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What Lurks in the Woods

What Lurks in the Woods: Struggle and Hope in the Midst of Chronic Illness, A Memoir by [Nicole Bell]

What Lurks in the Woods by Nicole Bell is a heart-wrenching, real-life love story that deals with a family’s struggle with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Nicole Bell and her husband, Russ, are living everyday life in North Carolina with their two toddlers Ryan and Hailey. Life is fast and hectic, with Nicole’s ever-increasing work in her high-tech medical device startup, which she joined when she was six months pregnant with Ryan. The fights and frustration became so frequent and overwhelming that Nicole considered leaving Russ when she saw the first sign. It was nothing big, just an issue with the home security alarm. But once she started noticing, the symptoms became more and more apparent. Placing the bowl in the wrong place, forgetting to pick up the kids. Russ had Alzheimer’s.

The book is a brilliant compilation of detailing various minor incidents and everyday life for a family dealing with a chronic disease. What makes this book stand out from other memoirs written about chronic illness and Alzheimer’s is that it isn’t written from the patient’s perspective. It highlights the struggles that not just the patient faces but how it impacts the people around them. We often forget the impact on the family and their contribution against this fight with fate and how their presence makes everything better and much more bearable. This memoir highlights a wife’s journey of love and dedication to her partner throughout his journey.

What Lurks in the Woods is an inspirational and emotional memoir that I would highly recommend for its heartfelt, raw, and authentic depiction of how a single member’s chronic illness impacts an entire family. This book is perfect for anyone with chronic disease as a significant part of their life, be it firsthand suffering or secondhand experience via a family member or a close friend.

Pages: 222 | ASIN: B09CJWWC9L

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Cleon’s by author’s April Pulliam and Amy Grantham is a feel-good read that will give you a nostalgic feeling. The book follows a little girl and her story of growing up in her historic house. The images that accompany the descriptions are captivating and bring the short story to life. As I read this heartfelt book I began to think about the house I grew up in as a child, although not nearly as historic or important, it reminded me of all the small things that you recall about your house, not the grand things everyone hears about, the minor things that effect you personally. I appreciated that the pictures were in black and white and had a rustic touch to it as it shows the age of the house and how time has passed as the little girl grew up. There’s little details to the pictures that tell a story all on their own.  I felt as though I was looking through the family’s scrapbook. The descriptions, as brief as they are, are so powerful that you are taken back in time and you can imagine the smells and sounds in Cleon’s house. You can feel the love, happiness, and safety that the little girl felt growing up in her home and how she hoped those same feelings would be passed on to the next generation.

In just thirty six pages the reader is taken on an emotional and reminiscent journey to Cleon’s house. Cleon’s is a short and sweet mini-family-saga, mini-memoir, mini-tribute to something that has affected an entire family, and generations past, and Amy shares her personal story in an evocative and charming way.

Pages: 36 | ASIN: B099BYLKWQ

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The Essential Journey

Christopher Kent Gilbert
Christopher Kent Gilbert Author Interview

The Noble Edge provides readers with actionable guidance they can use to make ethical decisions in their lives. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I want to start a sorely needed, national and dare I say, international, conversation about making good choices and trust building. In a time of deepening divisions and “alternative facts”, trust and authenticity grow more precious by the hour. The truth is that our most rewarding business, personal, and family relationships are founded on honesty. My book, The Noble Edge shatters the myth that situational ethics and half-truths are the right path to a rewarding life. It is based on nine research-proven steps and twenty-one principles for leading an ethically driven life. The book offers mastery of an essential virtue for living well and building strong, useful relationships. I wanted to create an accessible, and essential guidebook spiced with humor and personal experience about one of the most poignant purposes of life – the essential journey for our own moral progress.

What is a common obstacle you find people face when making ethical decisions?

It is what I have come to phrase the ethics out-of-body experience- in essence judging others with a different set of lenses than we judge ourselves. It’s the common act of standing apart from our own ability to make bad choices that we rationalize are right for us even as we see bad choice-makers caught in public sandals who do exactly the same thing only on a bigger scale. We need a shot in the arm to inoculate us against the thinking that bad ethics come from the bad folks and good ethics come from the rest of us when we all move up and down the moral ladder with our different choices every day.

What were some key ideas you wanted to share in this book?

I’ll tap three major ideas:

First and foremost, to remind folks that ethics are an exercise of our virtues not an exercise of our rights. Trustfulness and trustworthiness are perhaps the most important virtues that we have. Love may be our most human virtue, and an important one at that but what underscores true love is trust. Concentrate on the idea of creating more trust or at least not eroding any trust with every decision you make.

