self improvement

Myung Sung: The Korean Art of Living Meditation

Author: Dr. Jenelle Kim
Publisher: Watkins Publishing
Genre: Self-help
ISBN: 978-1-78678-594-7
Pages: 192
Price: $18.95

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“All things in nature and our surroundings share a connection.”. But how do you become aware of this connection, and how can you cultivate it? Living the Eight Keys of Myung Sung Living Meditation is one way to do this.

These Eight Keys are: 1) Know Your True Self, 2) The True-Right-Correct Method, 3) Stop Being Drunk on Your Own Thoughts, 4) How Will You Be Remembered?, 5) Seek Connectedness & Honor, 6) Change Your Reality For the Better, 7) It Only Takes One Match to Light a Thousand, and 8) Be Like Bamboo. These mindfulness meditations, combined with herbal medicine and movement can change your reality and your life for the better. Each section features a lesson Dr. Kim’s father learned under the tutelage of his Master, followed by an expansion on the lesson and a guide on how to apply it in our own lives.

If you’re looking to explore ways to enjoy better connections with the world around you, Myung Sung: The Korean Art of Living Meditation would be a great place to start.

Reviewer: Alice Berge

acting, children, tween

Monologues for Kids and Tweens II

Author: Mike Kimmel
Publisher: Ben Rose Creative Arts
Genre: Acting / Children / Middle-grade
ISBN: 9781953057037
Pages: 140
Price: $14.99

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In a follow-up to Monologues for Kids and Tweens, Mike Kimmel offers some new material for kids who are looking to hone their acting skills. These new comedy and drama monologues are short but effective, filled with positive messages for kids to perform.

So much of comedy today is filled with vulgar humor, so it’s great to see such uplifting ideas presented in this book. While some topics are designed with the intention to sway opinion – like “Get Involved,” “What Not to Do,” or “Be Careful What You Talk About” – some are just fun dialogue. “The Mighty Mustache Men,” “Egg Salad Sandwiches,” and “An Old Ugly Couch” are a kid’s attempt at philosophy, and they’re enjoyable to perform.

All of the monologues in this book are age appropriate, written in kids’ language, and will delight the listener. Monologues for Kids and Tweens II would be perfect for young actors looking to improve their skills. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


The Year One Challenge for Women

Author: Michael Matthews
Publisher: Oculus
Genre: Fitness
ISBN: 978-1-938895-32-6
Pages: 376
Price: $19.56

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If you’ve read Thinner, Leaner, Stronger for Women, you may have realized that you need a good workout tracker to keep track of your progress. Paper tracking is fine, but having a year-long fitness journal is even better.

The Year One Challenge for Women is the perfect tracker for this program. The first 80 pages are a summary overview, followed by one year’s worth of blank trackers. These are set up to follow the six phases of the program, including deloads. Workouts can follow a 3, 4, or 5 day per week schedule. Exercises are pre-printed on the pages, so the only thing you will need to record are the weights and reps. A “Notes” section is also provided for each workout.

If you’re serious about following the Thinner, Leaner, Stronger program for a year, this tracking journal is an absolute must-have. It will make everything so much easier for you to track, plus you’ll have your whole year’s history in one book as a reference. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


The Fragrance of Death (Sally Solari Mystery #5)

Author: Leslie Karst
Publisher: Severn House
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-1448309283
Pages: 224
Price: $17.95

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Sally Solari is determined to win the annual Artichoke Cook-off, even though she’s suddenly and completely lost her sense of taste and smell. But her problems pale in comparison to Neil Lerici’s, when he is found murdered at the event.

When Sally meets up with Grace, Neil’s sister and her old friend from grade school, she is eager to renew the acquaintance and find out what’s going on in the Lerici family. Something feels off about their interactions. Since the detective she’s sort of dating asks for help, she does whatever she can dig up information, even when it leads to trouble. And she keeps hoping she’ll begin to taste the food she’s preparing in her restaurant again. Sally’s efforts don’t go unnoticed by the perpetrator of the crime, and she will have to be careful not to become the next casualty.

I didn’t read the first four books in this series, but I found this mystery engaging and easy to follow. Sally is a determined sleuth who just keeps digging, despite the adversity she faces. I highly recommend The Fragrance of Death.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


If I Had an Octopus

Author: Gabby Dawnay
Illustrator: Alex Barrow
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-500-65225-1
Pages: 32
Price: $14.95

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A little girl dreams of her perfect pet – an octopus! It would be able to play with all her friends at once, in whatever game they wanted to play. It’s a whiz at math, since it can count up to eight. It has great camouflage and can hide from everyone. But it would be especially good at hugs, since it has so many arms.

