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

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Ozette's Heartstone: Volume 2 (Tales From Farlandia)
Ozette's Heartstone: Volume 2 (Tales From Farlandia)
by Judy Pierce
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, heartwarming and informative, 4 May 2015
Judy Pierce's second book “Ozette's Heartstone” is just as poetic and heartwarming as her first.
Because Ozette, a beautiful white squirrel, was different she was wrongly blamed for the destruction of the “real world's” sacred forest and made to flee to a magical kingdom called Farlandia. Princess Abrianna, a human mentor, crowned Ozette, to her dismay, “Queen of Farlandia.”
Ozette and her friends are once again threatened when Boardmore and Smiley, two hunters, threaten to cut down the trees and build and hunting lodge in Farlandia. “Ozette's Heartstone” is how Queen Ozette, Princess Abrianna and their friends set about saving Farlandia.
Together they learn many lessons – how humans loose respect for the natural world and become greedy when they see with their eyes not their hearts. Also about the beauty and fragility of the natural world and the animals and people who depend on it for existence.

Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer's Search for Wonder in the Natural World
Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer's Search for Wonder in the Natural World
by Leigh Ann Henion
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.86

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A ground-breaking must read to find awe and healing in the natural world, 11 April 2015
Leigh Ann Henion's ground-breaking memoir “Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer's Search for Wonder in the Natural World” is both validating and awe-inspiring. It is a must read for all women (and men) who find their healing, awe, sanity, strength and spirit in witnessing the mystery and beauty of the natural world.
After the shock, stress and adversity Henion faced taking care of her newborn son she realized the key to both their happiness lay in her occasionally venturing off into the natural world.
Leaving her son with his grandparents she and her husband set off on a number of global treks.
Henion's decision to allow herself, a journalist and young mother, to travel embodies Joseph Campbell's call to “follow your bliss” as “it leads to the life you aught to be living.”
Her spiritual wander lust takes Henion and her husband to see some of the Earth's great wonders: Mexico's butterfly migrations, Puerto Rico's bioluminescence, Venezuela's Catamba lightning storms, Hawaii’s volcanic eruptions, Sweden's Northern lights, Tanzania's great migration and Australia's total eclipse.
Henion says her travels made her realize that wonder isn't about finding answers. It's about becoming more comfortable with questions. She now sees the Universe, God and Nature as symbols for the same thing. She says awe makes people less impatient, less materialistic and more satisfied with life.
While watching the stars one night her toddler son leaned in and whisper with reverence, “We're stardust.” Henion said the radiance on his awestruck face was truly magnificent.

Bird Market of Paris, The
Bird Market of Paris, The
by Nikki Moustaki
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.41

5.0 out of 5 stars A sad and inspiring story told by riveting storyteller, 16 Feb. 2015
Nikki Moustaki's memoir “The Bird Market of Paris” is both heart-breaking and inspiring. Her skilful, rich, writing made me feel as if I'd taken a journey to hell and back.
This book is part love story – Nikki's great love for her grandfather, her dearest friend and companion, and their shared affinity and love of birds. It's also about Nikki's dark descent into alcoholism to the point of black outs, hallucinations, paranoia and guilt and, thanks to her amazing friends at Alcoholics Anonymous, her hard won recovery in mid 2001.
Nikki became guilt-ridden and drank even more after loosing most of her birds in a flood during Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Her drinking and guilt intensified after her grandfather's death. As a last ditch effort at redemption, still drinking and full of fear, Nikki flew to the bird market of Paris to release a white dove in her grandfather's name. Instead, something unexpected happened to give give her the will to save her own life.
Although Nikki stopped drinking in her early 20s, she was still able to get an MA and MFA in creative writing at New York University and another MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. She also received a National Endowment for the Arts in poetry and has sold over 350,000 bird books.
Nikki Moustaki is a riveting storyteller and writer.

