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Laura Smith (New York)

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) [Adult Edition]
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) [Adult Edition]
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.58

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent way to end the series, 14 Aug. 2007
I have followed Harry Potter over the years and grew up with him. So I eagerly awaited this final book with both anticipation and sadness. Anticipation since I knew many secrets would be revealed and resolved in this final book. The sadness stemmed from the fact that the journey will end here. Of course, we have all the wonderful books by Rowling that we can read and reread.

Overall I was delighted by Book 7 with its imagination and details. At times the pace of the book varies but towards the end it picks up speed. The book will satisfy any Harry Potter fan and for those who haven't read Harry Potter yet it's never too late to start with the series. The books are an easy read and you can read them quickly. These books will be with us forever to delight the imagination and allow for magical exploration.

Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
by David D., M.D. Burns
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.99

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful book!, 2 Jun. 2007
"Feeling Good" by Dr. Burns really helped me to manage depression and to better understand how my thoughts contributed to it. I've realized through this book the profound influence of thinking on my mood. Dr. Burns allows you to map ten cognitive distortions that maintain negative thinking and emotions. Once we can eliminate these distortions then our mood can improve and the depression or anxiety will start to lift.

Dr. Burns recommends that a cognitive therapy approach be used to allow for coping skills. He adds that when drug therapy is combined with cognitive therapy, the results are often better and offer long-term solutions because the person wanting to change their mood is self-empowerment with understanding and awareness. I believe this was the best part of "Feeling Good" book: It allowed me to take inventory of my thoughts and emotions.

One example of cognitive distortion is All-or-nothing thinking. This involves thinking in absolute terms. Through this distortion, you see everything in black-and-white. Either you're an absolute success or a complete failure. Even if you are successful in many areas of your life, with this distortion you will dwell on that one instance where you see yourself as a "failure" and then believe you are a failure in everything. This type of thinking leaves no room for a balanced perspective, you can only have extremes.

This book really helped me and I also found "Nexus: A Neo Novel" by Deborah Morrison and Arvind Singh very helpful. It's the intimate portrayal of Logan Andrews' struggle with depression and despair. His cognitive distortions are explored at a spiritual retreat where people struggle with personal pain. "Nexus" offers many helpful ideas for someone going through depression and it deals with depression in an honest way, not shying away from the lows that accompany anxiety and depression. I highly recommend "Feeling Good" with the psycho-spiritual story "Nexus: A Neo Novel."

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
by Lisa See
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant tale, 20 April 2007
"Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" is a suspenseful and poignant novel set in nineteenth century China at a time when foot-binding was practiced and women were kept secluded.

Two women in Hunan province establish a deep friendship as laotongs, "old sames." These are girls that are paired off with each other in a friendship that can last a lifetime. Their bond grows over the years as they struggle with famine, unrest, arranged marriages and motherhood. Their close friendship is threatened when misunderstanding arises between them.

This book offered a glance into women's life in nineteenth century China in an absorbing story. I recommend this book along with The Tenderness of Wolves and Nexus: A Neo Novel.

The Ultimate Guide to Cosmic Ordering - Empower Your Destiny: Take Control of Your Life (Book & CD)
The Ultimate Guide to Cosmic Ordering - Empower Your Destiny: Take Control of Your Life (Book & CD)
by Neo Icarus
Edition: Paperback

7 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for Goal-setting, 20 April 2007
I've heard Cosmic Ordering mentioned a few times on TV and in newspapers but I really didn't know much about it until I read this book. If anyone is interested in this topic Andronicou's guidebook gives a full explanation of it.

My simple definition of Cosmic Ordering is that it's a belief that states that when an individual connects to the Universe and ask for their greatest wishes to come true. The Universe responds and grants them their wishes. Sounds like a strange idea still it's not that different from the way some people view prayer as a tool by which God can grant them their desires. It does help in Goal Setting because Cosmic Ordering is dedicated to the achievement of a specific goal.

Two different views are presented on goal-setting. Barbel Mohr argues that you need to write your goal and then forget about it, so that it works at a subconscious level with complete faith that it will happen on its own without having to think about it. Andronicou in his book argues that after a cosmic order is made then your thoughts and emotions need to consciously work toward it and it happens. He details seven stages of Cosmic Ordering, including keeping a Cosmic Ordering journal, visualizing success, talking to the Cosmos, Destiny-symbols and having faith in success.

An interesting read and the CD was a nice bonus. The best part for me was goal-setting, though you'll also find other helpful ideas. If you're interested in a novel with spiritual and psychological insights, try "Nexus: A Neo Novel."

The Angel Inside: Michelangelo's Secrets for Following Your Passion and Finding the Work You Love
The Angel Inside: Michelangelo's Secrets for Following Your Passion and Finding the Work You Love
by Chris Widener
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Read!, 19 April 2007
This an engaging book from start to finish that captures wisdom in a engaging tale. It's a tale of a young man looking for meaning in his work and finding it in the Michelangelo's life and art. The book contrasts the life you want to lead versus what others tell you to live.

