Sunday, April 25, 2010

Review: Just Let Me Lie Down by Kristin van Ogtrop

MOTHERHOOD AND WORKING are journeys of trial and error, and you sometimes feel like you know less than you did when you started. I for one know less about the following: why boys always say "Nothing" when you ask what they did at school that day; why husbands never turn of the TV; why you can't fire someone just for being irritating. But I do know a few things, including the fact that a good many working mothers could use some sort of organizing principle, a few labeled bins to hold the chaos. Hence this collection: an alphabetically arranged dictionary of terms, observations, lists, complaints, questions, musings, and the occasional diatribe about the little joys and major nonsense that define life for me, and untold women like me, on a daily basis.


Received from the publisher for review.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book were:

Beware of any sentence that begins with "actually," as in "Actually, we've decided to eliminate your whole department" or "Actually, I don't think it's the best haircut you've ever had."

Caller ID Malfunction: When you have dialed a number and cannot remember whom it belongs to, but the phone is ringing and it feels too late to hang up in case someone has gotten up out of a chair on the other end to answer your call.

This one gets two stars. Generally this was okay, but it appears to be written for people like the author - WASPs who whine about their indulgent lives. The author appears to view anyone who does not have children (by choice) as somehow less than her and her WASPy friends. Needless to say, I did not like the author as a person, but I did find a small minority of the tidbits amusing. Said tidbits were nicely sized and alphabetized for easy navigation. This would make a nice gift for the WASP working mom in your life.

☆☆= Just Okay




Saturday, April 24, 2010

Review: Sexaholics by Pynk

Miki, Valencia, Teela Raye, and Brandi share one thing...they are all addicted to sex. United through Sexaholics Anonymous, these women try to recover from their dependence on wild, spontaneous, and even sometimes, dangerous sex. From whips and chains, to sex in public, they have done it all! Led by Dr. Rachel Cummings, each woman takes the first step to recovery by sharing her biggest sexual act with the group. SEXAHOLICS takes readers through the outrageous experiences of four women on their long path to success.


Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets three stars. If you're a big erotica fan it would probably rank as four stars. Frankly, this can only really be called porn with a plot. There's no other way to put it. The book has a likable feel and is quite readable. The Sex Dictionary at the end was interesting, although if you are reading the book you should probably know all the terms already. This is definitely highly recommended for erotica fans. Future books by the author should be similarly entertaining.


★★☆☆ = Liked It



Friday, April 23, 2010

Giveaway: Street Boners by Gavin McInnes

Fifteen years after founding Vice, Gavin McInnes has poured his creative juices into a new endeavor: StreetCarnage.com. Growing in size and influence at an alarming rate, the site's main feature is the new and improved version of Gavin's "DOs and DON'Ts," now tantalizingly called Street Boners.

These Boners have been polished and compounded into a book that takes the best of the site and adds hundreds more gems! With 1,312 photos, hilarious captions, and a harsh new rating system-from one to 10 kitten faces-STREET BONERS makes sure no glorious fashion statement goes unnoticed. Innocent citizens are either damned to hell or relentlessly exalted into heaven. Chloe Sevigny, Debbie Harry, Fred Armisen, and Tim & Eric also contribute their scathing wit to the book, and the end result is a New York fashion bible no bathroom should be without.



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

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Guest Post: David Kirby author of Animal Factory

David Kirby, author of the book Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment, stopped by to share with us a piece he wrote.



6 Baby Steps Toward a More Sustainable Animal Diet
by David Kirby,
Author of Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment

The most common question I get about my new book Animal Factory, which comes out Tuesday, March 2, is, "Am I going to have to become a vegetarian after reading this?"

My answer usually throws people off.

"No," I say, "You're going to want to eat even MORE meat, eggs and dairy!" Then, as a bemused brow breaks over their face, I add: "But by that, I mean more that is raised humanely and sustainably, without harm to human health or the environment."

Most people I speak with inherently sense that their meat and dairy should be raised as "humanely and sustainably" as possible, but don't really know what those terms mean. The whole new morality of shopping the supermarket meat aisle can seem so daunting, especially while trying to sort through the various "cage-free" "humane" and "organic" labels.

Meanwhile, the painful ordeal of shelling out big chunks of one's paycheck for pricey protein from boutique sources other than CAFOs -- (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or factory farms), is just too onerous for some to ponder. And if even they were to make the sacrifice to "go sustainable," they ask, how are they going to find such vaunted foodstuffs, both at home and on the road?

Still others beg off the subject entirely with a wince, a wave, and an "I don't want to know!"

But some of my friends really do make every last effort to eat only sustainable animal protein and, when not available, to go without. But I also understand that, for most Americans, it is exceedingly difficult and prohibitively expensive to switch overnight to a 100 percent CAFO-free diet, unless they are planning to go completely vegan.

I do not believe in telling others what to eat or, more importantly, what not to eat. It's a deeply personal choice. But I do believe that we all have a responsibility -- even a solemn duty -- to inform ourselves about the origins of our food, and the impact it had on people, places and animals.

Just remember, that pork chop may have been raised in a crowded North Carolina CAFO, whose liquefied manure emits noxious gases into the air, might leak pathogens and nutrients into state waters, and has been known to coat neighboring homes, cars and people with the greasy, misty detritus of a massive manure "sprayfield," Carolina style.

So what's a conscientious but somewhat underpaid omnivore to do? What follows are just a few suggestions -- some baby steps to reduce your reliance on cheap animal factory food, whence most American meat, egg and dairy "outputs" are now derived.

Be Label Conscious - You have rights as a consumer, but you also have responsibilities, in my opinion, and that includes self-education and being savvy about labeling. In Animal Factory, I describe some of the competing food labels (organic, humane, cage free, etc.) and the different criteria they require to earn their endorsement. There's a lot of cross-over, and a lot of confusion. Some consumers are now looking for what is widely considered to be the most stringent label of all, "Animal Welfare Approved." AWA requires all animals to have pasture-based certification, prohibits the use of liquefied manure, and only certifies farms "whose owners own the animals, are engaged in the day to day management of the farm, and derive a share of their livelihood from the farm." You can search a database of farms and where to find AWA products at www.AnimalWelfareApproved.org.

Pick A Protein - Begin your path towards being a more sustainable epicure one food at a time. Pound-for-pound and dollar-for-dollar, eggs, cheese, or butter are good starter products. For example, I only buy humanely raised, certified organic eggs at my local supermarket. They cost $3.99 a dozen vs. the $1.99 a dozen for factory farmed eggs -- a difference of about 16.5 cents an egg. And while I have the admitted luxury of not having to support a family, I am more than happy to double my costs and expend an extra 33 cents in the morning for my omelet. Organic (pasture-fed) cheese and butter also have manageable price point ratios to their commercial counterparts, so you might want to pick one of those as one of your switchover foods as well.

