4 Books to Review4 Book Reviews for the New Year

I love being able to review new books, especially in the New Year when I have lots of aspirations of getting organized and learning something new. Out of the many books I’ve received to review, these four are the ones I knew you’d like as much as I do. As a bonus, they will either help you learn a new skill or push you to get more organized this year.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

To start, I have not one, but two books on hand lettering. I wanted to choose one as a superior book, but ultimately I think they both have their merits on your bookshelf.

Let’s start with Extraordinary Hand Lettering by Doris Wai

Extraordinary Hand Lettering Book

Ms. Wai does an excellent job of explaining the tools and tricks you’ll need to improve your hand lettering.

Extraordinary Hand Lettering Tools

Extraordinary Hand Lettering really shines when it comes to introducing a plethora of projects you can create with your new found skills. From shower gifts. . .

Extraordinary Hand Lettering Gift Ideas 1

. . . to home decor, more gifts, and special events. I thoroughly enjoyed leafing through this book for creative ideas. If you have some hand lettering skills and want loads of inspiration, this is the book I’d recommend.

Extraordinary Hand Lettering Gift Ideas 2

The other hand lettering book I received is Mastering Hand-Lettering by Mye DeLeon.

Mastering Hand-Lettering Book

This book goes into great detail about the forming of letters and typography.

Mastering Hand Lettering About Typography

For people who geek out about the art of lettering (like myself), this is your book. It’s also an impressive primer for teaching you how to hone your lettering skills.

Mastering Hand Lettering How to Draw Letters

Mye DeLeon goes into depth about how to create decorative typography and how to layout your phrases to be beautiful works of art. If you are brand new to hand lettering, this is the book I’d recommend.

Mastering Hand-Lettering Book - Layout example

I should also mention that I am a big fan of The Busy Girl’s Guide to Hand Lettering. Especially if you are the type of learner that likes video instruction.

I was definitely excited to receive Black + Decker’s Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair.

Black + Decker Home Repair Book

In the past, I have recommended Home Depot’s Home Improvement 1-2-3, but the book is currently out of print and hard to get a copy of. Which is why I thinkComplete Photo Guide to Home Repair is a more accessible option.

Each page features clear full color photos to help you understand the project before you pick up a tool.

Home Repair book plumbing example

From plumbing, electrical, roofing and more, this is the book that every homeowner should own!

Home Repair Book - roofing example

To show you how complete the book is, I’ve included a copy of the table of contents.

Page 1 of Contents of Home Repair bookContents of Home Repair book

Finally, I am thrilled to review Organization Hacks by Carrie Higgins

Organization Hacks by Carrie Higgins

Carrie Higgins, has filled this book with over 350 ideas to help you get your space more organized.

Organization Hacks chalkboard wall project

She offers cost effective solutions and tutorials to control the clutter.

Organizational Hacks Makeup Hack

Personally I love the tips that help you squeeze more storage into your home. Anyone who strives to be more organized deserves a copy of this book. The inexpensive price makes this book a no brainer, so go ahead and order your copy of Organization Hacks now.

Organization Hacks - kitchen wrap storage hack

I hope you found these reviews helpful. I always look forward to reviewing new books for your library.

Disclosure: I received all of these books as complimentary review copies. I receive a lot of books but only share the ones I feel are worth owning. All opinions are my own.

DIY Library Book BoxDIY Library Book Box

Hello Pretty Handy Girl readers! Sarah here from The Created Home to share with you a fun solution for housing library books: A Library Book Box!

Recently I had to cough up $10 to our local public library for a missing book — which sort of kills me since I have turned our home upside down looking for it. I mean, it’s Curious George, and those things are bright yellow! Has this ever happened to you? Even if it hasn’t, it is helpful to have a designated spot for library books. After all, we want to encourage reading, not get frustrated about trying to find them. Right?!

We love books around here. In fact, I built two reading nooks to support my own little readers. This elevated version in our playroom features bookshelves that double as a secret stairway. And this one is built right into my kids’ closet. Not ready for a full reading nook? This book box is a simple way to bring some reading fun into your home!


