My Pick for A Better World of Books: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer #betterworldofbooks #indigenouswisdom #braidingsweetgrass

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When you open this book, you begin to fall inside of yourself. I can’t promise you the fall will be gentle or painless, but I can promise you the journey through the path of the prose will be exquisitely beautiful.

I was introduced to Braiding Sweetgrass many months ago by two close friends of mine. “You must read it,” they both told me and so finally I did. For Mother’s Day I requested a copy and got it. It took me two months to slowly devour its pages, savoring a few hundred words each night before I went to sleep. That’s how I recommend reading it. Alone and in a quiet space where your mind can wander into the depths of its narratives and find that sometimes uncomfortable, but always welcoming place, of home.

Naturalist, scientist, teacher, mother, and writer, Robin Wall Kimmerer has woven together stories from her own life, combined with indigenous wisdom, into her book Braiding Sweetgrass. Although there are so many words that rang through the walls of my heart and beat it fiercely with the call of truth, below is the passage that I marked because its words sand directly to the core of my being. In this one small paragraph, I felt the author calling me home. Her longing, also mine. A longing that I believe exists somewhere inside each of our cellular memories.

“I want to stand by the river in my finest dress. I want to sing, strong and hard, and stomp my feet with a hundred others so that the waters hum with our happiness. I want to dance for the renewal of the world.” — Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass, pg. 251

The world needs more books like Braiding Sweetgrass, written in languages that are approachable to each of us. Books that stir the detritus of indifference and even despair. Books that break open the shell of the self and allow it to bleed a bit before it seeks healing. Healing that can always be found in the Mother we all share.

About halfway through the book, Kimmerer tells us the story of “The Honorable Harvest.” On page 177 she writes, “I am not the vibrant leaves on the forest floor — I am the woman with the basket, and how I fill it is a question that matters. If we are fully awake, a moral question arises as we extinguish the other lives around us on behalf of our own. Whether we are digging wild leeks or going to the mall, how do we consume in a way that does justice to the lives that we take?”

Indigenous wisdom, as Kimmerer tells us, teaches to take “only that which is given.” How far most of us have traveled from that edict. How far we have traveled from the honorable harvest where we stand before the offering and take only what is offered.

While picking wild leeks, the author pauses and studies the abundance before her. She pauses to ask permission of the plant before she indulges in the taking of its life. In return for a “yes,” she digs into a pouch holding tobacco leaves and leaves a gift in exchange.

I have been practicing “The Honorable Harvest” with the land surrounding my house. Beside my natural lawn there is a patch of wild berries. This year the bushes are filled with abundance. I have formed a quiet agreement with the land and its offering. Take just as far as you can reach, leave the others for the wildlife. Each day, when I go out with my bowl to fill, I pick just as far as I can reach. If I reach too far, I am scolded by a thorn in my foot or arm, and so I back off and remind myself not to give into greed. Each day I fall a little more in love with the wild bushes and their plump purple berries that seem to magically appear while I sleep. And, I think they know it. As Kimmerer shows us in her stories, the Earth loves her children and honors our love with her gifts. When we love her back, the harvest blooms with abundance.

If you feel the calling, as I did, to purchase a copy of Braiding Sweetgrass, please consider finding it at your local bookstore. And when you do, perhaps take a moment to honor, in your individual way, the trees that formed its pages, the soil, water, and sun that nourished their growth, and the author and the bookstore for bringing its exquisite teachings into your hands.

To discover more about Braiding Sweetgrass and Robin Wall Kimmerer, please visit these links:

The publisher of the book: Milkweed 

Dr. Kimmerer’s faculty page at SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry

Robin Wall Kimmerer on Wikipedia 

Are you an author with a vision for a better world? Do you have a published book of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction that uplifts and empowers readers to create a more positive inner and outer environment? If so, I’d love to hear more about it. On a “Better World of Books,” I interview authors and review books of all genres that offer a vision for a better world. If you think your work is a part of this vision, please contact Alethea

 

 

Introducing Dancing Jaguar’s Book Club Featuring The Labyrinth! #bookclub #kidsbookclub #spiritcamp #dancingjaguar #middlegrade

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May Selection for Dancing Jaguar’s Book Club 

I’m excited and honored to announce my middle-grade metaphysical fantasy book, The Labyrinthwill be featured this month in Dancing Jaguar’s Kids’ Book Club!

Eva Goulette, the vision behind Dancing Jaguar Inspirations and Dancing Jaguar’s Spirit Camps, will be hosting this virtual book club via Zoom. It is free and open to all, but recommended for ages 8-13. th

During the May series, when Eva and the kids will be exploring the magical world of The Labyrinth, I will be making special author appearances.

There is no purchase necessary to join the Book Club. Kids and their parents are encouraged to explore the book’s companion site, Warriors Of Light Club, for an introduction to its metaphysical teachings and the six young protagonists, Aponi, Shesha, Lupe, Dell, Ari, and Sula. While exploring, visitors who have not yet read The Labyrinth can try to guess what each character’s power animal is.

