Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Review: More About Paddington by Michael Bond (Audiobook)

"Bears like Paddington are very rare," says Mrs. Bird, "and a good thing too, or it would cost us a small fortune in marmalade."

It's a good thing for lots of reasons that bears like Paddington are rare. Whether it is his attempts at home decorating, detective work or photography, the bear from Darkest Peru causes his own special brand of chaos.


From the library.


This was the unabridged audiobook on CD edition (2 discs/2.1 hours).

I just love Paddington and this was just completely adorable! The adventures are so cute and you just have to love Paddington even more with each one! The Browns and Mrs. Bird are just lovely!

Stephen Fry did any immaculate job with the performance! He was absolutely wonderful!

This one gets five enthusiastic stars! I actually rationed the stories so I wouldn't run out of them too soon - it was that good. Really, this was just too perfect for words! This is certainly highly recommended!

★★★★★ = Loved It




Guest Post: Susan Helene Gottfried author of The Demo Tapes

Our friend Susan Helen Gottfried from West of Mars, author of the books The Demo Tapes, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote just for us!



Thanks to Beth for having me today. I love dropping by other people's blogs to write the sort of post I'd never put up at my own place. It's like turning the whole world into my sandbox. Best of all, it lets me meet new people -- and lets new people meet me.

The funny thing about this is that I'm a writer. I gladly spend days on end here in my house, without interacting face-to-face with a single soul. I'd be a modern-day hermit if I could. But there are kids to shuttle about, exercises that can only be done in the Hoity-Toity Health Club... Really, how's a girl supposed to be a hermit when faced with pro athletes who can sit in a straddle and touch their noses to the floor (especially when I can't)? Not to mention the challenge that certain instructors lay at my feet. I love challenges.

And really, if you think about it, being a hermit is no way for a writer to live. Okay, sure. We need our space to sit, write, and let scenes unfold behind our eyes. We need the lack of other people for our characters to come to life.

But you know that old maxim to write what you know? How can a writer do that if all she knows is the inside of her house?

I am best known for writing about a fictional rock band -- ShapeShifter. That's something you can only learn about by being there. And yes, although I am not musically inclined enough to make music, I spent a number of years in the biz. I almost took any number of jobs in the industry; being part of that world is, quite simply, in my blood. That's why I have to write about it. It's my way of combining my two greatest loves (after the Tour Manager and the Opening Acts, of course).

I can't live the rock and roll life anymore. The time constraints don't play nicely with my writing schedule, and I'm in the wrong part of the world for it. Heck, I don't even have the right clothes anymore, although you who see me outside of my hermit's nest and at conferences and conventions may not agree. (Hang around me long enough, you'll see how limited the wardrobe has become!)

That doesn't mean I don't miss it, though. Sometimes, I miss being out in the world, interacting like any other person does. Going out to lunch, driving to work, having adventures even if they are fraught with frustrations and irritations.

Oh, wait. I don't miss those parts. Those are what made me become a hermit in the first place.

And yet, it's conflict that's the lifeblood of fiction. How a character handles stress -- that famous Hemingway trait of grace under pressure -- tells a reader an awful lot about who that fictional person is, down at the core. And again, I can't write it if I'm not experiencing it first-hand.

I'm a lousy hermit. People say I'm a good writer, so I guess it all balances out.

Besides, hermits can't play in other people's sandboxes. And didn't I say at the get-go that I like sandboxes? All those castles, the cakes and pies... and the people. People I'll never write about -- I'm too self-conscious for that -- but who shape my fictional world nonetheless.

So. Good to meet you. Come on over to my sandbox once in awhile. I promise I won't steal your shovel and beat you over the head with it.

Much.




About the books:

The Demo Tapes were born out of the demand of the groupies who hang around the Meet and Greet. They are collections of short fiction that introduce you to Trevor, Mitchell, and the rest of the fictional band, ShapeShifter — as well as the world in which they inhabit.











About Susan:

When I was six, I remember asking my father what the New York Times Bestseller display in the front of our local B.Dalton store was. When he told me, I remember nodding and saying, “That’s what I’m going to do one day.” I haven’t made it yet; too many interesting routes along the way and how can I write what I know if I don’t know anything?

Among those interesting detours have been my BA and MFA in creative writing. I’ve worked for a literary agent, as a freelance copy editor, and I’ve done some freelance writing. Keeping with the literary stuff, I’m a member of Sisters in Crime, Pennwriters, and Backspace — for now. I fully expect that list to grow. I also hang at sites such as Romance Divas and the Absolute Write Water Cooler, although I lurk more than post.

Other things that have cropped up and caught my interest have been the wonderful sport of ice hockey, as a player and coach of all ages, from 5-year-olds to collegiate-level. I’ve thrown pots on a potters wheel. I love to trade books online and I was voted my book club’s Leader for Eternity. Oddly, trading books online has led me to buy more than ever.

My other passion is music, and to that end, I’ve worked in record stores, at college radio stations (three to be exact, although I was at one particular one for four years), in the front office of two different concert promoters and as stage crew. I interned for an ad agency that writes concert ads, and for awhile there, I was the head organizer of the MetalliBash, the unofficial Metallica fan convention. I am proud to say I played hostess to Lars Ulrich twice (2001 and 2002) and Kirk Hammett once (2001).

Now, I’m a blogger and an author. The success of the blog has led me to publish a collection of short fiction that you can check out via the Susan’s Books link. My passion for rock and roll literature continues to expose me to some wild fiction. And daily, I’m inspired by the people who hang out at my blog, who have shaped my world. Come join them.



If you'd like to pick up a copy either of Susan's books The Demo Tapes click on the cover images below.



Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Review: Freakin' Fabulous by Clinton Kelly

Clinton Kelly won't just revamp your wardrobe — he'll revamp your life!

The huddled masses yearn to be fabulous, and finally Clinton Kelly is heeding their call. As co-host of TLC's popular What Not to Wear, he regularly transforms dumpy fashion disasters into traffic-stopping, get-an-instant-promotion, reignite-the-passion-in-that-relationship makeovers. But fabulousness doesn't stop with style. Let's face it: you might look good, but if you're chomping on that crudité with your mouth wide open, nobody at the party will talk to you — even if you can explain to them what crudité actually is.

Of course, the keys to being better than everyone else aren't always so obvious. Don't worry; Clinton's here to help.

* How do you make a flat butt look big and a big butt look flat?
* What's the one trick that will slim down your entire silhouette and make your ta-tas look va-va-voom?
* How do you eat an oyster without getting kicked out of the best restaurant in town?
* What's the grammatically correct form of "lay" to use when propositioning a Baldwin brother?

