December 28, 2013

Pick Your Yoga Practice by Meagan McCrary

Pick Your Yoga Practice by Meagan McCrary is a book all about yoga. If you don’t practice it yourself, you probably know someone who does. Maybe you just want to know more about it before deciding to try it out for yourself. If that is the case, this is the perfect book for you to do some research before practicing it at home or in a gym.

Book Description
On the surface it may appear that yoga is yoga is yoga, but take a closer look and you’ll discover myriad different yoga systems and lineages. There are dozens of yoga styles to choose from, and while yoga is for everyone, not every style is the perfect fit for every person. But how do you choose between mysterious-sounding names such as Ashtanga, Kundalini, Bikram, and Kripalu? As Meagan McCrary discovered when she began exploring different classes, finding the right style is essential for establishing a steady yoga practice. Pick Your Yoga Practice is the first book to describe the most prominent yoga styles in depth, including teaching methodology, elements of practice, philosophical and spiritual underpinnings, class structure, physical exertion, and personal attention. Those new to yoga will discover they have options and can confidently attend a class of their choosing, while experienced practitioners will expand their understanding of the vast world of modern yoga, and perhaps find themselves venturing into new territory.” – Pick Your Yoga Practice

My Thoughts
Pick Your Yoga Practice is a fantastic reference book for all of the different styles of yoga that is available for people to choose. The type you pick may have happened by accident, which is okay, but learning more about everything that is available is not just interesting, but can quite possibly help you to find a style that suits you better.

The author is a yoga teacher, so she knows and understands the subject very well. Her interest and knowledge in the topic shines through on the pages, and makes me want to take yoga more seriously. The author’s passion for yoga is definitely infectious!

As a reader you not only learn more about the types of yoga practices available, but also see how they can benefit you, or maybe not be for you at all. I like this because the type I was introduced to originally was just not for me. However, thanks to this book, I think I’ve found a few that I want to learn more about and also start practicing.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and learning more about yoga. If you already practice yoga, or are just thinking about it, this is a great book that you should definitely read. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Pick Your Yoga Practice, New World Library, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

December 27, 2013

Spiritual Awakening by Tim van der Vliet

Spiritual Awakening by Tim van der Vliet is a surprisingly simple and easy way to become more spiritually awakened. This is the fast and easy guide to becoming more Zen without having to read a lot to get to the end result.

Book Description
In Spiritual Awakening: the easy way, Tim van der Vliet demonstrates through five simple steps that we don't need to read libraries full of hefty tomes to become enlightened, or to wake up.

His message is sharp, raw and straightforward - a surprising combination of spirituality and humour. Tim has the ability to get to the core of what's important, keep it simple and be funny when you least expect it; his words will inspire you and make you laugh at the same time. You can read them over and over again and find new perspectives through their transformative nature ...or maybe because the words have changed you.” – Spiritual Awakening

My Thoughts
Spiritual Awakening is a simple and to the point way of becoming more Zen and awakened. It is fun, humorous, and encourages the reader to actually write in the book! I love this! I also really like how in the very beginning of the book there are two pages for people to write their name and country in the book – so when it is passed along, you can see who else read the book. Fabulous idea!

The book itself is written in a very poetically flowing way, and makes excellent use of black and white, contrast, and using space in a very smart way. As a former layout and design editor, I especially applaud this.

I particularly enjoyed this book. It is fun, simple, and is meant to be shared with others. I highly recommend it for everyone to read and pass along to their friends and family.  

* Thank you to the publisher of Spiritual Awakening, Hay House, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo by Kent Nerburn

The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo by Kent Nerburn is the type of story that you will think about long after you finish reading the last page. It might even change your outlook on the world. This is the type of story that truly captures the spirit of the Native Americans, and can be shared for centuries to come. A classic in the making, this is one you want to read!

Book Description
A haunting dream that will not relent pulls author Kent Nerburn back into the hidden world of Native America, where dreams have meaning, animals are teachers, and the “old ones” still have powers beyond our understanding. In this moving narrative, we travel through the lands of the Lakota and the Ojibwe, where we encounter a strange little girl with an unnerving connection to the past, a forgotten asylum that history has tried to hide, and the complex, unforgettable characters we have come to know from Neither Wolf nor Dog andThe Wolf at Twilight. Part history, part mystery, part spiritual journey and teaching story, The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo is filled with the profound insight into humanity and Native American culture we have come to expect from Nerburn’s journeys. As the American Indian College Fund has stated, once you have encountered Nerburn’s stirring evocations of America’s high plains and incisive insights into the human heart, “you can never look at the world, or at people, the same way again.”” – The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo

My Thoughts
The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo is a beautifully enchanting story about a hidden Native American world where your dreams have special meaning, animals are also our teachers, and you will never look at the world the same again.