The hints are in the names…

The thirteen-year-old protagonists in The Labyrinth have a lot in common with the children and teens who attend Dancing Jaguar’s camps and events. Although the six teens do their best to blend into their outer world, each harbors gifts that are not easily embraced or understood by those around them. In the magical world of the labyrinth, though, the rules of the outer world break down and the teens learn to become empowered warriors of light.  Here in this strange and mysterious realm, the nature of their true selves are revealed, as the warriors learn to embrace the strengths of their power animals, work together to repair the broken lines of light in Earth, and save Aponi’s mother who is trapped inside the shadows of her mind.  But first they must save each other…

To learn more about the book club, or Dancing Jaguar Inspirations, and Dancing Jaguar Spirit Camps and events for kids, please visit Eva’s website. Here you can explore the wonderful and nurturing environment Eva has created for kids and teens who are seeking to understand and embrace their true selves. I’m including a brief description from her site, which describes the essence of Eva’s mission and the wonderful opportunity for enrichment she has created for youth through her camps:

“With a holistic approach to integrating mind, body, and spir­it, this camp teaches children how to nurture their inner world.  We live in a modern society that places value on nurturing the mind and body.  Dancing Jaguar’s Spirit Camp teaches children how to nurture their heart and spirit. When children are encouraged to trust their intuition, honor their truth, and speak from the heart, they can develop their inner compass and trust themselves to make choices in high school and beyond that will sustain them.”

I have known Eva for years, although we only met in-person last summer, and have had the honor of following her vision and see it grow and flourish. She is a kindred spirit, with a strong passion for empowering and nurturing young minds and bodies so that they can grow with confidence in a world that can sometimes seen harsh and insensitive. I could not be more grateful that she has chosen to share her wisdom and the beauty of her light while she offers to explore the magical world of The Labyrinth with young seekers.

If you know a child who might be interested in the book club, or in Eva’s spirit camps, which have expanded into the virtual world at this time of social distancing, please share.

 

 

A Review of Tasha Halpert’s Collections of Poems, Love Notes & Recipes for a Mindful and Joyful Life on “A Better World of Books” #inspiration #selfhelp

71-5ZakMn5L._US230_Tasha Halpert is a practical mystic, poet, and writer. She has been teaching the paths to inner peace and wellbeing for more than five decades. Tasha  lives in Massachusetts with her husband and writes a weekly column, “Good Earthkeeping,” for the local newspaper, and a weekly inspirational Internet column, “Heartwings.” She is staff poet and storyteller for The Unicorn.

It’s a genuine pleasure to feature two of Tasha Halpert’s books on “A Better World of Books.”  Although Tasha lives only one state over from me, and is a fellow yogi, we have only met through the virtual world of blogging. A few weeks ago she kindly sent me copies of her books Heartwings: Love Notes for a Joyous Life and Up to My Neck in Lemons: Love Notes, Poems, and Lemon Recipes for me to review for my blog feature.

Both of Tasha’s books offer an inspirational collection of poetry, anecdotes, and mindfulness exercises. Up to My Neck in Lemons also contains delightful recipes and medicinal uses for lemons interspersed throughout the pages. Perhaps this is why I particularly enjoyed this collection by Halpert.

41uEIP1BmoL._AC_UY218_Although Halpert’s two books are similar in nature, and are in the Self-Help/Inspiration genre, their content is unique. Tasha’s earlier book, Heartwings: Love Notes for a Joyous Life is presented in eight parts, each of which focuses on a topic related to living a mindful and joyous life. Short, relatable poems flow into personal narratives and simple mindfulness exercises for readers to practice, if they choose to.

I particularly appreciated the author’s willingness to demonstrate growth through her own experiences as she shows the readers it is okay not to be perfect, and that imperfection is a seed for growth. Many of Tasha’s metaphors center around nature and the symbolism of the seasons.  Gardening is a central theme throughout, and is a healing, mindful practice central to Halpert’s own life.

One of my favorite poems of Tasha’s appears on page 32 of  Heartwings. It’s called “The Apple Tree,” and begins with these lines: “The bark of the old tree is dappled with lichen and shade/ Making a pattern like runes, like pebbles strewn for good or for ill,/ Leaves layer against blue sky, white clouds,/ Dapple them with green. / Thirsty to grow, small green apples drink the light.” The last line I find to be particularly lovely and illustrative of the interconnectedness of all life.

Pulled from a review on Amazon, J. White wrote this about Tasha’s collection, “Heartwings reads like liquid ambrosia, whether savored a few pages at a time or consumed all at once. Tasha’s writing style is comfortable and personal and her gardening metaphors resonate beautifully. Her perspective of mindful joy demonstrates that focusing on the simplest essentials can often provide the highest rewards.”

In her more recent book, Halpert takes a lighter tone, as illustrated by her title, Up To My415O+ebFhSL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ Neck in Lemons, using lemons as her metaphor for a mindful and joy-filled life. I really enjoyed the layout of this book and the way Tasha wove her more serious pieces between the more whimsical recipes. I found myself looking forward to the recipes and historical anecdotes about lemons.  As with her earlier book, Tasha uses her own life as an example to draw upon for life experience. She is both honest and gentle with herself, as she is with her readers.

One of my favorite passages appears on page nine of the book, which contains a personal narrative illustrating gratitude titled “Thanks to Give.” In her third paragraph, Halpert writes, “There are now many things in life I am grateful for that I did not receive when I wanted them. I am now glad that there were roads I was unable to take, though at the time I thought them desirable. There are things I had hoped to accomplish that I had to give up trying to do. I now recognize these experiences and others like them as true blessings.” It is a beautiful reminder of how life has a way of leading us in unexpected was, which may at first appear undesirable or even disappointing, but there are always gifts to be found in the journey.

An Amazon reviewer, Doreen, had this to say about Up To My Neck in Lemons: “I keep this book near my favorite chair. Open to any page and you’ll have a delightful poem, poignant story or special recipe to help with life’s “lemons.” You are sure to smile, reflect or ponder. Tasha opens her heart to all the emotions, and writes so honestly and wisely.”