"The Angel Inside" explores Michelangelo's cryptic words when asked why he worked so hard on his masterpiece sculpture David. He replied: "Young man, there is an angel inside this rock, and I am setting him free." This idea is masterfully explored by Widener in showing how we need to find the angel within ourselves and create our masterpiece in our life and work.

The lessons contained in this book are thoughtful and practical aspects for daily life. "The Angel Inside" is an great book for find meaning in life. I also found "Nexus: A Neo Novel" to be an amazing book about people's journey at a spiritual retreat to overcome personal pain. Both books offer unique and engaging insights and I highly recommend them.

Celestine Meditations
Celestine Meditations
by Salle Merrill Redfield
Edition: Audio CD

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing meditations, 16 April 2007
This review is from: Celestine Meditations (Audio CD)
I bought "The Celestine Meditations" because I love books by James Redfield. I was hoping this Audio CD would live up to my expectations.

For those who don't know: Salle Merrill-Redfield, is James Redfield's wife, and he is the author of "The Celestine Prophecy" and other inspiring books. I found this CD to be a relaxing experience and a perfect introduction to the beauty of meditation.

"The Celestine Meditations" expand upon two insights found in "The Celestine Prophecy." I think it will benefit both a beginner to meditation and even the more advanced practitioner.

The first meditation takes you on a journey through a forest and ultimately to a connection with your higher self. This meditation is based on the fifth insight, which shows that we must learn to gain energy through our connection with a universal source, not try to gain it from other people. Our source of energy is within and not outside us.

The second meditation takes place by a beach and it's based on the eight insight, which reveals that through uplifting others around us we can increase the frequency of coincidences in our lives. We need to be careful to still maintain our inner connection to universal source of energy and avoid losing it through romantic involvement. This meditation concentrates on personal and universal healing and it's a beautiful experience.

I would recommend that you buy this CD with "The Celestine Prophecy" and I also recommend "NEXUS: A Neo Novel," which also offers psychological and spiritual insights woven within a unique story of personal transformation. Anyone who has read James Redfield will easily understand and appreciate the message of "Nexus."

The Law Of Attraction: How To Make It Work For You
The Law Of Attraction: How To Make It Work For You
by Esther and Jerry Hicks
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £16.00

47 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Expresses Law of Attraction in Simple Terms, 8 April 2007
The Law of Attraction is expressed in the simplest terms in this book which is an ongoing dialog between Abraham, a channeled guide, and the author, Jerry Hicks. Abraham speaks through Esther Hicks with simple teachings.

The Law of Attraction is described as "like attracting like." So the frequency of your thoughts whether positive or negative attract more of the same vibration to you. By becoming conscious of our thoughts and our beliefs, which are repeating thought patterns, we can gain mastery over our lives. So we are attracting the essence of our thoughts in our lives.

This CD defines success in a unique way: Success can be measured by our achievements but the authors recommend that we measure it by the joy in our life as the standard of success. Material possessions or stuff in our life alone fails to bring joy instead joy brings the highest value on its own not our collection of stuff. This is an important distinction.

Overall I would rate this as an good CD on personal empowerment. I would only caution people in not taking Law of Attraction to an extreme as their book does when it argues that a victim actually attracts the robber. This is basically blaming a victim. We need to instead focus on compassion for ourselves and others. If the Law of Attraction is used to justify attitudes that are non-compassionate then the Law may give some measure of success at a personal level yet it may fail in our responsibility as human beings. We need to grow in character and in our heart not just in our thoughts.

I also recommend "Nexus: A Neo Novel," which is an amazing journey of transformation. Logan Andrews a journalist living in California is devastated by a number of losses. He is drawn to a retreat intended to help people overcome pain where he finds many spiritual and psychological insights, yet he struggles within himself to overcome personal doubts and hopelessness. The book shows that even with understanding principles such as the law of attraction, we need to change our mental thoughts through life experiences before change can truly occur at a deeper level.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 6, 2009 5:50 PM BST

The Celestine Prophecy
The Celestine Prophecy
by James Redfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing journey!, 8 April 2007
This review is from: The Celestine Prophecy (Paperback)
James Redfield has written one of the most unique books, since he weaves spiritual insights into a narrative story. Carlos Castañeda, Dan Millman have also used this type of visionary fiction writing. More recently Deborah Morrison & Arvind Singh have woven psychological and spiritual insights into "NEXUS: A Neo Novel."

Some critics will charge that "The Celestine Prophecy" is simple and uninteresting. However, their criticisms reveal their personal biases. If you are looking for literary fiction that leaves you breathless than this book might disappoint you. However, if you enjoy spiritual wisdom blended into a unique plot then you need to read James Redfiled and others authors of visionary fiction novels.

