Garden Wisdom – 365 Days – Entered in 2018 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

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Cheryl Wilfong

In Garden Wisdom – 365 Days, author Cheryl Wilfong using stories and metaphor to share insights to help readers view mindfulness and perspective differently. She takes the readers on a journey from the first day of spring, March 21st, to the following first day of spring. There are daily snippets of wisdom and insight. On any given day of the year, the reader could flip to that page and get a dose of powerful wisdom or the reader could follow day-by-day from start to finish.

The daily wisdom in Wilfong’s Garden Wisdom – 365 Days is not overly deep. Yet, it offers readers a chance to ponder it on their own and let it flow in and out of their own personal perspectives. Wilfong’s style of writing allows the messages to flow gracefully through the readers’ minds. The pictures are black and white, which is a slight drawback. This almost takes away from the true colorfulness of the beautiful insight shared in the writing. Furthermore, said pictures are grainy and look almost photocopied. The cover has a colorful feel, but the imagery inside is not nearly as appealing.

A very well-written book, Garden Wisdom – 365 Days is broken down into simple digestible daily bits of wisdom. In just a few moments, readers can flip to the current day and read a short snippet that is powerful enough to take them on a deep and evolutionary inner journey if they’re interested in taking it that far. Yet, Cheryl Wilfong wrote her insight in such an easy-to-read and brief way that readers can just take a minute or two to read that day’s insight and let it settle into their soul all on its own if they’d rather take that route. Most interesting is that Garden Wisdom – 365 Days encourages gardeners to explore beyond just the concepts and blend Wilfong’s concepts with their joy of tending their gardens.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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When the Sun Shines Through – Entered in 2018 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Mary Edwards-Olson

In Mary Edwards-Olson’s book, When the Sun Shines Through, the author takes readers on a simple journey on a topic that is far from simple. She focuses on helping readers deal with the affects of Alzheimer’s disease in a way that is perfect for young readers. Written as a children’s picture book, When the Sun Shines Through is easy-to-read and gets straight to the heart of the matter, but could just as easily touch the hearts of adult readers, too.

Though there is always creative and artistic license there are some grammatical errors that may deter a few readers. It might be better if the punctuation was correct when it is very obvious in such a simple book. Another area that could be improved upon is how the perspective seems to switch from the child’s point of view to that of an adult who might develop the disease. Then it switches back again. This flip-flopping back and forth in perspectives can be a little confusing and hard to follow.

Overall, When the Sun Shines Through by Mary Edwards-Olson is a fantastic little book to express how important it is to understand Alzheimer’s as best as one can while offering support and compassion for those who have the disease. When the Sun Shines Through is filled with beautiful imagery. The soft edges seem to depict the fringes and fuzzy edges of memory as it comes and goes as it does with the disease. Edwards-Olson’s simple images and simple wording express such a deep and powerful message as it urges compassion, understanding and love. When the Sun Shines Through is highly recommended.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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I Hear You – Entered in 2018 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

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Michael S. Sorensen

I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships by Michael S. Sorensen provides readers with a simple and actionable look at the skills necessary to build and sustain meaningful interpersonal relationships. Sorensen uses the book to explain the concept of validation, and he provides readers with numerous examples of how to employ this skill in their everyday lives.


I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships is well structured and formatted the whole way through. The book has an overabundance of examples which provide ways for people to practice validation in their everyday lives, but clustering many of the examples together in “Part III: Putting it All Together” slows the pacing of the final third of the book in a way that is jarring. The commitment to providing a vast selection of examples for the reader to study and learn from is admirable. However, given the number of examples that are worked into the book’s first two sections, eliminating some of the final examples may aid in diminishing the pacing issue.


Sorensen has done a wonderful job of presenting the topic in a way that is approachable. The reader never once feels like they are being talked down to. The choice to make it clear in the introduction that Sorensen himself is not an academic expert on the topic, but rather a person with a personal interest in the subject, assists with the overall approachable tone of the piece. He includes enough citations from reputable, respected minds in the field to show that he has really done his research. The book is also not overly long, something Sorensen himself insisted on, which helps to keep the pace moving. I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships by Michael S. Sorensen is an excellent choice for readers looking for a friendly and approachable look at interpersonal communications.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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All Fish Faces – Entered in 2018 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Tam Warner Minton

All Fish Faces: Photos & Fun Facts About Tropical Reef Fish (Ocean Friends Book One) by Tam Warner Minton is a highly colorful book filled with tons of beautiful photographs of marine life. Author, travel blogger and photographer, Warner Minton, compiled images and information from her personal travels and diving excursions for this first book in her series. Though children may thoroughly enjoy it adults will likely enjoy seeing the colorful fish and reading about them, too.