Both of Tasha’s books could easily find a home nestled on one’s favorite chair, on a bed stand, or on the shelf of a meditation or yoga room. It is clear, through her writing, that the author has led a full and contemplative life. Halpert has the soul of a yogi, ever-searching for meaning, and the admirable ability to pull the sweetness from what life gives her. Her books are filled with inspiration and wisdom gleaned from her life experiences. I am not sure if I can recommend one over the other. For readers who are searching out ways to lead a more mindful life perhaps they would be best served beginning with Tasha’s book Heartwings. On the other hand, if you are already on a mindful path and are looking to add some flavor to your life, particularly with the taste of lemons, I recommend diving into Up To My Neck in Lemons. You’ll find yourself relating to Halpert’s stories and poems as well as running to the store to stock up on lemons to try some of her sweet recipes.

To follow Tasha’s writing and teachings, please visit her website, Heartwings and Friends. You can also find her on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Are you an author with a vision for a better world? Do you have a published book of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction that uplifts and empowers readers to create a more positive inner and outer environment? If so, I’d love to hear more about it. On a “Better World of Books,” I interview authors and review books of all genres that offer a vision for a better world. If you think your work is a part of this vision, please contact Alethea

Songs of Heartstrings by Miriam Hurdle on A Better World of Books #bookreviews #poetrybooks

front-cover4I have the honor of featuring Miriam Hurdle’s Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beautitude on A Better World of BooksThe collection was chosen as the solo “Medalist Winner” in the Poetry category of the 2019 New Apple Summer eBook Awards. It has also received much praise from its extensive readership.

Although I have never met Miriam, I have followed some of her posts through the world of blogging and had heard of, but had yet to read, her poetry collection. After I downloaded the Kindle version of Songs of Heartstrings, I  hardly put it down. As I read it, in basically one sitting, I felt a deep feeling of kinship and empathy grow within me through the author’s words and images. 55f8192d3ef2a593c5d56cb0286e1655

The reader soon learns Miriam has endured her share of life challenges, which include divorce, estrangement (and later reunion) with her daughter, and surviving cancer. These experiences shape, but do not define the spirit of the poet and artist who narrates her life’s journeys through a memoir told with poetry and images.

There are moments when Miriam’s words pull the heartstrings of pathos, catching the breath until the last word is reached. Juxtaposed with this, are poems full of hope and the inspiration of her faith in the Creator and the endurance of life.

I found myself particularly drawn to Miriam’s poetic narratives that evoke her faith, and the inspiration, strength and wisdom she finds in the natural world. Through her lovely photographs, paintings, and words, the artist reflects on the eternal goodness of life that weaves through even its most difficult moments. Mariam’s capacity to find the light inside moments of darkness is a balm for those who may be struggling through their own hardships, or are seeking a greater sense of connection and purpose.  I am so glad Miriam has chosen to share her beautiful soul through the spirit of her words and images.

You can get a peak at Miriam’s poetry, photographs, and paintings on her website and on Amazon. I particularly encourage you to read the preface of her book, which can be found through Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature. It will pull you into her world and won’t let you go until you are finished the book. In it, Miriam writes some of my favorite lines in the collection, “Life is born to live. The human instinct, no matter how faint it is, seeks the tiny window of light that sheds the warmth to bring the heartbeat to meet the desire to survive.” Miriam’s life is a testament to this desire, which is mirrored in each word she writes.

There are several wonderful reviews of Miriam’s collection on Amazon, and I have chosen two to share here:

“In some ways, Hurdle’s collection of poems reminded me of a memoir. The book is divided into “Songs” (sections) that cover different aspects of her life’s journey. Among them, the author touches on her love of nature; her reflections on relationships, marriage, parenting, cancer treatment; and her remembrances of the people who were meaningful in her past. The poetry is complemented by Hurdle’s photos and artwork. This gentle book provides an afternoon of peacefulness as all of the poems reflect the author’s innermost heart. One of my favorites is a villanelle entitled “I Sat in my Garden.” I highly recommend this collection for readers who enjoy a glimpse into a poet’s life through her words.” — D.W. Peach
“I asked my husband to buy me this book and I couldn’t wait for it to arrive. As soon as Miriam’s book arrived, my intent was to do what I always do and read a few pages to see what it was going to be like. I couldn’t stop reading it! I read it in one sitting. This is a book that I will certainly read again, and again. It is wonderful. It is beyond wonderful! A few poems made me cry, but there were many more that were such a blessing to read. Miriam’s book stirred such emotions with each turn of the page taking me on a journey through her life. All I can say is it is just amazing. The black and white pictures show well, so does the artwork. The book is more than a book of poems. It is a walk through Miriam’s life, her struggles, triumphs, faith and her family. Miriam was expressing, and telling her life stories in each poem. I love it. Great book.”– Gary Ewell

If you would like to learn more about Miriam, or to follow her on social media, you can find her at:

The Showers of Blessings (her website)

Twitter

Are you an author with a vision for a better world? Do you have a published book of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction that uplifts and empowers readers to create a more positive inner and outer environment? If so, I’d love to hear more about it. On a “Better World of Books,” I interview authors and review books of all genres that offer a vision for a better world. If you think your work is a part of this vision, please contact Alethea

Meet author Annika Perry and her love of writing on “A Better World of Books” #authorinterview

annika-perryAnnika Perry is an award-winning author, blogger and book reviewer. She has two books in print and is working on a third. I asked Annika to be a guest for A Better World of Booksafter I learned about the release of her childrens book, Oskars Quest. Bette Stevens, a reviewer of the book, had this to say about it, In this beautifully illustrated childrens book, author Annika Perry captures the importance of caring for others, overcoming fears and making new friends.

