Show Off: How to Do Absolutely Everything. One Step at a Time by Sarah Hines Stephens and Bethany Mann

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This highly visual how-to book presents a wide variety of skills and projects. Everything from doing stunt tricks to baking “stained glass” cookies is covered. The authors use a step-by-step pictorial approach, allowing readers to see exactly how each project should progress. While the pictures are an excellent addition to this book, limited text is used and so readers may not get a sense of how the finished project comes together. Tips about successfully completing each project and mistakes to avoid are also missing.

The best thing about this book is that it includes SO many different types of projects and skills. Seriously. However, as awesome as the variety is, the layout can be confusing. Many of the instructions are in picture format only, with very little text to help guide you. Additionally, some of the stunts featured are pretty dangerous, but no safety guidelines are given! I definitely won’t be trying to bounce off a wall after reading the steps in this book. BUT, if you like how-to’s or if you just want to get ideas for your next project, this is a good place to start.

Rating: 3/5 

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Cooking Comically: Recipes So Easy You’ll Actually Make Them by Tyler Capps

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Tyler Capps uses a mix of photography and comic art for his humorous cookbook. Along with easy-to-follow directions (with lots of pictures to guide readers), Capps peppers (pun intended) his book with “geek” references sure to register with gamers and pop culture fans. True to his title, Capps keeps all his recipes short and simple, with a full shopping list and tips for great finished product at the end of each.

This book was awesome!! There were step-by-step pictures, hilarious jokes, and the food looked so good. Nothing seemed particularly hard to make, so there’s no need to be intimidated by your lack of cooking skills. Even more advanced cooks might be able to make some recipes more complex. The one downfall of this book is that the recipes aren’t exactly for health food — there’s bacon, cheesecake, burgers, and more. If you don’t care about the lack of healthy alternatives, though, give this one a read!

Rating: 4.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here. 

The Fashion Book by Kathryn Hennessy

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Using a mix of photography and illustrations, DK publishers presents this historical look at the development of fashion. Beginning in Ancient Greece, the book progresses chronologically, with sections spotlighting key fashion figures, styles, and even a look into the daily life of various fashion professionals. The piece also examines the modern boom in the fashion industry, questioning whether the current speed of fashion manufacturing is sustainable. With its readable text and high use of graphics, this would be a good choice for all readers interested in the fashion industry.

This was a fun read! I love looking at fashion, so I’m a little biased, but I still think this book would be appealing to others. It’s arranged by fashion period, starting with the earliest, and progress to modern times. It was really cool to see all the major time period together, and there were a lot of little facts about fashion along the way. It’s a pretty surface level book and does not go in-depth about careers in fashion, but it’s definitely worth a read if you’re interested in that industry. There’s LOADS of pictures!

*Rating: 4.5/5

* ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2014

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Seventeen Ultimate Guide to Beauty: The Best Hair, Skin, Nails, and Makeup Ideas for You by Ann Shoket

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Drawing on its authority as a top magazine for teens and tweens, Seventeen magazine presents this guide for hair and makeup ideas. The book is sectioned by type (hair, makeup, nails, etc), and each section includes step-by-step looks for readers to try. Also included are spotlights of real girls and their favorite beauty tips, as well as how to achieve celebrity looks. Though some may claim this is not challenging enough material to have in a school library, plenty of students may get use out of the piece. For example, the title can be used for special events, browsing, or for those students interested in cosmetology.

This book is pretty straightforward. If you’re interested in beauty or style tips, give it a shot. You might find something new you like — though be warned that, while the instructions make all the styles look super easy, it may not be that easy to execute each look. The models used in the shots had their hair/makeup/nails done by professionals, not by themselves. My other issue with this book is that it’s incredibly gender biased. They assume only girls are going to read it, and I don’t think that’s true. Keeping this book a girl-only resource isolates the trans community in particular — basically, the book sends the message that you would only want these tips if you’re a girl. However, you might not care about what message the book is sending; you may just want to browse around and find a new look. If that’s the case — have fun! If you do care about messages, maybe look around for a more gender-neutral option.

*Rating: 2.5/5

*ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2013
For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd

Drawing from his nearly thirty years of experience in the graphic design field, Kidd presents an introductory guide to graphic design aimed at helping young adults develop their skills as designers. With humorous, easy to follow text and plenty of striking visual examples, Kidd’s guide takes readers through a limited history of the field, helps them learn to break down design examples in everyday life, and ends with projects for readers to try on their own. Kidd encourages participants to post their projects on the book’s website (gothebook.com), and regularly hosts contests inspired by his book. Readers of all skill levels can appreciate Kidd’s guide and the projects can easily be paired with any subject curriculum.

This is such a cool book! I am 100% not artistically inclined (even my stick figures look horrible), but I still enjoyed reading about graphic design. The author is funny, has a ton of incredible visual examples, and does a really great job of getting you to look at signs, ads, and objects in a new way. I definitely learned and noticed things I had never thought of before. The best part about this book is the projects at the end — and you don’t have to be great at graphic design to do them! Some projects are as simple as collecting examples of graphic design, or rearranging strips of paper to make them look cool. Others are more complicated such as creating a personal logo for yourself or redesigning a book cover. I hate a lot of the book covers I see, so I might be trying that one out! When you’re done with your project, you can post them on gothebook.com, or just scroll through the site to see what others have done.

Rating: 5/5

*YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist, 2014

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.