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Niki Collins-queen, Author "author" (Forsyth, Georgia USA)

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A Million Years with You: A Memoir of Life Observed
A Million Years with You: A Memoir of Life Observed
by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.38

5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful memoir from a pioneering woman, 30 Jun. 2013
In "A Million Years with You" legendary author Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, now in her early 80s, shares stories from her extraordinary life as a world traveler, wife, parent and literary naturalist.
She begins her memoir with a life changing anthropological expedition to the Kalahari Desert, where she conducted fieldwork among the Ju/wa Bushmen in the 1950s. She later published two books, "The Harmless People" and "The Old Way: The Story of the First People" about the Bushmen.
In "The Old Way" she explains how recent DNA studies show that the Bushman were the first people from whom the rest of us descended. She says one way or another the Kalahari and the First People are in all her books. She says it was the "First People" who taught her how to pay attention to the ancient wisdom of animals and humankind.
Elizabeth says the Bushmen owned little but had vast knowledge about the natural world. Although there was a division of labor, women were equal to men and important discussions were always made by consensus. They were unfailingly good to their children who rarely cried. No child was ever yelled at, slapped or physically punished.
Although the Bushmen and the lions used the same water and hunted the same game they never hunted each other. The men told Elizabeth if they hunted lions like the pastoralists who lived at the edge of the Kalahari the lions would hunt them. One night she heard men speak loudly but respectfully and flourish a burning branch when four lionesses stopped near the camp. The lionesses turned sideways and walked off quietly into the night.
After witnessing Idi Amin blood revolution in Uganda Elizabeth and her husband and two children returned to America. To cope with the horror she began to drink and became an alcoholic. She credits AA's Twelve Step Program and the memories of the "The Old Way" for her subsequent sobriety. She said AA and the First People's sense of belonging to a community enabled everyone's survival. Both taught how to focus on the present and live in the moment.
She also conveys deep awe, respect and gratitude to her amazing family and friends when sharing her triumphs, heartbreaks, and challenges.
Steve, her husband who is also an author, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease. An accident left Stephanie, her eight-year-old daughter, paralyzed. She, like her mother, went on to live an amazing life. Stephanie married Bob, a Vietnam Veteran, who was quadriplegic and together with a larger group of disabled people they successfully demonstrated/ lobbied for public transportation to become more user friendly to disabled people in the 90s.
Ramsey, Elizabeth's son became an International Mountain Guide. He lived in Europe until he nearly lost his life in a ski accident just before the birth of his first child. He recovered and he and his wife and son returned to America to live near Elizabeth in New Hampshire.
"A Million Years with You" is a powerful memoir from a pioneering woman.

A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home: Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher
A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home: Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher
by Sue Halpern
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.02

5.0 out of 5 stars Profoundly moving and awe-inspiring, 31 May 2013
"A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home" is the beautiful, wise, heart-warming story about Sue Halpern, the author, and Pransky her amazing 10-year-old Labradoodle dog's work at a Vermont County nursing home. As a certified therapy dog team they made weekly visits with the many courageous and disheartened nursing home residence.
With Pransky at her side and sometimes in the lead Sue learned how to get out of her comfort zone and became less reticent. She learned to accept the residence as they are and not make distinctions based on incapacities or physical appearance.
The seven chapters (restraint, prudence, faith, fortitude, hope, love and charity) demonstrate how Pransky a faithful, charitable, loving and mostly prudent mutt taught Sue about humanity, compassion and the true meaning of acceptance. Through Pransky Sue came to see how modern nursing homes can be incubators of virtue. A place where Pransky brightened the lives of people in the twilight of their years. A place where the distinction between giving and receiving is often blurry.
Sue cites studies that back up her observations. In one study, researchers measured the anxiety levels of 230 hospitalized psychiatric patients after routine therapy sessions. Patients who had animal-assisted therapy sessions had greater "statistically significant reductions" than the patients who had routine therapy sessions. Also patients who were visited by therapy dogs after undergoing a complete joint replacement required half as much pain medication as the regular patients. Scientists also found people with good interpersonal relationships have elevated levels of oxytocin (also known as the love hormone). Studies show an increase in oxytocin and a decrease in anxiety when petting or looking at a dog. Sue's observation that the nursing home residence and staff tacked in Pransky's direction to touch her like a talisman seemed to confirm this.
She said Pransky appeared to have love to spare. She gave people the the opportunity to love back, to express affection, to forget their afflictions, and be their essential, authentic, original loving selves.
Pransky taught her to meet people exactly where they were (disabled, jolly, mute, demented, frail, lonely, tired or chatty) without a moment's hesitation. She even came to believe Pransky knew when a person lay dying. Pransky would jumped up and provided the comfort of her body - its heft, warmth and softness - at the moment when the person was most alone. Pransky brought a lightness and easiness to her work that seemed to expand outward and encompass almost everyone she encountered.
Sue's true to life tales about and the love, loyalty and the healing power of Pransky are profoundly deep and awe-inspiring.
Sue Halpern is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College. She lives with her husband, the writer Bill McKibben, and Pransky in Vermont. She is the author of five previous books.

