Review: The Wheel of Healing: An Easy Guide to an Ayurvedic Lifestyle

The Wheel of Healing: An Easy Guide to an Ayurvedic Lifestyle
The Wheel of Healing: An Easy Guide to an Ayurvedic Lifestyle by Michelle S. Fondin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the best book I’ve found that introduces the Eastern whole-healing philosophy without being too “out there”. The author doesn’t require the chanting of foreign mantras while requiring a strict vegan diet. She keeps it real.

I appreciate Michelle Fondin’s approach to the ayurvedic lifestyle: health is beyond a set of symptoms—it is a life balance. She presents the entire wheel of health: physical, spiritual, emotional, relationship, occupational, financial, and environmental. And like the multi-spoke wheel, so each of these life-spokes build around the middle: you. THE WHEEL OF HEALING opens with a related quote I love:

“Thirty spokes are joined together in a wheel, but it is the center hole that allows the wheel to function.” – Tao Te Ching

Fondin begins her book talking about the ayurvedic lifestyle and finding your dharma, or purpose (she does well to define terminology, but also includes an index of sanskirt terms). There is a brief, two-page-ish section that tries to help you find your life’s dashas. Think of it as a personality test, of sorts. Yet, this is an overview, not the definitive resource. This book deals much more in the context of the earlier mentioned “spokes” of life and seeks not to intimidate.

While Fondin has trained with and presented for the likes of Chopra, her style does not come across nearly as demanding. Chopra says no meat; Fondin suggests a certain percentage. Chopra says no microwave; Fondin suggests eating cooked food within 24 hours. This is based upon you and what you are comfortable with changing. As the title suggests, this is “an easy guide” to a more well-rounded and healthy lifestyle. We read about non-forceful pathways to overall improvement.

This book is easy to read through and implement. There are plenty of sections with spaces to write notes that help make this a personal journey. The author realizes that “social conditioning is not easy to overcome” and allows room for the growing process. The pictures of various sun salutations at the end of the book were a nice touch, too.

This is a great book that I highly recommend to anyone seeking more than a symptom check. For this, I thank the author for sending me the book to review. I want to mention one more quote featured in the book:

“Even if a physician has profound book knowledge, without entering into the patient’s heart with the flame of love and the light of knowledge, one cannot properly treat disease.” – Charaka Samhita V: 4/12

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Review: The Book of Strange New Things

The Book of Strange New Things
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Reading THE BOOK OF STRANGE NEW THINGS is like eating finely seasoned roast beef between two pieces of Wonder bread. As one would not mix gourmet with consumer brand, so authors should not allow delectable ideas with forgettable words. The author’s material is built upon an exceptional idea—perfect fodder for numerous literary awards. The key piece being: unique. However, this powerhouse of thought does not have the structure to support its efforts.

What I love: a missionary taking the Bible to an alien race, and leaving his wife on earth. I’ve read several Bible missionary books and they all take their wives along. To split the couple, not just by continent, but by orbits, is a daring risk that’s full of potential. To have an alien race embrace words of the Bible is refreshing and interesting. Add in a futuristic earth with all of its problems, both political and personal, and the whole thing is nearly perfect. But then…

What I loathe: the writing style and characters. Michel Faber is a talented writer; I’m not sure why he took such a casual approach here. The conversations and inner-character thought dialogues are the most troubling; the words try too hard to be everyday man, laid back. The writing is not tight, nor does it seek constant answers to the deep questions. The structure of the plot begs these questions to be asked. It is like playing a volleyball game with a perfect set and a spike that lobs softly over.

The characters are questionable from the get-go. The relationship between the husband and wife is not believable, nor is their love for their cat. Bizarre, really. As a former evangelical minister myself, the missionary’s relationship with God and the Bible reeks of fiction.

Is the novel redeemable? Absolutely. The ideas and context will stir in your mind for days. You’ll ask yourself questions about current culture, politics, religion, and treatment of others. Chances are, you’ll wonder at the newness of things taken for granted. It’s a lovely premise that’s worthy to read, despite the lightweight writing style to support it all.

I want to thank Crown and Random House for providing an electronic review copy of this book to review.