He'll teach you how to look your best, sound your smartest, use the manners your momma taught you, poach an egg, fix a perfect gin and tonic, throw the most popular parties (and top the guest list at other soirees), make your home the envy of your neighbors, and generally be the fabulous person you always knew you could be.

From the three style criteria he uses to dress any shape for any occasion, to his eloquent approach to appreciation, to his four must-memorize recipes for whipping up a last-minute meal, Clinton Kelly shares it all in Freakin' Fabulous.


From the library
.

The book was very well written and nicely done overall, although some sections could have been longer and more detailed. The sections included: Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, and Decorate which adequately covered most aspects of one's social life. I was a bit disappointed though in that it seemed to be rather obviously written for the upper middle class.

There was a hilarious collection of Thank You notes including this gem:

Thank you for dinner.
Your snoring kept me up all night!
I stole your Prada sweater vest.
Don't call me!
X

Some of my other favorite quotes were:

Not to go all voodoo priest on you, but your house creates a vibe that impacts your entire day. Never underestimate the mojo of your environment.

If you hate something, paint it white. Counters, cabinets, floors. Sanity in a can, that's what white paint is. Believe me.

More than anything, you are fabulous if you treat people with respect and encourage them to develop their own fabulous qualities.

This one gets three stars. I love Clinton on What Not to Wear, but solo he wasn't quite as palatable. I sort of overdosed on him by the end. The book was educational, but was written for a rather small group of people, which limits its reach. It's certainly worth a quick read, but I wouldn't go out and actually buy it. This is a definite library borrow!

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Guest Post: Courtney J. Webb author of Immaculate Deception

Courtney J. Webb, author of the book Immaculate Deception, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.



THE EYES HAVE IT

When I was fourteen years old, I had the opportunity to go and stay with a family living in Pascoe in Washington the state. I flew from London to Vancouver and then had to get a greyhound bus across the border. I remember this hippy in full afghan coat and beads, long hair etc he sat next to me. When we got to the American border he gave me a little box and said “can you look after this for me?” Me being naïve, I say “sure” and put it in my pocket.

Later we were told to vacate the bus, and the customs checked our bags and passports, I noticed the hippy was taken off to a nearby room. When we finally got back on the bus, he says “they strip searched me.” I thought, “yuck”. I gave him his box back and I remember him smiling and saying “you are a good girl, I like the English.” He opened the box and took a pinch of white stuff and sniffed it up his nose. He grinned and said “aah, that’s better.”

The bus travelled from Vancouver to Seattle and I was thrown off at approximately midnight. My next bus was an hour or two away and I had to wait into the early hours. There were gangs of swearing thugs exchanging flick knives all around me, but I was so tired I just sat wearily on my case and ignored them.

It was at Seattle that I noticed a tall man with dark thick wavy hair. He had his whole leg in plaster and was hobbling on crutches. I didn’t give him much thought and tried to sleep. When my bus arrived I thankfully boarded it. The man with the crutches pushed someone out of the way to board directly behind me. I remember he rubbed himself up rather close to me, I didn’t like it, and elbowed him away.

I didn’t give him another thought, but had noticed he sat on the opposite side of the bus to me, and one row behind. I could feel his eyes boring into me. I was so jet lagged I went to sleep dangling my legs over the side of the seat, as no one sat next to me on that journey. Half way through the trip, a woman shook me into a wakeful state saying . “Excuse me but do you know that man?” I was sluggish and turned over to look at the man behind me with the broken leg, he was staring at me like I was his next dinner. I was sleepy and just said “No!” She said “Well he was massaging your feet.” I turned to look at him in disgust and stared indignantly right into the eyes of the depraved man. I was totally unaware; he was at that point, blissfully deliberating how he was going to kill me.

At fourteen and blessed by the power of innocence, I recoiled my feet and shrugged him off, I called him a “pervert ” and showed my disgust before falling back to sleep. About an hour or so later I had to disembark in Pascoe. As I attempted to make my way down the aisle of the greyhound bus, the man with the broken leg jumped up and again pushed himself too close behind me. I again elbowed him back away from me with annoyance.

The coach driver found my suitcase and I began to walk along the street which at approximately 5am was deserted. I needed to find a telephone box as all I had was a phone number of the people who were going to pick me up. I heard the man behind me and turned to see it was the tall dark haired man that was already a pest. He shouted out at me to stop. He said “Wait, I need help.” It was not in my nature to ignore anyone who makes a plea for help, but I think at that point, my gut instinct or an angel took over. I picked up my case and ran with it, I didn’t know where I was going but ran nevertheless.

The man who had a broken leg shouted again. “Stop, help me.” I ignored him, and looked over my shoulder only to see he had began to run after me. He chased me despite having a broken leg, and came within an inch of getting me except a deli shop on a corner was open and I fell into it. The shopkeeper showed some surprise when I told him out of breath that “A man with a broken leg chased me!”

I think he put it down to the eccentricities of the English!

I never saw the man with the broken leg again, but always wondered how odd it was that he ran after me. It was only two years ago when I was surfing the internet I came across a banner about serial killers. I noticed that two girls had been murdered near Pascoe, in the same year and close to the months I was in Washington. I looked at the next page to find out more information about the poor girls demise, and there staring at me were the burning eyes of their killer. It was the man with the broken leg: Ted Bundy.

ITS ALL TRUE!

Courtney J Webb




About the book:

Sexy Craig Connery has just finished two years in a British prison for a crime he didn't commit. And he can't wait to reunite with his family and assume his old life: a ladies man and petty thief.

But as he makes his way home, Craig becomes the sole witness to a horrific single-car accident. Killed is the driver-whose uncanny resemblance to Craig presents an opportunity to change his life forever. In one rash decision, Craig takes the man's identification. No longer Craig Connery, he becomes James Kempster. Father James Kempster.

Now, this decidedly unreligious man must make it as a man of God. His first mission? Running a nursing home in regional Australia!

What follows is an uproarious and high-stakes farce of biblical proportions as Craig dissembles his way through a life he knows nothing about. Along the way, he'll gain entree into a world whose secrets rival his own-and discover the shocking truth about the church, the elderly and himself.

At once comical, quirky and deeply touching, Immaculate Deception is a novel of unconventional faith and the power of personal discovery.





About Courtney:

Courtney J. Webb is an accomplished world traveler and no stranger to unusual situations, once having had her feet massaged by the serial killer Ted Bundy. She is currently writing her first movie screenplay. Her natural interest in people combined with a vivid imagination, sense of humour and an uncanny ability to bring characters to life is evident in Immaculate Deception, which is her first comic novel.