Become Cooperative - A few national chain stores, and of course your local farmers market (the ones in New York are a marvel) are usually excellent and reliable sources of sustainably raised protein. But the prices can sometimes make you laugh out of sheer exasperation -- I have seen $27 chickens, which for most families is too extravagant. On the other hand, I have seen $2.70 chickens in my supermarket, which to me at least seems too cheap for the life of a bird. Another alternative is to seek out a food coop in your area that specializes in local, sustainable meat and produce. I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn, home to the nation's oldest coop, which offers deep discounts on delicious, fresh, local meat, dairy and eggs. Unfortunately for me, the place is so popular that I have not yet been able to get a slot in the mandatory orientation for new membership, but I keep trying.

Go Red-Tag Shopping - I have noticed that the meat department at my local place tends to get rid of its older stuff on Mondays and Tuesdays, slapping a bright red, easy-to-spot sticker with the words "Manager's Special" onto the cellophane. I make it a point to shop on those days or, sometimes if I am just passing by, I might pop in and make a quick run down the aisle, eyes peeled for those exciting red tags as I scan the row. The discounts are usually about 30% off the normal price, and sometimes more. Whole organic chickens are often reduced from $3.99 to $1.99 a pound. If you don't eat it that day, freeze it.

Go Online - Another great resource for finding local, sustainably and humanely raised animal products is Sustainable Table, and its Eat Well Guide -- with a Zip-code based searchable database for farms, markets and restaurants in your area that offer food that did not take a toll on humans, animals or the environment before landing in your mouth.

Eat Less Meat - This is a suggestion, not an order, and it doesn't come from me, it comes from the "Meatless Monday" campaign. But reducing your animal protein even a little bit each week will contribute to easing worldwide animal demand from any source. Check out the Meatless Monday virtual online support group for temporary withdrawals of the flesh. Think of it this way: for billions of people in the world, it's going to be "Meatless 2010," so a 52-day sacrifice is not that hard to make.

Copyright © 2010 David Kirby, author of Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment



About the book:

Swine flu. Bird flu. Unusual concentrations of cancer and other diseases. Massive fish kills from flesh-eating parasites. Recalls of meats, vegetables, and fruits because of deadly E-coli bacterial contamination.

Recent public health crises raise urgent questions about how our animal-derived food is raised and brought to market. In Animal Factory, bestselling investigative journalist David Kirby exposes the powerful business and political interests behind large-scale factory farms, and tracks the far-reaching fallout that contaminates our air, land, water, and food.

In this thoroughly-researched book, Kirby follows three families and communities whose lives are utterly changed by immense neighboring animal farms. These farms (known as "Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations," or CAFOs), confine thousands of pigs, dairy cattle, and poultry in small spaces, often under horrifying conditions, and generate enormous volumes of fecal and biological waste as well as other toxins. Weaving science, politics, law, big business, and everyday life, Kirby accompanies these families in their struggles against animal factories. A North Carolina fisherman takes on pig farms upstream to preserve his river, his family's life, and his home. A mother in a small Illinois town pushes back against an outsized dairy farm and its devastating impact. And, a Washington state grandmother becomes an unlikely activist when her home is covered with soot and her water supply is compromised by runoff from leaking lagoons of cattle waste.

Animal Factory is an important book about our American food system gone terribly wrong—and the people who are fighting to restore sustainable farming practices and save our limited natural resources.



About David:

David Kirby, author of Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment, is a Huffington Post contributor and author of the New York Times bestseller Evidence of Harm, winner of the 2005 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for Best Book, and finalist for the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein award for Excellence in Journalism. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit www.AnimalFactoryBook.com.




Review: Lemon Tart by Josi S. Kilpatrick

Cooking aficionado-turned-amateur detective, Sadie Hoffmiller, tries to solve the murder of Anne Lemmon, her beautiful young neighbor—a single mother who was mysteriously killed while a lemon tart was baking in her oven. At the heart of the tragedy is Anne’s missing two-year-old son, Trevor. Whoever took the child must be the murderer, but Sadie is certain that the police are looking at all the wrong suspects—including her!

For an added treat, original mouth-watering recipes for Sadie’s Lemon Tart, Homemade Alfredo Sauce, Carrot Cookies, Sadie’s Better Brownies, and Granny’s Gingerbread are sprinkled throughout the book. Armed with a handful of her very best culinary masterpieces, Sadie is determined to bake her way to proving her innocence, rescuing Trevor, and finding out exactly who had a motive for murder.



Received from the publicist for review.

Sadie is certainly no Agatha Raisin but she is mildly amusing. I didn't particularly care for her as a person and I'm not entirely sure I would like to have her for a neighbor, but she was an interesting character. Think Mrs. Fletcher from Murder She Wrote if Mrs. F had been a fussy, religious woman – good in a crisis but not someone you'd like to know the other 99.9% of the time. She had no redeeming qualities and I liked her even less when I discovered that she was a cat hater.

This one gets three stars. It was an interesting cozy with some very good plot twists but it could be a bit overly detailed at points. I would recommend this for fans of culinary mysteries. The recipes sprinkled throughout were nice and I'll have to try “Granny's Gingerbread” out for the holidays. This was certainly a solid start to the series.


★★☆☆ = Liked It



Thursday, April 22, 2010

Guest Post: Ivan G. Goldman author of Exit Blue

Ivan G. Goldman, author of the book Exit Blue, stopped by to share with us a piece he wrote.



WHAT ABOUT GIVING SECESSION ANOTHER CHANCE?
DIGGING DEEPER
By Ivan G. Goldman

Republicans and their govnoed legions, crazier than Cubs fans, are so distraught that health care will now become available to more Americans that some of them are pining for the good old days of the Confederacy.

Govnoed, by the way, is what members of the old Soviet intelligence apparatus used to call people dumb enough to believe their bullshit. It means, literally, shit eaters. Govnoed, many of them in the West, would battle against their own self-interest even though, unlike well-placed party officials and KGB/GRU agents, they received no special perks in exchange for their efforts. Kind of an apt word for tea-party-ers and other right-wing goofballs who act as shock troops for the corporate country-clubbers still running the GOP. How do you explain these crazies? As Voltaire pointed out approximately 250 years ago, it’s difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.