Daddy Long Legs: The Natural Education of a Father
Daddy Long Legs: The Natural Education of a Father
Price: £9.92

5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful story teller, 19 May 2013
John Price's stories about his family and the landscape of his home in the Loess Hills in Iowa are simple and profound. The heartwarming, healing lessons in "Daddy Long Legs: The Natural Education of a Father" are about the treasured memories and daily responsibilities of being husband, son, grandson, father and a custodian to the natural world.
In his quest to become a better person Price faces the challenges of a heart-attack scare, supporting his nature-loving sons' request to make their home a "no-kill zone" for all living creatures and understanding his grandmother's decision to die.
"Daddy Long Legs" is a treasure of present moments seized and savored. The book has much to teach us about healing, loving and living.
Price is an award-winning teacher of creative writing and literature at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

With or Without You: A Memoir
With or Without You: A Memoir
by Domenica Ruta
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Transforms suffering into art, 29 April 2013
Domenica Ruta's amazing memoir transforms her suffering into art in "With or Without You."
Ruta grew up in the 80s with Kathi, her abusive drug dealer/addict Italian American mother and passive dependent stepfather. They lived in a trash-filled house in a small town north of Boston. Her mother's highbrow taste was at odds with her chaotic life that swung between welfare and riches.
Although there were few books in the house Ruta's intelligence and love of reading helped her, for the most part, transcend her mother's addictions, abuse, violence and neglect while in High School.
Ruta then chronicles overcoming her own addictions and demons during her college years and the necessary and painful act of breaking away from her mother in the 90s.
After two years of sobriety thanks to AA's Twelve Step Program Ruta says she's learning to live life on life's terms - one day at a time. Her story is a moving testament to the power of resiliency, forgiveness and love. Ruta asks in her book, "Now why can't I apply these principles of compassion to my own mother? Hating Kathi is like begrudging a snake for hissing, a baby for crying, the sun for quietly sinking into the corner of the sky every night. People are who they are and we cannot change them...she was sick like me. She did the best she could."
"With or Without You" is a riveting, inspiring, and finally redemptive story about loving and leaving.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
by Sheryl Sandberg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.89

