Thursday, March 15, 2018

"A Light on the Hill" by Connilyn Cossette

One of the most interesting yet least talked about parts of the Bible is the cities of refuge.  These were places were those accused of crimes punishable by death could flee and remain safe.  They would either get a trial proclaiming them free or be confined to the city gates.  Going outside the city when guilty meant a vigilante could legally kill them.  This is the case with Moriyah.  When she accidentally kills two young boys, she is forced to flee to a city of refuge.  Things get interesting when the man who wants her dead is chasing her, trying to prevent her from reaching the city of refuge.  Add in the fact that Moriyah's love interest is the brother of said vigilante.  As if that were not drama enough, add in Moriyah's troubled childhood where she is kidnapped and branded with the mark of a pagan harlot.  Yes, interesting indeed.  I won't give any more of the book away but will say it is quite the page-turner.  For romance, that is there but not graphic.  As for the vigilante chasing, there is action and suspense but nothing too scary.  I like how biblical fiction ties in aspects of the human condition that apply to modern day.  While readers may not be fleeing for their lives after the fall of Jericho, they may be able to relate to the concept of others judging them, running away from a bad situation, and dealing with worrisome in-laws.  I can't wait to read the next book in this series.

Monday, March 12, 2018

"Mrs. Right" by Tony A. Gaskins Jr.

As a long time fan of Life and Relationship Coach Tony A. Gaskins Jr., I decided to order his book when I heard about him mentioning it in one of his videos.  This read so quick and easy that I finished the entire book in three days.  It talked about how men perceive women, going so far as to talk about how men view different hairstyles and fashions choices.  It talked about how men respect women who make them wait for intimacy.  It talked about how a man may fool around with a woman but not marry her, as well as how a man will waste a woman's prime youth and beauty years without a ring while he's looking for who else better may come along.  There was also emphasis on healing from past relationships so baggage from yesterday does not ruin the success of tomorrow.  There was also the tough love of saying how women need to stay healthy and fashionable to keep a man's attention.  I could go on and on about this book.  I recommend any woman who is thinking of marriage one day to read it.  Be you, do you, and enjoy life so that you are ready when your future husband arrives.  Enjoy

Saturday, March 10, 2018

"Why Men Love Bitches" by Sherry Argov

The title of this book immediately caught my attention.  I laughed and then thought to myself whether or not this was true.  I was also intrigued by the words "are you too nice?" on the back cover.  This book is clear that the term bitch does not mean a nasty or angry or bitter woman.  In the context of the book, a bitch is a woman who stands up for herself and does not let a man define her self worth.  There are lots of examples in the book of how a nice girl will go out of her way for a man who is mistreating her while a bitchy woman will call the man out on his behavior and then distance herself.  A tip I loved was that men do not respond as well to words as they do to no contact.  If a guy is not giving a woman 100%, it does the woman no good to nag or whine or dress up or cook him extra food.  What the woman needs to do is go out and live her life without him.  The bitchy woman does not have a fear of being alone.  The nice woman will fear losing a second rate male and will thus exhaust herself while trying to make a relationship work.  I also liked how this book emphasized the importance of a man pursuing a woman.  A woman constantly calling a man or making plans with him will push a guy away.  Let me guy do the chasing.  There are plenty of other tips in this book, and I highly recommend it for any woman who has ever settled for second best at the expense of being "too nice".

Thursday, March 8, 2018

"Reinventing You" by Dorie Clark

Have you ever wanted to change your brand?  Get a new job role, make a change, start a nonprofit, or just challenge your own personal status quo?  This book will help you do just that.  There are plenty of concrete steps, most important of all is evaluation.  You can't get to where you want to go without first knowing where you are coming from.  Once you have decided your starting point and end destination, there is the journey in between.  Get a mentor, make a plan, job shadow, volunteer for an assignment, tweak your social media presence, and much more.  There is even advice for financial matters such as whether or not to go back to school.  At the very end of the book, there are tips for maintaining one's new image.  Creating a brand is a lifestyle, and Clark will help you with that.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

"Raising the Barre" by Lauren Kessler

The story of a woman in midlife deciding to dance the Nutcracker sounds inspiring, crazy, and almost impossible.  Wife, mother, and author Laruen Kessler decides to make her dreams become reality and dance the dance she always wanted to dance.  This is no easy feat.  It required months of practicing, exercising, and convincing not only herself but also a ballet company that she was worthy of the role.  From pilates to barre3 to a form of exercise I had never heard before--gyrotonics--Kessler stops at nothing to achieve her goal.  Trials and tribulations are shared as she recounts her body image struggles, midlife crises, and tripping onstage.  While I really enjoyed the spirit of this book, I wish it was edited to cut out some of the not so family friendly parts.  There are a few swear words and lewd references.  Were these not there, I could confidently recommend the book to younger audiences or even my women in midlife that I know.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

