Thursday, May 30, 2013

Review: Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter by Melissa Francis

The Glass Castle meets The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother in this dazzlingly honest and provocative family memoir by former child actress and current Fox Business Network anchor Melissa Francis.

When Melissa Francis was eight years old, she won the role of lifetime: playing Cassandra Cooper Ingalls, the little girl who was adopted with her brother (played by young Jason Bateman) by the Ingalls family on the world’s most famous primetime soap opera, Little House on the Prairie. Despite her age, she was already a veteran actress, living a charmed life, moving from one Hollywood set to the next. But behind the scenes, her success was fueled by the pride, pressure, and sometimes grinding cruelty of her stage mother, as fame and a mother’s ambition pushed her older sister deeper into the shadows. Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter is a fascinating account of life as a child star in the 1980’s, and also a startling tale of a family under the care of a highly neurotic, dangerously competitive “tiger mother.” But perhaps most importantly, now that Melissa has two sons of her own, it’s a meditation on motherhood, and the value of pushing your children: how hard should you push a child to succeed, and at what point does your help turn into harm?



Received for review.

I'll be the first to admit it, I'm not one who enjoys the "poor little rich girl" memoirs so many actresses are putting out these days.  Yeah, yeah, you're neurotic but you're rich and neurotic.  Get back to me when you have a real problem.  Thankfully this isn't quite the "life is so tough for rich little me" story that I was expecting and, frankly, dreading.

The author's mother was downright crazy and reminds me so much of the freaky mothers who were always at the dance classes of my youth, watching their daughters, recording the steps in a little notebook, and actually scheduling practice time for them so they could be perfect.  It was more than a bit disturbing to see this trend taken to the extreme by the author's mother and recognize the toll it can take not only on the child but on the child's siblings.

If you're looking for a frank, engaging memoir this is it.  You simply will not be disappointed, regardless of whether or not you are a Little House on the Prairie fan.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Book Excerpt: Your Ultimate Life Plan by Jennifer Howard

Jennifer Howard, author of the book Your Ultimate Life Plan, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from her book.






About the book:

Your Ultimate Life Plan will help you improve every moment of your life by teaching you how to build:

  • Confidence: Remove what's stopping you.
  • Strength: Move from your wounded ego into your sacred self.
  • Courage: Make smarter choices by embracing the Four Dimensions of Consciousness.
  • Success: Rise to your next level of happiness, clarity, and transformation.

Your Ultimate Life Plan is the distillation of Dr. Howard's 20-plus years of experience as a psychotherapist and spiritual teacher. This "workshop in a book" will help you do more than understand your Wholeness--you will experience it.



About the author:

Jennifer Howard, PhD, teaches the art of conscious living. She is an internationally acclaimed psychotherapist, life and business coach, professional speaker, teacher, and energy healer. A leading expert on spirituality and psychology, Dr. Howard has appeared on numerous national network television shows and is a Huffington Post blogger. As creator and host of the award-nominated radio talk show, A Conscious Life, her wisdom, warmth, and sense of humor shine through. She lives in New York. For more information, visit: DrJenniferHoward.com and YourUltimateLifePlan.com.




Sunday, May 26, 2013

Review: Work Women Want by Jennifer Forest

Work when you want, care for your kids and still make money.

This books shares 12 mothers’ journeys to creating money at home or in part-time jobs.

Explore how to make home-based income: Etsy, Elance, eBay, party plan, blogging, multilevel marketing, share trading, daycare, creative entrepreneurs and professional service businesses.

This practical book teaches:

  • 14 ways to make money at home
  • How to negotiate a part-time job
  • The 7 questions that help you find your authentic work
  • What it really takes to make money at home
  • An 8-step action plan to get you started
Create the life you want for you and your family today!



Received for review.

Despite what you may think, this book is not just for women with children - it applies to any woman (or man, really) who wants to change the way she or he creates income.

This comprehensive guide covers everything from downsizing your hours at your full time job to striking out on your own with a home based business (parties, freelance, investing, etc.).  It truthfully discusses all the relevant information as to what income can really be made in the venture (versus what the company promises), what initial investment is required, and what sort of hours the enterprise will entail.

Although this could have stood another trip through the proofreader's hands it was well written and intelligently discussed the options in an open, honest manner.

I highly recommend this to those looking into working from home.  It will help clarify your options for you and make a decision about what is best for you.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Saturday, May 25, 2013

Review: Marriage Matters by Cynthia Ellingsen

She barely has time to attend a wedding, let alone plan one, but Chloe has just caught the bouquet. So has her married mother… and her widowed grandmother. With three generations set to walk down the aisle, each “I do” sounds more improbable than the last.