Nerburn’s writing style is very easy to read, follow, and get pulled in. He doesn’t move at a very fast pace, but for the subject, I think that is perfect, and I was still able to read it very fast because I wanted to learn more and find out what happened with these characters. I especially loved Zi, the four year old who was incredibly special, but because the “white” doctors and people did not understand it, wanted to put her on medication and even go so far as place her into a “white” foster home. This is a hopeful story that is incredibly sad at times, and will have you truly see the world and its inhabitants in a much different way after you finish this book.

This is the third book in the trilogy, but I read this one without having read the previous ones. I don’t think that it took away from the others, because this one was so well written. I do however, want to read the other two now. If you want to just jump into this one, I think you can appreciate it for what it is, too.

I highly recommend this book, it is one that should be cherished and shared with everyone for years to come.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo, New World Library, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed by Marc Bekoff

Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed by Marc Bekoff is an insightful look into how animals live and have emotions, too. If you are a pet owner, animal rights activist, or simply enjoy playing with your dog, cat, reptile, or looking at your fish… this is a book you should read!

Book Description
In 2009, Marc Bekoff was asked to write on animal emotions for Psychology Today. Some 500 popular, jargon-free essays later, the field of anthrozoology — the study of human-animal relationships — has grown exponentially, as have scientific data showing how smart and emotional nonhuman animals are. Here Bekoff offers selected essays that showcase the fascinating cognitive abilities of other animals as well as their empathy, compassion, grief, humor, joy, and love. Humpback whales protect gray whales from orca attacks, combat dogs and other animals suffer from PTSD, and chickens, rats, and mice display empathy. This collection is both an updated sequel to Bekoff ’s popular book The Emotional Lives of Animals and a call to begin the important work of “rewilding” ourselves and changing the way we treat other animals.” – Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed

My Thoughts
Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed is a collection of short essays on a variety of topics of animals and their emotions. It is a very interesting book that will teach you a lot about how animals really live and feel a vast amount of emotions.

As someone who has owned dogs, cats, fish, birds, reptiles, and hamsters, this was such a fun book to read. I never knew so much about my animals, but I always suspected that they did feel and think much more than the average person may have thought about them. After all, they are the ones who see us off in the morning, wait for us at home patiently until we arrive, and are there for us when we are happy, sad, lonely, and depressed. We have those emotions - but so do they! Reading about this solidified how amazing our pets and the animal kingdom are.

This collection of essays doesn’t cover all of the animals equally. For example, it seems to focus a lot more on dogs than cats (or any other animal). I would have liked a more even collection, but it is still a very good book that animal lovers will enjoy.

I highly recommend this book for everyone who has a pet, or simply likes animals. It is definitely something that will teach you more about them, and appreciate them even more.

* Thank you to the publisher of Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed, New World Library, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

December 26, 2013

The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle

The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle is a continuation of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice. This novel features the socially awkward and seemingly unlucky character of Mary Bennet.

Book Description
The enthralling story of Pride and Prejudice's middle sister, Mary Bennet — an enchanting modern sequel to the beloved classic.

For most of her life, Mary, the serious and unpolished third daughter of the Bennet family, has been overshadowed by her sisters—beautiful and confident Jane and Elizabeth, and flirtatious and lighthearted Lydia and Kitty. But with nearly all of her sisters married and gone from the household, awkward, unrefined Mary has blossomed into an attractive young woman with a quiet poise of her own.

When a very pregnant Lydia unexpectedly returns to the Bennet home and scandalously announces she's left Wickham, Mary and Kitty are packed off to visit Jane and her husband, Charles Bingley, in Derbyshire. Yearning for the solitude of home, Mary is dismayed to discover Bingley's handsome and eligible friend Henry Walsh everywhere she turns. Unschooled in the game of love, Mary finds Henry's warm attentions confounding. Is his interest genuine or does she foolishly mistake friendliness for something more? With her heart and her future at risk, Mary must throw caution to the wind to find the truth—a journey of discovery that will teach her surprising lessons about herself and the desires of her heart.” – The Pursuit of Mary Bennet

My Thoughts
The Pursuit of Mary Bennet is an easily read version of the characters from Pride and Prejudice. I like that the author took a lesser known character that was so different from the rest of characters to write a story of her own about.

