Book Review – Non-fiction

Book Review -Body into Balance: An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care by Maria Noel Groves.

4 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Storey Publishing for providing me with a free ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

Where to start? Another simply amazing book from a publisher I can’t seem to fault. ‘Body into Balance’ was a breath of fresh air for this wannabe herbalist.

Clear, concise and easy to read formatting, glorious pictures and a really good overall tone were all used in this book. What do I mean by the tone? Well, reading it felt welcoming. You could tell the person who had written it was passionate not only about the topic, but about SHARING this knowledge with others.

I love the introductory where it went over the basics, went over the reason for the book and all in all helped the reader ease into what it was all about. You could read this entire book from end to end just to learn what it’s all about, but I could really see myself referring to sections of it as needed.

The balance is true too. This is not a book telling you to ignore “modern medicine” and the like, but simply to allow herbal remedies be part of your health routine – alongside a decent holistic medical practitioner. Seriously, this is my way of thinking and therefore definitely my kind of book.

And I strongly recommend people read the introduction – it is well worth it and is filled with valuable information on how to use the book, what herbal health is all about and a lot of other wonderful information. So even if you’re just going to use it as a reference guide – read the intro first! It really is aimed for the novice through to the advanced herbalist and it’s there for a reason – so read it!

I could go on and on about the different sections of the book and why I liked and felt them so important to read… but I fear I would start repeating myself rather quickly. So I will just say – yes! This book is a terrific and very comprehensive book on better health through herbalism and one I feel should be in the home of those looking for a better health/ life balance.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. Absolutely I would! As said, I feel this would be a terrific tome for any home wanting to have a more holistic and healthy approach to living. It’s not just about cures and remedies when you’re sick, it is about all over, everyday health through better nutrition, better mindsets, etc. This isn’t your “cures to colds and flus guide” this is your “how to live better through real foods guide”. And the level of information given, to me, seemed perfect for all levels of herbalism from your beginners, your intermediates (like me) through to those who have been doing it all their lives. This book might be about herbalism… but it about so much more too that the benefits are boundless.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Oh yes, a very BIG yes. If you look on Amazon you will see it’s on my wish list. I am running out of unique ways of explaining how good ‘Body into Balance’ really is. Can I just say I clicked with this book, felt it perfect and want it to come join the ever dwindling space in my bookshelves. The only reason I didn’t give it the full 5 stars is due my usual “written for USA readers, not Australians” thing I have. And this is a fault that lies with me the reader and not the book.

In summary: I love this book, ‘Body into Balance’ is a fantastic reference guide to better, healthier living and one that should be in the home of anyone truly interested in better health through better foods/herbs. I highly recommend.

Until next time,


Book Review -Imbolc: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Brigid’s Day by Carl F. Neal.


3 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. for a free ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an open and honest review.

Another great reference book from Llewellyn Worldwide for those wishing to learn more about the sacred ‘Wheel of the year’.

This is the second book in the ‘Llewellyn Sabbats essentials’ series I’ve read and, although again strongly focussed on the faith in the northern hemisphere, it still represented the quality of work I’ve come to expect from this series.

And, what I liked a lot was that I’ve never really done much for Imbolc, as I focus more on Ostara at the end of September (here in Australia) and I do love how the book not only taught me the importance of this Sabbath, it’s inspired me to do more for it come the end of July next year.

As with the other book I’ve read in this series, ‘Imbolc’ encouraged me to keep doing things “my way”. While also teaching me a few new things that I feel will really help lift the darkness of winter and bring a little light back into my home a little earlier. A book not only of knowledge, history and ritual… but inspiration and passion too.

Would I recommend this book to others?  Yes I would. Again, the stronger connection to the northern hemisphere (just like the book ‘Yule’) means other southern hemisphere folk may draw more inspiration than actual ritual practices from the book… but it is still a worthy reference book and guide for those wanting to know ‘what it’s all about’ and reconnect to the cycles of our seasons and our glorious Mother Nature. It also gives us a broader look at the world and our Pagan faiths within it.

Would I buy this book for myself? As with ‘Yule’… I might. I do have some books that follow the Wheel that are more Southern Hemisphere orientated that work for me… but I did enjoy reading this series and do find the books so inspirational that they are a strong contender to add to my library of faith reading.

