Thursday, September 09, 2010

I apologize to all the authors and publicists for my present inability to focus and clear the backlog of books pending for review. Other pressing matters and ill health have made it impossible for me to read any book with focus and I am not clear at this point of time when I can get back on track and take up the pending books. I sincerely apologize to my readers, authors and publishers / publicists for this mess up.


Saturday, May 01, 2010

Title: Plus-Sized Yoga

Sub-Title: Beginners Yoga for People of All Sizes

Author: Donald Keith Stanley

Publisher: DK Creative

ISBN: 978-0-9825449-9-0

Genre: Non-Fiction / Health / Yoga / Self-Help

Presentation: Soft Cover, Landscape mode (size 8 1/2" x 11")

The book attracts your attention with its size, in tune with its title. It is a plus-sized book but is quite readable. It is not meant to be carried around in your coat pocket or purse but can be comfortably read at home. Almost all the exercises (Asanas, Mudras etc. ) are meant for practicing at home.

The book has 225 pages and has three main parts. Part One - In a Class by Yourself has 64 pages and has  two meanings, one that each of us is unique and it is always good to remember that when we feel too much stereotyped and also because at home in the privacy of your room, you are indeed in a class of your own, with the author preferring to communicate in spirit and through the book! The first part has an Introduction, the Benefits of Kundalini Yoga, Terms to learn, Practicing Kundalini Yoga at Home, Mudras, The Body Locks, Breathing, Mantras, How to Meditate, The Importance of Relaxation and Tuning In - Connecting to the Teacher Within.

Part Two has some postures (Asanas), Kriyas (Breathing Exercises), Meditations and an interesting topic, "I don't have time to meditate" Meditations etc.

Part Three is titled, Be Happier Now! and deals with physical and psychological issues of being Plus-Sized, issues of Self-Judgment, dealing with judgment of others etc.

All in all, it is a very interesting book and will be useful if you are interested in Yoga, Meditation, Breathing Exercises etc. The system presented in this book is attributed to Yogi Bhajan (the author is a student of that Yogi). While I am familiar with many of the concepts presented here, I hasten to add that I am not a follower of this or for that matter any system of Yoga that deals with physical Asanas, Mudras etc. I am a follower of Bhakti Yoga (the path of devotion) and am a Reiki Master / Spiritual Healer etc. I only use breathing techniques for relaxation and if needed for energy improvement. Thus, I have not tried and tested the specific techniques given in this book but as the author mentions in his acknowledgement the techniques have indeed been tried and tested by quite a few people mentioned by name.

If you are looking for a safe and effective method for improvement of health (physical and more importantly emotional), this book may appeal to you. I suggest that you check it out at a near by book store.

I would have preferred this book to be half its size so that it can be carried to a class if needed or some of the Mudras and breathing techniques could be used while travelling. I also suggest that such books are malso made available in electronic form (esp. suited for a mobile phone) so that you have access to the information on the move.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Title: Mikey Helps Toot-Toot

Sub-Title: Personal Development for Children Series - Positive Thinking - With supporting notes for parents / teachers and children

Authors: Amal & Santa Simothy, Hitul & Seema Thobani

Illustrator: Anca Budeanu

ISBN: 978-0-9563260-0-3

Publisher: Kidz4mation

Genre: Fiction / Children

Presentation: Soft cover, illustrated and plastic coated

This booklet is one of the six booklets and deals with the power of positive thinking. Mikey wants to play with his friend Toot-Toot (the baby elephant) but Toot-Toot is sad and depressed. When asked for the reason, he says he does not know. "I don't know Mikey. I just feel sad," said Toot-toot. "I want to be happy, but how can I?"

Mikey's friend Genie comes as usual for help. He suggests to Toot-Toot to think of something that makes him happy. Toot-Toot loves his ground nuts (pea nuts) and follows Genie's advice.

Mikey was happy that he had helped Toot-Toot.

This booklet and two more titles, "Mikey Aces His Test" and "Mikey Says 'I Can Do It'" are closely inter-related and talk of the power of positive thoughts, positive attitude etc. To the children, of course, the different stories help in reinforcing the concepts but the parents and caregivers may be forgiven if they feel confused about the need for three booklets on one idea.

The printing and the illustrations are on par with the remaining booklets in the series (very good). The booklet is recommended alone or as a part of the whole series published by the same team. 

