Thursday, December 24, 2009

Review: $20 Per Gallon by Christopher Steiner

Imagine an everyday world in which the price of gasoline (and oil) continues to go up, and up, and up. Think about the immediate impact that would have on our lives.

Of course, everybody already knows how about gasoline has affected our driving habits. People can't wait to junk their gas-guzzling SUVs for a new Prius. But there are more, not-so-obvious changes on the horizon that Chris Steiner tracks brilliantly in this provocative work.

Consider the following societal changes: people who own homes in far-off suburbs will soon realize that there's no longer any market for their houses (reason: nobody wants to live too far away because it's too expensive to commute to work). Telecommuting will begin to expand rapidly. Trains will become the mode of national transportation (as it used to be) as the price of flying becomes prohibitive. Families will begin to migrate southward as the price of heating northern homes in the winter is too pricey. Cheap everyday items that are comprised of plastic will go away because of the rising price to produce them (plastic is derived from oil). And this is just the beginning of a huge and overwhelming domino effect that our way of life will undergo in the years to come.

Steiner, an engineer by training before turning to journalism, sees how this simple but constant rise in oil and gas prices will totally re-structure our lifestyle. But what may be surprising to readers is that all of these changes may not be negative - but actually will usher in some new and very promising aspects of our society.

Steiner will probe how the liberation of technology and innovation, triggered by climbing gas prices, will change our lives. The book may start as an alarmist's exercise.... but don't be misled. The future will be exhilarating.


Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets two stars. I was not particularly impressed. The book was well researched, and the section on how gas prices positively effect obesity was interesting, but overall it was filled with doomsday prophecies and doesn't actually tell you what you can do about the issue. I can't really recommend this, unless you're looking for an academic discussion of the situation with no real helpful advice.

☆☆= Didn't Like It



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Giveaway: Points of Power by Yolanda Adams

Over five million listeners tune in to hear Yolanda Adams's Points of Power, a segment in her daily radio show that inspires people by applying biblical truths to present-day realities. In her first book, Yolanda Adams transfers that winning segment into a reader's delight. In this highly accessible manual for daily living, she shares stories from her and others's personal experiences, showing readers how to access God's love and grace in their modern world and troubles. By revealing how Yolanda and other human beings have transcended the world's difficulties, POINTS OF POWER empowers readers to face trouble with confidence in the God who never fails.



Thanks to
Hachette Book Group I have five copies to give away!

Contest runs from December 23, 2009 to 11:59 PM EST January 13, 2010. Open to residents of US and Canada only. No PO boxes.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Giveaway: Hearing from God Each Morning by Joyce Meyer

In the hustle and bustle of today's busy world, sometimes it's hard enough to hear yourself think, much less take a minute to stop and listen for the voice of God. But learning to recognize God's voice and the many ways in which He speaks is vital for following His plan. This devotional; drawing from How to Hear From God, Knowing God Intimately, and The Power Of Simple Prayer shows the reader through a daily reminder, how God speaks through their own thoughts and feelings, their dreams, and the words of other people.

www.joycemeyer.org/heargod.htm



Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have five copies to give away!

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Review: Elephant a la Mode, An Epicurean Guide to Life by T Roy Nakai

The rare conflict of being born in an American Concentration camp during World War II with all of the associated stigmas and traditions that fact implies, while trying to capture the "Dream" of success is at the heart of this unusual and fascinating truly American Story.

T. Roy Nakai shrugged off the shame that could easily have debilitated other sansei immigrants with similar episodes. His early path was guided by heritage and the collective thoughts of his father's generation who were at the forefront of isolation-"shikata ga nai"-a phrase often repeated in the camps that means "it cannot be helped" justified their historically significant plight, while "gaman", the associated word for "to persevere" did not allow for defeat.

Growing up distinctly Japanese-American in Southern California at the end of the war drove Roy to succeed in high school and college as both a scholar and athlete, allowing him a profession that provided continued success with a home and family and burgeoning dental practice.


At the height of his success, his American Dream was fulfilled until a tragedy struck that ended his 25-year career and drove him to question the nature of success itself. Struggling to re-invent himself proved formidable; but through gaman he began to see a new beginning. But th
at was short lived when a second, more devastating tragedy created the need for professional help.

Through a series of conversations with his therapist and help from his daughter, he accepted the life of shikata ga nai. In the process, he allows us to feel the life lessons that he imparts through short adages of wisdom - a wisdom that could only be acquired through the blending of a unique heritage and traditions with the tragedy and triumph of a full life.



Received from the publisher for review.

This was an interesting perspective on American history. The author seems to consider himself more Japanese than truly American even though he was born in America.

The Lessons Learned section at the end of each chapter was a nice recap and included tidbits such as:

Your child's behavior is created and directed by parental instruction and guidance.

The ability to laugh at ourselves is a great character asset.

Don't underestimate your capacity and potential.

You will sell yourself short if you don't stretch your potential.

This one gets three stars. While the story was interesting I found the book quite densely packed with dialogue which could be tedious at times. The messages themselves were important and universally applicable.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Sunday, December 20, 2009

Review: Christmas Is Good by Trixie Koontz

Sit! Stay! Eat! Celebrate!

Trixie has plenty of advice for sniffing out the true spirit of Christmas, keeping the holidays stress free, and finding that perfect gift - you can never go wrong with hot dogs!

CHRISTMAS IS GOOD! is an irresistible stocking stuffer full of furry tidbits to maximize yuletide fun -- including caroling with cats (if necessary), baking tasty sausage, peanut-butter Christmas biscuits, and making yourself fluffier for all the holiday parties. It's the ultimate guide to Christmas cheer for pet lovers everywhere!


My favorite quote of the book was:

"If caught being naughty, look cute. Always works."

