Bad Sons by Oliver Tidy

I love a good mystery and Bad Sons by Oliver Tidy didn’t disappoint me. David Booker was teaching English as a second language in Turkey when he came back to the UK to help his aging relatives liquidate their bookstore. When he arrived, no one was there to meet him. No one had seen his aunt and uncle that day. And then a body washes up on the beach.

The descriptions were so detailed I could imagine myself on the gray, chilly mornings, standing next to David looking out at the English Channel. David wasn’t a superhero, quite flawed actually, a smoker, drank a little too much, had a bit of a temper but was overall decent. His concern for his relatives drives him to do more investigation than the local police would like. 

David forms a sort of alliance with Detective Cash, the female detective assigned to his case. Together they do some poking around in an effort to discover what has happened. Not to spoil the story, but they discover that sometimes things are exactly what they seem. 

Delightfully, this is only the first book of the Booker and Cash trilogy. I wonder what sort of other mysteries find themselves entangled in. 

Get Aligned Now: Free Your Mind Through Body Intelligence, The Path to Achieve Aligned Results by Bethany Londyn

I’m currently on a quest to become a certified life coach and picked this book for this reason. Initially, I thought I had made a mistake. Some sentences in the introduction were so poorly worded and word choices were so unusual, that I thought perhaps the author was someone whose native language was not English. However, the author chose to include one of my favorite quotes by Joseph Campbell, and I decided to keep reading. 

I’m glad I did. Although I won’t say that every chapter resonated with me, quite a number did. Each chapter focuses on a single type of activity that you can do to start listening to your body to begin to make better choices. There were seven sections that used the imagery of a mighty tree as a representation of your body, from roots to the process of photosynthesis.

Each of those seven sections were further divided into daily activities. At the end of each chapter, there was a recap list, which was quite helpful. For example, one chapter was about minimizing distractions and included brief discussions on how applying the concepts of Feng Shui, Minimalism and saging your home environment could help you do that. 

As I mentioned, some of the chapters weren’t for me. I don’t feel that restless energies are trying to speak to me at 3 a.m. I am not in any way clairvoyant, nor do I regularly comune with a guardian angel. But that’s just me. Undoubtedly, there are those out there who would find tapping into those aspects of the unconscious a useful exercise. 

On the other hand, the sections on listening to your body, overwhelming yourself in gratitude, and seeing the world as one of abundance rather than scarcity were spot on in my opinion. So, in the end, I found Get Aligned Now: Free Your Mind Through Body Intelligence, The Path to Achieve Aligned Results by Bethany Londyn worth reading.

I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review here.

The Creative Journey by Tim Cigelske

Each and every page of The Creative Journey by Tim Cigelske was a delight for me to read. There were quotes from my favorite creative people, Jim Henson, Joseph Campbell, and Mr. Rogers. Excerpts from the writings of Buddha and the bible were scattered like wildflower seeds throughout the text. Real life creative success stories and commentary from Professor Cigelske’s college students drove each chapter’s point home. And then there were the activities! Write your own obituary, create a children’s book about your dreams, keep a logbook. Wonderful stuff!

Although many of the items discussed in this book were not new to me, I did learn a thing or two along the way. We often get so bogged down in what we have to do, we forget what it is we should be doing. Thus was the reading of this book for me. I remembered what I wanted to do before paying bills and assignments and even book reviews got in the way. I want to create.

The path to creating isn’t a well-traveled road. Each of us must find our way by going on own hero’s journey, a concept made famous by the anthropological studies of the esteemed Joseph Campbell.

We are born. We go forth into the world. We are tested and found wanting or we are challenged and found sound. We need to be brave enough to search out our true purpose. We need to be humble enough to learn from those that have gone before us. We need to be committed enough to follow through and not give up. Only then can we say that we have become masters of our own destinies. Even then, sometimes the end of the hero’s journey is just the beginning of another.

Creativity is not something we are naturally endowed with or not. Rather, it’s a way of looking at life. Each section of this well-written book will encourage you to find the creative life that is already inside of you. Whether you run off and join the circus or invent the iPod, living creatively is the only way to find meaning and purpose. And who doesn’t want to live a life full of meaning and purpose? 

For those brave enough to seek a life of creativity, this is the book for you.