If you'd like to pick up a copy of Courtney's book Immaculate Deception click on the cover image below.



Review: Immaculate Deception by Courtney J. Webb

Sexy Craig Connery has just finished two years in a British prison for a crime he didn't commit. And he can't wait to reunite with his family and assume his old life: a ladies man and petty thief.

But as he makes his way home, Craig becomes the sole witness to a horrific single-car accident. Killed is the driver-whose uncanny resemblance to Craig presents an opportunity to change his life forever. In one rash decision, Craig takes the man's identification. No longer Craig Connery, he becomes James Kempster. Father James Kempster.

Now, this decidedly unreligious man must make it as a man of God. His first mission? Running a nursing home in regional Australia!

What follows is an uproarious and high-stakes farce of biblical proportions as Craig dissembles his way through a life he knows nothing about. Along the way, he'll gain entree into a world whose secrets rival his own-and discover the shocking truth about the church, the elderly and himself.

At once comical, quirky and deeply touching, Immaculate Deception is a novel of unconventional faith and the power of personal discovery.


Received from the publisher for review.

The book was rather coarse at points, which is understandable since the main character is an ex-con, yet it was still quite humorous. I also found it a bit on the long side, but the length was needed to fully explore all the situations presented.

Craig may not have been entirely likeable, but he was amusing, and most likely quite accurately portrayed. I really liked Elsie. She was just perfect and made you smile. She even had a bit of sly Miss Marple in her!

This one gets three stars. While it wasn't my favorite book of all time, it was still amusing. The only thing that brought it down from a four star rating was the ongoing coarseness which just wore on me after a while.

★★☆☆ = Liked It




Monday, September 28, 2009

Completed Challenge: 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge

Well, it's official! I finally finished the 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge! Yea!

My goal was to read 25 library books from July 1st through December 31st. With all my audiobooks I made it with time to spare!

So, here's my list:

  1. The Dogs of Riga
  2. Death of a Poison Pen (Hamish Macbeth #20)
  3. Good House Cheap House
  4. Made from Scratch
  5. Death of a Bore (Hamish Macbeth #21)
  6. A Spoonful of Poison (Agatha Raisin #19)
  7. Bliss to You
  8. Death of a Dreamer (Hamish Macbeth #22)
  9. Finger Lickin' Fifteen
  10. Death of a Maid (Hamish Macbeth #23)
  11. Death of a Gentle Lady (Hamish Macbeth #24)
  12. Death of a Witch (Hamish Macbeth #25)
  13. Winnie-the-Pooh
  14. Dark Matter: The Private Life of Sir Isaac Newton
  15. The Face
  16. A Bear Called Paddington
  17. The Dangerous Days of Daniel X
  18. Relentless
  19. Christmas Is Good!
  20. At First Sight
  21. The One Hundred
  22. By the Light of the Moon
  23. Life is Good!
  24. Freakin' Fabulous
  25. More About Paddington



Mailbox Monday - September 20 - 26th


Mailbox Monday is hosted by The Printed Page and is where we share all the books we received in the mail over the past week. I, personally, am no longer going to include books I receive for review, since they're already covered in their individual New Book Arrival posts.


Why does society applaud a girl who falls for a guy’s “big blue eyes” yet denounces one who chooses a man with a “big green bankroll”? After all, isn’t earning power more a reflection of a man’s values and character? Smart Girls Marry Money challenges the ideals and assumptions women have blindly accepted about love and marriage—and shows how they’ve done so at their own economic peril. In this brazen manifesto, authors Elizabeth Ford and Daniela Drake use cold hard facts, real science, and true stories to present a compelling case for why mercenary marriages make the most sense for future happiness.

Smart Girls taps into a growing, collective suspicion that the post-feminist world isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Female “empowerment” has women working hard to look sexier than ever, while carrying more than their fair share financially. Yet sadly, statistics prove that: not only do women continue to earn far less than their male counterparts, they also suffer far more economically when marriages fail. Ford and Drake think it’s high time that women get their heads out of the clouds and start caring about their own security—the kind that can be measured in dollars and common sense. With an irreverent, straight-talk tone, the authors serve up a sound case and intriguing strategy for how women can truly “have it all.” Sure to spark conversation and controversy, Smart Girls Marry Money will ultimately empower women with a new way to take control of both their economic and romantic lives.

I saw this at the bookstore and with a title like that I was completely fascinated as to who would actually write a book like that so I simply had to get a copy (used, of course).



Sunday, September 27, 2009

Library Loot - September 20 - 26th


Here goes this week's Library Loot!



A stunning and suspenseful thriller, about humanity's continuous and sometimes futile battle against nature from one of the most popular and bestselling authors in America.

Conducting a strange and urgent experiment of the Arctic icefield, a team of scientists has planted sixty powerful explosive charges that will detonate at midnight. Before they can withdraw to the safety of the base camp, a shattering tidal wave breaks loose the ice on which they are working. Now they are hopelessly marooned on an iceberg during a violent winter storm. The bombs beneath them are buried irretrievable deep . . . and ticking. And they discover that one of them is an assassin with mission of his own.

This is the unabridged audiobook.






This is Rex Stout's first mystery novel, featuring the first appearance of Nero Wolfe, one of the greatest fictional detectives of all time. As any herpetologist knows, the fer-de-lance is among the most dreaded snakes on Earth. When someone makes a present of one to Wolfe, his assistant Archie Goodwin knows the large detective must be getting dangerously close to solving the murders of an immigrant and a college president. As for Wolfe, he's busy playing snake charmer in a case with more twists than an anaconda.

This is the unabridged audiobook.



Friday, September 25, 2009

New Book Arrival: The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walters

The publicist generously sent me a copy of The Financial Lives of the Poets for review.


In the winning and utterly original novels Citizen Vince and The Zero, Jess Walter ("a ridiculously talented writer"—New York Times) painted an America all his own: a land of real, flawed, and deeply human characters coping with the anxieties of their times. Now, in his warmest, funniest, and best novel yet, Walter offers a story as real as our own lives: a tale of overstretched accounts, misbegotten schemes, and domestic dreams deferred.

A few years ago, small-time finance journalist Matthew Prior quit his day job to gamble everything on a quixotic notion: a Web site devoted to financial journalism in the form of blank verse. When his big idea—and his wife's eBay resale business— ends with a whimper (and a garage full of unwanted figurines), they borrow and borrow, whistling past the graveyard of their uncertain dreams. One morning Matt wakes up to find himself jobless, hobbled with debt, spying on his wife's online flirtation, and six days away from losing his home. Is this really how things were supposed to end up for me, he wonders: staying up all night worried, driving to 7-Eleven in the middle of the night to get milk for his boys, and falling in with two local degenerates after they offer him a hit of high-grade marijuana?

