Friday, December 28, 2018

"Men, Women, & Worthiness" by Brene Brown

I listened to this book as an audio book CD.  It is all about what shame is, how shame affects men and women differently, and what to do to when feeling shameful.  Guilt is feeling bad about an action / behavior, whilst shame is feeling bad as a person.  Think "I did something bad" versus "I am bad".  Women tend to feel shame around their looks, while men tend to feel shame around their career.  For what to do during bouts of shame, I was surprised that there was no secret formula for getting over it or avoiding it in the first place.  Rather, Brown encourages readers to feel empathy for themselves and others.  Readers need to go thru the emotion and out to the other side.  A big takeaway for me is that holding onto shame does no good.  How does it help oneself to feel like an awful person and wallow in misery?  It doesn't!  Humans are emotional, and it's normal to feel bad from time to time.  The important thing is to move past those emotions, empathize, and get back to a happy normal.  You are a great person that can improve.  There is nowhere to go but up.

Monday, December 24, 2018

"The Confidence Code" by Katty Kay & Claire Shipman

I "read" this book as an audio CD.  It was reasonable at six CDs and read quite well.  This book is all about confidence but focuses on female confidence.  Various studies are discussed surrounding why women don't ask for raises, why women think they are not good at math, and how male confidence compares to female confidence.  The authors go into genetic studies and tackle the extremely tough question of whether or not confidence is nature or nurture.  I'll let the reader listen and decide what they think.  The overall theme of this book is that women can get confidence...if they work hard and do the necessary steps to get there.  This is so well researched and more than just a feel good self help book.  Listeners will feel better about getting confident, understanding the data behind why they do what they do. 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

"The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin

I listened to this book in audiobook CD format at home on my free time.  It was nice to relax or do laundry or pay bills while having positive messages being read to me.  I learned about the author's quest to have a happier year just for the sake of happiness.  The project was not spurred out of some great sadness like depression, divorce, medical issues, etc.  The author talked about really simple changes that anyone can make.  These included sleeping more, eating better, exercising, making time for friends, not dwelling on negative thoughts, being kind, being grateful, and more.  There was an interesting part of the book focused on marital relationships, especially about effective communication versus nagging.  This audiobook CD was a bit on the longer site, a whopping 9 CDs as opposed to the 4-6 that I am used to.  Overall, this is a fun book that will encourage readers to begin their own happiness journeys.  To happiness!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

"Pretty Happy" by Kate Hudson

I listened to this as an audio-book CD while driving to and from work.  It is all about Kate Hudson's tips for being healthy and staying healthy.  There is an emphasis on diet, exercise, nutrition, meditation, self care, and gratefulness.  It was refreshing to know that move stars don't just wake up looking perfect but that they too have to work hard, eat right, and drag their butts to the gym just like everybody else.  There was some Indian influence with ideas on how other cultures stay healthy; chakras were explained.  While the majority of this book was uplifting and informative, some parts were just way outside of my comfort zone.  That included the parts of the book where cleanses / fasts were discussed, as well as when pole dancing was cited as a form of exercise.  Other than that, I'd say the book was pretty mainstream.

"When Do I Love You?" illustrated by Marta Cabrol

This colorful little storybook is sure to win over hearts of all ages.  It follows the tale of little child animals and their caregivers.  From cats to dogs to beats to goats to ducks to lizards and more, readers will see how animals are loved.  This, of course, is a metaphor for how human parents / guardians love their human children.  There are little rhymes that are adorably cute.  Each animal example takes up two pages, left and right.  The full-color illustrations are sweet yet amusing.  Readers will see bears at the amusement park, raccoons in balloons, goats on boats, and more.  There are no religious undertones to this book, and it truly is a book that will reach people of all backgrounds.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

"How to Love Yourself" by Louise L. Hay

I listened to this audiobook on my way to and from work.  It was very relaxing and felt like I was being encouraged by a grandmother.  Hay encourages listeners to go easy on themselves while not becoming complacent.  She offers various meditations and even encourages others to look themselves in the mirror every day saying "I love you".  Hay discusses how only those with low self esteem do drugs and how people with high self esteem take care of their bodies.  The speaker talks with an air of no judgement but also pushes the audience to be the best they can be.  This audio CD is on the shorter side and can be completed in one hour.

"Mastery" by Robert Greene

This book is all about teaching readers thru example how to be a master.  A master is someone who has successfully advanced in a skill to become a working professional that others admire and seek out.  Biographies of masters throughout the ages are given.  I liked how the examples were people of all ages, ethnicities, genders, geographic locations, and so on.  To not emphasize academic careers over others, there were even athletes and non-conventional professions thrown in.  There is a very helpful chapter on emotional intelligence urging readers to not let their emotions or interpersonal politics get in the way of their success.  While this book has a lot to offer, the one downside I found was that it was repetitive and at times very boring.  I got two thirds of the way through the book and had to put it down because I realized I have 100 pages to go and was reading the same paragraph from five chapters ago.  Greene makes a lot of excellent points, but I think this book would be better if it was more concise.  I got the impression the author was trying to fill pages and meet a word count at times instead of trying to get the information across in the most efficient way.