On top of grad school, clinical hours, and part-time work, Chloe is surprised to find a ring on her finger. Sharing the news about the engagement is easy, except with her best friend. Their relationship has always been platonic...so why is Chloe so afraid he is going to object?

Kristine is successful at running her travel bookstore, but her twenty-five year marriage is on the rocks. When her husband suggests a vow renewal ceremony, she agrees to say I Do...until a tempting employee makes her wonder whether or not she wants to be married at all.

June knows what’s best for her and everyone around her. Given a second chance at love, she’s delighted to plan the family wedding of her dreams. But when June gets a little carried away in her enthusiasm, she risks losing more than the love of her life... she risks losing her family.

In Cynthia Ellingsen’s heartwarming and hilarious novel of first loves, second chances, and unexpected twists, three generations of brides-to-be discover that love is always better as a family affair.She barely has time to attend a wedding, let alone plan one, but Chloe has just caught the bouquet. So has her married mother… and her widowed grandmother. With three generations set to walk down the aisle, each “I do” sounds more improbable than the last.



Received for review.

I'm not normally one for chick lit, but this looked like a fun little read and it was.  It was a delightful, but rather long, read reminiscent of a Nora Ephron movie - fun and family and love.

I highly recommend this for those looking for a fun, light, beach read.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review: Music for the End of the World by Michael Linford

December 21, 2012.

The day the world will end.

Will sits on Parliament Hill, looking out over London. He has enough time to listen to twenty final songs.

As he listens to his apocalyptic playlist, he contemplates his 35 years on earth, through childhood and his lost loves; the friends he makes along the way and his struggles with alcoholism; his first rock festival and the Camden alternative scene he loves, and that provides the soundtrack to it all.

Twenty songs. What would you choose?



Received for review.

I was intrigued by the concept of choosing just 20 songs to represent your life.  What a fascinating idea!  We all remember the song that was playing when something important happened so I was looking forward to a story that discussed someone else's songs.  I will mention here that my list would contain several Madonna songs, representing some very different memories, which I found quite thought provoking in and of itself.

The author carries this idea through very well, providing a short narrative for each of the main character's songs.  While the book is really quite good as a story itself, it is even better as an impetus to start the reader thinking about his or her own life soundtrack and how much music has become entwined with our memories.

I highly recommend this to music fans everywhere.  It will be an interesting read and will start you on an interesting journey into your music life.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



If you'd like to share, what are some of the songs that you would choose as being particularly meaningful in your life?



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Featured Book: Viva Laughter! by Patrick Shannon



About the book:

Treat this book like a box of snacks.

Place it beside your favorite easy chair or atop your nightstand, to be on hand when those sudden cravings for something quick and delectable unsettle the mind.

Or use it to ease the tedium of your next long trip.

It may be opened and sampled anytime and anywhere that you feel the world owes you a little treat.

Some of its confections are sweet; some tart.

Some are petite; others of a size to be savored a bit longer.

And while you may discover a hidden message here or there, their main objective is to make you laugh.



About the author:

Patrick Shannon enjoys the comedic side of human nature, and he can think of no higher honor than someday to be remembered as a bona fide humorist.

His award winning book, “Letters From Wheatfield”, spins yarns about an eccentric town in Montana. His other award winning book, “Viva Cisco”, offers three humorous stories for young readers.

He is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi scholarship society and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.




Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Book Excerpt: Your Ultimate Life Plan by Jennifer Howard

Jennifer Howard, author of the book Your Ultimate Life Plan, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from her book.






About the book:

Your Ultimate Life Plan will help you improve every moment of your life by teaching you how to build:

  • Confidence: Remove what's stopping you.
  • Strength: Move from your wounded ego into your sacred self.
  • Courage: Make smarter choices by embracing the Four Dimensions of Consciousness.
  • Success: Rise to your next level of happiness, clarity, and transformation.

Your Ultimate Life Plan is the distillation of Dr. Howard's 20-plus years of experience as a psychotherapist and spiritual teacher. This "workshop in a book" will help you do more than understand your Wholeness--you will experience it.



About the author:

Jennifer Howard, PhD, teaches the art of conscious living. She is an internationally acclaimed psychotherapist, life and business coach, professional speaker, teacher, and energy healer. A leading expert on spirituality and psychology, Dr. Howard has appeared on numerous national network television shows and is a Huffington Post blogger. As creator and host of the award-nominated radio talk show, A Conscious Life, her wisdom, warmth, and sense of humor shine through. She lives in New York. For more information, visit: DrJenniferHoward.com and YourUltimateLifePlan.com.




Monday, May 20, 2013

Featured Book: Mystical Speed by Hubert Guscott



About the book:

When five track athletes from New York set off for Jamaica to learn the secret of Jamaican sprinting, they find out much more than they bargained for.