Or, he thinks, could this be the solution to all my problems?

Following Matt in his weeklong quest to save his marriage, his sanity, and his dreams, The Financial Lives of the Poets is a hysterical, heartfelt novel about how we can reach the edge of ruin—and how we can begin to make our way back.



Review: Indigo Awakening by Dr. Janine Talty

Dr. Janine Talty, today a successful osteopathic physician, as a child found herself bewildered by a world full of challenges that she could not understand. She felt isolated, unable to cope with the regular life issues that other children managed easily. She could not comprehend math or spelling-yet she could see energies that others could not see, and had levels of awareness than no-one around her possessed. She exhibited unusual artistic and healing talent. She spontaneously remembered and drew pictures from 'old memories' of places her family had never visited. Only as she grew into adulthood, painfully learning to cope with her challenges, did she realize she was an 'indigo,' one of a generation of people with unusual talents and abilities, yet who rarely fit neatly into societal roles.This book is the inspiring story of how she overcomes these challenges, finds her voice and identity, and discovers a channel for her healing abilities as an osteopathic physician.


Received from the publicist for review.

Okay, let me just start by saying that I'm an open minded person normally, and I say the following as someone who has read Doreen Virtue and Sylvia Browne, investigated information about the Akashic Records, and has had tarot, palm, and psychic readings done as well as a past life hypnosis regression. So, you can see how I was drawn to this, yet the book was simply intolerable to read. I had quite high hopes for the book, but they were dashed on the very first page. I was so disappointed as the book could have been so good!

The book begins with the author boastfully stating in chapter one how in kindergarten "... my visual and creative abilities were seven to ten years ahead of my age group." Really? How are you supposed to connect and care about someone's story when they gloat like that in the first chapter? It just turned me right off. She maintained her "I'm so brilliant" attitude throughout. She obviously feels that she's better than others who are not like her.

The author also comes from an upper middle class family who allowed her to be indulged in her little fantasy world. Connecting with someone like that is rather difficult.

The book also reports that Indigos are supposed to be superior to other children because they learn differently. Why the author feels the need to portray the ability to learn "normally" as virtually criminal is beyond me. The author also strongly feels that artistic and athletic talents are far better than talents in reading and writing.

And, it is rather suspect that her "past lifetimes" included a number of high profile people, such as a pharaoh, a knight, and a British doctor in a British colony abroad. Really? I find it interesting how she was never someone ordinary or poor. Hmm...

Another pervading theme in the book is vomiting. Seriously, the author spends an inordinate amount of time on vomit, projectile vomiting, etc. It is, needless to say, really quite unnecessary.

The book ends with a rather disturbing appendix about Star Children - supposedly humans with alien DNA. Really, even Fox Mulder would cringe at that!

I can't even give this a star rating since I couldn't finish the book. Frankly, the author's pervading holier-than-thou attitude was just too much to handle. I was seriously tempted to just chuck the book across the room several times. A friend's favorite saying came to mind while reading it "Is she on crack?" Seriously, it was that bad. The only redeeming quality was the author's love of animals. There was a nice picture of her husband sleeping with a cat on his lap.




Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Book Arrival: Public Image: Stories and Poems by Thomas A. Hauck

The author, Thomas A. Hauck, generously sent me a copy of Public Image: Stories and Poems for review.


Revealing the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary situations, Public Image: Stories and Poems presents 24 short stories and 27 poems that examine the human experience in locations including Russia, India, and the author's hometown of Gloucester, Massachusetts.



New Review Guidelines

I've had some review challenges over the past couple months and I have decided to revise my review guidelines to more accurately reflect my feelings about books. After much deliberation I've decided to continue with the stars, but to switch from 10 stars to 5 stars. I will also be revising what they mean. The simplest description of each star rating is what Netflix uses: Hated It, Didn't Like It, Liked It, Really Liked It, Loved It. There will be no 1/2 star ratings.

I have also had some issues with requested reviews that I simply could not finish. I normally won't do a review unless I've finished a book, but I want these to be accurately reflected, so I will do a short review for these books and include the accurate star rating for each.

The finalized new review guidelines can be found here.

I also want to reiterate that if a book is featured in a guest post, interview, or giveaway it may not reflect my personal views on the topic but I just want to put it out there for my readers so they can judge for themselves.



Winners: Role of a Lifetime

The winners of Role of a Lifetime are:

  1. Marilyn Shoemaker
  2. Esme
  3. Stacie
  4. afineday
  5. Bev
Congratulations and I hope you enjoy it!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Hachette for providing the giveaway!

Thank you to all who entered!



Guest Post: Robin Marvel author of Awakening Consciousness

Robin Marvel, author of the new books Awakening Consciousness - A Girl's Guide! and Awakening Consciousness - A Boy's Guide!, stopped by to share with us some great information on why she wrote her books.



With Much Gratitude
Robin Marvel

I decided to write the guides after looking back on myself as a child. I grew up with low self esteem and made many life choices based on my insecurities. Being the mother of four amazing daughters I realized that children need the opportunity to be exposed to confidence building exercises to build strength within.

Awakening Consciousness - A Girl's Guide! and Awakening Consciousness - A Boy's Guide! are designed to encourage confidence and strength within children everywhere. Often as children we are taught limitations and that it is so important to "fit" in. With my guides I give children the opportunity to love who they are without fear and stand tall in who they are. With hands on activities The Awakening Consciousness workbooks will encourage a strong sense of self within all.


About Robin:

Robin Marvel is an author, Empowerment and life positivity coach and motivational speaker for children and adults as well as the senior editor for Marvelous Spirit Press. Using tools from her “Awakening Consciousness” book series she is expanding creativity and self awareness in beings everywhere.

Robin is Leading Out Loud as the owner of Marvelous Empowerment. Providing a variety of workshops to encourage empowerment in all ages. More information on Marvelous Empowerment can be found at www.aurasenseguide.com, a website designed to strengthen your being while encouraging Universal Awareness.

Check
www.aurasenseguide.com for upcoming lectures and workshops




Thank you so much to Robin for joining us today! If you'd like to pick up a copy of either of her Awakening Consciousness books click on the cover image below.



Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review: The Sum of His Syndromes by K.B. Dixon

"The Sum of His Syndromes" is a wry, odd, idiosyncratic book. A collage of notes written in a sixth-floor men's room, it is the story of a dissatisfied, slightly disturbed young man named David who has found himself at a personal and professional crossroads. He has a job he hates, but cannot leave, and a girl he loves, but cannot fully understand. With help from his friend, Peter, and his therapist, the irrepressible Dr. Costa, he struggles to make sense of his complicated young life. A fractured, fragmented, unconventional narrative, "Syndromes" offers a comic look at office angst, contemporary psychiatric practice and romantic uncertainty. A conglomeration of thoughts, observations, commentary, overheard conversations and cameo appearances, its story - David and Kate's story emerges surreptitiously from this innovative presentation of a confused and chaotic time.


Received from the publisher for review.

For some reason I really enjoyed that the main character's beagle was named Toby. It just seems like such a great name for a beagle.

Some of my favorite quotes were:

"Pam at one of the office lunchroom machines: 'Jeeze, Sandra, you picked your husband faster than you're picking that sandwich.'"

"Noel Evans has had two concussions - one when his wife hit him in the head with a bottle of champagne, the other when she hit him in the head with a lamp."

This one gets eight stars. At some points it was genuinely funny, and at others it was quite depressing. It almost reminded me of True Blood and the way Sookie hears partial thoughts. You sort of become like Sookie for a while while reading the book. It was a nice, quick read. This is certainly recommended for Office Space fans.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆



Review: Awakening Consciousness: A Boy's Guide by Robin Marvel

Awakening Consciousness: A Boy's Guide! is a workbook designed to encourage inner-strength and growth that will encourage self-security. This action-packed guide is chock full of fun hands-on activities for all ages that will motivate and enhance a path of self-awareness, including:

  • Make your own drum
  • Find your totem
  • Discover your spirit guide
  • Native-American lore
  • ChakraCize your body and spirit
  • Practice divining the pendulum
  • Learn how to keep a strong aura
  • Strengthen your self-esteem


Received from the author for review.

I especially liked this quote from the book:

"You create your own reality by the choices you make each and every day."

There were some interesting Native American stories interspersed throughout. This heavy Native American theme would probably appeal to outdoorsy type boys.

I did get the feeling that there was an underlying vibe that boys are to be thought of as inherently aggressive, and that was a bit disconcerting.

This one gets seven stars. Like the Girl's Guide, the book was simply, but not simplistically written. It was filled with all sorts of exercises and activities that boys should enjoy.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆




Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Review: At First Sight by Stephen J. Cannell (Audiobook)

Meet Chick Best—a middle-aged, self absorbed, disaffected, California dot.com millionaire. Other than his house and high-priced foreign cars, Chick’s most expensive possession is his trophy wife, Evelyn. Evelyn is good at spending Chick’ money, money that has pretty much run out. Another problem is his drug-addled sixteen-year-old daughter, Melissa. Though concerned about his life and family, Chick has resigned himself to a miserable state of acceptance. That is, until he, Evelyn, and Melissa take a Christmas vacation in Maui. With this, Chick’s life changes…

Chick experiences unrequited love at first sight when he observes Paige Ellis emerging from the hotel swimming pool. His obsession, exceeded only by his need to possess her, isn’t diminished when he learns that she is happily married. Instead, he befriends Paige and her near-perfect husband, Chandler. A short time later, back from Hawaii, Chick’s obsession compels him to drive to Paige’s house, where he runs down and kills Chandler in a drugstore parking lot. But this is just the beginning of Chick’s nightmare as his life spirals homicidally out of control, resulting in the destruction of everything he holds dear. Will Paige learn the truth about Chick before it’s too late?


This was the unabridged audiobook on CD edition (7 CDs/9 hours).


This was my first experience with one of the author's books, but I've enjoyed his television work (Hunter!) and figured I'd give one of his books a try. It was certainly worth it!

This one gets eight stars. It was a nice blend of complete insanity with humor. While it was a bit on the long side at nine hours the reader, Scott Brick (one of my favorites) did an excellent job. Without his excellent performance the book probably would have been a seven. Koontz fans will appreciate a kindred soul, as will fans of his television work. I'm certainly going to look for other books by the author.

Rating: ★★★★★



Review: Awakening Consciousness: A Girl's Guide by Robin Marvel

Awakening Consciousness: A Girl's Guide is a workbook designed to encourage spiritual growth on a path of self awareness. The fun hands-on exercises in this motivating, easy to use workbook are for girls of all ages and will encourage great exploration into universal Awareness.

  • Exercise your seven chakras
  • Discover how to keep a healthy aura
  • Practice learning the pendulum
  • Try aromatherapy with easy to do, fun crafts
  • Learn about crystals
  • Explore your inner self
  • Create your own future


Received from the author for review.

There were a number of good points made in this book. A couple of my favorite quotes were:

"You have the choice to create good energy within your body."

"Always be true to who you are even if it isn't what everyone else is doing."

There were sections on everything from aromatherapy to crystals. There was also an interesting chakracise section (exercise to get your energy flowing), with lots of great pictures.

This one gets eight stars. It was nicely written in a simple and clear format with a friendly feel to it. It contained important, positive advice as well as positive, self-affirming lessons for children. I'm certainly looking forward to the author's next book - Metaphysical Mind in a Small Town.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆



Monday, September 21, 2009

Review: The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd

When two nineteenth-century Oxford students—Victor Frankenstein, a serious researcher, and the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley—form an unlikely friendship, the result is a tour de force that could only come from one of the world's most accomplished and prolific authors.

This haunting and atmospheric novel opens with a heated discussion, as Shelley challenges the conventionally religious Frankenstein to consider his atheistic notions of creation and life. Afterward, these concepts become an obsession for the young scientist. As Victor begins conducting anatomical experiments to reanimate the dead, he at first uses corpses supplied by the coroner. But these specimens prove imperfect for Victor's purposes. Moving his makeshift laboratory to a deserted pottery factory in Limehouse, he makes contact with the Doomsday men—the resurrectionists—whose grisly methods put Frankenstein in great danger as he works feverishly to bring life to the terrifying creature that will bear his name for eternity.

Filled with literary lights of the day such as Bysshe Shelley, Godwin, Lord Byron, and Mary Shelley herself, and penned in period-perfect prose, The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein is sure to become a classic of the twenty-first century.


Received from the publisher for review.


The story was really quite believable. It had a nice, Masterpiece Theater feel to it - historically believable without being too bogged down in every single historical accuracy. The story and text had a nice flow and was quite readable.

For someone so unstable, Frankenstein himself was actually rather likeable. Shelley was rather annoyingly referred to as Byshee throughout and the name was really quite distracting.

