self improvement, writing

Writing for Bliss


Author: Diana Raab, PhD
Publisher: Loving Healing Press
Genre: Writing / Self-help
ISBN: 978-1-61599-323-9
Pages: 238
Price: $21.95

Author’s website
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Writing a memoir strictly for your own eyes can be an interesting ramble down memory lane. But writing one that you plan to market and sell will involve some very different techniques. Whichever option you’re thinking of pursuing, Writing for Bliss is there to guide you.

The introduction offers the concepts of writing for healing, therapy, and transformation, as you allow yourself the blissful action of putting your thoughts on paper. The following sections lead you through the phases of preparing to write, cultivating self-awareness, speaking your truth, examining your life, finding your form, unleashing with poetry, and sharing your writing. Throughout the book, the author shares some of her experiences in writing her own story, along with several writing prompts to get you started. And once you have something on paper, she helps you decide what sensitive information to include and guides you through the process of organizing it into a format that readers expect to see.

Diana Raab has first-hand experience in writing about her own life and sharing it with the public. In this book, she’s written a wonderful guide for those of us who don’t have the faintest idea of where to start. If you’re thinking of putting the story of your life on paper, Writing for Bliss would be a great resource to use.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, self improvement

How Did You Miss That?


Author: Bryan Smith
Illustrator: Lisa M. Griffin
Publisher: Boys Town Press
Genre: Self-improvement / Children
ISBN: 978-1-944882-45-7
Pages: 32
Price: $9.99

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Braden has a list of things to do before bed, and he’s sure he accomplished everything in record time. But when his mom checks his work, she shows him all the things he didn’t do. How could he have missed them all? Then his mom shares a four-step process to self-monitoring to be sure he doesn’t make the same mistake again.

At school a few days later, Braden is reminded of this problem when he misses a whole page on a test. His teacher goes over the process with him again, and this time he’s sure he’ll remember. He soon has opportunities to share his learning with his younger brother, and even with his parents!

Self-monitoring is an important skill for kids who want to live successful and productive lives. It helps them identify what they want to accomplish, stay focused, double-check everything, and ask for assistance when they need it. How Did You Miss That? shows kids these steps in action and also provides tips for parents and educators. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

self improvement

A Year of Self-Love


Author: Troy L. Love, MSW, LCSW
Publisher: Rockridge Press
Genre: Self Improvement
ISBN: 978-1-64152-764-4
Pages: 234
Price: $15.99

Author’s website
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In our fast-paced society, we seldom take the time to do loving things for ourselves. But without filling our own wells first, we lose the ability to keep giving to others. A Year of Self-Love guides the reader through a year’s worth of positive messages designed to keep us focused on loving ourselves more.

Some days, the entry may be a single quote, such as, “I believe in the essence of who I am and what I was born to do.” Others may involve a short reflection, such as thinking about a moment someone was kind to us and visualizing the experience in detail. Most entries are very short – a paragraph or less, but other days may be a full page. All are easy to read and fit into a busy lifestyle.

While not every entry will resonate with every reader, they will remind us to focus on our inherent self-worth. Self-care is not optional if we want to live a happy and fulfilled life. A Year of Self-Love provides us with helpful support.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

self improvement

Elastic Habits


Author: Stephen Guise
Publisher: Selective Entertainment
Genre: Self-improvement / Habits
ISBN: 978-0996435475
Pages: 236
Price: $15.99

Author’s website
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Wouldn’t it be great to work on your most important tasks every day without exception? Most habit forming systems will guide you to seek peak performance, but what about those days when your heart just isn’t in it? You’ve got the flu, your boss is demanding that report you promised, and the kids won’t stop whining. So what do you do? If you’re following the Elastic Habits system, a day like this would still be an opportunity for a win.

Like Mini Habits, Elastic Habits focuses on the smallest possible step you can take toward a daily goal. But while Mini Habits only focused on that smallest action, with extra effort not recognized other than as bonus reps, Elastic Habits gives us credit for our extra effort. Each Elastic Habit stretches in multiple ways, allowing us to not only just meet the minimum, but to also strive for more.

