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Monday, May 14, 2018

"You've Got 8 Seconds" by Paul Hellman

This book is all about how to succinctly and effectively communicate to one's audience.  From elevator pitches to sales talks to presentations, readers will learn how to get to the point and hold attention.  There are copious tips in this book, from reducing the number of acronyms one uses to weaving stories into discussions.  With attention spans getting shorter and shorter, it is harder than ever to get one's point across.  In the business world, a talk can make or break an employee.  How can you sell your idea when your boss is zoned out on his phone?  How can you convince your team to try a new process when they don't even understand why they are in your meeting?  I am going to use the tips in this book to better communicate with others both at home and at the office.  Remember, you've only got 8 seconds!

Friday, May 11, 2018

"Wherever You Go" by Joan Leegant

This book tells the story of a few different characters in Israel.  Each of their lives are detailed in first-person over the course of about a month.  None of the characters interact with each other until later in the book when all paths cross.  Amidst political and religious extremism, the war between Israelis and Arabs rages.  The tale gets even more interesting as a bomb is detonated and fingers are pointing every which way to determine who did it.  The characters are all very unique.  There is the woman visiting her sister in Israel.  The woman who had an affair with her sister's fiance 10 years ago and who continues to sleep with married men.  There is the man who is a Talmud scholar.  The man who no longer feels his connection to the divine and shaves off his hasidic beard.  There is the man who dropped out of college and disappoints his parents.  The man who can not control his impulses and hurts others in the process of trying to find his own pleasures.  There is the woman who overdoses on drugs because she never got over the fact that her ancestors were murdered in the Holocaust.  The woman who could have a fulfilled life but can't see those who love her past those who deal her drugs.  Leegant goes into the mind and thoughts of all these characters.  While the plot was very good, there were parts I wish were omitted.  There are various instances of swearing, as well as a scene in which a woman is molested and nearly date raped.  This book is not recommended for children.

Monday, April 30, 2018

"Why Men Marry Bitches" by Sherry Argov

After reviewing Argov's first book "Why Men Love Bitches", I got this second one in the mail to review.  Despite the catchy tongue-in-cheek title, the term "bitch" here does not refer to a nasty drama queen.  Rather, the term means a woman who stands up for herself and has confidence.  There are many concepts in this book that I agree with and many that I disagree with.  First, I agree that a woman who desires marriage in her future should never move in with a man.  Second, I agree that a woman who wants a real relationship should not cheapen herself with revealing clothing.  There is a story in the book about a man who met a woman at a business event where she was dressed very professionally.  He asked her out to dinner later that evening.  The woman went home and changed into a very low-cut top to look "sexy" for the guy.  The guy met the woman for dinner and was immediately un-attracted to the woman.  There is a section of the book detailing how men will use women physically and say / do whatever they need to in order to use them.  This is one of the reasons I think women should save intimacy for marriage--to avoid being taken advantage of.  Many stories from men write about the women they used short-term versus the women they marry long-term.  Confidence and having a backbone are desirable traits.  Now, onto what I disagreed with.  This wasn't so much one particular page in the book but rather the overall message that was lost.  I believe there was not enough emphasis on choosing.  What I mean is, any high-quality woman can get men who want to marry her no problem.  But that does not mean she should go off with just any of them.  So many women nowadays are so obsessed with the idea of marriage that they will simply walk down an aisle with the first man who asks.  I think this is very dangerous as a lack of common values and future goals can lead to divorce.  To all the women out there, use Argov's tips to avoid wasting time with losers who communicate through their words and actions that you are a short time fling.  However, use your own discernment and don't just marry anybody.