New York Times columnist Gail Collins recently worried over Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proclamation urging citizens to spend the month recalling the state’s days as a member of the Confederate States of America, you know, back when certain kinds of people he was too polite to categorize more precisely knew their place. The Georgia State Senate recently passed a bill to dedicate April to remembering the Confederacy, and there are similar nostalgic murmurs sweeping across the old Confederacy like the aroma of mint juleps in springtime. It’s becoming apparent that a black president in the White House enacting any of his agenda at all is just too much to take for these folks. And this go-it-alone sentiment isn’t confined to the South. Ex-Gov. Palin’s hubby has been known to pine for Alaskan independence, for example.

Good liberal Collins says she’d worry less about a “national discussion” of Civil War history “as long as we could start by agreeing that the whole leaving-the-union thing was a terrible idea.” Wait. Let’s back up a minute. Why should we automatically assume secession by some of our wackier states is a bad thing? Bear in mind that barely populated places like Wyoming and Utah have two senators apiece. Check out the voting records and character of their senators sometime. Who needs 'em? If any of these backward regions and their shit-eating camp followers elect to leave the union in a fair election, then what, may I ask, are Collins’ grounds for resistance? Think how much sweeter our country would be if we no longer had to try to compromise with right-wing maniacs? We might have a government that actually cares about its citizens.

The Republicans’ answer for the broken global economy, the broken health care system, and virtually every domestic problem we face is to deregulate corporations, cut spending, and trim taxes for the very rich. When it comes to foreign policy questions, their answer is to shoot first and figure the rest out later. Climate change? Easy to fix. Just pretend it’s not there. And think how much more coal we could mine if owners didn’t have to answer to those pointy-headed safety inspectors. Church versus state? No problemo. The church is the state, and visa versa. At least that’s the way they think it oughta be.

In my new novel Exit Blue (warning: shameless plug follows) the union breaks up in another way. A too-familiar Texas dynasty retakes the White House and promptly invades Denmark, calling it the central front in the war on terror. The Blue States, having had enough, secede. How does that work out? I won’t spoil it for you.

But the fact is, the Constitution we’re taught to revere veered off well to the right of true democracy when it established a system that now gives voters in Idaho approximately 90 times the clout in the Senate as voters in New York or California. So should we be surprised that the Senate made things even worse by making sure nothing important can get passed without approval by 60 senators? That same inequality is also reflected in the Electoral College, which is why George W. Bush was handed the keys to the White House even though Al Gore won approximately 540,000 more votes. A key drawback to allowing crazy states to secede is that it would leave their sane minorities at the mercy of the majority lunatics.

Republicans have veered so far to the right in the last few decades that their long-time friends the British Tories are creating as much distance from them as they can in the looming UK election. That's because Tories are actual conservatives, whereas Republicans, having purged their party of moderates, are mostly reactionaries. They want to return to the pre-New Deal era, and some of them, as Ms.Collins points out, seem to be flirting with the pre-Emancipation Proclamation era.

Note that I don't claim Democratic politicians are pure. Many of them, for example, tickled to pick up contributions from Wall Street greedheads, are helping Republicans block banking reform even as we speak. But if corrupt blowhards like Saxby Chambliss and Orrin Hatch could go do their own thing somewhere else it might breathe some fresh air on our polluted landscape, literally and figuratively. Or at least, as Hemingway’s Jake pointed out to Lady Brett, isn’t it pretty to think so?



About the book:

In his third novel EXIT BLUE, best-selling author and former Washington Post writer Ivan G. Goldman crafts a roman à clef depicting the return of a persistent but not terribly talented dynasty out of Texas. The family's latest Oval Office occupant, the oblivious Bunny (not to be confused with her twin sister Beanie), launches a disastrous invasion of Denmark, labeling it the central front in the war on terror.

Preceded by the carpet-bombing of Copenhagen, the attack on a NATO ally is the brainchild of the infamous Magoo, a perennial vice-president whose personal scientists make him younger and healthier month by month. The war, one of several being waged by Washington, triggers outright secession by the fed-up Blue States, which form their own union. Meanwhile, in Denmark, the invading Marines hit the beaches short of ammo and end up watching the NFL playoffs in a Danish POW camp. Undeterred, the zealous Red Zone government dispatches press gangs to fill depleted military ranks.

As Red Zone citizens flee their imploding, trickle-down economy seeking humble work in Mexico, down-on-his-luck ghost writer Delmore LeCorte discovers all is not well in the Blue Zone either. LeCorte is thrust into a love triangle with the Red Zone President and her more astute twin, running afoul of Magoo. Operating from a secret underground bunker, the deranged vice-president has already imprisoned the Dalai Lama, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Sean Penn and Alec Baldwin as enemies of the state while the Dixie Chicks and Bruce Springsteen hide out in Ireland under Bono's protection. For the sake of both Americas, LeCorte must dodge Magoo's wrath as he tries to persuade Bunny to steer her foundering ship of state toward a saner shore. It's left to the reader to decide whether EXIT BLUE is in fact satire or perhaps a prescient look at more divisive times ahead.



About Ivan:

Ivan G. Goldman, who covered the Congress for The Washington Post and worked at the National Desk of The Los Angeles Times, is the author of three novels. A Fulbright Scholar and a columnist for The Ring magazine, his writing has also appeared in Columbia Journalism Review, Utne Reader, The Nation, National Review, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and elsewhere. His previous novel The Barfighter has been nominated as a 2009 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Booklist calls it "a fine book" that "illuminates a largely unknown world and tells an engaging tale of redemption filled with vividly drawn characters." Kirkus Reviews says his first novel, Where the Money Is: A Novel of Las Vegas is "an impressive debut . . . a stylish twisty first novel."

Goldman was born and raised in Chicago and now lives with his wife in Southern California. You can find out more about his background in his article "Caste and Class on The Washington Post." It appeared in Columbia Journalism Review and is online at http://www.coliserv.net/swm/goldman-caste.html.





Review: Exit Blue by Ivan G. Goldman

Ivan Goldman envisions a riotous near future in which the Blue States have seceded and formed their own union following a disastrous US invasion of Denmark, now deemed the central front in the war on terror. It's one of several conflicts being waged by a zealous Red Zone government in Washington that reportedly dispatches press gangs to fill military ranks while its citizens flee to Mexico seeking employment as domestics and busboys. Tossed into this maelstrom is ghost writer Delmore LeCorte, who becomes romantically entangled with both the Red Zone president and her more astute sister. Learning secrets he'd rather not know, LeCorte is pursued by a deranged vice president who reportedly rules his domain from a lair deep beneath the Rockies and a ruthless Blue Zone senator who's the love child of a famously randy Democratic ex-President. It's left to the reader to decide whether Exit Blue is inventive political satire or a prescient look at more divisive times ahead.