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Review: Your Hidden Riches: Unleashing the Power of Ritual to Create a Life of Meaning and Purpose

Your Hidden Riches: Unleashing the Power of Ritual to Create a Life of Meaning and Purpose
Your Hidden Riches: Unleashing the Power of Ritual to Create a Life of Meaning and Purpose by Janet Bray Attwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

YOUR HIDDEN RICHES is not a re-packaging of THE SECRET or E-SQUARED, but it does take me away from my more recent thought-dumping exercises and moves me into something more structured. In other words, instead of a meditation, focusing on just breathing, the authors focus more on visualization that borders on the name-it-claim-it philosophy. You just won’t be talking to cacti or moving coat hangers with your mind (see those other books referenced).

The authors present a delicate balance of psychology and philosophy to achieve a little something for everyone. Each chapter shares personal stories of people seeking relationships, or money, or health, or whatever other common need/want there may be. Following these stories are the rituals. These aren’t séances, but rather habitual strategies set to focus your mind. For example, someone seeking a life partner could leave an open drawer in their dresser, anticipating someone soon moving in.

The key here: rituals don’t bind, they liberate. These aren’t “watch the clock and schedule” strategies, but rather life changes meant to produce desired and worthy results. Sure, some may decry that some of these are strange particulars, but I promise you that there is something worthwhile here for you. For me, I specifically enjoy the visualization of pink-colored energy flowing out of my heart, enveloping those people I may have difficulty understanding. Whether that pink energy is real or not, attitudes change when colored as such.

I also appreciate the authors’ liberty in citing other comparative works. For instance, I enjoyed learning about Byron Kate’s The Work. There, we learn to ask if something is true, what happens when we believe that thought it true, and who we become without that thought. Furthering this, we turn thoughts around on ourselves, we turn them around to other people, and we turn the thought on its opposite. We get the full picture. The specifics are outlined in the book.

The start of YOUR HIDDEN RICHES begins where the authors’ left off with their last book: your passion. The end-matter of YOUR HIDDEN RICHES delves into mandala-like structures of organizing thoughts and behaviors. To the newly initiated, this may seem deep or out-of-bounds, but slide gently along for the ride and you may be impressed…and hopefully, bettered.

Overall, YOUR HIDDEN RICHES provides great strategies to provide freedom, health, and other heart-desires. The information isn’t all new, but what is familiar has been referenced. This is a great collection of life-improving works. Thank you, Harmony and Crown, for sharing this book with me for review.

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Review: Me, Inc.

Me, Inc.
Me, Inc. by Gene Simmons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the most shocking things about the new Gene Simmons book: it is actually good. At first glance, the faux leather cover and ribbon book marker make Simmons’s ME, INC. appear as expected: contrived. Quite the contrary.

Die-hard KISS fans may not find much new here, besides some added inspiration. For the uninitiated, as I was, this book provides a keen insight on what made (and makes) Gene Simmons successful. As he describes it, his own due diligence and self-educating created his empire and the throne he sits upon. For someone chasing the proverbial American dream, Simmons provides quite the example.

This is a tamer, more heartfelt Simmons. And yes, I just used the word “heartfelt” in the same sentence as Simmons. Probably the most rowdy statement in this book is Simmons’s proclamation that everyone should learn English and speak it without an accent—as he did. Otherwise, Simmons exposes his many failures, the risks he took, and the successes he achieved, all in inspiring detail. Think of him as the Zig Ziglar of Rock and Roll.

Simmons’s voice is authentic throughout. As far as I can tell in the writing, and from what is written in the acknowledgements, I don’t think Simmons used a ghost writer. From what he speaks of his own hard work, it is not surprising that he would labor over a keyboard to produce this.
Every chapter ends with a not-necessarily-related quick blurb about success, such as knowing how money is exchanged and putting your all into something. They are nice to read, but the real meat and interest lies within the chapter.

In all, this is a better book than expected and quite motivating. The stories were fascinating to read and the advice seems sturdy. Thanks, Dey Street, for sending it to me for review.

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Review: Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them

Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them
Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them by Tina Gilbertson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s your party, you can cry if you want to. Cry if you want to. Cry if you want to. Or as Tina Gilbertson says in her new book CONSTRUCTIVE WALLOWING, “Even if the feelings are hard, it’s easier to feel them than to pretend they’re not there.” The goal of the whole book: feeling is healing.

“Think about a difference it could make in your life if you only had to deal with each feeling once instead of over and over again,” writes Gilbertson. And it’s true. Instead of pushing the feeling away, suppressing it, or covering it up, just deal with it. Wallowing is allowing. “Once I could accept my feelings as they were, they changed.”