 

Annika, thank you for being a guest for A Better World of Books.Can you tell our readers how you came up with the idea for Oskars Quest?

Alethea, I am delighted to be here and thank you so much for inviting me on to your blog. I’m loving your insightful questions and I have enjoyed reflecting over my books, writing and characters.

Initially, Oskar’s Quest was a story I told my son at bedtime many years ago. The story developed over several nights and it became one of his (and my) favourites. For a couple of years, I would tell him the story, embellishing certain elements, removing others. As my son started to read books himself at nighttime, Oskar’s Quest was nearly, but not quite forgotten. Upon the advice of my mother (eternal thanks for everything!), I wrote down the story to save it.

Last year I revisited Oskar’s Quest and after much rewriting and editing I crafted the book as it is today!

What a wonderful gift for your son. Can you tell us who Oskar is and how his questbegins?

Initially swept away by the thought of adventures, Oskar joins the other birds to look for dragons but he is overcome by fear and turns for home. In a tumultuous storm, he finds himself on a mysterious island in need of help. Much to his surprise, he volunteers to rescue Maya the golden songbird from the formidable clouds. So, his quest begins …

Sounds like he has quite the adventure ahead! Is Oskar, or any of your other fictional characters, inspired by someone you know? If so, can you tell us what drew you to use real-life characters as models for your fiction? Or, are they all completely made up?

Oskar is all of us! Within each of us resides fear and doubt. That voice, whether quiet and niggling, or loud and controlling! I wanted to portray these emotions through an animal and came up with the idea of Oskar. As Oskar finds his courage, I wanted to empower children to look within themselves to find their inner strength. I always believe we are much stronger than we ever imagine.

In my collection of short stories, The Storyteller Speaks, a couple of stories are loosely based on my grandparent’s lives. Their strength, honesty and love influenced me tremendously and I hope to do them proud in my own life and through my writings. Although both have passed away I feel their love and care around me, at times almost hearing their chuckles, as they comment upon our lives.

The majority of the characters in my writings are made-up, sometimes based around real-life events but the protagonists are creations of my imagination and it is pure magic to bring ‘life’ to these fictional beings.

I love that you aim to empower children through your words. I’m curious why you chose Oskar to be a bird, and not a human or mammal, or even a fishWhy a bird?

I have always been drawn to birds, their sense of freedom in their flight. Birds also symbolise so much which I hold dear; not only freedom, peace, and harmony, but also empowerment, purity, and elegance. These are all qualities I hoped to convey with Oskar whilst reflecting upon his indomitable spirit. We all need to remember we can rise above our adversities in life, in whatever form they may take.

Such wonderful symbolism! In your childrens book animals talk as well as plants. It makes for a delightful read while opening a childs mind to wonderment. As a child, did you ever find yourself imaging that nature was talking to you? Or perhaps it did

Alethea, my childhood books made a huge impact on me and I have always enjoyed ones with talking animals and plants. To me, it seemed normal and I absorbed the stories wholeheartedly! Alas, at no stage has any animal or plant talked to me … yet! Or perhaps they have, and I just failed to understand their language! I often had long ‘conversations’ with my guinea pigs and from their noisy squeaks, I imagined their exciting adventures!

That rather sounds like your guinea pigs were doing their best to converse with you. I wonder, what is your favorite character you have ever created, and why?

Oh, this is a tricky one, Alethea! Obviously, Oskar is one of my favourite characters and he will always have a special place in my heart.

In The Storyteller Speaks there are so many varied and wonderful characters, and for me one in particular stands out.

Karin in “The Whiteout Years” is portrayed through the eyes of her husband Carl. She is a person who lived life to the fullest, her spirit at times too large for this world. Outwardly tough, she was vulnerable, and Carl could see through her being to her inner core. Even in death, her love knows no bounds as she reaches out to save the life of Carl

It sounds like Karin is a force of great strength. If you, yourself, could change anything about the world, what would it be?

I would strive for the elimination of hatred through kindness and understanding. The force of hatred from so many in society feels overwhelming at times. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels as if they’re drowning in all the negativity and anger. The world is the most astonishing place, its very existence miraculous. What a damming indictment upon humankind that so much energy is directed towards evil instead of goodness, warmth, and love towards each other.

Unfortunately, I have begun to despair that much will change. However, I strongly believe in the ‘butterfly’ effect and that every positive action will ripple out into the world and have some significance even if in the minutest of forms.

I too believe that small, positive actions can change the world in unknown ways. Can you give us a hint at future writing projects? What can your readers expect next from you?

I never stop writing and I have a couple of bigger writing projects on the go which I hope to bring to publication this year! One is finishing my novel, Island Girl, which has been delayed as I worked on my other books. I look forward to returning full-time to the book, editing, rewriting, and polishing before it is fully ready.

Meanwhile, my love for short stories is unfettered and I’m currently working on a short story idea which intrigued me as it is based entirely on dialogue. It’s challenging and hugely enjoyable creating a fictional world through speech alone.

My notebooks, both paper and digital ones, are crammed full of ideas for stories, novels and children’s books … I can’t see myself ever stopping this writing lark!