Echoes of Heartsounds: A Memoir of Healing
Echoes of Heartsounds: A Memoir of Healing
Price: £4.79

5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, harrowing page-turner and wake-up call, 5 Dec. 2014
Martha Weinman Lear's “Echoes of Heartsounds” is a passionate, heartfelt memoir about the anguish and challenges of widowhood, the joy of finding new love, the shock of suffering a heart attack and her harrowing journey of recovery.
Hal, Martha's first husband, suffered a massive hart attack and died at age fifty-seven three decades earlier. In this book her role is reversed. She is in the same hospital, in the same cardiac unit with the same attending doctor as Hal. Only this time Al, her beloved second husband, is by her side.
Martha's brilliant writing and harrowing story kept me spell-bound. The book is not only a page-turner but a wake-up call. I did not realize that heart disease is the number-one killer of American women – more than all the forms of cancer combined and that more men have heart attacks but more women die from them. Nor did a know that there are one hundred thousand deaths a year from hospital-acquired infections (HAI) in American Hospitals. Martha describes her battle with a HAI infection in harrowing detail after her stent implant.
She also includes many fascinating observations about people and life. She says if we live long enough most of us become more of whatever we were to begin with. A caricature of ourselves. She said Hal always had grace but in terminal illness he was an astonishment of grace.
Although she denies being mystical she said for some time after Hal's death she had a sense that he was still within her. Whenever she had the sensation she felt bigger, stronger and wiser than before. Since he had more common sense and his voice flowed within her she received many helpful answers when she asked him questions.
Echoes of Heartsounds is a remarkable book filled with insight, love and humor.

Walking Home: A Pilgrimage From Humbled To Healed
Walking Home: A Pilgrimage From Humbled To Healed
by Sonia Choquette
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing spiritual and psychological journey from pain to peace, 5 Nov. 2014
Sonia Choquette's inspiring book, “Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed” is both riveting and raw. Her life unraveled when her brother and her father died withing six weeks of each other. Although Sonia continued to find solace in her professional work as a world-renowned intuitive guide and spiritual teacher, all sorts of ancient, denied and ignored feelings began to erupt like a volcano. She went into further morning and shame when she realized she no longer wanted to be married to Patrick her husband of 30 years.
Upon hearing about Spain's Camino de Santiago pilgrimage from a workshop participant, Sonia decided she too would walk the trail. The support of her two daughters convinced her that the 500-mile trek over the Pyrenees across northern Spain could also help her heal.
Through Sonia's experiences on the trail we feel her joys and sorrows as she meets her fellow pilgrims, encounters physical challenges and eats and sleeps at town inns.
Sonia shares her many psychological ups and downs and hard-won insights. How her own unexamined thoughts dragged her down and drained her of joy. How she needed to stop seeing her ego as “the enemy” and start seeing it as the “me” who needed more love. How we are all wounded and wound one another and how we are both victims and perpetrators. She found when she fully felt her pain she was able to heal, feel empowered and live in the moment.
“Walking Home” is an inner spiritual journey from fear to love, a psychological journey from pain to peace and an inspiring outdoor adventure involving beauty and hardship.

Love: The Saint and the Seeker
Love: The Saint and the Seeker
by Christina Stevens
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most inspiring, empowering books I've ever read, 5 Nov. 2014
Mother Teresa gave Cristina Stevens an award-winning filmmaker, author and public speaker, a ring and told her “God will write through you.” Her riveting memoir “Love: The Saint and the Seeker” is inspiring and profound.
In the book's prelude Cristina says it took her 20 years to share the story of her time with Mother Teresa. It is her prayer that her life adventures enrich and honor our own even more. She accomplished this with me.
Christina tells the story of her travels from Australia and Hollywood to Calcutta. Also her journey from make-believe to reality, uncertainty to faith, from death to life and from fear to love. She learned from Mother Teresa that love begins at home and that “home” is right here, right now and in our hearts.
During Christina's long wait to see Mother Teresa in Calcutta she got choked up while watching Ann and Jeanette Petrie 1986 film titled “Mother Teresa” narrated by Richard Attenborough. She quote's Attenborough's powerful words as she watched Mother Teresa holding and caring for a dying man lying in the street. He said, “There is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we can encounter. We sometimes lose sight of this force when there is suffering – too much pain. And suddenly the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people, who hear the call and answer in extraordinary ways.”
Christina's book's uplifting italicized quotes (inspired by the teachings of Mother Teresa) are also life-changing. My favorite include: If we understand that death was in fact going home to God, there would be no fear. When you nurture your inner world as much as you do your outer world, your life will take an unexpected turn. Kindness converts more people than enthusiasm, eloquence or science.
“Revolution of Love” Cristina's first global public announcement featuring Mother Teresa aired on more than 1,234 network and cable stations in the United States and on CNN worldwide.