Friday, April 27, 2018

"Better Together" by Rusty George

This humorous book is all about the importance of community.  George focuses on the benefits or living life with others.  While there are strong Christian undertones and an emphasis on church community, the overall message can be for any type of community.  George speaks about stories of community from the Bible, from Nehemiah's friends to Jesus' friends.  In one funny episode, the author compares the whining at the last supper to a homeowners association meeting gone bad!  On that note, not all community will be pleasant.  There is an aspect of bearing one another's burdens and having compassion.  Where I disagree with this is when personalities come into play.  With my strong empathy tendencies, I have learned to be selective about how close I let friends get.  I can not be someone's therapist or sit thru 30 minutes of venting.  This simply drains me emotionally.  I can, however, enjoy life with positive friendships.  What matters most is not trying to go thru life alone.  Studies show that having community can increase levels of joy, happiness, success, and even health.  Wherever you are in life, I hope you find community.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Blonde Ops" by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman

Bec has caused herself so much trouble that she's been kicked out of numerous boarding schools.  Her high-profile parents are too busy with business to chaperone her this summer, so they send her to Rome where she interns at a fashion magazine company.  There Bec meets a whole slue of characters, including two love interests, members of the Secret Service, and the First Lady who just so happens to be visiting.  When the editor in chief of the fashion magazine is sent to the hospital, things get very suspicious.  Then there are all the strange accidents that happen near the First Lady and her eventual kidnapping (spoiler!).  Bec is trying to enjoy her time in Italy but gets sucked into the intrigue.  Her hacking skills (yes, women can code!) and detective skills help her find out what really happened to the magazine editor in chief and First Lady.  There are twists in turns in this book that I did not see coming.  The book starts out a bit slow and doesn't pick up suspense until a third of the way through.  There are a few swear words in the book and some kissing, but nothing graphic. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

"Never Chase Men Again" by Bruce Bryans

This book is both comical and straight to the point.  As the title suggests, the whole premise is that men chase while women choose.  If a woman likes a man, she should never chase him or initiate contact.  If a woman likes a man that she is dating, she should never give up her hobbies or rearrange her schedule for the man.  If she's free, she'll accommodate the date.  If not, the man will learn to plan dates out further in the calendar.  Another obvious piece of advice the author gave was for women to not have physical intimacies relations or move in with a man before marriage.  Bryans talks about how men categorize women into categories of friends, friends with benefits, or long term committment.  Women should only entertain men who put in the effort and communicate thru actions / words that the woman is special.  Otherwise, time is wasted.  I have found this true in my own life.  When I refuse to go out with men who don't put in any effort, I free up time to meet real men who will rise to the challenge of courtship.  There is also a section on self esteem and how women should be happy with their own life regardless of what men may or may not be in their life.  This book was very short and could be read in a day or simple kept as a reference book (the table of contents is excellent).

Thursday, April 12, 2018

"Bountiful Blessings" by Susie Larson

I’ve gone thru devotionals and I’ve gone thru coloring books, but I’ve never gone thru a devotional coloring book before!  What a fun idea and excellent concept.  The left pages have short Bible verses followed by inspirational explanations, and the right pages have coloring images.  The coloring images range from flowers to landscapes to animals.  I enjoy how the pages are normal novel-sized pages.  I’ve colored in large coloring books before, and there is just too much white space to fill in!  Not with this book, though.  There is enough space to relax with coloring but not so much to wear out one’s wrist.  The Bible verses are from both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament.  There is an emphasis on relaxation, calmness, and less worrying.  I recommend this book to anyone who likes to color and wants some peaceful quiet time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

"The Healthy Living Handbook" by Laura Harris Smith

Full of wisdom, this book is a must for anyone who wishes to have a more healthy lifestyle.  The book is broken up into three chunks--spirit, mind, and body.  The spirit section focuses on prayer and religious service (in Smith's Christian setting, this means church).  The mind section focuses on de-cluttering, forgiveness, laughter, and more.  The body section focuses on diet, exercise, essential oils, sleep, and hydration.  Each chunk has 10 chapters, most of which are about 5 pages, which makes for a quick read.  At the end of each chapter are questions for the reader to journal respond, as well as a guided prayer.  Since Smith is a Christian, there are copious references to Jesus and quotations from the Bible.  Smith balances religion with intentional living quite well.  While some would say God can heal any ailment, Smith argues that God "will not bless food eaten in hell's kitchen" and that people can not pray themselves from a size 24 to a size 4.  This isn't meant to discount spirituality--there is a whole section of the book devoted to spirituality--but rather to teach readers that they have their own responsibility in this life.  God loves humans, I believe, but sometimes we have to learn from our mistakes.  If someone can eat candy all day long and never get cavities, how can they learn to eat sweets in moderation?