What is responsible for the Jamaicans’ success? Is it the yams? The water? Drugs—or voodoo?

Mystical Speed is a fast-paced adventure set against the lush backdrop of Jamaica.

The athletes’ quest will take them through the hills of Trelawny, the Parish of Manchester, Accompong Town, and the Coronation Market—but will they live to tell the secrets that only the locals know?






About the author:

Hubert Guscott was born in Kingston, Jamaica. He represented Wolmer’s Boys School in Track and Field. In 1980, he migrated to the United States of America and competed in track and field for Hunter College.

He has won several bodybuilding titles, including Mr. Hunter College and Mr. CUNY. Over the past eight years, he has worked with several national and international track and field coaches, and has successfully completed the Level 1 Track and Field Coaching Certification program.




Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review: Budget Savvy Diva's Guide to Slashing Your Grocery Bill by 50% or More by Sara Lundberg

SHOP SMART. SAVE BIG. EAT GREAT!

Do you want to score the hottest bargains and best deals? It’s easier than you think! In this helpful pocket guide, Sara Lundberg, author of the super-saver website BudgetSavvyDiva.com, reveals her cleverest, most effective and down-right sneakiest strategies for saving money while filling the cart with all your favorite foods. Thanks to the advice in this book, you’ll quickly be navigating the grocery aisles like a pro:

•Tips for maximizing coupons
•Tricks for finding hidden bargains
•Delicious recipes that stretch every dollar
•Techniques for smart, stress-free shopping



Received for review.

This cute little book is a great introduction to couponing and cooking at home for those new to the topic.  It covers everything from organizing your pantry and freezer to shopping for ingredients to recipes to use said ingredients.

It is well written in a friendly, accessible style and is extremely well organized so you can reference the exact sections you need right away.

I highly recommend this to those who are dipping a toe into the couponing and home cooking subject.  You will not be disappointed!

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Saturday, May 18, 2013

Review: Activate Your Goodness by Shari Arison

Activate Your Goodness is a practical guide for doing good for yourself and others, offering you inspiration for immediate improvement of your life and the lives of those around you. Author Shari Arison, visionary businesswoman and philanthropist, is candid about her own personal stories and also provides examples from others who have made a difference by thinking, speaking, and doing good.

As one of the world’s most powerful women and the owner of a business empire that spans the globe, Shari describes her extraordinary experiences and how she has integrated the power of doing good in all aspects of her life and career.

The unexpected and delightful insight that emerges from the book proves that when you find a way to do good for others, you also do good for yourself. This is a book to share with your loved ones and those who are partners in your desire to create a better world for future generations. Activate your goodness, and discover ways to make your life joyful beyond measure!



Received for review.

First of all, this is an absolutely adorable little book!  It fits perfectly int eh hand, and the text is easy readable, which is a huge bonus!

The book's message is really quite nice - do the best you can with what you have where you are.  The author presents her message in a very upbeat and positive way and the actions she describes are reasonable.

So, what kept this from being four stars?  Well, frankly, it was the author's introduction.  The author was a "poor little rich girl" with a maid and absentee parents who traveled constantly.  Yeah, it's tough to feel bad for her.  Had the revelations about the author's wealth and attitudes come at the end of the book I would have rated it higher, but having to hear how "tough" it was for her as a rich child in the introduction tainted the remainder of the book.

Overall, this was intriguing and very Oprah-esque and is a nice read, but, by all means, skip the introduction.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Friday, May 17, 2013

Featured Book: The Southern Chapter of the Big Girl Panties Club by Lynda Stephenson



About the book:

The year is 1958, and schools in the South are rebelling against the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education. In the beginning, Frankilee Baxter, a freshman at Athena College, is not concerned with racial issues. Instead, she is determined to improve her looks, pledge a sorority, find a steady boyfriend and make her name as a journalist at the college newspaper. Her plans are changed, however, when she befriends Eleanor Wilson, the only Negro student on campus. Eleanor is the daughter of a northern minister who is a prominent leader in the NAACP. When life becomes almost more painful and confusing than they can bear, Frankilee and her friends in the dormitory form The Southern Chapter of the Big Girl Panties Club, and they invite Eleanor to join. The BGPC members stand together to protect Eleanor from acts of discrimination. The story also deals with the blossoming love of Frankilee for Trace Godwin, a popular star basketball player and the pledge trainer of his fraternity. When a boy in Trace’s fraternity is seriously injured during a campout, the narrative takes a dark turn of mystery and deceit. More complications arise when Frankilee spends Easter weekend with Trace’s wealthy, dysfunctional family. A quirky story of love, discrimination, forgiveness, and redemption, The Southern Chapter of the Big Girl Panties Club follows Frankilee and her friends during their freshman year.






