Saturday, January 20, 2018

Book Review [Monk Who Drinks Coffee by Banu G. Khan]

I have said it before; there are some thoughts that don't always need to be shared in a book. Such is also the case with Monk Who Drinks Coffee by Banu G. Khan. The author starts her writing by saying this book is, "...a very basic guideline to another reality." She was not kidding.

If you are aware or learned in the popular concepts of self-help, you won't get much from this book that you haven't heard already. The first story that she shares is worth mentioning even though others have shared these exact same concepts on how to live in the moment. Nirvana One is a nice realization piece. Also, Souls Like Black Holes is a nice piece on encouraging a friend. The author goes on to talk about missing lottery number in her dreams, dealing with emotional dysfunction, and black magic. I don't agree with the term Black Magic because a true light worker would understand change and energy enough to know this type of thing is not a factor in living and one should not give anyone that much power over themselves to be influenced in such a negative way.

The author writes with a lot of unclear thoughts and it is evident in most of the stories that the author has been through some hard times. The book is a very short quick read. If the author really has the intention of helping others with this book, I would suggest giving this book away for free. I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review. It was also not clear who this book is intended for because the stories are so random and brief.
I give the book 2 ankhs. 

K. Akua Gray, Author and Self-Help Book Blogger
January 20, 2018
Takoradi, Ghana
West Africa

Saturday, December 30, 2017

BOOK REVIEW [Believe Achieve Soar! by Teresa Mills]

I get excited when I read wellness books that can benefit the youth of the world. I would love to see Believe Achieve Soar!: Your Step by Step Guide for Turning Your Dreams into a Reality By Teresa Mills in the hand of every teenager and young adult, in every social skills and character development program in every school.

Believe Achieve Soar, has the interior aesthetics with the potential to make the reading interesting to each learning style. Visual learners will find it stimulating to the eye with vibrant colors and large text. Sequential learners will find it thought provoking in internalizing the easy step by step instructions. Random learners will have the most fun of all with the variety of shapes, fonts and nontraditional layout. This is a very powerful 33 page book filled with great quotes from well known wellness and metaphysical thinkers from Buddha to James Redfield. The cover however, would certainly need to be redone in order to appeal to the audience that this book would benefit the most.

The section titles of the table of contents insight action and intensifies empowerment. Let your inner self absorb the following, What is Your Dream, The Courage to Change, Your Toolbox, Believing is Seeing and Take Action. Each of these steps to achieving your dreams are clear and attainable. I like Teresa's style in writing review sections that repeat the steps as the reader goes along. My favorite quote in the comes from the section, "While You're Waiting." It reads, "Only think about your dreams when you are in a positive and uplifted space - this positive energy will help propel you forward..."

I have only one disappointment with this book and I hope the author takes the steps to correct it with her well known publisher Balboa Press. The page numbering is very unprofessionally done with incorrect interior numbering. I am familiar with the publishing packages that are offered to independent writers of self-help books and I would imagine with the investment that writers make to have the name and promotions of a Hay House publishing division, that someone would have taken the time to ensure the correct numbering layout for a professional printing.

Ms. Mills has a simple, short and to the point book that could surely make a difference in the lives of many people. I received this book for free for an honest review and I've already given my copy away to a young single mother who wants to improve her life and make a better future for her children. I give Believe Achieve Soar! Your Step by Step Guide for Turning Your Dreams into a Reality
By Teresa Mills 3 Ankhs. It is great for beginners!

K. Akua Gray
December 30, 2017
Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


There’s a lot that Gary Szenderski got right in his book Szen Zone: Reaching a State of Positive Change. It is a very straight forward word to the wise for the young business professional who needs a positive pick me up in their career and life. This book is a win for the new corporate work force and is very Millennials friendly. The author is also on point in his instructions for how to use this book, where he suggests, “Open it anywhere and find a short story that may make your day or make you think.” However, me being sequential I attempted to read it straight through and got a little bored with the randomness of the stories. I kept wanting to connect the dots, but there were none to connect. I was also amused by some of the play on words, everything is Szen..., and the editor’s notes which are like a review of the book in the book. Unique.

I don’t have a lot to say about the book. The Holiday Math story was just the cutest and I did a little underlining of notes to remember, however, there was not much else that moved me. Most of the morals, advise and encouragement in Szen Zone is common knowledge. I was able to equate most of the Szenippets, which are the closing words to remember and internalize from the reading with other popular sayings, and I picked up on a couple of adages from Gates and Zuckerman. However, I do know that this kind of advice is new to the new generation of workers.

