Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Featured Book: The Treasure of Snake Island by Carole P. Roman

After a fierce battle with a storm, the crew goes in search of treasure. 

Alexander, that is, Captain No Beard uses a map to locate it on the ominous sounding Snake Island. 

Bravely they dig until they find the best treasure ever!

About the author:

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012 for her first book, award winning author Carole P. Roman started writing as a dare from one of her sons. Using an imaginary game she played with her grandson as a base, Captain No Beard was born."Captain No Beard- An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life" has not only been named to Kirkus Best of 2012, it received the Star of Exceptional Merit, and won the Pinnacle Award for 2012. "Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience" Book 2 in the series, received 5 Stars from The ForeWord Review The Clarion Review. Strangers on the High Seas has won second place in the Rebecca's Reads Choice Awards 2013. It has followed with six more books to the series.

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Featured Book: If You Were Me and Lived in France by Carole P. Roman

"If You Were Me and Lived in...France-A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World" is the second book in Carole P. Roman's remarkable series about countries all over the globe. 

With each book covering a different nation, Roman opens up a world of wonder while highlighting the fact that underneath it all we are far more alike than we might have imagined. 

Focusing on what life would be like from a child's viewpoint, she examines the diversity of the people who make up our planet.

About the author:

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012 for her first book, award winning author Carole P. Roman started writing as a dare from one of her sons. Using an imaginary game she played with her grandson as a base, Captain No Beard was born."Captain No Beard- An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life" has not only been named to Kirkus Best of 2012, it received the Star of Exceptional Merit, and won the Pinnacle Award for 2012. "Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience" Book 2 in the series, received 5 Stars from The ForeWord Review The Clarion Review. Strangers on the High Seas has won second place in the Rebecca's Reads Choice Awards 2013. It has followed with six more books to the series.

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Featured Book: I Want to Do Yoga Too by Carole P. Roman

Hallie and her mother go to the yoga studio. 

Hallie wants to join her mom's yoga class, but she isn't allowed. 

She complains to the babysitter, who gently guides her through four yoga poses. 

Hallie learns that not only is yoga easy, but fun as well.

About the author:

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012 for her first book, award winning author Carole P. Roman started writing as a dare from one of her sons. Using an imaginary game she played with her grandson as a base, Captain No Beard was born."Captain No Beard- An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life" has not only been named to Kirkus Best of 2012, it received the Star of Exceptional Merit, and won the Pinnacle Award for 2012. "Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience" Book 2 in the series, received 5 Stars from The ForeWord Review The Clarion Review. Strangers on the High Seas has won second place in the Rebecca's Reads Choice Awards 2013. It has followed with six more books to the series.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Featured Book: Stuck in the Doldrums by Carole P. Roman

When the wind stops blowing, Captain No Beard and his crew, including First Mate Hallie, Linus the Lion, Fribbet the Frog, Mongo the Monkey and Polly the Parrot, are stuck on a desert island. Maroon with nothing to do, they begin to play and enjoy themselves. 

However, Captain No Beard has other ideas, bossing his crew around and making playtime cheerless for everyone. Soon, Captain No Beard decides he has had enough and storms off. 

When his ship is attacked by a giant squid, he realizes he needs his crew more than ever. Captain No Beard and his crew show young readers that's it's important to cooperate and share your belongings. 

The crew teaches us that if you want to have friends, then you must be a friend too.

About the author:

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012 for her first book, award winning author Carole P. Roman started writing as a dare from one of her sons. Using an imaginary game she played with her grandson as a base, Captain No Beard was born."Captain No Beard- An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life" has not only been named to Kirkus Best of 2012, it received the Star of Exceptional Merit, and won the Pinnacle Award for 2012. "Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience" Book 2 in the series, received 5 Stars from The ForeWord Review The Clarion Review. Strangers on the High Seas has won second place in the Rebecca's Reads Choice Awards 2013. It has followed with six more books to the series.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Excerpt: The Story of Jax and Dylan by Jamie Dean

Jamie Dean, author of The Story of Jax and Dylan, stopped by to share with us an excerpt from his book.

About the book:

Dylan and Jax were typical best friends, until Dylan fell for Jax and kissed him the night before senior prom. Dylan had to move away before they could talk about it, so he has spent ten years thinking Jax hated him for that kiss.

Reconnecting on Facebook allows them to meet again, and they quickly become as close as ever, spending most of their free time together. Dylan falls for Jax a second time, even though Jax has a girlfriend and appears to be straight.

Important secrets about Jax may lie hidden in the books he's written, but Jax has asked Dylan not to read them, and Dylan refuses to break his promise. When the truth finally surfaces, their lives will never be the same.

About the author:

Jamie Dean lives in the southwestern US with his long-time domestic partner, two dogs, two cats, and a selection of outdoor-dwelling lizards. For Jamie, writing is a way of life. He finds inspiration everywhere and sometimes can't sleep for all the ideas fighting for his attention. He's an activist, a feminist, a pansexual, and just generally a pain in the ass.

He has published two well-reviewed erotic gay romances, The Story of Jax and Dylan (Dreamspinner Press, April 2015) and The Art of Survival (JDW Press, July 2015).

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Featured Book: If You Were Me and Lived in South Korea by Carole P. Roman

Carole P. Roman takes you on a journey this time to Asia, landing in South Korea. 

Once again, children can learn how life is like for young people on the other side of the globe. 

From food to famous landmarks, they will learn that's it's easy to find something in common with people in different countries.

About the author:

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012 for her first book, award winning author Carole P. Roman started writing as a dare from one of her sons. Using an imaginary game she played with her grandson as a base, Captain No Beard was born."Captain No Beard- An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life" has not only been named to Kirkus Best of 2012, it received the Star of Exceptional Merit, and won the Pinnacle Award for 2012. "Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience" Book 2 in the series, received 5 Stars from The ForeWord Review The Clarion Review. Strangers on the High Seas has won second place in the Rebecca's Reads Choice Awards 2013. It has followed with six more books to the series.

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Featured Book: The Parts to Effective Psychology by Dr. Rev. Stephen Kunle Awoniyi

Counseling brings a change in a person's life, it digs deeper, and it seeks for great understanding and privilege. 

