Book Reviews

Ten Seconds of Boldness

“Ten Seconds of Boldness: The Essential Guide to Solving Problems and Building Self-Confidence” by Shawn Langwell Reviewed by Osha Hayden. Read Ten Seconds of Boldness, then keep it handy when you need a boost through challenging times. With refreshing honesty and humility, Shawn Langwell guides the reader through proven steps to overcome fear, increase self-confidence and achieve success. These are the techniques he has perfected to lift himself up, achieve success, and become a better human being in the process. Now he’s sharing his hard-won knowledge with us, and for that I am grateful. Not only is it an effective guide, it’s an enjoyable read. Shawn will share the story behind “Ten Seconds” on October 6, 2022 at 7 pm at Copperfield’s Books in downtown Petaluma. This is sure to be a lively and meaningful event. Shawn is one of the most authentic people I know. Free and open to the…

Book Reviews

American Dirt

I heard about “American Dirt” and the controversies surrounding it. When my friend gave me a copy, I thought, “Here’s my chance to form my own opinion.” This is a story of Lydia and her son, Luca, fleeing Acapulco and their hope for a better life in the United States. In my opinion, Jeanine Cummins did a skillful job keeping tension high throughout the story. It’s a difficult subject matter, of course, but, I think, good writing. It made me think of the mother/child bond and how fiercely protective a mother can be. The characters felt real to me. It was an eye-opener with details about risk, escape, and how to (illegally) get across the Mexico/U.S. border. The story made me appreciate my easy life and grateful for what I have. It also made me aware and empathetic for people who risk their lives to come here. This book is…

Book Reviews

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

“The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry” by Gabrielle Zevin is clever, surprising, and grows on you, just like the mini-character who is absolutely delightful. The main character is not very likable at first . . . but of course he changes, due to circumstances beyond his control. This is a book I will ponder long after I have shelved it in the “good reads” section of my bookshelf.

Book Reviews

Proprioceptive Writing®

“Writing the Mind Alive” by Linda Trichter Metcalf, Ph.D. and Tobin Smith, Ph.D. “This book offers a unique writing approach that breaks right through writer’s block, opens up inner treasures you didn’t dream possible, and allows you to know yourself in an intimate exciting way. It is beautifully executed, deeply inspiring, and psychologically on the mark.” — Jill Morris, Ph.D., author of The Dream Workbook “Proprioceptive Writing® is a method for exploring the psyche through writing. PW is practiced to music in 25-minute sessions, under stress-free conditions, alone or in groups.” — PW Center PW teaches you to listen to your thoughts with empathy and curiosity and reflect on them in writing. PW returns you to the pleasures of pure process, reminding you why you wanted to write to begin with. Note from Marlene: Proprioceptive Writing might not be helpful for everyone, but it might be perfect for you!

Book Reviews

The Education of Kevin Powell

Kevin Powell, author of “The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood,”  is many things: a journalist, poet, essayist, blogger, activist, public speaker, television personality, and more. Mostly, he is an amazing human being. I know Kevin as a kind, aware, observant interviewer who listens carefully and gets to the heart of the interviewee by asking pertinent questions. “The Education of Kevin Powell” is an education for readers who haven’t experienced extreme poverty, racial inequity, misogyny, violence, and mishandled anger. It’s a multifaceted story of how a young man rose above his seemingly hopeless circumstances to become a respectful and respected innovator, leader, and healer. “The Education of Kevin Powell” is a beacon of hope for bringing people and communities together for the good of all. Book review by Marlene Cullen

Book Reviews

The Story of Jazz and Vihar

“The Story of Jazz and Vihar” by Kathy Guthormsen is a sweet story and the author’s love of these three birds comes through on every page. I look forward to sharing this book with my grandchildren and taking them to see birds like this at a bird rescue center near them. —B, retired teacher and team manager, and grandmother of 3 The richly textured, vibrant artwork accompanying each page portrays Poe, Jazz and Vihar—their appearance, plumage, talons, even expressions —in realistic detail. Explanatory sidebars, also in color, flesh out the story with facts about great horned owls and ravens.—G, retired librarian and Bird Rescue Center volunteer  I like it because it because it feels like the story is set by Poe and it’s just like you can see the point of view from the owls and what they go through. I also like the pictures a lot and honestly give this book a…

Book Reviews

Shaman Heart, Turning Pain Into Passion and Purpose

“Shaman Heart, Turning Pain Into Passion and Purpose”, a Brave Healer Production, invites readers to develop a shaman heart — one that can only be obtained by coming through our darkest moments more healed and whole and then lighting the way for others. As the anthology’s lead author, singer-songwriter, recording artist, and teacher Stephanie Urbina Jones writes, “Whether it’s a death of a loved one, divorce, illness or depression, we can turn our pain into an initiation and be a sacred witness or messenger in these bittersweet, crossroad moments in life. From this place of humbled, broken-open wisdom and grace, we can then walk with others and assist them as they journey through their own darkness to the dawn of a new beginning.” The genesis for Shaman Heart occurred on January 5, 2022, when Urbina Jones and 25 other leading spiritual teachers, preachers, and healers spent a week together at the Dreaming House in the heart of Mexico. “Each author…

Book Reviews

Children of the Decree

Children of the Decree: A Journalist’s Battle to Save Romanian Children and Herself by Maria D. Holderman. Review by Janis Couvreux Many of us remember the children’s adoption scandal in Romania of the late 1990s. Thanks to the dogged efforts of journalist Maria Holderman, this scandal came to light. However, this is only a fraction of her story, as Maria sorts through the social, political, and ideological events and issues of Romania’s Communist regime during her childhood and the post-1989 Communist bloc break-up. Through her personal story that intertwines with a 40-year timeline, Maria reveals how she became passionately involved in seeking and bringing about changes through her investigative journalism. Then suddenly it all comes to an abrupt halt. Like a cat’s nine lives, Maria has lived several as well, vanquishing tragedy to fall back on her feet. This is a story of a remarkable woman told through her own…

Book Reviews

Anxious People

“Anxious People” by the gifted Frederik Backman is the most brilliant novel I have read. I wasn’t drawn in right away. I am really glad I kept reading. This book is so extraordinary, when I finished, I had to read it again to see how Backman pulled it off. I highly recommend “Anxious People.” The humor is subtle, the characters are multi-layered, and the plot seems simple. But, as details are revealed, it is clearly a book about the complexities of relationships and how we navigate the crevices of life. I cannot use enough superlatives to describe the cleverly written “Anxious People.” Note: Some people did not like this book. I think you have to read at least to page 34 to decide yay or nay to “Anxious People,” by Fredrik Backman. Review by Marlene Cullen. #amwriting #justwrite #creativewriting

Book Reviews

Bright Dead Things

Dave Seter’s review of “Bright Dead Things” by Ada Limón: In life’s trajectory from childhood story hour to adult happy hour, good storytellers are in demand. While some theories of poetry argue for silencing the “I” of authorship, Ada Limón’s brand of poetry is personal and emotionally honest. If a mere book of poetry can invite the reader into the kitchen for coffee and a story, Limón’s new collection Bright Dead Things does just that. Bright Dead Things explores the duality of joy and suffering. The phrase “bright dead things” comes from the collection’s poem “I Remember the Carrots.” Limón writes: “When I was a kid, I was excited about carrots, / their spidery neon tops in the garden’s plot.” The child, wanting to possess this beauty, rips out the immature crop and is scolded by her father. The poem expresses regret but also resistance to a life of passivity. Right out of…