Posts Categorized: Book Talk

Nonfiction November: Reading for Health and Wellness

November 23, 2016 Book Talk, Life Well Lived 8

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nonfiction november


Final week of Nonfiction November, hosted this week by JulzReads. This week’s prompt is probably my favorite topic ~ what books have you read that make you the expert? Not that I profess to be an expert by any means, but I do enjoy learning. And what better way to learn than by reading lots and lots of books on a subject?!?

Having lived with multiple sclerosis for sixteen years and chronic migraines for over twenty-five years, I’ve given almost every fad wellness plan a go. Whether it’s yoga, acupuncture, paleo diet, Mediterranean diet, reiki, and more plus all the medical procedures that can be done, I’ve experienced. Just call me the human guinea pig!

Through it all, I’ve learned a few things from reading books that have helped: stay away from sugar and processed foods, stretch and walk daily, and eat as many vegetables as possible {you can ask my family – this one is probably the most difficult one for me!}.

Between Slimmer: The New Mediterranean Diet Way to Lose Weight and 100 Days of Real Eating: Fast and Fabulous, I’ve created meal plans that make a tremendous difference in the way I feel. The brain fog is lifted, the pain in my legs and back is greatly reduced and oh my gosh, the migraines are down from 17 a month to less than 10!

When I read Conquer Your Pain in 9 Steps over a year ago I was inspired to actually do the steps. Then I listened to the audio of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain and committed to a walking and yoga schedule for overall health + brain health.  While I don’t see myself becoming a marathon runner, I am consistently walking and feeling so much better!

I already knew sleep was important when I read Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder but reading it validated and gave permission for a sacred sleep schedule.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business helped me to figure out how best to create a habit for my personality, my needs and my values. I read Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives on habits but it got so confusing. Listening to her podcast has helped clarify some of the finer points from her book so wanted to at least mention it.

These six books + an honorable mention, have been game-changers for me. Do you have any you can add to the list? Leave me a comment with your favorite health or wellness book!


6 books on wellness for a happy healthy life



Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

November 7, 2016 Book Talk 13

nonfiction november


A little late to the party, but happy to be participating in 2016’s Nonfiction November hosted by a group of lovely bloggers. Many thank yous to co-hosts Katie of Doing Dewey Decimal, Julie of JulzReads, Lory at Emerald City Book Review, Sarah atSarah’s Book Shelves, and Rachel at Hibernator’s Library. 

Nonfiction November is a celebration of the nonfiction books we’ve read throughout the year. I had a good year of nonfiction, twenty-one percent of my overall books read have been from the nonfiction category. I’m hoping by year’s end I’ll have that figure up to a solid quarter percentage.

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

It’s difficult to narrow down a favorite nonfiction read this year. Of the twelve books I’ve finished, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed most each and every one for vastly different reasons: Love Warrior for the empowering message; The Poisoner’s Handbook for the history of forensic science; Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living for the lesson in mindfulness, and 100 Days of Real Food Fast and Fabulous for the quick, easy and delicious recipes.

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

I’ve recommended Being Mortal and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande to so many people I’ve lost count. And although I read it in December of 2015 it continues to be the one I recommend most.  As long as we continue to age I’ll be recommending this book on dying with dignity.

What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?

History. While I love history I’ve shied away from reading many nonfiction historical books. I expect {though haven’t given the genre much of a chance yet} something like those dry textbooks from high school. Would love your recommendations!

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Quality time spent amongst this wonderful bookish community, book recommendations and to meet new or new-to-me bloggers

Please do share your recommendations with me in the comments!





Ultimate Stocking Stuffers for Readers

November 2, 2016 Book Talk, Giveaway 10


Yesterday Halloween, tomorrow Thanksgiving and before the week is out ~ Christmas….or at least that’s what it feels like! Do you remember being a little kid and thinking Christmas would never get here? Now, I’m thinking it’s here before all the decorations from last Christmas are put away!