List of words that come to mind when I think of counseling and the process of change: 
  • A safe place 
  • A place where you believe in
  • A place of true honesty and genuineness
  • A place that another person is able to fight for you and with you
  • A place where there is hope of transformation
  • A place where there is hope of redemption and restoration
  • A place of reflection
  • A place to see truly who you are and what makes you-you
  • A place to process and find solutions
  • A place to dig deeper

About the author:

Rev. (Dr.) Stephen Kunle Awoniyi is a part-time lecturer at Simmons College of Kentucky. He is a counselor at mental health Institution: Central State Hospital, Louisville, KY. He also serve as the pastor of Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), Louisville, Kentucky; the Church he founded in 2001. He was the Pastor and Local Overseer at the ECWA Church in Kwara State, Nigeria for several years in early 1970%u2019s to 1990. Dr. Awoniyi received his Counseling & Psychology training from Campbellsville University, Louisville, KY with Master of Science in Counseling & Psychology. He received Doctor of Missiology, Master of Divinity: Pastor track, and Master of Arts in Christian Education from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville Kentucky. He is also the recipient of Bachelor of Arts in Biblical studies from Simmons Bible College, Louisville, Kentucky and Bachelor of Religious Education from ECWA Theological Seminary at Igbaja, Nigeria.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Featured Book: Strangers on the High Seas by Carole P. Roman

Captain No Beard and the crew of the Flying Dragon welcome a new crew member, when Cabin Girl Cayla joins the ship. 

Responsible for his little sister, Captain No Beard is not very happy because he finds his newest charge a distraction. 

When faced with danger, the captain must find a way to escape. 

While learning valuable lessons about strangers, the crew realized not to judge somebody because they are young or small. Strength comes in all sizes!

About the author:

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012 for her first book, award winning author Carole P. Roman started writing as a dare from one of her sons. Using an imaginary game she played with her grandson as a base, Captain No Beard was born."Captain No Beard- An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life" has not only been named to Kirkus Best of 2012, it received the Star of Exceptional Merit, and won the Pinnacle Award for 2012. "Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience" Book 2 in the series, received 5 Stars from The ForeWord Review The Clarion Review. Strangers on the High Seas has won second place in the Rebecca's Reads Choice Awards 2013. It has followed with six more books to the series. Motivated by her love of yoga, Roman has written a book that not only teaches four poses, but shows how easy and accessible yoga can be. Her new non fiction series, "If You Were Me and Lived in..." combines her teaching past with her love of exploration and interest in the world around us. The debut book in the series, "If You Were Me and Lived in...Mexico" has won the Pinnacle Award for Best in Children's Non Fiction 2012. France, South Korea, and Norway. Rebecca's Reads has given If You Were Me and Lived in...Norway an honorable mention in the 2013 Choice Awards. If You Were Me and lived in ...France won second place. ForeWord Review has nominated If You Were Me and Lived in...France for best in children's non fiction literature 2013. They will be followed with Kenya, Turkey, India, and Australia. She plans to do Portugal, Greece, and Argentina next year. Writing for children has opened up a whole second act for her. While she is still working in her family business, this has enabled her to share her sense of humor as well as love for history and culture with the audience she adores. Roman lives on Long Island with her husband and near her children.

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Featured Book: Whaley's Big Adventure by Carole P. Roman

Join Whaley on his big adventure in the ocean as he meets Whales of all different sizes.

Written and illustrated by 5 year old Alexander Luke, and presented by his grandmother, award-winning children's author Carole P. Roman, this oceanic adventure of whale-sized proportions will teach youngsters about the different whales that live in the oceans.

About the author:

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012 for her first book, award winning author Carole P. Roman started writing as a dare from one of her sons. Using an imaginary game she played with her grandson as a base, Captain No Beard was born."Captain No Beard- An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life" has not only been named to Kirkus Best of 2012, it received the Star of Exceptional Merit, and won the Pinnacle Award for 2012. "Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience" Book 2 in the series, received 5 Stars from The ForeWord Review The Clarion Review. Strangers on the High Seas has won second place in the Rebecca's Reads Choice Awards 2013. It has followed with six more books to the series.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Author Interview: Jamie Dean author of The Art of Survival

Jamie Dean, author of The Art of Survival, stopped by today for an interview.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Well, outside my writing obsession, I think I'm pretty boring. My animals, on the other hand, I could talk about them for days. Especially our new puppy...

What do you do when you're not writing?

I'm honestly not sure I'm ever not writing! When I'm not typing story up, I'm usually either editing or researching or plotting or talking about writing or thinking about one of those things, so... No, but the usual stuff, I suppose? I read a lot. I cook and draw and spend time with Jay and my family and my animals. Try new beers. Help friends through crises. I listen to music and watch sci-fi television and comic book movies. I take road trips. Lots of little road trips.

When did you first start writing?

I was around 4 years old the first time I wrote something, I think? I couldn't spell anything, my mother had to spell it all out for me, but an idea caught my attention and I felt a compulsion to tell a story about it. As for knowing I was a writer, or at least wanted to be a writer, I was around 12-13. My creative writing teacher was amazing and she helped me get a poem published in an anthology. When that happened I absolutely knew that I wanted to publish a book one day.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

Stephen King and Clive Barker both had huge influences on me, I'd say. Really the way King talks about what it's like to be a writer (and how to be a better one) more than just his books - although I love those too. He's also so open-minded and I've no doubt he helped make me the free-thinker I am today. Clive Barker's book Imajica, where he explores the idea of a third gender, well, that book just captivated me. His books, being some of the first books I ever read where gay relationships were explored in a positive, normal way, probably have a bigger impact on me than I even realize.

What inspired you to write this particular book?

I was taking a little road trip with my sister MB. She and I were just throwing out ideas for things, little writing prompts. We made a list and then I sort of left it for a while. Weeks or months, I'm not sure. Then one day, I was blocked, so I was skimming the list. For some reason, this idea - one that I'd really liked but hadn't felt inspired by at the time - caught my eye again. It's gotten a lot of editing and rewriting since then, but I think I wrote the original draft in a couple of weeks? It was the first time I tried to make chapters a specific length, I think. That went out the window later, but the first draft I used that method.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

I think probably the part where Trevor finally gets his shit together and decides to give them a chance. Though I really, really like writing angst...

What is best writing advice you can give?

Read a lot. Write a lot. Try to join a writing community. Talking to other writers can be so helpful, you wouldn't believe. It's a lot easier to accept feedback from people who know what they're doing.

Is there anything else you'd like your readers to know about the book?

I'm no Les Stroud. Don't try to survive based on techniques mentioned in my book. I did a lot of research, but there were times when artistic license took precedent, so if you want to learn real survival, look elsewhere.

Trevor Wilson has been a survivalist for about ten years. Training people no longer pays the bills, though, so he's been supplementing his income for a few years by taking bored rich people on Survival Safaris - and he hates it.