Second, we must stop thinking about ethics as situational or iffy or grey. Ethics, like the guardrails on a high bridge, are there to protect our direction- tell us the right choice. The situation may be complex and the right choice hard to see, but like those guardrails, there is guidance for the right path and protection against the wrong direction in our ethics. Using the phrase ethics are grey is like using the phrase, “sort of pregnant,” or “I sort of voted”, or “I’m sort of human”. Either you are or you are not , you did or you did not. Ethics tell us right from wrong and we are starved for that solid ground, especailly when we make our toughest choices.

And third, the most powerful action in the book is climbing the moral ladder. Each step brings greater moral clarity- from the lowest rung, the outcome of my ethical choice is all about me, to the middle rung, the outcome of my choice is about some of us, those I care about for instance, to the third and highest rung, the outcome of my ethical choice is about all of us- all of us affected by what happens. That is a powerful thought process for our ethics.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from your book?

The truth is, when it comes to an honest world, we have two choices. We can either continue down our current path of increasingly “situational ethics” that treat some more fairly than others and where honesty, empathy and compassion in our professional connections and personal relationships is the luck of the draw, or we can believe we have the capacity to create a world where integrity is practiced by everyone for everyone. The book is action-oriented toward that latter world

There is a great reward in thinking about advancing your character–climbing toward what the book describes as The Noble Edge. There is so much better of a world in knowing that we’re consistently making ethical choices. The community thrives and as it does, we thrive and visa versa. It is our two-fold moral purpose in life.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Being trusted is the foundation of our greatest personal freedoms.

In a time of deepening divisions and “alternative facts”, trust and authenticity grow more precious by the hour. More and more people find themselves driven to overcome the personal, professional and social pressures for ignoring what is right in favor of what passes for ‘success.’ They want:

Truth in their decisions
Authenticity in their relationships, and
Solid ground for making tough, ethical choices in business and life

The Noble Edge: Reclaiming an Ethical World One Choice at a Time provides these answers as Dr. Christopher Gilbert invites readers into an inspirational conversation spiced with personal stories, humorous anecdotes and invaluable guidance about making consistently good choices. Based on three research-proven steps and nine principles for leading an ethically driven life, The Noble Edge brings a fresh approach to personal growth and inspires real change to empower a brighter future.

As useful in the board room as the family room, this easy-to-follow book contains insightful stories and a powerful model that sharpens the ethical lens and empowers readers to examine their own standards and values by applying transformational concepts to their life. Most importantly, readers will finish The Noble Edge encouraged that they have the power and capacities— individually and collectively— to achieve moral progress and bring better ethics into their organizations, families, communities and the world.

Your Children Are Boring: or How Modern Parents Ruin Everything

Your Children Are Boring: or How Modern Parents Ruin Everything by [Tom James]

“You turned your house over to what is essentially a mentally ill dwarf with destructively nihilistic tendencies and no artistic merit.” Your Children Are Boring: or How Modern Parents Ruin Everything is filled with meme-able gems such as this quote. This humorous book is filled with incisive and funny observations on parents, children and humanity in general. Tom James provides an unabashed view of parenting in contemporary society. The tone and humor is reminiscent of the late great author Douglas Adams with his witty views of humanity or the comedian George Carlin, which is funny because I had this thought before seeing a quote from George Carlin in the book.

Each chapter begins with a quote about parenting or children from famous or revered people. This sets the tone for the short chapters and prepares readers for what they are about to dive into. There were many lines that made me literally laugh out loud. A good majority of the book felt perceptive and jocular, while a few times the text felt didactic, but all together felt fun. I’m a parent and can relate to a lot of the observations made and agree with the overall point of the book. Author Tom James makes this point in several clever and well researched ways. One of my favorites was the list of people with parents, at the top of the list was Saddam Hussein, contrasted with the list of people without parents, topping the list with Jane Austen and Francis Bacon.

If you have a good sense of humor, or at least you are not offended by the idea that your child may not be special, then you will certainly enjoy the humor found throughout this sharp examination of kids and parenting. Your Children Are Boring is a short and amusing book that challenges society’s modern view of parenting.

Pages: 98 | ASIN: B084KQXP53

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Into The Wild

Joanne Fedler
Joanne Fedler Author Interview

Unbecoming follows a woman who goes on a spiritual walk through the Australian bush to come to terms with her age and where she’s at in life. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The midlife turning point in my own life as well as the empty nest has come at a time when the future of the planet is under threat because of climate change. The world we birthed our children into 20 years ago is not the world they have inherited. So I sent my main character out of her comfort zone and into the wild to reconnect with the elements and with other women, whose stories and truths are a balm against the uncertainties of tomorrow.