  • Wood for box frame (We will talk about lengths in a bit)
  • Wood inserts for books
  • Wood glue
  • Finish nails
  • Brad nailer
  • 2 books
  • Acrylic paint (optional)
  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B000BZZ3S8′ text=’Varnish’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’prett-wp-001-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ca82d0cd-c9af-11e7-a2c5-03ec0e36f2f5′]


Step 1

You’ll need a couple of books that you don’t mind deconstructing. Check your local thrift store to pick up some great vintage looking hardbacks or get creative with whatever look you like! The books will need to be the same dimensions for this project. Remove all of the pages from the books, leaving only the hard covers.

vintage books box handles

Trace two pieces of wood to fit inside the books. 3/4″ scraps worked perfect for this purpose.

vintage books box

Glue the wood into the book covers, leaving the outside cover free on both. This is for when you put them against the box you can open the cover and nail into the box sides through the wood. I didn’t do this with mine because I realized it would be a good idea too late.

DIY Library Book Box Tutorial

Step 2

Make the box. This is an excellent scrap wood project! You can make the book box as long as you like, though 18″ seems to work well for us. My pieces are scrap flooring from a friend’s business, so they are approximately 4″ tall (1×6 would work just as well). The width of the box is determined by the width of your books, since they are the box sides. Your bottom piece of wood will need to be the width between the front and back pieces.

DIY Library Book Box Tutorial

You can choose to simply glue and nail the pieces of wood together with a finish gun, or you can get fancy and use your router to dado a groove in the wood for the bottom to sit in. Either way works fine!

Step 3

Attach the book sides. As with the other parts of this book box, you’ll want to use both glue and nails to ensure stability. Nail right through the inner part of the “books” into the box sides. Be careful to line the nails up correctly so they don’t go through the box and out the side. Then glue the book cover closed to hide the nail holes.

Read box

Step 4

Add decorative touches and finish. Stain the wood if you like, or simply add varnish. You can choose to add lettering as well – a name or simply “READ” works well. I painted them fun colors because it is for my kids.

DIY Library Book Box Tutorial

Step 5

Load it up! A box about this size holds somewhere around 20 children’s books. If I did it again I might go a bit larger. Another option is to put this on wheels, which would look great. (But, my kids have a tendency to turn everything into skateboards, so I left it grounded!)

DIY Library Book Box Tutorial

That’s it! Hopefully this simple solution will keep your library books corralled and your account happily fine-free. If you make one be sure to share a photo, and happy reading!

DIY Library Book Box Tutorial

~See More Projects by Sarah~

Like this idea? Be sure to check out this awesome closet library Brittany built.

Children's Closet Library with Secret Pass Through | Pretty Handy Girl

or the reading nook she built in her son’s bedroom:

Boy's Red, White & Blue Themed Room | Pretty Handy Girl



4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

During the summer when the weather gets hot and humid, I like to curl up inside the air conditioned house with an iced coffee and a new DIY book for inspiration. This year, I have 4 DIY Books that I’m Digging. I know you’ll enjoy at least one or two (if not all four) of these DIY books!

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Big Impact Landscaping by Sara Bendrick

Sara took her years of landscaping experience and poured it into Big Impact Landscaping, a book full of DIY ideas you can use in your own yard.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

(Scroll Down to Enter to Win This Book!)

Each of the projects outlined in Big Impact Landscaping are easy to follow with a complete list of tools, materials . . .

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

. . . and step-by-step directions with photos.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

The projects cover a wide variety of categories: from pathways and exterior structures, to fire or water features and gardens.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

If you have struggled with plants or your yard, Big Impact Landscaping is a book that will turn your failures into successes.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

Flea Market Style from Better Homes and Gardens

I was thrilled to get a copy of Flea Market Style in my hands, because I purchased an older copy of this book from 2005 at a yard sale. I enjoyed many hours leafing through that book and was anxious to read this updated copy.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

Each page is colorful eye candy for anyone who likes eclectic decorating with antiques and flea market finds.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

Flea Market Style is equal parts design inspiration and tips for finding valuable items at flea markets and second hand stores.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

This book is sure to provide plenty of enjoyment while you browse through spread after beautiful spread. Flea Market Style will make a great addition to any coffee table.

Crafting with Wood Pallets by Becky Lamb

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

You have probably witnessed the popularity of wood pallet projects. These (oftentimes) free shipping vessels are finding their way into homes and yards throughout the world. Crafting with Wood Pallets is filled with several tutorials for projects you can make for your home, apartment, or your yard.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

I appreciate that the author has gone into extensive detail about how to find pallets, which pallets are safe to use and what tools you’ll need to pull them apart. You’ll find many unique projects for the beginning and intermediate DIYer within this book.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

Crafting with Wood Pallets gives you all the tips and skills to begin creating your own crafts, decor, and furniture immediately.