Monday, December 10, 2018

"Self Esteem: Your Fundamental Power" by Caroline Myss

I got this audiobook from the library and listened to all four CDs as I drove to and from work.  Caroline discusses the importance of self esteem, how to get self esteem, and what life looks like both with and without self esteem.  The audiobook reads like listening live at a talk show (the reader feels like they are in a studio audience).  Myss describes how those with low self esteem sabotage themselves and live in fear.  She also puts emphasis on practical baby steps.  Myss is emphatic about how she does not think one can meditate their way to healthy self esteem.  Topics like career, finances, health, and relationships are addressed.  Particularly interesting were the sections on how those in one's life may react negatively to healthy self esteem.  When someone finally gets healthy self esteem in their life, those with low self esteem or controlling personalities will not be happy.  Myss talked about the importance of exercise on self esteem--not to lose weight or get fit but to know that I'm tired and don't want to go to the gym, but I went anyway because I said I would and I deserve to put my health first.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

"Love Does for Kid" by Bob Goff and Lindsey Goff Viducich

This cute little full-color hardcover book is excellent for kids of all ages.  It tells the story of the Goff family.  From learning compassion to making friends to inviting world leaders over for dinner, this book has it all.  There are many references to Jesus and Christian undertones.  However, the central message of the book is to be kind and forgiving in life--to embody love to all people.  I enjoyed the stories of backyard adventures, candy store negotiations, freeing slaves in India, building schools in Uganda, and getting others presents on your own birthday.  The print is fairly large, which is nice, and the illustrations are cleverly arranged to flow with the short stories.  Each story is about 4 pages and easy to read before bedtime or after homework.  I think this book will inspire many young readers to be kind to others and make a different in the global community. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

"Uninvited" by Lysa TerKeurst

I listened to this audio book while driving to and from work.  The basic premise is that people must find their worth and value in God, not other people.  When someone casts a glance your way, doesn't invite you to a party, doesn't give you that job you want, and so on, you need to look on the bright side.  Don't imagine all these scenarios in your head where you are unworthy or worthless or everyone hates you.  Believe people have good intentions, center yourself on your spirituality, and get moving in life.  The author is very vulnerable in this book, sharing her lessons learned from romantic relationships, friendships, and social outings.  The book has many Christian undertones and references biblical figures, including Jesus.  I really liked how honest Lysa was with the idea of self talk.  She'd retell stories of things that happened to her, what she thought, and how she analyzed those thoughts.  No matter how sad one may be in the moment, berating oneself mentally does nothing to improve the situation.  This was an interesting read, and it appears the audience was geared a little more towards women.  Remember readers that when you are uninvited, you are still valuable.  Pass it on!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

"Beloved" a devotional for young women

This devotional is meant for young women and has 365 readings for each day of the year.  The readings are labeled 1 thru 365 and not by day so that readers can start this one year plan any time of the year.  Each page / devotion has a short Bible verse on top followed by a few paragraphs of commentary followed by some blank lines to journal in.  Quotations are taken from both the Old and New Testament, starting from Genesis and working thru the Bible.  The verses selected are centered around women in the Bible, women's issues, self-worth, and so on.  I like the pink and flowery design of this hardcover book both inside and out.  It's nice to read a devotion before bed or in the morning before I leave for work.  It starts my day or ends my day on a pleasant note.  I wonder how many women would smile if they were reminded how much God cares for them on a daily basis.

"Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)" by Mindy Kaling

As someone who drives to and from work, I decided to start listening to audio books.  Being one of the books I had seen in stores and airports, I decided to listen to Mindy Kaling's book.  Honestly, I have mixed sentiments about it.  One the one hand, yes, it is funny and witty.  On the other hand, at times, the book can come across as whiny and crass.  There are chapters on the author feeling overweight while also admitting she is too lazy to exercise.  There are chapters on sexuality that appear geared towards pre-teen girls, which I find inappropriate.  Then there are the random chapters about stories and sitcoms the author likes.  This book was not my favorite, and while it helped me pass time while driving, it is not one I recommend to others.

"How do you say goodnight" by Catalina Echeverri

This full color, wooden little book is adorable for bedtime reading.  Zoey the zebra roams around Africa asking other animals how they say goodnight.  Along the way, she encounters lions, warthogs, elephants, monkeys, hippos, and more.  The text rhymes and has lots of opportunity for aloud readers to make funny noises.  At the end of the book, Zoey goes back to her family in peace.  This book is great for diversity, showing kids that it's okay to be different.  Just as different animals all have their own way of saying goodnight, different people have their own way of living.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

"God Bless You & Good Night" by Hannah C. Hall and Steve Whitlow

This children's book is a wooden hardcover, full color, touch and feel story.  It is aimed at children going to bed at night and has various baby animals with their parents.   Readers can see animals eat bedtime snacks, read bedtime stories, get hugs, hear I love you, and so much more.  The best part are the pages where readers can touch and feel the scenes.  Most touch and feels are of animal fur / skin, but there are a few that are of the ground / background.  Some are soft, some are rough, some are shimmery, some are plain, etc.  Each set of two pages covers one animal with its guardian.  Since this book does not have an animal with two guardians, it is good for single parents.  While the entire book is great, my favorite part was the hedge hog hug!

Friday, October 26, 2018

"Am I Enough" by Grace Valentine

Written from a female's perspective towards other females, this book is all about how women should find their worth in God.  The author shares her experiences thru childhood and early adulthood.  Issues such as body shame, eating disorders, poor self esteem, boy troubles, and more are covered.  The overall message is that women are already enough.  They do not need to keep striving to be better, smarter, taller, prettier, thinner, etc.  And they certainly should not find their worth in a boyfriend.  Reading this felt like I was talking to a good friend over a cup of tea.  Ten lies young women believe are addressed and combatted thru short chapters.  This book does have Christian undertones and makes many references to Jesus.

Friday, October 19, 2018

"The Food Babe Way" by Vani Hari

As a food conscious person, I found Vani on the web when I read her blog.  She is an investigative person who looks into the ingredients in the American food system.  For those who have seen The Food Babe on TV, they may remember her expose on yoga mat rubber being used in breads, as well as beaver anal gland being used in ice cream, and wood chips being used in cheese.  Crazy, I know!  What Vani does in this book is summarize her work over the years.  While there is a little bit in the book about Vani and her life, the majority of the book is for the reader.  It explains how to read food labels, says what chemicals in food do to the body, highlights good vs bad food choices at restaurants, has a meal plan, lists recipes, and even has a guide on how to start a food petition.  I thoroughly enjoyed Vani's book because she sincerely wants to know what is in food and help Americans make healthy choices.  Did you know that, calories aside, chemicals can make you fat?  Did you know that chemicals can cause cancer?  Did you know that chemicals can age you?  Be your best self and get healthy today the Food Baby Way!