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An empowering and validating voice for everyone, 25 April 2013
Sheryl Sandberg offers a powerful, fresh voice on the roles and challenges of both women and men professionally and personally in the world today. She says "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" is not a memoir, although she has included stories about her life, it's not a self-help book, although she truly hopes it helps and it's not a book on career management, although she offers advice. It's only partly a feminist manifesto as she hopes it inspires both women and men who want to understand what a woman is up against so he can do his part to build an equal world.
She combines personal anecdotes with hard data and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women. She says thirty years after
women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry.
The 2003 Heidi/Howard study Sheryl cited was especially helpful. Two professors from universities in New York ran an experiment to test perceptions of men and women in the workplace. Half the students were assigned to read a story about a successful male venture capitalist called Howard. The other half read the same story but under the name of a female called Heidi. Although their accomplishments were identical the students said Howard came across as appealing and Heidi was seen as selfish and not "the type of person you would want to hire or work for." Decades of subsequent research confirm the Heidi/Howard study. They show how success and likability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women and how people are evaluated based on the stereotypes of gender, race, nationality and age. Sheryl believes this bias is at the very core of why women hold themselves back.
When a woman focuses on results rather than pleasing others, she's acting like a man. To protect themselves from being disliked, many women question their abilities, downplay their achievements and put themselves down before others can. Author Ken Auletta observed in his "New Yorker" article that for women "self-doubt" becomes a form of self defense.
Ken Chenault (CEO of American Express) told Sheryl he observed both men and women interrupting women at meetings and giving guys credit for an idea first proposed by a women. He said he now stops the meeting and points out the interruption. It makes participants think twice. Sheryl said she witnessed a similar incident at a business executive dinner. The guest of honor listened to and answered the men's questions politely but barked, "Let me finish!" and chastised the women for interrupting when they asked questions. A male CEO pulled Sheryl aside afterwards and said he noticed how the women were silenced.
Sheryl makes a compelling case for women to lean in, for being ambitious in any pursuit and to "Make their partner a real partner." She says, "Career progression often depends upon taking risks and advocating for oneself - traits that girls are discouraged from exhibiting." Women hold back in ways both big and small. They are hindered by the external barriers of society and the internal barriers that exist within themselves. They continue to internalize the cultural messages that say it's wrong for a women to be outspoken, aggressive, and more powerful than men. Lacking self-confidence and pulling back they lower their own expectations, do the majority of the housework and childcare, compromise career goals, and compared to their male colleagues, fewer aspire to senior positions. She says women's progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, their voices are still not heard equally especially in the decisions that most affect their lives.
Sheryl is aware there is no one definition of success or happiness. "We each have to chart our own
course and define what goal fits our lives, values and dreams." Her goal is to help empower both women and men make the shift, person by person, to a more equal world.
Sheryl is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune's list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2010, she gave an amazing TEDTalk where she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk that encouraged women to "sit at the table," seek challenges, speak their truth, take risks and pursue goals with gusto has been viewed more than two million times.
Sheryl's story is my story and I suspect the story of every woman.

Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods
Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods
Price: £14.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book written by an amazing woman, 23 April 2013
"Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods" is a powerful, contemplative, poetic account of why Christine Byl followed the path of a laborer instead of a "professional" after graduating from college. When Byl discovered that maintaining, repairing, building and designing wood's trails was more demanding, rewarding and real than she ever imagined she turned her summer gig at Glacier National Park as a "traildog" into a sixteen-year-long job.
While working in Montana and Alaska she pondered the-age old dichotomy of education versus physical work. She now believes the division between mental and physical, "white collar versus blue collar," "women's work" versus "men's work," culture verses nature and work before pleasure entirely misses the point. She says, "the reality is more interwoven-more interesting-than dichotomies allow."
Her inspiring life and choices show the pleasures of labor, how manual tasks can be mentally rewarding, how grueling "hitches" build body muscle and the contentment of "enough."
Byl is also a powerful trail blazer for women. She's proud of working in a "man's world" and confronting the myths and assumptions about women being viewed as the weaker sex.
The six chapters begin with a profile about an important "traildog" tool and trace Byl's education from onlooker to participant. She says, "books taught her some things, people taught her many things and tools taught her everything else."
She says, she's "a writer made by work. Her sentences and stories are dictated by the body's rhythms; by rain, wind, sun, dirt; by the smells of animals and engines, the feel of feet in boots, a tool in hand."
Byl and her husband Gabe live in Healy, Alaska where she and her husband run a trail-design and construction business.

Ozette's Destiny: 1 (Tales From Farlandia)
Ozette's Destiny: 1 (Tales From Farlandia)
by Judy Pierce
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Charmingly captivating, 14 April 2013
As a passionate non-fiction reader I was stunned to find myself captivated by Judy Pierce's lively, lyrical fairy tale titled "Ozette's Destiny: Tales From Farlandia."
The adventures and misadventures of Ozette, a rare and beautiful white squirrel, and her fairy, elf and animal friends in the magical world of Farlandia had me laughing and crying.
Ozette escaped to Farlandia when the inhabitants of Earth World wrongly blamed her for the destruction of their sacred forest simply because she was different. Her beloved grandmother, who had the gift of prophesy, gave her a golden acorn and predicted she would find her destiny in a magical kingdom called Farlandia.
Ozette's strong alliances with new friends helped her navigate the challenges of life. Ozette and her friend's rafting, parachuting, shape-shifting and other antics provided challenges and life lessons about love, kindness, loyalty, leadership, lightening up and self acceptance. Also the importance of having fun, an adventuresome spirit, a positive attitude and having respect for and being a good steward of the natural world.
As a parting gift Judy shares some fabulous Farlandia recipes and treats.
"Ozette's Destiny" is a great read for all children and grown ups who are young at heart.