This one gets seven stars. It was adorable with cute illustrations and pretty pictures of Trixie herself. Sybll, the cartoon chihuahua, was adorable! This would certainly make a lovely gift for dog lovers and Koontz fans alike!

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆



Saturday, December 19, 2009

Guest Post: Connie Domino author of The Law of Forgiveness

Connie Domino, author of the book The Law of Forgiveness, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.



Why Leaders Need to Forgive and How They Can Do It
By Connie Domino, MPH, RN,
Author of The Law of Forgiveness: Tap into the Positive Power of Forgiveness -- And Attract Good Things to Your Life

When people think of leaders and forgiveness, many are not thinking of a tool that can create a harmonious, productive, workplace and life. Instead their minds go to one of the many televised confessions of one of our leaders who was caught engaging in a scandalous activity, usually involving sex or money. The bleary eyed leader generally asks for our forgiveness. Being good natured, most of us grant it.

Most leaders do not realize that forgiveness is much more than a desperate act of last resort. It is actually a strategy so powerful it can expedite their grandest dreams and goals. There is a word for forgiveness in every major language. Every major religion and philosophy teaches the importance of forgiveness. Lack of forgiveness can block goals from manifesting in every area of life. It can be the main obstacle blocking a leader's climb to success.

Leaders may be surprised to kno
w that forgiveness is a key to success. Forgiveness is not a nice thing they do for undeserving people. Forgiveness will not only improve a leader's work life, but will allow for goals and dreams to come true.

Leaders can use the 6 Step Technique to improve any relationship and expedite their strategic plan. They can also use these steps to meet business or personal goals.

THE 6 STEP TECHNIQUE

The 6 Step Technique utilizes affirmative goal setting and visualization, a potent combination with quick results. This example involves a leader improving a business relationship with an employee (Rhoda).

Step 1: You choose a focus area. When writing a forgiveness goal, your area is relationships. All forgiveness involves a relationship, with yourself or others.

Step 2: You must write a goal affirmation for any relationship you wish to improve. All the words must be positive and forward moving. The affirmation must be written as if the goal has already come true and must include a goal date.

Example: My relation
ship with my employee, Rhoda now has the following qualities:

Basic respect
Cooperation
Team Work, etc.

by: a goal date for manifesting.

Step 3 A: You make a list of why your relationship goal hasn't already come true. This list of excuses will show you what is blocking your goal from manifesting. Then you write by each block how it makes you feel. For example, if your block is "My employee Rhoda is always complaining, calling in sick and missing deadlines." Your affirmation is "Rhoda is now healthy, happy and well and completes her work on time."

Step 3 B: In the privacy of your home, you state an affirmation of forgiveness for the person (Rhoda) you wish to forgive. You do not need to contact them or get them involved. The Forgiveness Affirmation will unblock energy so that your goal can come true. You bring the person's higher self into your mind's eye. You have a conversation with the person's higher self or soul letting them know that you forgive them completely and freely, and you release them, and release the incident that happened between you, and you hold them in the light. When you have completed your forgiveness affirmation, you visualize the person accepting it .

Keeping Rhoda in your mind's eye, you will have a soul to soul conversation with her higher self. A person's higher self will not judge you, so you can pour your heart out. Begin by describing the problem and how it makes you feel. Second, describe the solution. Third, explain to them the consequences if their behavior doesn't change. Visualize the person's higher self accepting what you have said and then walking out a door or off a stage.

Step 4: You create a "To Do" list. List all the actions you plan to take to manifest your relationship goal. First, you will say your relationship affirmation listed in Step 2 a minimum of three times a day. Next, you will complete Step 3. You should say your affirmation for blocks two to three times a day. Also, complete your forgiveness work. If there are other actions you wish to take to better your relationship with Rhoda, you can list them as well.

Step 5: You will watch for synchronicities that tell you your goal is on its way. For example, Rhoda attends the weekly staff meeting and for the first time doesn't complain.

Step 6: Write the date your goal manifested or how you felt about it. I know leaders who used this affirmative goal setting technique and reported the employee they had been having trouble with actually came to them and offered to mend their relationship.

Be ready for the positive changes in your life. Tapping into
the Law of Forgiveness is one of the most powerful strategies for positively affecting a difficult relationship and manifesting your goals.

©2009 Connie Domino, MPH, RN, author of The Law of Forgiveness: Tap into the Positive Power of Forgiveness -- And Attract Good Things to Your Life




About the book:

A revolutionary way for readers to change their lives, their worlds, and make all their dreams come true-through the power of forgiveness.

Author of the life-changing book The Law of Attraction: Develop Irresistible Attraction, Connie Domino knows the secret to reaching goals, attracting what one really wants, and receiving myriad blessings: forgiveness. Forgiving others and oneself is key to greater health and prosperity.

A ground-breaking book, The Law of Forgiveness will demonstrate how to:

• Unleash the power of personal forgiveness-with simple steps
• Use it to make manifest goals and dreams
• Use the technique to positively affect a difficult relationship
• Understand the science behind the forgiveness technique
• Learn to forgive while working through the cycle of healing

Forgiveness just might be the most transformational strategy for personal and spiritual well-being. It's the perfect guide for looking for a job or building a business, seeking a new relationship or improving a current one, or hoping to get healthy or stay healthy.



About Connie:

Connie Domino, MPH, RN, author of The Law of Forgiveness: Tap into the Positive Power of Forgiveness -- And Attract Good Things to Your Life, is a nationally acclaimed life coach, trainer, registered nurse, support group facilitator, motivational speaker, and educational counselor who teaches public health nursing at the University of North Carolina.




Giveaway: A Good Talk by Daniel Menaker

A GOOD TALK is an analysis of and guide to that most exclusively human of all activities-- conversation.