Enter one Grantland DeLourde. When the independently wealthy Grant books a series of safaris, Trevor is forced to question everything about his life, from his career to his romantic choices to his family obligations.

Grant makes Trevor feel things he has long buried and he won't let himself give in without a fight.

Art of Survival will be 34% off for 24 hours only, starting on 12/10 at 6am PST!

About the author:

Jamie Dean lives in the southwestern US with his long-time domestic partner, two dogs, two cats, and a selection of outdoor-dwelling lizards. For Jamie, writing is a way of life. He finds inspiration everywhere and sometimes can't sleep for all the ideas fighting for his attention. He's an activist, a feminist, a pansexual, and just generally a pain in the ass.

He has published two well-reviewed erotic gay romances, The Story of Jax and Dylan (Dreamspinner Press, April 2015) and The Art of Survival (JDW Press, July 2015).

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Featured Book: The Centurions by Jean Larteguy

The military cult classic with resonance to the wars in Iraq and Vietnam—now back in print 

When The Centurions was first published in 1960, readers were riveted by the thrilling account of soldiers fighting for survival in hostile environments. They were equally transfixed by the chilling moral question the novel posed: how to fight when the “age of heroics is over.” As relevant today as it was half a century ago, The Centurions is a gripping military adventure, an extended symposium on waging war in a new global order, and an essential investigation of the ethics of counterinsurgency. Featuring a foreword by renowned military expert Robert D. Kaplan, this important wartime novel will again spark debate about controversial tactics in hot spots around the world. 

For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

About the author:

Jean Larteguy (1920-2011) is the penname of Jean Pierre Lucien Osty, who served as a soldier in Korea and North Africa before becoming a distinguished journalist and novelist.

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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Featured Book: Blue as Blue Can Be by Robert Kendall

This book recounts the experiences of Alpheus Fairbanks, a Civil War soldier as seen from his letters home. 

He offers an inside view of the conflicting attitudes of the two sides during his service, mostly in Kentucky. Do it my way vs We're in it together--Two divergent cultural attitudes characterized the two sides in this civil war. 

In the south everyone wanted to do things his own way. Theirs was an 'every man for himself 'culture. The north saw themselves as a unified whole in spite of differences 'a 'we're in it together" culture. The behavior of officers and men on both sides betray these differences. 

The differences are behind incidents Fairbanks relates, from building defenses for Cincinnati, repairing railroad bridges, chasing small parties of raiders from Tennessee near Lexington, rebuilding a bridge on the Tennessee River south of Knoxville, getting shot at during an engagement near Somerset, KY, encountering two women "night walkers" [prostitutes] who had $300 in good money, and his being captured in a battle at Philadelphia, TN. 

Imprisoned at first in Richmond, VA's Belle Isle prison, transferred to Andersonville; early prisoners there faced Confederate cannons where the stockades were unfinished. With little food, mostly cornhusks, on April 25, 1864 he was the 176th prisoner to die at Andersonville. He was 31.

About the author:

Robert Kendall was born on a farm in Kansas and escaped the Great Depression and Dust Bowl to the Yakima Valley of Washington State. He grew up in Hermiston, Oregon, where he delivered the Walla Walla Union Bulletin and worked as a drug store soda jerk, as a school janitor helper; and as an assembler of furniture. On Butter Creek Ranch, he worked as a ranch-hand bailing and stacking hay. He graduated from College in Eugene, Oregon, while working evenings on a log pond at a sawmill. Kendall earned a PhD from Indiana University in Bloomington. He was a Journalism Professor at the University of Florida for more than 20 years, where he taught Journalism, Mass Communications, and Public Relations courses. He is the author of two editions of a textbook, Public Relations Campaign Strategies. After retiring, he has pursued his long-term interest in history, particularly the Civil War.

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Saturday, December 5, 2015

Featured Book: Awaken Your Third Eye by Susan Shumsky, DD

Usually, you perceive the world by using your five senses: sight, taste, smell, touch, and hearing. 

But there is a sixth sense, an inner eye that can open the gateway to subtler realms of existence. 

Developing this inner eye will enable you to view a previously invisible world of multiple dimensions, spiritual planes filled with light, and alternate realities of indescribable wonders. 

This eye of wisdom, knowledge, illumination, and intuition is aptly named the third eye. 

Using the methods in Awaken Your Third Eye, you will learn how to develop supersensory perception, and how to use your third eye in your everyday life to receive guidance, healing, wisdom, inspiration, creativity, and spiritual awakening.

About the author:

Susan Shumsky, DD, has dedicated her life to helping people take command of their lives in highly effective, powerful, and positive ways. She is an award-winning author of 11 books including The Power of Chakras, The Power of Auras, and Ascension. For 22 years, her mentor was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, guru of the Beatles and of Deepak Chopra. She served on Maharishi's personal staff for seven years. A pioneer in the human potential field and a highly respected spiritual teacher for nearly 50 years, she is the founder of Divine Revelation®--a unique, field-proven technology for contacting the divine presence, hearing and testing the inner voice, and receiving clear divine guidance. Her Website is

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Review: Mistakes Are Proof That You Are Trying: Coloring Book by Samantha Snyder

Color Your Way to Fun, Inspiration, and Relaxation.

Mistakes Are Proof That You Are Trying shares 50 doodle art images of inspiring sayings, quotes, and words printed on one side of the page for all ages to color.

Quotes from famous authors include Aristotle, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Benjamin Franklin, Florence Nightingale, William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, and more. The book also includes sayings and words from Discover and It takes a big heart to shape little minds to Remain Curious and To teach is to touch a life forever.

Each doodle art image has been carefully selected to provide plenty of enjoyment, inspiration, and relaxation.

Coloring isn't just for the kids anymore! There is something for everyone, so take a minute, explore the magic of it all, and live a colorful life!

Explore the Magic of Doodle Art.

Received for review

I’m the first to admit that I have zero artistic talent and while I’ve wanted to try those new coloring books for adults that seem to be popping up everywhere I’ve been a bit intimidated. They’re scary! I don’t want to color in something uber complicated like a mandala, I just want to have fun! This is why I was thrilled to come across this adorable book!

As soon as I received it I made a trip to Staples and picked up a basic set of Crayola colored pencils and settled in for some fun. And it really was fun! The pictures are easy to fill in with various colors and are just intricate enough to be engaging without totally overwhelming and discouraging you. I also felt like I could be as creative (or not) as I wanted without feeling bad. I colored in the entire page of Failure is Impossible in orange simply because I could and it was incredibly freeing.