Title: Mikey Says 'I Can Do It'

Sub-Title: Personal Development for Children Series - Overcoming Limiting Beliefs - With supporting notes for parents / teachers and children

Authors: Amal & Santa Simothy, Hitul & Seema Thobani

Illustrator: Anca Budeanu

ISBN: 978-0-9563260-2-7

Publisher: Kidz4mation

Genre: Fiction / Children

Presentation: Soft cover, illustrated and plastic coated

In this booklet, Mikey overcomes his fears and doubts about climbing to and playing on the top branches of his friend Tiggle, where his other friends Jake and Louie. Mikey wants to follow them but is afraid and overcome with self doubts. His friend Genie comes as usual to Mikey's rescue and teaches Mikey the power of thoughts and beliefs and how negative thoughts can be overcome by positive beliefs. Here is a short excerpt from that booklet:

"So Genie, are you saying that it would help me if I told myself that I could climb to Tiggle's top even if I felt that I couldn't?" asked Mikey.

"Yes Mikey!" replied the Genie. "When you do that, you will feel happy. That's when the magic inside you starts to happen!" JUST FEEL THE MAGIC AND TELL YOURSELF YOU CAN DO IT!" 

Well, as expected Mikey believes in his friend Genie and through the positive affirmations, starts feeling better and climbs to the top of Tiggle to join and play with his friends. 

The printing and the illustrations are of the same standard as the other booklets in the series. 

I was wondering about the need for this particular booklet and how it is different from the other booklets "Mikey Helps Toot-Toot" and "Mikey Aces His Test" since those booklets also deals with self doubts and the power of positive thinking and positive affirmations. To the children, of course, it is another story and helps reinforce the concept. 

Recommended for children and their care givers. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Title: Mikey Takes a Moment

Sub-Title: Personal Development for Children Series - Meditation and Relaxation - With supporting notes for parents / teachers and children

Authors: Amal & Santa Simothy, Hitul & Seema Thobani

Illustrator: Anca Budeanu

ISBN: 978-0-9563260-4-1

Publisher: Kidz4mation

Genre: Fiction / Children

Presentation: Soft cover, illustrated and plastic coated

In this delightful and in my view, most useful of the series booklet, Mikey and his friends are taught a technique to relax and be calm through music and visualization. Pari, the Peacock is known for keeping calm amidst all the chaos of the modern world and at the request of class teacher, Mr.Nutwell, the Owl, she shares her techniques for meditation and relaxation with the children. 

Restlessness and stress are known to reduce the efficiency of learning and working. Meditation, visualization etc.  esp. when accompanied by soothing, relaxing music are known to be very effective in helping people, including young children calm and stress free. 

Breathing plays an important role in stress reduction and the authors could have covered that too. 

The illustrations and printing are as usual good. 

The booklet and in fact, the whole series (of 6 booklets) make excellent reading for children and their caretakers. 
Title: Mikey Aces His Test

Sub-Title: Personal Development for Children Series - Positive Attituide - With supporting notes for parents / teachers and children

Authors: Amal & Santa Simothy, Hitul & Seema Thobani

Illustrator: Anca Budeanu

ISBN: 978-0-9563260-3-4

Presentation: Soft cover, illustrated and plastic coated

In this booklet, Mikey prepares well for his school test on the subject of forest history, but is worried that he won’t be able to remember what he read. Thus he is anxious and is unable to relax and play with his tree friend Tiggle. His friend Genie comes as usual to his help and advises his young friend to practice the principles of positive affirmations. He suggests that Mikey write down a piece of paper that he is going to remember all that he studied. He also advises Mikey to imagine that he has done well in his test and that he has passed the test! Mikey does as suggested by Genie and thanks to the power of suggestion, affirmations, positive thinking etc., does very well in the test.

Mikey is very happy and suggests to his friend Toot-Toot to follow a similar technique for his future tests.  

I felt that he could have shared the secret before the test and saved Toot-Toot the bother of a reexamination but then I realized that  boys would be boys!

The power of positive affirmations is nicely brought out in this delightful story. However, the authors could have cautioned the parents and the children that these work only when the preparatory effort has been put into any work or test and not otherwise! As presented, it gives an impression to the child that there is some sort of a magic formula available to ensure success, while the truth is that the magic lies in hard work and self belief. 

Another great booklet for young children and their caregivers. 
Title: Chik-Chick's Cap

Sub-Title: Personal Development for Children Series  - Raising Self Esteem - With supporting notes for parents/teachers and children

Authors: Amal & Santa Simothy, Hitul & Seema Thobani

Illustrator: Anca Delia Budeanu

Publisher: Kidz4mation

ISBN: 978-0-9563260-5-8

Presentation: Soft cover, illustrated and plastic coated

This particular booklet is on the theme of accepting oneself, having a good self image and raising one's self esteem where needed. Chik-Chik the rabbit has one ear missing and felt that she was ugly and tried to hide her problem by wearing a cap. However, Pari, the peacock, school friend Mikey, the monkey and Tiggle the tree help her accept herself by accepting her as their friend. 

