Christian, self improvement


Author: Sandi Krakowski
Publisher: Fedd Books
Genre: Christian / Motivation
ISBN: 978-0-9894934-3-7
Pages: 200
Price: $16.99

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Sandi Krakowski already had a large following on social media when she decided to start encouraging, empowering and equipping others. With the help of God, she made the decision to show people how to BE MORE, and this motivational book was born. In five sections, she guides the reader to be more: connected to God, in tune with yourself, attentive to your relationships, engaged with your community, and mindful of your world.

Each section opens with an introduction before guiding us through a total of seventy-seven secrets. These are two page nuggets of wisdom that can easily be read every day with our morning prayer and meditations. And each ends with a summary quote we can take with us into our busy day.

#BEMORE is a bit light on substance and heavy on cheer-leading. Although this isn’t my personal preference, it does encourage us to get outside our comfort zone and really live our lives. Those who like this kind of motivational message will enjoy it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

self improvement

Habit Stacking

Author: S.J. Scott
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: Self-improvement
ISBN: 978-1545339121
Pages: 330
Price: $14.99

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Developing better habits can be tricky, since old habits keep us locked in patterns that feel hard to break. But what if there was a way to make this easier? What if we could group several habits together, making it more likely that we complete them all every day?

Habit Stacking shows us how to add good habits to our day by “stacking” them into manageable thirty minute time slots. If it makes sense to do them at the beginning of the day, we can stack them in the morning. Or maybe we’d be better off doing them in the middle or end of the day. That’s fine, too. Just schedule the stack, make a list of new habits we’d like to develop, and get ready to see positive changes.

S.J. Scott provides suggestions for 127 new habits that could improve our lives. These are grouped into categories: Career, Finance, Health, Leisure, Organizing, Relationship, and Spirituality. Habits are also categorized as Keystone, Support, and Elephant, based on how they are developed and used. Scott also shares some of the tools he finds useful, such as websites and apps that help in developing these new habits. And he tackles any resistance we might feel at adding new habits to an already overcrowded lifestyle.

Habit Stacking shares a unique and helpful approach to new habit formation. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

self improvement

Mini Habits for Weight Loss

Author: Stephen Guise
Publisher: Selective Entertainment LLC
Genre: Diet / Personal development
ISBN: 978-0996435444
Pages: 252
Price: $14.35

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The dieting industry has a lot to say regarding what we put into our bodies. Whether we want to go low-carb, count calories, or watch fats, we can find a plan to suit our needs. But each of these diets falls short when we can’t sustain them for the long term. If it can’t be a lifetime commitment, it’s doomed to failure.

Mini Habits for Weight Loss provides a unique common-sense outlook to long-term weight loss and management. Any diet plan can be modified to fit the Mini Habits system, although Stephen Guise recommends we eat more of certain foods and less of others to have optimum success. Adopting new “mini” habits is the key to this system, and some other tips and tricks are provided to help us accomplish our goals.

Backing up his claims with a wealth of research and scientific proof, Guise makes a brilliant case for why people don’t lose weight long-term by using certain dieting methods. And he shows how even the savviest shopper can be duped by healthy-sounding claims by food manufacturers. Mini Habits for Weight Loss is the most common-sense book on dieting that I’ve ever seen. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

philosophy, self improvement

Ishi: Simple Tips From a Solid Friend

Author: Akiko Yabuki
Publisher: POW!
Genre: Philosophy / Self-help
ISBN: 978-1-57687-816-3
Pages: 40
Price: $12.95

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Ishi is a pet rock with a warm smile and words of simple wisdom. In this book, author Akiko Yabuki encourages us to listen to Ishi’s message, be happy, and share Ishi with a friend.

In the first frame of each two page spread, Ishi finds himself in an uncomfortable situation. Then in the second one, he shares some of his simple wisdom on how to deal with the situation and make himself feel better. Feel stuck? Always move forward, not backward. Sad about what’s missing? Focus on what you have and appreciate it. Feeling unhappy? Smile – happiness will follow.

