Charlotte’s Best Books for October 2019

Winter’s on her way so now’s the time to stock up on books you’ll turn to when the weather outside gets frightful. Here are my 5 best for October 2019, including your guide to getting over your obsession with black, a kosher cookbook you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy and a suspense novel that will have you leaving the lights on. 

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Where To Go When

The DK Eyewitness travel series are your ticket to making the most of every adventure you plan. 

The latest, Where to Go When (DK Publishing, 2019), is a stunning showcase of the most unforgettable destinations around the world and the best month to go. Sometimes because of the weather. Other times, to beat the tourist hordes. 

Best month to go to the Maldives? January because you can expect clear skies and little, if any rain. Istanbul on your bucket list? Then book for April, before the tourists arrive and the summer heat sets in.

Where to Go When also includes the timing of special events and festivals. Go to Rome in June, for example, the start of the revered Estate Romana and experience eclectic events held at outdoor venues across the city, from the Imperial Forum (no gladiators or feeding of Christians to lions) to the 80 hectares of gardens that are part of the Villa Borghese estate. 

If you’re thinking about an adventure that includes Mother Nature at her most remarkable, Where to Go When has you covered. Tracking Mountain Gorillas? Go to Uganda in February; the forest canopy thins out during the dry season making it easier to spot these endangered cousins. And book to go to Mozambique, a little-visited jewel, in August to see migrating humpback whales and dolphins.

Whether you’re looking for an active adventure, festivals and culture, a brag-worthy experience or a little R & R, Where to Go When: Unforgettable Trips for Every Month, opens a world of possibilities for every month and in every corner of the globe. And if your bank balance can’t support a bucket list getaway right now, Where to Go When is a sumptuous, some-day, Sunday afternoon indulgence.

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The Kobo eReader makes reading much more enjoyable and easier on the eyes. There are also great eReader accessories available, like the Kobo Sleepcover.

If you’re looking for something for the little ones in your life, we recommend checking out these great kids books, baby products and educational toys that will help develop your child’s love for reading.

Where To Go When is the perfect gift for the traveller on your holiday hit list.
Where To Go When is the perfect gift for the traveller on your holiday hit list.

How To Not Wear Black

OK, I opened this guidebook with more than a little scepticism. After all, I subscribe to Coco Chanel’s maxim: “I imposed black; it is still going strong today, for black wipes out everything else around”.

But the promise of How to Not Wear Black (DK Publishing, 2019) is the recipe we’re all looking for: how to transcend the boring without ever descending into fashion victim, to look contemporary but not try-hard. 

And the good news is I can still wear black but ramped up with colour, pattern or embellishment. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

First, body mapping – understanding and accepting your body shape and proportion. There are seven main shapes: neat hourglass; full hourglass; triangle; inverted triangle; column; rectangle; and rounded. Most of us are a combo.

What we’re after: clothes and accessories that create the illusion of a neat hourglass. Big bits look smaller. Small bits bigger. And the relationship between the two is proportional. Tip: buy for your largest bits and find a good a tailor to alter for the smallest.

What follows are 14 chapters unlocking the secrets to finding your style and looking fabulous: 

  • New-generation layers (two or more pieces that a few years ago would have seemed unlikely, like an undone wrap dress over a T-shirt and jeans) 
  • Mixing-and-non-matching (a girly floral dress with clunky macho ankle boots) 
  • Jeans (dark washes are the most universally flattering and the size, shape and placement of pockets matter) 
  • The perfect trousers (look for a generous cut, even in a slim pant) 
  • Ramping up athleisure wear (satin track pants, plus tailored jacket, plus heels) 
  • Accessories (cropped pants call for quirky miss-matched ankle socks)
  • And, of course, how to wear black (add colour and embellishments) 

Each chapter closes with a spread of awesome pictures and how-to cutlines that put the important points in real-life context – and capture lots of Instagram-worthy looks you can simply borrow-to-own.

To quote style icon RuPaul, “If you have the power to control how people see and interpret you, why not use it?” How to Not Wear Black will get you there.

How To Not Wear Black is a must-have for fashion lovers.
How To Not Wear Black is a must-have for fashion lovers.

Kosher Style

Amy Rosen, James Beard Award-nominated, award-winning freelance journalist from Toronto, is on a mission with Kosher Style: Over 100 Recipes for the Modern Cook.

“Our bubbes and boobies, saftas and nanas are the matriarchs of the kitchen and thus the rulers of the roost in Jewish homes,” she tells us in her introduction.

But, she wondered over a bowl of matzo ball soup, what will happen when these culinary giants are gone? Their collective heritage will disappear, too. Not good. It was time, Rosen decided, to write the cookbook she’d been noodling for a decade. 