It is written in the first person, and is often a bit too “woe is me” for my liking. Mary would definitely have been an emo goth girl if written about today, writing bad poetry and wearing too much black eye liner. She does however grow as a person and character throughout the book, which was nice to see. Sadly, I didn’t grow to like her or care much about her though.

Overall this is a decent book. It isn’t my favorite kind of book, therefore, I can’t give it a glowing review. There were also some very awkward moments in it, which I won’t get into, which also haves me not raving about this book. It is not a bad book though, so don’t get me wrong there. It just didn’t mesh that well with me.

However, if you enjoy historical fiction, and especially “Pride and Prejudice” this would be a book you’d likely want to read and likely enjoy.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Pursuit of Mary Bennet, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

December 21, 2013

Holistic Pain Relief by Heather Tick, MD

Holistic Pain Relief by Heather Tick, MD is a written by an integrative medical practitioner. Focusing on relieving chronic pain, this is a much needed book for the millions of people who suffer from this.

Book Description
Chronic pain has become an epidemic in North America, yet our current health care system is ill equipped for treating sufferers. An expert in both conventional and holistic medicine, Dr. Heather Tick has spent twenty-five years treating patients for whom “all else has failed.” Based on her experience, Holistic Pain Relief offers practical guidance to anyone with pain. It includes easy-to-implement solutions for effective and permanent pain relief and also offers help to those with chronic conditions who feel confused, worried, or hopeless.

Dr. Tick presents a new way of looking at pain with a focus on health. By helping you make informed choices about physical, emotional, and spiritual living, Holistic Pain Relief offers possibilities for recovery and information on a wide range of treatment and prevention options, including acupuncture, chiropractic techniques, intramuscular stimulation, dietary supplements, medication, nutrition, and exercise. The result is a realistic — and inspiring — prescription for pain-free living.” – Holistic Pain Relief

My Thoughts
Holistic Pain Relief is a book that focuses on a very big problem: pain. It is something that millions of people are affected by, and it isn’t always an easy fix. Chronic pain is something that people learn to live with, and often it goes unrelieved, even with the pain medication that they are receiving to help ease their symptoms.

This book explores the pros and cons of a large variety of treatments for pain including Western and alternative treatments such as medications, acupuncture, nutrition, chiropractic techniques, exercise, intramuscular stimulation, and much more.

The author is the type of doctor that is easy to understand and communicates this very well throughout the book. She gives the positives and negative aspects to take away from learning about each type of treatment, and gives patient stories, references, and scientific research to back it up.

I really liked reading about how what we eat nutritionally changes our body chemistry and can help (or harm) us. I also appreciated reading this book from both a medical perspective and as a person who knows someone who could benefit from some of the examples in the book.

This is an excellent book, and I think that this would be the number one book on pain that someone should read who wants to help themselves, or someone they know with pain issues. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Holistic Pain Relief, New World Publishing, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

December 18, 2013

How to Be Alone by Tanya Davis with illustrations by Andrea Dorfman

How to Be Alone is a poem written by Tanya Davis with illustrations by Andrea Dorfman that has adapted the poem into a beautiful book. The original “How to Be Alone” video on youtube has over 6 million well deserved views, and I am one of the many viewers of it who fell in love with the poem, and the positive message of being alone. See it for yourself before reading more about the book.

Book Description
From a solitary walk in the woods to sitting unaccompanied on a city park bench to eating a meal and even dancing alone, certain activities can feel strange when you're on your own. We rarely treasure those moments, even though there are abundant possibilities and delights waiting to be discovered when we have the time to just be with ourselves. Tanya Davis's words and Andrea Dorfman's beautiful illustrations soothe the disquiet that accompanies this fear of aloneness, and celebrate the power of solitude to change our views of ourselves and the world. How to Be Alone reveals how, removed from the noise and distractions of other lives, we can find acceptance and grace within.