"Becoming Peace" by Nancy Graumlich

As part of the ElderFriends program, I was matched with a senior in my area.  Through our many visits, I got to know Nancy as a beloved friend.  During our friendship, she gave me her self-published book of poetry.  The poems were about war, peace, and mother earth.  I was surprised to learn of Nancy participation in the civil rights movement.  As I absorbed each poem, I got to see the world through Nancy's eyes.  I saw a heart for suffering, a desire for peace, and a hope for the future.  The children are the future, the earth will not heal itself, and war will not go away on its own.  It takes concentrated steps and direction from every person on earth.  We must all strive towards peace and love and unity to have true progress.  Some of the poems are sad since they do not shy away from the world's problems.  However, I finished the book feeling inspired that I can make a difference in the world, no matter how small that may be.  Thank you Nancy.  To peace.

Friday, March 2, 2018

"The Abundance Project" by Derek Rydall

How much of our life is automatic?  How much of our life is based on our actions versus our thoughts?  This book goes into all that and more.  The main concept of the abundance project is that people need to tap into their inner spirit of abundance.  People need to feel like they are winners before they can actually win.  I like how Rydall also emphasizes using practical steps.  It's not good enough to simply think one will get a great job, great relationship, etc.  Rather, one needs to do the healing work (thru journaling, meditation, therapy, etc) along with the physical work (working harder, getting out, meeting people, speaking up, etc).  Another part of the book I really enjoyed was talking about one's worth.  There are many kind hearted and spiritual people (such as myself) who find it immensely difficult to speak up and ask for what they want.  An example is an employee not asking for a raise out of fear of being selfish when they are making less than market value.  Using the abundance principle, Rydall proposes, no one is taking too much from someone else.  Rather, we are all living in abundance.  Still, if one is being mistreated, there is no need to stay.  Thinking good thoughts of abundance is no excuse for staying in a dead end job or loveless relationship.  Throughout the entire book, there is reference to the Source.  This is cited as another term for God or Love in the Universe.  While there is some Bible quoted, Rydall keeps going back to the principles of abundance and not necessarily one religion of abundance.  On a final note, the 40 day plan is not day by day.  Rather, after the principles of abundance are explained, Rydall gives tips for how one should make their own 40 day plan.  Just as a radio is always broadcasting even if you are not tuned into it, abundance is already existing in life.  You just need to tune into it.  Find out how with this book!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

"Faithful Finance" by Emily G. Stroud, MBA, CFA

I was a bit skeptical about this book touting 10 secrets that could move one from fearful insecurity to confident control.  However, the more I read, the more I was impressed.  The chapters in this book are clearly written so that the novice finance person can understand yet are informative enough that no detail is lacking.  There are so many tips and tricks that I was not even aware of.  For instance, beyond home and car insurance, there is insurance for long term life care (aka - assisted living).  Beyond saving for a child's college, there are specific tax-deferred plans calls 529s.  While wills may list out who gets what in the event of one's death, they do not overwrite the beneficiaries listed on one's life insurance policy.  For investing, it is okay to see money lost since the stock market with its ups and downs historically trends up over time.  There are so many other tidbits I'd love to share, but I encourage readers to find out for themselves.  Stroud is not just some savvy person who reads finance magazines.  She has her MBA and CFA and even her own finance company.  She knows what she is talking about.  As for the "faithful" part of this book, there is no health and wealth gospel preached.  Rather, each chapter starts out with a Bible verse and Stroud talks a bit about her Judeo-Christian faith in the front and end matter of the book.   I definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to get their finances in order.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"Judah's Wife" by Angela Hunt

The story of the Maccabees is not in the regular Bible but is included in some Catholic Bibles as part of the  Apocrypha.  While religious scholars do not consider the books canon, they are acknowledged as historical records.  Hunt takes these stories and adds drama to it thru the eyes of Judah and his wife Leah.  Each chapter is written from the perspective of either Judah or Leah.  I've always enjoyed books that do this because it helps me get to better understand characters.  While this story is set years in the past, the family situations and emotions are common for any time period.  Generational curses are expounded as Leah's abusive father makes her scared of her husband who has never laid a hand on her.  When Judah becomes a warrior and has to be gone for long periods of time, Leah has extreme inner conflicts.  How is this different from modern-day army wives whose husbands go on deployments?  When there is marital conflict, Leah hopes that having a child will change her husband.  Women all over the world will relate in some way to Leah and her personal struggles.  What I will note is that some of the brutal history in this book are not easy to swallow.  Moments of war and bloodshed and decapitation are noted.  This book is not for squeamish readers and should not be read before bed. 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