I can see Szen Zone being very useful for Gary’s intended audience, however as one of those Generation X wise old souls who was set for retirement before 40, it was apparent that the corporate game hadn’t changed much and the young ones are still needing some spiritual, mental and emotional help to get them through the maze of life. Good job Gary.

By the way I received a free copy of this book from the author for an honest review. 3 ankhs is what I can give on this book with the hope that all the young people who read it will work hard to make the new retirement age 45 because life is so much more than the “work” you do or the job you have, which is the very point a got from Szen Zone.

K. Akua Gray
November 14, 2017
Central Region, Ghana

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Book Review [Be Your Self and Be Well: Connecting with Your Soul’s Power to Heal, by Dr. Steven Hiebert]

In Be Your Self and Be Well: Connecting with Your Soul’s Power to Heal, by Dr. Steven Hiebert, the author describes himself like this, “I am simply today’s messenger for a timeless and universal truth.” Such an opening statement is a clear indication of a humble spirit that has learned the art of sharing gifts of light unconditionally. It is also rare, as the author reveals in the introduction to receive a word from the divine masculine who is directly aware of his family line of ancestral fathers who were also healers, and revealing this lets you know there will be some cellular memory at work.

“Spirituality is the best medicine there is.”

You all know I love quotable writings and I could go on and on quoting from Be Your Self and Be Well because the book is an endless affirmation that empowers, redirects, and satisfies the spirit. Each of the eighteen chapters is an open invitation to change, and the change not only happens in the reading, but each chapter also has a Healing Exercise that almost instantly mentally challenges you to be better. A very clever emphasis that I liked too was the ending words of every chapter is the provocative reminder to, “Be Your Self and Be Well.”

“Without the strength of your spirit, your body cannot be healthy.”

I can usually pick a favorite chapter, but there are so many good ones. How to choose? 😊 Be Your Self and Be Well are the highlights of the metaphysical world all wrapped up in one. There are some unique parts of the book that I’m sure will add to the metaphysical novice as well as the veteran when it comes to changing their thoughts about healing. The one that stands out in chapter 5 is getting over the physical and training the mind to understand that all, especially the human experience is spiritual. The author resounds the mantra, “you are spirit” throughout the book in an effort to help the reader internalize this if nothing else. Specifically, on the subject of healing Dr. Hiebert talks about healing in a tough love kind of way. He teaches that, “You can heal, be spiritually present, and not cure your pain and sickness. It’s best to pursue healing because it helps you feel alive and connected to the divine. If you pursue healing only because it might cure your disease, there’s a good chance you will end up disappointed.” Right. Be Your Self and Be Well is plain good holistic advise, even if you’ve heard it before it will rekindle your own cellular memory to active that which you already know but may have let fall by the wayside. He reminds us that pain is a messenger and to deal with it, one must relax, breathe into it and listen for the message. The body mind has power too. I also like the way he maneuvers healing into eliminating the fear of death. Clever, if you’re scared of dying, you have to read that part.

“When you try to force the world to change without changing your Self, it never works.”

Like most books, the end tapers off into a low hum of quick points of encouragement, but nothing profound in the last couple of chapters. I did find myself longing for more of the author’s personal stories because the ones that he did share enlivened the reading. Lastly, we need these kinds of books to touch every community in the world. I give Be Your Self and Be Well the first of its kind rating on my blog, 4.5 ankhs. It was excellent in encouraging me but didn’t wow me, I was most happy to see the compilation of information in one place which is the innovation that I’m sure anyone who picks up this book will benefit from. I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review and I liked the follow up to the initial send of the hard copy. 

K. Akua Gray
November 7, 2017
Central Region, Ghana

Friday, October 27, 2017

From the Archives [Mad at Miles: A Black Woman's Guide to Truth by Pearl Cleage]

It is still true that great things can come in small packages, and Mad At Miles: A Black Woman's Guide to Truth by Pearl Cleage is a 64 page package of powerful insight and grave reality that generations of women have not been able to escape. Although I have known about this book for decades, it has always been on my radar to read because I wanted to know why Ms. Cleage was "mad at Miles." I knew there could only be one Miles that could be mentioned by his first name and people would know who Ms. Cleage was talking about.

