Friday, February 28, 2014

Making Marks by Elaine Clayton

The title of this book is what first caught my eye.  At first, it looks like a book that explains how important doodling is to art form and how we create such art.  Deeper reading reveals that simple doodling/drawing can lead to intensive growth and healing.  I'm a big supporter of art therapy, music therapy and nature therapy as a way to heal from wounds seen and unseen and as a way to nurture our spirits.  This book compliments that line of thinking and takes it a step further with detailed instructions on healing through art.

I have to confess, though, that I'm not a follower of the paranormal stuff and near-death experiences (having never had one) and that is one of the underlying themes of this book.  I didn't expect to like it because of this, but that sort of prejudgement was quickly dispelled as I got further into the book. With that in mind, I wrote the following review for

"Elaine Clayton puts a new twist on interpretive drawing by focusing on conscious and subconscious doodling and how simple doodling (“making marks”) can lead to growth and healing.  

By using techniques familiar to readers who are comfortable with paranormal experiences, Ms. Clayton teaches readers how to tap into and use their intuition as more than just a creative skill; she teaches how to use it as a life skill.   Her gentle approach and thoughtful delivery will appeal to many readers.  Instructions and exercises are clear and concise.

The stream of consciousness writing technique is well known, but not so with stream of consciousness drawing.  This book will remedy that disparity.  Recommended for those studying art therapy and those in search of different healing methods."

When this book is published, I will buy a copy for my personal collection because, well, you never know ....

(This title was previewed through  It will be published May 6, 2014.)

LE-JOG-ed by Robin Richards

The title of Robin Richards' new book is the acronym for the Land's End to John O'Groats "end to end" walk from the bottom point of the UK to the very top.  Here's the review I submitted

"Vivid descriptions of the towns and villages along the End to End trail highlight Robin Richards' post-retirement memoir of his journeys through the UK. Readers will cheer him on, agonize over yet another blister, and empathize with struggles and wrong turns. This is a good travel guide, of sorts, for those who like to read about nature, English village life and solo journeys."

I've read a lot of travelogues and memoirs about various travel/spiritual journeys and really anticipated enjoying this book, but the author never seemed to connect with anyone or anything along the End to End route and it left me thinking "what's the point?" That said, I did enjoy his descriptions of the villages.

(This title was previewed through  It was published November 7, 2013.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Paris Letters

Every now and then, you are lucky enough to read a book that changes your life - even if you aren't really sure how it has changed or is going to change your life.  Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod is one of those books. 

This delightful memoir pulls readers in and makes them want to know why MacLeod isn't satisfied with the "perfect job" as a copywriter, a job most people would die for.  Rather than whine about her dissatisfaction, MacLeod takes readers along on her journey as she follows her inner compass.  It isn't clear in the beginning where she'll end up, but her engaging writing style and humor take us along for a wonderful ride.  

As she opens up and we get to know her, we find a talented and creative woman who is willing to take risks in order to find just where it is she's supposed to be - and with whom.  Her openness to those risks and her willingness leave excess baggage behind is inspiring.  The happy result of her risks is a new-found career writing letters and painting, living in Paris with her true love and ParisLetters.  

I found myself repeating parts of her book ("MacLeod ... Clan MacLeod! ...") and marking phrases to review later.  I sympathized with her struggles and rejoiced with her successes.  She's the kind of writer people would like to meet and luckily for us, she has a blog we can follow.  She also writes real letters, available via subscription.  I subscribed for a Francophile friend of mine and guess what?  They've changed her life by bringing a ray of Parisian sunshine to her door once a month.

More info. -

(This title was previewed through  It was published February 4, 2014.)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Official Knish Review

Always an admirer of Jewish faith and culture, I knew a knish was some type of Jewish food.  In the book Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food by Laura Silver finally gives the homely knish its due. 

A few old photos sprinkled throughout the text help the author illustrate the ways in which communities thrive around certain types of food. At one time, knish shops were common, this one favored more than that one and vice versa, depending on your family or location. Not so anymore.  As the population aged and moved away, the knish shops disappeared.  

What begins as a fond memory quickly becomes a search for the origin of the knish.  Combining her family's heritage with that of the knish, Ms. Silver shows how cultures share similar types of food and how food origins, though blurred over time, are deeply embedded in family lore.

As with the Yiddish language, time and changing demographics have chipped away at this Jewish comfort food, but Laura Silver is doing her best to keep it alive.  The author’s fond nostalgia for knishes and her warm descriptions of shop owners, especially Mrs. Stahl of “Mrs. Stahl’s Knishes” make this delightful memoir of the knish an absolute pleasure to read.  

(This title was previewed through Edelweiss.  It is scheduled for publication May 6, 2014.)

A 23 Hour Commute Home From Work

January 28 saw metro Atlantans facing the worst rush hour traffic jam in history. Snow fell early afternoon and turned to ice after dark.  A commute that normally takes me 25 or 30 minutes, took 23 hours, with a layover at a local The Home Depot store.  I wanted to keep this blog focused on books and reviews, but this layover was life-changing, so I have to share it.

Here's a letter I sent to The Home Depot's CEO, Frank Blake.  He sent a nice reply, stating he would make sure Tanashier and the Roswell store are recognized for their generosity.

Dear Mr. Blake -

During the recent snowstorm/major traffic jam in metro Atlanta, I was stranded on Holcomb Bridge Road in Roswell, GA.  After spending 10 hours in my car, inching along on my way home, the road up ahead of me was shut down by local police.  A coworker called to check on me and told me to go to Home Depot because they were keeping stores open 24 hours as shelters.   Fortunately, I was able to turn my car around because I was just down the street from the store in Roswell.

I spent the night, 1/28/14, at the store located at 1580 Holcomb Bridge Rd.  Staff provided blankets and furniture for our comfort (and sleep), they lent us their phone chargers and adapters, they fed us apples, oranges, snacks, homemade soup and sandwiches, doughnuts and pastries, water, coffee - they even had pizza delivered for lunch the next day, 1/29/14; they offered support and advice, concern, encouragement, lots of smiles, traffic updates and more.  Each staff person, and especially store manager, Tanashier Bonadie, welcomed us into the store as if they were welcoming us into their homes.

Most of us who sought shelter there had spent between 8 and 18 hours in gridlocked traffic on cold, icy roads in the Roswell, GA area.  We were exhausted, frustrated and worried.  Home Depot turned a very unpleasant event into a pleasant one and I am forever grateful. I have shared my story with many people, telling them how wonderful Home Depot is and I will share the goodwill of Home Depot for the rest of my life.  God bless you and thank you!

Best regards,