Kosher Style opens with helpful info including a glossary of Jewish terms – balabusta is an especially gifted homemaker – and what you need to stock a Jewish pantry.

Then, Kosher Style gets down to business, serving up more than 100 classic and updated Jewish recipes in five chapters: Brunch and Schmears; Soups and Such; Noshes and Sides; Eat! Eat! (fish, meat and more); and A Little Something Sweet.

Rosen is an entertaining writer and each chapter starts with a lively essay that explores Jewish traditions and customs from the vantage point of food.

A couple of must-trys: 

  • PB & J Bread Pudding – seriously delish 
  • Old school Sweet and Sour Meatballs  – there’s ketchup so I know this is authentic
  • Miami Ribs – wowza! 
  • Friday Night Roast Chicken – of course 
  • And . . . wait for it . . . Roasted Garlic & Three-Cheese Skillet Pizza. The crust is crispy on the bottom, fluffy in the middle an caramelized gooey yumminess on top 

Kosher Style: Over 100 Jewish Recipes for the Modern Cook is a love story, a joyful celebration of food, family and friends. And you don’t have to be Jewish to savour every bite!

Toronto's own Amy Rosen will keep you inspired in the kitchen with Kosher Style.
Toronto’s own Amy Rosen will keep you inspired in the kitchen with Kosher Style.

The Butterfly Girl

You met Naomi Cottle in The Child Finder. She’s the tough-but-tender PI who specializes in finding missing children. Sometimes alive, sometimes not.

As little girls Naomi and her sister were held captive in a bunker somewhere in rural Oregon. Naomi escaped in the dead of night, running through a strawberry field. She was picked up by migrant workers, taken to a small town, and rescued by a foster mom she loved like blood. Trouble is, Naomi had to leave her little sister behind.

Twenty years later, Naomi is trying to find her sister. But she can’t remember what she looked like. She can’t even remember her name.  As she searches the sketchiest streets of Portland, Naomi meets Celia, a 12-year-old homeless girl who has run from a sexually abusive stepfather and an addict mom. 

Young girls have disappeared in Portland for months, some later found in the river, but the streets, Celia says, are safer than home. And that’s because, she believes, she is protected by the butterflies that flutter all around her. Despite some initial apprehension, the pair set out to find the killer and, perhaps, Naomi’s sister.

Margaret Atwood raved on twitter that Rene Denfeld’s The Butterfly Girl is “a heartbreaking, finger-gnawing, yet ultimately hopeful novel.” Right back at ya Margaret.

You May Also Enjoy Reading…

The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfeld.

The Family Upstairs

You remember Lisa Jewell’s Then She Was Gone, right?  The tense page-turner about a missing girl, a doppelganger and a climax you don’t see coming? Well, Jewell’s at it again.

Libby Jones gets a lawyer’s letter on her 25th birthday: she has inherited a huge house in tony Chelsea that has been held in a trust left by her birth parents.

She settles into a chair in the lawyer’s office and bam! – discovers that 25 years ago, the police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a crying baby. That would be Libby. In the kitchen they find three dead bodies, her parents and an unidentified man, all dressed in black, and a hastily scrawled suicide note. The four children who lived at the house, including Libby’s older brother and sister, are gone. 

In alternating then and now narratives, we meet Lucy Lamb, Libby’s sister, who has survived an abusive marriage and now busks on the streets of Nice to support herself and her two kids. She’s one busk away from homelessness.

We also meet Henry, Lamb, the big brother, who is wrestling with the last few years at Cheyne Walk, when his family lost all their money and “friends” suddenly moved in upstairs.

Birdie came first. Beady blue eyes, a hard thin mouth and a weak chin “that appeared to buckle under the joylessness of her face”. Next came her partner Justin, an herbalist and pot grower.

Finally, David Thomsen arrived with his wife and two kids in tow. Friends of Birdie and Justin. He’s a physiotherapist, Sort of. He uses energy and moves people’s chi around.

Slowly, steadily, Lucy and Henry’s mom falls under David’s spell – think David Koresh – and things at 16 Cheyne Walk turn dark and truly terrible.

Back in the present, Libby meets Miller Roe, the journalist who covered the suicides back in the day and has been obsessed with uncovering the truth about what happened. Together, Libby and Miller set out to find Lucy and Henry, unravel the mystery surrounding the suicides and finally discover who Libby really is.

The Family Upstairs is a can’t-put-down, tightly written suspense story with Jewell’s trademark plot twists that will have you leaving the light on.

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell.
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell.

Written by Charlotte Empey. Illustrations produced on iPad Pro with Apple Pencil by Mark Scheibmayr.

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