Jo’s character was relatable and felt authentic. Did you pull anything from real life to inform her character?

Yes – Jo is based on me, as Frank is based on my husband, and the kids are loosely based on my kids. Unbecoming can be read as the third in a trilogy of books on motherhood (Secret Mothers’ Business and The Reunion precede it) and all three books have been based on real evenings, weekends and experiences I have had with groups of women.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Climate change, elderhood, menopause, letting go of our adult children, the wisdom of nature, ordinary women as heroes, and mortality.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have just completed working on a comic novel called Gagman with my 81 year old father, Dov Fedler (a political cartoonist) about an inmate in the concentration camps who survives by telling jokes to the commandant. It is currently with my literary agent and publishers

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

You can do one night, Jo reminds herself as she follows five women into the Australian bush.
Where are they going to sleep? And pee?
Jo probably should have let her husband Frank know. Just in case. Because you never know what can happen in the wild.
While on her three-month marriage-and-motherhood sabbatical in the country, Jo bumps into an old friend Fiona who invites her on a ‘sacred silent walk to mark her 57th birthday – the first since her husband Ben died.
The last thing Jo wants is to share anything about herself – these are Fiona’s friends, not hers. And what’s she going to say? That her young adult children have made life choices she doesn’t understand? That she has no idea who she is anymore? That everything is falling apart – even her ‘happy marriage’ to Frank?
But the unexpected intrusion of a young backpacker into their secret location, unleashes powerful and conflicting emotions in each woman, provoking conversations and confidences that stray into the shadowlands of motherhood, the mysteries of midlife, the future of monogamy and mother Earth.
Under the canopy of the open night sky, around a small, tended fire, the women share wise counsel, spill their secrets and offer up their stories, each exposing corners of truth the others need to hear.
Unbecoming is a funny, heartbreaking and provocative homage to the midlife unravelling as women on the brink of elderhood speak honestly about their lives and wonder what the hell to do with vaginas that are not ready to be put out to pasture just yet.

Adults In Training

Sue Donnellan
Sue Donnellan Author Interview

Secrets to Parenting Without Giving a F^ck provides practical advice for parents who feel overwhelmed by misbehaving kids. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I was a reluctant parent and reformed yeller. I felt my journey toward discovering how to become a better parent, break traditional parenting patterns we’ve used for generations and let go of worry and control that doesn’t serve you or your child would be immensely helpful for other parents to know. My methods are counterintuitive, even unorthodox, but they work and I wanted to share them with as many parents as I could to ease their stress and free up children to become who the individuals they are meant to be.

What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given you before having kids?

That parenting is layered and nuanced when you are doing it right. Parenting is about us as the parent, not fixing our child’s behavior. We’re taught that we’re bad parents if we can’t change the child. The truth is, and no one tells us this, that to save the child we have to change us, not control the child. Changing us requires specific awareness that leads us to the parenting mindset that creates harmony in the home.

What is a common misconception you feel people have about parenting?

That punishment and restriction corrects behavior. Restriction creates rebellion. Parents feel they are doing the right thing when they punish or restrict, but the opposite is true.

What is the single biggest challenge you’ve personally faced as a parent and how did you overcome it?

How to let go of control and see my children as ‘adults in training’. With that perspective, I was able to create partnership parenting techniques that formed a foundation of true respect and built relationships of lifelong trust with my kids. This mindset led to developing children who are independent-minded, self-directed and happy!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Are you tired of yelling, punishing, and reminding, yet experiencing no change in your child’s behavior? 

What if you could learn the transformative mindset that allows parents to get results without “fixing” their child’s bad behavior? 

In Secrets to Parenting Without Giving a F^ck, Sue Donnellan, parent mentor, author, mom of four (including triplets), and entrepreneur shares 20+ years of experience cultivating the effective thought process for successful parenting. She delivers a proven playbook for turning misbehaving kids into happy, respectful, well-adjusted young adults. 

End tantrums by learning how to respond to them

Eliminate back-talk by knowing how to avoid provoking it
Minimize lying with trust-creating strategies
Neutralize sibling fights using one simple method
Establish curfews and boundaries both you and your child are happy with
Increase your ability to prevent bad behavior, before it even starts
Directly influence your child’s great decision-making capabilities 
Nurture a strengthened relationship so deep it provides a lifetime of your kids wanting to share everything with you

Secrets to Parenting Without Giving a F^ck is the definitive book on parenting. Written as a no-nonsense action plan, this book covers ages 2-20 and all the necessary subjects in between, using humor and wisdom. 

Foreword written by Lana Gomez Maniscalco, Artist, Wife, Mom of two, Creative Director, What’s Wrong With People, Inc.