My heart immediately dropped in the introduction as the author described a horribly visual scene of a female friend being beaten and driven from her home by her husband. I knew then why the author was mad at Miles, and I was mad at him too,but only for 3 seconds. If you are familiar with my emotional release formula, you know that is all of my precious time that anger gets.

Ms. Cleage then brings the reality of domestic violence into clear view in each of the graphic and action packed examples of this torturous existence to too many women and girls. The vibration of these series of unfortunate events must be in the wind because I could not resist the draw of this book during my most recent visit to The Shrine of the Black Madonna Bookstore in Detroit, MI, and this month being the month I chose to read it which is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As I quite often say, all things in divine time.

Mad At Miles is also a workbook for empowerment for women, families and anyone who is concerned about helping stop this vicious cycle. Ms. Cleage starts the healing process with a "Basic Training" that teaches 10 key warning signals that could help women know they may be in danger of potential domestic violence. As a naturopath, I am 100% in support of prevention and these 10 signs are paramount for every woman to know. The author goes on to also talk about the 10 ways to protect yourself from rape by a stranger and 10 ways to protect yourself from rape by someone you know. All these tips are real ways to empowerment.

Fortunately, I have never experience domestic violence but I have been scarred by its very existence and my life force is affected by knowing that many women and families have to suffer through this unfortunate plague in every corner of this world.

Mad At Miles is a solution oriented book that I highly recommend. Dialog like this need to be continuous and wide spread. I would normally write all over books that I'm reading as personal notes to myself, but didn't make one mark this time, because I knew I would be sharing this 3 ankh book with someone who needs it. Thank you Pearl Cleage for having the courage to bring to light this valuable guide of awareness and action. Unfortunately, society stills need this reminder 27 years later.

K. Akua Gray
October 27, 2017
Houston, TX

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Book Review [The Authentic Lover: Reclaiming Love's Beauty and Power by Chris Hakim]

"We are in a real mess, yet we believe in love, and hold it to be so valuable as to accept the risk of failure..."

The Authentic Lover: Reclaiming love's beauty and power by Chris Hakim is a book of hope and an asset to those who have a particular interest in renewing their personal commitment to achieving a higher level of consciousness in their quest for a spiritual connection beyond the norm. I was quite intrigued by the ideas in this work on love because the author touched on so many of the things that can help to change the low level vibration of dysfunctional love that so many people dwell in relationships they claim to hold so dear. 

I reached out to Chris for an author interview and enjoyed a moment of talking with him about some of my inquires from my readings. 

1. Who is your audience for the Authentic Lover?
I tried to address everyone who wonders why sexual and marital relationships, on the main, don’t work. A psychologist pointed to me that this book would most appeal to middle-aged people, who have already been a bit beaten up by life. She felt that young people were too “hormone driven” to even care. Perhaps “spiritual” people would resonate more with the idea of obstacles and what lies behind them.

2. Are you suggesting that a whole new religion be developed based on conquering the 4 Great enemies? If so, what would be the framework for that possibility? If not, why not?
There are so many cults, movements, and religions already. It would be much preferable if people could rediscover and appreciate their own spiritual or religious background, or if they don’t have one, join something which they find to be authentic. What I present as four enemies is a roadmap that can help people take stock of their situation, and simple practices to try and loosen the grip of the enemies. The use of quotes from multiple traditions serves to show that love is not the exclusive province of any.

3. In the Pettiness and Grace chapter you end the chapter with many quotes from the European courts of love, how would you suggest readers view this information other than just a history lesson?
The ethics of courtly love, as discussed (exclusivity, but not quite monogamy; sincerity; respect; etc.) seem to map almost one for one as remedies to the obstacles described just before. But there is a caveat, which is that such ethics are not just pat rules to follow. On the contrary, they require effort as well as accepting that love entails some amount of discomfort. This seems to also connect with the Buddhist practice of tonglen, also described in Part Two of the book.

4. In the Vanity and Charm chapter, I found myself more intrigued by the numerous quotes that you included, and I noticed that you offered very little of your own thoughts in between the quotes, was this intentional? If so, why? If not, what is the major point you want your readers to take from this chapter?
Some of the topics touched upon are sensitive and controversial. The idea of sexual attractiveness is rarely treated in an upfront way, let alone the idea that both men and women face the exact same problem, but with different criteria. For this reason, I tried to remain as rooted as I could in fact and in accepted wisdom, and presented as little as possible as personal opinion. Once we see that sexual competition is nothing but toxic, the rest of the argument follows logically. I also wanted to clarify what tantrism is and isn’t, because there is so much misinformation on the topic.