Received from the publicist for review.

This one gets three stars. It was incredibly readable with a great flow. Although it was amusing, it did wear thin after a while. It should be read in smaller installments so you don't overdose. This remarkably all too likely cautionary tale should be enjoyed by Michael Moore fans.


★★☆☆ = Liked It



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Giveaway: Eat the Cookie...Buy the Shoes by By Joyce Meyer

Engrained in our culture is the belief that unbending discipline is the only sure way to success. You must go to the gym five times a week, never order the dessert, and don't even think about buying that dress you keep staring at in the store window. Breaking from such a regimented lifestyle is a sign of weakness, right? Wrong!-and Joyce wants to tell us why...

Though setting rules in our lives are important, it's just as important that we break them from time-to-time. Structure is a powerful tool, but when diverging from your own goals is seen as catastrophic, it can have a hugely negative effect on us. Balance is a core value in life and every once in awhile we deserve to indulge in a guilty pleasure or two. So don't feel bad about straying from your goals every once-in-awhile and in fact, embrace it: eat the cookie and buy the shoes!



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

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Review: Anywhere: How Global Connectivity is Revolutionizing the Way We Do Business by Emily Nagle Green

Billions of users download applications from their iPhones...


A coffee shop near Scranton, PA has thousands of FaceBook fans around the world...

People sitting across the same room regularly text each other...

Welcome to the world of ubiquitous connectivity. Anywhere is the next business revolution, a sea-change that will allow businesses to reach five billion customers, many of them in untapped global markets. In Anywhere, Emily Nagle Green, CEO of Yankee Group Research, explains the rapidly unfolding changes in connectivity—and presents the first strategic guide for remaking businesses now to take advantage of this “anywhere, anytime…” revolution, including:

* Getting to Anywhere: analyzing and reshaping your business to serve the Anywhere client

* Understanding the global Anywhere consumer—meeting their demands, at home and at work

* Capitalizing on the greatest technological changes of our times

Anywhere gives you extensive background information; interviews of Anywhere pioneers in banking, retail, manufacturing and other sectors; tactical tools, self-diagnostic tests of your business’s Anywhere-readiness; and high-level advice that every forward-looking company needs to adapt and thrive in today’s fast-paced, highly competitive business environment.



Received from the publicist for review.

The Anywhere Revolution discussed is actually more than a bit disturbing and has a very Jetson's feel that takes Big Brother to an entirely new, even more disturbing level that people aren't in the least concerned about.

This one gets three stars. The book focuses mainly on the advantages of the Anywhere lifestyle and, at best, glosses over the very real hazards to life and liberty that that very lifestyle presents to humankind. I'm not sure if the author even recognized the dangers or if she deliberately chose to shrug them off as insignificant. The book was well written and remarkably readable. It is certainly not light reading, but is wasn't dull in the least. It was cohesive and informative, and is certainly recommended for those interested in the subject.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Giveaway: Green Like God by Jonathan Merritt

In GREEN LIKE GOD, Jonathan Merritt gently and insightfully observes that the bible has a lot to say about environmental problems like unclean water, material waste, over consumption, air pollution, and global warming. In fact, Jonathan writes that "in the book of Genesis, God went green and never looked back." Relying heavily on scripture, Jonathan gives the case for green living, but not because it's trendy and hip. Rather, it's part of living rightly as a believer. It's an act of obedience to our Creator-God.


GREEN LIKE GOD is at once practical, prescriptive, and conversational in tone. The author looks at a number of trends with tips to help the reader wade into the world of creation care living. An appendix includes suggestions of things we can do. In addition, the book includes interviews with everyday Christians to tell the story of the journey to environmental stewardship among people of faith.

This is the book that Christians are longing for and need today. Written for a new generation of Christians who are struggling with how to deal with the important issue of creation-care and green living, GREEN LIKE GOD is both highly relevant and theologically sound. It will have a profound impact on how Christians live and interact with the world today.



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

Contest ends 11:59 PM EST May 8, 2010. Open to residents of US and Canada only. No PO boxes.

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Review: The Clouds Roll Away by Sibella Giorello

Forensic geologist Raleigh Harmon unravels mysteries in her hometown of Richmond where things are never quite what they seem.

Raleigh's exemplary service in Seattle opened the door for her disciplinary transfer to be lifted, allowing her to return to her home FBI field office in Richmond, VA. A civil rights case turns out to be much more complex than anyone thought when Raleigh is forced to go undercover in a drug trafficking case.

Things aren't any simpler at home. Raleigh's old friend DeMott wants her to find time for things outside of her FBI work: friendship and maybe something more. Raleigh will have to rely on her sharpest skills—and the faith that is slowly returning to her—to navigate her way through these clouds.



Received from the publicist for review.

The mere idea of a book categorized as "Christian Suspense" just seemed bizarre to me. It did have more of a literature feel than a regular suspense feel.

This one gets three stars. It was an interesting story and certainly well written and nicely paced, but if it wasn't so incredibly detailed about 100 pages cold have been knocked off of it. I didn't connect with the main character at all either. I just didn't like her as a person. Regular suspense fans may be a bit disconcerted by the material, but should still find the book worthwhile.


★★☆☆ = Liked It



Monday, April 19, 2010

Giveaway: Iron Man 2 by Alexander Irvine

"I am Iron Man." With those words, billionaire industrialist Tony Stark revealed his secret identity. Now a famous high-tech superhero, he uses his powers to protect mankind. Yet things are not going well for Tony Stark. The U.S. military demands control of the most powerful weapon on earth--the Iron Man suit. His beautiful new assistant has a strange, mysterious agenda while his best friend, Rhodey, has betrayed him. And Tony is hunted by a vengeful Russian criminal armed with a lethal technology that may be stronger than Tony's suit. But even as he fights his demons, the hero faces his greatest threat--one that no armor can defend against . . .



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

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Review: The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by Anne Rice

From bestselling author Anne Rice, writing as A.N. Roquleaure. In the traditional folktale of 'Sleeping Beauty,' the spell cast upon the lovely young princess and everyone in her castle can only be broken by the kiss of a Prince. It is an ancient story, one that originally emerged from and still deeply disturbs the mind's unconscious. Now Anne Rice's retelling of the Beauty story probes the unspoken implications of this lush, suggestive tale by exploring its undeniable connection to sexual desire. Here the Prince reawakens Beauty, not with a kiss, but with sexual initiation. His reward for ending the hundred years of enchantment is Beauty's complete and total enslavement to him…as Anne Rice explores the world of erotic yearning and fantasy in a classic that becomes, with her skillful pen, a compelling experience.