Sunday, April 1, 2018

"Courageous Women of the Bible" by Latan Roland Murphy

While many may think of the Bible as a book full of male characters, there are quite a few female characters.  These women are not all just wives and mothers.  They are heroins and champions, dealing with life challenges as difficult as leading nations into battle.  The women of yesteryear had it just as rough--if not rougher--than the women of today.  They faced childlessness, difficult marriages, shameful reputations, personal insecurities, and doubted their faith in God.  Women from the Old Testament and New Testament are detailed.  There is a Christian undertone to this book as there are copious references to Jesus.  Some characters are Deborah, Mary, the mother of Moses, Abigail, and even some women who are unnamed.  I was surprised to see the woman from Song of Songs listed as a courageous woman of the Bible--a women who is nameless in the poem.  Still, I liked where Murphy took the story and how she weaved in the lesson of waiting on love instead of setting for the first person who gives a woman attention--something that can have miserable and lifelong consequences.  At the very end of the book, there is a section for readers to journal about their own fears and courage based on the topics covered in the book.  I found this book to be rather inspiring and uplifting.  May you all find your courage as you cast fear aside.  

"An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth" by Chris Hadfield

This book was part of a book club at my workplace.  I wasn't sure if it would be a biography or a self help book or a story.  After reading the book, I discovered it is all that and more. Hadfield chronicles his life journey, from child to astronaut.  There is even a bit about his family and personal life.  I had no idea how young Hadfield married or how straining the life of an astronaut could be on a marriage.  Away for months on end is no easy task for work-life balance.  Throughout the entire book, there is an emphasis on teamwork and humility and being what Hadfield calls a zero.  Being a zero doesn't mean being a loser but rather aiming to keep the machine running without drawing too much attention to oneself.  Don't focus on the spotlight.  Simply focus on doing your best job possible and contribute your piece.  Hadfield also speaks about how loneliness is a state of mind, not a location.  He did not feel lonely in space but noted how many in large cities can feel lonely.  Hadfield speaks about his return to earth and his acceptance of his fame that many will inevitably forget.  For those interested in life in space and how that translates into character on earth, give this book a go!


Friday, March 23, 2018

"Singing the Scriptures" by Julie Meyer

So many people in the Bible sang songs.  There is even a whole book of the Bible entitled Psalms.  So why don't more people sing about God?  What are the mental and spiritual impacts of singing?  How does singing help people change and grow?  So many questions and more are answered in this book.  Meyer shares some personal stories from her own life.  She speaks about singing to foreign tribes in Africa, singing to the homeless in American cities, singing to terrorists in Israel, and just singing in her car.  When discussing Bible verses, Meyer goes into ancient linguistics to explain deeper meanings of the Scriptures.  Meyer is a Christian woman, and there are Christian undertones in the book which are evident but not overdone.  After reading this book, I want to try to sing more often.  Not just listening to songs but actually singing out loud.  As God sings over me, so I shall sing to God.

"Single is Not a Curse" by Tony Gaskins Jr.

Written by one of my favorite life coaches, this book is all about the single season of life.  As the title suggests, single is not a curse--it is not a bad thing.  It is in the single season of life where one really has the time to work on oneself.  Gaskins talks about working on the three B's of brain, brand, and body, which he elaborates in his book.  In the simplest terms, one has to become the best version of oneself to attract the best out there.  There is also a section on healing from past relationships so as to not take past baggage into future relationships.  I loved the concept of how love should not be painful.  Too many people think crying and sadness is part of love.  Gaskins explains how pain should not be associated with love and gives detailed questions and plans for leaving abusive relationships.  I learned so much from this book and enjoyed it.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