I wanted to give this system an honest try before writing my review, and I’ve been using it for about two weeks. First off, I could hardly wait to get started, and even began before finishing reading the book. Secondly, I’ve never felt so excited about meeting the goals I’ve set in my life. It’s December, so there have been a lot of Mini days this month, but there have also been some Plus, and Elite days, which is more than I could have expected.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Elastic Habits before setting a single New Year’s Resolution. If you use the guidelines in this amazing book, you’ll be sure to crush those goals in the coming year.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

journal, self improvement

Dream Big: A Five-Minute Goal Journal


Author: Karl W. Gruber
Publisher: Althea Press
Genre: Self-improvement / Journaling
ISBN: 978-1-64152-763-7
Pages: 156
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
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Setting a big goal takes determination and focus. It often helps to put our thoughts and desires on paper, in order to crystallize our thinking. Dream Big: A Five-Minute Goal Journal gives us the space to do this.

This goal setting journal walks us through five steps. First, we need to clarify our ideas, then affirm our possibilities, strategize for success, and express our gratitude. Finally, there is a series of daily questions designed to focus our intention on goal realization and gratitude. This makes up the majority of the book, as it reminds us to focus on our goals every day.

The author is a Law of Attraction Life Coach, and Dream Big is consistent with this way of thinking. By focusing on what we want and expressing gratitude, we can attract the goals we seek. If you’re looking for a positive approach to goal setting, this journal could be just what you need.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

history, self improvement

Our Great Responsibility


Publisher: Alcoholics Anonymous
Genre: Alcoholism / History
ISBN: 978-1-644270-52-3
Pages: 270
Price: $10.00

Alcoholics Anonymous Website
Is A.A. for you?
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Bill W. was one of the founding members of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935. Over the years, the fellowship grew, and conferences began to be held on an annual basis. Bill W. spoke at many of these conferences. Our Great Responsibility shares a selection of his conference talks from 1951 to 1970.

As of January 1, 2018, it has been estimated that there are over 61,000 groups and 1.2 million members of A.A. in the United States. Worldwide, there are more than 2 million members. Alcoholics Anonymous has been a lifesaver to many drinkers who had no hope of quitting. This spiritual program provides “twelve steps” that guide the new member to sobriety. Along with sponsors and meetings, the alcoholic finds a whole new, healthier way of living.

Those who are curious about the roots of this program will find these talks from Bill W. to be enlightening and informative. Those whose lives have been improved by working the twelve steps of A.A. will enjoy reading about the early days of this organization. And as a historical document, this book is a fascination read.

If you think you may have a drinking problem, here is a quick questionnaire that will help you decide if A.A. might help you. You can find sobriety through this program.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, self improvement

Freddie and Friends: Becoming Unstuck


Author: Kimberly Delude
Illustrator: Brian Martin
Publisher: Boys Town Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-944882-42-6
Pages: 32
Price: $10.95

Author’s website
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Betsy has a worry bug named Murray. Whenever Betsy faces a scary situation, Murray starts asking questions like “What if you get called on in class and don’t know the answer?” and “What if no one will sit with you on the bus?” Betsy starts to sweat and can no longer function.

Freddie notices her problem and invites her to join the Worry Bug Club. In weekly meetings, the members of the club discuss their worries and how they’re dealing with them. They are also provided with a FLIP bracelet, which reminds them to: F – determine the feeling the worry bug is creating (sad, scared, etc.), L – identify the lies the worry bug is telling them, I – inhale (take a deep, calming breath), P – “Positive pop” or fighting the worry bug with a good thought so it will pop. Betsy faces situations after the club meeting where she’s able to use the FLIP technique to fight through her worries and keep Murray from getting to her.