For those who have never been by themselves, or for those who relish being on their own, this moving work encourages us to recognize and embrace the possibilities of being alone—and reminds us of a universe of joy, peace, and discovery waiting to unfold.” – How to Be Alone

My Thoughts
How to Be Alone is amazing. It is a beautifully designed poem that I saw on youtube that turned into a truly gorgeous book that anyone can enjoy anywhere – especially if they are alone.

The poem has a real place in my heart because it speaks the truth in so many ways. Being “alone” doesn’t mean that a person is necessarily lonely. Society and your family may not get you, and that is okay. Being you and being able to enjoy your life alone is an important part of truly finding yourself and happiness. Excellent message for people to get today. I couldn’t say enough positive things about it.

The illustrations for this book is also fabulous. It isn’t overly done to make it more dramatic. It is simple and sophisticated in a way that is truly magical.

This is a perfect book. I enjoyed it very much and would highly recommend everyone to watch the youtube video, read the book, and buy a few more to give as presents.

* Thank you to the publisher of How to Be Alone, Harper, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Creative Compass by Dan Millman and Sierra Prasada

The Creative Compass by Dan Millman and Sierra Prasada is the book that gives writers back their creative motivation to create the masterpieces they have always wanted to produce. Filled with inspirational stories, advice, and encouragement, this is the perfect book for all creative people who sometimes hit writer’s block or other challenges that stop their creative process.

Book Description
A guide should give clear directions and then get out of your way. In this unique collaboration, bestselling author Dan Millman and his daughter Sierra Prasada help to orient you as you advance through five universal stages of creativity: Dream, Draft, Develop, Refine, and Share. Whether you’re seeking new goals, the discipline to reach them, a shield against self-doubt and inertia, or practical advice on sorting through feedback and connecting with readers — you’ll find a way forward in this fresh approach to writing and storytelling. Drawing on the coauthors’ personal stories about overcoming challenges, as well as sage advice from other writers, artists, and innovators, The Creative Compass will transform both the stories you tell and the stories you live.” – The Creative Compass

My Thoughts
The Creative Compass focuses on the five universal stages of the creative process: dream, draft, develop, refine, and share. It gives advice and encouragement on each step to help writers develop the high quality work they have always wanted to produce.

This is one of the many books I have about writing. I am one of those people who can write for weeks nonstop, and then suddenly stop for years. This book inspired me to want to revise some of my old manuscripts, and start new ones. I’m not exactly sure where I’ll find the time to do this while in nursing school, but it definitely is a book that I will refer to and read many times in the future.

Overall, this is an excellent book for anyone who wants to take their inspiration and love of writing further. I highly recommend it for all writers and wannabe authors to become the author they long to be.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Creative Compass, New World Library, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

December 16, 2013

31 Days to Happiness by David Jeremiah

31 Days to Happiness by David Jeremiah is a book that is written for you to read one chapter a day, so at the end of the month, or 31 days, you will be happier. If you or someone you know wants to be happier (and who doesn’t?), then this may be a book you want to read.

Book Description
Don’t you deserve a little happiness?
Ever wonder . . .
·         Why is life so frustrating?
·         Is happiness within my reach?
·         Is it too late for me?

Dr. David Jeremiah takes a look at history’s wisest and most successful man, King Solomon, and challenges readers to find what really matters in life. Solomon tested life’s haunting questions head-on. Tasted the fullness of life’s riches. But found his answers in the last place he thought to look.
If you thought happiness was only an empty hope, maybe you’ve simply been looking in all the wrong places. In this book Dr. Jeremiah reveals the way to the happiness you have longed for, the never-dimming light of your fondest dreams.” – 31 Days to Happiness

My Thoughts
31 Days to Happiness is a self-help book written in a way that could be appreciated by many different types of people. Although the author is obviously a pastor, you don’t necessarily have to be very religious (or his particular religion) to get a good deal of insight into your life and happiness from it. However, if you are a fan of his work and also a Christian, it would definitely be something you would enjoy reading.

Accumulating wealth and possessions is not the goal of being happy, and this book clearly explains that the key to happiness is not in becoming a millionaire or having the most toys when you die. So, if that is the kind of happy you are seeking, this is not the book for you. If you want to truly be happy though, you may find that in 31 short days, you can be happier in a deeper and more real way than you ever thought.

Overall, I think that this is a great book that should be read by people who want to be truly happier in their life. It does encourage a lot of self-reflection and being honest with yourself, so don’t be scared off by that and stick with it… and you will likely find yourself in a much better place than when you started reading it. I definitely recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of 31 Days to Happiness, Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy of this book for review as part of their Book Sneeze program. All opinions expressed are my own.