"A Light on the Hill" by Connilyn Cossette

One of the most interesting yet least talked about parts of the Bible is the cities of refuge.  These were places were those accused of crimes punishable by death could flee and remain safe.  They would either get a trial proclaiming them free or be confined to the city gates.  Going outside the city when guilty meant a vigilante could legally kill them.  This is the case with Moriyah.  When she accidentally kills two young boys, she is forced to flee to a city of refuge.  Things get interesting when the man who wants her dead is chasing her, trying to prevent her from reaching the city of refuge.  Add in the fact that Moriyah's love interest is the brother of said vigilante.  As if that were not drama enough, add in Moriyah's troubled childhood where she is kidnapped and branded with the mark of a pagan harlot.  Yes, interesting indeed.  I won't give any more of the book away but will say it is quite the page-turner.  For romance, that is there but not graphic.  As for the vigilante chasing, there is action and suspense but nothing too scary.  I like how biblical fiction ties in aspects of the human condition that apply to modern day.  While readers may not be fleeing for their lives after the fall of Jericho, they may be able to relate to the concept of others judging them, running away from a bad situation, and dealing with worrisome in-laws.  I can't wait to read the next book in this series.

Monday, March 12, 2018

"Mrs. Right" by Tony A. Gaskins Jr.

As a long time fan of Life and Relationship Coach Tony A. Gaskins Jr., I decided to order his book when I heard about him mentioning it in one of his videos.  This read so quick and easy that I finished the entire book in three days.  It talked about how men perceive women, going so far as to talk about how men view different hairstyles and fashions choices.  It talked about how men respect women who make them wait for intimacy.  It talked about how a man may fool around with a woman but not marry her, as well as how a man will waste a woman's prime youth and beauty years without a ring while he's looking for who else better may come along.  There was also emphasis on healing from past relationships so baggage from yesterday does not ruin the success of tomorrow.  There was also the tough love of saying how women need to stay healthy and fashionable to keep a man's attention.  I could go on and on about this book.  I recommend any woman who is thinking of marriage one day to read it.  Be you, do you, and enjoy life so that you are ready when your future husband arrives.  Enjoy

Saturday, March 10, 2018

"Why Men Love Bitches" by Sherry Argov

The title of this book immediately caught my attention.  I laughed and then thought to myself whether or not this was true.  I was also intrigued by the words "are you too nice?" on the back cover.  This book is clear that the term bitch does not mean a nasty or angry or bitter woman.  In the context of the book, a bitch is a woman who stands up for herself and does not let a man define her self worth.  There are lots of examples in the book of how a nice girl will go out of her way for a man who is mistreating her while a bitchy woman will call the man out on his behavior and then distance herself.  A tip I loved was that men do not respond as well to words as they do to no contact.  If a guy is not giving a woman 100%, it does the woman no good to nag or whine or dress up or cook him extra food.  What the woman needs to do is go out and live her life without him.  The bitchy woman does not have a fear of being alone.  The nice woman will fear losing a second rate male and will thus exhaust herself while trying to make a relationship work.  I also liked how this book emphasized the importance of a man pursuing a woman.  A woman constantly calling a man or making plans with him will push a guy away.  Let the guy do the chasing.  There are plenty of other tips in this book, and I highly recommend it for any woman who has ever settled for second best at the expense of being "too nice".

Thursday, March 8, 2018

"Reinventing You" by Dorie Clark

Have you ever wanted to change your brand?  Get a new job role, make a change, start a nonprofit, or just challenge your own personal status quo?  This book will help you do just that.  There are plenty of concrete steps, most important of all is evaluation.  You can't get to where you want to go without first knowing where you are coming from.  Once you have decided your starting point and end destination, there is the journey in between.  Get a mentor, make a plan, job shadow, volunteer for an assignment, tweak your social media presence, and much more.  There is even advice for financial matters such as whether or not to go back to school.  At the very end of the book, there are tips for maintaining one's new image.  Creating a brand is a lifestyle, and Clark will help you with that.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

