Foreword Reviews

Getting Along With One Another

From capturing romance to 
disciplining a terrible two, 
these books will lend a hand

Getting Along

Even as the concept of family has evolved to encompass so much more than the basic social unit of mother, father, sister, and brother, at least one thing has remained constant: the desire to improve the quality of life for ourselves and those closest to us.

This might mean taking a more honest look at the dating scene, adult relationships, or marriage; it might mean digging up painful memories from the past in hopes of a more peaceful future; and it just might mean learning when to say no to the kids or when to say yes while tucking them in at night to a magical, in-the-dark story.

According to George Bernard Shaw, “If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” The following collection is so much more than a variety of self-helps and how-tos, it is an invitation to dance, or at the very least, clean out the closet.

Be Your Own Brand of Sexy

A New Sexual Revolution for Women

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Susan L. Edelman
Options Press
Softcover $22.95 (264pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Mixing history, pop culture, scientific facts, and anecdotal insights based on years of experience as a board-certified psychiatrist, Dr. Susan Edelman presents a fascinating look at America’s current dating culture in Be Your Own Brand of Sexy: A New Sexual Revolution for Women, offering solutions to a number of worries women face when it comes to dating, love, and sex.

Edelman’s distinctive, conversational style is spiced with humor and glimpses into familiar scenarios, some anonymous and some, like the courtship of Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big (Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley), are notorious for their mishaps and misunderstandings. Edelman manages to bring a fresh perspective, recognizing the importance of the sexual revolution and rise of feminism in the ‘70s while acknowledging the repercussions felt today and respecting each woman’s individuality and needs. The basic strategies appear in each chapter with mantra-like clarity, urging women to discover, explore, and develop their own “brand of sexy.” Women are reminded to find beauty in their differences, much like flowers—“Nobody tells a lily, ‘Your petals are too fat’”—and a dating quiz reminiscent of Seventeen or Cosmo will reveal whether a woman is an eager-to-please Daisy, an emotional Poppy, or, perhaps, a self-aware Rose. Regardless of where she lands in the garden, Be Your Own Brand of Sexy has an uplifting, empowering message for all the flowers out there.


Parenting with a Presence

Practices for Raising Conscious, Confident, Caring Kids

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Susan Stiffelman
New World Library
Softcover $14.95 (288pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

For every parent who has ever longed for a moment of peace and tranquility amidst the chaos and commotion of child rearing, Susan Stiffelman’s Parenting with Presence: Practices for Raising Conscious, Confident, Caring Kids provides encouragement, support, and practical suggestions, delivered with zen-infused wit and wisdom.

Covering a wide variety of relevant issues such as cultivating compassion, dealing with anger, developing empathy, and being accountable, Parenting with Presence transcends the preachiness and how-to vibe too often found in books on raising children. Introspective and mindful, Stiffelman’s approach concentrates on what a child’s behavior can teach parents about themselves, their own childhood, and current state of mind. To this end, chapters include a “Now It’s Your Turn” segment that promotes reflection, meditative exercises, and journaling, as well as a Q&S portion (Question & Suggestion) that provides language and responses to tricky situations and scenarios in “Making it Practical.”

With a foreword by internationally acclaimed author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle and final chapter full of whimsical and easy to implement “Tools, Tips, and Strategies,” Parenting with Presence is a reminder that “true spirituality doesn’t happen in a cave at the top of a mountain. It’s down here, wiping a runny nose, playing yet another round of Candyland, or rocking a colicky baby at two in the morning.”


Prodigal Father Wayward Son

A Roadmap to Reconciliation

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Sam Keen
Gifford Keen
Divine Arts
Softcover $16.96 (184pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Sam Keen’s international bestseller, Fire in the Belly, addressed the potent issue of manliness in modern society. Taking it a step further, Keen and his son, Gifford, present an emotional sequel in Prodigal Father, Wayward Son: A Roadmap to Reconciliation, an autobiographical conversation exploring fatherhood and the quest to become a man.

The Keens issue an “invitation to a journey” using their own reflections, some painful, some humorous, some tender, but all meaningful, as a “map to explore those key memories and stories that define your relationships.” The result is a cathartic memoir of forgiveness, healing, and freedom, a metamorphosis reaching back to Sam’s father and forward to Gif’s son. Using alternating points of view to explore past mistakes and triumphs, the Keens search for the origin of all the hurts, power struggles, and mistrust that kept them in a negative cycle, unable to truly connect as father and son. An honest and powerful look at fatherhood, Prodigal Father, Wayward Son explores the influences of society and culture from the Great Depression to the conservative South, free thinking in the ’60s and ‘70s, and the rise of technology. Although focusing on the particular struggle of men, the Keens’s sentiments hold relevance for mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters as well, shedding light on actions and attitudes with the potential to bring families in all walks of life closer together.


