Thursday, April 28, 2016

Let Your Mind Help You Lose Weight!

This book is life-changing!

I started a meditation practice two years ago which has had a huge, positive impact on my life. Meditate Your Weight: A 21-Day Retreat To Optimize Your Metabolism and Feel Great is THE tool I have been looking for to tie my meditation practice to my goal of losing weight for an important family event later this year.

Author Tiffany Cruikshank breaks the book into 3 parts. Part One includes a quick introduction to mindfulness meditation, including the science behind meditation, its affect on the brain and other body systems, and the “how-to” mechanics of sitting. I found it a helpful review and suspect that folks who are new to meditation may go through the opening materials slower than I did.

Part Two is made up of the 21 days of specific practice. Each day includes a reading which sets the stage for the daily topic and provides inspiration; instructions for the 3 to 7 minutes of sitting meditation; a couple of thought provoking questions to journal about immediately following the meditation time; a daily mantra to focus on throughout your day; and final suggestions for thoughts and feelings to be aware of as your day unfolds. In the week I have been doing, I find the process works well! I really like the combination of reading, setting it aside to meditate, and writing. I find my mind floating back to the ideas and themes several times through my day. I appreciate the encouragement to take a look at what happens during my meditation too!

In Part Three of the book, Cruikshank includes a “tool kit” which offers reader ways to meditate during movement/exercise, yoga poses that promote weight loss, and thoughts on mindful eating. (If you haven’t heard of mindful eating and are working on weight loss goals, you must do some reading on it. It is shocking how mindlessly most of us eat!!)

I intend to keep this book and go through the program more than once. I believe it will be a tool for positive change in my life. If you have struggled with losing weight, I would encourage you to get a copy of this book! Thank you to Blogging For Books for the free copy I received in exchange for this honest review.

From the Publisher . . .


Hundreds of medical studies have shown the spectacular health benefits of meditation. Now Tiffany Cruikshank, founder of Yoga Medicine, puts that scientific research to good, practical use by incorporating easy-to-use, targeted meditations into a unique weight-loss program. This 21-day plan optimizes health as well as body image by tapping the hidden strength of the mind. We learn a whole new way to lose weight; and it takes just a few relaxing and energizing minutes a day.

Learn: • How to get started: advice for new meditators (no weird positions or chants required)
• 3, 5, 7, and 10 minute meditations that bust cravings, break self-defeating habits, stress-proof the body, and reboot the brain
• What to eat—and the top 5 foods to consider avoiding
• How to continue your success after your 21-day retreat
• Bonus: 10 stress-relieving, cardio-revving yoga exercises to complement the plan

Each day of the plan in Meditate Your Weight helps you explore and release what's weighing you down physically, emotionally, and mentally—the mental blocks, thoughts, habits, and behaviors that stand in your way—to make it easier to think more clearly, make better choices, and maximize metabolism. As you lighten up on the inside, you’ll lighten up on the outside.

Less stress=less belly fat. More calm + more balance = a healthier you.

About the Author . . .

Tiffany Cruikshank, Lac, MAOM, an internationally acclaimed yoga teacher, author, meditation, health and wellness expert, has a pre-med bachelor’s degree in Medicinal Plant Biology and Nutrition and a master’s degree in acupuncture an Oriental medicine with a specialization in sports medicine and orthopedics. She is the founder of Yoga Medicine and has treated more than 25,000 patients from around the world using yoga, acupuncture, nutrition, meditation and holistic health. Tiffany has been featured in Yoga Journal, Self, Marie Claire, Prevention, Forbes, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan and Redbook and on Fox News among many others.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Fowl Language

If you are a parent, or about to become a parent, or want to know what may be going through your own parents' heads, this is the book for you!

It was a hoot sitting on the deck with my husband who picked up the book first. He laughed out loud several times! And just as when we watch the ABC program, The Middle, he exclaimed several times, "This is too true!"

Fowl Language is so easy to relate to! Neither of us was familiar with the online cartoon world of Fowl Language, but I can assure you, the situations are real, as are the reactions! If you want a quick, fun read about the trials and tribulations--and the humorous parts too!--of parenting, you must read this book!

My thanks to the publisher from whom I received a free copy of the book in exchange for this honest review!

From the Publisher . . .

The popular parenting webcomic featured on HuffPost, Buzzfeed, and Upworthy is now a book! The perfect gift for baby showers and for those already in the throes of parenting, Fowl Language: Welcome to Parenting is here to let you know that you're not alone. Parenting is hard and often gross. Laughing about it helps. If you liked Toddlers Are A**holes, you'll love Fowl Language!