The entire coloring process is remarkably calming and is a great way to ease stress and just let yourself be for a while. It’s almost like mediation in settling your mind and now I remember why I so enjoyed coloring as a child!

Overall, this is an incredibly entertaining book with a nice variety of designs and quotes that will leave your day better for having interacted with it. This is the first book I’ve tried in the series and I can’t wait to try the others as well. I certainly highly, highly recommend this!

★★★★★= Loved It

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Featured Book: How the Grandmas and Grandpas Saved Christmas Again by Richard J. Gausselin

THEM: Thoughtless, Heartless, Emotionless Machines. 

At the North Pole, Santa is quickly realizing that children's toy preferences are changing to electronic gadgets and gizmos-and the days of traditional wooden toys "made with hands and hearts" may be over. Kids want toys that talk, walk, play games, and do their homework, and Santa does not want any disappointed children on Christmas morning. 

In order to keep up with the demand, Santa must purchase "THEM"-thoughtless, heartless, emotionless machines-to help build the electronic gadgets. The problem? The machines are well beyond the elves' technology and capabilities, and they'll need help from the grandmas and grandpas. 

With only seventeen weeks to Christmas Eve, there is much work to do, and it'll take a team of grandmas, grandpas, and elves working at a feverish pace to get things running as smoothly as a spinning top. But such a toy-changing decision does not come without challenges and problems, and "problem" is one word Santa does not want to hear. 

Hang on to your hat-it's going to be a wild ride in elfdom in How the Grandmas & Grandpas Saved Christmas, Again-dedicated to those who believe in the spirit of giving, the magic of Christmas, and Santa Claus himself.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Review: What School Never Taught Me About Money by Angelia Kinston

Money – we all want it and need it and work hard to obtain it. Yet, many people have trouble managing it effectively. Let’s face it, if everyone were good at it, everyone would be retired living on an island. All individuals have challenges when it comes to money and its management.

Young adults are taught many things in school, but simple home economics concepts like creating a spending plan and tracking expenses are often overlooked.

Not so young adults get caught up when life happens and are sometimes forced to make hard and bad decisions that threaten or ruin their financial health and stability.

Without a plan, it’s nearly impossible to meet the savings goals individuals and families need to reach their financial freedom and enjoy life.

Whether you are 15 or 50, this book will get you started into personal money management; breakdown saving, spending, credit and investment; get you on a fiscally responsible track; clarify the sometimes confusing financial jargon and help you succeed and get the financial freedom that we all dream about.

Received for review

This slim volume might be overlooked by those used to giant tomes on personal finance but it is just what you need to present the basics of budgeting, saving, and investing without any unnecessary complicated phrasing or examples.

The author does a very good job of presenting the information in a clear, concise manner that is easy to read and assimilate. She reiterates ideas that we have probably all heard but may not actually implement in a way that is calm and encouraging.

Overall, this is an excellent read whether you are new to budgeting and saving game or an old pro who needs a refresher course. Everyone who reads this should be able to take away at least a few pieces of valuable information that will help improve their financial lives. I certainly highly recommend it.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Featured Book: Girl in Glass by Deanna Fei

Deanna Fei was just five-and-a-half months pregnant when she inexplicably went into labor. Minutes later, she met her tiny baby who clung to life support inside a glass box. Fei was forced to confront terrifying questions: How to be the mother of a child she could lose at any moment. Whether her daughter would survive another day--and whether she should. But as she watched her daughter fight for her life, Fei discovered the power of the mother-child bond at its most elemental.

A year after she brought her daughter home from the hospital, the CEO of AOL--her husband's employer--blamed the beautiful, miraculously healthy little girl for a cut in employee benefits and attached a price tag to her life, using a phrase, "distressed babies," that set off a national firestorm.

Girl in Glass is the riveting story of one child's harrowing journey and a powerful distillation of parenthood. With incandescent prose and an unflinching eye, Fei explores the value of a human life: from the spreadsheets wielded by cost-cutting executives to the insidious notions of risk surrounding modern pregnancy; from the wondrous history of medical innovation in the care of premature infants to contemporary analyses of what their lives are worth; and finally, to the depths of her own struggle to make sense of her daughter's arrival in the world. Above all, Girl in Glass is a luminous testament to how love takes hold when a birth defies our fundamental beliefs about how life is supposed to begin.

About the author:

Deanna Fei is the author of the award-winning novel A Thread of Sky. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Fei has received a Fulbright Grant and a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Huffington Post, and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.

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Featured Book: The Disappearing Dolphins by Jennifer Kelman

Can You See the Disappearing Dolphins? 

Kevin and his twin sister Jackie always enjoy going to the beach with their mommy, but Kevin can tell that today will be extra-special. 

As he and Jackie start building a sandcastle, Kevin sees a fantastic sight: a dolphin, jumping and playing in the ocean. Kevin is known for his vivid imagination, and when he tells Jackie about the dolphin, she doesn't believe him. 

As he watches the joyful antics of the dolphin in the sparkling sea, Kevin is convinced that the dolphin is real-even he couldn't make up something this fantastic! 

Determined to share the magic of the dolphin, Kevin sets out on an adventure of discovery that will create lifelong memories for him and for Jackie. 

With warm, comforting language and beautiful illustrations, The Disappearing Dolphins is sure to become a favorite with anyone who cherishes the wonder of the natural world as seen through children's eyes.

About the author:

Jennifer Kelman is a licensed clinical social worker, life coach, author and entrepreneur. The Disappearing Dolphins is her third children's book. Her first two are part of the Mrs. Pinkelmeyer book series. Mrs. Pinkelmeyer and her lovable dog, Moopus McGlinden, created by Jennifer, are award-winning children's characters that inspire self-esteem in children through their love, warmth and silliness. Jennifer took a departure from that series to write this lovely tale of the disappearing dolphins. Jennifer is an avid cyclist and tennis player and credits all of her creativity to her young twins.

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Featured Book: Baby Lady's Scary Night by Oksana & Marina Davydov

The monster under the bed. The Boogey Man. Those mysterious things that go bump in the night. 

Bedtime can be fraught with fear and anxiety for children with overactive imaginations – and the parents who struggle to comfort them. 

Baby Lady’s Scary Night: A Ladybug Story tells just such a story, a tale of anxious little Baby Lady, who sees things – terrifying things – when the lights go out at night. But what Baby Lady learns about the dark turns out to be not so very scary after all! 

The precious little ladybug discovers that the world that comes alive at night is all in her head. Things are not as they seem – and that’s okay. 