I received an ARC of this book from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review here.

Why Life Stories Change: As You Look at Your Own Life Story, You See Yourself Differently by Brent M. Jones

I admit, the title of this little book was what first attracted me. I wanted to know why life stories change and how I see myself differently as I have aged. I’m not sure that this book gave me a concrete answer to this question though. 

The author shared a few samples of his life story rhetoric as examples of how looking back he has reevaluated the importance of a particular event. He has a little more experience than most in retelling his life story as a member of a men’s church group focused on bonding. Mr. Jones first noticed that the stories of members in the group shared changed with the retelling over time which led to the thoughts contained in this book.

I would have enjoyed more personal stories and more development of the topic of why life stories changed in the book. The book was finished before I had time to mull things over. I was left with the question of what I was supposed to do with this idea of retelling life stories. Was the author encouraging me to just reflect on these events? Was I supposed to write my life story paying particular attention to how I saw events as I was writing? I felt at loose ends at the end of the book. 

The text was well edited, except for the words Little League which were not capitalized when used. Having been born a mere stone’s throw from the capital of the Little League World Series stadium, this was a glaring issue for me. Other than that, there were no major errors that I found.

I enjoyed the quotes from book characters, authors and celebrities that were sprinkled throughout the book. I also enjoyed reading the segments of Mr. Jones life story he chose to include. His About the Author was very well written, so much so that I would have enjoyed hearing more about some of those events in the book itself.

Overall, Why Life Stories Change: As You Look at Your Own Life Story, You See Yourself Differently by Brent M. Jones was a quick and simple read with quite of things I felt were worth highlighting. 

I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review at Reedsy here.

Wow! You look fantastic: Your Journey to a Happier, Healthier Life by Nancy N. Wilson

If you are looking for some practical encouragement to create a healthy way of life, then Wow! You look fantastic: Your Journey to a Happier, Healthier Life by Nancy N. Wilson is the book for you. While the author acknowledges the temporary power of fad diets, she emphasized that real weight loss will only occur when you make consistent lifestyle adjustments. 

With suggestions for apps to use, methods that have been proven to work and a list of questions for self-analysis, this book goes far beyond most diet books. I thought the introspective evaluation was especially useful in crafting an eating and activity plan that will benefit each individual the most. 

I would have liked to see these questions at the end of each chapter, however, instead of tucked away at the end in an addendum. While grouping all the questions together in one section might make sense in a printed book, on an e-book it was cumbersome to jump back and forth between the text and the questions. 

The author placed a lot of emphasis on the health benefits of the Medittearan diet as she summarized various eating plans. It would have been nice to have a little more information about this diet and others such as the flexitarian. Instead, the author suggested the reader look into these diets more on his or her own. A comparison of the eating plans might have been useful to distinguish the differences. Perhaps a sample menu for one day for each diet plan could have been included. 

In general, I found the book a good overview of healthy living habits that everyone can realistically incorporate into their lives. I thought the ideas that the author discussed about manifesting your own success to be an important aspect of healthy living and one that is often overlooked in diet and exercise regimens. 

So if you are ready to start healthier habits, pick up your copy of Wow! You look fantastic: Your Journey to a Happier, Healthier Life by Nancy N. Wilson today.  I received an ARC copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery. You can ready my review here.

Feral: Returning to the Wild by Kyle Cooper Shrivastava

The concept of Feral: Returning to the Wild by Kyle Cooper Shrivastava is that we have become too domesticated to be truly happy. Numerous comparisons were made throughout the text between animal and human behavior. This book is a call to action to escape from existential suffering that civilized societies inflict upon their members or rather individuals in civilized society inflict upon themselves.

Delightful parables introduce each section of the book. The Runner and The River Turtle set the stage to talk about mindfulness. The Author and the Ants broaches the topic of connection. Distant Family and Deep-Water Fish shows us the truth about adventure. And Finally, The Caged Accountant illustrates the concept of freedom. 

I found the section on bias especially illuminating. Because I live in an area populated by my own culture, I find I get frustrated with the closed society that surrounds me. By taking a moment to examine the biases I have and those of my neighbors, I was able to see that prejudice is a natural, but limiting mindset. Becoming “feral” in this context would mean learning how to accept the presence of other “species” in my environment as a potentially beneficial relationship. 

