Monday, June 15, 2020

BOOK REVIEW [Vegetable Gardening for Beginners by Jill McSheehy

I have been gardening for more than twenty years, however I have always had my husband there (he’s really the master gardener) to help in every step of the way from building the raised beds to harvesting and replanting for the next season. This year was different. COVID-19 has separated us on two continents; 5000 miles apart. So, this year, our Texas garden was all up to me and after doing all the preliminaries of getting the beds ready, I wanted to be sure I have done everything to have a successful growing season. This free copy of Vegetable Gardening for Beginners by Jill McSheehy came just in time for me to have a quick and easy resource for my gardening checks and balances. I love this book! It really is a simple guide to growing vegetables at home!

Everything in this book from beginning to end is on point, like 7 things to know before you grow, different types of gardens, necessary tools to have and “nice-to-have tools”, common companion planting combos, building your raised beds, and checking your soil quality. It sounds like a lot of information, and it is, but the layout and writing gives you just the right amount of information.

Jill McSheesy highlights all the common vegetables that most people love. I found all but a few of the vegetables that I planted in the book. Each vegetable page gives all the vital information for a successful crop including growing zones, spacing, sun needs, water needs, what to watch for when growing, harvesting, storing and common problems.

Speaking of problems; spring time equals moths equals holes in the leafy greens. When I first noticed the caterpillars devouring my collards and kale, I came to the book to see what I could do different to save my favorite greens. In 20 years, I had never used a floating row cover or Bacillus thuringiensis and they both solved the problem for me.

VGFB has made this year of gardening on my own a wonderful learning experience. I’ll continue to use this book as a quick reference. I highly recommend this book to all gardeners; new and seasoned. 5 ankhs, love it.
K. Akua Gray
June 15, 2020
Houston, TX

You are welcome to use my affiliate link to order your copy of Vegetable Gardening for Beginners at a great discount price. Thank you for your support. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2020


“The important takeaway is that I will continue to catch my missteps, sometime before they happen, sometimes as they are happening, and sometimes after they happen – this means I am learning. Correcting my mistakes by adjusting my thinking and doing is how I will grow as a human.” 

Quotes like this make the first two chapters of I Am What's Wrong by Sheila M. Burke the highlights of the book. She begins with some good straight talk about self-realization and the follies of religions that profess to be loving and compassionate, but:

“If our religions are teaching us that it’s okay not to be inclusive – or that love and respect is optional based on belief-then we need to question what we are being taught because something, somewhere, has been lost in the translation. It is critical for humanity to apply its common sense to our respective religious beliefs and ask how these beliefs support humanity as a whole and also our own consciousness.”

I did find upwards of ten quaotables that I can hold on to for inspiration. Self-help writers really do try to help people with their positive powerful words and that is cleary evident in Mrs. Burke’s book. Every single chapter of the book takes you to therapy. The chapters are short, which is good because by chapter 9, you will get the point of the whole book, however in the remaining chapters, the author keeps saying the same thing over and over in a different way. This type of self-awareness book is good for beginners and I hope it gets in the hands of the right people.

The book can be just as effective by taking out the repetitive information and reducing the size of the book. Another thing about I Am What's Wrong, is that you quickly realize the chapters are collection of self-help brochures with those neat get fixed quick lists that are used for attention grabbers in marketing. For example: 

Chapter Four – 7 Things You Can Do Now to Change the World
Chapter Six – 10 Ways to Grow as a Human
Chapter Seven – 11 Ways to be a Helper
Chapter Eight – 11 Benefits of Inspirational Quotes and Tips for Using Them
Chapter Ten – 42 Healthy Habits for Being a Better Human
Chapter Twelve – 15 Things Animals Will Teach Us About Life
Chapter Fifteen – 27  Easy Peasy Ways to Be a Better Human

Most seekers of self-improvement don’t process wellness information like this especially if they are random or abstract learners. If you’re genuinely on the path of making a difference with your life in the world and you choose to read this book, it would be best to read a chapter, work on the suggestions that apply to you, then come back for another chapter once you are ready for change more.