"Don't Forget Your Crown" by Derrick Jaxn

I first heard of Derrick Jaxn on youtube.  He has lots of relationship advice videos, and his straight-shooter attitude is very refreshing.  While this book has the subtitle of "self-love has everything to do with it", it is not a step-by-step guide on self love.  The book reads more like an autobiography or story where Derrick shares how he went from a player to a relationship-conscious husband.  He recounts his regret of cheating on his college girlfriend, who eventually became his wife.  What Derrick emphasizes in his book is that a woman can not change a man.  Yes, a woman can influence a man and push him to be better, but nothing she can do will make him love her or want to be good to her.  Derrick tells the story of when his girlfriend broke up with him because she was tired of the mistreatment.  Years later, Derrick came back.  This advice to women shows that even if a man is mean at one point in time, he may very well regret it later on.  Also, I'd say Derrick was lucky.  Not every man who has wronged a woman gets her back, much less so to marry him.  The book is not only a wake up call to women to start for what they deserve (even if that means walking away from a loser or standing alone) but also to men (they can lose a good woman and never get her back).  Due to the story-telling nature of this book, I'd say it is more anecdotal and less scientific.  Still, it was an entertaining read.

Monday, October 8, 2018

"Queenology" by R.C. Blakes, Jr.

This book was listed as a recommended read to me on Amazon.  Intrigued, I bought it and began reading, and was I impressed!  This book has tried and true advice for women.  There is a foreword by the author's wife, as well as a royal storyline to help readers imagine an actual kingdom where queens rule.  I loved the initial analogy of a damaged $100 bill.  Even if it is written on, stepped on, spit on, torn in half then taped back up, it is still worth $100.  Blakes explains that is how women are always valuable.  However, when women do not move past trauma or they listen to negative voices, they lose track of who they are and where they are going.  The advice is very real and covers a variety of topics from finances to dress to relationships and more.  Blakes also warns queens that they will not make everyone happy and that some will shy away from them.  A true queen has real friends and lets go of those who want to use her, abuse her, or get jealous of her.  This is an excellent read that I will keep for reference.  Ladies, get out of that gutter and back on your throne! 

"Riding Into the Heart of Patagonia" by Nancy Pfeiffer

I first heard about this book thru a local climbing gym that had Nancy come in for a presentation about her book.  I later purchased an autographed copy and read it on a flight to pass the time.  I really enjoyed Nancy's style of storytelling.  The way she makes the mountains, nature, and especially horses of Patagonia come to life is truly remarkable.  I felt as if I was right there with Nancy riding around in South America with her trope.  From the art of sitting still to accepting life as it is to Chilean hospitality to  traveling alone, there are many ways in which one woman's story is shared.  It was amazing to read about a woman who had come so far in life, someone who was brave enough to attempt such a colossal trip with little Spanish skills and little horse skills.  What Nancy ended up learning in Patagonia was what she ended up using to not only make her trip a reality but also to survive.  I personally loved he stories about interacting with the locals and the native horses.  While there is nothing graphic in the book, things do get a little scary when Nancy and her animals must cross a raging river or fall into a mud-like quicksand.  Towards the end of the story, readers learn about environmental protests in South America and how Nancy was involved in a peaceful protest against damming a river.

"Untouchable" by Brittany Rust

The subtitle to this book is "unraveling the myth that you're too faithful to fall."  The story starts off with Rust's childhood and past, as well as how she came to be a prominent woman in her Christian faith / community.  There came a point where Rust had a list of things she would never do, and therefore never considered making appropriate boundaries for.  One of those was that she would never have sex before marriage.  As readers learn, Rust fell into temptation when she was intimate with her boyfriend.  This caused her a breakup, as well as being fired from her church job.  Eventually Rust got back together with her boyfriend and later married him.  However, I think it is important to know that her story could have gone the other way.  She could have lost her virginity to a man who left her and never came back.  The book details how one can overcome what the author calls the "untouchable myth mindset".  This is paralleled with Bible verses, many of which are from the New Testament.  There is a thread of love, grace, and forgiveness throughout.  Whatever your list of untouchables, this book will make you think twice about what you never thought to guard yourself against.

Monday, September 24, 2018

"Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs" by Lisa Randall

This book is all about the connection between dark matter and the asteroid that impacted earth to kill off the dinosaurs.  It is written by a very successful and smart astrophysics PhD.  I am not a physicist, and I may even be using the wrong term asteroid (the book goes into the differences between comets, asteroids, meteors, and more, which I still have trouble differentiating).  This New York Times Bestseller is definitely interesting, but, to be completely honest, it was too dense for me.  I was having difficulty following along and keeping my eyes open.  This is no fault to the author.  I think it is just such a complex topic that is not easy to convey to the lay person.  While there are some photos every few chapters, it is still very hard to follow along with all the dark matter and universe explanations.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

"The Warrior Goddess Way" by Heatherash Amara

I purchased this book at the Warrior Goddess Summit in Seattle a few weeks ago (got it autographed, too!).  I enjoyed Amara's other book on the warrior goddess training, and this is no exception.  The author uses Toltec wisdom (also known as Native American wisdom) to teach women empowerment.  This is not about being better than others or surpassing men.  Rather, this is all about being an authentic, present, happy woman who shows up fully in her day to day life.  Say no when you want to say no, as opposed to saying yes out of obligation.  Say yes to yourself and relationships and behaviors that bring out the best in yourself.  Rewrite old stories in your brain that keep telling you you're unworthy, not good enough, a failure, too fat, too skinny, and so on.  Learn not to base your value on what others think of you.  Don't be afraid to lose anyone.  Embody unconditional love and be yourself.  I could go on and on but I encourage women to read this book for themselves.  I learned so much about how to be a better me.  I already feel a boost in my self-esteem ad am excited to conquer the world!