There are a few issues with Warner Minton’s All Fish Faces. Grammatical errors and variances in font style in different places in the book may be a determent for some readers. Yet, they are minor and many people can just overlook those. There is a lack of consistency in the placement of the text boxes as well; therefore, that hinders the flow of the book to some extent. Some of the photographs are a little difficult to see the fish in, but that is countered by the fascinating piece that the author is the actual photographer of all of the photos.

All Fish Faces is quite unique in that it can be a great fit for both young and older readers. The variety of species included is quite interesting and Tam Warner Minton shares images of different types of the various species she includes. The book is vividly colorful and a joy to sit and flip through. With tidbits of information it can add to the reader’s knowledge of what lies beneath the surface of the ocean. Warner Minton shares her series in an effort to help save the oceans and their fabulous sea life. This makes All Fish Faces an even more interesting read.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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What Does God Think: Transgender People and the Bible – Entered in 2018 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

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Cheryl B. Evans

What Does God Think? Transgender People and the Bible by Cheryl B. Evans is a thoughtful book which attempts to answer the very question from which it gets its title. Cheryl, the mother of a transgender son, is a Christian who went on her own journey of self-discovery and acceptance and wants to help other parents in her situation do the same. She argues, through the inclusion of extensive research and personal experiences, that the transgender community is a vital part of the Christian Church.


Evans presents a book that is thoroughly researched and well-thought-out. She leads the reader purposefully through an exploration of the transgender experience from the point of view of the family members who support the transgender individual. Adequate time is taken to define all terms that the reader may not be familiar with. She also includes a couple of excerpts from discussions with religious experts, which serve to illustrate the intricacies of her argument. In fact, What Does God Think? Transgender People and the Bible could benefit from the inclusion of additional material from religious and scientific experts to provide further support for the stance that Evans takes in the book.


What Does God Think? Transgender People and the Bible includes many quotations from the Bible, in addition to the commentary from experts in the field, and does a great job of analyzing the text in support of the overall argument. Evans has created a well structured and coherent exploration of what it is like to raise a transgender child in the Christian community. Her attempt to encourage compassion for the transgender community should be commended. Evans weaves a tapestry of personal anecdotes and experiences together with scientific fact and biblical analysis to present a finished piece that encourages people of all faiths to interrogate their worldview. In What Does God Think? Transgender People and the Bible, Cheryl B. Evans has created an approachable, non-judgmental exploration of raising a transgender child that everyone should read, regardless of their religious background.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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100 Wild Mushrooms – Entered in 2018 ATAI Book Award Contest – Memoir

4 Stars

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Eva Pasco

100 Wild Mushrooms: Memoirs of the ‘60s is Eva Pasco’s collection of one hundred mini-memoirs and personal stories about her life in the sixties. From touching recollections about family life to humorous tales of defrosting refrigerators and crouching under school desks, Eva Pasco takes readers on a journey through one of the most colorful, eccentric decades in history.


Though it certainly has an excellent and intriguing premise, 100 Wild Mushrooms unfortunately falls quite short in terms of execution. It is presented as a mis-matched, seemingly unconnected group of stories; these stories read more like sporadic, random thoughts haphazardly thrown together than fully-fledged chapters of a memoir. Also, the topics of these stories skip around too much and too often, jumping from one subject to the next without flowing naturally into one another. In many ways, 100 Wild Mushrooms seems more like a digest of vaguely related blog posts than a cohesive, complete memoir.


100 Wild Mushrooms is still a most worthwhile read, though, largely because of Eva Pasco’s delightfully descriptive and energetic style of writing. She captures the essence of the 1960s perfectly; aside from the tumultuous political dilemmas of the decade, there was also plenty of joy and wonder to be found, which is captured brilliantly in 100 Wild Mushrooms. In each story, Eva Pasco gives readers a colorful snapshot of daily life in the sixties, peppered with humor and trivia. 100 Wild Mushrooms: Memoirs of the ‘60s is a charming, hilarious collection of short memoirs that is sure to inspire heartfelt nostalgia in all who read it.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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This Week’s Non-fiction Books of the Week!

This Week’s Featured Non-fiction Books


Carol D. Marsh founded, directed, and lived at Miriam’s House, a Washington, DC, residence for homeless women living with AIDS. In this powerful memoir, Marsh recalls how she came to confront issues far removed from her own experience: addiction, poverty, and the institutional racism that permeates our society on every level. From the humorous to the tragic, the mundane to the sublime, Marsh offers a gripping view into a world where the stakes are high and love is pushed to its limit.