"Unmedicated" by Madisyn Taylor

In an age full of anti-depressants, anti-anxieties, and other medications, Taylor is not the only one left wondering how we as a society got there.  This book starts out with Taylor's story of sickness--both physical and mental / emotional.  She tells of medications and how she decided she wanted to be drug-free once and for all.  What follows is her research of what she's found to work for her, along with practical tips for the average reader to incorporate into their daily lives.  There are four pillars of natural wellness, which include clearing one's mind, nurturing one's spirit, strengthening one's body, and developing friendships.  At first I was not sure if these "pillars" would be too hippy-dippy for me.  However, as I read more and more, I discovered that they really are not that "out there".  For instance, what some may call meditation, I would just call taking time to relax.  What some may call speaking with the universe, I would just call praying.  What some may call moving one's body in harmony with one's energy, I would just call yoga.  While Taylor briefly mentions some time she spent in Catholic school, the spiritual aspect of the book is not swayed heavily in any one particular religion.  Rather, Taylor encourages readers to find their own spirituality in healthy ways.  She encourages them to have objects that make them happy (could be a cross, a gemstone, a postcard with a quote, etc) and make spaces in their home where they can unwind (what she calls an altar, I would call a relaxing space).  Overall, I enjoyed this book.  I think a lot of what is written here is information that most people already know.  However, it is important to take the time to be reminded.  How many readers know they should take time to unwind but don't actually do so?  How many readers know they should exercise but don't actually do so?  After reading this book, I think it makes an excellent reference to go back to and remind oneself how to de-clutter, relax, and catch up with friends.  I should also note that Taylor very clearly states that she is not a medical doctor, encourages readers to work with their doctors, and that there are people who actually need medication to function.  Her purpose is not to have mentally ill people skip their meds.  Her purpose is to help people who need healing get to the root cause of their pain and fix it once and for all instead of just numbing it.  There is a difference between someone with a chemical imbalance who needs medication to function versus someone who is overweight and lonely who is on medication when what they really need to do is just exercise and make friends.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

"Serving the broccoli gods" by Mary Purdy, MS, RDN

Contrary to the title, this book is not a religious manifesto devoted to broccoli.  Rather, this book is a funny yet honest summary of the author's life.  Close to 100 pages, this quick read can be consumed in as short as a few days.  Readers learn how a budding actress from New York came to become a registered dietician nutritionist in Seattle.  They will also learn about her love story and eventual marriage.  Somewhere between memoir and short story and satire, Purdy's book offers key insights into the human condition while also not letting a page go by without soliciting a chuckle from the audience.  What I liked was the nutrition information inserted intermittently in the book.  There is enough detail, for example, to make readers know that eggplant is good for them but no so much detail as to intimidate those who have not gone to school for nutrition.  I should also note that this is more of a story and not any sort of reference book / cookbook.  For that, readers should go to Mary Purdy's website or view her online Mary's Nutrition Show.  I really appreciated Mary's spirit of determination and go-getter-ness.  Changing careers is not easy, going back to school is not easy, moving across the country is not easy, and seeing the person you love date other women is not easy (this was before Mary and her now husband were a couple).  Yet, through it all, Mary persevered and kept going after her goals.  Since there is some swearing and references to adult content (not graphic, but still there), this book is not recommended for children.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

"Hiding from Love" by Dr. John Townsend

What I reviewed was actually the workbook that accompanies the book and not the book itself.  This workbook was so good that I may consider buying the actual book.  Hiding from love starts out with a classic example of a young girl fleeing from nazi-like policemen who want to kill her family.  She runs and runs and runs and eventually hides in the woods.  When real help comes and wants to save her, she is afraid.  A good-guy policeman on her side wants to bring the young girl home, but she has come to associate all policemen with killers.  The premise throughout this workbook is that many of us readers are reliving past hurts that may no longer be applicable.  The author also goes into psychological states that have to do with hiding patterns.  Not all hiding is bad, and the author discusses healthy ways of hiding from true harm.  The intent of this workbook is for readers to look within themselves (journal prompts therein help) to see where they are shutting themselves off from true community.  There are real bad people in the world, but there are also sincere people who want to love us.  Get out there and stop hiding.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