Ishi is listed for Pre-school to Kindergarten aged children, but I feel that Ishi’s wisdom can also be enjoyed by adults and teenagers. As we age, we may find ourselves even more stressed than children, and Ishi’s gentle smile is a soothing balm for frazzled nerves. I highly recommend Ishi: Simple Tips From a Solid Friend for all ages.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

fitness, self improvement

Level Up Your Life

Level Up Your Life
Author: Steve Kamb
Publisher: Rodale Books
Genre: Self-improvement / Fitness
ISBN: 978-1-62336-540-0
Pages: 288
Price: $19.99

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Life is meant to be an adventure, but far too many people simply sit on the sidelines and watch. But what if we could be the hero in our own story? Steve Kamb shows us how we can tackle challenges like a video game and learn to level up our own lives.

Although Kamb is the founder of Nerd Fitness, Level Up Your Life is only partially concerned with fitness. Mostly, it encourages us to step outside the box we’re living in, and be willing to try the new and exciting things we’ve only allowed ourselves to dream about. Travel, learning a new language, making a career change, and other fun and intimidating adventures are presented in a fresh way, with the focus on taking small steps until we master the challenge. In video games, we face small battles until we’re good enough to take on bigger foes, and life can be handled much the same way.

Without foes to thwart us, we quickly lose interest in video games. And without challenge in life, our day to day existence becomes humdrum. Level Up Your Life shows us how to bring back the sparkle and enthusiasm for living. I highly recommend this unique and fun self-improvement book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

men, self improvement

Wake Up, Man Up, Step Up

Wake Up Man Up Step Up
Author: Ray Arata
Publisher: Highpoint Executive Publishing
Genre: Men / Self-improvement
ISBN: 978-0-9839432-6-6
Pages: 260
Price: $21.99

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Ray Arata’s wake-up call came when he was suddenly faced with a huge change at work and the end of his marriage. Although his circumstances had become unstable, he knew he needed to make adjustments to how he handled things, if he wanted to be happy. Wake Up, Man Up, Step Up shares some of the processes he went through to turn his life around.

Once a man has had his wake-up call, he will need to take action. In this book, Arata provides a roadmap of steps to success: create support for yourself, speak your truth, declare your want, identify blocks, break through old ways of being, embody responsibility, and integrate and manifest. These steps are explored with examples, explanations and journal entry questions, designed to help the reader get more in touch with himself and his underlying beliefs. Follow-up chapters help men focus on specific areas such as being a good parent, friend or spouse.

Wake Up, Man Up, Step Up is not a book men can simply read to absorb and understand the concepts presented. This is an interactive workbook, and the exercises won’t be effective without putting in the time and energy to get to the root of problems. But if you’re willing to make the commitment, this program will lead you to be the best man you can be.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian, self improvement

Little Black Sheep

Little Black Sheep
Author:  Ashley Cleveland
Publisher: David C. Cook
Genre: Christian / Addiction
ISBN: 978-1-4347-0529-7
Pages: 200
Price: $17.99

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Ashley Cleveland’s early years were traumatic due to her parents’ drinking and divorce. A cross-country move and her mother’s remarriage added to her struggles, and she soon developed an addiction to food. But once she discovered alcohol and drugs, her life took a radical turn for the worse.

Music was Cleveland’s saving grace, and her talents were noticed and appreciated in the churches she attended. However, her interest in salvation was inconsistent, at best. But, God was invested in saving his “little black sheep,” and she finally found recovery and hope.

Little Black Sheep is the absorbing autobiography of Ashley Cleveland’s life and recovery. No matter what we’ve experienced in our own lives, we will relate to aspects of her struggles – with home and family growing up, a traumatic move, and maybe even promiscuity and addictions like she faced. It’s inspiring to see how Cleveland continued to fight through the relapses and finally find a sure-footed recovery. But, I would have liked to see more of how she finally found her way through the darkness to the light on the other side, as a guide to those who are still trying to get there. This would be a great read for anyone in recovery.

Reviewer: Alice Berger