Thursday, December 24, 2009

"Deep Brain Learning" by Larry K. Brendtro, PhD, Martin L. Mitchell, EdD, and Herman J. McCall, EdD

"Deep Brain Learning: Pathways to Potential with Challenging Youth" by Larry K. Brendtro, PhD, Martin L. Mitchell, EdD, and Herman J. McCall, EdD is a remarkably professional and researched book. With much psychological and neuro-scientific data, the authors present their information in a most astute yet easy-to-understand manner. There are sections that go over the young brain, how it works, what develops where, and what happens to it in troubled youths. These parts can get very perfunctory, but readers are relieved by the extensive bibliographies included. Several principles are outlined for getting through to troubled youngsters, some of which have educational diagrams alongside them. The authors discuss misdemeanours, acting out, being in jail, losing parents, undergoing change, being abused, being put on drugs, and other problems that troubled kids face. There is also an emphasis on distrust and learning from bad experiences that affects children's behavior. At times, it seems as though the authors are pushing for their own "transformational programs / centers" for kids, but, for the most part, the book aims to inform adults as to why kids act the way they do and how they can change. This book has the goal of adults understanding troubled youth more than being a step-by-step guide for changing them. However, hopefully, by the end of the book, adults will feel knowledgeable enough to face their troubled children with a new perspective--both that of sympathy and science, as proposed by this glossy-paged, hardcover book.

"Your Best Body Now!" by Ashley Marriott and Marc L. Paulsen, MD

"Your Best Body Now!" by Ashley Marriott and Marc L. Paulsen, MD is an innovative exercise / diet book aimed at women. As the back cover states, it focuses on how women have different bodies and shapes that alter how they should go about losing weight. There are four main body types that are based on overall shape (ruler, hourglass, pear, inverted triangle) and three based on where weight accumulates and how fast it does so (ectomorphs, mesomorphs, and endomorphs). Included are also preliminary fitness tests and quizzes for the reader to identify where they are in their weight-loss journey. Several charts go into detail for how one should start based on their age and physical restrictions. When the book really gets into the exercise routines, they are akin to those of any regular exercise book (these have pictures included). The focus on body shapes is enforced in the beginning then slowly dies out towards the end. There are also recipes included and tips for how to stay on track for one's diet. Twenty-one days are planned out for the reader to follow specific exercises and meal plans. The overall tone of the book is one of tough-love that encourages readers to "grin and bear it," so to speak, if they want to see serious results.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Turnaround Summer" by Paul Hansen

"Turnaround Summer: How Real Men Launched a Lost Boy into Manhood" by Paul Hansen is a memoir written about exactly what the title implies. In its simplest form, this book is mostly meant for men to learn about old-fashioned masculinity. The chapters are broken down into organized sections that span time and family. Pictures are included in black and white to keep the feel of nostalgia there. Most occurrences written about involve the outdoors, heavy lifting, and interacting with wild animals. At the end of the book, there is even a poem included at the end about said adventures and a man's journey. At some points, Hansen even talks directly to the reader (assuming them to be fathers) and encourages them to spend more time with young boys who need role models [especially if those young boys happen to be their sons].

"The Channel" by Susan Alcott Jardine

"The Channel: Stories from L.A." by Susan Alcott Jardine is quite a perplexing set of stories. Each takes a few characters and weaves unusual tales around them to make ordinary situations yield pensive questions. The ages, genders, races, occupations, and personalities of the characters are altered as to not bore the reader. Most involve an overall question of fate, as "Are we in control of our lives, or merely at the mercy of fate?" is strewed across the back cover. Some stories are better than others, but they generally follow the same style. This book is good in that it is not graphic in nature (some parts leave it up to the imagination of the reader). However, there is some swearing and violence is used. Christian readers may be offended when a crazy character in one of the stories sends a Bible verse to another character. Metaphysics also comes into play with many philosophical ideas being thrust at the reader and some paranormal science-fiction throw in. Overall, this book is entertaining and will definitely make readers ponder, especially when they get to understand the true meaning of the title in the last short story.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"The Transition" by Dennis Niewoehner

"The Transition: The Essential Guide for the Baby Boomer Getting Ready to Retire" by Dennis Niewoehner is an interesting book for those planning their later-year finances. It consists of several parts that were contributed by professionals, some of whose contact information is given right in the book. Topics covered range from both the fiscal to the personal. Sure, like the title implies, the author goes over monetary plans of action, terminology, guiding questions, and whatnot. However, the book also includes sections that encourage the reader to better their own health, maintain well mental and emotional states, and set reasonable goals. Some economic history is included that puts things into perspective, too. In general, this book is a great guide for anyone seeking a happier time with putting their finances in order to plan for the future.