About the author:

Lynda Stephenson’s first novel, Dancing with Elvis, introduces the irreverent teenager, Frankilee Baxter, who is both charming and sharp-tongued. Published in 2005, fifty years after Brown vs. Board of Education, Dancing with Elvis was chosen by Book Sense for Teen Readers and was a finalist for the Oklahoma Center for the Book Award. It was named an International Reading Association Book Award Notable. In addition to other accolades, the book received the Delta Kappa Gamma Young Adult/Adult Award in 2007. Born and reared in the West Texas Panhandle, Stephenson attended Trinity University in San Antonio and then received her Master’s Degree and doctoral work in English from the University of Oklahoma. A former English professor at East Central University, Ada, Oklahoma, she is a prolific writer of poetry, essays, and short stories. She currently lives with her husband, Gene, in Edmond, Oklahoma.




Thursday, May 16, 2013

Review: The Collected Poems by Marcel Proust

For the centennial of Swann's Way: the most complete volume of Proust's poetry ever assembled, in a gorgeous deluxe edition As a young man, Proust wrote both poetry and prose. Even after he embarked on his masterful In Search of Lost Time at the age of thirty-eight, he never stopped writing poetry. His verse is often playful, filled with affection and satire, and is peppered with witty barbs at friends and people in his social circle of aristocrats, writers, musicians, and courtesans.

Few of the poems collected here under the editorship of Harold Augenbraum, founder of the Proust Society of America, have ever been published in book form or translated into English until now. In this dual-language edition of new translations, Augenbraum has brought together nineteen renowned poets and poetry translators to bring Proust's exuberant verse back to life.




Received for review.

I'll admit that I'm not a huge poetry fan.  I think English class in high school drove all possible fondness for poetry right out of me.  However, this beautiful volume has restored a bit of it to me.

First, his particular edition is beautifully presented with those lovely almost torn edged pages and the text is a nice, readable size.  The book itself is also of a good size to hold in the hand comfortably.

The text itself has both the original French poems (printed on the left hand pages) as well as the English translations (printed on the right hand pages) which makes for delightful reading.  There are also numerous notes about the poems presented in the latter part of the book for additional background information.

If you're looking for a delightful volume of Proust's poems, this is the edition to get.  You simply cannot go wrong with the presentation.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Featured Book: A Human Menagerie by Rob Kleinsteuber



About the book:

Let me be your guide through a brief tour of some of our fellow humans, with foibles and follies on display to bring smiles and sighs. You may recognize a neighbor, a coworker, or even a little of yourself.


About the author:

Rob Kleinsteuber is a writer and artist who lives in Washington, D.C. His artistic talent surfaced in his early teens, taking prizes in adult fine art competitions. He has been a communications manager for Fortune 500 corporations, an ad agency account executive, and an editor. As an illustrator, he has done freelance work for local and national publications based in the Washington-Baltimore area.

Rob lives in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, where he shares a home and art studio with his partner of 18 years. He continues to write, to paint and sculpt- and to observe.




Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Book Excerpt: Your Ultimate Life Plan by Jennifer Howard

Jennifer Howard, author of the book Your Ultimate Life Plan, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from her book.






About the book:

Your Ultimate Life Plan will help you improve every moment of your life by teaching you how to build:

  • Confidence: Remove what's stopping you.
  • Strength: Move from your wounded ego into your sacred self.
  • Courage: Make smarter choices by embracing the Four Dimensions of Consciousness.
  • Success: Rise to your next level of happiness, clarity, and transformation.

Your Ultimate Life Plan is the distillation of Dr. Howard's 20-plus years of experience as a psychotherapist and spiritual teacher. This "workshop in a book" will help you do more than understand your Wholeness--you will experience it.



About the author:

Jennifer Howard, PhD, teaches the art of conscious living. She is an internationally acclaimed psychotherapist, life and business coach, professional speaker, teacher, and energy healer. A leading expert on spirituality and psychology, Dr. Howard has appeared on numerous national network television shows and is a Huffington Post blogger. As creator and host of the award-nominated radio talk show, A Conscious Life, her wisdom, warmth, and sense of humor shine through. She lives in New York. For more information, visit: DrJenniferHoward.com and YourUltimateLifePlan.com.