Learning to Walk in the Dark: Because God often shows up at night
Learning to Walk in the Dark: Because God often shows up at night
by Barbara Brown Taylor
Edition: Hardcover

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning revelations about lunar spirituality, 24 Sept. 2014
Barbara Brown Taylor's amazing book "Learning to Walk in the Dark" is about her search to know more about physical, psychological, spiritual and theological darkness. She says for her, "Walk as a child of light and all your nights will be as bright as day" no longer rings true. She believes darkness is a friend and is as much inside us as outside.
After fifteen years as a parish minister Taylor realized Christian certainties were more a strategy of spiritual bypassing. They no longer helped people cope with life's challenges. She left the church when she could no longer speak of faith in God and the solar version of Christianity as a protection from darkness.
She says dark thoughts, dark emotions and suffering come from a reluctance to walk in the dark. Healing involves the seizing of both halves - day and night, flesh and spirit, presence and absence, faith and doubt. Pairs exist in balance not opposites.
Taylor says she did not loose her faith in God only her faith in the language, concepts and tools of the church. She no longer sees dark emotions as unskillful ways of coping. She says we need to trust feelings not be delivered from them. The more nuanced words like "betrayal," "brokenness" and "deadly distance from the source of life" mean more to her than "sin," "salvation," "repentance" and "grace." Carl Jung said knowing our own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness in others and Ken Wilber agreed when he said the "soul" is the "ego in drag."
Doctrines and creeds are no longer enough to keep faith alive. She believes endarkment like enlightenment is a work in progress. We need to go deep into the cloud of unknowing. When the dark night passes all is transformed. Darkness is not something to be feared, fought, gotten through or avoided. Comfort or discomfort with the outer dark is a good barometer of how we feel on the inside. Looking at the stars reminds us of our place in the universe. Darkness is not dark to God. The night is as bright as day.
Taylor says she's been given the gift of lunar spirituality where divine light waxes and wanes with the seasons. She needs darkness as much as she needs light. She says to be human is to live by sunlight and moonlight, with anxiety and delight, admitting limits and transcending them, falling down and rising up and loving creation like we do God.
Taylor's book "Learning to Walk in the Dark" shows us how to find God in the darkness and allow the light and the darkness to teach us what we need to know.

Stop Drifting, Start Rowing: One Woman's Search For Happiness And Meaning Alone On The Pacific
Stop Drifting, Start Rowing: One Woman's Search For Happiness And Meaning Alone On The Pacific
by Roz Savage
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring adventure that shows how to find more joy and meaning in life, 22 Sept. 2014
Roz Savage, a British ocean rower's inspiring book “Stop Drifting, Start Rowing” is a fascinating read on many levels.
It's an adventure story about her 8,000-mile solo row in “Brocade” a 23-foot boat across the Pacific Ocean in 2007. It's a search for meaning. She said sharing her experiences with the world via blogging, the media and her book not only became a way to connect and inspire others but gave her life more purpose. Roz said she cherishes all the relationships she developed along the way as it made her feel part of something bigger than herself.
Having belatedly discovered an environmental conscience Roz dedicated her rowing trip to spreading the word about the plight of the planet. Especially land and ocean pollution and the rising sea levels due to climate change.
Her descriptions of eating dinner while watching the sunset also inspire a simpler life. She said the sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset were the highlights of her day. The best colors usually appeared after the red disk of the sun had dropped into the ocean. She also shares how she became fond of the little entourage of yellow fish that gathered beneath her boat and kept her company for many miles as she rowed across the ocean.
Roz's worldly accomplishment are impressive too. She holds four world records for ocean rowing, including first woman to row solo across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.
“Stop Drifting, Start Rowing” is an inspiring adventure story that shows how to find more joy and meaning in life.