Parenting can be a magical journey full of bliss and wonder . . . if you're on the right meds. For the rest of us, it's another thing altogether. Fowl Language Comics takes an unvarnished look at the tedium and aggravation of parenting, while never forgetting that the reason we put up with those little jerks is that we love them so damn much. By poking fun at the daily struggles parents face, these cartoons help all of us feel less alone in our continual struggle to stay sane.

Brian Gordon, creator of Fowl Language Comics, has two small children of his own and knows well the trials and tribulations that go along with raising them. With more than eighteen years of experience in humorous illustration, writing, and cartooning, Brian's visual point of view is memorable, authentic, and instantly recognizable. From Brian: "They say 'write what you know.' Well, I don’t know much, but I do know what it’s like to be the father of two brilliant, beautiful, bat-shit-crazy kids."

Launched in July 2013, the relatable humor of Fowl Language broke out on HuffPost Parents, Pop Sugar Moms, Bored Panda, Awkward Family Photos, and countless other humor and parenting blogs. Thanks to more than 200,000 fans on social media, including Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram, it continues to grow in popularity at a rapid pace.

About the Author . . .

"A million years ago, Brian Gordon spent his time staying out late, hitting the clubs and eating at fancy restaurants.

And then suddenly ... CHILDREN. While he loved being a dad more than anything else, he also noticed that at times, parenting can be a total crap-fest.

In the summer of 2013, Brian began drawing Fowl Language as a fun (and often profane) way to vent his frustrations. After getting laid off from his job as a greeting card artist, he decided to pursue the comic full-time. His work quickly became an Internet viral sensation, and is shared regularly by millions of people all over the world."

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hang On, It's A Doozie!

If I had been a "troubled" teen rather than a nerdy band geek back in high school, I might think My Best Friend's Exorcism was an actual flashback. Hendrix sets this novel firmly in the 1980's, and although I graduated a few years before Abby & Gretchen, all the cultural references from music to television and movies hit me full-on. What a ride!

I admit it. I really enjoyed this book! The characters were well developed and so easy to empathize with. Hendrix fully captures the angst of female teens and the strange dance that is friendships among them. He clearly evokes that teenage sense that no adults are listening or capable of understanding or sympathizing with what is going on in their lives.

And lets be frank: what is going on in Abby and Gretchen's lives is quite a lot more than normal teen issues! I've read a couple reviews that were disappointed by the lack of details on the demon possession. That, I think, is the point. Sometimes being possessed is a matter of small changes that end up, down the road, in very dark places. Beguiling. Starting to change the people around them in small ways. Cajoling. It's not all turning green, head spinning around 360 degrees and spewing pea soup like Linda Blair. I appreciated how only Gretchen's BEST friend could see the small things that were adding up to something BIG.

If you like YA paranormal stories or YA horror, you are going to enjoy My Best Friend's Exorcism. My thanks to the publisher, Quirk Books, for the ARC I received in exchange for this honest review.

From the Publisher . . .

Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act . . . different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?

About the Author . . .

Grady Hendrix is a writer and journalist and one of the founders of the New York Asian Film Festival. A former film critic for the New York Sun, Grady has written for Slate, the Village Voice, Time Out New York, Playboy, and Variety.

Also by Grady Hendrix: Horrorstor

Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Columbus, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring wardrobes, shattered Brooka glassware, and vandalized Liripip sofa beds—clearly, someone or something is up to no good. To unravel the mystery, five young employees volunteer for a long dusk-till-dawn shift—and they encounter horrors that defy imagination. Along the way, author Grady Hendrix infuses sly social commentary on the nature of work in the new twenty-firstcentury economy.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

I Missed This Floor At MOA!

I loved, Loved, LOVED this book! It's kinda paranormal given that all the main characters are dead and currently residing on a special floor of the Mall of America. (Next time I'm there, I'm going to have to put my ghost sensing radar on high alert! Ha!) I love the idea of taking a look at the place and happenings where dead people go to get acclimated to death, process the life they just left, take care of unfinished business, and then "move on" to whatever comes next.

I enjoyed the characters SO much! I think it is fun and refreshing to read something intended for a YA audience and this book certainly was both fun and refreshing. (Even though everyone is dead. Go figure.) In addition to Sarah and her fellow recent arrivals, I really found it fun and a great addition that Sheehan included Alice, one of the mall walkers who has been there for decades and wakes up to join the newbies. Alice lends a certain historical depth to the story which I appreciated.