DIY Industrial Pipe Furniture & Decor by James Angus

The industrial style is a growing trend in home design. Working with plumbing pipes can seem intimidating at first, but DIY Industrial Pipe Furniture & Decor will break down the process of creating with industrial pipes into simple to follow plans.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

The first few pages get you up to speed on which pipe fittings you want to purchase and how to clean them before using industrial pipes in your home.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

The rest of the book is devoted to step-by-step tutorials for creating your own furniture and fixtures for your home.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

I have to admit that I haven’t worked with iron pipes yet, but after reading DIY Industrial Pipe Furniture & DecorI have my mind set on creating something soon with pipes.


Which of these books will end up on your bookshelf? I hope you enjoy leafing through them as we plow through the dog days of summer.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

Enter to Win a Copy of Big Impact Landscaping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Terms & Conditions: Winner will be shipped one copy of Big Impact Landscaping by Sara Bendrick. Winners will be selected randomly. Entries must be received by Friday, July 14th, 2017 at 11:59pm EST. Contest open to Continental US residents only. Must be an adult aged 18 and older. Winner will be notified by Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 via email. Winner must reply to email within 2 days of receiving the notice. Please be sure you have [email protected] as an acceptable email address. Prizes will be fulfilled by Sara Bendrick. Pretty Handy Girl cannot be held responsible for prizes that are lost or damaged en route.)

Disclosure: All of these books were sent to me for a potential book review. I receive a lot of complimentary books, not all of them make my cut for sharing them on the blog. I was not paid to endorse any of the books. All opinions are my own.

Want more book recommendations? This is what I read last summer:

Summer DIY Books to Enjoy | Pretty Handy Girl


Vintage Map Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl

Vintage Map Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl
Do you want to update a plain vanilla lamp shade? Do you have a vacation you want to remember? You can do both with this vintage map lampshade!

The process to create a Vintage Map Lampshade is easy, especially if your lamp shade is close to a perfect cylinder. But, what do you do when you have a cone shaped shade? The instructions are a little more complicated, but I can show you how.

Pull up a seat and I’ll show you how to create a cool decorated lampshade. (Keep in mind you don’t have to use maps. You could use wallpaper, fabric, a poster, or anything you want!) Let’s do this.

Vintage Map Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl

During a trip to my local thrift store, I discovered an old atlas and knew I could use it for oodles of projects. As I walked out of the store a flood of ideas came to me. One of them was to make a Vintage Map Lampshade.


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

To add a vintage glaze you will also need:



Start by selecting the maps or paper you want to use. Carefully cut them out along the spine using a fresh x-acto blade — don’t let your blade get dull. (I use a new one for each project. Your cuts are much cleaner when working with a fresh blade.)

Set your pages aside for now.

To make a template for your shade, roll out a large piece of craft paper. Lay your lampshade on the craft paper. Start at the vertical seam on the shade (to give you a visual of where to start and stop) and set your pencil along the bottom edge of the lampshade.

Gently roll the shade on the paper and mark along the bottom edge of the shade.

When you reach the end, reverse your shade and draw along the top edge. At the end, add an inch or two for overlap. Cut along the outlines to create your lampshade template.

Tape the template onto your lamp shade using the low tack tape. Make sure it fits snugly.

Trim any excess from the edge of your template. Should you choose, trim excess to allow room for the grosgrain ribbon.

Make sure your template fits perfectly before you proceed.

Lay out your craft paper template on top of the map pages. Make any adjustments to the page layout.

Tape your map pages together using clear packing tape on the inside only.

Trace the template on top of the map pages.

Cut out the shape along the pencil line.

Wrap the lampshade with your cut out map pages.  Clip the edges with clothes pins.

Working in small 8″ sections, brush rubber cement onto the map and the lamp shade. Wait a minute or two for the glues to dry. Then press them together. This is the best way to get maximum adhesion when using regular rubber cement. It creates a stronger bond than just one coat applied and joined while it is still wet. Alternatively you could use spray adhesive (especially if you are using fabric.)