In summary: A well written book of reference for anyone wanting to get back in touch with the Sabbath of Imbolc, the Quickening, the Goddess Brigid, and so on. Although a book better suited to those of the Pagan faith in the northern hemisphere, it is still a good reference book for southern hemisphere Pagans too. It’s a good nudge in the right direction, rather than a strict statement of how it should be. A perfect book to embrace into your faith, and to help you find more balance in how to live.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

Book Review -The Land of the Green Man: A Journey through the Supernatural Landscapes of Great Britain by Carolyne Larrington.

the land of the green man

3 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank I.B.Tauris for providing me with a free ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

Definitely more a text book than something you casually read as something to do. And I agree with the other reviews – why no mention of Pratchett?

Okay, that’s all going to sound far more negative than I mean it to be. This was a fascinating and educational book and I did get some fantastic information from it that was new to me. But I will stand by my comments that this is more the sort of book you read for research and study than just to while away a few hours.

I like text books, I love to research and so, for me, whiling away the hours with this was sort of okay… but I really did find it slow going at times and it seemed to get distracted at what the point it was trying to make actually was.  Heck, I get like that… pretty sure at least half my reviews appear like that. 😉 But, yeah, not a book to casually read.

I also found the layout format rather dull and I feel this added to the ‘text book’ feel. Then again, if ‘The Land of the Green Man’ is being sold as a text book – nailed it. For me, too blocky, not enough gaps/ paragraphs and sometimes very easy to go cross eyed over and start thinking about other things and losing concentration on what I was trying to read.

From the blurb on Netgalley I was expecting a slightly lighter style of read and not the heavy text book I got.

Would I recommend this book to others? I might mention it in passing as a good reference book if people were trying to research the myths and legends associated with areas of the UK. But I wouldn’t jump up and down and tell everyone it was the ‘must read’ book of the season.

Would I buy this book for myself? Yes I would. See my comments on loving to research and how I gleaned some new information from ‘The Land of the Green Man’. Don’t get me wrong, this is an excellent reference book to add to the collection of anyone wanting to cover the myths and legends of the UK. I really could see myself referring back to this book often due to my own writing and wanting to be inspired by those story tellers who came before me.

In summary: A little slow going, not the light and easy read I took it to be from the blurb, but still a worthy book to add to any true lover of myths and legends library.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

Book Review – Body Intelligence: Harness Your Body’s Energies for Your Best Life by Joseph Cardillo.

4 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Beyond Words Publishing for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

Being someone who has always strongly believed in the energy we gain from our surroundings, sights, smells, sounds, memories – I loved this book.

From the initial introduction on what body intelligence is and our ‘mind, body and spirit’ approach to things, through to the different occasions focusing our body’s energies on improving us, it was a great read.

Each chapter is a different ‘energy situation’ I guess you could say. It includes an example of someone in that situation, what they did to remedy it as well as some great guidance on how the reader could also benefit from similar actions. I did find myself looking forward to the “try this” moments within ‘Body Intelligence’.

The layout was a little clunky and blocky for me and so was a bit slow to read at times. I’m more of a ‘wide open spaces’ type. It probably is a personal choice though. But it did make it come across as some pretty heavy reading. Though, saying that, I did still gain advice and guidance so it’s not such a bad thing.

Would I recommend this book to others?  Yes I would. I’m very much one for trying to improve your mood, life and health through changing how you look at a situation and react to something. I always seek the positive in both good and bad experiences. And I feel this book has some really good advice as to why this works. Don’t go for the energy drinks, sugary foods or expensive gimmicks. Just focus on how the situation makes you feel and turn your energy from draining to collecting.

Would I buy this book for myself? Yes I would. I can see myself turning to specific chapters all the time to help me find a better mindset and improve where I’m finding myself.

In summary: This is a terrific little text book on helping you learn about the energy we all have and how to benefit from it.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

Book Review – Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living by Jes Baker.

Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls

4 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Perseus Books Group, Seal Press for an ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

Wow. What a book! To let you know what interested me in reading it: I’m tall (6’2), fat (hovering in the 17 stone range) and – a scary trifecta to some – smart (not Mensa). And, on top of that all I am at peace with my inner self… while not a big fan (actually totally the most horrific enemy) of my outer, physical self. And I am sarcastic, brash and blunt and LOVE reading stuff by sarcastic, brash and blunt women!

With me so far? This was the sort of book I was interested in as sceptical me didn’t think anything could change my opinion of myself. It’s my opinion… of MYSELF… so of course I’m an expert. 😉

Okay, so I can’t say this book has turned me into a total convert who LOVES herself and is proud of herself… but it has made me wake up and realise all those positive things I’m always telling people about themselves, all those positives I try and seek in every situation… I’ve been turning a blind eye to seeking those positive in my physical self. THAT is what this book has done.