Nowhere Else I Want to Be is the story of the inspiring women who transformed Marsh’s life. From Kimberly, who triumphs over a lifelong alcohol addiction, to Alyssa, who dies reaching out for the mother who abandoned her, Marsh witnesses the spectrum of human experience and the depth of the human spirit.


More books to check out…

You decide if they’re rock stars!

 

Project Domino Effect  by Vanessa Gowora

Are you stuck in a dead-end job that gives you absolute no satisfaction?

Do you want to let go of the limiting beliefs holding you back? Do you feel as though you have no idea what your purpose in life is?

What if you could learn the skills and strategies today that will drastically improve your life and the way you see the world?

Project Domino Effect takes you by the hand and shows you the necessary steps to take so you can achieve success and greatness.

This book will help you overcome fear, anxiety and help you to find out what your calling is. It will help put an end to limiting beliefs, low self-esteem and build up your confidence. No longer will you be too afraid to face your fears, achieve your dreams and build the life you want?

Improve Your Self-worth, Find Your Calling And Become a Better Version of Yourself.

  • Overcome limiting beliefs.
  • Learn to be more productive so you can have the life you want.
  • Find your self-worth.
  • Discover your calling.
  • Learn what makes people successful in life and how you can achieve the same results.
  • Learn how to overcome rejection and become more confident.
  • Learn from those who have achieved success using these methods.

Project Domino Effect will teach you how you can work on your goals so you can improve your life. It will also help you understand your potential, stop negative emotions from affecting your life and focus on self-love.

In this book…

  • You will learn what is holding you back and how to overcome it.
  • You will learn how to love yourself more.
  • You will build an amazing self-image.
  • Confidence in yourself and abilities will greatly be improved.
  • Create a circle of influence that will help you accomplish your goals.
  • Achieve fulfillment in your life and relationships.

 

 I Swear to Tell the Tooth by Dr. Carroll James

Quirky patients, one-of-a-kind employees, and farm animals set the stage for this humorous, tender, and sometimes irreverent saga of Dr. Carroll James’s dental practice. Headphone-clad patients bop in the dental chair while Dr. James tries to work on the moving target; a long-timer happily drops her pants to show off her latest surgical scar; and a lost cell phone drops out of a patient’s boxer shorts.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Working from his rural home office, Dr. James juggles family, patients, staff, and occasional livestock as he struggles to maintain his professional decorum. After thirty years of scatterbrained staff and distinct clientele, he often finds himself simply shaking his head with a laugh. Alongside the colorful assistants and hilarious antics, we learn just how challenging–and perilous–dental school can be, as well as witness the acquisition of a half-built farmette certain to take years to finish, a few errant horses, an intriguing trip to Russia with US-USSR Bridges for Peace, and poignant lessons that, when you’re not chuckling at the author’s childhood (and sometimes adult) mischief, are sure to touch your heart.

 

 Finding FabYOUlous by Melissa Venable

Does this sound like you? 

  • You work and work but never feel like you’re making any real progress toward your goals?
  • You know that you were created for more, but can’t for the life of you, figure out what that more is? 
  • You see other people living their dreams and wonder how the heck they got so lucky? 
  • You long to make an impact in the world but can’t seem to muster the energy or enthusiasm to get going? 
  • You feel stuck in a rut and can’t seem to find your way out? 

If any of these statements resonate with you, you have come to the right place at the right time.

Finding FabYOUlous: A “Self-Help with Sass” Guide to Finding, Celebrating and Capitalizing on the FabYOUlousness that Makes You, YOU, will take you on a journey to discover all of the unique and FabYOUlous gifts that you have to offer the world; and then guide you as you learn to cultivate, celebrate and capitalize on those gifts as you create the life of your dreams.

Finding FabYOUlous offers inspiration that goes far beyond just a motivational pep-talk. Each chapter of Finding FabYOUlous is chock full of actionable steps that (if taken) will guide the reader ever closer to the fullest expression of her unique and FabYOUlous purpose. PLUS–Finding FabYOUlous readers will enjoy exclusive access to a private website full of additional exercises and material to supplement what they are reading in the book. This elevates Finding FabYOUlous from just a book, to an EXPERIENCE. The practical wisdom, applicable action steps and gentle guidance provided throughout the pages of Finding FabYOUlous are sure to provide any woman with the tools and confidence she needs to “ditch the drab and find her FAB”. Additionally, the personal stories from the author’s own experience of battling a debilitating Anorexia Nervosa diagnosis and escaping from a dangerously toxic marriage, will provide the inspiration to show that no one is ever “too far gone” to get back on track, find her FabYOUlous, and live an amazing, purpose filled life.