That’s good news for your readers! If you wish to learn more about Annika and her writing, you can find her at: 

 

Annika’s Blog

Twitter

Annika-Perry-Author.com

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads

Linkedin

 

 

Are you an author with a vision for a better world? Do you have a published book of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction that uplifts and empowers readers to create a more positive inner and outer environment? If so, I’d love to hear more about it. On a “Better World of Books,” I interview authors and review books of all genres that offer a vision for a better world. If you think your work is a part of this vision, please contact Alethea

Featured Book: Chakra Empowerment for Women by Lisa Erickson #ABetterWorldOfBooks #bookreviews #newrelease #womenshealth

I am honored to be featuring Lisa Erikson’s newly released book, Chakra Empowerment for Women on “A Better World of Books.”

OfficialAuthorPhotoCloseup-square-1024x1024Lisa Erickson is a writer, chakra-based energy worker, and a teacher who specializes in women’s energetics and sexual trauma healing. She is trained in a variety of energy healing modalities, and is certified in mindfulness meditation instruction and trauma sensitivity. Lisa is a member of the International Association of Meditation Instructors, the American Holistic Health Association, the Energy Medicine Practitioners Association, and The Breathe Network, a non-profit dedicated to supporting holistic healing for sexual trauma survivors. She blogs at Mommy Mystic.

I first met Lisa through her blog and have been following her posts for several years. When she announced the publication of her book devoted to empowering women by helping them to connect to, and work with their body’s energy centers, or chakras, I asked her if she would like to be featured on a “A Better World of Books.”

Lisa’s passion for helping women embrace their power, in particular those who have experienced sexual trauma, is not only inspirational, it is infused into all aspects of her life’s work. Chakra Empowerment for Women is a testament of this devotion.chakra-empowerment-cover-600x899 In just over 200 pages of text, Lisa has provided women with an essential toolkit of empowerment and healing. She writes in a manner that is approachable for those not versed in the language of the chakras, while offering a transformational guidebook for women of all ages and walks of life.

Using the  more widely known 7-chakra based system, Lisa guides her readers through the body’s energy centers, from the root to the crown, providing step-by-step methods using visualization, breath-work, body/hand positions, and sound, to connect with and activate the body’s energy centers.  After she guides her reader’s through the chakras, Lisa provides four more empowerment techniques for women to increase vitality and abundance, heal imbalances, create healthy boundaries and protections, and to connect more deeply with the sacred power of the feminine energy body.

Lisa writes in a straightforward manner that is easy to understand as she takes her readers through the body’s energy centers and explains the role and potential held within each one. Offering anecdotes based on her work as a healer and teacher, Lisa demonstrates the power of a woman’s body and its ability to heal and resolve trauma and imbalances through simple, yet effective techniques.

As a fellow energy worker, I found myself deeply engaged with Lisa’s book. In particular, I admired her support of helping women to discover the power they already hold inside of them.  Along with guided exercises to engage with the body’s energy systems, Lisa provides full-color illustrations to aid in the visualization aspect of each of her empowerment techniques. And, for those who prefer to work with audio recordings, mp3 files can be found on the book’s companion website, ChakraEmpowermentForWomen.com

While reading Lisa’s book, I found my eyes opening more deeply into the awareness of the way women’s energy bodies tend to differ from men’s, and the gifts that reside within. Chakra Empowerment for Women is a go-to manual for any woman (or individual aligning with a more feminine energy body) who is seeking a deeper understanding of self, and wishes to both heal and embrace the innate power held within her body of energy. Chakra Empowerment for Women will now have a place on the self of the library in my healing and yoga studio. It will be positioned beside other books that I hold dear to my heart as reference not only for myself, but for those who come to me looking for resources and advice.

To learn more about Lisa and Chakra Empowerment for Women please visit her website.

You can also follow the author on social media via these direct links:

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

WordPress 

LinkedIn

 

Are you an author with a vision for a better world? Do you have a published book of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction that uplifts and empowers readers to create a more positive inner and outer environment? If so, I’d love to hear more about it. On a “Better World of Books,” I interview authors and review books of all genres that offer a vision for a better world. If you think your work is a part of this vision, please contact Alethea. 

Author Interview: Meet Darlene Foster on A Better World of Books #kidlit #childrensauthor #authorinterview

thDarlene Foster is a writer of children’s stories, a retired employment counsellor, an ESL tutor, a wife, mother and grandmother. Her grandson once gave her the nickname “super-mega-woman-supreme.” Darlene was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. Her book series for children follows the heroine Amanda Ross as she travels throughout the world and learns the history and culture of faraway places.

 Darlene, thank you so much for being a guest on “A Better World of Books!” Please tells us a little about the inspiration for your character Amanda Ross.

Amanda Ross is the twelve-year-old I would have liked to be. I had a wonderful rural upbringing but my world was limited and I was bored. My grade three teacher taught us about faraway places which sparked my interest in traveling the world and experiencing these places myself. Much later, as an adult, I took a trip to the United Arab Emirates and was fascinated by the culture, the people, the landscape and the food. I thought about how I would have felt if I had visited such an amazing place as a young person and began to write a story from the point of view of a twelve-year-old. Children view the world from a different perspective. Everything is fresh, new, and exciting. They are not yet jaded. Oh, to be a child again! For me, writing books for children, and the young at heart, is the next best thing.

You shared with me your “hope that children will read [your] books and become more tolerant of our differences.” Can you provide one or two moments from your books when your character Amanda learns about tolerance and unity through diversity?