Baby Lady’s Scary Night is a beautifully illustrated children’s book that educates youngsters on how their own imaginations and fears can convince them they’re seeing things that aren’t really there. 

More important, this charming and compelling story shows kids how to employ their own knowledge and logic to recognize these fears as irrational, and overcome them for a restful sleep.

About the authors:

Oksana and Marina Davydov are sisters who have used their love of writing to create their first children's book. They live in Brooklyn, New York.

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Book Club Kit: A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

In the tradition of Memoirs of a Geisha and The Piano Teacher, a heart-wrenching debut novel of family, forgiveness, and the exquisite pain of love

When Amaterasu Takahashi opens the door of her Philadelphia home to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, she doesn’t believe him. Her grandson and her daughter, Yuko, perished nearly forty years ago during the bombing of Nagasaki. But the man carries with him a collection of sealed private letters that open a Pandora’s Box of family secrets Ama had sworn to leave behind when she fled Japan. She is forced to confront her memories of the years before the war: of the daughter she tried too hard to protect and the love affair that would drive them apart, and even further back, to the long, sake-pouring nights at a hostess bar where Ama first learned that a soft heart was a dangerous thing. Will Ama allow herself to believe in a miracle?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Review: Shallcross by Charles Porter

A modern-day Odyssey. A modern-day romance. Shades of A Clockwork Orange with a shocking end and a surprising view from inside a man’s split mind, Shallcross tells the story of a middle-aged car dealer who entertains and haunts himself in a heated hatchery of colorful phanera, film, and music, spawned in the auditory and visual hallucinations he’s experienced since childhood.

Aubrey Shallcross feels lost after selling his business, but conventional cures do not seem to help. In his retirement without executive routine, he and Triple Suiter, his mind’s other voice, ride the good times and bad, going on long hauls through the sawgrass of his psyche and engaging in a scary retrospect of Catholicism after journeying from religious to secular man.

Determined to stay sane and happy on his South Florida farm, he resumes a lifelong passion for training horses, surfing, and music in his oceanfront county, where big cattle ranches stretch inland to Lake Okeechobee. Aubrey falls in love with an unusual woman, and they lead a life of devotion and magic until a rabid stalker, jealous of this love, shoots out the sun.

Received for review

It’s really never a good sign when reading a book makes you feel high as was the case with this. Granted, the main character has auditory and visual hallucinations, but that shouldn’t translate to giving the poor reader nightmares as well. This has the Twin Peaks effect in spades.

I just had no connection with Aubrey and his hallucinations. I did not find them engaging, charming, or anything else. If anything they were annoying and really detracted from the story rather than adding to it.

Since I couldn’t care less about Aubrey and his adventures the book was a bit of a bust for me. I didn’t care about what happened to Aubrey either way as long as he would just shut up. I really could not get through this fast enough.

Overall, unless you are actively searching out a way to feel like you’re hallucinating when you’re reading a book then I would give this a pass. I was not impressed in the least and really cannot recommend it at all.

☆☆☆☆ = Didn't Like It

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Featured Book: TaleSpins by Michael Mullin

A trilogy of alternative fairytales & retellings for YA readers. 

Meet Creepy the unknown 8th dwarf and learn the truth about Snow White. 

Discover a teen princess who hires The Frog Prince witch to get revenge on a Mean Girl at school. 

And learn what happens when a man who lives high above ground encounters a boy thief named Jack!

About the author:

Michael Mullin lives in Pasadena, CA, although all his sports allegiances remain in his native New England. He wrote TaleSpins, a collection of three twisted fairytale retellings for YA readers. The first story, which features Creepy the unknown 8th dwarf, has become a cult hit with book bloggers and has also been published in graphic novel form ("8: The Untold Story"). Michael is also co-author of several titles in the award-winning Larry Gets Lost™ picture book series, and wrote the middle-grade humor/adventure titled Rocketboy: The Return of Dr. Megaton.

He lives with his wife and their teenage twins. The kids pretty much run his life, despite his best efforts to appear as if he is running theirs.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Review: Are You Fully Charged? by Tom Rath

Tom Rath's latest international bestseller (6th WSJ/NYT bestseller, over 6 million copies sold) reveals the three keys that matter most for our daily well-being, as well as our engagement in our work.

Drawing on the latest and most practical research from business, psychology, and economics, this book focuses on changes we can make to create better days for ourselves and others.

Are You Fully Charged? will challenge you to stop pursuing happiness and start creating meaning instead, lead you to rethink your daily interactions with the people who matter most, and show you how to put your own health first in order to be your best every day.

Received for review

This is another prime example of a rich guy trying to tell the little people how to live. He has no clue what is like to live in the real world and that comes through in his “keys”. The author seems to firmly believe that people can just choose whatever job they want and not only get paid well for it but enjoy it as well. Perhaps that has always happened for him, but for the vast majority of people that is simply not feasible.

The author also believes that you should give up an increase in income for the greater good - i.e. that you should do a lower paid job if it provides more job satisfaction and contributes more to the community. Clearly that does not apply to him though, since he’s a multi-millionaire. I don’t see him actually trading in his lucrative writing career for a lower paid job. Technically he says that he did give up his lucrative consulting job but he traded that in for a lucrative book deal so that’s not really giving much up.

So, the main idea of this entire book is a hippie like “do what feels good and don’t focus on the money”. That’s great if you’re actually already loaded but not so great for everyone else who actually needs to eat and have someplace to live where your roommates aren’t cockroaches.

Overall, while the concept is intriguing the author’s “keys” are idealistic and fatally flawed - unless you are actually already rich and trying to “find yourself”. I really cannot recommend this.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Review: Bees: An Up-Close Look at Pollinators Around the World by Sam Droege and Laurence Packer

While we eat, work, and sleep, bees are busy around the world. More than 20,000 species are in constant motion! They pollinate plants of all types and keep our natural world intact. In Bees, you'll find a new way to appreciate these tiny wonders. Sam Droege and Laurence Packer present more than 100 of the most eye-catching bees from around the world as you've never seen them: up-close and with stunning detail. You'll stare into alien-like faces. You'll get lost in mesmerizing colors and patterns, patches and stripes of arresting yellow or blue. Whether you linger on your first close look at the Western Domesticated Honey Bee or excitedly flip straight to the rare Dinagapostemon sicheli, there's no doubt you'll be blown away by the beauty of bees.