Monday, May 13, 2013

Featured Book: Terry by Terry Wadsworth Warne



About the book:

As a young child, Terry Wadsworth’s days were full of happiness and adventure. Her father grew pineapples in the rich, dark, soil on a remote plateau at the edge of the Philippine jungle, and life---like the golden pineapples—was sweet. She had a little pony and lived in a beautiful compound that the company had built. The only threats to her edenic life were the occasional cobra or python---that is, until a much fiercer enemy struck 5,000 miles away at Pearl Harbor. Within hours of the surprise attack in Hawaii, the Japanese military launched a similar assault on the Philippine Islands and began their campaign to overtake the American Protectorate, with Terry and her family on the dangerous battlefront. Soon the peaceful skies above their paradisiacal home were swarming with military war machines. General Douglas MacArthur and family, Philippine President Manuel Quezon and family, plus many other important people hid from the Japanese in Terry’s remote home as they secretly left the Philippines for Australia. As the fighting intensified, Terry’s family abandoned their home to hide in the dense mountain jungle and wait for an opportunity to escape to Australia. But when the Japanese pushed the American forces into retreat, Terry and her family found themselves with only one option. Surrender! This is a story of survival in spite of disease, starvation, and death’s beckoning. Terry’s unconquerable spirit as an eight-to eleven- year-old prisoner of war is a reminder that even in the most deplorable circumstances, life is what you make of it. Amazing!






About the author:

TERRY WADSWORTH WARNE drew on her childhood experiences as a prisoner of war to focus on helping children as an adult. Terry served as a foster parent for drug babies and abused, neglected children for 22 years in California. She received many awards in recognition of her service. In Utah, Governor Michael Leavitt presented her with a Mother of the Year Award. She was active in Scouting for 25 years and is a Silver Beaver. Terry currently lives in South Jordan, Utah.



Sunday, May 12, 2013

Review: Six Sisters' Stuff

Cook, craft, and create with recipes, projects, and ideas from the enormously popular blog SixSistersStuff.com. Every recipe and project included in this book is quick, easy, and fun. More than 100 family-favorite recipes (including an entire section of slow-cooker recipes), use ingredients commonly found in your pantry. The crafts and home d├ęcor projects have easy-to-follow instructions with photographs and can be made with little or no money. "We don't profess to be amazing chefs," they claim. "We just know the importance of feeding our families a home-cooked meal and sitting down to eat it together. Our mom and dad taught us so many great values, and we are thankful that they instilled the importance of family time in our lives. Even the busiest of people can make the food and project ideas we share, which will give you even more time to spend with your family and loved ones.



Received for review.

This is an absolutely huge coffee table sized paperback volume!  It is beautifully photographed and simply stuffed with yummy recipes and craft ideas!

Granted, some of the recipes do call for such horrors as "cream of" soups, cake mix, frosting from a can, and Velveeta (shudder), the remainder are easy to make, and contain ingredients that you would actually feed your family and are easily accessible at your local grocery store.

The craft and kids ideas are interesting and relatively easy to make as well.

I highly recommend this for someone who is looking for fast, easy meals, desserts, and crafts.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Saturday, May 11, 2013

Review: Air Keep by J. Scott Savage

The adventure continues . . . It's been six months since Marcus and Kyja obtained the help of the land and water elementals, but before they can secure the help from the mysterious air elementals, the two friends must first be reunited. A task easier said than done.

While attempting to return to Farworld, Marcus finds himself in the Abyss of Time, facing four doors: the Is, the Was, the Will Be, and the Never Was. What he learns in that dangerous place has the potential to change his life—and Kyja's. But does he have the courage to tell her what he learned? And in Farworld, a terrible drought has seized the land, hinting that perhaps there is a traitor in the elementals' midst.

As Marcus and Kyja desperately search for the air elementals, they must first answer the question "Who can we trust?"



Received for review.

Although this is supposed to be the review for the third book in the Farworld series, I'm going to review all three books in one go so you won't have to read the same review three times!

This series strongly reminds me of James Dashner's 13th Reality series (which is a good thing).  The magic and the characters are a combination of the 13th Reality, Harry Potter, and Narnia, which sounds odd, but works quite well.

The stories were quite interesting and drew you in right away with intriguing characters and situations.  I won't give too much away about the stories, but the books form a nice story arc, yet are complete in themselves.

I highly recommend this intelligent, extremely well written series and am eagerly awaiting a fourth volume!

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Friday, May 10, 2013

Featured Book: Before the Poisoned Apple by L.S.Dubbleyew



About the book:

Long before the Time of the Ancients, two Scrolls were created― one for the lands and one for the skies. Those written words hold all worldly mysteries; they reveal all secrets. With those words, eternal domination can be had. And She who wrote them, hid them. Because the greatest evil seeks them. There is a prophecy: “If the Seven fail in defending all, the hearts, the pillars, the love, will fall.” Two babies are saved from certain death and hidden, as their fate is to marry and grow a family. An exceptional family of seven brothers. Of seven little men. Their world is a deadly one. In the vast, bewitched land within The Reach, there are dragon-elves, witches, ogres and Kings. It is a world of evil castles holding deadly spirits. Where demons ride lightning and mountains can move. Where blood-trolls lurk deep in the ground. And below them…still deeper terrors lie. Follow the seven and their family as they battle for their lives while a greater fate unfolds before them... to protect The Scrolls. From the day they were born, the wicked have them marked. Every turn is a test of loyalty and strength. And love alone is not enough to ward off horrors and evil. Share the family’s happiness as special friends come into their lives, and grieve with them as loved ones are taken. Before The Poisoned Apple is the first in the series, Brave Tales of Seven Little Men. An epic tale: dramatic, imaginative, magical and fun. Grow with them, for their story doesn’t end with the princess whose skin is as white as snow.