I was giving a free advance copy of this book for my honest opinion and I give this book 3 ankhs. It is good for beginners.

K. Akua Gray 
June 3, 2020
Houston, TX 

You are welcome to use my affiliate link to order your copy of I Am What's Wrong at a great discount price. Thank you for your support.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

BOOK REVIEW [An Ode... by F. Renee Hamilton]

Poetry published in the 21st century has pretty high standards to live up to, and unless a poet has a specific audience to market to, then most poetry books are simply personal accomplishments for the author. I received a copy of An Ode... by F. Renee Hamilton for my honest review. Heartbreak, bad relationship and unfulfilled desires have been themes in poetry for centuries, so to read a poetry book about failed love relationships doesn’t stimulate my metaphysical antennas with hope of learning something to grow in life with. 

At the start, An Ode...’s cover is completely boring and speaks to nothing in the book. The best thing about it is the author’s picture on the back, she’s cute. Out of the twenty-three poems, I found one quotable line; yep, just one. “I am a healer... but...When will I find the healer whose purpose is to make me whole.” The poems are the typical woman being the fool in love, giving too much, not getting that call back, giving up the goodies too soon and not appreciating or being appreciated in the relationship. 

I do like the layout where the title of the poem has its own page announcing the poem to follow. Also, it was a quick read. I’m feeling blue, rejected and foolish was the primary theme. If was the author’s intention was for the reader to wallow in self-pity, then the book is perfect. After reading this book, I had to reset my vibration with some Rumi and Shel Silverstein.

Unless you need some company for your misery, I recommend skipping An Ode... 1 ankh.

K. Akua Gray
May 23, 2020
Houston, TX

Sunday, May 10, 2020

BOOK REVIEW [Buddhism for Kids by Emily Griffith Burke]

OMG, Buddhism for kids is a beautiful book for little ones of all ages. I home school my grandchildren and we added this to our morning routine after our good morning song. We finished the book in a little over a month. We absorbed the activities and enjoyed all of the stories. The precepts were easy and the children loved saying them by memory.

The activities were presented very well with variety and our three favorites were Little Critters, Shadow Tracing and Mandala Drawing. The stories and activities easily held the attention of both my 6-year-old and my 4-year-old. They also learned the nice word of “metta” which they used often when referring to sharing love and positive energy.

Although we did not do all the activities, mainly those for bedtime. Just a couple of activities were too advanced for my little ones. We will continue to add what we learned to our school routine.

We are not Buddhists, but we will live by metaphysics principles so these activities fit right in with our family values.

I highly recommend this book. It is a great value and virtue activity book for the little ones. 5 ankhs from me on this one. Great job, Emily Griffith Burke. I received a free copy of this book from the Callisto Publisher's Club for my honest opinion.

K. Akua Gray
May 10, 2020
Houston, TX

You are welcome to use my affiliate link to order your copy of Buddhism for Kids at a great discount price. Thank you for your support.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

BOOK REVIEW [Simplify Your Life from the Inside Out by Mark Wayne Smith]

“Without knowing it we’ve surrendered our inner selves to the control of others around us.”

A journey of learning to live, is the best way I can describe Simplify Your Life from the Inside Out: The 7 Keys to Finding Inner Peace by Mark Wayne Smith, a simple journey of awareness. Beginning with the simplicity of the cover, it speaks volumes. The window is anybody’s window, it could be on the house of a small cottage or a big mansion, this plainly says all are welcome on this journey. The window opens onto pristine meadow that immediately gives a connection to the subtitle 7 Keys to Finding Inner Peace.

Mr. Smith opens like he is talking to an old friend who understands him and that he can be free with. It is just good plain talk. Although it becomes evident early in the book that the author is a novice in metaphysical thoughts, I think that his intended audience will appreciate the common information on mind, body, and spirit. The introduction is very heartfelt, and it makes you want to keep reading.