Monday, September 17, 2018

"Don't be a wife to a boyfriend" by Shonda Brown White

I saw this book recommended to me on Amazon and my interest was piqued.  I anticipated this book would be all about warning women against having intercourse or living with boyfriends.  While that is there, the majority of the book is the author's experiences.  Shonda goes into her father issues and lack of self esteem.  She writes about constantly wanting to win a man's approval, so much so that she settled for less in many ways.  Shonda writes of her past relationships where she was lied to, cheated on, dumped, abused, and so on.  One day, Shonda was tired of her life and changed her perspective and course.  She eventually met her now husband who treats her like gold.  For all the women out there, single or not, you are beautiful.  Never settle for a boy who neglects you.  It may take years to be found, but there is a man out there who will adore you.  Any time a guy treats you poorly, let him know and distance yourself.  Cooking meals, giving kisses, etc does not make a man love a woman more.  A man either loves a woman or he does not.  Far too many women are settling for boys who do not love them just to say they have someone. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

"Warrior Goddes Training" by Heatherash Amara

I had the pleasure of attending a Warrior Goddess boot camp in Seattle just a few weeks ago.  There, I purchased autographed copies of Heatherash's books.  The book and seminar have a lot of the same threads / topics covered.  The concept of women being warrior goddesses isn't some weird pagan thing.  We all know women did not create the heavens and the earth--the word is just used for inspiration.  To be a warrior goddess is to channel both power and femininity.  For millennium, women have been putting others first at the expense of their own well being.  For ages, women have been hating themselves and mentally repeating self-loathing stories about themselves.  Heatherash encourages women to let go of all thoughts, beliefs, patterns, actions, and stories that do not serve us.  Women are not destined to become what their parents said they will be, what their schoolmates called them, or even what they think they are supposed to be.  Women are destined to become the best versions of themselves, embodying love, speaking truth, living and wisdom, and not acquiescing their destiny to make others happy.  Shine on sisters!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

"Bella Figura" by Kamin Mohammadi

This book immediately caught my attention with the title and cover.  As an Italian woman, I wanted to read about another woman's Italian journey.  Looking at the author's last name, I initially thought this was an Italian woman who married a middle eastern man and got his last name.  However, I soon realized Kamin was indeed Iranian of her own birthright and moved from Iran to London to Italy.  As a fashion magazine editor who was overweight, depressed, and getting over a breakup, Kamin needed a change.  When the opportunity to live in Italy for a year came up, she jumped on it.  What follows is a 12-chapter, 12-month journey of Kamin discovering herself.  She learns how to cherish life, enjoy the little moments, walk the city, eat healthy, and find love.  After only a few short months in Italy, Kamin loses weight.  Her fad diets of London did nothing to her waistline, whereas carb and gelato in Italy melted the pounds off!  To add to the fun, each chapter ends with an Italian recipe or two.  I love the whole concept of Bella Figura, of showing up the best one can be all the time.  This means wearing your best dress to the market, setting a place at the dinner table by yourself, and smiling at strangers.  Making friends in a genuine fashion is what Kamin did, and I am proud of her for that.  In terms of romance, while not graphic, there are references to adult intimacies that make this book not suitable for children.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

"Candy Apple Blessings" by Maddie Frost

This full-color wood hardcover children's book is an utter delight.  It is all about the season of fall and all the fun that comes along with that.  Adorable animals play in leaves, eat candy apples, ride hay rides, go on the school bus, play at the fair, and so much more.  The story is very simple, and there is emphasis on sounds (leaves go CRUNCH, bus goes VROOM, and so on).  I love how the animals are all cozy in their little outfits.  Mice wear scarves, dogs wear hats, and cats wear bests.  Ducks drive buses and bears hand out candy apples.  It is all so silly and all so cute.  At the end, there is mention of God as the provider of all of fall's blessings.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

"Air Rage - Crisis in the Skies" by Anonymous and Andrew R. Thomas

When I got my Masters in Airplane Safety Systems, one of my projects was on the topic of air rage.  I've finally finished the book to write a review!  Air rage is a phenomenon where those onboard aircraft become enraged to the point of violence, belligerence, and oftentimes disrupting the flight crew.  Air rage can involve murder, extreme injury, plane crashes, and hijacking.  This is not to be confused with air terrorism.  Air terrorism is often premeditated and for political reasons.  On the other hand, air rage is often in the spur of the moment and for other reasons.  Reasons people go into air rage are oftentimes due to alcohol / drugs, mental illness, disgruntled emotions over the air travel experience, deportation, and inter-passenger conflict.  The stories in this book range from downright comical to horrendous.  The authors recommend increasing penalties for air rage and writing into law more strict guidelines for what constitutes air rage.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

"Better Together" by Jonathan Sposato

Did you know that companies with female CEOs have higher profit margins than companies with male CEOs?  Did you know that women account for 80% of spending power in households?  I certainly didn't.  Facts like these and more are in the book "Better Together", which is all about how working with women leads to "Extraordinary products and profits".  Aside from these ideals of success, the book puts a lot of effort into discussing the problems of gender bias and gender inequality.  Topics range from sexual harassment to unfair treatment to being passed by for promotions and more.  Sposato is an advocate for women and his personal story really shines light into why he is all for that.  The beginning of the book is all about the author's mother and how her experience shaped the way Sposato views women, which I think is beautiful.  This book is a quick read and gets to the point.  The pictures inside are black and white, and guest writers have their photo and biography highlighted.