Secrets to Parenting Without Giving a F^ck

Secrets to Parenting Without Giving a F^ck: The Non-Conformist Playbook to Raising Happy Kids Without Public Meltdowns, Power Struggles, & Punishments by [Sue Donnellan]

Parenting is the hardest job you will ever love–I stand by those words. It is rewarding beyond measure. But it is terribly and undeniably difficult on the best of days. Not one of us is born knowing how to properly raise another human being to become a productive and happy member of society, and it takes a new level of concentration and determination to get our children to that point. Every decision we make is tempered and, if you are like me–second and even third-guessed. Sue Donnellan has gifted parents everywhere with the most common-sense guide on parenting to date.

Secrets to Parenting Without Giving a F^ck: The Non-Conformist Playbook to Raising Happy Kids Without Public Meltdowns, Power Struggles, & Punishments, by Sue Donnellan, is the parenting guide we all never knew we needed but cannot live without. After reading Donnellan’s book cover to cover, I understand myself and my parenting choice much more clearly. Unfortunately, I see myself in the author’s examples of struggling parents and not in her advice. I truly wish I had had this guidebook when my 18 and 19 year olds were in middle school–so many sanity-saving tips offered up by Donnellan.

Donnellan is not only brutally honest, but she is consistent with her advice. So many parenting tips feel iffy; they waver between doing what works and doing what’s comfortable. I have always hated taking the time to read a parenting book or blog only to find the author essentially wants you to become your child’s equal and talk incessantly about feelings in the midst of a full-blown terrible-twos tantrum. Donnellan knows what’s real–she knows how to get to the heart of the matter without giving in and giving up one’s role as the parent.

I love that the author focuses most on changing ourselves and allowing the ensuing changes in our children to happen naturally. This is common sense–why have I not seen it in my 19 years of parenting?

From handling our own feelings of guilt to allowing our children an occasional curse word but not allowing them to call anyone stupid, Donnellan covers all of parenting’s most pressing questions. Speaking of guilt, I am guilty of wanting to become too involved in solving my children’s problems. Donnellan has set me straight–on this and many other issues I have been battling with my young adults.

I am giving Secrets to Parenting Without Giving a F^ck: The Non-Conformist Playbook to Raising Happy Kids Without Public Meltdowns, Power Struggles, & Punishments, by Sue Donnellan, a powerful shout-it-from-the-rooftops 5 out of 5 stars! Every parent needs to be introduced to Donnellan and her common sense approach to parenting. Best friends, mothers, co-workers, and neighbors, add Donnellan’s book to your baby shower to-do list–you will make a difference in their lives for which your loved ones will always be grateful.

Pages: 212 | ASIN: B08VDZD9SM

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Golden Throat : My journey With Family In Faith

Golden Throat : My journey with family in faith by [Paul Francis Bickert]

Golden Throat: My Journey with Faith in Family by Paul Francis Bickert is a heartwarming memoir full of valuable life lessons. Golden Throat is the life story of Canadian news broadcaster Paul Francis Bickert. He walks us through his family tree and faith by sharing stories of their lives from the time they are born and into adulthood. Bickert demonstrates through his stories the importance of faith and how it can help bring us together and thrive no matter your sector of Christianity. If you’re looking for a book to lift your spirits, Golden Throat is a must-read!

Bickert is a genius when it comes to tantalizing descriptions! He takes small but crucial details and crafts them into beautiful descriptive sentences. Information that would otherwise seem mundane takes on a certain romanticism that I adored! His descriptions of the Candian Prairie were some of my favorites. Even if his story does not interest you, his writing style will keep you engaged throughout this emotionally-charged memoir.

I also want to touch on the uniqueness of the narrative flow of this memoir. Unlike many memoirs, Golden Throat does not solely focus on the author’s life experiences and story, but it also delves into his family’s. At the beginning of the book, we mainly focus on the upbringing of his parents and gain some insight into his grandparents. It was almost like the real-life version of a fictional family saga series. This unique approach is one of the main draws of this book for me.

And last but certainly not least, I want to touch on one of the most important lessons this book conveys. Bickert’s take on acceptance and unity despite diversity is a message that is much needed in today’s time. His thoughtful and experienced approach to the subject was sincere, genuine, and thought-provoking. Even if you are not a believer, this powerful message still stands.

Golden Throat: My Journey with Faith in Family by Paul Francis Bickert is an impassioned story of an intriguing family, and life, told in the most riveting way. Paul Francis Bickert has created a fantastic non-fiction book much deserving of its Plume Award for Literary Excellence. It’s a book that will soothe your soul.

Pages: 368 | ASIN: B08TTT2341

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