From my personal collection.

I hadn't read this since my porn overdose days in college (and really, this is porn, in the best possible way) and after seeing several unflattering reviews lately I decided to dig it out of my shelves, dust it off, and give it another read.

I did find it a little disturbing that the character of Beauty was supposed to be 15. I mean, really? I decided that I'd just think of her and the Prince as a bit older and continued with the story.

This is NOT for the faint of heart. There is S&M, M/F, M/M, F/F, and sex of every sort of variation discussed very frankly. If you don't know what the abbreviations mean, pass on this.

This one gets three stars. Despite the disconcerting age issue the book is, as with all the author's books, beautifully written. It is completely engrossing and you become immersed in the fantasy. And it is a fantasy. Trying to make it conform to our world is disrespectful of the author's effort and craftsmanship and the obvious care she invested in its creation.


★★☆☆ = Liked It



Sunday, April 18, 2010

Winners: Presumed Innocent

The winners are:

  • Bodice Ripper Novels
  • Dawn M. - confirmed
  • scottsgal - confirmed
Winners must e-mail me at bethsbookreviewblog @gmail.com with your mailing address by midnight April 24.

Congratulations and I hope you enjoy it!

Thank you so much to Hachette for providing the giveaway!

Thank you to all who entered!



Winners: The Art of Choosing (Audiobook)

The winners are:

  • rubymoon
  • roswell - confirmed
  • rubynreba
Winners must e-mail me at bethsbookreviewblog @gmail.com with your mailing address by midnight April 24.

Congratulations and I hope you enjoy it!

Thank you so much to Hachette for providing the giveaway!

Thank you to all who entered!



Winners: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Audiobook)

The winners are:

  • nfmgirl
  • rubymoon
  • Bookie - already won
Winners must e-mail me at bethsbookreviewblog @gmail.com with your mailing address by midnight April 24.

Congratulations and I hope you enjoy it!

Thank you so much to Hachette for providing the giveaway!

Thank you to all who entered!



Review: Lamb Bright Saviors by Robert Vivian

Lamb Bright Saviors begins as an apocalyptically inclined itinerant preacher staggers across the Nebraska prairie. With his young assistant, Mady, in tow hauling a wagon stacked with bibles, it’s not long before the preacher finds he’s come to the final fulfillment of his self-proclaimed life’s work: to die in front of a group of strangers. Odd as his own end-of-days might be, the lives and struggles of the strangers attending this deathbed scene are even odder. As the dying preacher unleashes a barrage of hallucinatory ramblings and rantings in the hope of imparting wisdom, each ragtag member of this unlikely congregation must reckon with his or her own dark past. And, through it all, the irrepressible Mady lends the preacher’s strange performance a surprising and unforgettable dignity and humor.


Received from the publicist for review.

This gets two stars. While it was extremely well written and had a great flow it just wasn't for me. It was told from a variety of points of view which could have been annoying, but surprisingly wasn't. The book was about a preacher, which obviously seriously hampered my enjoyment of it. It actually had the feel of something Oprah might choose for her book club – depressingly intellectual literature. It was good, but I felt as if I'd be quizzed on it the next day! If you're a fan of Oprah's book club selections you should enjoy this.


☆☆= Just Okay



Saturday, April 17, 2010

Review: Biscuits with Archie by C.H. Allen Clark

Never Feed a Cat a Can of Spam...

C.H. Allen Clark lives with a menagerie of animals, including Archie, a 20-pound Shih Tzu and one of eight house pets. He is known as the "Big Ragu" of the abode. Call him "Lefty of the Leftovers," "Fatty of All Known Feasts," and "Cat Pervert Extraordinaire."

Archie is the inspiration behind many of Clark's poems, and his short stories are inspired by his ancestors who lived through the Civil War. It's a collection of humorous, sad, and enlightening prose that will appeal to animal lovers and history buffs alike.

All of those animals, the thirteen dogs and nine horses as well as twenty cats, seem to be our destiny. "One day, I will saddle up the old bay mare with the walker on top and then ride off into the sunset. Where will I ride? I know not where. Perhaps, I will ride to my destiny.



Received from the publisher for review.

As you know, I just don't do poetry, so this was a bit of a stretch for me. I did enjoy the photos of Archie and the other dogs which were quite adorable. The short stories were perhaps a bit better for me, but they still weren't the best fit.

This one gets two stars. The rating is not a result of any poor writing on the author's part, but more of a misfit between the material and me. I just wasn't feeling it. The collection was a nicely written, eclectic mix of poetry and short stories. Perhaps a literature fan might find it more to his or her liking.


☆☆= Just Okay



Friday, April 16, 2010

Review: Seven by Jacqueline Leo

What is it about the number seven that has such a hold on us? Why are there seven deadly sins? Seven days of the week? Seven wonders of the world, seven colors of the spectrum, seven ages of man, and seven sister colleges? Why can we hold seven numbers or words in our working memory--but no more? Author Jackie Leo explores everything about this mystical, magical, useful, and fun number in her new book.

SEVEN REASONS YOU NEED THIS BOOK

1. SEVEN is a tool to improve the quality of your life. It is a way to define time, synthesize ideas, and keep your mind performing at top speed in an era of distractions.

2. SEVEN is culturally significant. It pops up everywhere, structuring our world in ways so fundamental, we notice them only when we pause to look. Across the ages and across cultures, the number has acquired a huge scientific, psychological, and religious significance.

3. SEVEN is intriguing. Why, out of hundreds of recipes in a cookbook, do people return to the same seven, over and over? Why, when asked to choose a number between one and ten, does such a large majority of people choose seven? Why does it take seven rounds of shuffling to obtain a fully mixed deck of cards?

4. SEVEN is influential. You'll learn how the number seven shapes our thinking, our choices, and even our relationships.

5. SEVEN is practical. Throughout this book are Top Seven lists covering the best ways to get someone's attention, to build your personal brand, and to put yourself in the path of prosperity and good luck.

6. SEVEN is fun. You'll encounter surprising facts, intriguing puzzles, and hilarious anecdotes.

7. SEVEN is wise. You'll hear stories about the meaning of seven from Mehmet Oz, Sally Quinn, Liz Smith, Christina Ricci, and many others.


Artfully designed and full of enough insights to keep you engaged in conversation at the water cooler for years, SEVEN will provoke, enlighten, and amuse.



Received from the publisher for review.

The sole amusing item from the entire book was this tidbit in reference to technology products:

If I have to read the manual, it wasn't built right.