 

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Highest of Highs to Lowest of Lows – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Michael Kinyanjui

Highest of Highs to Lowest of Lows: My Battles with Bipolar Disorder is Michael Kinyanjui’s powerful memoir about his struggles with mental illness. From his birth in Kenya to his eventual rock bottom, Kinyanjui discusses the many facets of his bipolar disorder and how he eventually tamed his inner demons.


At times, Highest of Highs to Lowest of Lows almost seems to lose track of itself or become distracted. There are many instances where Michael Kinyanjui tends to get lost in his own reminiscing, seemingly forgetting what the main purpose of this memoir was intended to be. Instead of discussing his mental illness, he diverts to discussing female exploits and fun shenanigans he got into, without explicitly breaking down these stories or explaining to the reader how or why those events relate to his bipolar disorder. Also, the narrative is not in any sort of direct chronological order, making the timeline sometimes seem confusing.


Nevertheless, Highest of Highs to Lowest of Lows is an intriguing and captivating memoir. Michael Kinyanjui writes in a casual, yet descriptive style that breathes life and emotion into his tales, painting a vivid and clear portrait of what his life was like as he struggled with his bipolar disorder. Equally enlightening and alarming, this book sheds light on what mental illness really looks like, as well as providing a helping hand to readers who may be in similar situations. Highest of Highs to Lowest of Lows: My Battles with Bipolar Disorder is a must-read for anyone looking to understand the tumultuous nature of bipolar disorder, as well as how to manage it and maintain bright optimism for the future.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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Help, My Horse is Drowning – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Ray Hamill

In Help, My Horse is Drowning!, Ray Hamill explores the unique relationship between sports and their overzealous fans—himself included. Through personal stories of his own, colorful facts and history, and some satirical portraits of sports fans, Hamill delves into what exactly it is that makes people go nuts over sports.


There are some areas within Help, My Horse is Drowning! that seem a bit disorganized or jumbled; many times, Ray Hamill seems to get sidetracked with long-winded stories before returning to his original point. It’s still quite entertaining to read, but might benefit from some more diligent organization. Also, perhaps it should be noted that readers who are not already sports fans may occasionally find themselves having no idea what or whom Hamill is referring to in his tales. It’s not devastating to the book by any means, since it carries itself quite well regardless, but that’s just something to be aware of.


Regardless of whether readers are sports fans or not, though, Help, My Horse is Drowning! is undeniably a hilariously entertaining read. Ray Hamill writes in a casual, infectiously funny style that immediately captivates from the first page and actively keeps the reader engaged right on through to the end. Equally thoughtful and down-to-earth, Help, My Horse is Drowning! is a unique, memoir-style book that is sure to leave a memorable impression on its readers. At the very least, readers will finish Help, My Horse is Drowning! and find themselves still chuckling aloud at the thought of a flying NASCAR race or the image of Ray Hamill “splashiming.”

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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Hearing His Voice – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

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Meredith Swift

In Hearing His Voice: Meeting Jesus in the Garden of Promise, Meredith Swift shares her illuminating encounters with Jesus Christ. In the sanctuary of her own personal “Garden of Promise,” Swift found her faith in her Savior; she shares her profound discoveries with the world in Hearing His Voice.


Though certainly interesting, Hearing His Voice is a bit odd in terms of general construction and development. Much of the book consists of a one-sided “conversation” with Jesus, which the author/narrator does not respond to, elaborate on, or give context for. Occasionally, there is a beautiful description of the imaginary “Garden of Promise,” but the rest of the book is just Jesus talking to the author. This format can be confusing sometimes; it is unclear if Hearing His Voice is meant to be a motivational self-help book through Jesus, a religious memoir, or a work of fiction about what Meredith Swift imagined Jesus would say to her during difficult times in her life. This ambiguity and lack of context makes the entire book perhaps not as effective as it could be.


Nevertheless, Hearing His Voice is certainly an invaluable illustration of faith and love for the Lord. Meredith Swift writes with eloquence and vivid imagery, making her words—and Jesus’—resonate deeply with the reader. There is also an abundant supply of poignant advice to be found in this book, spoken through Jesus’ voice and in a manner that would be incredibly relatable to anyone who reads it. Hearing His Voice: Meeting Jesus in the Garden of Promise is powerful and touching, uplifting and inspirational, gentle and loving—and above all, full of light and promise through the eyes and words of Jesus Christ.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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