A word of warning - there is a a BIG spoiler for the very last book reviewed, "Pobby and Dingan," and two of you are on the bookring to read it. So, redheadraye and silvanime, please, please, PLEASE don't read this post all the way to the end. I'd hate for you to be spoiled by what I've written. And if there's anyone else planning to read this book (and it's an AMAZING little book - I'd highly recommend it), well, skip the last part of this entry, until after you've found a copy and read it.
So, here are reviews for:
Each Breath a Smile
Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui
A Trail Through Leaves
Detox for Life
The Lake of Tears
Cocktails for Three
Chakra Yoga, and
Pobby and Dingan
#31: "Each Breath a Smile," by Sister Susan
This is a beautiful book for introducing children to the idea of conscious breathing. It was written by a Buddhist monk, inspired by the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, and it's a short, read-aloud book which encourages children to focus on their breathing while listening to the words. It's not an actual story - it's more a long poem about breathing, and about enjoying the beauty in the world and the people in our lives. I read it to C's class at the beginning of one of our yoga sessions together, and it seemed to put them in a lovely frame of mind for the class - they were peaceful and more calm and centered than I'd ever seen them. I can only assume that the book at least helped to create this beautiful mood. 10/10
#32: "Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui," by Karen Kingston
This is a re-read for me. I first read this book a couple of years ago, and decided to revisit it. She's got a lot of good stuff here, mostly about how clutter stagnates the energy in our lives, and how clearing it out can be a really positive way to get things moving in the direction we want them to go. It's not a book on the specifics of Feng Shui, though - she's very general in her advice, so it would be a great first book on the subject for someone who is curious, but feels overwhelmed by all the calculations and elements and mansions and flying stars and things that you encounter when you get into any sort of serious study of Feng Shui. I find this book helps inspire me to make the changes I already know I want and need to make, but sometimes have trouble getting started actually making. 9/10
#33: "A Trail Through Leaves," By Hannah Hinchman
I received this book in a BookCrossing trade, and it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I expected it to be more exercises on ways to enhance personal journaling. It did cover this subject, but the author spent a lot of time detailing her own experiences with journaling. She also discussed drawing (she illustrates her journals), and that’s not something I’m interested in at this time. I don’t want to sound negative about the book, because I think it might be something that others would really like. But I just didn’t “connect” with the author, so I ended up skimming a lot of what she’d written. If this sounds like a book you'd like to read, though, let me know - I'd be happy to send it out to anyone who is interested in reading it, and I have a feeling there are a few of my fellow journaleers who might find it really enjoyable. 6/10
#34: "Self-Esteem Games," by Barbara Sher
This book is filled with ideas for games and activities that can encourage good self-esteem in children. I’m using some of them in the classes I teach (yoga, art & music) at my son’s school. 7/10
#35: "Detox for Life," by Carol Vorderman
I enjoyed this book a lot – it was recommended to me by angelofthenorth a couple of years ago, and I’m just now getting around to considering doing the diet. She’s basically recommending a wheat- and dairy-free, low-meat diet. Which would probably be great for me, since I’m a vegetarian who has some mild allergy issues with wheat and dairy. :D She’s also got a lot of recipes, some of which look really yummy, although I am a bit nervous about some of the ingredients, which are new to me (like quinoa, which I’ve never tried cooking before; I’ve got a box in the pantry though, that I bought last week, so I WILl be trying it).