This one gets one star. I have no idea why it was even published. A slim minority of the information was interesting but it was just lists of things about sevens. You could do the same thing with the number three. It just felt forced and was an essentially useless collection of unrelated tidbits. Definitely give this one a pass unless you are excruciatingly bored and there is no telephone book around.

☆☆ = Didn't Like It



Review: 21 Simple Things You Can Do to Help Someone With Diabetes by Cherie Burback

Why should non-diabetics get informed? Because as much as we know about diabetes treatment today, the support from our family and friends still plays a part in how healthy we are. An understanding approach from someone who cares means everything to us.

Your diabetic friend or relative counts on you to be the person in their life that "gets it" when no one else does. This book will tell you what you can do to help. Things like what you should (and shouldn't) say, what you should learn to truly be supportive, and even how you can help in the fight for a cure.


21 Things You Can Do To Help Someone With Diabetes
will point you in the right direction so you can truly support your diabetic friend.



Received from the publicist for review.


As you may know, my mom had Type 2 diabetes and passed in 2007 from complications due to it so I'm quite educated about diabetes and I thought this might be an interesting read. I was wrong. Essentially the author wants the reader to become a babysitter for the diabetic friend or relative and to put your needs on the back burner.

This one gets two stars. I had a tough time connecting with the author after she began speaking about diabetes as if it is a death sentence on par with AIDS. Um, hello! I was also unimpressed by the author's recommendations for friends and family to keep special sugar free sodas and juices on hand for the visiting diabetic. The author conveniently forgot to mention the health effects of these artificial sweeteners she is advocating which I found incredibly disturbing. I was not impressed at all by the author's very pushy and preachy attitude. This is for the extremely ignorant who still call diabetes "a touch of sugar".

☆☆= Just Okay



Thursday, April 15, 2010

Review: Happily Ever After Texas Style by Patti Witter

Take a journey to a place where the men still call ladies "ma'am," they're always willing to lend a hand-and are eager to take a stand. Happily Ever After, Texas Style collects 11 delightful short stories set in the Lone Star State about love and life and finding home.

Here are stories, all with strong women at their center, that speak to unpredictable nature of love, its ability to find us no matter where we are, and the adventure that often leads to it. In "Times When Things Just Happen," Janet and Valerie, two small-town secretaries, bet on finding a dream-cowboy within three weeks-or they'll go the singles-bar route. But it's when neither is on the hunt that Mr. Right shows up. In "A Top Of The Line Romance," two old loves reunite after time and travel has pulled them in utterly separate directions. But they soon discover the interlude hasn't extinguished the flames. And in "The List," a harrowing murder-intrigue sets the stage for an unlikely romance.

Through it all, Patti Witter's gift for drawing small-town love and small-town life is guaranteed to charm readers from every background. In the end, Happily Ever After is about the extraordinary occurrences that take place every day in ordinary lives. It is about the strength of women to chart their own course. And it is about the magic and greatness of places like small towns in Texas, where it's still possible to live "happily ever after."



Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets three stars. It was a collection of very short short stories that were nicely sized to read in just a few minutes each. The stories had a nice, warm, fuzzy, happy feel to them but they were overwhelmingly Texas. They were still readable by those who live elsewhere if you enjoy lots of cowboy boots, mentions of God, and general Texan "charm". You certainly have to be at least fond of Texas to fully appreciate and enjoy this. I found it quite readable and nicely written overall.


★★☆☆ = Liked It



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Review: Mind Well the Witch by Susan Netteland Gerbi

Mind Well the Witch is the heartwarming and humorous tale of the widow Mindwell Thayer, a dyslexic, hyperopic, peri-menopausal witch, living in Hingham, Massachusetts in 1750.

When Birdie Woodhouse comes to her for a spell to attract the son of a rich and prominent local family, Mindwell (Mindy to her friends) does not hesitate to help her friend. When Constant Downer comes to her for a love potion, Mindy complies with her wishes. What Mindy does not know is that Birdie and Constant have designs on the same man—John Holbrook.

Shortly thereafter John’s father is murdered and his sister, Susanna, a possible witness, is struck dumb. The town is in an uproar as suspicion falls on the Holbrook family, especially after someone attempts to poison Susanna by tampering with one of Mindy’s tinctures.

In the meantime, Mindy and her mother, Phebe, are being courted by two of the town’s most eligible widowers. Mindy has not used any witchcraft to beguile Ben Cooke, but she cannot say the same for her mother.

When John gets arrested for the murder of his father, he and Birdie come to Mindy in desperation. With her reputation at stake, it is up to Mindy to help them prove John's innocence...



Received from the publisher for review.

How can you not love a book with this passage in the first chapter:

Mindy had been a widow for just over two years, ever since her beloved Oliver had taken a header down the short, but steep stairs to the root cellar, breaking his neck and killing him instantly. Despite the picture of innocence that Shadow had presented, his dirty paw prints had been all over Oliver's back. Mindy liked to think Shadow had been trying to revive him.

This one gets four stars. It was amusing, fresh, and well written. The idea of a light novel set in 1750 seems almost bizarre but this actually succeeded remarkably well. The plethora of footnotes were fun and often educational as well. This rivals the best cozy mysteries set in the present day and I'm certainly looking forward to future releases from the author. The skillful blend of humor and drama makes it a perfect fit for cozy fans.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Monday, April 12, 2010

Giveaway: Sexaholics by Pynk

Miki, Valencia, Teela Raye, and Brandi share one thing...they are all addicted to sex. United through Sexaholics Anonymous, these women try to recover from their dependence on wild, spontaneous, and even sometimes, dangerous sex. From whips and chains, to sex in public, they have done it all! Led by Dr. Rachel Cummings, each woman takes the first step to recovery by sharing her biggest sexual act with the group. SEXAHOLICS takes readers through the outrageous experiences of four women on their long path to success.







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

Contest ends 11:59 PM EST May 1, 2010. Open to residents of US and Canada only. No PO boxes.

To enter:

Required Entry:

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Review: Alice In Wonderland and Philosophy: Curiouser and Curiouser edited by Richard Brian Davis

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has fascinated children and adults alike for generations. Why does Lewis Carroll introduce us to such oddities as blue caterpillars who smoke hookahs, cats whose grins remain after their heads have faded away, and a White Queen who lives backwards and remembers forwards? Is it all just nonsense? Was Carroll under the influence? This book probes the deeper underlying meaning in the Alice books, and reveals a world rich with philosophical life lessons. Tapping into some of the greatest philosophical minds that ever lived Aristotle, Hume, Hobbes, and Nietzsche Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy explores life's ultimate questions through the eyes of perhaps the most endearing heroine in all of literature.