The task of blending fiction with inspiration presents certain difficulties, since you need to blend strengths of a story-teller with inspirational writing. Therefore, the standard that we use to judge ordinary literature is inappropriate for this type of book. As mere critics, we would fail to notice the moving inspiration, which ultimately is the whole point of these books. The story is just a container for the message and the depth of the message is what is important.

"The Celestine Prophecy" discusses many spiritual ideas in a fictional account told in the first-person. The unnamed narrator of the story is in a transitional period in his life. He starts to experiences instances of synchronicity i.e. "coincidences" in his life are no accidents but they have a deeper meaning. We see this at the start of the book as Charlene, an old friend, suddenly contacts the narrator about the discovery of ancient manuscripts in Peru. She believes he can help her uncover the rest of the insights and invites him to Peru. In total nine insights are revealed in this novel and the tenth insight is revealed in James Redfield's second book, The Tenth Insight.

At times the characterization and plot can be thin, yet because of the spiritual insights this book will appeal to readers who enjoy mixing wisdom into their reading. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a soulful adventure - an inner adventure more so than an outer one. One of the insights actually emphasizes the importance of connecting to the universal source inside of us instead of seeking energy from people outside us.

I found that the message contained in each insight goes to a deeper level of knowing than just intellectual and that is what has made this book and others like it inspiring reading from many readers. The Celestine Prophecy is enjoyable to read for its spiritual depth. Even though it is fiction, its ideas relate well to everyday life. The book requires you to reflect on the insights, so you can read it and intuitively start to understand the significance of each insight and how they relate to one another.

The Glass Castle
The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Memoir, 1 April 2007
This review is from: The Glass Castle (Paperback)
Jeannette Walls offers another book on terrible childhood experiences that have gained popularity of late. Unlike other books, this isn't about blame or whining. In fact, even after all the hardships she endured you can sense her love for her parents. She is willing to forgive them for their self-absorbed lifestyle that led to neglect and even abuse.

The book starts off with a gripping first sentence:

"I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a dumpster."

We learn more about the Walls' dysfunctional parents. Her father was an alcoholic, who had fanciful ideas of finding gold and building Jeannette a glass castle, which gives the book it's title. Her mother a crazy artist could look at anything in life even morally questionable or wrong choices as logically right in her everything-is-positive thinking. You hate the parents for thinking this way but still their love for their kids is also there.

Just when things get settled as both parents get a job, the dad decides to skedaddle and they would take off to another state or town. Through being uprooted again and again growing up, Jeanette has to deal pedophilic relatives, hunger, bullies, eating food from the garbage and so much more. It's very heart-wrenching!

Jeannette and her sister eventually find a way out of their life with their parents. It's remarkable that the kids create positive lives for themselves after all the abuse and neglect they went through as children. It's a book that is emotionally hard to take all at once but if you like a memoir that tugs at your heart, then this a great book, especially because the love of parents after everything still shows.

Another poignant book that I recommend is NEXUS: A NEO NOVEL, which offers a dynamic story of people trying to overcome pain in their life set at a fictional retreat. It focuses on themes of courage, community, equanimity and compassion.

Law of Attraction: The Science of Attracting More of What You Want and Less of What You Don't Want
Law of Attraction: The Science of Attracting More of What You Want and Less of What You Don't Want
by Michael J. Losier
Edition: Paperback

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear and dynamic, 1 April 2007
THE LAW OF ATTRACTION by Michael Losier shows how to use the law of attraction and how to establish a firm foundation in creating change in our life. He adds that most people are good at declaring what they don't want but have difficulty saying what they want. So Losier breaks down the process of change into three easy steps as follow:

Step One: Write down every thing that you don't want, such as, "Not buying things because I can't afford them", "Upset customers or co-workers" and whatever else you don't want.

Step Two: Write down everything you do want. Your first list can be helpful with this stage. So for me this included "Money to buy what I want", "Friendly customers and co-workers" and more.

Step Three: Allow your want and this includes eliminating all doubts from your thinking that could block your goals.

Michael empowers you to change your life through an easy approach and offers clear explaination on how to achieve your desires. This book is an easy read with clear guidelines.

Michael Losier is an N.L.P. Practitioner and Coach on Law of Attraction from Victoria, Canada. He gives in-person Law of Attraction seminars in Victoria and teleseminars to wider audiences, so he knows what he's talking about.

I believe positive thinking approach offered in this book and other similar books is helpful to assist individuals overcome hopelessness. I would only caution that instead of blame, a reader trying this approach have an open attitude - kind of like seeing where this will take you. Many laws operate in life besides the law of attraction, so being hard on yourself is counterproductive. Yet it is important for us to try to create positive change in our life with an affirming mental attitude.

Another book that I very much enjoyed reading is NEXUS: A NEO NOVEL, since it offered a unique journey into love, empathy & compassion. I believe compassion is an important law that needs to guide our daily life along with positive thoughts in order to create a better life for ourselves and everyone else.

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