The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids

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Joanne Kraft
Leafwood Publishers
Softcover $14.99 (256pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

For all the “marshmallow moms” out there struggling to instill respect and obedience in their children, Joanne Kraft has created The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids, an unapologetic manual encouraging moms everywhere to stand firm, even when the kids think their limits, rules, or expectations are “mean. Using prayer, scripture, and alliteration, Kraft breaks it down into four parts including “The Making of a Mean Mom,” “Mean Moms and Munchkins,” “Mean Moms and Minivans,” and “Mean Moms and Motrin,” and although moms are central, there is plenty for dads, grandparents, or guardians in general.

Full of practical advice and personal testimonies, The Mean Mom’s Guide makes it clear that “unwavering faith in God” is essential. The Bible is quoted frequently, using several versions to address issues from parental monitoring software for computers and insisting that children attend church on Sundays (mean moms approve) to cleaning up after the kids and paying for everything (mean moms don’t). In a society where children and teens are inundated with consumerism, entitlement, and maintaining a particular image, Kraft’s guide is a refreshing change that puts faith and family first.


Raising the Shy Child

A Parent’s Guide to Social Anxiety

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Christine Fonseca
Prufrock Press
Softcover $16.95 (242pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Created for parents and educators as well as those suffering from any form of social anxiety disorder, or SAD, school psychologist Christine Fonseca’s Raising the Shy Child: A Parent’s Guide to Social Anxiety is a comprehensive, interactive handbook “designed to provide a bridge between research, clinical practice, and application.”

Case studies and real-life sketches intermingle with the more technical side of social anxiety, such as the neurological and physiological aspects as well as biological and environmental causes. For those with no formal diagnosis, Fonseca explores the differences between shyness, introversion, and SAD. Assessment and reflection are promoted through numerous worksheets, questionnaires, and tip sheets with practical applications and intervention methods. Particular attention is paid to classroom and school environments, which are often the site of much panic and distress for children and adolescents, with or without SAD. Fonseca uses relatable language and an earnest, supportive tone throughout. She ends with a Q&A chapter and an offer to partner with families as they confront insecurities and build self-confidence in the “shy child.”


Tell Me a Story in the Dark

A Guide to Creating Magical Bedtime Stories for Young Children

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John Olive
Softcover $18.95 (298pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

John Olive believes that “inside everyone lurks a master teller of bedtime tales,” and he sets about proving it in Tell Me a Story in the Dark: A Guide to Creating Magical Bedtime Stories for Young Children, a captivating how-to, guaranteed to engage even the toughest pajama-clad critics.

With humor, whimsy, and obvious storytelling skills, Olive walks newcomers through the entire process, from setting the stage with lights-out to the final kiss goodnight. The bulk of Tell Me a Story in the Dark describes popular bedtime subgenre classics such as myths, legends, tall tales, fables, and fairy tales, as well as the more elusive nonsense stories, found stories, and stories from personal experience and family history. Examples of each are written out in full, followed by bullet points and interspersed with “storytelling tips,” ideas, and basic formulas for creating original tales sure to enhance the quality and mutual enjoyment of lulling the children off to sleep with sweet dreams and smiles.

Perfect for parents or grandparents who struggle to get reluctant children off to bed tear- and drama-free, Tell Me a Story in the Dark is sure to inspire even the most novice or reticent would-be storytellers.


Stress-Free Discipline

Simple Strategies for Handling Common Behavior Problems

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Sara Au
Peter L. Stavinoha
Softcover $14.95 (256pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Nothing is quite as relaxing as tending to a garden and enjoying the colorful results. In Stress-Free Discipline, Sara Au and Peter L. Stavinoha encourage parents to do just that, picturing themselves as gardeners “just starting to organize and cultivate an overgrown backyard.”

Au and Stavinoha utilize the “ABC” method of understanding problem behaviors in children. They look closely at Antecedents, Behaviors, and Consequences to determine which strategy or strategies to employ from an original and “universal” selection that includes sixteen concepts, including prioritizing your absolutes, giving good directions, and enforcing limits and rules. Tantrums, homework, mealtime, bedtime, and attitude are all covered, using various scenarios that everyone will recognize. Parents are prompted to explore the intent behind the behaviors they are hoping to modify. From the terrible twos through the tweens and beyond, age-appropriate behaviors and needs are highlighted, equipping parents with the proper tools to determine when and what variety of extra guidance is recommended. Stress-Free Discipline ensures that with the proper care and attention, children will “blossom and grow,” and parents can enjoy the results minus any extra worry, anxiety, or tension.


Pallas Gates McCorquodale

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