  • Looks at compelling issues such as perception and reality as well as how logic fares in a world of lunacy, the Mad Hatter, clocks, and temporal passage
  • Offers new insights into favorite Alice in Wonderland characters and scenes, including the Mad Hatter and his tea party, the violent Queen of Hearts, and the grinning Cheshire Cat
Accessible and entertaining, Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy will enrich your experience of Alice's timeless adventures with new meaning and fun.

Received from the publicist for review.

I groaned at chapter one and wondered what the heck I had gotten myself into with "Unruly Alice: A Feminist View of Some Adventures in Wonderland" which bashes Alice's sister who sat reading a book. It was teeth grindingly bad. The only chapter I found enlightening, actually the only one tolerable enough to make it through in its entirety was "How Deep Does the Rabbit Hole Go?", which was a discussion of Alice as a hallucinogenic drug story.

This one gets three stars. It is for people who thoroughly enjoy debating the meaning of books ad infinitum while wearing all black and drinking wine. If felt like it was a college course and I'd be subjected to an oral exam at the end. As it did when I discovered that C.S. Lewis's Narnia books were a coded religious manifesto this literary beating of Alice took away much of the joy of just enjoying it as a story and not some commentary to decipher. Overall this was interesting and, at times, enlightening, but not a joyful read.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Sunday, April 11, 2010

Review: Traction by Gino Wickman

Do you have a grip on your business, or does your business have a grip on you? Don't let common problems and frustrations run you and your business. Get a grip and gain control with the Entrepreneurial Operating System. Inside Traction, you'll learn the secrets of strengthening the Six Key Components of your business. You'll discover simple yet powerful ways to run your company that will give you and your leadership team more focus, more growth, and more enjoyment. Based on years of real-world implementation in over 100 companies, the Entrepreneurial Operating System is a practical method for achieving the business success you have always envisioned. Successful organizations are applying it every day to run profitable, frustration-free businesses — and you can too.




Received from the publicist for review.

This one gets four stars. While the book does have quite a bit of heft when holding it and the print is on the small side, it was packed with valuable information. This clearly, but not quite concisely, discussed each of the six components of the system (Vision, People, Data, Issues, Processes, and Traction) and then brings them all together in a final chapter. The Organizational Checkup quiz at the beginning was a nice tool to determine your starting point as well. This was certainly not a light read, but it would make for wise and informative, while not quite pleasurable, reading for any entrepreneur desiring to make his or her business all it can be.

★★★★ = Really Liked It




Saturday, April 10, 2010

Review: The Yellow Hummer by Ivet Graham-Morgan

What has Santa brought Jordan this year?


A shiny yellow Hummer! It is a gift that would please any little boy, and Jordan is excited to show it to his beloved grandmother. But a terrible mishap occurs, and Jordan is very sad-that is, until he makes a very important discovery. Are things more important than people? It is a lesson that will forever stay with him.


Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets three stars. It was a quite cute children's book with nice illustrations. I didn't really understand what year this was supposed to take place in since the remote control for the Hummer had a cord, but I can get over that. There were also some clothing continuity issues in the illustrations with Jordan's outfits which were mildly distracting. I'm also not entirely sure of the story's moral as it was a bit confusing. Nonetheless, this was a cute story that many children might enjoy.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Friday, April 9, 2010

Review: Corked by Kathryn Burel

Meet Kathryn Borel, bon vivant and undutiful daughter. Now meet her father, Philippe, former chef, eccentric genius, and wine aficionado extraordinaire. Kathryn is like her father in every way but one: she's totally ignorant when it comes to wine. And although Philippe has devoted untold parenting hours to delivering impassioned oenological orations, she has managed to remain unenlightened. But after an accident and a death, Kathryn realizes that by shutting herself off to her father's greatest passion, she will never really know him. Accordingly, she proposes a drunken father-daughter road trip. Corked is the uncensored account of their tour through the great wine regions of France. Uproarious, poignant, painfully introspective, and filled with cunning little details about wine, this is a book for any reader who has sought a connection with a complex family member or wanted to overcome the paralyzing terror of being faced with a restaurant wine list.



Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets three stars. While the book was nicely written with an overall friendly feel I just wasn't feeling it. Don't get me wrong, it was a good enough book, but it just didn't do much for me personally. Perhaps this was due to the fact that I didn't particularly like the author as a person. I also didn't quite grasp why someone barely thirty years old wrote a memoir. It just struck me as odd. I did find many of her stories interesting, and the chapters were nicely sized for easy breaking. Perhaps if you are really into memoirs this would be for you.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Thursday, April 8, 2010

Guest Post: Renee & Don Martin authors of The Risk Takers

Renee & Don Martin, authors of the book The Risk Takers: 16 Women and Men Who Built Great Businesses Share Their Entrepreneurial Strategies For Success, stopped by to share with us a piece they wrote.



Three Secret Weapons for Entrepreneurs
By Renee & Don Martin,
Author of The Risk Takers: 16 Women and Men Who Built Great Businesses Share Their Entrepreneurial Strategies For Success

Whether you're considering starting your own business -- or looking for ways to expand an existing enterprise -- there are three time-tested secret weapons you can use to help gain a sharp competitive edge. These weapons are three broad business strategies that can help you to create a new business or push your company to the next level of success:
  • Go on a treasure hunt and find an underserved niche
  • Buck the conventional wisdom
  • Spot a new trend and pounce
If you adopt these strategies as your entrepreneurial mantras, so to speak, you're more likely to identify and take advantage of real opportunities to expand your company's product line and customer base. The stories of America's highest-achieving entrepreneurs prove that applying these strategies in imaginative, clever and timely ways can help catapult a small start-up to the status of industry leader.

1. Go on a Treasure Hunt and Find an Underserved Niche

In the business world, there's nothing more exciting than finding an underserved niche that represents a lucrative market that everyone else has failed to spot and target. That's like finding gold bullion at a crowded beach -- it was there for everyone else to see, but you were the one who took notice of that golden glint in the sand.

That's what happened to Gary and Diane Heavin, founders of the Curves International fitness franchise system. When the company launched in 1992, the Heavins had just $10,000 in savings to invest in their company. Today, Curves is the world's largest fitness franchise system, with 10,000 franchise locations in 65 countries.

How did Curves soar to the top? Instead of competing head-to-head with fitness giants like 24 Hour Fitness or Bally Total Fitness, the Heavins opted to serve the fitness needs of three underserved niches: middle-age and older women who are eager to get in shape but might feel intimidated by large gyms teeming with young, hard bodies; busy working women whose schedules could more easily accommodate the Curves 30-minute workout; and budget-conscious women who simply couldn't afford the pricey monthly membership dues charged by the major gym chains. Early on, Curves clearly distinguished itself from the pack of gym competitors; its services and clientele were different.