‘Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls’ isn’t about being fat. It’s not about being thin. It’s not even about being a girl. This book is about having the reader wake up and realise how awesome they are. I do this, I am constantly telling people they are worth it, they are important… but I only focus on what is within as I can’t cope with facing my own exterior. This isn’t a book about fat, thin, girls, boys, etc. It’s about your exterior and how the only way others are going to accept it for what it is, is if you do so first. And I thank Ms Baker for that. For years it is something I’ve struggled with and she’s finally been the person to prise open that stubborn willed door to help me start to see this.

This book is not encouraging you to be fat. Not asking me to give up my ‘foodie ways’ and embrace pizza and over eating and getting unhealthy. None of that is even MENTIONED. But sadly that’s what a lot of people I spoke to thought when they heard the word ‘fat’. This book is trying to help remove the negatives that come with such a small word. Fat. It’s not about you, food, clothes or health. It’s just a word to describe a part of your body. Of ALL our bodies.

Oh dear, I can feel this review becoming a bit of a soapbox moment so I will shut up before someone comes and pulls it out from under me and I fall on my arse.

But before I do stop soapboxing, I will say this: I’m a mum of three young kids and two are girls and the other a boy with ASD. So I am constantly reaffirming how awesome they are, how fantastic they look and how terrific it is to be different. I compliment them… but found I was unable to take compliments back when they would say things like “you’re beautiful mummy”. ‘Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls’ has honestly helped me with this bad situation. I might not be a total convert yet, but it’s helped me stop gritting my teeth when I’m complimented. There is no hidden agenda in my kids saying it – just accept it. And I’m starting to now see I can, and will. Affirmation in the making maybe?

Okay, so I better get back to the actual review and not just spouting about how this book has affected me. There is a lot of swearing. But Ms Baker does warn us about it at the start, so no complaints there. It did mean reading affirming parts of it out to my girls needed a bit of mental translation as I went – and that they weren’t allowed to read it over my shoulder – but that’s okay too. It is why I didn’t give it the full 5 stars though, sorry.

My girls may only be 8 and 10 but they are savvy and they are already feeling the effects of the stupid body (and mind) image stigma happening. They’re tall and smart too… fat may still come if they get my genes more than their dad’s. So maybe a less sweary ‘G’ rated version would be good to let girls learn these fantastic truths as they enter the soul hating teen years… not something they can read while recovering from them later. Just a thought. 😉

Other than that, this is an insightful, inspirational, funny and really, really mind altering (in a good way) book. And it is our minds we need to be altering here. Our bodies are fine the way they are, let them be. Let’s get those stupid mental preconceptions ingrained in our souls, break them down and realise we are what we are, love it, live it and BE it.

Would I recommend this book to others? Oh hell yes. Except maybe my Nanna… not a book for Nanna, too sweary. But yes I would recommend it to EVERYONE else! This is not just a book for we fat girls, that’s just a title. We all have bodies, so we all have body image issues. And so we need more books like this to help us realise we’re all in it together and maybe once we’ve realised that we can start cutting each other (and ourselves) some slack.

Would I buy this book for myself? Yes I would. And I would get my kids to read it, as well as Ms Bakers blog and many of the places she references in it as they’re growing up so they realise that no matter what they look like – that’s awesome as that’s who they are. Whether they start to grow outwards when they stop growing upwards, whether they stay “supermodel thin” once puberty takes hold (yeah, good luck keeping slender hips in this family girls) – It doesn’t matter. And I feel every family needs such reference guides to help us all remember how awesome we are (on the outside as well as the inside).

In summary: A powerful, emotional and uplifting book with a lot of swearing in it. 😉 Seriously though, this is a good read. I know I’ve said it before but I feel I need to say it again – not a book about (or just for) fat girls! This is a book for those of us who can’t look ourselves in the mirror without cringing, sighing or dreaming of a better view.

Best thing I got from ‘Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls’ is this: You are what you are. Go with it, embrace it, cherish it and celebrate it. If you’re not happy with what you are, it might not be WHAT you are that needs changing, more HOW YOU LOOK AT YOURSELF. Accept who you are, that is not admitting defeat, that is making a stand and moving on with being YOU.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

Book Review – Mudras for Modern Life: Boost your health, enhance your yoga and deepen your meditation by Swami Saradananda.

Mudras for modern life

4 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Watkins for providing me with and ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

An uplifting book. I’d never really heard of Mudras before, except for a few positions I was taught with basic yoga poses. But what has amazed me is how many Mudras poses I actually already use – by instinct – for the reasons shown in this book. As in calming, focussing my mind, etc.