Drawing on over forty years of experience in American letters, Menaker pinpoints the factors that drive and enliven every good conversation: the vagaries (and joys) of subtext; the deeper structure and meaning of conversational flow; the subliminal signals that guide our disclosures and confessions; and the countless other hurdles we must clear along the way. Moving beyond self-help musings and "how to" advice, he has created a stylish, funny, and surprising book: a celebration of "the most exclusively human of all activities."

In a time when conversation remains deeply important-- for building relationships, for relaxing, even for figuring out who we are-- and also increasingly imperiled (with Blackberries and texting increasingly in vogue), A GOOD TALK is a refreshing celebration of the subtle adventures of a good conversation.

Visit TitlePage.tv where Daniel Menaker hosts episodes of The Title Page and posts blogs about literary works, authors, and issues.

Daniel Menaker is also a contributor on the BarnesandNobleReview.com



Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have five copies to give away!

Contest runs from December 19, 2009 to 11:59 PM EST January 10, 2010. Open to residents of US and Canada only. No PO boxes.

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Review: The Dung Beetle Manager by Scott W. Dunlap

There are currently over 150 million people in the U.S. workforce, and over 22 million of those people work in public sector jobs. There's a lot of crap being left around the office. There are those who are forced to eat it, clean it, step in it, or get it thrown in their face. These people are called "the Workforce". Some in the office drop them bigger and nastier than others. These people are called "Executives". Then there are the poor schmucks in the middle. These people are called "Managers". This book is about them, the persistent Dung Beetle Managers.

The Dung Beetle Manager must master the rules of dung, know the turd types, the nature of their Dung Beetles, and then apply tailored strategies to clean up the piles left behind. This book draws from the lowest common denominator to the species. Shit happens, farts are funny, everybody shits, and shit stinks. In a nutshell, this book uses the idea of using poop and dung beetles as a metaphor for higher learning in the ways of organizational dynamics and human behavior in the office. This book will appeal to anyone who ever uttered the words "that's bullshit"; whether in the Federal, state, or local government or local grocery store.

There are countless management and leadership books in the marketplace that spend hundreds of pages droning on about profoundly obvious, simple truths. Good habits are good. Trust is good. Empowerment is good. Waste is bad. Quality is good. The economy is complex. The Internet is transformational. Leadership is hard. Change is hard. Many of these books provide great insight but they don't really challenge the reader to spin their head around and think about things from a fundamentally different perspective. The modern workforce needs a new way of looking at the challenges of the 21st century. Our dung beetle friends and all of the shitters in the world provided a clear and elementary foundation to understand basic leadership and management. If nothing else, they provide some really fun labels to toss around with colleagues to keep things light while trying to make sense of the chaos.

This book provides an off-the-wall and very humorous view of a revolutionary new "brown" management model born in the pastures of northeast Arkansas and perfected with years of experience and tuning in the bureaucratic suck. Whether or not the reader of this book finds any diamonds in the dung, they'll have a good laugh and never look at the office or the people they work with in the same way again. In these challenging and often depressing economic times, a good laugh in the workplace is priceless.


Received from the publisher for review.


This was a slim book of just over 100 pages and, at times, was refreshingly candid and amusing. It is certainly not your average business book as it is geared more towards me who can endure the word "shit" at last 10 times per page.

This one gets two stars. While the messages themselves were important, the presentation left a bit to be desired. It takes a certain kind of reader to make it all the way through the book and I'm just not that person.

☆☆= Didn't Like It



Friday, December 18, 2009

Giveaway: Beyond Blue by Therese Borchard

Therese Borchard may be one of the frankest, funniest people on the planet. That, combined with her keen writing abilities has made her Beliefnet blog, Beyond Blue, one of the most trafficked blogs on the site.

BEYOND BLUE, the book, is part memoir/part self-help. It describes Borchard's experience of living with manic depression as well as providing cutting-edge research and information on dealing with mood disorders. By exposing her vulnerability, she endears herself immediately to the reader and then reduces even the most depressed to laughter as she provides a companion on the journey to recovery and the knowledge that the reader is not alone.

Comprised of four sections and twenty-one chapters, BEYOND BLUE covers a wide range of topics from codependency to addiction, poor body image to postpartum depression, from alternative medicine to psychopharmacology, managing anxiety to applying lessons from therapy. Because of her laser wit and Erma Bombeck sense of humor, every chapter is entertaining as well as serious.

Visit ThereseBorchard.com
And check out Therese Borchard's daily blog on Beliefnet.com and the HuffingtonPost.com
Follow @ThereseBorchard on Twitter.



Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have five copies to give away!

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Review: Secrets of a Christmas Box by Steven Hornby

Have You Ever wondered . . .

Why every year, pine needles from the Christmas tree find their way into rooms no one has been in?

Or why, at least one of your favorite tree ornaments is found broken no matter how carefully they were packed away the year before?

And who is it that rips the small holes in the wrapped presents under the tree?

Enter the magical festive world of the Christmas 'Tree-Dwellers', as Larry, a Christmas snowman, wakes up after the long sleep in the Christmas box, to find his brother is missing.

Desperate to find him before Christmas, Larry, along with his girlfriend Debbie, a newcomer Splint, and Larry's companion Tinsel, break the laws of the 'Tree-Elders' and escape down the tree and away into the house, to look for clues.

Away from the safety of the tree and in an unfamiliar world, the Dwellers stumble upon a dark and sinister secret that threatens their entire world.

Can Larry and the group make it back to the tree in time to warn the others, and finally uncover the truth behind the 'Secrets Of A Christmas Box'?


Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets three stars. The story was charming and left you with a smile. The pencil drawings were adorable and really helped to add to the text without being at all overpowering or annoyingly placed. I think children would genuinely enjoy the story.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Thursday, December 17, 2009

Giveaway: Prime-Time Health by William Sears, M.D.