By traveling to other places in the world, Amanda embraces the cultural differences and learns that basically people are all the same. She befriends local people wherever she goes and is always eager to help, often putting herself in danger. In England, she makes friends with a couple of tough street kids, in Germany a homeless musician, and in the UAE a princess avoiding an arranged marriage. In New Mexico, she shares a room with a classmate with mental health issues. Amanda learns through her travels that outward appearances can be deceiving.

In Holland, Amanda visits the Anne Frank house and is moved to tears as she becomes aware of the devastating effects of intolerance. Even her friend, Leah, who on the surface appears to be less caring than Amanda, is affected and shares a story of standing up against racial prejudice in her school in England. I think it is important that these atrocities are not forgotten by the younger generations.

One reviewer of Amanda in England: The Missing Novel stated, “In this story, Amanda makes some new and interesting friends and there is a subtle message about not judging a person by how they look and speak, which I liked.” – Robbie Cheadle

It sounds like Amanda is learning valuable lessons on being a compassionate person during her travels. On your website, you write, “I believe everyone has a right to dream and everyone has the capability to make their dreams come true.” What is Amanda’s dream and has it come true?

Amanda’s dream was to travel. In the first book, Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask, she wished for travel and adventure before she blew out the candles on her twelfth birthday cake. The next day, she received a ticket in the mail to visit her aunt and uncle in the United Arab Emirates. That dream did come true and inspired her to do more traveling. She saved up her babysitting money and weekly allowance in order to visit Leah in Spain and England. She invites Leah to visit her in Canada and both families take a trip down the Danube. Her dreams of visiting other countries have certainly come true, but sometimes they become nightmares as she attempts to help other people and gets herself into dangerous situations. However, that doesn’t stop her from helping people, or animals, in trouble.

How wonderful that Amanda never gives up trying to make the world a better place. What is your own dream for a “Better World?”

My dream for a better world is for everyone to get along in spite of cultural, religious, and political differences, enabling all children to feel safe and cared for. I know I am not alone in this dream.

You are definitely not alone. I believe you’ve written seven Amanda Ross adventures so far! Is there a fan favorite among the series? If so, what do you think makes that adventure stand out among the others?

I seem to have sold more of Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting. I’m not sure why that is. There is a lot of action in the book and Spain is a diverse and intriguing country. A young girl, who looks a lot like a girl in a famous painting, needs help to rescue her precious pony from nasty horse kidnappers. Amanda, an animal lover, is only too eager to help her. One reviewer stated, “Amanda in Spain is a book for the young and the young-at-heart. Vivid descriptions of the country and its customs, humorous details, and enough tension that keeps you turning the page, make this a very enjoyable reading.” – Christa Polkinhorn

That certainly does sound like an exciting adventure! Can you give us a hint as to where Amanda will go next and what she might encounter along the way?

Amanda will be going to Malta next where she will encounter a fascinating land with a colourful history, ancient temples, prehistoric artifacts and unpleasant people shooting endangered birds. Leah is in trouble and Amanda is desperate to help her best friend.

Oh, if I could choose one place in the world that I could go to, aside from Egypt, it would be Malta! I’m looking forward to Amanda’s adventure there. I wonder, if  there was one “superpower” that you could endow upon each child at birth, what would it be?

My first response was to grant them the inability to hate. But, children already have that at birth. It’s the influence of others that give them the ability to hate. Perhaps the “superpower” would be to be able to eradicate hate and evil without the use of violence. By the next generation, hate would be gone and all children would be safe from harm. What a wonderful world that would be.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to be interviewed on your wonderful blog.

And thank you, Darlene! I couldn’t agree more with your vision for the world. 

If you would like to learn more about Darlene and her heroine Amanda, please visit her social media pages below:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Website

Blog

Goodreads

Amazon author page

“It’s never the differences between people that surprise us. It’s the things that, against all odds, we have in common.” – from the book Short, by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Are you an author with a vision for a better world? Do you have a published book of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction that uplifts and empowers readers to create a more positive inner and outer environment? If so, I’d love to hear more about it. On a “Better World of Books,” I interview authors and review books of all genres that offer a vision for a better world. If you think your work is a part of this vision, please contact Alethea

 

 

Celia and the Little Boy by Irene Applebaum Buchine on A Better World of Books #ChildhoodDepression

irene-buchine-portraitIrene and I met at a bookstore in rural, NH. Neither one of us knew the other would be there on that early spring day, but later it seemed fated. Irene and I soon discovered we share a driving passion to help children navigate through the challenges of life. In particular, Irene is focused on childhood depression, a topic near and dear to her heart.

Life has brought to Irene her share of challenges, including growing up with dyslexia and raising a child who suffered from depression from an early age. Her life experiences inspired Irene to write and illustrate her book, Celia and the Little Boy.

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“For all the children who dwell alone in the darkness and those who can see them.”

Celia and the Little Boy tells the tale of a child trapped in the darkness and a little girl who helps him to find the light. Although it is written in a manner approachable to young children, Irene’s story has also touched the hearts of teenagers and adults. Mine included.

Through her tale, Irene evokes her personal story,  and the story of anyone who has endured the feelings of entrapment inside inner darkness. There are only three characters in the book, Celia, a little boy hiding under a porch, and an inchworm who joins Celia to inspire the boy to emerge from his hiding place. But, there is one more player in the tale, Celia’s grandfather, whose words of wisdom, and a life lived through wonderment, have instilled within Celia the knowing that the world is in many ways what you make of it. If you look for it, there is always good to be found. And, when viewed with the eyes of wonder, life can be magical. Like the seemingly simple journey of a caterpillar, or the magnificence of the stars in the sky.

