The reason I wanted to read and review this book is that brain science is a very important subject to me. I’ve had three serious jolts to my head, all were life altering. Brain science is still a subject that needs a lot more study and investigation in my opinion. The brain goes through so many changes in a lifetime: car accidents, sports accidents, kids falling down hitting their heads, hormonal changes, diet, old age . . . it’s a wonder we survive all of this trauma. The big problem is that when these injuries occur, most people don’t realize any damage has been done. They just know that people suddenly are reacting differently to them, they can’t do math any longer, they lose control of their spending habits, engage in risky behavior, or they can’t perform as well as they were able to before.
That is why this company is so important to all of us. They’ve been tracking brain health and neuroscience research since 2005. They’ve gathered a lot of information from the top scientists around the globe to make us more aware of how to take care of our minds—to make us wiser in how to change our brains and gain the specific function we have lost over the years.
The book is divided into nine chapters. Eight of the chapters include interviews from some of the top brain scientists from around the world. Over 100 brain researchers have contributed to this volume providing invaluable information on the subject.
In chapter one, “Start with the Brain in Mind,” the text goes into detail about how the brain functions with a focus on memory, attention, emotions, perception, motor skills, visual and spatial processing, and executive functions. The explanations give real-life examples, so that a person can easily relate to the different areas of function. Neurons are clearly explained, areas of the brain and functions, like memory, attention, etc., are lightly touched upon. Neuroplasticity is explained and how to improve learning capabilities.
In chapter two, “Be a Coach, not a Patient,” some of the advancements in brain health are brought to light. There is a breakdown of a survey taken about what the average person is most concerned with in their brain health. Various new studies are examined and explained, plus a few tips that are theorized to help cognition.
In chapter three, “Mens Sana In Corpore Sano,” physical exercise is examined in detail — new studies that show the benefits to the brain through exercise and how it can slow the progression of brain atrophy as we grow older.
In chapter four, “You Are What You Eat and Drink (Up to a Point),” as the chapter title reveals, there is much talk about diet and how it effects the brain. Further discussion is included on antioxidants, supplements, caffeine and alcohol, diabetes and smoking, and how obesity affects the brain. (We all better get on those diets now!)
In chapter five, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” different types of mental activity are mentioned and the importance of continuing to learn new information. Crossword puzzles are discussed and why they aren’t enough, and how they lose value over time. Another important subject is brought up: how to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, and the importance of lifelong learning to buy more time. What education, board games, and playing cards have in common. And, a few video games are highlighted as helping various brain functions.
In chapter six, “Oh, the People You’ll Meet,” explains the importance of brain health and social relationships. The more social connections one has the healthier the brain is.
In chapter seven, “Manage Stress, Build Resilience,” There is good stress and bad stress. Chronic stress causes serious changes in the body chemicals and the brain. A section of lifestyle adjustments are suggested with highlights on the benefits of the various options listed. At the end of this chapter is a long section with many specialists explaining the effects of stress and the changes we can make to improve our brains and bodies.
In chapter eight, “Cross-train Your Brain,” Brain training is explained in detail and how to get the most from the training you choose, as well as brain training games, biofeedback, cognitive behavioral training, and a SharpBrains recommendation on the top brain training programs.
In chapter nine, “How to Be Your Own Brain Fitness Coach,” is a chapter to put everything in the book into a workable plan. There are personal stories explaining how various people can deal with improving their brains and life in general.
Overall, “The SmartBrains Guide to Brain Fitness” is full of valuable information. Whether you want to target a specific area in your life or whether you want to just tune-up the whole brain-body connection, this book has so much to offer. It takes complex principles and puts them in simple language that is easy to understand, and it offers a deep understanding of how our brains work, and what we can do to make it better—even as we age. This is a must-read for anyone concerned about their brain health.
I told someone that I would let them read this book when I am finished with it. I don’t want to let this go now. I think I’ll buy them a copy of their own.
I’d like to thank the authors for this complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Deborah Heal considers herself a Christian fiction author. Right there, for a lot of people, that would wave the red flag: “Stop! Do not enter!” “This will contain over-zealous subject matter meant to weave a certain message into the story in which to enlighten or prescribe the author’s beliefs.” I almost passed up the chance to read this fun trilogy because of this worry. Through the first book, I turned every page with much trepidation that a preacher would jump out of page 25, 137, or 192 to scream at me about his way to see the light. In certain times and places I find this acceptable, but not when I am reading for enjoyment and to relax.