Twelve years ago, renowned physician and author Dr. William Sears was diagnosed with cancer. He, like so many people, wanted-and needed-to take control of his health. Dr. Sears created a comprehensive, science based, head-to-toe program for living a long, fit life-and it worked. Now at the peak of health, Dr. Sears shares his program in PRIME-TIME HEALTH. This engaging and deeply informative book will motivate readers to make crucial behavior and lifestyle changes. Dr. Sears explores how to keep each body system healthy and delay those usual age-related changes.

Visit AskDrSears.com



Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have five copies to give away!

Contest runs from December 17, 2009 to 11:59 PM EST January 7, 2010. Open to residents of US and Canada only. No PO boxes.

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Review: Collision of Evil by John J. LeBeau

As evening falls against the majestic backdrop of the Bavarian Alps, Charles Hirter, an American tourist, is savagely murdered. In the peace, quiet and pastoral splendor of this magnificent setting, Charles Hirter draws his last breath. Was Charles simply in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Kommissar Franz Waldbaer, the German detective in charge of the case, faces an investigation that yields neither clues nor suspects nor motives. A gruff, go-it alone detective, Waldbaer is dismayed by the arrival of Robert Hirter, the victim's brother, who insists on joining the investigation. But there is more to Robert than meets the eye.

As Robert and the Kommissar uncover a nefarious nexus of evil past and evil present, they find themselves probing dark, long-forgotten episodes from the Third Reich in order to identify the present threat.

Thrust into a violent world of fanatic passions, malevolent intentions and excruciating urgency, Robert Hirter and Kommissar Waldbaer must race against the clock to stop a sophisticated, covert, and deadly plot.


This one gets three stars. This book follows in the footsteps of great spy novelists such as Steve Berry and delivers nicely. The story was engaging, and the characters very believable. The action and intrigue was certainly worthy of the title and immediately drew you in. This is certainly recommended for fans of spy fiction such as the Jason Bourne or Cotton Malone novels.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Review: When Teachers Talk by Rosalyn S. Schnall

Principal abuse of power and principal abuse of teachers, which has been clearly documented by teachers in this book, may very well be the most significant underlying cause contributing to the decline of public education in America today. Abusive and incompetent public school administrators who treat teachers with anything less than the dignity and respect they deserve do so at the direct expense of teachers, their student populations, and the communities in which they reside. Throughout the interviews in this book, teachers give detailed accounts of how principals do not provide them with the administrative support needed to effectively teach and maintain discipline in their classrooms. They explain how they have been prevented from functioning optimally and how their best efforts to help their students have been frustrated. The inevitable results are dysfunctional, permissive, non-disciplinary school environments which produce a steady stream of students who leave school and enter mainstream society totally unequipped to take on the responsibilities of functioning adults.

For decades, the widespread condition of principal abuse of power has been hidden from public view. Throughout the book, teachers describe in detail, numerous examples of principal abuses they have personally witnessed and experienced, and how and why the situation remains unrecognized by the general public. Many teachers legitimately fear suffering repercussions for publicly speaking out about the problem. Consequently, parents have been almost completely unaware of its existence and the degree to which it affects their children's education. It is important to again emphasize, that the studies in this book are by no means a condemnation of all principals, and the positive contributions of good administrators have been fully recognized. The teachers who were interviewed for the educational studies in this text freely expressed their feelings regarding both “good” and “bad” principals for whom they had worked. However, the overall negative results of the studies unequivocally indicate that a crisis of major proportions may be present in many public school districts across America.


Received from the publicist for review.

I was initially interested in this book since both my aunt and mom were teachers. I have to say that the stories in the book do represent anomalies. I have never heard stories such as these from any of the teachers I know. Granted, school administrations are just as bad as corporate management at times, but these stories go beyond the average stupidity to downright cruelty.

This one gets two stars. I found it informative, but a bit alarmist. Granted, the stories were shocking, but the experiences in the book cannot simply be extrapolated to other school districts. The author also seems to believe that abuses of power of this magnitude only occur in schools which is hardly true, they're ubiquitous these days. The tiny chapter on good principals was hardly helpful.

☆☆= Didn't Like It



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Guest Post: Pat Snyder author of The Dog Ate My Planner


Pat Snyder, author of the book The Dog Ate My Planner, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.



STOCKING STUFFING STRESS STILL STALKS ME

As we plowed through the Wal-Mart parking lot the other day, fingers numb from the 600 pounds of gifts we’d crammed into two dozen plastic handle bags, my mom, then 83, took a moment to reflect on the good old days.

“When I was a girl, we just got fruit in our stockings,” she said. “Just fruit. And those little free samples Aunt Rana sent away for all year. Little bottles of lotion and make-up. Life was simpler then.”

I laughed at the time, trying to imagine how a sock full of grapefruit, tangerines and apples would be greeted at our house on Christmas morning. But half a tank of gas and a full headache later, I’m ready to make Aunt Rana the patron saint of stocking-stuffers.

In our house alone, estimating conservatively and using premium fruit, a grapefruit or two and a couple dozen apples and tangerines could save us at least 12 hours, three migraine headaches and a couple of hundred dollars a year.

I realize as soon as I say it that I know that not everyone will agree. I know — because they happily announce it — that some folks joyfully squirrel away stocking stuffers all year long and are completely prepared for the winter. Others have simply lowered their families’ expectations. As they tell it, there is unbridled rejoicing at trial size bottles of Dial antibacterial soap and Head & Shoulders shampoo.

But for me the perfect has become, as they say, the enemy of the possible. Stufferless and stymied, I am still searching for the perfect seven or eight items per person. Each not too practical but not too useless. Each not too expensive but not too cheap. Each no bigger than a Band-Aid box but reflecting the recipient’s personal interests and taste. Each purchased secretly while its recipient is waiting in the car.

