When Exisle Publishing asked me to review PUG I wondered whether it was a children’s book, a book for Pug owners (the dog breed) or, something else.
What I found was it was something else entirely!
The author (apparently, no ordinary Pug) hopes that through sharing his or her thoughts with the reader, they are inspired to be happier, more optimistic and live a more fulfilling life. Did I find this to be true as I turned the pages and read on?
Yes, I did! PUG’s message – translated through the wise words and delightful illustrations of Helen James – opens possibilities for the reader to take positive action in 29 encouraging and insightful short teachings.
This colourful book is perfect for a central location in your home, on the lunchroom table at work or a gift for someone who needs a boost. And, the most wonderful realisation is that this book will be enjoyed by all age groups.
If you are looking for a daily or weekly focus, know you could be doing something different or better and don’t know what that is or you want to benefit from the wisdom of one of the world’s oldest dog breeds, this book is certain to inspire and delight.
When Exisle Publishing asked me to review this cookbook I did wonder how I would evaluate a book filled with recipes. Cooking is not my favourite thing to do, however, I do adore fresh ingredients and eating wholesome and delicious food!
When I received The Adriatic Kitchen, and began to thumb through the pages it became apparent why Barbara Unkovic is a multiple award winner. The look of this book invokes feelings of a well-loved must have in any kitchen. I felt drawn into the Adriatic as she expertly shared her passion for writing, her love of her father’s homeland, short stories about each recipe, and the delightful recipes inspired by Croatian cuisine and local produce. The book’s sections are by season, and with each recipe I was taken to the place or people it was inspired by – like foraging for wild grapes for the grape jelly or the kind man who bought along a rotary hoe to till the potato plot so there were home grown potatoes for the leek and potato soup.
Thankyou Barbara for a cookbook that is easy for busy people to use and inspires cooking with fresh seasonal and local food. After trying a few recipes, I was surprised how much I enjoyed preparing the food, (remembering cooking is not my favourite thing to do!) The walnut coffee slice was amazing. The Almond Biscuits and pancakes with chocolate sauce are so easy and delicious. The Gnocchi and apple and cinnamon cake are to die for!
The Adriatic Kitchen won’t end up at the back of a cupboard or draw – my copy will take pride of place on my benchtop, and will be used often. I highly recommend you get a copy for your benchtop too – only $14.99.
I was asked recently by Exisle Publishing to review Here Be Dragons. It says on the cover, “A parent’s guide to discovering purpose, adventure, and the unfathomable joy of the journey.” I did think to myself, “not another parenting book!”
I got to about page three and, to my delight, couldn’t put it down.
It wasn’t like any other parenting book I had read or reviewed. I loved what was different. It is written by Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh and Ken Harbaugh – from how they met, how they developed as people together and apart, and how they met each challenge once they became parents. I found it to be an honest and personal insight into both parent’s experience and how they felt about it and dealt with it – and is full of humour only parent’s would appreciate!
I felt a part of Annmarie’s and Ken’s lives as I turned the pages and could relate to their many experiences; as well as how they had overcome the tough times.
What stood out for me though was how they described real issues faced by all of us once we become parents –
How mothers are judged differently to fathers.
Working through career goals and meeting the needs of your children.
Who does what, when.
How imbalanced it can be – and that is perfect.
Getting the right people around you.
Weathering each storm, knowing it will pass.
Then it is all tied nicely together at the end with a section of topics and questions for discussion as you examine your own ‘story’.
I highly recommend Here be Dragons for parents of any age children. Whether it is for reflection, guidance or amusement – this book has it all.
I have just reviewed two books for Exisle Publishing and want to share what I thought with you all. It is rare that I come across books that I think should be in every family home. These two tick all the boxes! They would both be excellent gifts for your family or friends, and I know I will be getting a few copies as Christmas presents. To find out more click the links below under each review.
The Art of Mindful Origami
I loved The Art Of Mindful Origami from the moment I saw the cover and picked it up. Upon opening you notice that it is dedicated to experiencing each moment fully, and I could feel this concept oozing from the books pages.
There is a simple, yet powerful, synergy – the combination of understanding, colouring, folding and creating, which certainly promotes a calm and focused mind, as the author intended.
I found that Dr Richard Chambers combined the art of origami and mindfulness in such a masterful way, and each project is supported by a story about the piece to be made and mindful practice suggestions. I really liked the way it was easy to understand the explanations and exercises – even my 9 year old was hooked. It is a very nice touch providing paper, that has beautiful nature pictures on it, to use for each project, as well as paper to mindfully colour in and use to make the origami if you choose.
I highly recommend this book for all that need support setting time aside to engage fully in the moment, or to use as some great fun activities to do as a family around the table.