About the author:

Before the Poisoned Apple is the debut novel written by author, LS Dubbleyew. In his own words..."It's the first in a series of books about characters known and loved by all, but whose true tale has never been told. Long before they saved Snow White, the seven little men lived a life of battles and wonder. And their story didn't end with Snow White. Their quests are legendary... but nobody knows about them! Until now." In the epic traditions of The Lord of The Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, and the Harry Potter Series, LS Dubbleyew brings his love of fantasy and family together in an amazing story of life and loyalty.




Thursday, May 9, 2013

Review: 9 Squares by E.K. Prescott

The year is 1923, and Richard Wikki, a former detective from Scotland Yard and now a professor at the prestigious Yale University in New Haven, CT, misses his days of crime solving. Maize Judson has enrolled at Yale with hopes of becoming an investigative journalist.

When Maize and her friend find a skeleton buried in the sand at the beach with a mysterious amulet wrapped around its fingers, she and Richard set out to solve a murder.

But Richard soon finds himself following well-planted illusionary clues, and as he continues to investigate, a series of events shake the depths of his philosophical, religious and spiritual beliefs, as well as his perspective on life... forever.



Received for review.

A mystery set in 1923 in New Haven, Connecticut.  Really, how could I resist this being a Nutmegger myself?

Although the New Haven of 1923 is significantly cleaner and rather idealized in the book the characters were intriguing and the story believable.

I wouldn't so far as to call this a charming addition to the cozy genre but it was intelligent and well written and I am looking forward to future releases in the series.

I certainly recommend this to independent cozy mystery fans.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Featured Book: Live to Tell Your Story by Dave LaRue



About the book:

In this book Dave shares the stories that provided him with lessons and inspiration on his way to becoming a successful leader and entrepreneur, and he encourages the reader to look at their own life as a collection of stories full of priceless lessons and powerful inspiration.


About the author:

Dave LaRue is an international businessman and entrepreneur who owns and leads more than a dozen thriving companies. He also spends a great deal of time coaching entrepreneurs on how to achieve the same level of success that he is enjoying in life. Experience has taught Dave that life is about decisions. Deciding what your values are, what habits work best for you, and what your true talents are make it possible to ask the right questions, set the right goals, and make the best decisions possible to chart the path to your own success. But while you’re on that path, some of the lessons life has to teach us come from encounters and situations we hadn’t sought out or anticipated, and Dave believes that the stories that come to each individual this way can offer each person an invaluable chance to learn who they truly are—and what action must be taken to live their life accordingly.




Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Book Excerpt: Your Ultimate Life Plan by Jennifer Howard

Jennifer Howard, author of the book Your Ultimate Life Plan, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from her book.






About the book:

Your Ultimate Life Plan will help you improve every moment of your life by teaching you how to build:

  • Confidence: Remove what's stopping you.
  • Strength: Move from your wounded ego into your sacred self.
  • Courage: Make smarter choices by embracing the Four Dimensions of Consciousness.
  • Success: Rise to your next level of happiness, clarity, and transformation.

Your Ultimate Life Plan is the distillation of Dr. Howard's 20-plus years of experience as a psychotherapist and spiritual teacher. This "workshop in a book" will help you do more than understand your Wholeness--you will experience it.



About the author:

Jennifer Howard, PhD, teaches the art of conscious living. She is an internationally acclaimed psychotherapist, life and business coach, professional speaker, teacher, and energy healer. A leading expert on spirituality and psychology, Dr. Howard has appeared on numerous national network television shows and is a Huffington Post blogger. As creator and host of the award-nominated radio talk show, A Conscious Life, her wisdom, warmth, and sense of humor shine through. She lives in New York. For more information, visit: DrJenniferHoward.com and YourUltimateLifePlan.com.




Monday, May 6, 2013

Featured Book: The Silver Moon by Sadie Wheaton



About the book:

Sadie Wheaton and her three friends have always been close, but they’ve bonded even more strongly during their experiences together in Wizard School.

Now in their third year, young Sadie discovers that she has a rare gift … she can cast a very special spell.

Sadie’s talent is noticed by someone who does not have her best interests at heart … someone who wants to control Sadie and use her gifts for selfish gain.