I’m all finished except for the stockings. But in the school of Christmas shopping, I am like the Ph.D. candidate who hasn’t started her dissertation. There’s a long road ahead, and I need a couple of extensions.

This is not for lack of helpful suggestions from bystanders in the stocking race. Their advice this year breaks down into four major categories:
  • “Start early!” This counsel, rarely offered before mid-December, is as useful as telling a woman with six children hanging on her arm in the post office line that she probably should have mailed the packages to Taiwan before December 21.
  • “Think big!” It’s true that each tall can of hairspray, slid down the center of a stocking, saves at least 60 minutes of shopping time. But for those who must personalize each gift, it takes another 30 to write a poem explaining it.
  • “Just buy gift certificates!” Not bad, as long as each one is packed in a container the size of a videotape. Otherwise, the average stocking holds approximately 3,624.
  • “Just buy toiletries!” This last, the hands-down winner with pre-teen girls, can now work for everyone, including the family dog. Exquisitely packaged lotions, creams and sprays with names like Zesty Grapefruit, Tangy Tangerine and Sparkling Green Apple are ready for the picking. Unless, of course, they don’t smell exactly like Zesty Grapefruit, Tangy Tangerine and Sparkling Green Apple.
In which case, the only choice would be to go for the real thing.



About the book:

Doggone it! No matter how carefully you organize and plan, some dog comes along and eats your day. Could be the computer freezes, or mom misplaces her purse over at the assisted living center, or a brand new granddog is experiencing separation anxiety. In "The Dog Ate My Planner," Pat Snyder offers the sandwich generation a whole new approach to getting organized: lots of fun stories about life gone wrong, plus 74 fun tips for setting it right.








About Pat:

Pat Snyder is a recovering lawyer and mother of three from Columbus, OH, whose new book, The Dog Ate My Planner: Tales and Tips from an Overbooked Life, includes the Stocking Stuffer story and other light takes on the too-busy life. Find her online at www.PatSnyderOnline.com.









Monday, December 14, 2009

Review: World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware by James Diehl

World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware is a book unlike any other ever written. In its pages are profiles of 50 ordinary Americans who did extraordinary things during a time unlike any other in American history.

These are men and women who today call southern Delaware home. In the 1940s, these brave Americans put their lives on hold to fight for freedom and democracy against the horrific threat imposed on the world by Emperor Hirohito of Japan and German Fuhrer Adolph Hitler.

When Imperial Japan attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941, the world changed forever. These men and women were a big part of that change; they fought to protect our freedom and our way of life.

Among the amazing stories you’ll read in World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware are:

  • A United States Marine who was a part of the 1945 attack on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima. He was one of 17 members of his company who survived, a company that numbered more than 300 at the beginning of the attack.
  • An Army soldier who was responsible for uncovering Adolph Hitler’s enormous, and illegally gained, fortune toward the end of World War II.
  • An Army navigator who led a group of 500 B-29s over Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945, the day the Japanese surrendered to the United States.
  • A United States Navy machinist’s mate who narrowly survived a Japanese kamikaze attack.
  • A United States Marine who witnessed the horrific attack on Pearl Harbor from the deck of a nearby ship.
  • Men who survived German prisoner of war camps.
  • First–hand accounts from the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day invasion.
  • Two black soldiers who served their country with pride during World War II.
  • Men who liberated German concentration camps.
  • A woman who served her country by becoming a part of the “Rosie the Riveter” movement.
  • And much, much more.

Readers of World War II Heroes of Southern Delaware will also receive a bonus section on Fort Miles, the immense, heavily fortified military facility built to protect the mouth of the Delaware Bay and the city of Philadelphia from an attack by the German navy. Today, the fort is being renovated and will soon become one of the largest World War II museums in the country.


Received from the publicist for review.

This was very nicely done with each profile of a sufficient length to fully capture each soldier's story. I really liked the variety of service personnel profiled, from all levels, positions, and branches. It was also nice that the author included profiles of two women as well. The plethora of pictures of the heroes now, as well as in the past really gave me a connection with them and made me feel as if I knew them a little bit more.

This one gets three stars. It was well written and genuinely captured the stories and personalities of the soldiers. The variety of stories and experiences recorded was truly amazing! It is important that these stories are told and it is quite nice that they are included in a single volume. It certainly made me wonder about the vets in my own community.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Saturday, December 12, 2009

Review: Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun by Wess Roberts (Audiobook)

Discover the leadership secrets of the warrior who centuries ago shaped an aimless band of mercenary tribal nomads into the undisputed rulers of the ancient world-and who today offers timeless lessons in win-directed, take-charge management. Based on historical research-and filled with illuminating maxims-this essential guide offers the wisdom of a man who unified thousands, led the charge, kept the peace, picked his enemies wisely, and negotiated brilliantly-all the vital management principles that lead to success.

Listeners will learn:

Never to underestimate the power of an enemy to rise against you on another day

Never to give a Hun a reward that holds no personal value to yourself

Never to arbitrate, for it allows a third party to determine your destiny

Never to misuse power, for such action causes friction and rebellion in the tribe and nation, and much more.

This invaluable guide will help anyone manage people much more effectively.


Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets two stars. I'm not sure which was more boring - the material or the reader. This is a prime reason why authors should (almost) never read their own material. I think it would have been significantly less snooze worthy in the hands of a professional reader, because the choice of the author as a reader was just not good. He was just too, well, monotonous. The material itself may have been interesting, but I couldn't get past the reader's voice to truly assess it. The book is a short three discs, which is definitely a plus, but you have to struggle to stay awake and concentrate because of the trance that sets in from the reader's voice. I have to recommend skipping this one, unless you truly are looking for a business book to listen to on a drive or flight.