Received for review

I’m a huge fan of honey so when I think of bees my mind immediately goes straight to the honeybee, but I was surprised and slightly thrilled to discover that there are over 20,000 species of bees (plus about 20,000 more that don’t even have names yet!). There are bees that horn in on the hives of others, there are those that live underground, and of course there are the beloved honeybee (which is actually a rarity among bees).

The book provides stunning, detailed photographs of each bee it catalogs and provides a few tidbits about its behavior and where it lives. Bees from everywhere from Australia to Europe to the United States are covered in loving detail.

Since this is mainly a photography book it’s a very fast but quite educational read. I was fascinated by the colors and sheer variety of the bees featured. Some were cute and furry looking and some would probably be excellent models for horror movie villains.

Overall, this is a beautifully photographed and incredibly detailed book that is sure to be thoroughly enjoyed by bee lover and any photography lover in general. It would also make a gorgeous and thoughtful gift for a bee lover. I definitely highly, highly recommend it.

★★★★★ = Loved It

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Featured Book: Levi Sawyer: Dancing with the Devil by Larry A. Bieghler

An Outlaw's Cruel Revenge...

After Levi Sawyer came home one day to find his wife murdered and four of his horses stolen, he swore that he would bring justice to the men who committed this terrible crime. 

He followed the outlaws over the Blue Mountains and into the Walla Walla Valley. When the outlaws abducted a young woman, he became part of the posse that rescued her, killing two of the criminals in the process. But the most dangerous of the band survived...the heartless Willard Pile, who will stop at nothing to get his revenge. 

Sawyer went back to Montana to settle his affairs, but now he's in the valley again, and ready to make a life with his new love. But Willard Pile has other plans. Sawyer and the men of the Marley Ranch, assisted by their friend Badger, will have to track down Pile and his men. There will be no peace for Levi Sawyer until he fulfills his stop Willard Pile once and for all. 

This colorful, compelling historical novel will keep you enthralled from the first page to the last.

About the author:

Larry Bieghler's Levi Sawyer books were inspired by historical information about the Walla Walla valley, where the author has lived for many years. The success of the first novel, Levi Sawyer: Shadow of a Dead Man inspired Larry to write a sequel, and he is now considering a third novel in the series.

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Featured Book: Cousins in Calico by Ruth West

Two young girl cousins in the piney-woods area of West Central Louisiana in 1920 enjoy time together as their mothers, who are sisters, and their fathers, who are brothers, carry on the typical lives of rural families during this era following World War I. 

The men, after serving in France during the war, returned to their families to build nice log houses and find work at the local sawmill in Fisher. 

The cousins loved playing together, but were also required to help with the chores. A neighbor child, older than they, presented problems. While the thick pine forests were a boon to the sawmill trade, they were filled with wild animals and timber rattlers. 

Both mothers were expecting babies at the same time, which added much intrigue to the story of two children who were told very little about where babies come from. 

At this time, transportation consisted mainly of horses, wagons, buggies and mules. There was only one telephone, located at the Commissary, the company store in Fisher. Electricity had not come to the rural areas, so light was furnished by coal oil lamps. Some fortunate families had ice boxes. 

The story entails times of anguish, joy, and intrigue. It is related by the nine-year-old, Lizbeth Ann Hunter.

About the author:

Ruth Elizabeth West was born and raised in the area about which her book is written. It is not intended to be autobiographical, but there are similarities to the lives of her parents. Ruth lives in Norman, Oklahoma. She taught in the public schools of Louisiana, Oklahoma and Missouri for thirty years. She has B. S. and M.ED degrees from East Central University, Ada, OK.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Review: Dylan: Disc by Disc by John Bream

Dylan: Disc by Disc features each of Bob Dylan's studio LPs--thirty-six releases in all. Rock 'n' roll musicians, songwriters, and critics sound off about each release, bringing from the shadows not only Dylan's extraordinary musical accomplishments but the factors in his life that influenced his musical expressions. From The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan to Blonde on Blonde, from Blood on the Tracks to Shadows in the Night, Dylan: Disc by Disc rouses generations of Dylan fans with a unique, hip, stunning exposition spanning the music legend's storied career.

Few figures in American music have compiled a body of work as impressive as that created by Dylan. Winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, eleven Grammys, and one Oscar, and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Dylan is one of the most honored musicians of our time. He has arguably done more to shape American music culture than any singer/songwriter. Beginning with his early acoustic folk releases, Dylan showed an early penchant for doing whatever he wanted with his music by electrifying his sound at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, playing a leading role in the late 1960s protest culture, and playing with the Band. His long career far from over, he moved into his "Christian" period, his struggle for artistic identity in the 1980s, his return to critical success in 1997, and his release of an album of songs Frank Sinatra sang in 2015. The son of an appliance salesman from Hibbing, Minnesota, always accommodated his own muse, critics be damned.

Commentators include Questlove of the Roots and the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Rodney Crowell, Jason Isbell, Suzanne Vega, Ric Ocasek of the Cars, Wesley Stace (aka John Wesley Harding), longtime Dylan pal Eric Andersen and Minnesota musicians Tony Glover and Kevin Odegard, both of whom have been in the studio with Dylan. Other well-known voices in Dylan: Disc by Disc include Robert Christgau, Anthony DeCurtis, Alan Light, Joe Levy, Holly George-Warren, Joel Selvin, Jim Fusilli, Geoffrey Himes, Charles R. Cross, and David Browne.

Dylan: Disc by Disc is beautifully illustrated with LP art and period photography, as well as performance and candid backstage images. The book contains liner notes-like details about the recordings and session musicians, and provides context and perspective on Dylan's life, concerts, and career.

Dylan: Disc by Disc presents Dylan fans and all lovers of music with a compelling, handsome, one-of-a-kind retrospective of the life and music of an American legend.

Received for review

I’m just going to admit right off the bat that I’m not a hardcore Dylan fan. Yes, he’s good and I appreciate his work but I’m not in love with him. However, I simply could not pass up such a gorgeous looking book and had to give it a try.

From the very first page you can see the love and care that went into creating this book. Each chapter features a single album with original cover art, pictures of the artist, and all sorts of information about the musicians who worked on the album with Dylan. Every song on each album is lovely discussed by several industry leaders and its historical and/or personal significance is described in detail.

Overall, this is an absolutely gorgeous book and simply a must have for any Dylan fan. It would also make a stunning gift that is sure to be appreciated. I certainly highly recommend it.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Review: Lusty Little Women by Margaret Pearl


Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy are coming of age, and stirring temptations await them around every corner. The handsome young neighbor, attentive doctor and mysterious foreigner introduce the little women to the passion-filled world of the feminine arts. Will these steamy encounters fulfill their deepest yearnings? Have they found true love or been blinded by lust? This scintillating twist on Little Women infuses the original text with sexy new scenes that will surprise, arouse and delight.