As Celia shares the stories of time spent with her beloved grandfather, the little boy slowly makes his way out of the darkness and into the light. Irene’s books is beautifully written using metaphor and analogy in a way that is relatable, inspiring, and poignant.

Celia and the Little Boy travels with Irene to spark discussions about childhood depression and the book has received numerous endorsements and high praise. Justice John T. Broderick Jr. said this of her story, “Celia and the Little Boy should be required reading in every grade school in America. The simple yet powerful story it tells opens the door to feelings and empathy that are increasingly cast aside in our virtual world. Data and information are invaluable but emotional wellbeing is essential to a fulfilling life. Irene’s wonderful book will aid that journey by both inspiring and touching children.”

I agree. One day soon, I hope it is.

If you’d like learn more about her book, or follow Irene’s journey, you can find her at irenebuchine.com

Are you an author with a vision for a better world? Do you have a published book of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction that uplifts and empowers readers to create a more positive inner and outer environment? If so, I’d love to hear more about it. On a “Better World of Books,” I interview authors and review books of all genres that offer a vision for a better world. If you think your work is a part of this vision, please contact Alethea. 

I Review Amazing Matilda: A Monarch’sTale by Bette A. Stevens for A Better World of Books #bookreviews #childrensbooks

52ca1c7db77f2615817ce50b65e2e2acI am thrilled to be featuring Bette Steven’s award-winning children’s book, Amazing Matilda: A Monarch’s Taleon “A Better World of Books.” Bette resides in Maine and finds her inspiration for her writing through “nature and human nature.”  She is an advocate for childhood literacy and the protection of monarch butterflies and their habitat. Her book Amazing Matilda combines her passions into an engaging story about a young caterpillar’s journey of growth and transformation as she becomes a monarch butterfly.

Matilda’s tale begins when she emerges into life as a tiny caterpillar with an innate desire to fly. The world is spread before her and she is eager to explore it with wings. Her journey evokes the inner child that exists in all of us. Matilda is filled with the promise of life, but she must learn trust and patience as she grows from a caterpillar into a butterfly with wings! Fortunately for Matilda, she has friendly and wise teachers to guide her along the way. While Frog and Rabbit teach her patience, Sparrow flies in now and then to encourage Matilda to never give up on her dream as she fills her with words of wisdom. Bette even offers downloadable finger puppets to accompany her book and help bring her story to life.

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I found Amazing Matilda to be both delightful and insightful. Her gift for storytelling shines through her words, which are illuminated by her lovely illustrations. One cannot help being captivated by her pages filled with positive inspiration for young readers and listeners eager to discover their own unique gifts and bring them out into the world. It is no wonder that reviewers of her book are adding it to their libraries and classrooms. I have no doubt Matilda has, and will continue to inspire children, as well as their caregivers, to never give up on their dreams!

 

A Few Reviews for Amazing Matilda

“Children of all ages will be able to relate to monarch’s plight in some way. The tale will also inspire readers to not only follow their dreams, but to encourage others to do the same. One’s dreams are never too bit, but with the support of friends and family, as well as with patience and determination, anyone can reach their goal. The sky is the limit. This story is a true gem and one that will inspire children for years to come.”  Renee Hand (award-winning adult and children’s book author of interactive mystery series. Renee reviews for the New York Journal of Books. ) 

“This book conveys a wonderful message to children. A message about patience and self-belief, and that if you have your heart set on something, and try hard enough, you will get there in the end. It is a beautifully written book and a worthy addition to any child’s bookshelf.” Amelia E. Curzon author of Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

Amazing, Never-Giving-Up Matilda“…I immediately fell in love with Matilda, an amazing, sweet, curious character. What a lovely story with a subtle and yet deep and understandable message for young (and those who are not so young ) readers. This book is one of “must have” books in your library. I already purchased a Kindle version for myself and I ordered two more copies in print for my library.” –Vida Zuljevic

If you’d like to learn more about Amazing Matilda or Bette Stevens, please visit:

Bette’s Website

Bette’s Facebook Page

The Author’s Amazon Page

 

Bette’s Library of Books

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Are you an author with a vision for a better world? Do you have a published book of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction that uplifts and empowers readers to create a more positive inner and outer environment? If so, I’d love to hear more about it. On a “Better World of Books,” I interview authors and review books of all genres that offer a vision for a better world. If you think your work is a part of this vision, please contact Alethea

An Interview with Children’s Author & Illustrator Andrea Torrey Balsara on “A Better World of Books”

UnknownAndrea Torrey Balsara is an author and illustrator who believes in the goodness in people, especially children. Her stories and art reflect her belief that we are all one, and that no matter where we’ve come from, we’re all linked together.  

 

Andrea, thank you so much for being a guest on “A Better World of Books!” I think we met some time ago through that amorphous world of social media. Although we’ve never actually “met” each other in-person, I believe we share a love for writing and helping children of all ages discover and embrace their true selves. Can you share a bit of your story of how you began to write and illustrate books for kids and teens?

When I was around 6 years-old, I remember holding a beautifully illustrated picture book and a yearning welled up within me. I wanted to make pictures like those so badly. I forgot about that dream the older I got. Later, when other things fell away, that old dream came back. I started out knowing nothing, and burned through many years learning the hard way what not to do. I had never thought about becoming a writer until my sister, Michele Torrey who is herself an author,  encouraged me to learn writing. To my surprise, I love writing as much as illustrating. I love sculpting words and images from nothing. 

