go To The Cosmetic's Counter Without Me

Years before I started this blog, I bought an earlier edition of Paula Begoun's book, Don't Go to the Cosmetic Counter Without Me. Tagged as "The Cosmetic Cop," she inspired me to start a blog to help women make educated beauty product purchases. The beauty product junkie's bible, containing 1,200 pages, has been completely revised and updated with new beauty product reviews and ingredient research in the 7th edition.

Did you ever ask yourself these questions:
  • Of the thousands of anti-wrinkle products being sold, which ones work?

  • Are expensive skin care and makeup products better than inexpensive ones?

  • Are there any miracle skin-care ingredients?"
Not only are those questions answered, but Paula gives you answers and guidance to many other questions about beauty products. If you buy cosmetics or skin-care products, this is a must read. Paula gives an unbiased view of these products and helps cut through the marketing hype associated with them. All of her claims are supported with appropriate scientific references.

To give you a taste of her cosmetic style:

"Photo Finish Foundation Primer: ($36) is a colorless, silicone-based serum that has little going for it other than being a decent lightweight moisturizer that makes your skin feel smooth, and that can help ensure a semi-matte finish when paired with a matte-finish liquid or powder foundation."

Paula doesn't leave you hanging without alternate choices. She has a chapter entitled "The Best Products Summary," and you can learn that "by and large, almost all self-tanners will work as indicated, because 99 percent of them contain the same 'active' ingredient, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which reacts with amino acids found in the top layers of skin to create a shade of brown." Her self-tanner recommendations vary from an inexpensive brand like Sonia Kashuk, to more expensive brands like Clarins, Clinique, Estee Lauder, and Lancome.

There is no doubt in my mind, this is Brains on Beauty. When reviewing a beauty product or cosmetic, I always use this book as a research tool. This book is a smart choice for smart women.

Happy April Fool's Day. (Just to make sure there is no confusion, this article was not an April Fool's joke.)


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