"Get the Guy" by Matthew Hussey

Matthew Hussey is a world renowned relationship expert.  How he got that title without being married is beyond me, but I digress.  There is a lot of advice for women in this book, some of which makes sense and some of which is a bit out there.  Firstly, I 100% agree that women need to find value in themselves before they seek out a relationship.  They must be confident and coming from a place of abundance, not depressed and coming from a place of desperation.  Secondly, Matt emphasizes the point of women getting out and meeting men.  Women are not going to have their future husbands just knock on their door--they need to get out and meet people.  While I don't think women should pursue men, I see nothing wrong with making friends and expanding one's social circle.  When it comes to commitment, Matt talks about how some guys are just not relationship material and how women need to acknowledge that when they signs appear instead of trying to change a man.  The book also has a section on physical intimacy where Matt says a man needs to be validated by a woman, knowing he can make her feel beautiful and happy.  While I don't advocate for sex outside of marriage, I do think there are other ways to evoke the same emotions in men.  A woman dating a guy can make him feel special by acknowledging his efforts in courtship and complimenting him on how he makes her happy.  Overall, this book was interesting and had some unique advice, but I would say it is more anecdotal and less scientific.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

"God's Blessings Day by Day" by Thomas Nelson

This devotional for kids is very special.  Set to span a full year, there are devotions for Monday thru Friday and the weekend.  Each devotion is one page.  The top lists a Bible verse, the middle explains what the verse means with real life examples, and then there is a prayer at the end.  Also, every other page has an adorable illustration of some sort of animal, flower, etc.  This hardcover full-cover book is set to last years.  I'd say that children of all ages will enjoy it.  I am an adult, and I loved reading these devotions before bed at night.  This book is Christian, so there are many references to Jesus, as well as New Testament quotations.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

"The Trip That Changed My Life" A Worldwide Collaboration

One of my colleagues is an avid travel.  He goes all around the world and blogs about it.  He started a project where he collected travel stories from friends all over the globe.  Each only a few pages, the stories tell tales of young and old, men and women, rich and poor, all discovering a part of themselves while on travel.  What I liked was how the money I used to buy this book went directly to a children's charity.  The tales in this book are family-friendly for the most part, except for the story at the very end, which is not suited for children.  Given so many different writing styles from different people, some short stories read better than others.  Overall, I was given the impression that travel is healthy for the soul and that I should go book me a trip!

"The Wright Brothers" by David Mccullough

  • Fascinated by flight, I decided to read up on the inventors of airplanes themselves, the Wright brothers.  Convinced that airplanes were made and embraced in America, I was very surprised to learn how the brothers were initially rejected by America and thus took their invention to France.  It was in Europe that their fame grew and that they were eventually taken seriously by the rest of the world, America included.  To think that so genius of men could have simply given up but chose not to is remarkable.  The life lesson for readers is astounding.  If someone doesn't come to your party, invite someone else.  If someone dumps you, go on another date with someone else.  If your boss doesn't promote your career, go work for someone else.  Strive to be your best and never ever give up.  Also interesting was that the brothers were in their 30/40s when they started inventing aviation.  One is never too old to start something new in life.  That they neither went to college nor married is also fascinating.  While this book is more biographical than entertaining, there are funny aspects of history interspersed.  My personal favorites are the times the brothers threw sticks at photographers who took their picture without their permission, as well as the time one of the brothers flipped their hat backwards and said to those around him before getting in his airplane, "Gentlemen, I am gong to fly."  To all the parents out there and to those with access to small children, never underestimate the value of toys.  The Wright brothers were first fascinated by flight when they played with a toy air machine.  I could go on and on but I encourage readers to read this book for themselves.  Also included in this hardcover nonfiction book are glossy black and white photos of the Wright brothers' historical moments.

Friday, July 13, 2018

"The God Machine" by James R. Chiles

This book covers an extensive history of the helicopter.  From famous engineers to lesser known visionaries, Chiles goes in detail about technological advancements that made the helicopter what it is today.  There are also descriptions of how helicopters are used from police to rescue to news and more.  Funny anecdotal stories are also included for hijackers and movie scenes and high speed chases.  Rotor dynamics are explained with pictures of lift and drag and torque.  The notion that helicopters changed history is hinted at when presidents used helicopters to get votes and when soldiers used helicopters to win wars.  This non-fiction book is very well researched but honestly a bit dry.  It was difficult to read as it was very dense.

Monday, July 9, 2018

"Psalms for Prayer" by She Reads Truth

This book is all about the psalms of the Bible.  It is not a copy and paste of all the psalms, though, as only select ones are printed herein.  For the selected psalms, they are selected based on a theme.  Themes include praise, confession, adoration, personal struggles, and more.  For more emotions and themes, there is a chart in the book where readers can look up a psalm on nearly any topic of their life.  With the workbook-like nature of this book, there is space for readers to comment on the psalms, answer prompts, and journal their thoughts.  Since the She Reads Truth organization is Christian, there are some references to Jesus and the New Testament included.  The overall style of the book is very white, clear, and crisp.  The few photo images inside are very basic, which is meant to give a meditative / contemplative feeling.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

"Dinner for Dinos" by Ben Whitehouse

This cute full-color wooden paged book is adorable.  It is all about dinosaurs having a barbecue dinner.  The dinosaurs or "dinos" go grocery shopping together, cook together, set the table together, dine together, and finally go to sleep together.  There is a section of the story where one dinosaur does not want to eat vegetables.  This dino eats vegetables after another dino says how strong they make one become.  That was adorable.  There is diversity as the dinos are in all different shapes, sizes, and colors.  There are boy dinos and girl dinos.  One dino even has glasses.  This is a great book to get kids excited about mealtime and cooperation with friends.

"The Complete Guide to Dream Interpretation" by Marsha Trimble Dunstan

At first I was a bit skeptical about this book.  I mean, a guide on dream interpretation with input from the Bible?  Come on!  But the more I read about the author's logic and her own personal dream stories, the more convinced I became.  The author has had dreams that have come true and has correctly interpreted friends' dreams.  There are so many dreams in the Bible, and Dunstan does a good job of summarizing those.  This book has a Christian lens, so it makes mention of Jesus and various quotes from the New Testament, in addition to quotes from the Old Testament.  What I really liked was how Dunstan differentiated between dreams.  Some dreams are just from our own bodies (spicy food makes nightmares) while some dreams are from God (spiritual messages after prayer).  This book isn't just talking and stories, as good as that is.  There is a huge chunk devoted to what I call a dream glossary.  For any place, image, color, number, action, animal, etc, there is a short description of what that could mean.  The author is very clear when she says her dream interpretation guide is just a guide.  It is not set in stone as everyone's dreams are different.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

"Go to Sleep Sheep" by Thomas Nelson and Illustrated by Sydney Hanson

Beautifully illustrated and cleverly written, this children's book is excellent for bedtime.  The mama sheep is telling her baby sheep that it is time to go to bed.  Meanwhile, the baby sheep come up with all sorts of excuses for why they should stay up.  They are hungry, they are thirsty, they want to play, and so on.  Other barn animals are illustrated in the background, making for a cute addition.  This book is hardcover where each page is wood and stiff.  I like how unique each sheep was.  One had glasses, one had a bow, one had a scarf.  Just as sheep are unique, so are kids.  This cute little book has fun rhymes and is recommended for children.  Go to sleep, sheep!