Continue by gluing another section until you reach the end. To finish the seams on the outside, brush some rubber cement under the seams where your maps overlap. Press and hold them down until the glue dries.

Add a Vintage Aged Glaze:

Time to give your maps a vintage aged look! Pour 2 parts mod podge into an empty cup. Add about 1 part cocoa paint. Mix them together. Test some of the glaze on a scrap piece of paper. If you like the glaze color, start brushing it onto the lamp shade. Be careful not to use too much of the glaze or the paper will start to wrinkle. (If it does, no worries, some of the wrinkles will come out when it dries. Any remaining wrinkles make it look old.)

Let the glaze dry.

Cut two strips of grosgrain ribbon the circumference of your lamp shade plus an inch for overlap.

Hot glue the ribbon onto the top and bottom edges of your lamp shade. (Please, please, protect your fingers, read my hot glue gun safety post before working with hot glue!)

Put your lampshade on your favorite lamp.

Admire your unique lamp shade that brings back fond memories of a special trip.

If you make one of these, what map would be on your’s? Your home state? The place you were born? Where your family’s heritage resides? Or something completely different? I would love to hear your ideas.

Did you like this tutorial? Want to learn how to revamp another lamp shade with paint chips!

The result are a beautiful ombré lamp that is fun and colorful.


How to install rain gutter bookshelves

Hi, everyone! It is Anika from Anika’s DIY Life again. Today, I want to share an easy and cheap project that is perfect for any kid who loves to read! I have been working on making the kids’ playroom more functional and organized. The room is long and narrow, so I built a toy organizer along one wall. The corner of the opposite wall seemed like a good spot to create a reading nook. Of course, any proper reading nook needs book storage! Enter rain gutters from the home improvement store. I have used rain gutter bookshelves in previous homes to easily and inexpensively add book storage. Get ready to learn how to install rain gutter bookshelves!

It is well known that the best way to encourage little kids to read books is to have the front of books visible to little readers.  Rain gutter bookshelves hold books in this face front view which is perfect to peak a child’s curiosity. The kids’ bedside table with book storage also works great for this purpose!

Here is a step-by-step guide for how to install the rain gutter bookshelves.


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

  • Vinyl rain gutters (choose from a variety of colors)
  • Vinyl rain gutter hangers
  • K-type vinyl end caps
  • Hand saw
  • Stud finder (my favorite stud finder!)
  • Level
  • Long straight edge – yardstick or pine board
  • #8 – 1 ½” screws
  • Pencil
  • Sandpaper
  • Tape measure
  • Drill


Step 1 – Start by deciding the length of the bookshelves you want and cut the rain gutters to size with a hand saw. (For my project I cut two 40″ bookshelves to fit under a window.) Sand all the rough edges.

How to install rain gutter bookshelves

Step 2 –Find the studs in the wall using the stud finder and mark them with pencil. (Don’t have a stud finder? Here are 5 Ways to find Studs without one.) Wall studs are typically 16″ apart, so for the 40″ shelves I anchored two anchors at 32″ apart. For shelves longer than 48″ you might need more hangars.

How to install rain gutter bookshelves

Step 3 – Use a level mounted onto a straight edge while you mark the locations for the hangars. This will insure straight shelves.

How to install rain gutter bookshelves

Step 4 –  Install the hangers using the 1 ½” screws.  The screws should go in at an angle. Make sure the tip of the screw is positioned on the spot you marked when  you start to drive the screw in. It is important to anchor the hangers to studs. Unfortunately, you cannot use anchors because of the angle the screws go into the wall.

How to install rain gutter bookshelves

(I found that about 15″ spacing between the bookshelves is sufficient height to accommodate most picture books.)

How to install rain gutter bookshelves

Step 5 – Carefully slide the rain gutter through the hangers.

Step 6 – Install the end caps. They can be a bit tricky to get on and may need a little “persuasion”. Once you get them on, they should stay on nice and tight.

How to install rain gutter bookshelves

That’s it! Here are the installed rain gutter bookshelves:

How to install rain gutter bookshelves

Behold, an inviting wall full of colorful books. Instant fuel for lots of reading!

How to install rain gutter bookshelves

I am off to add more fun details to our reading nook. I have an accent wall planned along with some more unique projects. Be sure to follow along at Anika’s DIY Life to see how this space evolves.

Until next time!

Read More of Anika’s Tutorials ~