5. In the final chapter of Mystery, you offer some profound solutions to the problems of love and again there are numerous quotes from Rumi in particular, would you suggest that the reader also take up a study of Rumi if they are going to try applying The Authentic Lover to their lives? Why or why not?
The first three qualities (gentleness, etc.) require work, but mystery happens by not doing. Few have been as eloquent as Rumi about the mystery of love. While he is known in America for his “poems,” he wasn’t a poet at all, but an extraordinary mystic and lover. He didn’t write books. His sayings were written by his disciples as he spoke. Rumi would probably say to leave books alone and let life be your teacher. I would say that readers should feel free to expand in any direction they see fit, including taking up the study and practice of Sufism, if they wish.

6. I was looking for the way of life mentioned in the introduction, but I didn’t find it. If you were to give the reader a vision of living as an Authentic Lover, what would it look like?

One really can’t be too specific, because each person has different aspirations, faces different challenges, and may resonate with a different approach. This being said, I would like to see people gather in small groups of friends, much like the ahal described in Part Three, as an alternative to conventional dating. If romance weren’t so divorced from friendship and community, a lot of problems would go away. Another promising avenue is Tamera, an intentional community in Portugal with a worldwide following, whose stated purpose is the healing of love. Good for them.

I can't say that I agree with all of the insights brought forth in The Authentic Lover, however, most of what the author brings forth will have you thinking on a deeper level about how you are operating in your personal relationships. I must also admit I stopped reading some of the elongated quotes because there were quite a few of them throughout the book, but this does not overshadow any of the nurturing points that will intensify your true desire to change your relationships and become an "Authentic Lover". I received a free copy of this book via my book review site for a honest review. Not many books fall into my 5 ankhs category but the innovation of the compilation of The Authentic Lover is masterful. 
K. Akua Gray
October 11, 2017
Houston, TX

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Book Review [The Answers Are Within: Developing Awareness by Dorena Rode]

First I must say that I love the choice of quotes that opens each chapter. They are from some of the most profoundly spiritual minds of our time. Although The Answers Are Within: A Collection of Personal Stories Volume 1 - Developing Awareness by Dorena Rode is no Chicken Soup for the Soul, I am sure it will have its relevancy for some reader. The author labeled herself several times throughout her writings as being "melancholy" and this is precisely the way most of her stories come across. Nothing exciting, always a challenge, but the good part out of it all was the patterns of growth that she shares. I can't really say that the stories were inspiring, but I can say they were real, which might just be what someone needs whose looking to develop awareness.

The cover has a strange design that reminds me of an old lady learning to paint, so I can only imagine that book sales are going to be word of mouth and not because of an eye catching cover. I think that healers sharing their stories is very nice, but sometimes it can be a hard sale unless you already have an audience and this book being a memoir doesn't have enough substance to make me want to talk about it. The author comes across as a random thinker and writer, and I found it a little confusing tying ideas together in some of the more lengthy stories like, "On Believing", where she takes you on a plane ride with an imaginary story about San Francisco disappearing.

One of my favorite saying is, meet people where they are, which is also the title of one of the chapters. This chapter held my attention most because Ms. Rode gave some good suggestions related to the Law of Allowing, but I experienced confusion once again on the really good information about calcium. It's like a scientist popped up out of nowhere with a lecture on how calcium works in the body.

The "Fostering Peace Within" story is the best in the book because it is a good personal example of the courage it takes to find peace. In fact the one quote that I can give you that made the book worth my time comes from this chapter. "It is almost natural for me to choose thoughts and attitudes that bring me peace." Also, in the "How My Money Reality Changed" story, she brings forth a thought provoking question that will make you say, hmmm. "What do I love about not having money?" Cute.

The Answers Are Within: A Collection of Personal Stories Volume 1 - Developing Awareness is not a bad book, however, its presentation and writing could stand some improvement. With that, my rating for this copy that received in the mail for an honest review is 3 ankhs. I hope this helps Ms. Rode with the writing of Volume 2. 

K. Akua Gray
September 20, 2017
Houston, TX