Along with my pals of the Sweet Tea and Saving Grace contributor team, we’ve put together a ‘little’ giveaway round robin to help you get ready for December 25th. Shown as stocking stuffers, many of these giveaways will work as gifts all on their own! Just think, you could be ready for Christmas before November has a chance to really go into full swing! If you came over from Kim’s site at Sublime Reflection – WELCOME!

bookish stocking stuffer

I’m so excited to share the ultimate stocking stuffers for readers with you! I first began using The Book Lover’s Journal a few years ago and love the thorough, but easy, ‘review’ style.

The Oscar Wilde fingerprint dish is a favorite quote of mine. The glass dish is the perfect size to keep on a dressing table for jewelry or change.

A few years ago I came across a Mickey Mouse sticky notes packet that became my ultimate go-to tool for making notes about books, notating pages, copying quotes to post all over my office and …. Once I used it up completely I couldn’t find a replacement until finding this Alice in Wonderland Sticky Note ‘booklet.’  Great for marking pages, as a bookmark, or even as a general sticky note pad!

Finally, the Greatest First Lines of Literature mug is just way cool. It’s fun to try to figure out which line came from which book {without using Google!}.

I’ve been so honored to be a contributor at the Sweet Tea and Saving Grace Blog, and now I’d love to share the team with you. As you can probably tell from the various giveaways below, we are a diverse group of bloggers. {giveaway has ended}. There’s a little something for most everyone on the list!



After entering for the bookish stocking stuffers below, be sure to visit my friend, Cathy, for her giveaway of Stocking Stuffers for The Traveler at My Side of 50!


My Side of 50

And now, for what you’ve all been waiting for 😉

Enter to win through November 8th at 11:59 pm. Must be 18 or older to enter. Winner will be chosen at random and notified on or before November 11th. U.S. entries only please.

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NFBookClub: The Poisoner’s Handbook Discussion Part One

October 21, 2016 Book Review, Book Talk, reviews 2

NFBookClub: The Poisoner’s Handbook Discussion Part OneThe Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum
Published by Penguin on February 18th, 2010
Genres: Narrative, Non-Fiction
Pages: 319
Source: Local Library


My friend, Katie, over at DoingDeweyDecimal ,hosts a nonfiction read each month. For October, she appropriately chose The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York. It reads like a modern-day thriller with a fast-pace and in-depth narrative. If you’re looking for a creepy nonfiction book you can’t go wrong with this one! Plus you learn so much about how forensic science is developed. I promise it’s not all dry!

I see poisoners—so calculating, so cold-blooded—as most like the villains of our horror stories. They’re closer to that lurking monster in the closet than some drug-impaired crazy with a gun. I don’t mean to dismiss the latter—both can achieve the same awful results. But the scarier killer is the one who thoughtfully plans his murder ahead, tricks a friend, wife, lover into swallowing something that will dissolve tissue, blister skin, twist the muscles with convulsions, knows all that will happen and does it anyway.

1. How are you liking the book (the organization by poison, the way the science is written, etc)?

This has been one of my most favorite non-fiction books to read. The personal anecdotes of the poisoners and the poisonees was fascinating. Wait, does that make me sound morbid?!?

There are a few spots where the author goes deep into the science and lost me, but those sections were few and far between. Reading The Poisoner’s Handbook inspired me to do a couple of fun experiments with my grandson, like create elephant/dinosaur toothpaste. Although the Little Monkey informed me dinosaurs do not brush their teeth – cheeky little devil, yes?

2. What’s your favorite fun fact or story so far?

Not sure I would call it a fun fact/story;  however, the ingenuity of the Medical Examiner, Charles Norris and Toxicologist, Alexander Gettler discovered the keys to unlocking this case. A large immigrant family initially presented with the mom and children with their hair falling out.  Soon, two of the children got deathly ill. Ultimately, several members of the family died.  The father was arrested and charged with murder as his mother-in-law and some of the children slowly recovered. Without Norris and Gettler’s experimentation and research, the culprit would never have been discovered. Hint: it was not the father.

3. Do you check out the citations in narrative nonfiction like this? If so, did you find the citations in this book satisfactory?