This one gets eight stars. There was a masterful blending of historical fact and figures with fiction. Although it was rather slow moving at points it was overall quite well paced. It was interesting to see Frankenstein's descent into madness. The interpretation of Frankenstein's monster was chilling and almost worse than the original! The darkness that pervades the entire book gave it a lovely shadow and creepiness. This was such an intriguing story that it left me with a "Damn, that was weird" feeling a the end. In a good way!

Rating: ★★★★★




Guest Post: Marcus Dino author of Diary of a Mad Gen Yer

Marcus Dino, author of the ebook Diary of a Mad Gen Yer, stopped by to share with us a piece he wrote.



Tips for writing young adult genre

by

Marcus Dino

Perhaps because of my secondary school teaching background, perhaps because I live in La La land, perhaps because I have grown up on so many movies and television shows throughout the years emphasizing young adult life, for example all these teenage horror flicks we have had the last 50 years starting from I was a Teenage Werewolf to The Final Destination, my focus in creative writing has been young adult genre. Here are some tips that I have used in the two young adult books I have written, Fifi and Diary of a Mad Gen Yer, that I wish to share with you.

Make your characters as interesting as possible. You can write another novel about teenage vampire or werewolf even though 20 other authors have written about the same subject as you have. Perhaps your teenage vampire gets accepted into Harvard where he majors in biochemistry. To help pay his tuition he lands a part time job where he works as a lab assistant. Of course the hospital is also has a place where he has access to 'his nourishment' and he doesn't have to chase 'warm bodies.' A decade later he becomes one of the youngest Nobel Prize winners because of his research which led to the development of 'artificial blood.'

Of course take your characters from real life examples, say your best friend back in high school who was a little bit on the stuck up side, your real life ups and downs as a twenty something, that unforgettable prom night, your college age son describing his 'frat party,' remember Animal House?

Develop a riveting, not necessarily complex, plot in order to capture a readers attention. Your story needs to capture a readers attention at the very beginning with your introduction. Also good dialogue between characters gets the readers interested in the story as much as a riveting plot. For instance what line is going to capture a reader's attention more? "So Fifi are you going to the party tonight over at Dirk Van Allen's parents place?" or "Omigosh Fif, you cannot cannot miss the big party at Dirk Van Allen's folks place tonight. It is the rad thing to do and I mean every cool kid in school is gonna be there. I mean Fif you don't want to be like one of the geeks and stay home and watch TV tonight do you?"

In my opinion don't overly stress current popular culture with young people today. We're talking nanoseconds when we discuss the life span today of any big fad among young people. This year's big name singer or pop group or actor may be passe next year.

I enjoy writing young adult books because it is such a fun and rewarding experience. There is no limit to one's imagination when creating a colorful story and interesting characters when you are writing fiction dealing with young adults.




About the book:

The silly stories, the silly poems, the silly blogs of Fifi Larouche, struggling 21st century Hollywood actress. That's what 'MAD GEN YER' is all about. MAD GEN YER is a 'prequel' to the previously published book, FIFI ANYTHING GOES IN THE DOUBLE Os. 'MAD GEN YER' has an assortment of colorful characters such as 'Flifi.' Fifi's fairy tale alter ego and Alocki, Fifi's brilliant alien friend.







About Marcus:

Marcus Dino has had an interesting professional career, first as an Aerospace engineer, next as a passionate math teacher teaching in urban Los Angeles which he currently still does, and finally, as a part time literary fiction author. It is Mr Dino’s being a die hard movie buff that led him to writing Diary of a Mad Gen Yer in addition to his first novel, Fifi, Anything goes in the Double Os, first published in 2003. Mr Dino is a graduate of Chapman University and he also has Masters Degrees in both Education and Electrical Engineering. Diary of a Mad Gen Yer and Fifi can be found at www.smashwords.com and www.summertimproductions.net. Mr Dino’s personal website which includes numerous blogs, short stories, and poems involving his central character Fifi Larouche, which helped inspire him to write his anthology, Diary, can be found at www.authorsden.com/marcusdino.



If you'd like to pick up a copy of Marcus's ebook Diary of a Mad Gen Yer click on the cover image below.



Mailbox Monday - September 13 - 19th


Mailbox Monday is hosted by The Printed Page and is where we share all the books we received in the mail over the past week. I, personally, am no longer going to include books I receive for review, since they're already covered in their individual New Book Arrival posts.


For now, Shiraz is stuck on an estate in Goodmayes, Essex, with her sister Cava-Sue, her nightmare mum Diane and her loved-up mate Carrie. Hoodies, hip-hop and hanging about outside Claire's Accessories. Taking her flatulent Staffy for a walk. Lusting after local lad Wesley Barrington Baines II. It's a limited world for this loveable Essex dreamer. But when new English Teacher Miss Brackett arrives at Mayflower Academy, Shiraz is made to see there's more to life than getting excluded, suped up Vauxhall Novas and Chicago Town pizza. It's time Shiraz began thinking what she wants to do with life. And what sort of person she wants to be. A lot of snooty folk call Shiraz Bailey Wood a chav. Well if by 'Chav' you mean 'Charming, Hilarious, Articulate and Vibrant', Shizza doesn't mind that at all. Call her what you want. She don't care. She's keeping it real.







Shiraz Bailey Wood has made up her mind. She's leaving Goodmayes, waving goodbye to Mayflower Academy Sixth Form and her part time job at Mr Yolk and moving to London with Carrie Draper. Carrie's got herself a place at Tabitha Tennant's beauty school, so she's sorted. Now all Shiraz has to focus on is getting herself a job. She has a bit of trouble finding the most suitable job mind, nothing seems quite right for a girl of Shiraz's originality and wit...And she has to admit, she's missing her family - even Murphy - something rotten. But Shiraz BW will not give up - she's going to finish what she started, even if she does keep looking out of the crappy flat window to see if there's a Banana Yellow Golf parked up front.....









Growing up in a world of wealth and pastel-tinted entitlement, fifteen-year-old Carly has always relied on the constancy—and authenticity—of her sister, Anna. But when fourteen-year-old Anna turns plastic-perfect-pretty over the course of a single summer, everything starts to change. And there are boys involved, complicating things as boys always do. With warmth, insight, and an unparalleled gift for finding humor even in stormy situations, beloved author Lauren Myracle dives into the tumultuous waters of sisterhood and shows that even very different sisters can learn to help each other stay afloat.

For my friend abroad.