"Love Defined" by Kristen Clark &Bethany Baird

Focused on love and relationships, this book is a must have for any single girl.  It discusses the need for one to be happy alone before they can be happy with someone else.  There is a huge emphasis on finding one's satisfaction in God instead of a man.  Since the authors are Christian, there are a lot of references to Jesus and Christ herein.  Nevertheless, the basic premise that a man can not always make a woman happy is important.  This isn't to say that a woman should marry a man who does not make her happy (that's just a divorce waiting to happen).  Rather, the point is that women must cultivate a sense of sacrificial love and grace for their future husband.  When feelings fade--and they will--the woman should find her fulfillment in God and not place her hope in her husband.  There is a place in the soul that only God can satisfy.  While I do agree sacrificial love is good, I would caution women not to show this until they are married.  By showing unconditional love beforehand, it may make the man get lazy since he has not yet fully won your affections.  On a side note, there is a section in the book about purity and saving oneself for marriage.  While I agree with this from a religious perspective, I wish the authors went into details from a secular perspective.  What I mean is abstinence has more worth beyond religion.  Even men with no religion do not want to marry a woman who has "been around".  For those women who have made mistakes in their life, there is a section on forgiveness and confession before God.  This was a very fun book to read.  Interestingly enough, the two sister authors include one married and one unmarried.  Well, recently, the unmarried on got engaged.  She is 29, 6 years older than her fiance, and was friends with her fiance for 7 years before he asked her out.  From their youtube channel, he seems very smitten with her.  Ladies, don't rush and settle.  Wait for the best, even if that means you wait a long time!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

"Girl Defined" by Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird

As someone who watches GirlDefined videos and reads the blog post, I was very excited to read this book written by the sisters who created the group.  The entire premise of this book is getting back to God-defined femininity from the Bible.  The book starts out with stories about Marilyn Monroe and models.  Long story short, fame and good looks do not make someone happy.  Until a woman finds her worth and value in God, she will always be striving.  That sort of living leads to eating disorders, compromise, anxiety, depression, and more.  There is a large emphasis on being a wife and mother in this book.  While that's great, what I did not like was the subtle message that women should not focus on their careers.  Why go to college if you are just going to be a stay-at-home mom?  Well, I would venture that is unwise.  Most men do not marry until they have been living / working independently for a few years on their own.  If they have an advanced degree, they may not be ready for a real relationship until their late 20s or even early 30s.  And some men marry older women.  This means women could have a good 10 years to be studying / working on their own.  All that time, the woman could have been living her dream, working her career, and building wealth.  While I do agree that men should be the providers in a family, I acknowledge that not every woman will get married.  If I never marry, should I just live in poverty because I've never invested in a career?  Or what of the woman whose husband dies or gets disabled and there is no more breadwinner?  Having a strong woman who can earn a decent salary is a good thing in my mind.  Not only that, but for successful men, I would think they like a woman with her own career.  Sure, she can always hit pause on her career for a family, but her being successful means she is not just with the guy for what he can provide.  Yes, providing is important (I would never marry a man who didn't) but I'm sure guys like to know that the girl is with him for him and not money since she could afford everything on her own if she needed to.  That aside, I really enjoyed this book.  It read fast and I felt like I was having lunch with a girlfriend, it was that conversational.  Each chapter also has study guides with journal prompts and space to write answers / prayers.  This book is written by Christians, so there are quotes from the New Testament and references to Jesus. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

"The Better Mom" by Ruth Schwenk

Written by a stay-at-home mom, this book is all about the challenges and rewards of motherhood.  There are chapters on mothers feeling adequate, measuring up, and raising successful children.  So many women can feel inferior without a job outside of being a mom.  Then there are those women who struggle to make dinner and laundry on time, take kids to events, and have time alone with the husband.  Since I am a single woman not in the season of motherhood, I could not relate to a lot in the book.  Still, I found the overall message that one is complete in God to be nice.  Don't find your value in being a mom, a businesswoman, a spouse, a chef, or anything else.  Simply find your value in God and the rest will fall into place.  I should note that this book is written from a Christian perspective, so there are lots of references to Jesus and the New Testament in it.  While I'm not a mom, I do think it is important for women to choose who they have children with properly.  So many people are living less than because they were not exposed properly to love in the home.  There are children who are products of divorce, children with abusive / alcoholic parents, children who were not planned and seen as a burden, etc.  While I do believe anyone can rise out of bad circumstances, I do acknowledge that such people will have a late start in life and miss out on many important aspects of a pure and holy childhood.  Don't just marry anybody and don't just have children with anybody.  Choose someone who embodies love, is a good example for children, and will raise a productive member of society.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

"Isaiah's Daughter" by Mesu Andrews

As a long time fan of the kings and queens stories in the Bible, I was very excited to read this book.  Add on the fact that Isaiah is one of my favorite prophets and that I adore the references to Hephzivah ("my delight is in her", which is also my Hebrew name), I was hooked on this book from the start.  Isaiah's daughter Ishma (Desolation) is renamed Hephzivah and eventually marries King Hezekiah, King of Judah.  There is much drama in the book as human sacrifice is tackled.  Hezekiah is actually the second born of King Ahaz.  The only reason he becomes king is because his father sacrifices Bocheru (Ahaz's firstborn son and Hezekiah's brother) to a pagan idol.  Hephzivah has her own family issues, as well.  She is not daughter to Isaiah by blood.  Rather, she is an orphaned refugee whose parents were killed in a war when she was barely five years old.  The story gets even more suspenseful when an Assyrian army invades Jerusalem and the royal Judean family struggles with infertility.   I could go on and on about this book.  I encourage readers to find out for themselves how great of a read this is.  Prophecies from the book of Isaiah will come to life as readers understand how they could have had real meaning in the physical time period of which Isaiah lived in.  Don't just study the Bible.  Live the Bible and understand what the characters back then had to go through.