In this reprise, your favorite characters are a little older and a lot more adventurous, ready to plumb the depths of their previously constrained courtships. Jo with Laurie, Meg with John, Marmee with the old gentleman; all these couplings and more will thrill both well-versed and new fans of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel.

Received for review

I think I may be the only person on earth, and most certainly the only female, who did not fall in love with Little Women when I was younger. Not even Joey reading it on Friends was enough to compel me to give it another chance. So, when I saw this I wasn’t sure if I’d like it. Thankfully I gave it a whirl and I was rather pleasantly surprised.

I was frankly expecting something more along the lines of Anne Rice's retelling of the Sleeping Beauty tale but this was significantly tamer which is actually much appreciated since I'm not sure I really want to read about such normally staid characters having explicit sex.  I mean, that's like reading about what Scarlett O'Hara got up to in the bedroom.  It's just not cool.  Any sexual content is described using the very gentlest romance novel wording.

At over 550 pages this is decidedly on the longer side, but the author does an admirable job of making the text readable enough that it’s almost enjoyable. The text has the same old fashioned feel to it as the original but the contents are infinitely more readable.

Overall, this was an interesting new take on the original book which fans of the original might enjoy. I wouldn’t go out of my way to rush out to buy it, but it’s an amusing read. I would, however, not give this as a gift to anyone who enjoyed the original book. This is not something you’d present as a Christmas gift to your great aunt.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Featured Book: Harnessing the Mind-O-Matic by Stirling Mueller

Six year old Timmy Smith has finally decided it is time to destroy the Mind-O-Matic in his attic. It's been hypnotically enslaving his siblings to a monotonous suburban life. 

At the same time it's been protecting them from Central, and organization responsible for kidnapping their parents. This extraordinary boy thinks he's accounted for all possible outcomes for what will happen next. He is wrong.

Now Central will stop at nothing to capture the children and the secrets they possess. The Smiths must solve the hidden puzzles placed by their lost and mysterious parents before Central catches them, for if they are captured, their parents will be lost and Earth will surely be enslaved. Luckily the children are much more then they appear and are a force to be reckoned with.

This wild ride through suburbia, across the globe and ultimately the galaxy is not to be missed.

About the author:

Stirling Mueller is the chief engineer of a space program based in Los Angeles area with a Master's degree in Aerospace Engineering. His four children's different personalities were an inspiration to the book and are exhibited in the main characters. The responsible one, the day dreamer, the warrior, and the thinker are all characteristics displayed in his children and each of us.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Guest Post: William J. Hall author of The Haunted House Diaries

Author William J. Hall, author of The Haunted House Diaries, stopped by to share with us an article he wrote.

Nestled deep in Litchfield Hills, Connecticut, a 1790 farmhouse sits near the epicenter of a paranormal commotion. The family that resides there regularly encounters its own ancestors and strangers--human and 
non-human--who seemingly occupy the same physical space in our world while remaining in their own, parallel worlds. When famous ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren investigated, they dubbed it "Ghost Central."

Here's your chance to unlock and experience the private diary of farmhouse resident Donna Fillie. This amazing record spans five decades and recounts a parade of uncanny occurrences, including:
  • Notes from old friends who insist they didn't deliver them
  • A grandson playing with an invisible--but very real--friend
  • Donna awakening to phenomena at precisely 12:42 a.m., an eerie correspondence to her house number, 1242
This compelling work includes many other unexplainable details of a wide variety of phenomena that frequently occur in this otherwise normal area of Connecticut, which may also be the site of a secret military base.

After reading The Haunted House Diaries, you will undoubtedly wonder: Are our assumptions about the paranormal all wrong?

About the author:

William J. Hall, author of the paranormal best-seller The World's Most Haunted House: The True Story of the Bridgeport Poltergeist on Lindley Street, returns with another profound investigation into the unknown. Hall is professionally equipped to recognize trickery: After more than 25 years as a performing magician, he knows how to create and recognize illusions. He is also an experienced researcher of the unexplained, from folklore and urban legend to fortune telling, the pyramids, and other mysterious tales. His syndicated column, "Magic and the Unknown‚" ran for six years in multiple newspapers. Hall has two sons and resides in Plainville, Connecticut.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski

In 2006 Jamie Tworkowski wrote a story called “To Write Love on Her Arms” about helping a friend through her struggle with drug addiction, depression, and self-injury. The piece was so hauntingly beautiful that it quickly went viral, giving birth to a non-profit organization of the same name. Nine years later, To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is an internationally-recognized leader in suicide prevention and a source of hope, encouragement, and resources for people worldwide.

Jamie’s words have been shared hundreds of thousands of times online. They’ve shown up on T-shirts and posters and even tattoos. Now, for the first time, Jamie’s writing is available in the form of a book. If You Feel Too Much is a celebration of hope, wonder, and what it means to be human. From personal stories of struggling on days most people celebrate to offering words of strength and encouragement in moments of loss, the essays in this book invite readers to believe that it’s okay to admit to pain and it's okay to ask for help. If You Feel Too Much is an important book from one of this generation’s most important voices.

Received for review.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this since I'd never actually heard of the author or his work before but I was very pleasantly surprised.  There may possibly have even been some sniffling and teary eyes on my part while reading.

This collection of stories (most quite short, some a bit longer) is surprisingly emotional.  The author presents each and doesn't force a viewpoint on you, he simply allows you to form your own conclusions about what the "lesson" should be.  Oddly, it's really quite a calming approach.  It all feels very chill and relaxed but not that the author doesn't care, because he clearly feels very deeply about each story, but that he is just there as a facilitator for the journey and not a tour guide.

The stories themselves are as a group a memoir, but they're almost like snapshots in a life.  Like you're flipping through a photo album with the author and he pauses and tells you the story behind each photo that you point out.  It's a very unusual and pleasant experience.

My favorite quote from the book is from the "disclaimer" at the end:  

What if all those things that make up your story, the hard stuff and the good stuff, all the fears and dreams - what if all of it matters?  I want to suggest the possibility that right now, today, tonight, you are living a story that is entirely unique, a story that is sacred and priceless, one where no one else can play your part.

The one thing that drove me absolutely bonkers is that throughout the entire book not a single "I" is capitalized.  Not a single one.  It eventually became tolerable but still left an annoying urge to whip out a red pen and fix every single one.