It’s the same thing every day for Babymouse. Where is the glamour? The excitement? The adventure? Nothing ever changes, until . . . Babymouse hears about Felicia Furrypaws’s exclusive slumber party. Will Babymouse get invited? Will her best friend, Wilson, forgive her if she misses their monster movie marathon? Find out in Babymouse: Queen of the World, a graphic novel with attitude!

For my friend abroad.












Sunday, September 20, 2009

Giveaway: Susannah, A Lawyer: From Tragedy to Triumph by Ruth Rymer

Young college graduate Susannah Reed is brutally attacked and nearly killed in 1877. While recovering, she vows to study law, although The United State Supreme Court has just declared that women are too timid and delicate to be lawyers.

Susannah's fiance accepts her victim status and the child conceived during her sexual assault. However, he expects his wife be a beautiful object, not opposing counsel at the dinner table.

Susannah begins to study law at a firm in Chicago as she struggles unsuccessfully to combine her career with an engagement to a man who will not allow her to become an attorney. She meets Ted Nelson, a young lawyer who acts as her coach and mentor, applauds her ambition, and wants her to have what she wants. She passes the bar and is hired by the firm where she interned.

Susannah's handling of her cases brings her immediate success. She defends a battered wife who accidentally kills her husband, a young immigrant that the State's Attorney is harassing, and an accomplice in a big bank robbery. In the meantime, she must deal with her disabled daughter, the murder of a partner at the firm, and her relationship with Ted.



Thanks to the publisher I have one paperback copy to give away!

Contest runs from September 20, 2009 to 11:59 PM EST October 3, 2009. Winner will be announced October 4, 2009. Open to residents of US only. No PO boxes.

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Guest Post: Ruth Rymer author of Susannah, A Lawyer: From Tragedy to Triumph

Today Ruth Rymer, author of Susannah, A Lawyer: From Tragedy to Triumph, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote for us.



Writing A Historically Accurate Novel
by
Ruth Rymer

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to write a historical novel. Originally I had wanted to write a biography of my great-grandmother, Pollyanna Mead Reynolds (1857-1918) but I couldn’t find enough material about her. In Susannah, I retained my great-grandmother’s birth year of 1857, her status as the fifth child in the family, and her birthplace of upstate New York.

I had long admired Myra Bradwell of Bradwell v. Illinois (83 U.S. 130). Jane Friedman’s biography of Bradwell, The First Woman Lawyer in America, portrayed how lawyers practiced in 1860-1890 Chicago. Historic Myra Bradwell provided an excellent model & mentor for my fictional Susannah Reed.

Professional historians are strict about two rules. First, sources must be from primary material that is, created contemporaneously with the event. Second, the use of speculation and imagination are not allowed.

As a novelist, I could break the history restrictions. Still, I did not want to vary too far from the primary source rule.

W. Howells, in A Modern Instance (1882), was the first American novelist to address divorce. Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie captures the atmosphere of 1875-1890, painting a vivid picture of early Chicago. Much of Dreiser’s world I verified by reading classifieds in the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune reported unusual divorces from all over the country. Its classifieds also gave me an accurate picture of women’s jobs at the time--cook, nursemaid, factory worker, and “typewriter”.

You don’t need to know everything as a historian, but you do need to know who to ask. For instance, I didn’t know much about guns, but when I described a scene to a firearms expert, he told me what type of gun the character could have used.




About Susannah, A Lawyer: From Tragedy to Triumph:

Young college graduate Susannah Reed is brutally attacked and nearly killed in 1877. While recovering, she vows to study law, although The United State Supreme Court has just declared that women are too timid and delicate to be lawyers.

Susannah's fiance accepts her victim status and the child conceived during her sexual assault. However, he expects his wife be a beautiful object, not opposing counsel at the dinner table.

Susannah begins to study law at a firm in Chicago as she struggles unsuccessfully to combine her career with an engagement to a man who will not allow her to become an attorney. She meets Ted Nelson, a young lawyer who acts as her coach and mentor, applauds her ambition, and wants her to have what she wants. She passes the bar and is hired by the firm where she interned.

Susannah's handling of her cases brings her immediate success. She defends a battered wife who accidentally kills her husband, a young immigrant that the State's Attorney is harassing, and an accomplice in a big bank robbery. In the meantime, she must deal with her disabled daughter, the murder of a partner at the firm, and her relationship with Ted.



About Ruth:

An early women's rights scholar, Ruth Miller Rymer practiced Family Law and lectured on ''Women and the Law'' in California before retiring to write. She has a Ph.D. in Human & Organizational Systems from The Fielding Institute and wrote her dissertation on the historical, sociological, and psychological aspects of divorce.

Dr. Rymer was listed in Best Lawyers in America, and is Past President of both Queen's Bench (Bay Area women attorneys) and the Northern California Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

The author lives in the Bay Area with her husband. Susannah is her second book.

Visit the author at www.susannah-a-lawyer.com.



Thank you so much to Ruth for joining us today! If you'd like to pick up a copy of her book Susannah, A Lawyer: From Tragedy to Triumph, click the cover image below.



Saturday, September 19, 2009

Review: Doctor Who: The Stone Rose by Jacqueline Rayner (Audiobook)

Mickey is startled to find a statue of Rose in a museum - a statue that is 2,000 years old. The Doctor realizes that this means the TARDIS will shortly take them to Ancient Rome, but when it does, he and Rose soon have more on their minds than sculpture. While the Doctor searches for a missing boy, Rose befriends a girl who claims to know the future. But then the Doctor stumbles on the hideous truth behind the statue of Rose - and Rose herself learns that you have to be very careful what you wish for...


This was the unabridged audiobook on CD edition (2 CDs/2.1 hours).

This one gets six stars. It was cute, but not fabulous. It was a nice, interesting story, with a thought provoking message. David Tennant did a good job with the reading. It was nice to revisit The Doctor and Rose with Mickey and Jackie.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆



Guest Post: Patricia Gussin author of The Test

Patricia Gussin, author of the book The Test, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote for us.


From Patricia:

Have you ever met people so accustomed to being in charge that you felt sure they intended to “rule from the grave”?

That’s what happens in The Test when world-famous billionaire Paul Parnell dies, leaving his “will” in the form of a “test”. The “test” is his last hope of creating a lasting legacy by inspiring his children to give back to society and embrace a code of moral values. Six children, six agendas, six dramatically different walks of life, one year to react to “the test”.

Will Paul’s well-intended scheme bear good…or evil?

I was inspired to write this story based on a conversation that I had with my neighbor, a man so obsessed with “fairness” that he worried constantly about how to allocate his earthy goods and wanted to figure out a way to “rule from the grave”.