An Altar in the World: Finding the Sacred Beneath Our Feet
An Altar in the World: Finding the Sacred Beneath Our Feet
by Barbara Brown Taylor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There is profound, life-changing wisdom on every page, 25 Aug. 2014
Barbara Brown Taylor's amazing book “An Alter in the World” is insightful and wise. She says she forgot the whole world is the House of God before she woke up to God. She wondered who persuaded her that God preferred four walls to wide-open spaces, that God's home is a church and that the world was a barren place full of lost souls needing help. She now believes the people in churches need saving from the idea that God sees the world the same way they do.
Like Francis of Assisi Taylor says we can read the world as reverently as we read the Bible. She sees reverence as the awaking of awe. It's the reminder of our true size. The easiest way to practice reverence is to sit outside and pay close attention to everything that lives nearby. With luck we'll feel a tenderness and wonder for the struggles of ants and acorns. We may even feel the beat of our heart.
Taylor shows how our spiritual lives depend on engaging the most ordinary physical activities with exquisite attention. What we lack for this treasure is a willingness to imagine we already have everything we need.
She says all the world's great faiths are meant to teach us what it means to be more fully human. We live in the world that is waiting for us to notice the holiness in it. Faith is not just a way of thinking. Bodily practices should remind us that faith is a way of life. Our spiritual practices should bring us back to our body. To have gratitude for life as God's trusted flesh and blood. To bring divine love to earth. She asks us not to dismiss the body's wisdom because it does not use words.
Taylor says when people ask about her prayer life she sometimes describes hanging laundry on the line. As the breeze tosses the clothes in the wind she imagines her prayers spinning away over the tops of the trees. This work is good prayer.
Taylor says walking is the most available spiritual practice. We have difficulty recognizing where we really are as we spend most of our time thinking about the past. There are spiritual teachers who teach attentiveness including walking meditation. The four gospels give many accounts of Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee and even walking on water. Going barefoot is also a spiritual practice. Moses was told to remove his sandals as the place he was standing on was holy ground. Taylor says the spiritual practice of going barefoot can take you around the world and wake you up to your place in the world.
The Practice of Getting Lost was one of my favorite chapters. We, like Taylor's cows, follow the same tracks in a field. It's normal and there are good reasons. However, it also allows us to stay unconscious. Getting lost is a good remedy for the deadening habit of taking the safest, shortest path. It leads us to new people, places and things. It makes us more aware of our steps, forces us use to all of our senses and to make new choices. When we are alert, our senses come alive, we become more aware and see more. Choosing to get lost is a low-risk way to develop new skills for managing panic. Taylor recommends looking at being lost as a spiritual practice, a way to build the muscles for radical trust. God does some of His best work with people who are truly, seriously lost. Even Jesus chose to become lost when he spent 40 days being tested in the desert. She says the best way to grow empathy for those who are lost is to know what it means to be lost yourself.
Her chapter on community was particularly helpful. I too am an introvert and feel grateful when people draw me out of myself. Taylor says the main impediment to living a life of meaning is being self-absorbed.
She also speaks of the Christian mystical tradition of divine union. It can happen alone, with other people or with the natural world. The light of wholeness makes no distinction between God, other people or trees. Everything exists and lives in wholeness and light. She says the hardest spiritual work is to love your neighbor as yourself. Unfortunately, in our world nothing strengthens community like a common enemy. Yet, what we have in common is our humanity.
Concerning work Taylor says it's not what we do but how we do it that matters. Our work not only includes loving God and neighbor as myself but the vocation of becoming fully human. To turn gratitude for being alive into some common concrete good. Taylor sees housework as a domestic art. It's a powerful way to return to our senses.
Keeping the Sabbath can be part of the practice of saying No. A way to resist the our culture's killing rhythms of drivenness, depletion, compulsion and collapse.
Taylor says there is grace in physical labor when it is done as a spiritual practice. She points out how spikes in our pain bear some relationship to leaps of growth. To make peace with pain can require as much energy as fighting it. She says for those willing to stay awake, pain remains a reliable altar in the world.
There is profound, life-changing wisdom on every page of Barbara Brown Taylor's book “An Alter in the World.”

The Antelope in the Living Room
The Antelope in the Living Room
by Melanie Shankle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A funny, heart-warming memoir about the ups and downs in a relationship, 8 April 2014
"The Antelope in the Living Room" by Melanie Shankle shows how relationships can actually survive and thrive when there is amazing chemistry between two polar opposite people. Like Melanie my 16-year marriage is living proof that an animal rights advocate and pacifist can marry a deer hunter and military man. We even had to deal with the deer head in the living room. I recommended my husband put the head in his shop. To his credit he gave he gave it to his son who already has herd of them in his house.
We too had to lighten up, laugh a lot and accept that neither of us is perfect.
Like Perry my husband likes to stockpile stuff. Melonie made me laugh when she said she used the word "stockpile" instead of "hoard" to be sensitive to his affliction. To her credit she also makes fun of herself - her fear of rats and her obsessive compulsive (OCD) desire to have a spotless SUV and house when her daughter Carolyn was four.
I also enjoyed her observation how men can create sexual innuendos out of almost anything. She says how can a man resist a TV commercial that begins by saying the pocket hose, "starts off normal size but grows larger and larger when you turn it on?"
"The Antelope in the Living Room" is a heart-warming memoir about the ups and downs in a relationship and the mystery of marriage.

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