Monday, May 14, 2018

"You've Got 8 Seconds" by Paul Hellman

This book is all about how to succinctly and effectively communicate to one's audience.  From elevator pitches to sales talks to presentations, readers will learn how to get to the point and hold attention.  There are copious tips in this book, from reducing the number of acronyms one uses to weaving stories into discussions.  With attention spans getting shorter and shorter, it is harder than ever to get one's point across.  In the business world, a talk can make or break an employee.  How can you sell your idea when your boss is zoned out on his phone?  How can you convince your team to try a new process when they don't even understand why they are in your meeting?  I am going to use the tips in this book to better communicate with others both at home and at the office.  Remember, you've only got 8 seconds!

Friday, May 11, 2018

"Wherever You Go" by Joan Leegant

This book tells the story of a few different characters in Israel.  Each of their lives are detailed in first-person over the course of about a month.  None of the characters interact with each other until later in the book when all paths cross.  Amidst political and religious extremism, the war between Israelis and Arabs rages.  The tale gets even more interesting as a bomb is detonated and fingers are pointing every which way to determine who did it.  The characters are all very unique.  There is the woman visiting her sister in Israel.  The woman who had an affair with her sister's fiance 10 years ago and who continues to sleep with married men.  There is the man who is a Talmud scholar.  The man who no longer feels his connection to the divine and shaves off his hasidic beard.  There is the man who dropped out of college and disappoints his parents.  The man who can not control his impulses and hurts others in the process of trying to find his own pleasures.  There is the woman who overdoses on drugs because she never got over the fact that her ancestors were murdered in the Holocaust.  The woman who could have a fulfilled life but can't see those who love her past those who deal her drugs.  Leegant goes into the mind and thoughts of all these characters.  While the plot was very good, there were parts I wish were omitted.  There are various instances of swearing, as well as a scene in which a woman is molested and nearly date raped.  This book is not recommended for children.

Monday, April 30, 2018

"Why Men Marry Bitches" by Sherry Argov

After reviewing Argov's first book "Why Men Love Bitches", I got this second one in the mail to review.  Despite the catchy tongue-in-cheek title, the term "bitch" here does not refer to a nasty drama queen.  Rather, the term means a woman who stands up for herself and has confidence.  There are many concepts in this book that I agree with and many that I disagree with.  First, I agree that a woman who desires marriage in her future should never move in with a man.  Second, I agree that a woman who wants a real relationship should not cheapen herself with revealing clothing.  There is a story in the book about a man who met a woman at a business event where she was dressed very professionally.  He asked her out to dinner later that evening.  The woman went home and changed into a very low-cut top to look "sexy" for the guy.  The guy met the woman for dinner and was immediately un-attracted to the woman.  There is a section of the book detailing how men will use women physically and say / do whatever they need to in order to use them.  This is one of the reasons I think women should save intimacy for marriage--to avoid being taken advantage of.  Many stories from men write about the women they used short-term versus the women they marry long-term.  Confidence and having a backbone are desirable traits.  Now, onto what I disagreed with.  This wasn't so much one particular page in the book but rather the overall message that was lost.  I believe there was not enough emphasis on choosing.  What I mean is, any high-quality woman can get men who want to marry her no problem.  But that does not mean she should go off with just any of them.  So many women nowadays are so obsessed with the idea of marriage that they will simply walk down an aisle with the first man who asks.  I think this is very dangerous as a lack of common values and future goals can lead to divorce.  To all the women out there, use Argov's tips to avoid wasting time with losers who communicate through their words and actions that you are a short time fling.  However, use your own discernment and don't just marry anybody.

Friday, April 27, 2018

"Better Together" by Rusty George

This humorous book is all about the importance of community.  George focuses on the benefits or living life with others.  While there are strong Christian undertones and an emphasis on church community, the overall message can be for any type of community.  George speaks about stories of community from the Bible, from Nehemiah's friends to Jesus' friends.  In one funny episode, the author compares the whining at the last supper to a homeowners association meeting gone bad!  On that note, not all community will be pleasant.  There is an aspect of bearing one another's burdens and having compassion.  Where I disagree with this is when personalities come into play.  With my strong empathy tendencies, I have learned to be selective about how close I let friends get.  I can not be someone's therapist or sit thru 30 minutes of venting.  This simply drains me emotionally.  I can, however, enjoy life with positive friendships.  What matters most is not trying to go thru life alone.  Studies show that having community can increase levels of joy, happiness, success, and even health.  Wherever you are in life, I hope you find community.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Blonde Ops" by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman

Bec has caused herself so much trouble that she's been kicked out of numerous boarding schools.  Her high-profile parents are too busy with business to chaperone her this summer, so they send her to Rome where she interns at a fashion magazine company.  There Bec meets a whole slue of characters, including two love interests, members of the Secret Service, and the First Lady who just so happens to be visiting.  When the editor in chief of the fashion magazine is sent to the hospital, things get very suspicious.  Then there are all the strange accidents that happen near the First Lady and her eventual kidnapping (spoiler!).  Bec is trying to enjoy her time in Italy but gets sucked into the intrigue.  Her hacking skills (yes, women can code!) and detective skills help her find out what really happened to the magazine editor in chief and First Lady.  There are twists in turns in this book that I did not see coming.  The book starts out a bit slow and doesn't pick up suspense until a third of the way through.  There are a few swear words in the book and some kissing, but nothing graphic. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