Targeting an underserved niche is a path that small start-ups can take. Even a huge multi-billion-dollar company can't offer everything for everyone. Targeting the right niche -- one that other business owners have neglected or ignored -- can help build a strong and loyal customer base while limiting competition.

Another entrepreneur who followed this strategy was Liz Lange. She launched a phenomenally successful designer maternity clothing company. Liz Lange Maternity eventually sold for an estimated $50 to $60 million in 2007. She also partnered with Target to launch a secondary, discount version of her line.

Like the Heavins, Lange reached the heights of success by targeting an underserved niche. In her case, that meant zeroing in on the needs of pregnant fashionistas -- women who refused to let a pregnancy deprive them of their fashion sense. Lange used newly developed stretch fabrics to create chic, fitted and stylish maternity clothes. They were nothing like the tent-like and frumpy maternity clothes widely available in department stores.

2. Buck the Conventional Wisdom

Bucking the conventional wisdom means ignoring those who say "It won't work" or "It's never been done that way." When entrepreneurs overly rely on conventional formulas for success, they're left with a business that's, well, conventional.

The most successful entrepreneurs are willing to veer away from established formulas and ways of thinking. If you've launched your own business, don't just blindly accept the so-called best practices of your industry. Look at them with a hyper-critical eye. Dissect them, slice and dice them, contemplate different "what if" scenarios in your mind.

With no capital to speak of -- just $700 in cash -- John Paul DeJoria, cofounder of hair products giant John Paul Mitchell Systems, bucked the conventional wisdom when he launched the Paul Mitchell line of hair-care products and decided to sell them solely to stylists and salons -- never to supermarkets or drug stores. Today, the company boasts more than $900 million in annual salon retail sales.

That unique system of distribution nurtured exceptional customer loyalty. The Paul Mitchell brand not only provided quality hair products for use in salons; it also created a new revenue stream for the stylists. Many of their own customers bought the shampoos and conditioners for use at home.

Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, bucked conventional wisdom when she approached hosiery mills with the idea of manufacturing footless pantyhose. The product she envisioned was a body-shaping undergarment that would hide panty lines and firm up a woman's backside so she could wear her favorite slacks and open toe sandals with confidence. Blakely knew there was a market for such a product. But time and again, she was told footless panty hose was simply a bad idea. The mills were accustomed to making hosiery designed to improve the appearance of a woman's legs. But Blakely was trying to convince them to manufacture a product that was completely hidden under clothes. She got rejection after rejection. It's a good thing she persevered, though, until she finally found a willing mill in North Carolina. Today, Spanx's estimated retail sales are in the neighborhood of $350 million.

3. Spot a New Trend and Pounce

Often, a shift in cultural or economic trends will create new entrepreneurial opportunities. Sometimes that shift arises from advances in technology. Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens was paying attention to such trends when the home PC market exploded. He figured out that most PC owners had limited technical knowledge. If their hard drive crashed, they were thrown into a state of panic. But unplugging their PC and hauling it off to a repair shop, where it would stay for a week or so, wasn't an attractive option. Stephens spotted the trend, pounced and captured an emerging and underserved niche. Geek Squad made house calls.

When Stephens launched Geek Squad back in 1994, the cash-strapped college student had just $200 to invest in his business. But that same business eventually fetched millions in 2002 when he sold the business to Best Buy.

Andy and Rachel Berliner launched the Amy's Kitchen brand of organic vegetarian frozen meals because they realized that more and more Americans were trying to eat healthier diets, eschewing processed foods in favor of organic vegetables. Vegetarians themselves, the Berliners were also keenly aware that they'd have no formidable competition. They had personally sampled the frozen vegetarian meals already on the market and they were terrible. The Berliners knew if they used quality ingredients and recipes, their business would thrive. Today, Amy's Kitchen generates annual revenues of $270 million.

All these entrepreneurs are featured in a new book, The Risk Takers: 16 Women and Men Share Their Entrepreneurial Strategies for Success. The book explores in depth how hugely successful entrepreneurs have applied these three strategies -- and seven others -- to propel their business to the top of the heap.

For entrepreneurs, it's often easy to lose sight of long-term goals when you're preoccupied with day-to-day business operations. But keeping these three strategies in the forefront of your business planning can help keep you on track to take your company to the next level and beyond. Throughout the life of your business, you can channel your creative energies into finding new and fresh ways to apply these principles to create competitive advantage, expand your product line and customer base, and keep your business vital. Just think of them as your three secret weapons.

© 2010 Renee & Don Martin, author of The Risk Takers: 16 Women and Men Who Built Great Businesses Share Their Entrepreneurial Strategies For Success



About the book:

The Risk Takers is about ordinary people, all with good ideas, who faced daunting challenges, but took a leap of faith and started their own business. The book tells the stories of the personal and professional journeys of sixteen fascinating men and women who built hugely successful, multimillion dollar companies. They started with very little, opted to strike out on their own, and struggled with disappointment and failure. Yet, they overcame adversity and through persistence and resiliency determined their own destiny.

You’ll meet the founders of companies familiar to most Americans: Geek Squad, Curves, Liz Lange Maternity, Kinko’s, Paul Mitchell, Spanx, Amy’s Kitchen, along with nine others. Don and Renee Martin, successful entrepreneurs in their own right, personally interviewed these men and women whose inspiring stories demonstrate it’s never been easy to start your own business and navigate it through all the inevitable storms to ultimate success—in any economy, in any era. But can be done.

The personal stories in this volume remind us of what is possible when you combine an inspired business idea with faith and tenacity. It’s the right book at the right time—it’s time to resurrect The American Dream.



About Renee & Don Martin:

Don Martin epitomizes the rags-to-riches entrepreneur success story. Raised in poverty in a small town in the Ohio Valley, over the next four decades he founded and built the largest privately held insurance brokerage in California: Cal-Surance. Ranked in the top fifty of insurance brokerages in the U.S., Cal-Surance generated over $200 million in annual revenue.

Renee Martin was a dynamic real estate broker when she switched careers entirely, to work in community service. She became a rape counselor, a court-appointed special advocate for The Children's Court (CASA), a director of community relations of a child abuse crisis center, and a public relations spokesperson for many community organizations. After publication of the book, she and Don coauthored, The Survival Guide for Women, she became a frequent and popular speaker at women's seminars across the country.

The Martins also collaborated on TeamThink: Using the Sports Connection to Develop, Motivate, and Manage a Winning Business Team. They live in Palos Verdes, California.

For more information, please visit www.RiskTakersBook.com.