"Hiding from Reality" by Taylor Armstrong

Incredibly honest but also brutally sad, this book is a must read for anyone looking for a relationship.  While women will be most impacted, the lessons learned can be applied to any gender.  Having witnessed abuse in the home as a young child, Taylor had self-esteem issues.  She would push away men who adored her for fear of not being good enough.  She would chase emotionally unavailable men and hope to win their approval.  She won.  Taylor won the affections of her late husband who progressively abused her worse and worse.  From cursing to yelling to beating her physically, Taylor's late husband had her in a bad cycle of abuse.  Matters became complicated as Taylor had a child and began to appear no the Real Housewives reality television show.  The sadness of this book opened my eyes to a few things.  First, every woman is deserving of love and should NEVER tell herself otherwise.  Second, people need to go thru some sort of healing, whether that be therapy, books, classes, etc, before they get into a serious relationship with another person.  Third, no matter how good one partner is, the actions of the other partner do not change if they do not want to (a woman being perfect will not stop an abusive man).  Fourth, get full pre-marital counseling before marrying anybody.  There were so many instances where Taylor thought that if she were just a better girlfriend and later wife that her late husband would be nicer to her.  That's not how abuse works.  There were also times in the book where Taylor learned of her late husband's history of mental illness and domestic abuse.  While this book deals with abuse, I say that no one--man or woman--should stay in a relationship with someone else when they are unhappy.  There doesn't have to be any yelling or cursing or screaming to be unhappy.  If you are unhappy for any reason, communicate this.  If your partner does not change after given a chance, move on.  

"Safe People" by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

This book was recommended to me and I couldn't help but rent it from the library.  After all, who doesn't want to find relationships that are good for you and avoid those that aren't?  Plus, with the philosophical doctorates both authors have, I have confidence that they know what they are talking about from a clinical psychology perspective.  This book describes character traits of safe people and unsafe people.  It talks about patterns of behavior that both types of people exhibit.  There are various bible quotations from both the Old and New Testament, and there are strong Christian undertones in this book.  When it comes to forgiving others and deciding whether or not to stay with an unsafe person, the authors recommend setting necessary boundaries, practicing confrontation, and leaving when there are no further options.  That being said, abuse is a situation that must never be tolerated and unmarried folks have no obligation to try and make a romantic relationship work.  There is also a chapter in this book on how readers can make themselves more into a safe person.  This book is very interesting and I recommend it for anyone who has struggled in interpersonal relationships.

"Proverbs" by She Reads Truth

I first got introduced to this book when I joined a ladies book club.  I have been nothing short of pleased with this book.  From the full color pages to the decorative layout to the constant flower images, this book makes me so happy.  The biblical content is also good.  While there is the occasional Christian undertone, the bulk of this book deals with the Old Testament book of Proverbs.  Chapters are divided by topic (God, friendships, wealth, etc) and day (the book is meant to be read in a month).  So many nuggets of wisdom from the biblical book of wisdom itself are here.  There is also plenty of space for readers to write their own thoughts and journal from prompts.  While this book can be read by all, the feminine nature of the pages make me say it is better suited for female readers.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

"Love Factually" by Duana C. Welch, PhD

After finding a quote from this book on the internet, I just had to know more.  As someone who is an engineer by trade, I love facts and data.  Since the topic of relationships can be tricky, why not consult the science?  And that's exactly what this book does.  With candid humor, Welch explains the science behind what makes a relationship work.  While lots of people can give advice, the author's PhD and extensive list of references in the back of the book makes me pay attention a little more.  Welch talks about women's need for protections / provision alongside men's need for youth / beauty.  This ties in to not dating "out of one's league."  An example is a woman in her 50s who only wants to date doctors.  Welch points out that a doctor makes lots of money and can easily get a younger woman.  If the woman in her 50s was open to dating more different types of men, she may find someone who truly loves her for her.  Another example is the average-looking average-salary man in his 40s who only wants a stunning 20 year old.  The 20 year old with youthful beauty can get either a young good looking man her own age or an older man who makes more money.  For the man in his 40s to find love, he should start dating women closer to his age range.  While this may seem stereotypical, the science backs it up in the book.  Welch also discusses how men want to chase women.  While women love to be chased and be given attention, if they turn that strategy around on men, it will literally chase the men away.  I love the aspect of not settling.  If a woman is not being treated well, she should walk away.  There are also examples of men who sincerely want to commit to women but who are still undesirable.  One example is the wealthy man who wants to marry the beautiful woman...but keep the house separate, the bills separate, and exclude the woman from health insurance.  The woman ended up dumping the millionaire and marrying a plumber who, while he made less money, was more willing to share what he had.  Then Welch discusses the issue of commitment and BTNs (better than nothings).  Men who get easy access to intimacy and playing house (i.e.- premarital relations and cohabitation) have little to no incentive to commit.  And BTNs are better left dumped.  Wasting time with someone less than what you want / deserve degrades self confidence over time.  Women holding out on premarital relations / cohabitation also forces the man to decide what he wants.  So many woman nowadays are being used for intimacy / cooking by men who only view them as a BTN.  There are so many more facts in the book, and I encourage readers to give this book a chance.  The way the book is structured, it makes for a great reference once it's completed.  I anticipate going back to this book in the future.  Never settle and use science to find love!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