☆☆= Didn't Like It



Friday, December 11, 2009

Review: The Real Spy's Guide to Becoming a Spy by Peter Earnest

Created by the founding executive director of the International Spy Museum, who is also a former operative in the CIA’s Clandestine Service, this is the official handbook for kids who dream of one day becoming a spy or working in the intelligence field.

Have you ever wondered what spies really do. What kind of training is involved? Do you have to go to a special school or take a polygraph test? How do you live your “cover”? How does your work life affect your relationships with your friends and family? Is there danger involved?

This fascinating, fact-filled book answers these questions and more while providing a historical timeline, definitions of key terms, suggestions for further reading, an index, quizzes, and exercises to see if you have the right spy stuff.


Received from the publisher for review.


This was a beautiful book with lovely, thick pages. The font was perfect for the material which was presented in a great, dossier format.

The book was very nicely written with a great spy history introduction. It clearly and concisely describes the spy job and lifestyle without being overly simplistic.

This one gets four stars. If I were in the book's target age range (8 - 12) it would definitely rank as five stars! The book was clear, concise, and quite fun and informative. You really felt as if they author truly enjoyed writing it. The material was divided into nicely portioned sections. I definitely recommend this and it would make a lovely gift for spy-curious children.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Thursday, December 10, 2009

Review: Life and Only Life by Dave Moyer

Dan Mason is the all-American boy whose dreams are as big as the Chicago skyline. Armed with a ninety-two mile per hour fastball and a raging passion for success, Dan is drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the eighth round following his senior season in high school. Rather than sign a professional contract, Dan elects to take his blue eyes and golden arm south to the University of Georgia, where he meets the girl of his dreams, southern belle Anna Jean Simpson.

On the verge of achieving both of his lifelong dreams, pitching in the major leagues and conquering the affections of the beautiful Anna Jean, fate conspires against young Dan, and he encounters a series of seemingly random blows. As Dan endures constant heartache and loss, he struggles with his faith, attempts to repair a fractured relationship with his mother, and tries to hold onto his wife and daughter.

When fortune steps in and Dan gets a second chance at life, a strange confluence of events presents him with the opportunity to pay forward the favor bestowed on him by a person he never even knew; that is if he can find the pluck to pull it off.


Received from the author for review.


This was somewhat a departure from my normal reading, but I found it generally quite intriguing. There were some simply heartbreaking moments for the characters where I truly felt for them, but I felt a bit disconnected at other times. I'm not sure if this was because I'm a girl, or what. The story itself was very good.

This one gets three stars. It was very well written, and an interesting story. It was more of "guy" oriented story, but everyone will find some connection to it. There's a very realistic quality to the characters and their situations and actions that was very appealing. I think I can safely recommend this to baseball fans and general fiction readers alike.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Review: What is God? by Jacob Needleman

In his most deeply personal work, religious scholar Needleman cuts a clear path through today's clamorous debates over the existence of God, illuminating an entirely new way of approaching the question of how to understand a higher power.

I n this new book, philosopher Jacob Needleman- whose voice and ideas have done so much to open the West to esoteric and Eastern religious ideas in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries-intimately considers humanity's most vital question: What is God?

Needleman begins by taking us more than a half century into the past, to his own experience as a brilliant, promising, Ivy educated student of philosophy-atheistic, existential, and unwilling to blindly accept childish religiosity. But an unsettling meeting with the venerated Zen teacher D. T. Suzuki, combined with the sudden need to accept a dreary position teaching the philosophy of religion, forced the young academician to look more closely at the religious ideas he had once thought dead. Within traditional religious texts the scholar discovered a core of esoteric and philosophical ideas, more mature and challenging than anything he had ever associated with Judaism, Christianity, and the religions of the East.

At the same time, Needleman came to realize-as he shares with the reader-that ideas and words are not enough. Ideas and words, no matter how profound, cannot prevent hatred, arrogance, and ultimate despair, and cannot prevent our individual lives from descending into violence and illusion. And with this insight, Needleman begins to open the reader to a new kind of understanding: The inner realization that in order to lead the lives we were intended for, the very nature of human experience must change, including the very structure of our perception and indeed the very structure of our minds.

In What Is God?, Needleman draws us closer to the meaning and nature of this needed change-and shows how our present confusion about the purpose of religion and the concept of God reflects a widespread psychological starvation for this specific quality of thought and experience. In rich and varied detail, the book describes this inner experience-and how almost all of us, atheists and "believers" alike, actually have been visited by it, but without understanding what it means and why the intentional cultivation of this quality of experience is necessary for the fullness of our existence.


Received from the publisher for review.


I frankly just could not finish this. I tried, I truly did, but at every turn of the page I felt my skin crawl and by the point I started skimming I desperately wanted to not just throw the book on the floor and stomp on it, but to burn it as well. I thought that this would be an educated discussion from a rational person but I hoped a bit too much and I was sorely disappointed.

The book focused mainly on the monotheistic, Abrahamic faiths and did not even touch on the religions that predate them. The book's focus on this tiny bit of history was decidedly disconcerting.

This one gets one star. I certainly cannot recommend this to anyone but perhaps theology students. Frankly, if you are anyone else, just don't go near this with a ten foot pole!

☆☆ = Hated It



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Guest Post: J.W. Nicklaus author of The Light, The Dark & Ember Between


J.W. Nicklaus, author of the book The Light, The Dark & Ember Between, stopped by to share with us a piece he wrote.



Can We Out-spend Our Discontent?

John Steinbeck's words prophetically float to mind: Now is the winter of our discontent.

As of this writing (which certainly won't coincide with your reading), the media are stepping all over themselves to quote economists who are injecting their mantra of the death-of-the-recession to all within earshot. Obviously there are way too many unemployed Americans who don't see eye-to-eye with their diagnosis.