The Silver Moon is a funny, suspenseful, enchanting story that will have you on the edge of your seat, and eagerly anticipating the next book in the series.



About the author:

Charita Padilla is a mother of two, married for eight years. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut. This is her second book.




Sunday, May 5, 2013

Review: The Alchemist War by John Seven

When their parents, two temporal researchers who travel through time to document history, are transferred to 16th-century Prague, Dawk and Hype hardly expect to find themselves in the middle of an alchemical mystery.

In fact, the new, boring job is meant to be a punishment for Dawk and Hype’s bad behavior at their last temporal post. 

The two teenagers are from the 25th century—how could medieval Prague compare?

But when they meet a man who claims he can turn metal into gold, Dawk and Hype find out that Prague holds deeper secrets.



E-galley received for review.

I gather this is supposed to be the second in the Time-Tripping Faradays series, but the publisher did not offer the first for review and I could not find any information about it online. So, not having read the first (I think) book, the second was a bit confusing to begin with since you were not familiar with the world or the characters, but you quickly became acclimated enough to enjoy the story, although there were, necessarily, some things that were still unclear.

Overall, this was a pleasant read with a fun concept and likable characters. I certainly recommend this volume and I hope to see many more releases in the series.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



Saturday, May 4, 2013

Review: Your Soul Contract Decoded by Nicolas David Ngan

Inside your birth name hides the blueprint of your life. Unlock those secrets with this ancient system of numerology based on Hebrew glyphs, and release your full potential! Your Soul Contract Decoded reveals that there is an underlying plan, a carefully designed spiritual map that guides us—and then it empowers seekers to navigate their challenges, find and express their strengths, and manifest their dreams. By revealing your karmic patterns, it enables you to access your life's true purpose and finally achieve your soul destiny.


E-galley received for review.

Frankly, I have absolutely nothing positive to say about this book except that the concept was interesting.  Other than that it was a total fail.

I can't even describe this as bad since it went so far beyond bad as to make mere bad look halfway good.  Really, it was that unfortunate.

The book was badly designed and executed with no explanations.  First, you are supposed to take a chart and fill in the numbers that correspond to your birth name.  It sounds simple enough, but the reality is a nightmare.  There are so many charts and such that it takes a Ph.D. to actually complete said chart.  Then the math!  I mean, adding things up isn't a problem but the descriptions of just HOW to add them up are just, well, unhelpful.  Think of the absolute worst word problem you've ever experienced and double it.  That is how horrific the experience is, and I'm not even bad at math and I was armed with a calculator to boot!  The author offers a free name calculator on his website but it is impossible to get an account to log in, so don't even bother with that!

As if getting the numbers themselves isn't bad enough, then comes pages upon pages of so called interpretations of the numbers which provide no intelligent assistance whatsoever in actually interpreting your numbers.

Really, this is just bad, bad, bad and may as well have been written in a completely different language since it was so incomprehensible!

Do not pick this up unless you feel the need to bring yourself to the verge of tears of frustration from the horror of trying to interpret this nightmare.

☆☆ = Didn't Like It



Friday, May 3, 2013

Featured Book: Ol' Shakey by Byron Gene Fish



About the book:

After a lifetime of flying, with experience ranging from novice airman to Director of Training and Standards for a top name in the field, there’s almost nothing Gene Fish hasn’t seen. Ol’ Shakey: Memories of a Flight Engineer shares some of the most memorable stories of Gene’s Air Force and civilian career, including his stint in a Douglas Globemaster C-124, nicknamed “Ol’ Shakey” – an aircraft that had a habit of keeping flight engineers on their toes with its quirky malfunctions. From a colorful layover at Midway Island to kite-flying at Pope Air Force Base, from a terrifying episode of propeller overspeed to the dangers that pilots face every day, Gene’s stories will entertain military personnel, aviators, and anyone who is enthusiastic about the romance of flight … and the reality behind it!




About the author:

Byron Gene Fish entered the aviation field at the age of 16. He was initially trained in a Boeing PT-17 trainer, and later received his private pilot certificate in an Ercoupe 415D. He entered the Air Force to attend AF pilot training, and earned his wings and a commission as a pilot. His career was cut short with the 1962 personnel reduction in the Air Force, and he returned to the enlisted ranks to become a performance flight engineer. After retiring from the Air Force, he accepted employment with Saudi Arabian Airlines as a ground performance instructor. He then returned to the United States to work for Boeing. Following retirement from Boeing, he joined Flight Safety International in Seattle as a ground and flight simulator instructor. When FSI and Boeing merged, he remained with FSI as Director of Training and Standards. He retired in 2010 after a back injury. Gene recognized the value of education, and enrolled in college wherever he was located. He eventually completed degrees in psychology (BS, MS, and PhD) and aeronautical engineering (BS, MS, PhD). He and his wife, Rosaly, live in Normandy Park, Washington.