Family, values, and choices have anchored my first two thrillers, Shadow of Death and Twisted Justice. With The Test, the entire story revolves around the Parnell family during that one year following their father’s death. I come from a big family and I have seven children, so I feel very comfortable writing about complex family relationships and the intense emotions that simmer just beneath the surface.

Of course, because I am a physician, I always sprinkle my stories with medical characters. In the case of The Test, we have Ashley Parnell, the vulnerable medical student…and Conrad Welton, the evil psychiatrist who inserts himself into the fabric of the family.

One year can make a big difference in a life and in The Test that year makes a huge difference in the lives of all six of the Parnell siblings.

I love to write fast paced thrillers that keep my readers up all night, but I also try very hard to take my stories to a deeper, more human level, and because of my background as a mother and a physician, I like to mix up family and medicine and suspense in various ever-changing doses.

Thank you so much for letting me participate in Beth’s Book Review Blog.




About the book:

Renowned philanthropist and billionaire Paul Parnell had reached the pinnacle of monetary success, but not without cost. Had he put too much emphasis on work and spent too little time with his family?

Determined to leave something far more valuable than money to his six children, Paul instructs his lawyers to create an unusual last will and testament. This unorthodox will, which stipulates that the lion's share of Paul's two billion dollar estate be given to the heirs who pass 'the test,' was Paul's last hope of creating an enduring legacy by inspiring his children to give back to society and embrace a code of moral values.

The six children-Rory, Frank, Dan, Monica, Carla and Ashley-have only one year to make a difference. But what a difference one year will make.

Before these six very different siblings can complete the test, they'll be forced to face their personal demons and the incredibly evil influence that could claim one of their own.



About Patricia:

Board-certified in Family Medicine, Patricia Gussin practiced medicine and has directed medical research in her role as worldwide vice president for a leading healthcare company. She and her husband Bob Gussin divide their time between Longboat Key, Florida, East Hampton, New York, and their vineyards in New Zealand.












If you'd like to pick up a copy of Patricia's book The Test click on the cover image below.



Friday, September 18, 2009

New Book Arrival: Immaculate Deception by Courtney J. Webb

The publisher, Outskirts Press, generously sent me a copy of Immaculate Deception for review.


Sexy Craig Connery has just finished two years in a British prison for a crime he didn't commit. And he can't wait to reunite with his family and assume his old life: a ladies man and petty thief.

But as he makes his way home, Craig becomes the sole witness to a horrific single-car accident. Killed is the driver-whose uncanny resemblance to Craig presents an opportunity to change his life forever. In one rash decision, Craig takes the man's identification. No longer Craig Connery, he becomes James Kempster. Father James Kempster.

Now, this decidedly unreligious man must make it as a man of God. His first mission? Running a nursing home in regional Australia!

What follows is an uproarious and high-stakes farce of biblical proportions as Craig dissembles his way through a life he knows nothing about. Along the way, he'll gain entree into a world whose secrets rival his own-and discover the shocking truth about the church, the elderly and himself.

At once comical, quirky and deeply touching, Immaculate Deception is a novel of unconventional faith and the power of personal discovery.



Review: Just Food by James E. McWilliams

We suffer today from food anxiety, bombarded as we are with confusing messages about how to eat an ethical diet. Should we eat locally? Is organic really better for the environment? Can genetically modified foods be good for you?

JUST FOOD does for fresh food what
Fast Food Nation (Houghton Mifflin, 2001) did for fast food, challenging conventional views, and cutting through layers of myth and misinformation. For instance, an imported tomato is more energy-efficient than a local greenhouse-grown tomato. And farm-raised freshwater fish may soon be the most sustainable source of protein.

Informative and surprising, JUST FOOD tells us how to decide what to eat, and how our choices can help save the planet and feed the world.



Received from the publisher, Hachette, for review.


Some of my favorite, thought provoking quotes from the book were:

The misunderstanding ultimately boils down to the misleading allure of a lost age of food production - a golden age of ecological purity, in which the earth was in balance, humans collectively respected the environment, biodiversity flourished, family farms nurtured morality, and ecological harmony prevailed. The thing is, there was no golden age.

Agriculture is more devastating ecologically than anything else we could do except pouring concrete on the land.

The typical household wastes more than 1.28 pounds of food a day, 27 percent of which is vegetables. This amounts to about 14 percent of overall food purchases being tossed in the trash.

... about 70 percent of the water in the American West goes directly into raising pigs, chicken, and cattle.

... it takes 2400 liters of water to make a hamburger (as opposed to 13 liters to make a tomato) and fifty times as much water to produce a pound of meat as to grow a pound of grain.

Buying local is smart when natural conditions justify the productions of local goods.

We can keep things local - we should keep things local - but we must also stop insisting that our behavior is, if universalized, a
viable answer to the world's present and future food problems.

Socially conscious consumers know that the conventional norm of agribusiness-driven food production is not environmentally, if not morally, bankrupt.

The world's land supply is being overwhelmed. And it's being overwhelmed by animals that by design waste energy, harm the environment, and, when eaten excessively, ruin our health.

The section on fish was especially shocking:

... major fish stocks are on pace to collapse by 2048.

... we end up eating only about 10 percent of all marine life that's killed in order to feed us.

Over the course of a year, aquaponics will generate about 35,000 pounds of edible flesh [fish] per acre while the grass-fed [beef] operation will generate about 75 pounds.

Granted, this is a book on how to feed an overpopulated world, but it continues to ignore the root problem of overpopulation and population control so we actually have more hope for a future. The author is also rather preaching to the choir on this one. Bubba is certainly not going to give up his burger to go with his beer.

There was one particularly striking quote used to begin chapter four:

To be an environmentalist who happens to eat meat is like being a philanthropist who doesn't happen to give to charity. - Howard F. Lyman

This one gets four stars. I really enjoyed the author's style and while it can be rather dry at points, it does contain a great deal of important information. And, although I do not agree with all of the author's suggestions, the material presented is certainly thought provoking and should prompt readers into investigating the issues further.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Book Arrival: Reinvent Your Enterprise by Jack Bergstrand

The publicist, Author Marketing Experts Inc., generously sent me a copy of Reinvent Your Enterprise for review.


Reinvent Your Enterprise builds upon the insights of legendary management thinker Peter F. Drucker to help individuals and organizations improve business results better and faster, by leading the next management frontier--improving knowledge work productivity. This breakthrough book is endorsed by The Drucker Institute and has been featured in BusinessWeek.com. It fuses extensive research, practical application, and a proven knowledge work productivity management system.