"Raising the Barre" by Lauren Kessler

The story of a woman in midlife deciding to dance the Nutcracker sounds inspiring, crazy, and almost impossible.  Wife, mother, and author Laruen Kessler decides to make her dreams become reality and dance the dance she always wanted to dance.  This is no easy feat.  It required months of practicing, exercising, and convincing not only herself but also a ballet company that she was worthy of the role.  From pilates to barre3 to a form of exercise I had never heard before--gyrotonics--Kessler stops at nothing to achieve her goal.  Trials and tribulations are shared as she recounts her body image struggles, midlife crises, and tripping onstage.  While I really enjoyed the spirit of this book, I wish it was edited to cut out some of the not so family friendly parts.  There are a few swear words and lewd references.  Were these not there, I could confidently recommend the book to younger audiences or even my women in midlife that I know.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

"Becoming Peace" by Nancy Graumlich

As part of the ElderFriends program, I was matched with a senior in my area.  Through our many visits, I got to know Nancy as a beloved friend.  During our friendship, she gave me her self-published book of poetry.  The poems were about war, peace, and mother earth.  I was surprised to learn of Nancy participation in the civil rights movement.  As I absorbed each poem, I got to see the world through Nancy's eyes.  I saw a heart for suffering, a desire for peace, and a hope for the future.  The children are the future, the earth will not heal itself, and war will not go away on its own.  It takes concentrated steps and direction from every person on earth.  We must all strive towards peace and love and unity to have true progress.  Some of the poems are sad since they do not shy away from the world's problems.  However, I finished the book feeling inspired that I can make a difference in the world, no matter how small that may be.  Thank you Nancy.  To peace.

Friday, March 2, 2018

"The Abundance Project" by Derek Rydall

How much of our life is automatic?  How much of our life is based on our actions versus our thoughts?  This book goes into all that and more.  The main concept of the abundance project is that people need to tap into their inner spirit of abundance.  People need to feel like they are winners before they can actually win.  I like how Rydall also emphasizes using practical steps.  It's not good enough to simply think one will get a great job, great relationship, etc.  Rather, one needs to do the healing work (thru journaling, meditation, therapy, etc) along with the physical work (working harder, getting out, meeting people, speaking up, etc).  Another part of the book I really enjoyed was talking about one's worth.  There are many kind hearted and spiritual people (such as myself) who find it immensely difficult to speak up and ask for what they want.  An example is an employee not asking for a raise out of fear of being selfish when they are making less than market value.  Using the abundance principle, Rydall proposes, no one is taking too much from someone else.  Rather, we are all living in abundance.  Still, if one is being mistreated, there is no need to stay.  Thinking good thoughts of abundance is no excuse for staying in a dead end job or loveless relationship.  Throughout the entire book, there is reference to the Source.  This is cited as another term for God or Love in the Universe.  While there is some Bible quoted, Rydall keeps going back to the principles of abundance and not necessarily one religion of abundance.  On a final note, the 40 day plan is not day by day.  Rather, after the principles of abundance are explained, Rydall gives tips for how one should make their own 40 day plan.  Just as a radio is always broadcasting even if you are not tuned into it, abundance is already existing in life.  You just need to tune into it.  Find out how with this book!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

"Faithful Finance" by Emily G. Stroud, MBA, CFA

I was a bit skeptical about this book touting 10 secrets that could move one from fearful insecurity to confident control.  However, the more I read, the more I was impressed.  The chapters in this book are clearly written so that the novice finance person can understand yet are informative enough that no detail is lacking.  There are so many tips and tricks that I was not even aware of.  For instance, beyond home and car insurance, there is insurance for long term life care (aka - assisted living).  Beyond saving for a child's college, there are specific tax-deferred plans calls 529s.  While wills may list out who gets what in the event of one's death, they do not overwrite the beneficiaries listed on one's life insurance policy.  For investing, it is okay to see money lost since the stock market with its ups and downs historically trends up over time.  There are so many other tidbits I'd love to share, but I encourage readers to find out for themselves.  Stroud is not just some savvy person who reads finance magazines.  She has her MBA and CFA and even her own finance company.  She knows what she is talking about.  As for the "faithful" part of this book, there is no health and wealth gospel preached.  Rather, each chapter starts out with a Bible verse and Stroud talks a bit about her Judeo-Christian faith in the front and end matter of the book.   I definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to get their finances in order.