Imagination runs wild in this fun book that explores the joys of having this unique pet. I highly recommend If I Had an Octopus.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Plane Party

Author:Sheila Schmotzer
Illustrator: Marina Skiba
Publisher: Wander Wall
ISBN: 978-0-578-36545-9
Pages: 32
Price: $22.99

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The animals are ready to board the plane, and they intend to make it a fabulous event. As they settle in for the ride, they share conversation, tea, and even some dancing. But somewhere along the way, Picasso seems to have disappeared.

One they land on the beach, the party begins in earnest. But where is Picasso? They’re all in for a big surprise when they finally find her!

Kids will love trying to find Picasso, who hides in some interesting places, and they’ll giggle when they see where she turns up at the end. Plane Party will delight children with its lighthearted antics. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian, finance

Simple Money, Rich Life

Author: Bob Lotich
Publisher: WaterBrook
Genre: Christian, Personal finance
ISBN: 978-0-593-19365-5
Pages: 304
Price: $18.00

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Many Christians believe that money is the root of all evil, but they have actually been misquoting the Bible. Our goal as Christians should be to avoid the love of money. Having money is not a bad thing, and can, in fact, be very good, if we are giving it away.

Simple Money, Rich Life explores the journey Bob and Linda Lotich have been taking with regards to their own financial lives. In this unique look at money, they share how they have been led to earn all they can and then give away all that they can. This book includes practical money management tips such as how to automate savings, learn to spend more on what you love (and not on things that don’t matter), and never spend 100% of your income. Plus it provides guidance on finding your own personal niche to earn a great salary. But the goal of all of this financial wisdom is to find ways to give away as much as you can.

Unlike many financial books, this is a quick and enjoyable read, with no dry number crunching. The authors are personable and speak as helpful guides. If you’re looking to achieve true financial freedom and design a life of eternal impact, this book would be perfect for you. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Get Off My Lawn!

Author & Illustrator: Michael Garland
Publisher: Boys Town Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-944882-75-4
Pages: 31
Price: $10.95

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Mr. Smith has such a beautiful lawn – the perfect lawn for children to play soccer on. Soon the soccer game is forgotten as they decide to pick flowers instead. When Mr. Smith finally notices them, he is horrified at what they have done to his garden, and chases them away.

Luckily one of their mothers asks what happened, and explains to them what they’ve done. In a gesture of goodwill, they draw flowers for Mr. Smith and offer to help him clean up the mess.

Get Off My Lawn! shows kids: it’s disrespectful to not ask permission before using something that belongs to someone else, they need to apologize when they’ve done something wrong, and they need to accept that the other person will say “no” to their request. But the story is told in a gentle and non-preaching way that kids will easily understand and relate to. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, finance

Teaching Kids to Buy Stocks

Author: J.J. Wenrich CFP
Genre: Personal Finance / Children
ISBN: 978-1-7337977-0-2
Pages: 188
Price: $29.99

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J.J. Wenrich has been teaching his kids how to buy stocks since they were little. Using the wisdom he gained in working in the investment field, he started with simple concepts to get them interested, and soon they were more savvy than the average adult. In Teaching Kids to Buy Stocks, he shares his wisdom with the rest of us.

This informative book covers ideas such as compound interest, stocks and bonds, earnings and dividends, and following the story of a company and its stock. It touches on bull and bear markets, and when to buy or sell. But mostly, it demystifies the process and turns it into something fun that kids and adults can enjoy learning from.

Although the book is geared toward actually working with kids, adults will find great benefit in reading Teaching Kids to Buy Stocks since it makes confusing topics manageable and understandable for the non-investor. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, birds, children

The Kids’ Guide to Birds of Colorado

Author: Stan Tekiela
Publisher: Adventure Publications
Genre: Children / Birds
ISBN: 978-1-64755-142-1
Pages: 240
Price: $13.95

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If you live in Colorado and like to watch birds, The Kids’ Guide to Birds of Colorado is the perfect book for your collection. This comprehensive guide to Colorado birds includes an introduction to birds, detailed information on each bird in the state, and some activities kids can do to learn more about the birds.

One of the best features of this book is that it’s organized by bird color. Kids only have to observe what the bird’s predominant color is, and can look it up in that color’s section. They don’t have to know if it’s a woodpecker or a raven – only that it’s mostly black. Then they can try to match the birds to the full color picture provided. Each two-page bird spread includes a photo with some up-close shots of things to look for, some interesting facts about the bird, and some cool commentary about the bird’s behavior.

I highly recommend The Kids’ Guide to Birds of Colorado for all Colorado bird watchers.

Reviewer: Alice Berger