Overall, this was an entertaining and emotional read and I highly, highly recommend it.  This would also make a lovely gift.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Featured Book: Gone Before by Judy Fisher

As a child Judy Fisher doubted, and feared, the idea that those who have crossed over can be with us in our lives on Earth. 

As an adult, she faced the illness and subsequent death of her mother, which taught her more about life and death than she could ever imagine... 

Gone Before tackles the complicated and emotional issue of life after death in an intelligent, compassionate way, taking the reader on the author's quest not only to cope with her grief but come to terms with death and what comes afterward. 

It's a compelling story of the miracles that occur as this life morphs into the next, and an uplifting lesson of love and hope.

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Featured Book: Lead with Mercy by Robert Goodson

Lead with Mercy: The Business Case for Compassion Business leaders are held accountable for hard results: the bottom line. Corporations are no place for soft concepts like mercy, compassion, patience and forgiveness—or are they? 

Author Robert Goodson, a certified executive coach, makes the case for compassionate business leadership that is, in the end, also a sustainable and rewarding business model. Lead with Mercy presents a discussion of provable, measurable results and positive return on investment. Lead with Mercy cleverly blends Goodson’s two decades of personal leadership experience with that of experts in business, leadership and psychology to make a compelling case for compassionate leadership. 

Readers will learn how to earn the right to lead, what it means to be accountable while delegating responsibility to others, and how to provide colleagues with their own clear vision of compassion, innovation—and, of course, success. Lead with Mercy … offers business leaders a True North to navigate the morally murky waters of today with the timeless principles of yesterday. 

The book will serve as a touchstone text for generations of leaders seeking a higher purpose in their work. – Dr. Jeffrey Kuhn, Founder and CEO, GrowthLeaders® Lead with Mercy will convince you that compassion is not only the correct path, but that there are also real, positive impacts of merciful leadership. 

The book thoughtfully balances the “feel-good” aspects of compassionate leadership with practical metrics, demonstrating that the feel-good business model is actually good for business!

About the author:

My name is Rob Goodson. I am happily married with three lovely children; we live in Virginia near Washington, D.C. My thoughts, observations, and commentary on leadership have been formed by over two decades of study and practice (both giving and receiving) in leadership experienced in the military, the for-profit business world, and as an executive coach. My passion for and perspective on leadership have also been influenced by my spiritual life. Just as mercy is a central tenet of my Catholic Christian faith (as it is in several other religions and belief systems), I believe it can and should be a part of successful leadership and business practices. I'm a proud graduate of Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!) and the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. I received my commission in the U.S. Army from Virginia Tech's Army ROTC program and subsequently spent just over eight years on active duty as an intelligence officer. I resigned my Regular Army commission in late 2000 and joined a Fortune 500 consulting firm as a defense consultant. Shortly thereafter I was mobilized as an Army Reservist after the attacks of September 11th and served in Operation Enduring Freedom. After my two mobilizations I returned to the same company, where I've been for almost 15 years. Within my firm I lead a business unit and I also serve as an executive coach as part of our firm's leadership development program. I'm a Certified Executive Coach through the Center for Executive Coaching.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Review: 30 Lessons for Loving by Karl Pillemer, Ph.D.

Karl Pillemer’s 30 Lessons for Living first became a hit and then became a classic. Readers loved the sage advice and great stories from extraordinary older Americans who shared what they wish they had known when they were starting out. Now, Pillemer returns with lessons on one of the mosttalked- about parts of that book—love, relationships, and marriage.

Based on the most detailed survey of longmarried people ever conducted, 30 Lessons for Loving shows the way to lifelong, fulfilling relationships. The author, an internationally renowned gerontologist at Cornell University, offers sage advice from the oldest and wisest Americans on everything from finding a partner, to deciding to commit, to growing old together. Along the way, the book answers questions like these: How do you know if the person you love is the right one? What are the secrets for improving communication and reducing conflict? What gets you through the major stresses of marriage, such as child-rearing, work, money issues, and inlaws? From interviews with 700 elders, 30 Lessons for Loving offers unique wisdom that will enrich anyone’s relationship life, from people searching for the right partner to those working to keep the spark alive after decades together.

Filled with great stories, wise observations, and useful advice, 30 Lessons for Loving is destined to become another classic.

Received for review.

While the book is admittedly not politically correct this is a wealth of information on long term relationships.  You must keep in mind a couple of caveats though - the author seems to believe that anyone who wants to can get find a mate and get married and that everyone (and every couple) wants children.

The author addresses issues from money to children in-laws in a gentle yet firm way which makes reading incredibly enjoyable.  Each subject has supporting anecdotes from various subjects which really helps to illustrate the lesson.

Overall, this is a rather long, but enjoyable read which is sure to be beneficial to anyone desiring to make their relationship the best it can be.  I certainly recommend it.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Review: Coffee for Consciousness by Vito Mucci

"Live in the Now." "Don't worry, be happy." "Follow your bliss." These catch-phrase imperatives confront us on a daily basis, but so few of us seem to know how to do any of those things. If you've repeatedly tried and failed to manifest your better self or a more resonant life, you might be saying, "You know, it's not that easy." Coffee for Consciousness 101 is the instruction book you've been waiting for-because you're right; it's not easy. Finding yourself takes work, and sharing yourself with the world in love takes even more work...but the rewards are amazing. Our longstanding unhelpful definition of risk and reward is just one of the concepts that author Vito Mucci deconstructs with compassion, humor, and a deep understanding of the ways in which our beliefs about ourselves and the world get in the way of achieving conscious presence in the world, and consciously evolving relationships with ourselves and others. Our beliefs and ideas are the lenses through which we look at the world; this book gives you the idea of Perspectives, a new set of lenses that change what you see, and consequently, who you can be. Rooted in the author's decades of experience in managing his PTSD and addictions through careful cultivation and alteration of consciousness, Coffee for Consciousness 101 is a fascinating, joyful, and deeply practical exploration of how to read the road map to positive change and greater presence.

Received for review.

I wanted to like this, I really did.  The premise was intriguing but it just did not deliver anything that I could really call applicable in real life.  Perhaps that was due to the fact that I could barely keep my eyes open while reading this.

This was extremely dry and outright boring in parts.  It felt like a textbook at some points and I'm pretty sure reading about string theory would actually be more entertaining.  The book really needs to come with instant espresso attached since you need all the caffeine you can possibly consume to make it through even a chapter without nodding off.

Overall, while some of the author's points are valid the presentation is just not ideal.  This does make an excellent soporific but if your intent is to actually stay awake I would give this a pass.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

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