Tyler's Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Leaning toward Light: Poems for Gardens & the Hands That Tend Them

by Tess Taylor, Aimee Nezhukumatathil  

Leaning toward Light, and anthology, by Tess Taylor captures the essence of art and nature. As I sit and write my own poetry in a poetry garden located on San Juan Island, I fully understand the liberation of a garden and art. Rather than feel bound and trapped by urban structures, the poetry and the garden work together to spawn thoughts and ideas. This book exemplifies freedom to express art.

Poems in this anthology reflect the essence of poetry. All gardens and the plants within them lean toward a direction. They rely on sun, warmth, and posture to blossom

Any poet knows they lean on something in their words, verse, or intention. The art captures their reality and the expression embraces their fall. Courage and despair receive grace from light. Each poet represents the art. To cultivate more. Depth, color, direction, and motivation appear in the images of flowers. Fruits and vegetables provide the palate for the audience to attain.

Whether the poet is contemporary or of the past, all plants in the garden continue to grow. The art continues to grow with each poem by the nature of the garden. 

Without Restraint: How Skiing Saved My Son's Life

by Robert C. Delena, Ryan C. Delena 

Without Restraint offers a unique story of family and connections to nature. They tell of struggles growing up in the Northeast of the United States. Robert DeLena and his son, Ryan, need to overcome family and health issues. With two perspectives telling the story, they share their interviews with medical and sports professionals. Using skiing as an outlet to help health and relationships develops the story. They understand the idea of freedom from the walls of schools and hospitals.

The text images the horrific experiences of a child and his family agreeing to restraints, drugs, and other treatments. Robert details how the public school system confines families to fewer alternatives. So, they encounter unachievable ways. Which is why they head to the hills and ski. They travel and have fun.

Nature gives a place to everyone and the DeLilas discover nature offers everyone free movement. They find acceptance in themselves and others. As a way to breathe. Ryan continues to see another part of the world by going outside. It is a reminder to continue to do what gives us freedom. And continue to find acceptance. I hope people will use this story to inspire others to heal. Thank you to Net Galley and Falcon Guides for this advanced reader's copy. 

The Dhammapada: Sayings of the Buddha (Essential Wisdom Library) (The Essential Wisdom Library)

by F. Max Müller (Translator) 

The Dhammapada is the one text written by Buddha that I will return to year after year. It is the one text that appears simple to understand, yet complex enough to review and reflect on my progress as a Buddhist. In a world torn apart by war, corruption and greed, this is the one book that can transform someone’s perspective to let go of material wealth, money-seeking attitudes, and wrongdoing. To seek a pathway toward happiness and freedom is to succeed despite only reaching the start of the pathway. I understand no one will achieve Nirvana at this present moment, yet everyone who knows of the Buddha understands that people will soon achieve this blissful state to cause the end of all wars.

Whether you need ‘to cut down the forest of desire’. or recapture the ideas of ‘the Elephant’. There is no one who sins more than the ‘Fool’. This text as stated by the translator, Eknath Easwaran, can be easy or can be difficult to read. For its deeper and transcendental meanings. You might think you can master this text because of its straightforward approach to lyrics. But you may take only a few steps on the pathway throughout your lifetime. You can read this over and over until you achieve your blissful state of freedom.

Thank you to Buddha, Eknath Easwaran, and St. Martins Press for the copy to review. 

Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201-Mile Journey Following the Monarch Migration

by Sara Dykman 

Sara Dykman writes about her great adventures, riding her bicycle, chasing butterflies, and sharing her insights into the wonderful world of the Monarch butterfly. Bicycling with Butterflies is one of my favorite books that I have read in the past year. Genuine, inspiring, and enlightening. Her effort and consistent drive help us understand an important figure in the air and in plant life. She researched all of her places to visit while communicating with other experts. Her presentations of butterfly stories to kids and teachers make her journeys more worthwhile.

A simple expectation derived out of genuine interest to protect a threatened species compels her to write with vigor as much as she pedals across two countries. Balancing writing and pedaling can be exhausting. With regards to bush camping or camo-camping, congrats to Sara for her free will to exercise a natural right to rest in nature. Most people will never achieve this type of greatness and in the name of an insect, I fully respect and admire her determination and reason to ride and write. Ride and write on Sara!

Thank you to Sara and Timber Press for the copy to review. 

First published April 13, 2021 

Every Brain Needs Music: The Neuroscience of Making and Listening to Music

By Larry S. Sherman and Dennis Plies

Every Brain Needs Music is a true statement. People have known music provides health benefits to all people. The facts are simple yet scientists and professional musicians elaborate these facts better than anyone else. So, how does the brain respond, change, grow or improve with music? Let Sherman and Plies give you the most up-to-date scientific evidence.

By using professional, world-renowned musicians and their test results, you can learn how different types of music will actually change the structure and chemistry of the human brain. A good thing for those past their adolescent dreams of becoming rock stars, adults can improve and repair their brains just by listening. Or better yet, by practicing and performing. The information is technical. And it is for the brain expert rather than the musical genius. If you remember the details of this book, I admire your intellectual abilities. This text is more of Beethoven or Mozart rather than Chuck Berry. 

Burnt: A Memoir of Fighting Fire

by Clare Frank

Burnt: A Memoir of Fire Fighting by Clare Frank details the life of a woman firefighter who overcomes adversity and rises to become one of the most powerful figures in her field. Underrepresentation among firefighters is something women continue to face. Yet Clare Frank is honest about the ways she stays in the fight. She never lets anyone stop her though they do try. Other firefighters doubt her abilities. They offer support by acting as family, and they reveal their own weaknesses too.

Clare Frank details her experiences as a firefighter with details, a strong voice, and wit. The storyline shows her ability to balance nerves and stresses in her language to relate directly to the demands of her job. Other memoirs differ from Burnt. This story carries the emotions of first responders and heroism. Her voice emanates toughness, perseverance and determination. What is a reality in a firefighter's life is at the forefront of the experiences in this memoir. 

Primus, Over the Electric Grapevine: Insight into Primus and the World of Les Claypool

by Greg Prato , Primus

Primus is a band that stands out from others. Quirky, weird, super-talented, and amazingly skilled. They have unique statements in their lyrics and the bass style surpasses most innovations in modern music. Greg Prato compiles many comments from the associations of Primus to shed light on the successes and failures of the band. Most acquaintances in the text are well-known, while others are behind the scenes. Over the Electric Grapevine does go beyond credibility for its references. All of the statements are original, and based on the ideas presented. The text does not include dialogue with the author so it is assumed the comments are based on ideas presented in the chapter titles. Oysterhead, Ozzy, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica are all contributors here, so it really is an all-star line-up and a great compilation.

For any one who is interested in reading statements by the band members and their partners, this book will be the right fit. I also recommend listening while you read to get the most benefit. 

Published December 6th 2022 by Akashic Books (first published August 25th 2014)

Nature Swagger: Stories and Visions of Black Joy in the Outdoors by Rue Mapp

Nature Swagger contains an abundance of natural experiences. In many forms, the stories relate to personal triumph, overcoming adversity, expressing creativity, and celebrating diversity through unique storytelling. Personal elements characterized by memoir and reflection illuminate the benefits of forging relationships with nature. Each person with their preferred activity states why nature helps their well-being and empowers their cultural identity. Black people have a long tradition of celebrating nature. Now they can recount how world travel opens opportunities to find more sanctuaries. Rue Mapp does an excellent job of compiling stories. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review.

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