North of Hope HB
North of Hope HB
by Polson Shannon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful, poetic exploration of grief though sacred pilgrimage, 13 April 2013
This review is from: North of Hope HB (Hardcover)
Shannon Polson's powerful, eloquent memoir "North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey" is the deeply moving story about her search for meaning in the face of her parents tragic, untimely death. Rich, her father and Kathy, her step-mother were killed in a rare grizzly attack while rafting the Hulahula River in Alaska's remote Arctic Wilderness in 2005.
Forced in the wilderness of grief Shannon leaves her home in Seattle to retrace Rich and Kathy's final days in a raft along the Arctic River with Ned her adopted brother and his work colleague Sally.
Shannon describes the three of them as a motley crew. Especially since she was going on a personally significant journey with Ned a person she had never been close to and Sally someone she didn't know.
Her poetic writing weaves together her painful internal landscape of grief with the exquisite yet harsh exterior landscape of the Arctic. Like her father, Shannon's deep appreciation for the untamed and remote wilderness of the Alaskan Arctic moves her story effortlessly between adventure, natural history, sacred pilgrimage, music, nature and faith.

Archetypes: Who Are You?
Archetypes: Who Are You?
by Caroline Myss
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful piece to the "Who am I?"puzzle, 4 April 2013
Caroline Myss is a medical intuitive and leading expert of energy medicine and human consciousness. Her earlier books "Anatomy of Spirit" and "Why People Don't Heal and How They Can" changed the way I think about myself, how I view the world and how I work with clients as a mental health therapist.
Her new book "Archetypes: Who Are You?" offers a new and powerful piece to the puzzle of "Who am I? What is my purpose? And How can I be more fulfilled?" She says they are not ordinary questions. They are cries from the depth of our being, calling us to discover our true self.
Myss shows how we are far more than our personality, habits and achievements and explains how discovering and understanding our archetypes or universal patterns of behavior can help us better understand ourselves and others and our place in the world.
She says there are ten primary archetypes: the Caregiver, the Artist/Creative, the Fashionista, the Intellectual, the Rebel, the Queen/Executive, the Advocate, the Visionary, the Athlete, and the Spiritual Seeker.
Knowing our archetypes gives us the knowledge to make more conscious decisions about our relationships and careers and helps us avoid the pitfalls, play up the strengths and become more authentic. She also explains each individual archetype, shows how it evolved, its unique characteristics, defining graces, life challenges, family parts and how to tap into its power. The tips and practical advice on how to fully engage with our archetypes are helpful.
This book shows how each archetype contains a life lesson, a unique challenge, a defining grace, an inner shadow and myth or signature story.
Myss says we are infinitely complex human beings with stories, myths and dreams. Her book shows how we can use the energy of our archetype to express the true reason we were born.

Lonely Planet Pacific Northwest's Best Trips (Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet Pacific Northwest's Best Trips (Travel Guide)
by Lonely Planet
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.18

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great travel guide, 1 April 2013
Lonely Planet' s "Pacific Northwest's Best Trips" (Regional Guide) by Mariella Krause, Celeste Brash, Brendan Sainsbury, Korina Miller is a winner. It offers stunning color photos and maps of 33 amazing road trips through the U.S.A.'s States of Oregon and Washington and Canada's British Columbia. The road trips vary between 1-2 and 6-7 days.
I found the travel guide's nine "Classic Trips" section particularly interesting. There are three in each state: Washington's Mountains to Sound Greenway, Cascade Drive and On the Trail of Lewis and Clark; Oregon's Highway 101 Coast, Columbia River Gorge and Mt Hood and Oregon's Scenic Byways and British Columbia's Sea to Sky Highway, Okanagan Vally Wine Tour and Up the Inside Passage.
The book's "Highlights" section is also helpful. These include coastal highways, fossil beds, back roads and byways, wineries, volcanoes and craters, hot springs, waterfalls, national parks, river gorges, Canada's inside passage, microbreweries and island exploration.
There's a good quick reference section too for need to know information such as climate, food, accommodation, transportation, money, daily costs, useful websites and hours of operation. I also liked the specialty trips that focus more on cities, history, family travel, the great outdoors, food and drink, off the beaten track and mountains.
My husband and I will definitely use this "Pacific Northwest's Best Trips" travel guide when we travel out West.

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