I was so wrong! In all three books--nothing like that happened at all. As a matter of fact, Ms. Heal did an excellent job of writing a great three-part story that young adults on up can enjoy. The first book was an introduction to Merri, Abby, and John and the Beautiful Home computer program. The second book took us on another adventure with the cheerful trio and their neighbors to seek out a puzzle of heritage. This last book delved further into Illinois history as Merri, Abby, and John used their unique computer program to help Kate, (Abby’s roommate from college) find an ancestor by the name of Ned Greenfield from Equality, Illinois.
Their arrival to Equality gave them an unexpected surprise. Everyone they met was hometown friendly in a down-home sort of way. The streets were crowded; and it wasn’t until they met the local sheriff that they learned it was the annual Salt Days celebration to commemorate when the village was founded in 1735. The area was the hub for salt mining in the United States after the Indians surrendered the “Great Salt Springs” to the US government by treaty way back when (Wikipedia). The story continues with little tidbits of local history to amuse and entertain as is the author’s penchant for sneaking in lessons without our being consciously aware we’re being taught.
With all the information they try to find out about this Greenfield relative of Kate’s, the farther down the family tree he seems to slip. These friendly villagers start to clam up and the true hunt begins. This tale tells of a salt baron’s ruthless rise to success, slavery—the likes of which you’ve never heard before, a spooky third floor in a mansion, and a ditzy old woman who has the answers, but takes to having “spells” when questioned too much.
On the social scene, John and Abby’s crush deepens as Abby (figuratively) pulls the petals off the daisy one-by-one “He loves me. . . . He loves me not.” This couple prefers to follow the old-fashion values of genteel courtship until marriage; whereas, Abby’s friend, Kate, was lured into a more complicated, serious relationship with her boyfriend, Ryan. The subject of sex is mentioned in the book, but it is handled with intelligence and decorum.
Now that the trilogy is over, I look back and shake my head when I think I almost missed a great opportunity to learn so much about our history and the history of Illinois. The information was presented in a unique mystery story that was fully entertaining and enjoyable. I liked the books so much that if I had my druthers, I’d like Ms. Heal to drop the trilogy and just continue the storyline into a lengthy series. I enjoyed the characters so much that I could imagine them on more adventures of this kind, and as long as the program is willing—why not? If more of us hungry readers are so inclined to persuade her, perhaps we can change her mind about this being the last book. I’m certain that the state of Illinois has many more hidden tales to tell that the Beautiful Home computer program could bring to light.
I’d like to thank author Deborah Heal for this lovely copy of Every Hill and Mountain in exchange for my honest review.
“Time and Again” was a great introduction to Abby, Merri, John, and all the others living about in the Miles Station’s neighborhood. By the time I had turned to that last page I felt like I had made some new friends. “Unclaimed Legacy’s” genuine warmth and down home spirit turned those new friends into my old friends--people I’d grown up with in my old neighborhood. You know . . . the ones who make you feel like you were a part of their family. And, what is more fun than having a summer adventure with your pals from the old neighborhood? This time, Eulah and Beulah need to solve a long-time mystery in their family tree and there is only one way that Abby, Merri, and John can help them. Of course, by now . . . you know what that is from reading “Time and Again.”
“Unclaimed Legacy” really has great character development and character interaction. There is a little love-play tension between Abby and John throughout the book. The history of Eulah and Beulah’s bloodline dances around a great mysterious tale that only can be solved through the odd and quirky computer program that has intrigued our three friends from the beginning. Adding the new characters gives a bit of depth and suspense to the mystery.
But, I really appreciated the way this author weaves all the history of the area into the story. I’m not a great history lover but in this book there is nothing glaring or boring with dull facts that will cause you to nod off. I was almost through reading the whole book before I realized how many historical tidbits were presented. With the little I know of the third story and my experience with the first two, I am really excited to get into the last one of the trilogy.
It is so refreshing to just have a good story to kick back, relax, and unwind from a trying day. Every night I read it before hitting the hay and the worst part of that is the book is done. It was really something to look forward to in ending my day. The good news is I have the last book of the trilogy left to read. And, I can’t wait!
I’d like to thank Deborah Heal for this beautiful copy of “Unclaimed Legacy” in exchange for an honest review.
Time and Again is a good, wholesome, old fashioned story with a modern twist. This charming tale touches upon many of the hard issues that kids have to face today—depression, bullying, weight issues, absentee parents, abandonment, self-esteem, and young love. It is written in such a way that these issues, which seem so momentous at first, gently blend into the background and simply melt away as the relationship between Abby and Meredith develops and they become fast friends.