The cover of Australia: Illustrated lets you know you have just picked up a book that will be in your family for quite some time. It is a hard cover, with a material type feel that says, “This book will become a family favourite.”
Tania McCartney has created a book that inspires discussions in the readers – big and little. As you open to the first page you are met with words describing Australia – big, beautiful and diverse. I can tell you that this is a good description also of this book; it’s content and the beautiful illustrations.
What I liked most was the colours, the engaging dialogue, and how I felt inspired to either find out more or go to visit some of the places after reading it. I felt it acknowledged how diverse and multicultural we are – yet so very Australian. As my son and I flicked through the pages I said that there was so much we were yet to see, taste and experience in our own remarkable country. We also spoke about how different one end was to another.
Our family is Separated by Work (we are a F.I.F.O family) so this book was extremely useful for us as it shared information and pictures of where ‘Daddy’ worked and gave lots of points to talk about with Dad next time he rang.
I know every family would treasure this book in their home, and have many fun and exciting conversations whilst exploring Australia through the pages.
I am continually blown away by the support my book – Separated by Work – receives from FIFO families, workers and the professional community. I was left speechless though when this review came through from Regan. Regan is an excellent blogger and heads up One Minute Closer, an App that allows families to stay connected and share rosters.
He writes –
“Anyone who has worked away, or had loved ones work away for extended periods, knows that it comes with both a magnification of any existing issues and a set of different challenges from “normal” employment.
Folks have countless coping strategies; some excellent and some not so much…some intentional and some on pure subconscious reaction. I’m in no position to say which are best but what I do know is you can never have too many options.
So couple of months ago I was message tic-tac’ing with the lovely Kirsty O’Callaghan about a few things FIFO well-being. In this chat she asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing her book – Separated by Work.
So after a couple of cross country flights and a few late nights, here are my brief thoughts on Kirsty’s FIFO Paperback.
Long Story Short
Separated by Work is 276 pages dedicated to Kirsty’s take on all things FIFO. It is aimed at building, bolstering, or consolidating the FIFO stakeholder’s tool kit of coping / resilience strategies so we all can get the most from this chosen life style.
Kirsty covers a broad spectrum of topics and she has broken down the book into six parts. The Parts and their corresponding Chapters are titled so they are self-explanatory and a clear reference point for their contents. Each can be read as a stand-alone section/chapter to the rest of the book; so if one title draws your attention, to you can dive straight into that chapter.
Along the way there are plenty of personal anecdotes, shared stories from FIFO workers and suggestions from Kirsty’s own experience / research. During most of the chapters, you are engaged with questions and short activities with space to make notes
Subject matter experts (SMEs) in specialist fields are also utilised to succinctly provide expert opinion directed at the FIFO audience. These range from financial planning to relationships; healthy eating to raising special needs children.
What I really liked…
The Range of Topics
Kirsty covers literally the entire gamut of issues and challenges that FIFO workers and their families do or may encounter; to the point where this book would be a helpful tool for those who are just interested in tips on general life.
Separated by Work captures the usual FIFO suspects with Chapter titles like – About the Money, Relationship Success – 50 Shades of Away and Communication – Words that can Boost, Crush or Baffle.
But, it also ventures into some lesser known struggles of the FIFO existence such as – Managing Change for High Support Needs, Life After FIFO, The Unexpected – You Cannot Prepare For It and my favourite…Not Just About a Happy Ending.
The SME input
No one is as smart as the sum of all of us, something that Kirsty really taps into. She has not engaged any old SME but ones from her own close network. For me this adds so much more authenticity to the read and you can really feel that these professionals want to make a difference for Kirsty’s audience.
There is Louise the Home Economist and Professional Organiser; Delma the Portfolio Manager; Kim the Eating Psychologist and Health Coach; and Anna the Online Communication Specialist.
Personally, the most enjoyable was Carmel Murphy whose passion and dedication to special needs kids almost jumped off the page and slapped me!! Her advice on Social Stories is excellent and is something I plan to try with my 3.
What I loved!!
At first I thought these were a bit gimmicky so skimmed over them to concentrate on the reading. It wasn’t until I got all the way to Chapter 6 that I tried one…and was hooked!!
I went back and did all the previous activities and found them interesting, enjoyable…and intrigued as to what they managed to suck out of me. Even now reviewing my notes to write this review, I am loving the reflection on these and how much self-awareness they provided.
For me, this book is a reference tool and one that I will keep handy. The format which Kirsty has utilized is fantastic for this purpose. The titles of the parts and chapters mean there is no flicking through thinking “where did I read that again”.