You write on your website that all the characters in your stories go through their individual journeys to discover that “Life is good.” Can you give us an example or two of how your characters arrive at such an optimistic outlook?

For me, hope is essential for a story that inspires. My young adult book, The Great & the Small, deals with some dark themes but overall there is a feeling of the triumph of the human spirit. Hope isn’t a weak emotion, or a naïve turning away from the truth. It takes courage to see past the current state of things to what could be. The main characters in The Great & the Small, are deeply flawed and, as is human nature, run from truth and from pain until they are forced to stop and face their own frailty and fear. Hope springs from that courage. We all have deep sources of hope and courage within us, if we choose action instead of apathy.

I am wondering if your own characters and their journeys are at least in part inspired by your personal experiences. If so, can you tell us how you found and embraced the sunny side of life?

I struggled with depression and undiagnosed PTSD all through my school years, and it was hope that kept me going. Sometimes there was only a sliver of hope, but even that sliver of light can cut through the darkness. Somehow, step by step, I made it to a place of wellness. Now, I don’t see suffering as a curse, but rather as a teacher. Suffering teaches us strength, courage, and resilience. Then, once we move past suffering, we embrace joy. One of the presentations I do is entitled, “The Hero’s Journey.” We are all everyday heroes when we keep moving forward, learning, and growing.

Your book, The Nightingale’s Song was inspired by a dream you had. Can you tell us about the dream and how it bloomed into this award-winning book?

Around 25 years ago I became aware of the concept of Unity in Diversity, the belief that diversity is a strength, instead of something to be feared. I had grown up in predominantly white communities, but hadn’t realized I identified myself as “white.” One night, I dreamed I was walking down a long road lined with trees. I couldn’t see myself, but as I walked down the road, I wondered, “Who am I?” I couldn’t remember. Was I white? Brown? Black? Who was I? In my dream, I guessed that my skin was a deep brown. When I woke up, I realized that this dream was the first time since I was little that I was just ME. My outside identity, instead of defining me, had been fluid. It was a powerful shift in understanding. I wrote The Nightingale’s Song based on that dream. It starts out, “Last night, I had a dream that my skin was brown like mahogany…” By the end of the book, the child realizes that no matter what colour their skin is, they are still who they are. Humanity is one, and while we look different from each other, have different languages and different ways of doing things, there is a unity, a common humanity, underlying all of those differences. That is Unity in Diversity.

You’ve written and illustrated, I believe, eight books for children and young adults, two of which, The Great and the Small and The Nightingale’s Song have received awards. Which book, or books, that you have created are closest to your heart and why?

Each book feels like a little spiritual child to me, and you know I can’t choose between my children! Haha! Seriously, each book always requires so much from me and is so much a part of me, that I can’t choose. I will say that The Great & the Small was a book that I HAD to write if I wanted to get any sleep. It nagged at me until it was done. In some ways, The Nightingale’s Song is the same, although they are VERY different books. All of my books are my “heart-songs,” expressions of my heart, and so while they are different, they are the same. There’s that Unity in Diversity, again!!

Andrea, you don’t simply perform readings of your books for your audiences, you also offer empowerment workshops. Can you tell us a bit about how your book The Great and the Small is used as a guide for youth to “unlock their true potential?”

I wrote The Great & the Small as a response to an experience that I had when I was 10. My family lived in Germany, and we went to the museum at Dachau, which had been a concentration camp responsible for killing thousands and thousands of innocent people. The experience was deeply disturbing, and from that moment on, I was consumed with the question of good and evil. Many people believe that some children are born as “bad seeds.” I completely, TOTALLY, reject that idea. It lets us off the hook for being accountable for our actions if we are “born bad.” I believe we are born with the capacity for both good, and evil. So, I wondered, why did the baby who was Hitler, grow into the monster he became. Conversely, why did Nelson Mandela grow into a saintly, transcendent person, in spite of the injustices he endured? What choices did they each make along their paths? The Great & the Small is about how we each can fall into darkness, or can rise above. Both choices are within our grasp. Many young people feel helpless, and often feel that they have no control over their own lives. I want to change that narrative. I want to help empower them to see that whether they are famous, whether they are “successful” in the eyes of the world, that the CHOICES they make are what defines them. And that when they fail (and we all fail sometimes) they can CHOOSE to keep going, to keep learning, to keep rising above. We are not locked into a destiny as if we are railroad cars on a track. We, out of all living creatures, can choose for ourselves our path and can rise above even the gravest circumstances. But first, we must know that we have a choice.

If there was one “super power” that you could endow upon each child at birth, what would it be?

The power to think for themselves.

Can you tell us about any projects that you are working on right now?

 I am working on finishing illustrations for my picture book series, Greenbeard the Pirate Pig, a book about a guinea pig with a dream. Haha! I love working on it, as he is such a funny character to me. I am also working with a website developer to sell my artwork and designs on an art website. It will be up and running in a week or so, and the website will be, www.balsaraboutique.com. Come and visit!

And, last but not least, what is the best way for your readers to connect with you? 

They are welcome to connect with me on: 

 My Website: www.torreybalsara.com

Green Beard The Pirate Pig

Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Pinterest

 

Are you an author with a vision for a better world? Do you have a published book of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction that uplifts and empowers readers to create a more positive inner and outer environment? If so, I’d love to hear more about it. On a “Better World of Books,” I interview authors and review books of all genres that offer a vision for a better world. If you think your work is a part of this vision, please contact Alethea