Both girls are embarking on new adventures in their lives. Abby just graduated from college, has taken a summer job—her first job, as a live-in tutor. Meredith recently moved to the lonely, empty little town of Miles Station with her mother to an old historic home she inherited. Determined to make a new life for them, her mother must work all sorts of crazy hours, which leaves Meredith with nothing to do. She is feeling angry and dejected, and the last thing she wants is a babysitter hanging around, pestering, her all day long.
Naturally, the story does not end there . . . the old house promises some mysterious, quirky surprises for the two as they delve into its history and of the presently defunct town of Miles Station.
Ms. Heal did a marvelous job in addressing some of the confusion that children have in growing up while trying to understand the adult world. In this, the book turns an enjoyable story into a chapter by chapter mini life-lessons book for teenagers. Her teaching style is crafted in such a way to make you think you are just reading a fun story. She offers so much in the way of learning history, relationships, people, and in surviving the turbulent teenage years, that you will want to read it time and again.
Note: I would like to thank Deborah Heal for this lovely copy of her book, and to Review the Book.com for the opportunity to review it.
I nominate this as my “Book of the Year!” “The Shimmering” is a wonderful fantasy story of fourteen year old Michael who, on his birthday, strikes out into the forests of the Cascades to search for his father who has been lost for a year. By accident, Michael wanders into a “ripple of time,” which is called a shimmering, and lands into the magical world of Tremora. People have compared this to “Harry Potter” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.” I say, “Phooey! And, Phooey again!” There is no comparison—because, this story is delightfully unique in its own right. And, I just can’t wait for the movie! (Hollywood? Are you listening?)
Michael’s free-loving, gypsy-type mother slips a note into his backpack the day he leaves. When he finds the note he learns that his mother has been to Tremora many times. She isn’t at all the normal housewife Michael thought she was. She’s been an important figure in Tremora . . . actually, she’s been many, many important figures in Tremora—for a long, long time. She also knows that this is exactly where her husband is. She just hopes that Michael doesn’t accidentally kill him.
On Michael’s arrival to this special place he is greeted by a little green man named Tracker. (No, he’s not from Mars.) This Tracker fellow was sent by high order of the king to escort and protect Michael on his journey. From the very beginning, Michael is warned to “Be careful—there is danger everywhere.” He wants to know why, but Tracker tells him he will find out when they get to the wizard’s meeting. It’s driving Michael nuts that he doesn’t understand all this. He doesn’t want to go to the wizard’s meeting—he just wants to find his dad! Tracker presses on and tells the kid that before they can do anything about his father Michael has a serious job he has to perform. He’s got to save Tremora. And, of course, like you or me . . . the boy is thinking, ‘Me? Yah, right! This guy has some serious mental problems.’ But, he has to humor Tracker so that he can find out more about this land and where his father might be.
The characters in this book are alive, exciting, and just plain fun. There are no copycats here. (To my knowledge there aren’t.) I mean, who has ever heard of camelops, wazalops, shape-shifting friendly trolls, or fluster birds. Speaking of fluster birds, Michael actually gets to meet one, and that is special because they are believed to be extinct in most parts of Tremora. Now, check this out—even the prose is creative and fun. “The bird went berserk. It waved its wings wildly, turned summersaults, blustered, and sputtered—feathers flew everywhere as it chirped, whistled, and spun like a spinning wheel firecracker. It then plopped down with a thud on Michael’s upturned hand, legs splayed, eyes crossed, and small tongue hanging to the side. Even so, in the midst of it all, it still managed to grab the twig with one small foot (p. 131).”
I say, “Bravo, William Westwood! Bravo!” This book should be in every home and school library in America. And, I can’t wait for the movie. . . . (Are you listening, Hollywood?)
Although, I do read books for the purpose of review--that in no way has any bearing on my opinion about this story. I, like the fluster bird, am spinning and wildly waving as I run through the streets screaming, “Hey? Have you read this one yet? You gotta read it! It’s really, really good!”
My thanks to the author for this lovely copy of “The Shimmering,” and to Review the Book.com for this opportunity to share my thoughts on what I believe is the best fantasy book of the year.
P.S. On the latest news . . . “The Shimmering” has won the Mom’s Choice award for friendly-family content and has been chosen for recording by the National Library Service audio books division and by Audible.com. (Psst.--Hollywood . . . any takers?)