I enjoyed the inclusion of Harry too. Although he was "killed," his death by euthanasia was different than the experience of outright murder experienced by all the others. This lent a different note to the story as well and gave Harry's unfinished business a different note than his comrades. I would like to ask Sheehan if in this book's universe only those who sustained traumatic death situations come to this location after death? Or if there might also have been people who simply died from illness or age? I guess it just made me curious.

I have to say, I love the idea that in the after life you can eat whatever you want and it has no effect on weight or health! The mall food court setting is perfect for that!

If you've been to the MoA, then you know that you can find anything and everything there. So it would seem there is no better place to hang out while "processing" things following life. I giggled numerous times at the interaction between the main characters and the living mall visitors. I have been to the amusement park and have been on the rides. I've sat in Lego land while my kids played with the Legos. I've eaten there. Seen shows there. Walked countless laps around every floor. I've seen the mall walkers. The struggling, tired parents. The teens out socializing. The people on dates. Even a Klingon or two. If you have ever been there, you will get an extra kick out of the snippets of humor Sheehan includes that are part of the story simply thanks to the setting.

I hope you will grab a copy of this fun, refreshing book and enjoy it as much as I did! Thank you to Sheehan and Delacorte Press for the ARC I received in exchange for this honest review.

From the Publisher . . .

When Sarah wakes up dead at the Mall of America, she learns that not only was she murdered, her killer is still on the loose. I WOKE UP DEAD AT THE MALL is a terrifically fun & voicey YA novel that tackles some of life’s – and the afterlife’s – biggest questions.

When you’re sixteen, you have your whole life ahead of you. Unless you’re Sarah. Not to give anything away, but . . . she’s dead. Murdered, in fact. Sarah’s murder is shocking because she couldn’t be any more average. No enemies. No risky behavior. She’s just the girl on the sidelines.

It looks like her afterlife, on the other hand, will be pretty exciting. Sarah has woken up dead at the Mall of America—where the universe sends teens who are murdered—and with the help of her death coach, she must learn to move on or she could meet a fate totally worse than death: becoming a mall walker.

As she tries to finish her unfinished business alongside her fellow dead teens, Sarah falls hard for a cute boy named Nick. And she discovers an uncanny ability to haunt the living. While she has no idea who killed her, or why, someone she loves is in grave danger. Sarah can’t lose focus or she’ll be doomed to relive her final moments again and again forever. But can she live with herself if she doesn’t make her death matter?

About the Author . . .

The first thing to know about Judy is that she is the tenth of twelve children. Upon learning this fun fact, many people need or want to know certain statistics about her family of origin, so here goes: The age range of the children is twenty-one years from oldest to youngest. There are eight boys and four girls. There is one set of twins. There is one mother and one father. The family house had seven bedrooms, but only one bathroom. Today, Judy has one child, and is actively considering the installation of a second bathroom in her home.

Judy started life wanting to be a writer, but found herself distracted by the fun and drama of local theater. She studied acting and made a brief, but valiant effort to be an actress. She was one of the original cast member/creators of the long-running hit, TONY N’ TINA’S WEDDING. This adventure led to a handful of commercials, a few other projects and the revelation that she was simply not meant to be an actress. Full stop.

Playwright was the next logical role for Judy, who was lucky enough to serve as the playwright-in-residence at New York’s prestigious Looking Glass Theatre, which produced her plays every season. Productions have included WHAT TO DO ABOUT NOTHING, A CAROLE CHRISTMAS and APHRODITE’S DUNGEON, among many others. She collaborated with Kenneth Nowell to create a series of musicals for children: I WAS A 9-YEAR OLD BLUES DIVA, I HATE SPINACH, as well as the work-in-progress, I’M SO INCREDIBLY BORED.

Meanwhile, Judy managed to reach beyond Manhattan to infiltrate the heartland with her play, ALICE IN IRELAND. It has been produced all over the United States, winning the Reva Shiner Full-Length Play Contest, and the Siena College International Playwrights’ Competition. The play was also chosen by the Kalamazoo Gazette as the #1 Critics’ Pick for 1999. Her play, BRIGHT GIRLS, STUPID LIVES, was a critical and popular success in Portland, OR where it was nominated for a Drammy Award. Judy wrote the popular MURDER AT WATERLOO for historic Waterloo Village. The initial run proved so successful, the play has returned for three subsequent productions.In September, 2000, Judy traveled to China and adopted a baby girl. Along with motherhood, came sleep deprivation and a drastic reduction in Judy’s ability to attend rehearsals in the city or anywhere else. By all common sense, the overwhelming task of raising a child should have brought an end to Judy’s ability to write anything at all. But if you’ve been reading closely, you’ll see that common sense hasn’t applied very well so far. Judy found herself writing more than ever—she just had to wait until the baby was asleep.