bisbing books reviews | Jennifer Bisbing • Writer • Editor

Jennifer Bisbing • Writer • Editor

December 1, 2011
by bisbing
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bisbing books reviews

As a book critic I read, analyze, and review books in order to provide an honest evaluation regarding the quality of work for readers and interested book industry parties. If you need a quote for the back of your book or feedback before you go to press, please inquire about availability before sending an advance copy.

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Embracing Bliss: 108 Daily Meditations
By Jeff Kober
Red Crow Press, 290 pages
Reviewed on February 18, 2022

Award-winning actor Jeff Kober’s interesting past includes factory work and herding cattle, and now, along with a thriving acting career, he’s published this book of 108 inspiring essays.

How many of us have said, “we are going to start meditating” and sit down, try once or twice, and say our mind is too busy or I don’t have time for this. Well, with an active mind and juggling a career, Kober took the time not only to meditate twice a day but also was committed to writing daily about the Vedic tradition for years. The result, Embracing Bliss: 108 Daily Meditations. With Kober’s down-to-earth personality from his Montanan roots, he breaks down this ancient text and offers a palatable look into spirituality with essays full of personal, and some gut-wrenching, anecdotes.

There are countless books on spirituality. You can get lost in the genre and find your way stumbling through false gurus and lies if you are not careful, but Kober shoots it straight. He doesn’t claim to be a guru, but has put together teachings that would serve anyone looking for clarity on the path.

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Happiness Is an Imaginary Line in the Sand
By Thomas Lloyd Qualls
Homebound Publications, 50K Words
Reviewed on November 2, 2021

A witty, uplifting book that meanders through some big spiritual ideas and the challenges of finding happiness in the current state of the world.

According to Thomas Lloyd Qualls, one direct path to a life full of joy is beauty. Happiness Is an Imaginary Line in the Sand offers tools and suggestions about putting aside our distractions and focusing on genuine ways to reach happiness. Qualls’ musings are in a digestible format of short essays—helpful for those who lack attention span.

If you enjoy The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle but find it verbose, Qualls shoots it straight, and his book has a tad more humor, which might help you understand that all we have is now. Qualls says, “The only way to accomplish anything, including change, is to locate yourself in the present moment. To find your center and figure out how to stay there…” Qualls does a keen job of directing readers toward spiritual questions and not spoon-feeding the answers. If you also enjoyed Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Qualls has an amusing essay or two on writing, mixed with wit and irony. His airport story will be familiar to any writer swearing they want to get more writing done if they only had the time.

As a female poet, I find his snippet of Mary Oliver’s famous line (“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? —Oliver) without a reference rather offensive. Nevertheless, his use of quotes throughout the manuscript is well done and not overly cliche—he even finds some obscure inspiring words. This is not a flowery spiritual book; Qualls addresses the dark side of humanity’s race against the clock of climate change, and still, he insists that beauty is an agent of change. My excessive dog-earing of pages tells me Happiness Is an Imaginary Line in the Sand has material worth even a second look.

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Make Them Cry
By Smith Henderson and Jon Marc Smith
Ecco Press, 357 pages
Reviewed on November 11, 2020

What do you want in a thriller?

A fast-paced ride full of personal conflict, suspense, built-up tension, unexpected twists, and extremely high stakes, well Make Them Cry delivers just that. Henderson and Smith boldly thrust the action forward with multiple points of view while testing the characters’ will and taking you on a car chase that will have you on the edge of your seat. I needed an escape, something that would keep my attention, and this thriller beat my expectations, even though I knew that one of the co-authors was a multiple award winner. Yup, co-authors. They make the writing seamless. Make Them Cry’s leading female character had me holding my breath as she fearlessly navigated the underworld of the drug cartel.

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Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up
By Jerry Colonna
Harper Business, 293 Pages
Reviewed in July 2019

Looking for a Book on Leadership? Newly Released in June, this Book is Shaking Up How CEOs “Make Peace with Their Demons”

If you are searching for quick fixes for problems in leadership, this book isn’t for you. It is said to be a gut punch, but for company founders, it is also said to be one of the most important books you will read in your lifetime.

After the widely followed podcast, The Reboot Podcast, shaping Silicon Valley with his executive coaching, Jerry Colonna just released Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up. As introduced by Michael Covel in his latest interview on Trend Following Radio, Colonna “has taught CEOs and their top teams to realize their potential by using the raw material of their lives to find meaning, to build healthy interpersonal bonds, and to become more compassionate and bold leaders.”

Colonna hopes the book will help leaders see how buried issues or hidden baggage, the cerebral clutter that holds you back and keeps you thinking small, those that remain unsorted and unresolved lead to a perpetual toxic work environment. The book’s approach pushes leaders to overcome self-imposed limitations. Colonna’s work explores the tension between traditional leadership practices and how companies can be of service to the needs of their customers and employees. He shines light on the myth that everyone else is “killing it” in their industry. If true, then Jerry can help, with some pointed advice, to build the conversation to see what is lacking and how to fill in the leadership cracks and help all those involved reach a new level of success and satisfaction.

“Strong back and open heart. This is warrior stance, I tell him. The strong back of fiscal discipline. The strong back of clarity and vision, of drive and direction. The strong back of delegating responsibility and holding people accountable. The strong back of knowing right from wrong. But it’s also the open heart. It’s giving a shit about people, purpose, meaning. It’s working toward something greater than merely boosting your ego, greater than just soothing your worries and chasing your demons away. It’s leading from within, drawing on the core of your being, on all that has shaped you,” Jerry Colonna writes in Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up.

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The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America
By Daivd Whyte
Currency | Penguin Random House, 217 pages

A Poet is Changing What Leadership Looks Like in the Corporate Landscape

Not long after David Whyte hit the stage as a renowned poet, an American corporation scooped him up. So how is a poet helping mainstream corporate America?

All it took was one corporation to understand that their corporate language was not large enough for the new market territory they were headed for, and they knew Whyte’s poetic language could help.

Since Corporate America is ultimately about human relationships, how businesses communicate with customers and how individuals work together within the existing structures, Whyte uses pointed language to bring awareness and change to old stories and structures that are inefficient, ineffectual and no longer serve a company’s needs.

“A strong vision and purpose acts as a kind of strange attractor, allowing individual creativity while acting as a natural constraint to behavior that is detrimental to the team,” David Whyte states in The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America.

With his mastery of language, Whyte helps shed light on the subtle and nearly invisible communication breakdowns. His work suggests that when you change the conversation while making structural changes, it facilitates a greater capacity for divergent, creative thinking that reinforces a company’s strength on a new global market. Whyte’s work also seems to suggest businesses need to start asking more questions because the answers are usually in the question. The questions and answers then lead to conversations you didn’t even know were lingering in the company halls, which in turn have the potential to reshape the landscape within a forward-thinking company. “The marvelous thing about a good question is that it shapes our identity as much by the asking as it does by the answering,” said Whyte.