And here we go into the busiest capitalist orgy of the year—the holiday shopping season, and everything it entails. We’re conditioned . . . no . . . expected, to drop our fiscal wads over gifts for everybody we know. Sometimes, even for people we don't like, say at the office; that's got to be like chewing on sandpaper! Yet with so many out of work, and some even having their unemployment benefits expire, it amazes me even more this year that the retail barons still put on the full-court press of seasonal spending Bacchanalia. As a matter of course, I understand that for many retailers the holiday season is when they make the bulk of their money for the year. But for my money there are a number of things which they have yet to be able to profit upon, simply because they are indeed priceless:

The snow will still fall where it's cold enough to freeze the angels’ tears.

Meals will be shared and memories created amidst the bare trees of winter and in close proximity to the warmth of a carefully tended fire inside, the frost on the windowpanes flickering from the glow within the fireplace.

Children will laugh as they play in the snow.

And all of that comes to us regardless of the economic climate. Except for those of us who don’t live in snow country—we spray white stuff on our trees and eat snow cones instead. It’s the best you can hope for at lower elevations.

But what if we took a decidedly simpler approach to the holidays, like before the over-indulgence of credit cards?

What if we still hung our stockings by the chimney with care
And actually spent less than ever we’d dare
It’s not always the gift, rather the thought we find nice
Nurturing the human touch has no monetary price
And when trimming the tree keep it simple but complete

Use stringed popcorn, it’s cheap and good eats
And those holiday cards, sure they’re nice to get
But nowadays we text or send them over the ‘net

Many a consumer can say “Of money, we have little”
At times like these we can’t just meet in the middle
We all want the holidays to feel better, to dispel our worst fears
Above all the clatter we hope to be of good cheer

Perhaps the hard times can restore focus to the season
And remind us that to buy gifts really isn’t its reason
It’s more subtle
More soulful
Even quietly profound
It’s the one time of year we should feel better, all around

Though the weather may be chilly
And our wallets wafer thin
Remember that it’s not what you spend that’s important
It’s what bubbles up from within

Respectfully I suggest a return to simplicity,
The seasons trapping should reflect our plight
And God bless us all, every one of us
Trust in yourselves, not your dollars, America . . . and all will be right




About the book:

A collection of short stories, each a splinter’s reflection of the human condition, firmly centered upon our oft tenuous, sometimes tensile bond with Hope, and careening flirtation with Love.

Fifteen stories: From the wispy fog of a love lost at sea, to an orphaned child who delivers a present of her own during a war-torn Christmas. These stories are gentle reminders to each of us of what it is to be human, and certainly of our affinity for the slightest glint of Hope.







About J.W.:

J.W. Nicklaus resides in a place not entirely fit for human habitation about five months of the year. No pets to speak of, only the apparitions from which all romantics suffer.

An Arizona native, he’s been from one coast to the other, and a few places in between. College brought an AA in Journalism with a minor in Photography, and a Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications. His work experience has run the gamut from Creative Director for a small advertising firm in Tucson to a litigation support bureau in Phoenix (and assuredly some awkward stuff in the mix).

Snow has been featured prominently in his stories, perhaps because of the seasonless climate he lives in. Nature was meant to be enjoyed and experienced, not hidden from the senses. So to that end, he hopes someday to live amongst those who are able to live through four true seasons, and not just blast furnace and warm.

He enjoys the occasional Arizona Diamondbacks game with his son, as well as watching him grow up. The experience of being a single dad has taught him far more about himself than he ever thought possible.

Within the expanse of every waking moment, he hopes his guardian angel keeps its arms open wide and heart ever watchful, for there but for one true Hope goes She.

For more about J.W. visit www.avomnia.com.




Monday, December 7, 2009

Guest Post: Ed and Deb Shapiro authors of Be the Change

Ed and Deb Shapiro, authors of the book Be the Change, stopped by to share with us a piece they wrote.



3 Ways to Get You Through the Holidays
By Ed and Deb Shapiro
Authors of Be the Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World

The holidays are a tough time, when demands are constantly being made on our patience, coping capacity, and endurance! When things are not going your way or they look topsy-turvy and you just want to scream; when your day appears chaotic and you are not sure if you are coming or going; or when it feels like it is all piled on your shoulders, then this is the ideal moment to resource yourself by just stopping, being still, and breathing.

You do have what it takes within you to do everything and still be peaceful, but you may need a reminder to just stop and breathe. So here are three moments to regenerate yourself and remember why you are doing all this in the first place. All it takes is a moment to look within and reconnect with your loving heart. You can get it together even when you think it is all falling apart!

Mini-meditations can be done on a train, walking down the street, at an airport, standing at a bus stop, in an elevator, while chopping vegetables, or while sitting in the bathroom -- often the only place you can guarantee you will be left alone! Silently count your out-breath up to ten times, or walk with awareness of each step for up to ten steps. Or relax each part of your body, then silently repeat "soft belly" for five breaths.

If you are at work, then use your lunch hour to find a quiet spot, perhaps in a park, or even in the office if everyone else has gone out. If you are traveling then use that time to consciously breathe, letting your awareness follow your breath from the nose tip to your belly and back out again. If you are driving or operating machinery and feel you are getting tense, then stop for a moment, focus on any part of the body that is feeling tight and breathe into it, until you relax and let go. Silently repeat "soft shoulders" or "soft neck" and so on.

As you walk down the street or ride an elevator practice a mini-loving kindness by silently wishing everyone be well, wishing that everyone be happy. In the office you can spend a few moments repeating the names of everyone you work with and wishing them happiness. On your way home from work reflect on your day and generate loving thoughts to all those you met. When you send out loving thoughts it relaxes the space around you and dissipates any chaotic or disturbing energies. What you put out comes back to you tenfold.

