children, self improvement

What’s the Problem?


Author: Bryan Smith
Illustrator: Lisa M. Griffin
Publisher: Boys Town Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-944882-38-9
Pages: 32
Price: $10.95

Executive FUNction Series
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Braden and Blake argue all the time. Savannah and Mary are having a misunderstanding. Braden wants to play sports, but his teacher has given him schoolwork. What do all of these have in common? A problem.

In this “Executive FUNction Series” book, kids are introduced to the SODAS steps to problem solving. They are encouraged to identify the problem, come up with options for dealing with the situation, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option, and choose one option as the solution.

In each of the three given scenarios, the reader sees how kids analyze the problem and identify possible ways to handle it. Since the characters are real kids, some of the options are terrible, but they soon realize the disadvantages of these bad ideas. The SODAS process is described in a positive way that works in action.

When good problem-solving skills are not modeled in the home, kids will react in less than favorable ways. But when they learn the proper way to deal with these situations, they will be successful at home and school. And these skills will help them long beyond their school years. I highly recommend What’s the Problem?.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian, inspiration, self improvement

You Are Enough


Author: Mandy Hale
Publisher: FaithWords
Genre: Christian / Inspiration
ISBN: 978-1-5460-1234-4
Pages: 176
Price: $20.00

Author’s website
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Mandy Hale has become popular through her twitter account and blog. Known as The Single Woman, she shares her experiences with dating and relationships. But one relationship in particular, along with its painful ending, haunts her more than she realizes.

Carrying the wounds from this experience into her current reality, she suffers an emotional breakdown that she’s unable to deal with on her own. It will take professional help for her to fully recover and face what happened. And when she is finally able to speak with him again, she has a newfound sense of dignity that helps her realize he is not the man she believed him to be. She has gained the knowledge that she really is enough.

You Are Enough is Mandy’s reminder to all of us, that we don’t need to listen to the messages we hear from the world around us. God loves us just as we are, and we don’t need to be better-prettier-smarter to earn his love. We are enough, just as we are. And isn’t that just the message we need to hear?

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian, self improvement

Sacred Rest


Author: Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD
Publisher: FaithWords
Genre: Christian living
ISBN: 978-1-4789-2167-7
Pages: 240
Price: $20.00

Author’s website
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Do you feel frustrated and worn out much of the time? Are you lacking enough energy for your own self-care? If so, Sacred Rest may be the resource you need to identify the areas in your life that aren’t working and where you need more rest.

First, begin with the rest quiz, which is found at the end of the book or at the author’s website, for a personalized assessment. Rest deficits fall into the following categories – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, sensory, or creative – and each manifests itself in a different way. While it’s easy to simply assume we need more sleep when we feel weary, we may be surprised to find that our lives are actually lacking other types of rest. An addition of some exercise, a creative project, or time in nature might energize us far better than a nap.

Sacred Rest reminds us that God commanded us to rest on the Sabbath, yet so few of us actually do. Incorporating some of the ideas presented in this book would go a long way toward restoring us to the wholeness God intended for us. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian, self improvement

Restore


Author: Vince Antonucci
Publisher: Tyndale Momentum
Genre: Christian / Recovery
ISBN: 978-1-4964-1577-6
Pages: 304
Price: $15.99

Author’s website
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In speaking with people who’ve successfully battled various addictions, Vince Antonucci discovered a common thread. They had all gone to rehab. But what about the people dealing with issues rehab doesn’t cover? Restore is rehab for the rest of us.

No matter what your personal problem is, Antonucci believes he can offer help and hope. This 30 day program walks you through his step-by-step process in turning your life around. Plus, a supportive community and a 30-day video and handout email course can accompany it, if you choose to participate.

Antonucci is a funny and insightful guide as he freely shares his own experiences in recovering from his own demons. This is such an enjoyable read that it’s tempting to read it quicker than the 30 day suggested pace. But if the reader doesn’t follow the actions he suggests, it may not have the same effects. Read it, take the necessary steps, watch the videos, and join the community for the best chance at overcoming your own problems. I highly recommend Restore.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian, fitness, health, self improvement, spirituality

Nourish

Nourish
Author: Katie Farrell
Publisher: FaithWords
Genre: Christian, Health
ISBN: 978-1-4789-7606-6
Pages: 208
Price: $20.00

Author’s website
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Katie Farrell knows what it’s like to struggle with weight issues. Unhealthy and destructive eating habits plagued her for years, until she discovered how to care for herself in accordance with God’s will. In Nourish, she explains how she was able to make peace with her body and learn to live a healthy lifestyle.

Farrell shares the types of foods she enjoys along with those she tries to avoid. This may not be the same eating plan the reader follows, but can easily be adapted if necessary, since she doesn’t dwell on specifics. Some healthy recipes are provided, and the author’s website has more available. Exercise is also encouraged, but again, no specific plan is promoted. Instead, she encourages the reader to discover for herself exactly how God wants her to care for her body.

God’s word can be trusted to instruct us, and Farrell provides Biblical references she has used in developing her own self-care plan. If you’re looking for a diet and exercise checklist to follow, this is not the book for you. But if you’re looking for a spiritual mentor to lead you to God’s will for your life, Farrel is a wonderful guide. I highly recommend Nourish and the Dashing Dish website.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

journal, self improvement

The Mindfulness Journal


Authors: S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport
Publisher: Independent
Genre: Self-improvement
ISBN: 978-1946159069
Pages: 431
Price: $15.99

Author’s website
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When we are mindful, we are consciously aware of the present moment. But in our complicated, multi-tasking lifestyles, this mindfulness seems almost impossible. It’s too easy to worry about the car while doing the dishes and half-heartedly listening to the kids. But how different life could be if we paid attention to what we’re doing and immersed ourselves in the moment.

In The Mindfulness Journal, authors Scott and Davenport encourage us to experience a short period of mindfulness each day through journaling. Each week opens with a one-page topic, followed by seven daily journal pages. These topics are explored more deeply during the mindful journaling process. Topics focus on our daily activities, our thoughts, and our environment, as well as many others. Each is designed to help us observe our experiences, thoughts, and feelings without judgment, letting us fully appreciate the moment.

Some entries are better done in the morning, while some are best left to the end of the day. Taking the time to explore these on a daily basis leads to more self-knowledge and will create a better sense of direction and peace in life. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, self improvement

Mindset Matters


Author: Bryan Smith
Illustrator: Lisa Griffin
Publisher: Boys Town Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-944882-12-9
Pages: 32
Price: $10.95

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Amelia is in second grade, and she’s working on a difficult building project. Frustrated, she exclaims, “I quit!” and throws down her hammer. But her dad suggests the problem might be her mindset and not her constructions skills. Amelia is suffering from the “down-in-the-dumps” mindset. She has a negative attitude, excuses, and believes she’ll never be good at what she’s doing. Dad explains that Amelia needs a “gonna-get-it-done” mindset instead. She should be determined, have a positive attitude, and believe that she’s just not good at that… yet.

Using her dad’s advice, Amelia throws herself back into the project and it turns out great. Encouraged by her success, she tackles schoolwork, skateboarding, and fishing in a similar way, also achieving good results. Amelia is convinced her dad is right. Her new gonna-get-it-done mindset has changed her life.

It’s easy for kids to become discouraged when tackling new challenges for the first time. Mindset Matters shows them that they can change their way of thinking to accomplish their goals. This is a wonderful resource for classrooms and homes, and kids will enjoy reading of Amelia’s successes, as they dream of their own.

Reviewer: Alice Berger