Thursday, May 2, 2013

Review: The Tapping Solution by Nick Ortner

Do you have things in your life that you wish were different . . . but you don’t know how to change?

The Tapping Solution offers a new technique to deal with seemingly impossible situations.

Tapping, also known as EFT, is a powerful tool for improving your life on multiple levels: mental, emotional, and physical. It has been proven to effectively address a range of issues—from anxiety, chronic pain, addiction, and fear, to weight control, financial abundance, stress relief, and so much more. It’s also one of the easiest and fastest practices to learn. You can learn it in minutes, do it anywhere and on virtually any issue, and oftentimes experience immediate results.

How does it work? Based on the principles of both ancient acupressure and modern psychology, tapping concentrates on specific meridian endpoints while focusing on negative emotions or physical sensations. Combined with spoken word, tapping helps calm the nervous system to restore the balance of energy in the body and rewire the brain to respond in healthy ways.

In this book, you’ll not only learn how to start tapping, you’ll also get the history and cutting-edge science behind it. Featuring step-by-step instructions, exercises, and diagrams, The Tapping Solution shows you how to tap on a variety of issues and identify practical applications. Plus, throughout the book, you’ll find unbelievable, real-life stories of healing, ranging from easing the pain of fibromyalgia to overcoming a fear of flying.

Find out how to release your fears and clear the limiting beliefs that hold you back from creating the life you want.

It’s time for . . . The Tapping Solution!



E-galley received for review.

I'm actually quite familiar with the Ortners and their work so I was excited to check out Nick's new book and I wasn't disappointed.

I'll start off with the one negative aspect of the book - Nick sharing his own personal experiences.  You'd think this would be productive in reading how tapping changed his life, but really it's more annoying.  So tapping helped him supposedly go from being a million dollars in debt (business debt, mind you, not credit cards or such) to married to his sister's best friend, a millionaire, and the CEO of his own company - and now a best selling author.  I mean, that's great and all that that was his experience, but I'm not sure that tapping was the catalyst for the changes he experienced, and it's really rather cruel to tell someone who is reading a self-help book that this can be their experience too if only they tap enough.  If that were true everyone who taps would be a happy, healthy, millionaire.  This is what kept it from being a five star book.

What I did like about the book was that it was the perfect introduction to the subject for newcomers to tapping.  The book presented the concept and the practical application in a clear, concise, friendly manner and you can tell that Nick actually wrote the book himself (as opposed to hiring a ghost writer as so many celebrities do) as you can hear his voice and enthusiasm in the words.

The book also contains numerous sample tapping scripts which are invaluable to newbies as they get used to what to say while tapping.  There are going to be online videos available for readers as well, but as I was reading the e-galley ahead of the release date the videos were not accessible to me so I can't comment on their content.

Those more experienced with tapping will also find the book beneficial in its discussion and clarification of various tapping aspects and the wide variety of topics covered.

This is the go-to book for tapping newbies and veterans alike.  I highly, highly recommend it!

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Featured Book: Moving Mountains by James Wilde



About the book:

The story of how my dream to climb the seven continental summits transformed into providing clean drinking water to the people of northern Uganda. In 2010, I set out to climb Everest from the north side and to complete the seven summits (climbing to the summit of the highest peak on every continent). During my training in the Himalaya, I discovered the water crisis and it changed me. It was then in 2009 when I fell ill with dysentery on Cho Oyu, forcing me to turn back on my attempt to reach the 6th highest peak on the planet. During the time I was sick, I encountered what most people without clean water experience on a regular basis. Upon my return home to Munich, I dedicated my climb of Everest to the water crisis and founded a 501(c)3 entity in the USA. I focused an entire year of my life on reaching the highest point on the planet and creating an all-volunteer organization with the goal to provide clean drinking water to the people in northern Uganda. What was originally a personal goal became a quest to deliver clean drinking water to the thirsty millions in war-stricken northern Uganda. Through this story, the charity, Global H2O, was born.



About the author:

James is a career expatriate, having worked for the majority of his career in Strategy and Finance. His most recent position was Chief Strategy Officer of Angola Telecom, based in Luanda, Angola. Having worked his way up from the lowest level analyst roles, James has made his way to more senior positions such as Director of Finance in Latin America or Operations Director for the Global Wholesale Business at British Telecom. James has an MBA in International Business and Finance and Bachelor degrees in Journalism/Marketing as well as Business Administration. He speaks English, German, French, Russian, and Portuguese as a result of living / working in the USA, France, Austria, Germany, Brazil and Russia. When not hard at work, you can find James concentrating on growing the non-profit Global H2O.