Kids will learn from Betsy as she stops letting Murray’s worries dominate her, and starts to take control of her own life with the FLIP method. Tips for parents and educators are included at the end of this fantastic teaching story, giving some techniques to work through stress with children. I highly recommend Freddie and Friends: Becoming Unstuck.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, self improvement

Parker Plum and the Journey Through the CATacombs


Author: Billie Pavicic
Illustrator: Madeline Timm
Publisher: Boys Town Press
ISBN: 978-1-944882-43-3
Pages: 32
Price: $10.95

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Parker Plum is an expert on ancient Egypt and excited to be visiting the Metropolitan Mummy Museum with his class. But he’s upset that a new student – Skyler Blue – has just joined the class, and everyone is focused on Skyler and not him.

Strange things happen at the Mummy Museum, and Parker finds out first hand when a cat statue begins to talk to him. The cat realizes that Parker wants to feel special, so he contrives a way for that to happen. Parker is only embarrassed, so the cat decides to let him in on a secret to handling that not-special feeling. He gives him the formula C-A-T: Consider the things you do well, Accept that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and Try not to focus on the things you can’t change. Once Parker puts CAT into action, he’s not as jealous of Skyler’s attention, and begins to think of all the things he does well. He begins to accept himself just as he is.

Tips for parents and educators are included at the end of this fantastic teaching story, giving a step by step process in working through the CAT formula. I highly recommend Parker Plum and the Journey Through the CATacombs.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

health, self improvement

Removing Your Shame Label


Author: Eddie Capparucci, LPC
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Genre: Self-help
ISBN: 978-1-68433-010-2
Pages: 155
Price: $15.95

Author’s website
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If you’ve spent any time in church, you may have come to the conclusion that you’re not as good as the people around you, and they couldn’t possibly have sinned the way you’ve sinned. So rather than risk rejection, you choose to keep those sins to yourself, and maybe even walk away. After all, how could they possibly accept you just the way you are? But is that really the truth, or it just your shame talking to you?

Removing Your Shame Label tackles shame from a Christian Biblical perspective. After introducing the Christian Shame Cycle, Eddie Capparucci tackles the shame of impure motives, carrying garbage, staying stuck, being distracted by distractions, contaminated thoughts, loving with conditions, uncontrolled pride, excessive worry, self-loathing, and a hardened heart. In each chapter, he explains the problem and then shows us several ways we can overcome it with God’s help.

Capparucci is a Christian certified addiction counselor who knows the damage shame can do when not properly addressed. He wants to help us see ourselves as God really sees us, and not just as the broken and worthless creatures we often think we are. But the deep concepts presented in this book will need more than one careful read as you learn to put the ideas into practice in your own life. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, self improvement

Parker Plum and the Rotten Egg Thoughts


Author: Billie Pavicic
Illustrator: Susan Gaber
Publisher: Boys Town Press
ISBN: 978-1-944882-33-4
Pages: 31
Price: $10.95

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Parker Plum wakes up with a small green egg on his pillow. He’s used to strange things happening, so he puts it in his pocket. Then he gets grumpy when he finds out he’s not having his favorite breakfast, and the egg grows slightly. He misses the bus and arrives late to school. His grumpiness grows, as does the egg. As each thing happens that he doesn’t like, his mood becomes worse and worse, and the egg becomes enormous.

Finally, a lunch lady recognizes the problem, and explains to Parker that the egg is his rotten egg thoughts. He has the power to shrink it by changing his thoughts. She guides him by asking two questions: Can I change this? Are there any good parts hidden in the bad? After reviewing the miserable day he’s having, he sees that he can change his mood by changing his thoughts. And when Parker faces a new challenge later in the day, he is able to put these lessons into practice – BEFORE he causes a new rotten green egg to form.

Parker Plum and the Rotten Egg Thoughts explains how to handle disappointments in a fun and easy to understand manner. In seeing the oversized green egg, kids can laugh at the silliness of the situation, while also learning from Parker’s mistakes. This is a wonderful teaching tool for home and classroom.

Reviewer: Alice Berger