December 15, 2013

Who on Earth are You? by Nick Inman

Who on Earth are You? by Nick Inman is the type of book that really gets the reader thinking about not only a profound subject, but about themselves. It is the type that makes you question who you are on a deeper, more philosophical, spiritual, and emotional level than you probably ever have. This is the type of book that is meant to be read, talked about, and shared with others.

Book Description
Acknowledging that the question Who am I? can cause a great deal of philosophical and scientific consternation, this thoughtful guide helps readers explore the question for themselves. Offering a fresh look on the superficial daily details used by society—such as name, face, and job title—deeper inquiries are brought into the discussion. Delving into layers of identity from passwords and statistics to relationships and spirituality, vital guidance is provided for one’s journey to self-realization. A valuable tool for teaching empathy, cooperation, and self-awareness, this helpful book is a detective story traversing the fascinating territory of the inner-self, memory, mind, and soul.” – Who on Earth are You?

My Thoughts
Who on Earth are You? is a book that asks a seemingly simple question which you have probably never asked yourself before. “Who am I?” You are more than your name, job, family, and anything else you have probably been identifying yourself as for the past few decades. You are much more than all of that. To find out more, this book guides you on a path of self-discovery to teach you more about yourself.

You may ask yourself why finding out who you are is so important. The author points out important reasons this is crucial. For example, you can’t know anything if you don’t know who you are, knowing who you are sets you free, it is the source of ethics, tolerance, empathy, and so much more.

This book really got me thinking on a deeper level about myself than I have before. It helped me to understand myself in ways I never really thought of until I read this book. I enjoyed reading it and will definitely be sharing it with others. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Who on Earth are You?, Findhorn Press, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

December 12, 2013

Tropical Island Chex Party Mix – Gluten Free and Delicious!

Not sure what to make for a gluten-free holiday party? How about some homemade Tropical Island Chex Party Mix? It is seriously tasty and everyone can enjoy it, even someone with a gluten sensitivity.

Chex Mix is one of those things that people with Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance should always have handy. You can have it for cereal or make some delicious party mix with it. This is perfect for keeping around the house for you, or taking it to a party so others can enjoy. Plus, with this snack, you know it is 100% gluten free – so you can eat it, too.

This is an exclusive recipe that I get to share with you for the holidays (or any time of year) for you to enjoy. I hope that you try it and like it as much as my family and I do.

Tropical Island Chex Party Mix Recipe
  • Prep Time: 15 Minutes
  • Start to Finish: 15 Minutes
  • 20 Servings (1/2 cup each)

  • 8 cups Rice Chex cereal
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, if desired
  • 1 cup dried banana chips
  • 1 package (7 oz.) dried tropical fruit mix
  • 1 jar (3 oz) macadamia nuts
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup frozen (thawed) pineapple or orange juice concentrate

Microwave Directions:
  1. In large microwavable bowl, mix cereal, coconut, banana chips, tropical fruit mix and nuts.
  2. In microwavable measuring cup, microwave butter uncovered on high about 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in brown sugar and pineapple juice concentrate. Microwave uncovered on high about 30 seconds or until hot; stir. Pour over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly coated. Microwave uncovered on high 6 to 8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes, until mixture just begins to brown.
  3. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool. Store in airtight container.

Oven directions:
  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. In ungreased large roasting pan, mix cereal, coconut, banana chips, tropical fruit mix and nuts. In 1-quart saucepan, heat butter, brown sugar and pineapple juice concentrate over medium heat until hot. Pour over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly coated. Bake uncovered 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container.

This is a great recipe for Chex Mix. I will definitely make it again, and share at parties in the future. I would change only one thing with the directions. When it says to add in the tropical fruit mix before heating, I would not. Doing so made the fruits not taste as good, so I’d hold off on adding this until the very end. Otherwise, I love it!

Comments? Suggestions? Ideas to Share?
Do you also enjoy making your own Chex Party Mix? Have you tried some other delicious recipes that you would want to share with me? Will you try this one? Do you want to know more about Celiac disease or gluten free foods or recipes? Think my cooking and photographing skills are amazing? Share in the comments section, I would love to hear about it!

* Disclaimer: The recipe and ingredients for this yummy snack were provided by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op.