Absolutely! I’m a bit nerdy like that! The Jazz Age was such a pivotal era in history. Medical breakthroughs were happening almost daily.  Forensic science exploded during this period. Both Charles Norris and Alexander Gettler were at the forefront of forensic science, especially within the States. Once I finished the book I wanted to learn more about the men behind the book. The citations and Google helped me delve a little deeper.

4. Did you know anything about early forensic science before reading this book? Did anything surprise you?

I knew nothing at all about early forensic science. It’s fascinating to read how Norris and Gettler conducted incredible experiments to discover how someone died. Quite a few of the experiments were gross and had me cringing. The imagination of the two men at creating the tests to figure out how and which poisons affected the body were nothing short of genius.

[Tweet “Perfect Fall read with #NFBookClub and The Poisoner’s Handbook”]

To learn more about the author, Deborah Blum visit her WebsiteTwitter. Public Television did a PBS Special on The Poisoner’s Handbook along with providing an interactive comic book, teacher’s guide, and forensic science timeline. It’s a pretty cool resource for history and science buffs!

Are you interested in forensic science? A sucker for all the CSIs, Bones, Law & Order, etc? If so, then you will enjoy this book!



#SweetGiving with Sweet Friends for OCC

October 13, 2016 Holidays, Life Well Lived 2

Operation Christmas Child

Photo Credit: Chelsea Francis

As I sit to write this, Christmas is exactly 72 days away. Ok, scary thought. Because I haven’t really started on Christmas presents yet. . .honestly, I haven’t really even thought much about Christmas, especially as we are all so intensely focused on politics at the moment. I know, I know ~ let’s simply avoid that volatile subject for now and talk about something much more necessary and even FUN!

For the past several years, I can’t remember exactly how long ago we started, but I know it’s been years and years {so sad thinking how my oldest is 24!}. Anyways, while my children were growing up each year they would pack a Christmas shoebox for a boy or girl dependent on their age at the time for Operation Christmas Child.

Last year, I started the tradition with my sweet grandsons. The youngest little monkey was 4 and the step-grandson was 7 – perfect ages to begin sharing the idea that not every child wakes to an abundance of gifts on Christmas morning. This video helped both boys understand who they were creating special gift boxes for. For about a month we collected small items that would fit in a shoebox, with the 4 year old choosing toys and gifts for a 4 year old boy and the 7 year old doing the same for his age. It was fascinating to see what they picked as gifts they would want if they had no toys at all.

This year I invite you to join us in preparing gift boxes. It is a wonderful way to teach empathy while helping children around the world.

Just in case you’ve never heard of Operation Christmas Child please allow me to share its’ mission

Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, demonstrates God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, shares the Good News of Jesus Christ. We collect and send simple shoebox gifts filled with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items to children affected by war, poverty, disaster, famine, and disease. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to over 124 million children in more than 150 countries and territories.

Who is Samaritan’s Purse?

Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.

If you would prefer to make a donation in honor or memory of someone visit Samaritan’s Purse Gift Giving Catalog filled with specific gifts for individuals and families around the world. For example, with a $20 donation you can make it possible for a child to learn to read and write! And I know how important reading is to us book lovers, right?!?

My good friend Kirsten from Sweet Tea and Saving Grace is providing tips and resources to help create your shoeboxes. Also, Samaritan’s Purse has a Pinterest page with tons of ideas for preparing your shoebox. And, if like me, you are not a part of a church that collects the shoeboxes it is easy to find a local collection point with Shoebox Collection Point resource. Simply enter your zip code and voila, a collection point within a few miles of you will be shown.

I love this coloring page provided by Samaritan’s Purse to include in the box. It helped bring home the message of giving to my grandsons and allowed the child who received the box to ‘know’ the child giving on the other end. If you want to follow along with my grandsons and me as we prepare our shoeboxes, please do so on Facebook or Instagram.


Thank you for allowing me to share this important work with you. Please do share any tips or ideas you have for creating a shoebox in the comments. I’d love to see how we all join together to bring hope and light to children around the world.

Many blessings Dear Hearts,