The author starts off strong dropping timeless jewels of wisdom and sayings that are perfect for self-reflection pertaining to honesty, moving on, about at least trying, and keeping progress as your focus when you are trying to change. There is also a nice summary of the 7 keys before you get into the thick of the book. Being an advocate for peace, I thoroughly enjoy the quotable peace lessons in Chapter 1: The Beginnings. One of my favorites reiterates that peace is our natural state of being.  Chapter 4 is is another good chapter that gets you thinking about why you even have to stress over anything. “Things are the way they are because they got that way”.

The author is a Christian, so inevitably, religious beliefs are sprinkled throughout the book, not overwhelming but if you are not a Christian and don’t care for the dogma, you’ll find yourself skipping over some parts. There are however good chapter summaries and action steps that one can take into the practice of “finding inner peace”. Chapter 8 on expectations has the best exercise on how to check yourself when feeling disappointed or angry about somebody who does not do what you expected.

There are some confusing parts and some parts that are debatable in their truthfulness and this can be due to the author being new to writing self-help books. The author keeps the closing of the book lighthearted. I received a free copy of this book from the author for my honest opinion and I will give Simplify Your Life 3 ankhs, it is great for beginners and very motivating. 

K. Akua Gray

April 30, 2020
Houston, TX

You are welcome to use my affiliate link to order your copy of Simplify Your Life from the Inside Out at a great discount price. Thank you for your support.

Monday, April 20, 2020

BOOK REVIEW [We Can Sign by by Tara Adams]

I have been teaching my grandchildren sign language for two years and I’m always excited to find new resources for teaching ASL that is child friendly. We Can Sign by Tara Adams is an okay book for learning some basics of the language.

The text starts off strong with alphabets and numbers up to 100, then goes into introductions, but after that the structure became unappealing as she broke the signs up into categories of just one-word illustrations. I was excited about the complete sentences at the beginning of the book which were also easier for me to pass along to the children. We quickly got bored and put the book aside for more ASL videos.

Things I like about the book include the excellent information on “deaf culture” and the many variety of beautiful faces of the children from around the world. Ms. Adams also gives a very touching introduction. We will hold onto this free copy of this book and use it as a reference if needed. Overall, it is a good book just not for my 4 and 6 year old. I give this book 4 ankhs and recommend it for those seeking introduction to ASL.

K. Akua Gray
April 20, 2020
Houston, TX

You are welcome to use my affiliate link to order your copy of We Can Sign at a great discount price. Thank you for your support.

Friday, April 10, 2020

BOOK REVIEW [CRYSTAL RESONANCE 1, 2 AND 3 by Kerry Welson Selman]

It has taken me some time to review these books because the information was so dense and captivating. The Crystal Resonance series of books by Kerry Nelson Selman is a fine addition to the world of crystal therapy literature. Being a master student of this very beautiful and intriguing part of our planet, I am excited when innovative thoughts on the subject of crystals is manifested.

Ms. Selman has clearly taken her time to give a special energy and  into this compilation of familiar stones. In the three volumes, she only highlights a total of 40 crystals but she uniquely merges their vibrational energy with herbs, essential oils, chakras, flower essences and spiritual energies that most lovers of crystals can relate to. Her gentle nature is evident in the very topics and resources that she chose as subject matter in the books such as affirmations, meditations and overall reminders of dwelling in synergy in wellness work such as this.

I do like the books but of course as a professional publisher also, it is evident that these are low budget books because the covers lack creativity and do not do the content justice. Another low budget mistake that was made is not having a full color interior. I couldn’t have imagined a book on crystals with such a wealth of information not having color pictures, especially of the crystals. Crystals in black and white, not a good choice.

Aside from the above, the books are magnificent. I highly recommend this series of books for any crystal lover’s library. My rating is 41/2 Ankhs. I received copies of this book from the author for my honest opinion.
K. Akua Gray
April 10, 2020
Houston, TX

You are welcome to use my affiliate link to order your copy of Crystal Resonance at a great discount price. Thank you for your support.