The information is also segregated in such a way that limited cross referencing is needed and there is little preceding information needed to pick up and jump straight into any chapter. The parts flow well and are in a good order to keep the theme of the book rolling and consistent.
Add to this the words and line spacing are conducive to a casual read and the chapters are short enough to hold my attention…which is not that easy!!
The Openness and Frankness of the Discussion
this is the passionfruit icing between two vanilla crumbly cookies. It added that piece of bitter / sweet flavour that that makes Separated by Work the enjoyable treat that it is.
Kirsty really opened up and shared some very intimate information from her family and personal experiences. Believe me this takes courage, character and conviction but adds the perfect amount of extra credibility and integrity that just completes the work.
Separated by Work is not a gospel or bible for all things FIFO, nor does it pretend to be. But it is the best collation I’ve come across yet of facts, thoughts, experiences, tips and advice to cover all stakeholders in this lifestyle.
For those new to FIFO, or looking to take the plunge, this book is a fantastic tool to build some realistic expectations about what to expect and to start planning for what you are likely (and unlikely) to encounter.
For the experienced FIFO workers / families, it provides a great opportunity for personal reflection on the problems we face and possibly offer some new solutions to them. This was definitely the case for me as it bought a whole other perspective to common issues we in the FIFO thing all have faced and I’ve come away with some new angles of attack, no doubt.
One big piece of value I took from Separated by Work, and totally unexpectedly, was the tangibility and awareness of seemingly quite common challenges that many of my colleagues and team members face. Things that have not affected me and I never gave a second thought to, are covered by Kirsty and it really reminded me that “everyone has a story, especially in FIFO”.
So there you have it, my very brief and totally unqualified thoughts on Separated by Work. Of course, don’t take my word for it, go to the Unity Words website and check it out for yourself.”
Today I am so very grateful for this review, and I am proud that my ‘paper baby’ is out there in the community making a difference.
The power of mindfulness is something I have lived, learnt and taught over the past two decades – so when the opportunity presented itself from Exisle Publishing to review this book I jumped at the chance. My first thought was, “what a brilliant title, promising to allow even more people to feel the benefits of living a mindful life.”
I opened the book and by page 10 I was hooked. The way Dr Hofstee relates key topics like understanding your brain, processing emotions, changing stressful thoughts, the mind-body connection and overcoming blocks is outstanding.
As the pages flowed and an understanding and practice was established for your own life, she then moved onto showing how you could expand into Mindful communication, relationships and conflict resolution.
Each chapter is supported by very real examples and exercises that are explained simply to encourage the reader to practice immediately. My personal favourites were the on-the-run tips. As the book progressed learning’s flowed from previous section and expanded into the next.
I will definitely be recommending this well written and researched practical handbook to others who are seeking a resource that is easy to read, informative and supports their busy lifestyles.
From the first page of the introduction I felt like I was there, being supported by Maggie, and taken through her proven program step by step.
This book is written in a warm and encouraging way, thoroughly explaining each skill and concept. Whilst reading I really felt how generous Maggie is with sharing her knowledge and was convinced she really wanted me to succeed.
I have been professionally speaking since 2009, and have done a lot of ‘learn as I go’ in that time – so I wish I had of read this book many years ago. Speak Easy will set you up for success and covers all you will need to know to be an excellent speaker – not just a good one.
Drops of Awesome by Kathryn Thompson is a delightful book filled with opportunities for you to fill your bucket and realise you definitely are more than you think they are.
Kathryn explains, “this journal is about celebrating and finding joy, not feeling guilt.”
I have found in my own journaling practice of over two decades, regularly penning my thoughts allows me to gain perspective, manage emotions and accept circumstances for what they are – not worse or better – then being able to move forward rather than be stuck or confused. Kathryn takes the reader and writer one-step further to create a tool where celebrating you and your drops of awesome will become part of your daily routine.
Kathryn describes clearly how to use the book while encouraging the reader to see the greatness in the little things and take action in their lives often. I loved how there was plenty of space to write daily thoughts and observations combined with inspiring instructions scattered through for when you least expect them yet possibly most need them.
Well done Kathryn, a beautiful gift to give to those we care about and an awesome gift to give to one self.
The first thing that hits you when you turn the first page of this book is the inviting and warming illustrations. You immediately feel pulled in and know this is something special.
The story takes the journey of germination – from seed or idea to growth or expansion. Even though at first all seemed lost, Dad was able to find a solution as well as use the whole experience as a time to demonstrate to his daughter natures amazing properties of adaptability.
I found this simple story touched a part in me that reminded me to be patient, listen to my children, and use every opportunity as a time to expand their world. Definitely a must have for your book case or library.