It may have been a case of preaching to the choir, but I found myself drifting off in certain sections. I definitely wasn’t present and needed to take some time away from the book. Maybe some of the information was a bit repetitive or maybe I had already incorporated some of the lifestyle and attitude changes and didn’t need to be convinced. 

Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed Feral: Returning to the Wild by Kyle Cooper Shrivastava. It was a great reminder that we are meant to live life a bit on the edge, focus on connectedness, and be mindful in our actions to be truly alive.

I received an ARC of this book. You can read my review at Reedsy Discovery here.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

An incredible amount of research went to the writing of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. The intricate description of the Akha people of China, their traditional beliefs, clothing and the tea harvest made this novel come alive.   

The story revolves around the traditional saying “No coincidence, no story.” Li-yen’s life in the remote mountain village in the Yunnan Province of China is changed by the arrival of a stranger and his son. Three generations of women are forever changed by the coincidences that create the story told in The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.

Without giving away the ending, in my opinion, the book capitalizes on the coincidences that become a little too convenient for a happily every after tale. Despite this, it’s a riveting story, full of sorrow, triumphs, loss and love.

You are sure to enjoy The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See !

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee

Growing up, Hyeonseo and her family could look across the river into China and could not even imagine what life was like on the other side. It might as well have been another planet, so different were the two countries. 

What began as a simple act of teenage defiance set her feet on a journey she never expected to take through China, Laos and finally as a refugee to South Korea. Each leg of her travels forced Hyeonseo to assume a new identity. The name she has chosen for herself in the end, Hyeon (sunshine) and seo (good fortune) is the woman she discovered she was after facing such insurmountable odds.

Hyeonseo Lee presented a TED talk about her experience which you can find here. She also spoke at the United Nations Security Council meeting in New York in 2014 about human rights violations that happen as a matter of course in North Korea. She did an interview with Time in 2015 entitled Freedom, Sanctions and North Korean Ice Cream as well. 

I found The Girl with Seven Names a little difficult to read, not that it was complex, but there seemed to be an emotional reserve in the writing that made it challenging to connect with the author on a personal level. However, given all that this poor girl went through, it is only natural that the retelling is repressed emotionally. How else could she have gotten through it?

The author’s descriptions about the insidious government regulation that rewarded informing on your neighbors, coworkers and family members was detailed. The stories of other refugees she met along the way was eye-opening. I had never before considered North Korea in that light and can never return to ignorance again. The Girl with Seven Names was a powerful story that everyone should read in order to understand the complexity of North Korea just a little bit.

Resilience Road: Exploring Your Authentic Life Path by Beth Koritz

I had high expectations of positive motivation when I began Resilience Road: Exploring Your Authentic Life Path by Beth Koritz. Unfortunately, there were some issues that I couldn’t get past initially, although I did find some redeeming value towards the end of the book.

First, I felt like the author began with a sermon full of trite clichés. I hadn’t made a connection with her as a person yet, so I was unwilling to hear her advice without seeing how she applied these bits of wisdom in her own life. 

From the advice section, we jump right into a major turning point in her life. The author describes being paralyzed from Guillain-Barré Syndrome as a wake-up call. She talks about that experience as well as others beginning from when she was a child of seven. She really did meet adversity head-on!

Mid-way through her life story, there is another sermon meant to be inspiring. Honestly, I would have preferred if these segments were all grouped together after the personal narrative comes to a conclusion. The jumping back and forth between the viewpoint of a counselor and a woman in need of counseling was abrupt. I also didn’t feel like the clients she referenced were helpful in self-analysis, if that was the intent. The points the author was trying to make would have been more powerful when drawn from her own life experience rather than her clients’.

These issues aside, I found that I developed a deep admiration for the author by the end of the book. She had overcome many obstacles to find her place and tribe. Having traveled with her through her memories, I felt more open at the conclusion of the book for the recommendations she made to better my own life. The list of Tools To Create Your Resilience was concise and practical. Everything recommended in this section, from focusing on what you can do and control to the idea that asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness was spot on. 

In the end, I felt that the book was certainly worth the time I invested in reading it and rate it a 4 out of 5 stars.  Get your copy from Amazon here.

I received an advanced review copy from Reedsy Discovery, You can read my review here.