I know some people will think I am into all sorts of weird and hippy fru fruisms, but Mudras is NOT one of them! There is far too much evidence out there showing these positions benefit people as they say they do. I tried some out in between reading and I was amazed at home something that seemed so simple could do such amazing things to how I felt.

To the technical side of things: the formatting of ‘Mudras for Modern Life’ is clear, precise and filled with many helpful images and corresponding text that uses simple – but not condescending – instructions to help you find the right pose to aide you. I loved the colourful pictures that broke the book into the different elements too.

The ‘Daily Routines of well-being’ and glossary at the end of the book were also exceedingly helpful and allow the reader to quickly refer to areas of importance to them without having to flip through the whole book.

Would I recommend this book to others? Yes I would, though I am afraid they would need to have an open mind and be ready to try something that isn’t “main stream”. Thankfully most people I know are lovely and open minded about such things and so would benefit from this book. I feel they may find doing the Mudras shown an easier option than full yoga poses, and still get the same sorts of benefits from them.

Would I buy this book for myself? I would. In fact, it will probably be on my Amazon wish list by the time you read this review. I found it an energising, stimulating and educational book. As said, I was amazed at exactly how many poses I already do instinctively to gain the benefits they give. I really clicked with ‘Mudras for Modern Life’ and love it a lot.

In summary: If you’re looking at more natural alternatives to help with stress, concentration, sleep and a myriad of other issues – this book is for you. Don’t ignore it because it’s not “main stream” as it is an ancient and proven remedy to many different problems. Try it, really open you mind and try it – you will thank me later. 😉

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

Book Review – NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman.


4 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Penguin Group Avery for an ARC of this book in exchange for an open an honest review.

This book was a real rollercoaster to read. It deserves a higher rating than I have given it, but some of the simply horrific things it relates done to innocent children in the past… it left me cold at times and I needed to walk away and give my HFASD son a hug, happy to know times had moved on.

I appreciate and understand why the history of Autism was captured in this book and I also appreciate that is was used to help us move on and realise times have changed. It just had some pretty slow and tough reading moments for me at times.

As a mum of a child I always knew was different (actually all of my children are different, it’s what makes them all amazing. Just one has needed to be boxed into a diagnosis) I’ve never seen that difference as a negative or a derogative thing. I am appalled that in this day and age so many people still see ASD and other features that detract from “normal” as faults and flaws and make them bad parents. In our house normal has always seemed so over-rated and something we never strived for. And yes, we do fit the pattern of the type of people more likely to have an ASD child. I took that as a compliment! Our family tree is jam packed full of engineers, scientists (yes, we’re nerds and geeks) and other above average folk. If my son is the end result, high fives all around! We’ve broken through the “average” evolutionary branch of how to think. We also believe everyone is on the spectrum, it’s just we’re not all clustered around the same ‘normal’ spot. 😉

I honestly feel all the panic merchants toting ASD as the modern world plague should read this book. The reason more children in our society are being publically diagnosed and acknowledged as HAVING ASD is that the stigma is being removed. We’re not locking them up anymore or, worse yet, killing them like we used to. Something everyone needs to think about.

Though I will say here and now this is NOT a book on how to be the parent of an ASD child. ‘NeuroTribes’ is simply what it says it is: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity. Meaning it is a history of how ASD was treated and where it can go (and it can take us) in the future.

Would I recommend this book to others? Yes I would. Though I would emphasise this isn’t a book on being a parent coping with an ASD child. It is not a support book on “how to survive” or anything so banal. It is a history of this mental difference and how it has been perceived in our society. I would strongly recommend this book to people into the fear mongering that comes with treating ASD as a 21st century plague due to modern living and medication. Though, seriously, the people I know who would say such things wouldn’t dare read a book that appeared to contradict them. 😉

Would I buy this book for myself? Yes I would. It is something I would encourage my whole family to read, when old enough to do so, as it is one of those great markers in history. This is how it used to be done, this is what they used to think you should do, this is what it possibly is, this is how we should try and proceed.

In summary: An interesting, startling, saddening and uplifting history of ASD. I have adult friends on the spectrum who keep warning me about books on autism and theories on how to deal with it and so on that are based on their own upbringing. Until I read this book, I never understood why they were afraid I would be misled as to how to help my son, as I’m entering its world in a far more enlightened age than when they did. This is a great book, despite the mixed emotions it has stirred within me.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO