Monday, November 23, 2009

"The Basics of Surfboard Design" by Bob Smith

I gotta admit right off the bat - the closest I've ever come to surfing was on a $10 foam boogie board at Coquina Beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I live in the land-locked state of Pennsylvania and trips to the beach are few and far between. But when author Bob Smith asked me to review his book The Basics of Surfboard Design, he said, "I'm always interested in how well it communicates, so I can improve." Bob, himself, is a pioneer in the surfing community having been "at the forefront of the short-board revolution in Hawaii during the late '60s" with examples of his surfboards appearing on the December 1968 cover of Master of Surf Photography: Art Brewer.

What I like about Bob's approach is that he debunks many "established" truths that I think would be of interest to surfers, such as:

#1: Many surfers have a lack of interest about how and why a surfboard works.

#2: Surfers ride shorter boards than necessary because shortening the board helps make up for an inferior design.

#3: How many fins should a surfboard have? Ask instead - Where should the fin(s) be placed?

#4: Adding a fin will not increase thrust - it will in fact increase drag, slowing the board.

#5: A vertical fin is more stable and more powerful (size for size) than a swept fin.

#6: To get a good bottom, it is necessary to wet sand the surface with progressively finer paper.

#7: The pointy ends on surfboards should all be cut off - they serve no useful function.

#8: Make sure to tell a shaper: (A) what board you're currently riding (B) what you like & dislike about it (C) your favorite surf spot and (D) what size of waves you like to ride.

Overall, the book is primarily for those who are heavily into surfing and wish to have a custom-designed surfboard. The book is mainly text accompanied by rudimentary drawings. Professional artwork would have more fully illustrated the concepts for better comprehension.

I wish Bob had included photos of surfboards that he designed and comments from surfers who use them. Attributed quotes from those who utilize Bob's knowledge in the field would also have added credibility to his theories.

The Basics of Surfboard Design by Bob Smith is available for $9.95 at and

A complimentary review copy was provided by Bob Smith.

"The Leadership Garden Guidebook" by Debra J. Slover

I have to say Debra Slover's series is very well done. She has created an effectively designed brand that brings something new to the self-improvement market. The main concepts of the U.N.I.Q.U.E. series are clearly delineated in the companion guidebook. Interactive space is also provided for readers to record their reactions to Slover's thought-provoking questions. The guidebook forges the gap between concept and reality. It is a must-have for those wanting to get the most out of the series.

The guidebook's chapters correspond to those in the adult and child versions of the U.N.I.Q.U.E. books. They are filled with writing exercises that help readers apply the series' concepts to their lives. Intangible concepts are made personal by involving the reader in hands-on activities. Theory is put into action. The guidebook also functions as a journal allowing the reader the opportunity to go back and reflect on past entries. Personal growth can be measured and evaluated as the reader progresses through the U.N.I.Q.U.E. chapters.

Some key points illustrate Slover's philosophy:

- True leadership is not a title, position, or job. It's a way of life that expresses your imagination, purpose and spirit. What brings these qualities to life is unique in everyone. Love binds you with others and is at the heart of all authentic leadership. Leadership warms your heart and lifts your spirit when used in service of another's greatness.

- Greatness sprouts, not in spite of your imperfections, but from the wisdom you gain as you improve upon them.

- When you allow others to be themselves, without trying to fix or change them, and focus on their positive behaviors, extraordinary results show up. Empathy is a bridge from survival to thriving leadership. The more open and receptive you are with others, the more open and receptive they are to you.

- You cannot always control the circumstances of your life, but you can choose how you respond to them. Each time you choose to focus on the pleasant events of your life, and not let the unpleasant ones dictate your response in a negative manner, you begin to rewire your brain and create a new reality. Setbacks, failure and disappointments are to be expected, and thriving leaders use them as an opportunity to grow and expand.

This guidebook affords you the opportunity to look at
what you do, how you do it, and why you do it, so you can begin to make the choice to thrive.

Slover also relates an interesting anecdote about the U.N.I.Q.U.E. series influence. At a book signing, Slover sold one copy. That copy was sent to a doctoral candidate in leadership studies who used the book in teaching college students in the United States and in an economically challenged school in Africa.

Inspired by the effect the U.N.I.Q.U.E. series was having on others, Slover set up the Leadership Garden Registry which accepts donations through the Calvert Foundation to provide grants in $250-$500 amounts to non-profit organizations that wish to develop leader-friendly gardening "Practice Projects."

The guidebook concludes with an adorable photo of Slover with her dog, Mooko.

The Leadership Garden Guidebook
by Debra J. Slover is available for $18.95 at and

A complimentary review copy was provided by Debra J. Slover.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids: Growing My Leadership Garden" by Debra J. Slover

Debra J. Slover is well aware that books read in childhood leave a lasting impression. She defines a young mind's potential as a leadership garden. With the right cultivation, Slover believes every child can find the leader within. Her book sheds light on the seeds that form the foundation of a deeply-rooted character.

Slover's goal is "to seed and nurture 11 million leadership gardens by 11-11-2011." Her mission is to provide children with tools to better themselves. "Imagine the future of our planet if we nurture each leader to sprout greatness," she states. She focuses on awakening the child's inherent abilities. It is not an adherence to a strict dogma or a step-by-step formula to mold a child to some preexisting ideal. Instead, a child's uniqueness is what is cherished. Leaders are not defined by the power to control, but by how they empower others through love. For Slover, l
eaders connect well with others because they combine their thoughts, feelings and behaviors into good choices.

The fable of the lost sheep Hugh is reiterated in the children's edition. The illustrations by Darlene Warner are more numerous and in color. Chapters conclude with a "Hugh Wants to Know" questionnaire reinforcing the moral lessons taught by each farm animal. The leadership concepts are explained with a vocabulary appropriate for ages 8 to 12. As Slover states, "It is an ideal book to be read aloud and discussed over eight sessions at home, in school or in youth groups."

Children will undoubtedly respond to the imagery of spring's arrival on the farm.
The details of nature are meant to stir the physical senses while the accompanying leadership lessons awaken a child's curiosity and problem-solving skills. It is a winning combination to engage the mind, body and spirit in character-developing activities.

Slover's approach is realistic. Things happen in the outside world that cannot be controlled. Hugh's mother is attacked by coyotes. Howard the Horse is left to starve by his previous owner. Hugh is bullied by the farmer's son. Just by reading this book, bad things will not go away. Change depends on how children respond. A child's purpose and aim must play to his or her strengths. By tapping into their innate abilities, children are then able to face life's challenges. When one child demonstrates this inner strength, it empowers others to hone their leadership potential. One by one, new gardens are grown.

U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids: Growing My Leadership Garden
by Debra J. Slover is available for $18.95 at and

A complimentary review copy was provided by Debra J. Slover.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"U.N.I.Q.U.E. Growing the Leader Within" by Debra J. Slover

This book came into my life when I needed it the most. It articulated feelings that I had trouble putting into words. In essence, the message is stop living your life in survival mode. In a tough economy, it is a message we all need to hear.

Author Debra J. Slover states, "We cannot always control the circumstances of our lives, but we can choose how we respond to them." Her book is a guide on how to do just that. Our mental outlook filters our perception of reality. Slover provides tips and exercises on how to shift our way of thinking so that we thrive.

The book is a fable/memoir/self-help hybrid. The fable is populated with animals beautifully illustrated by Darlene Warner. Hugh, the sheep, is led through a Leadership Garden by Annabelle, the collie, stopping along the way to visit with different animals. Each offers Hugh a "U.N.I.Q.U.E." tidbit of wisdom on how he can go from being afraid and weak to courageous and powerful. He becomes a leader whose character is rooted in integrity through direct and open communication.

Slover is down to earth. She openly admits that she is not perfect and how she continually needs to work on her faults - just like the rest of us. In one instance, she chewed out a student worker who could not provide her with a campus parking pass. Knowing she was wrong, she went back and apologized to the student. She's an author who practices what she preaches.

The self-help aspects can get wordy at times. The book connects best when concepts are fleshed out rather than merely defined. I found that I do not walk away remembering what the acronym U.N.I.Q.U.E. stands for, but instead with a comprehension of the overall message. The chapter exercises engage the reader to actively examine his/her life. They are helpful tools in making the reader realize how many "weeds" need to be removed from his/her "leadership garden."

When I first picked up the book, I thought it was going to be a slog through New Age mumbo jumbo. I couldn't have been more wrong. I flew through this book in two sittings. I kept reading passages where I thought to myself, "This author gets it." She addresses problems that we all need to resolve. If you're looking for sound advice on how to obtain peace of mind and a sense of well-being, pick up this book. It'll show you the way.

U.N.I.Q.U.E. Growing the Leader Within by Debra J. Slover is available for $18.95 at and

A complimentary review copy was provided by Debra J. Slover.

Also by Debra J. Slover:
The Leadership Garden Guidebook & U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids: Growing My Leadership Garden

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Hard Times and Great Blessings: The Story of My Life" by Kenneth F. Worth

The essence of faith is continuing to choose to do what is right without the certainty of an earthly reward. It requires a firmness of conviction against the unknown. Kenneth Worth exhibits this quality.

In Hard Times and Great Blessings: The Story of My Life, the reader is transported to Worth's post-World War II era childhood where in a stunning flashback he relates his tragic past with two words: BANG! BANG! These two inexplicable shots fired by his mother silenced his parents forever.

Worth employs writing as a means to examine his life. The reader gains access to moments of lasting impact. It is interesting to note the events he chooses to highlight - the memories that he has carried across a lifetime. The ones he selected to record for posterity.

Worth recalls the mundane yet special moments that fill every life such as getting married, having children and earning a job promotion. It takes an individual with an acute sensitivity to realize the bigger picture behind the backdrop of this collage of everyday life. Every life has a fingerprint, no two are the same. There is something to be learned from every one.

Through writing, Worth illustrates an active faith. He does not doubt, but engages the reader into questioning the fundamental purpose of a life. Beneath the surface, questions are there but the ultimate answers remain illusive.

Later in life, illness strikes Worth. His golden years of retirement are filled with coping with a body assaulted by Parkinson's Disease. It is not the situation he imagined for himself. Yet as his physical abilities decline, his mental and spiritual capacities sharpen. He has known all along that life is not fair. Yet he has come to the realization that it can be examined and shared with others.

Does a life come full circle? Does the constant cycle of change lead to a final culminating point? Worth is still examining these primal issues. He has taken the first introspective step with this book. However, his spiritual journey continues.

Hard Times and Great Blessings: The Story of My Life by Kenneth F. Worth is available for $12.95 at and

A complimentary review copy was provided by Kenneth F. Worth.