"Never Chase Men Again" by Bruce Bryans

This book is both comical and straight to the point.  As the title suggests, the whole premise is that men chase while women choose.  If a woman likes a man, she should never chase him or initiate contact.  If a woman likes a man that she is dating, she should never give up her hobbies or rearrange her schedule for the man.  If she's free, she'll accommodate the date.  If not, the man will learn to plan dates out further in the calendar.  Another obvious piece of advice the author gave was for women to not have physical intimacies relations or move in with a man before marriage.  Bryans talks about how men categorize women into categories of friends, friends with benefits, or long term committment.  Women should only entertain men who put in the effort and communicate thru actions / words that the woman is special.  Otherwise, time is wasted.  I have found this true in my own life.  When I refuse to go out with men who don't put in any effort, I free up time to meet real men who will rise to the challenge of courtship.  There is also a section on self esteem and how women should be happy with their own life regardless of what men may or may not be in their life.  This book was very short and could be read in a day or simple kept as a reference book (the table of contents is excellent).

Thursday, April 12, 2018

"Bountiful Blessings" by Susie Larson

I’ve gone thru devotionals and I’ve gone thru coloring books, but I’ve never gone thru a devotional coloring book before!  What a fun idea and excellent concept.  The left pages have short Bible verses followed by inspirational explanations, and the right pages have coloring images.  The coloring images range from flowers to landscapes to animals.  I enjoy how the pages are normal novel-sized pages.  I’ve colored in large coloring books before, and there is just too much white space to fill in!  Not with this book, though.  There is enough space to relax with coloring but not so much to wear out one’s wrist.  The Bible verses are from both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament.  There is an emphasis on relaxation, calmness, and less worrying.  I recommend this book to anyone who likes to color and wants some peaceful quiet time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

"The Healthy Living Handbook" by Laura Harris Smith

Full of wisdom, this book is a must for anyone who wishes to have a more healthy lifestyle.  The book is broken up into three chunks--spirit, mind, and body.  The spirit section focuses on prayer and religious service (in Smith's Christian setting, this means church).  The mind section focuses on de-cluttering, forgiveness, laughter, and more.  The body section focuses on diet, exercise, essential oils, sleep, and hydration.  Each chunk has 10 chapters, most of which are about 5 pages, which makes for a quick read.  At the end of each chapter are questions for the reader to journal respond, as well as a guided prayer.  Since Smith is a Christian, there are copious references to Jesus and quotations from the Bible.  Smith balances religion with intentional living quite well.  While some would say God can heal any ailment, Smith argues that God "will not bless food eaten in hell's kitchen" and that people can not pray themselves from a size 24 to a size 4.  This isn't meant to discount spirituality--there is a whole section of the book devoted to spirituality--but rather to teach readers that they have their own responsibility in this life.  God loves humans, I believe, but sometimes we have to learn from our mistakes.  If someone can eat candy all day long and never get cavities, how can they learn to eat sweets in moderation?

Sunday, April 1, 2018

"Courageous Women of the Bible" by Latan Roland Murphy

While many may think of the Bible as a book full of male characters, there are quite a few female characters.  These women are not all just wives and mothers.  They are heroins and champions, dealing with life challenges as difficult as leading nations into battle.  The women of yesteryear had it just as rough--if not rougher--than the women of today.  They faced childlessness, difficult marriages, shameful reputations, personal insecurities, and doubted their faith in God.  Women from the Old Testament and New Testament are detailed.  There is a Christian undertone to this book as there are copious references to Jesus.  Some characters are Deborah, Mary, the mother of Moses, Abigail, and even some women who are unnamed.  I was surprised to see the woman from Song of Songs listed as a courageous woman of the Bible--a women who is nameless in the poem.  Still, I liked where Murphy took the story and how she weaved in the lesson of waiting on love instead of setting for the first person who gives a woman attention--something that can have miserable and lifelong consequences.  At the very end of the book, there is a section for readers to journal about their own fears and courage based on the topics covered in the book.  I found this book to be rather inspiring and uplifting.  May you all find your courage as you cast fear aside.  

"An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth" by Chris Hadfield

This book was part of a book club at my workplace.  I wasn't sure if it would be a biography or a self help book or a story.  After reading the book, I discovered it is all that and more. Hadfield chronicles his life journey, from child to astronaut.  There is even a bit about his family and personal life.  I had no idea how young Hadfield married or how straining the life of an astronaut could be on a marriage.  Away for months on end is no easy task for work-life balance.  Throughout the entire book, there is an emphasis on teamwork and humility and being what Hadfield calls a zero.  Being a zero doesn't mean being a loser but rather aiming to keep the machine running without drawing too much attention to oneself.  Don't focus on the spotlight.  Simply focus on doing your best job possible and contribute your piece.  Hadfield also speaks about how loneliness is a state of mind, not a location.  He did not feel lonely in space but noted how many in large cities can feel lonely.  Hadfield speaks about his return to earth and his acceptance of his fame that many will inevitably forget.  For those interested in life in space and how that translates into character on earth, give this book a go!

Friday, March 23, 2018

"Singing the Scriptures" by Julie Meyer

So many people in the Bible sang songs.  There is even a whole book of the Bible entitled Psalms.  So why don't more people sing about God?  What are the mental and spiritual impacts of singing?  How does singing help people change and grow?  So many questions and more are answered in this book.  Meyer shares some personal stories from her own life.  She speaks about singing to foreign tribes in Africa, singing to the homeless in American cities, singing to terrorists in Israel, and just singing in her car.  When discussing Bible verses, Meyer goes into ancient linguistics to explain deeper meanings of the Scriptures.  Meyer is a Christian woman, and there are Christian undertones in the book which are evident but not overdone.  After reading this book, I want to try to sing more often.  Not just listening to songs but actually singing out loud.  As God sings over me, so I shall sing to God.