The printing is excellent - colorful, eye catching, on good art paper, plastic coated to withstand little grimy hands! The illustrations are good. Contrast between the background illustrations and the text could be better (through a different selection of shades and colors probably). 

The authors rightly bring out the importance of having a good self image and the need for self acceptance. The book helps children and parents, friends etc. to appreciate how they can help raise the self esteem and thus help those in need. 

Recommended for children and their care givers. 
Title: Tiggle Takes off

Sub-Title: Personal Development for Children Series - Gratitude - With supporting notes for parents/teachers and children

Authors: Amal & Santa Simothy, Hitul & Seema Thobani

Illustrator: Anca Delia Budeanu

Publisher: Kidz4mation

ISBN: 978-0-9563260-1-0

Genre: Fiction / Children

Presentation: Soft Cover colorfully illustrated and plastic coated

This particular booklet is on the theme of being thankful, gratitude. Mikey (the monkey child) goes daily to play with his favorite tree Tiggle, but does not think any time of thanking his friend. One day, this gets to Tiggle and Tiggle starts weeping at the way he is being ignored by his friend. His friend Genie agrees to have a talk with Mikey and instead of preaching the morals and thus putting off his friend Mikey, Genie adopts a rather novel, practical approach to bring home the lessons of being thankful, being grateful, not to take one's blessings for granted etc. Needless to say, the story ends on a happy note and both the friends Mikey and Tiggle are very happy.

The printing is excellent - colorful, eye catching, on good art paper, plastic coated to withstand little grimy hands! The illustrations are good. However, I could not but help noticing something interesting - both Mikey and Tiggle are very happy but they forget to thank their friend the Genie! This just goes to show the difficulty in being thankful all the time!

The authors rightly bring out the importance of being thankful for all the blessings in our life in their note at the end.  But the real power of gratitude comes out when we start being grateful for everything around us, the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly... May be they could revise their advice in the next edition.  

The booklet will make excellent reading for children and their caregivers. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Title: The Skinny on Credit Cards

Sub-title: How to master the credit card game

Author: Jim Randel

Illustration: Malinda Nass

Publisher: Rand Publishing /

ISBN: 978-0-9818935-4-9

Genre: Non-Fiction / Personal Finance / Self Help

Presentation: Soft cover

Recommended for: All of us who want to know about and manage our credit cards

Do you have a credit card? Did you ever feel like having one? Were you approached by credit card marketers with attractive offers? Were you harassed by the credit card companies and or their collection agents? Do you know the difference between a credit card and a debit card? What is a charge card? What is a Balance transfer card? What is Credit rating? How does credit rating affect your ability to raise a loan from a different bank? Why rolling over the outstanding loans is not such a good idea?

Those and many more questions are answered in an interesting, easy-to-read style. If you have about 2 hours time (I needed less actually, just about an hour and ten minutes), you can read this book and get your knowledge updated. If you are struggling with the debt of credit cards throwing your life out of gear, you will find excellent advice from Jim Randel, the author on the steps that you can take to reduce your card debt. For example, the question about the problem with rolling over (carrying a balance forward to the next cycle) is explained on Panel 77:

“I’m sorry, Beth, but there is one more point that I need to make.

When you carry a balance on your credit cards, there is no longer an interest-free period between the date of purchase and the date your payment is due. In other words, you start paying interest the day a new purchase is made. I am sorry to say Billy, that you are already paying interest on that new motorcycle jacket you bought this morning.” Almost every panel is accompanied by an interesting visual. 

Beth and Billy are the two characters (wife and husband) and Jim Randell is the advisor, who becomes a family friend.

As can be seen, it is explained in an interesting and easy to understand manner. There are no page numbers, but panels and each page has 2 panels like the frames of a power point presentation.

The book thus follows a very interesting, innovative approach to communicate with the reader and gives information that is accurate and up-to-date in an easy to read manner.

The author and the publisher deserve our congratulations and appreciation. 

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Title: Riley's Lost Tooth

Author: Dianne Cantrell

Illustrator: Heather Castles

Publisher: Brown Books Publishing Group

ISBN: 978-1933651620

Genre: Fiction / Children

Presentation: Hard Cover with Dust Jacket

I had the opportunity to review Dianne's earlier book, "Good Bye Baby Max" and when the author asked me whether I would be interested in reviewing the present book, I was very happy.