1. Mini Breath Meditation

Sit comfortably with your back straight. Take a deep breath and let it go. Begin to silently count at the end of each out breath: Inhale . . . exhale . . . count one, inhale . . . exhale . . . two, inhale . . . exhale . . . three. Then start at one again. Just three breaths and back to one. Simply following each breath in and silently counting. So simple. Do this as many times as you want, eyes open or closed, breathing normally.

2. Mini Walking Meditation

You can do this walking along a country lane, a city street, in the office or the garden. You can walk slowly, normal or fast, whatever feels right. As you walk become aware of your walking, of the movement of your body and the rise and fall of your feet. Become aware of your breath and see if you can bring both your breathing and your walking together. Just walk and breathe with awareness for a few minutes.

3. Instant Letting Go

Find a quiet place to sit, have a straight back, and take a deep breath and let it go. Then quietly repeat to yourself: "My body is at ease and relaxed . . . my heartbeat is normal . . . my mind is calm and peaceful . . . my heart is open and loving." Keep repeating this until you have let go of the tension and are at peace. Then take a deep breath and have a smile on your face!

Enjoy the holidays!

©2009 Ed and Deb Shapiro, authors of Be the Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World



About the book:

From running an orphanage to being a political adviser, from being held in a prison cell to living in a crowded city, meditation has changed people’s lives. Be the Change is a fascinating exploration of how meditation can not only awaken our latent potential, but also transform the world, creating the foundation for a caring and compassionate future.

As a prisoner in a Chinese jail, Kirsten Westby was able to find solace by sitting quietly in contemplation. Deeply affected by walking on the moon, astronaut Edgar Mitchell went from exploring outer space to discovering the vastness of inner space. Coping with HIV, Mark Matousek found healing through group meditation. Seane Corn used her yoga and meditation expertise to work with child prostitutes in LA.

In the last few decades, people in all walks of life have begun to realize the profound benefits of meditation. While this ancient practice is personally transformative by calming the mind and reducing stress, awakening the heart, and deepening insight, can meditation also change the world for the better? We invited many of today’s most notable voices explore this issue, reflecting on how looking within has resolved issues such as anger and fear, inspiring them to work toward a more caring and peaceful future.

Be the Change was conceived in response to a need to make sense of what is happening in the world at large. We wondered, “Could something as subtle and understated as meditation also have an affect on business, conflict resolution, or politics?” And on an even wider scale, “What change could happen if something so simple were to become a global movement?”

Interwoven among our own thoughts on the subject are the words of more than one hundred meditation practitioners from various walks of life, from Ellen Burstyn—Oscar award-winning actress—to Jon Kabat-Zinn—director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, from Marianne Williamson—bestselling author and renown inspirational speaker—to Richard Davidson—Professor of Psychology at Wisconsin University.

Enlightening and inspiring, Be the Change is essential reading for all who desire to make a difference in their own lives and in the world.

From the foreword by the Dalai Lama: “I strongly recommend anyone interested in meditation not to simply read what these people have to say, but to try it out. If you like it and its useful to you, keep it up, and if it isn’t, just leave it. Treat this book as you would a cookery book. You wouldn’t merely read recipes with approval, you’d try them out. Some you’d like and would use again. Like cookery, meditation only makes sense if you put it into effect.”

From the foreword by Robert Thurman: “Thank goodness Ed and Deb have so beautifully enfolded the gifts of all the fascinating individuals in this book, within the moving stories of their own lives and transforming experiences! In this living book Ed and Deb have masterfully woven the many voices into a symphony—the insights and stories harmonize and contrast with each other in a marvelous rich flow that is both calming and energizing, creating a single collective yet selfless voice.”



About Ed and Deb:

Ed and Deb Shapiro, authors of Be the Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, are the award-winning authors of fifteen books on meditation, personal development, and social action. They are featured bloggers for the HuffingtonPost.com and for Care2.com, teach meditation workshops worldwide, work as corporate coaches and consultants, and are the creators and writers of the daily Chill Our inspirational text messages on Sprint cell phones. The Shapiros' books include Your Body Speaks Your Mind, winner of the 2007 Visionary Book Award;Voices From the Heart with contributors such as President Gorbachev, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Bishop Tutu; and Meditation: The Four-Step Course to Calmness and Clarity. Ed, from New York, trained in India with Paramahamsa Satyananda, with Sri Swami Satchidananda, and with Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Deb, from London, trained with Tai Situ Rinpoche. The Shapiros have taught meditation and personal development for more than twenty-five years. They currently reside in Boulder, Colorado.




Sunday, December 6, 2009

2010 Audiobook Reading Challenge


Royal Reviews is hosting the 2010 Audiobook Reading Challenge, previously hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog. I will, of course, be participating again this year as well. I'm going for the Obsessed/20 audiobook level which should be a piece of cake since I'm constantly listening to audiobooks!

Guidelines:


  1. There are four levels: Curious – Listen to 3 Audio Books, Fascinated – Listen to 6 Audio Books, Addicted – Listen to 12 Audio Books, Obsessed – Listen to 20 Audio Books.
  2. Audio books only.
  3. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  4. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010. Only books started on or after January 1st count towards this challenge.


Books Read:
  1. The Paris Vendetta
  2. The Lost Symbol
  3. The Cricket In Times Square
  4. What the Dog Saw
  5. There Goes the Bride
  6. Breathless
  7. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
  8. Why Our Health Matters
  9. The Wisdom of Your Cells
  10. Heat Wave
  11. When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?
  12. What On Earth Have I Done?
  13. The Demon in the Freezer
  14. When You Ride Alone You Ride with Bin Laden
  15. Good Omens
  16. The End of Overeating
  17. The Guinea Pig Diaries
  18. The Phantom Tollbooth
  19. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  20. Poirot Investigates