I also showed the book to my doctor, who was skeptical at first based on the title (she thought it was going to be a lame or maybe even dangerous fad diet), but when she looked through, she said it actually looked really balanced and healthy (and yummy). So, I’m definitely considering going on this diet for a month, but haven’t started yet (I’m planning to visit a nutritionist first, just to make sure I’ll be doing anything I choose to do in the healthiest way). 8/10
#36: "The Lake of Tears (Deltora Quest #2," by Emily Rodda
I enjoyed this book at least as much as the first one - I like the characters, and I found myself caught up in the story. I'm also finding that the plot isn't all that predictable - of course, the main points are pretty easy to figure out, since we know enough about the boy's quest to know where he's heading next, but there have been some twists and turns that surprised me. So far, this is a very nice fantasy series which is appropriate for young people (my son is seven and is loving it), but grown-ups can enjoy it, too. 9/10
#37: "Cocktails for Three," by Madeleine Wickham
I wanted some light reading this past weekend and picked up this book, and didn’t put it down again until it was finished. So, I guess I must have enjoyed it. :D It’s chick-lit, fairly standard stuff for the genre, and the plot was comfortingly predictable, and never got TOO unpleasant (which is one of the things I sometimes don't like about books in this genre). Three Londoners, best friends, who all work at the same magazine; they all end up having a rough time of things for one reason or another. One goes on maternity leave with her first child, and isn’t quite sure how to cope with the difficult realities of motherhood; one is involved with a married man; and the third tries to make amends for something awful her father did years ago, and well, it’s not hard to guess that things don’t go as she plans, either. A satisfying read, and a good way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.
#38: "Chakra Yoga," by Alan Finger
This is a WONDERFUL book! The author takes the reader through each chakra one at a time, giving information about the meanings/correspondences, the physical placement in the body, and asanas to help awaken and properly align each one. I worked through this book during the course of a week, doing one chakra per day. It was a really enjoyable and enlightening practice.
On my final day, as a wrap-up, I listened to the guided meditation CD that came with the book, and as much as I enjoyed the book, I loved the CD even more! Mr. Finger has a wonderful voice, and I really enjoyed the way he led the meditation. It's difficult to actually meditate to a CD, because the voice obviously creates a distraction, but there was something very charming to me about the way he led the meditation, and I found myself very relaxed and feeling good afterwards. I would very much recommend this book to anyone who thinks they might be interested in working with the chakras through yoga. 9/10
#39: "Pobby and Dingan" by Ben Rice
This is an amazing story. Very short, it only took me about 45 minutes to read, but it was very powerful and incredibly moving. It's about a young girl who has two imaginary friends, and what happens when they turn up missing and the whole town gets involved in trying to find them again. It's a beautifully-written book, set in Australia, and one of the really lovely things about it is the PoV: it's told by Kellyanne's brother, and it's amazing to see how his perception changes, and also how much he loves his sister, and the great lengths to which he goes to help her when she needs him. The book had me by the first page, and I knew I was in trouble when I was in tears by page four.
SPOILER AHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to write some things for the benefit of those who read this book before me, and I can't do this without discussing the ending. SO IF YOU INTEND TO READ THIS BOOK, PLEASE SKIP THE REST OF THIS ENTRY!!!!!! (This means YOU, silvanime and redheadraye)! :D
The ending of this book hit me like . . . well, like nothing has hit me in a very long while. I think it's possible that I haven't cried that hard since I experienced a real-life tragedy about five years ago. (Of course I didn't cry anywhere near as *long* as a result of reading the book, but my gut reaction to this story was one of pure anguish, as it was back then). I was crushed - WHY OH WHY OH WHY OH WHY?!?!?!?!?!?! Ashmol did this stuff to SAVE HER!!!!!!!!!! *sobs* And the amazing thing about it, is that I was brought to this point in such a short time. What a masterfully-written story to bring me so completely in to it in so few pages. (Ninety, altogether).
But, as tragic as the ending was, after I thought about it for a bit, I found that it's really more exquisite than I'd realized . . . perhaps the message here isn't the tragedy, but the beauty in thinking that Kellyanne is STILL THERE, even though they can't see her. A spiritual message reminding us that death really isn't the end, and that the ones we love are always with us. Or maybe I'm just reading that in because it's too tragic for me to think about any other way. I do wonder what life was like for the family afterwards, though. Ashmol didn't sound devastated or resentful that all his efforts weren't "successful" (in keeping her alive, which was obviously his goal). On the contrary, he sounded amazingly calm about the whole thing. And their mum was so optimistic at P&D's funeral, but how could she not have been crushed by what happened afterwards? Or was the reality of Kellyanne's spirit (and we know that, wherever she is, P & D are there with her), was that enough to sustain the family afterwards? *more tears* In the end, I can't decide whether I found it more crushing or more uplifting. Right now, I still feel drained and a bit numb, but in a good way (if that makes ANY sense whatsoever).