The book is colorfully illustrated and the story is simple but delightful. Riley, a small girl of about 5 years loses her first tooth. When she shares that news with her grandma, the pups in the house get worried and start searching for the lost tooth. A tooth fairy appears and assures them that it is a natural process and Riley will in fact get a regular, permanent tooth in its place.

The story is told in simple sentences and it would be a pleasure for the child to read or for the parents to read. One sample:

“We must find her tooth.
She was here earlier today,
maybe she lost it
when we all went out to play.”

One more excerpt:

No, really,” she said,
“all children lose their teeth.
Permanent ones then grow in
if they don’t eat too many sweets.”

The book is well written and the illustrations are beautiful. The book will definitely appeal to all children (including children at heart like this reviewer) and their parents / grandparents / elder siblings and other care givers.

Strongly recommended as an educational gift.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Title: Weight Loss Success!

Sub-Title: How I Lost Weight and Kept It Off for Over 30 Years and How You Can Do It, Too!

Author: Joan Marie Verba

Publisher: FTL Publications (

ISBN: 9780982523216

Genre: Non-Fiction / Self-Help

Presentation: E-Book, Paper back etc.

This is a short book of just 32 pages but short is sweet in this case and is packed with very interesting and useful advice. The author herself has successfully gone through a program and more importantly could stay on that and keep her weight from increasing again! So, the book is in that sense very authentic and her sincerity comes through.

She stresses that any weight loss program has to be so designed that you can stick to it for the rest of your life. She stresses on the obvious but often overlooked fact that one cannot go back to their earlier life style after successfully losing weight if one wants to keep it that way!

The style is highly readable and you can read it in one sitting.

Highly recommended for all weight and health conscious people or their friends who want to gift the book.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Title: The Magical Adventures of Krishna
Sub-title: How a Mischief Maker Saved the World

Author: Vatsala Sperling

Illustrated by: Pieter Weltevrede

Publisher: Bear Club Books (

ISBN: 978-159143110-7

Genre: Mythology / Folklore / Hinduism

Presentation: Hard bound with beautifully illustrated dust jacket

Recommended for: Children of all ages who can read or are willing to listen

When an opportunity arose for reviewing this book, I was pretty excited to see how a well known mythological / historical tale will be presented to the western world by the Indian author (from her name I knew that Vatsala is from India or has absorbed all the Indian traditions and values). I received the book in India, from USA. Reminds me that the earth is round!

Since the book is short, it could be read in just one sitting of less than an hour. The main story of Krishna's birth and His killing of His demon uncle Kamsa (the author spells it as Kansa, both sound similar though Kamsa comes closer to the original Sanskrit sound), is told in about 25 pages including beautiful color illustrations. Children, who can read will love the text and the colorful illustrations and younger chidren would love to sit in the lap of the adult and watch the colorful figrures while the story is being read and explained to them!

Krishna's birth and His exploits in killing the many demons that were sent by His uncle Kamsa to kill Him are narrated well by Vatsala. Her style is simple and at the same time she holds the reader's attention. 

The illustrations by Pieter Weltevrede add great value to the excellent narration. 

The result is an excellent introduction to Krishna Tatva and Krishna Consciousness to those not yet exposed. To others, it would be one more opportunity to enjoy the nectar of Krishna's love for the whole creation. 

I have the following observations and comments. 

Nanda, the husband of Yashoda is conspicuous by his absence. Probably Vatsala thought he has no role in the story, but I felt that he deserved a place and for the sake of completion of the story.  

Another character that I would have liked to see in this book is that of Puthana (Poothana if you prefer that spelling), a she demon, who came in disguise to kill baby Krishna by feeding him her breast milk laced with poison painted on the nipples. Krishna, of course knew all about her and killed her by sucking her milk and her prana (life force). Why the author left that story is not known. 

What she did not mention is that He gave salvation to all the demons that He killed. 

Vatsala mentions in the book that Radha is an incarnation of Lakshmi, the consort of Narayana, Vishnu. I have not come across that interpretation and on the other hand, I have read that Lakshmi is an amsa (part) of Radha, who is Feminine Aspect of the Supreme Deity, Krishna being the Masculine Aspect and they reside in Goloka. Their partial aspects are seen as Brahma, Vishnu / Narayana and Siva with their respective consorts etc. 

These are not of course important and don't interfere with the reading and enjoyment of the book.   

In any case, this beautiful book will probably whet your appetite to read more about Krishna. 

I have great pleasure in recommending this book to children and parents, teachers, other elders and care takers of children.