"Gifts of the Heart" by Karen Boes Oman & illustrated by Marilyn Brown

"Gifts of the Heart" by Karen Boes Oman and illustrated by Marilyn Brown delicately weaves strong values into children, especially those of giving to the less fortunate. The story is about a set of grandparents telling a story to their grandchildren. It involves the grandparents buying Christmas toys for their grandchildren. Then, through a series of providential events, the family ends up bumping into several characters from well-known fairy tales. By literary creativity, Oman comes up with scenarios that warrant those characters being in need. So, the grandparents give the toys and gifts to the less fortunate fairy tale persons. Each time they do this, they tell the children that giving to others--especially those in need--is giving from the heart. This also teaches children that those who may seem to have it all on the outside really don't (as is the case with the well known fairy tale characters). This book would have been better if it mentioned God more in the Christmas tale, but, overall, it is quite good with traditionally exceptional illustrations to match.

"The Mudhogs" by Dalton James

"The Mudhogs" by Dalton James is a children's book written by an eight-year-old. The story is about three pigs that want mud to roll around and play in. When they have no rain and thus no mud, they try several tactics to make it rain (e.g.- Indian dancing, using magic, and playing make-believe), their efforts are in vain. [Parents that don't want their children to be exposed to such secular responses to try and obtain rain should take note.] Anyway, they go in search of mud from other places. This is also unsuccessful. At the end of the story, the pigs return home to find it has rained in the course of their travels. The story is simple and easy to follow for those youngsters just learning to read. The drawings done in marker and colored pencil will inspire young ones to draw, too.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Primal" by Mark Batterson

"Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity" by Mark Batterson wraps readers into a pensive gyre of contemplation. This book aims at redefining Christianity at its core. The main precepts of loving God and living life to its fullest for the glory of the Lord are set forth. Through personal anecdotes and miscellaneous stories, Batterson explains how God is just as present today as he was in thousands of years ago. Tithing and helping others is also suggested. Batterson also inserts tales of his personal success with business and one account of healing a man with a stress-induced ailment. This book could have done with more Bible quotations and focus on Scripture, but, as it stands, it will attract a modern and young audience to remember to seek after God forevermore.

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"40 Loaves" by C.D. Baker

"40 Loaves: Breaking Bread with our Father Each Day" by C.D. Baker is a splendid little book. It is structured a bit like a devotional but has the feel of a novel. There are forty sections / chapters that each address an issue mos Christians are facing. They range from the spiritual to the mental to the physical. Baker is general when talking about such issues, but, every now and then, he will insert a story that correlates to his point perfectly. Additionally, there are prayers and poems at the end of each chapter that really close each one nicely. This interesting book is like a self-help manual for Christians that does not disappoint.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Learn more about or purchase these books at

Monday, December 7, 2009

Value Gifts for the Holiday Season

"99 Ways to Entertain Your Family for Free" is a useful little book. Like the title suggests, 99 ways to entertain one's family are provided. The book is divided into seven sections--indoors, outdoors, around town, just imagine, out in nature, rituals / routines, and holidays. Each part begins with a short Bible verse and a paragraph that introduces the types of activities. Then, each actual way to entertain one's family is given about a page. The descriptions are quick and to the point, written with lively rhetoric. The activities in the book range from obvious (book reading, exercise, etc) to the outlandishly creative (read the book yourself to find out). Overall, this book is great for quick reference, and it is sure to entertain!

"What Women Don't Know (And Men Don't Tell You): The Unspoken Rules of Finding Lasting Love" by Michelle McKinney Hammond and Joel A. Brooks Jr. is a self-help book for women. It goes over the main reasons why single women--who are seeking a partner--stay single. Some obvious discussion points like unreal expectations, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and pigeonholing men are mentioned. These are all written with a Biblical twist, oftentimes comparing these scenarios with various relationships of the Bible, most of which are from the Old Testament. There is also a heavy emphasis on celibacy before marriage, which is great for a book on love to mention. Since this book is written by both a man and a woman, readers gain an interesting perspective. Image is heavily discussed, with everything from taking care of one's outward appearance to not overdoing it. One quite pensive point is the notion of three different types of women that readers may fall into. There is the freak, the friend, and the forever. The authors go over this in great detail and write about how to become the forever (and not to over analyze if they are just the friend). In the end, readers will have enjoyed this book's ride with some humor and ideas of what love truly is. This book is great because it mentions how God loves each and every one of us so much that, even if love never finds someone, they are never unloved in God's eyes.

These books were provided for review by Waterbrook Multnomah.

For more information on these books, please visit:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Jesus Lives" by Sarah Young

"Jesus Lives: Seeing His Love in Your Life" by Sarah Young is a tranquil gift book. There are close to 200 mini-devotionals that can either be read on a day-to-day basis or just in one sitting. Each one has a description on the left page akin to God speaking to the reader. This is comforting and not at all blasphemous to the reader; it is understood that Young's prose is more inspirational and not intended to substitute for the Bible. On the right page, there are three to four Bible quotations that directly correlate to the said topic. The verses sometimes repeat, and it is odd how they are not all taken from one translation. Nevertheless, readers will enjoy this little soft / hard covered book that will leave a smile imprinted on their face.