The big pull of this book is Gilbertson’s TRUTH acronym that helps you establish a constructive wallowing process. I’ll give it away here, but you have to read the book for the full meaning and explanation:

T – Tell yourself the situation
R – Realize what you’re feeling
U – Uncover self-criticism
T – Try to understand yourself
H – Have the feeling

You may see wallowing as acceptance of the negative, but Gilbertson writes, “If you are serious about not being negative, don’t negate your own feelings.” Much like Tolle writes in my favorite book on feelings, Gilbertson echoes those sentiments with: “feelings are neither positive nor negative. They’re just feelings.”

I feel there are a couple of incongruent items in this book. Gilbertson says to explore your emotions and put a label on them (list of emotion names on page 62). This doesn’t jive with the strategy above about being positive or negative. She also allows bringing up past feelings as much as needed. This doesn’t concur with present-mindedness or feeling the emotion of the moment.

The whole of CONSTRUCTIVE WALLOWING stands upon solid advice that will help conquer the hurdles of emotion by dealing with them head-on.

Thanks to Viva Editions for sending this book to me for review.

You can find this book’s preview and other reviews here: Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them


Channel your inner Quixote and achieve your impossible dream with Chris Guillebeau’s THE HAPPINESS OF PURSUIT

The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life
The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is not about happiness. Throughout, the author writes about loneliness, failure, despair, and the “post-quest funk”. If you are seeking a book about happiness, I have some recommendations for you below. Instead, this book is about the quest. It is about channeling your inner Don Quixote and dreaming your impossible dream–and then going for it! This book is a guide: about picking your quest, planning your quest, and achieving your quest.

Are you ready? Author Chris Guillebeau says you are.

Quests come in all shapes and sizes. THE HAPPINESS OF PURSUIT gives you plenty of examples. You can decide knit or crochet 10,000 hats like Robyn Devine, or you can produce the world’s largest symphony performance like Gary Thorpe, or you can run marathons in 99 countries like John “Mad Dog” Wallace. The quest is up to you. It’s yours. Here are the categories that Guillebeau presents:


Guillebeau provides ways to discover your ideal quest, how to fund and prepare for it, how to keep a positive mindset during the lonely periods, and what to do if things don’t exactly tie-up. All of this kept reminding me of this quote from Steve Jobs:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Guillebeau has an inviting writing style that you’ll connect with. He talks and relates to everything from Shakespeare to video games. Judging by the other stellar reviews, Guillebeau has already made that connection hundreds of times.

Overall, if you need motivation, guidance, or support for your quest, THE HAPPINESS OF PURSUIT should be your go-to guide. And you are welcome for getting “To Dream the Impossible Dream” stuck in your head.

Here’s a video of the song for added effect:

As for those books about happiness, I recommend these:

10% HAPPIER by Dan Harris
THE POWER OF NOW by Eckhart Tolle (my favorite of the bunch)

Thank you Harmony for sending this book to me for review.

You can find this book’s previews and other reivews on Amazon: The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life


Review: The Anatomy of Dreams

The Anatomy of Dreams
The Anatomy of Dreams by Chloe Benjamin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I know the problem here: THE ANATOMY OF DREAMS’s description mostly defines the last third of the book. The pace picks up, the mystery tightens, and the suspense rises. Before that though…

We need a description that accurately describes the first two-thirds of the book. I’ll give it a go. Chloe Benjamin’s new book, THE ANATOMY OF DREAMS, tells the story of two kids, with two different histories, and two different personalities walk a unified path of mystery, love, and learning. Not all is as it seems. Benjamin slowly burns her reveal across two time periods, decades apart. The much admired professor holds secrets the main characters are not soon to find out.

This is a tale that flows with a casual energy, painting its tale with a youthful vibrancy. Relatable as a YA book, yet triggers deep enough to spark the adult mind.

Don’t expect to be dropped off the surprise cliff when events reveal at 65-percent, but pieces do assemble into a moving part the quickly speeds up. Enjoy the initial character-building moments and hold fast to the ride.

This is not the next INCEPTION, but THE ANATOMY OF DREAMS holds up well enough on its own. It just needs a description that describes the book as a whole.

Thank you Atria for providing me with an electronic copy of this book for review.

You can find this book’s preview and other reviews on Amazon: The Anatomy of Dreams: A Novel