"Boundaries in Dating" by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

I had read the regular "Boundaries" book by these authors and loved it.  When I saw there was a dating version of the book, I jumped at the opportunity to read it.  The PhD authors have yet to disappoint me.  This book not only has solid advice but also professional counseling to back it up (the authors are not those who just talk without any research).  A few common themes pop up in this book.  Of course, people should save sex for marriage.  Religious beliefs aside, abstinence before marriage makes sense.  As the authors explain, those who will not wait for intimacy have trouble delaying gratification and are not serious about their partner (if they were serious, they'd get married).  The authors also talk about not losing oneself in the sense of cutting off friends, family, and hobbies.  When there is an infraction in the relationship, the authors suggest setting appropriate consequences to improve behavior and ending the relationship when absolutely necessary.  For example, if a date is consistently date, tell them they won't see you for X days because being punctual is important to you.  If they learn and improve, great.  If this goes on and on and on, there is a character issue and lack of respect.  What I also enjoyed is the fact that the authors mentioned some people have their own mental and character issues.  No matter how perfect any man or woman may be, if their partner is messed up, behavior and character will never change.  This book is phenomenal and I would recommend it to those who are dating.  There are Christian undertones in this book, but they aren't overdone.  Also, due to the authors' PhD / relationship counseling background, their points are not based on the Bible and nothing else.  They also back up their points with stories from clients (names changed of course) and clinical research on relationship psychology. 

"Praying the Scriptures for your Young Adult Children" by Jodie Berndt

As a young adult myself, I wanted to see what sort of prayers a guardian-figure or parent would pray for me.  From relationships--friendship and romantic--to jobs to safety to addiction and more, this book covers so many topics facing the youth of today.  What I also enjoyed were the personal stories giving examples of troubles young adults are facing.  Berndt tells many tales of her own children as well as the children of her friends (names changed of course).  When it comes to the actual prayers, the approach is lovely.  Bible verses are adapted to short prayers with "fill in the blanks" when one can write names of young adult children.  Each scriptural prayer has a reference so anyone can look up the entire biblical context if they so desire.  This book has Christian undertones as there are New Testament quotations, as well as various references to Jesus.  That aside, the desires of safety and success and happiness for one's young adult children I would say reach those of all faiths.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"How to STOP Negative Thoughts" by Barbara Ireland

I received this book after attending a live seminar with the author.  After being blown away at the class material, I devoured the book.  Even though this book is not very lengthy, there is a ton of excellent advice and tips packed into the chapters.  The whole concept of this book is to stop negative thinking, particularly what the author calls Mind Loops.  Mind Loops are where someone repeatedly thinks of the same negative thought over and over.  It could be rehashing a traumatizing event, playing an abusive self-talk tape, or someone else.  Regardless of what the negative mind loop thoughts are, one thing is for certain—they are unpleasant and harmful to one’s health.  The author suggests that readers detect, detour, and detach.  Realize you are having a negative mind loop, change your thoughts to something else, and MOVE ON.  This is an oversimplified summary; interested parties should read the book to learn more in-depth.  I personally have had my own negative mind loops and negative self-talk.  With the author’s tips, I have been able to stop myself, redirect my own thoughts, and be more kind to myself.  Life is a journey, and correcting mind loops is a lifestyle choice just like any other lifestyle choice.  If one wants to be healthy, they must diet and exercise every day.  If one wants to have positive thoughts, they need to combat negative mind loops every day.  You are great.  Don’t let anyone else—your mind included—tell you otherwise!

"Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women" by Zondervan

This black and blue hardcover book has a devotional for every day of the year.  Each day has a Bible quote—either from the New or Old Testament—followed by commentary and then space to journal.  When the author comments on the Bible verses, there is effort to try and apply it to common day issues.  The journal prompts also have this goal in mind.  Aimed at young women, topics range from friendship to body image to confidence to dating.  There are even larger topics covered such as refugees, recycling, and charity.  This book is a great gift for a young woman who may use it to read and journal before bedtime or perhaps in the morning before work / school.  Due to the Christian undertones, I would say the devotionals would sit best with those of a Christian audience.