Sunday, January 12, 2014

"Everyday Confetti" by Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer

This is a book focusing on entertaining others in your home.  The way it is written, it seems as if the intended audience is women with families.  The tips for making other people feel special while not breaking the bank were good.  For example, the authors talk about sending loved ones quick notes, text messages, collages, homemade crafts, and other gifts.  Both authors are professed Christians, and the theme of mainstream Christianity is in the book.  There are Bible verses quoted and even a whole section of the book devoted to celebrating spiritual milestones of friends / family.  There is some diversity as the book discusses how to entertain during Black History Month, Cinco de Mayo, Veterans Day, and more.  Passover is mentioned on one page, but not much information is given about entertaining--the authors encourage readers to do their own research for hosting a Seder.  Recipes are also included, but I was not a fan of them.  Many recipes had butter, sugar, ham, sausage, and pork.  While there were some healthy recipes thrown in, the bulk of the recipes didn't seem too healthy.  This is a nice book, but not one I'd spend my money on to buy.   

"Ingredients for Success: 10 Best Practices for Business and Life" by Joseph James Slawek

This book revolves around Matthew 25 and dives into how the lessons in those parables translate into business and personal success.  We read about how those who are successful will get more responsibility and rewards, while those who are lazy will get punished and lose profits.  We also read about the importance of being kind to others and donating to charity.  As the CEO of a major corporation, this author has real-life experience in the business world.  At times, the book feels likes the author's own personal journal--there are pages dedicated to the author's listed strengths, things he's grateful for, and even his company mission statement.  This book is very slim and quick to read, with 10 short chapters highlighting the author's "ingredients for success."  The only thing that shocked me was the value of this book.  As a professional book reviewer, I got a free copy.  However, the back cover said it goes for $16.99.  $16.99 for a paperback less than 120 pages is unrealistic.  While this book is nice, it is by no means life-changing.  For those interested in the parables of Yeshua, they can read the Bible online or even get a free Bible from one of the various Bible associations in the world.  Part of what makes parables parables is their ease of understanding and lack of beating around the bush.  Read the parables for yourself, and get a business book is you want tips for better work.  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"Viscountess" by Taversia

Fast paced yet slow to contemplate, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat wondering what really constitutes reality.  What makes this story unique is its setting.  It takes place in the future where advances are so revolutionary that ships literally fly through the sky.  However, the culture and society is very much dated with clear lines between aristocracy and serfs.  As the daughter of a wealthy upperclassman, the protagonist enjoys the finer things in life.  Yet, as a woman, many stereotypes and thrust upon her.  Seeking to find her own way in life, the Viscountess uses tech savvy and cunning personality traits to traverse a dangerous cycle of events.  There is some violence in the book but it is not graphic.  Romance is also part of the plot.  While much is left to the imagination, I would not recommend this book for young children.  Teens, perhaps, but not preteens.  There is a hint of tragedy in the story as death is involved.  Speculative superstitions are also intertwined into the series of events.  A key is involved, as are other magical devices.  But the symbols are not so important as what they represent and mean.  This is a story of coming-of-age in an era where much has advanced and much has stayed the same.  At the conclusion of the story, other characters would get the impression that the Viscountess has lost her mind.  However, the reader--and perhaps the Viscountess herself--will have the impression that perhaps for once in her life the Viscountess has found who she really is. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"Forks Over Knives" written / directed by Lee Fulkerson

“Forks Over Knives” written / directed by Lee Fulkerson is a provocative film on the relation between food and health.   Scientific research and clinical study are combined when the documentary showcases both a surgeon and a professor.  Both men discuss what they have discovered over their years.  You know these men are not biased because they both grew up on farms that sold meat and dairy.  For them to publicly speak out against consuming what they once promoted further proves their credibility.  Particularly fascinating is the international aspect of their work.  A study on China is presented.  Dating back to the 1970s, the study found that certain types of cancers were concentrated in different parts of China.  Each of these different parts of China had different diets.  It was found that the areas of China that had mostly plant-based diets had lower levels of disease and cancer; the areas of China that had more meat and dairy consumption had higher levels of disease and cancer.  But this movie doesn’t just stop with China.  A research paper from India claiming that meat is linked to cancer is replicated by the scientists in the documentary.  The results they find match the results in the Indian paper.  The filmmaker goes a step further and researches the effect of diet on European countries like Norway, as well.  I will not go into detail about all of the studies, but I would like to point out that the information in this film is appropriately referenced and detailed while still being easy enough for the average viewer to understand.  Another fantastic aspect of the film was that it followed a few ordinary people and showed how their health improved (and some diseases went away) for them when they adopted a plant-based diet.  It should be noted that there are some clips of surgery in this film.  So, if you’re squeamish, prepare to avert your eyes when you start seeing lime green medical coats.  This documentary has plenty of tough love, as well as great bonus features. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

"Persuasion IQ" by Kurt W. Mortensen

Full of helpful advice, thought-provoking stories, and industry-proven tactics, this book is sure to get you on the right track.  Mortensen will bring you through his ten skills in a quick way that lets lessons stick with you.  You'll even get some laughs, too, as cartoons are included.  What I enjoyed about this book was that it was not geared at one main occupation.  So many books like these are guided towards salesmen.  This book does mention salesmen from time to time, but it does not focus on them solely.  Other occupations are mentioned, and various examples of workers using these persuasion skills are included.  The style in which this book is written flows very well, and you feel as if you are talking to a life coach friend.  You do not feel yelled at like you are with some sort of boot camp guide or personal trainer.  Besides business skills, Mortensen includes tips on being healthy, happy, and having a positive mental / emotional outlook.  I've read business / professional development books in the past, but this one sticks with me.  After having taken the multiple choice test at the back of the book, I know I'm not a professional persuader.  However, with the skills I picked up in this book, I believe I'm well on my way to becoming one! 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

"Skinny Bitch" by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouim

This book is definitely not for the weak of heart.  Full of tough love, expletives, and awkward analogies, you will feel like you are being yelled at.  However, you will get a kick out of reading this and will belly over with laughs as you turn the pages.  The premise for this diet / lifestyle is going vegan and paying attention to what you put in your body.  While exercise is mentioned, this book does not overdo it.  There are no intense gym regiments discussed--the authors suggest simple walking for cardio.  Ingredients matter, and the authors explain what many food ingredients mean and how they affect the body.  Toxicity, disease, and cancer are investigated, as well.  The meat and dairy industry and given an honest look, and hormones / steroids are discussed in the factory farming process.  The cruelty done to animals is also not skirted as these vegan authors present a mighty convincing case for going vegan.  In terms of getting protein and other nutrients, the authors give nutritional information for what doctors say our bodies really need.    Pesticides are also explained as the authors encourage readers to buy organic.  What I really liked about this book was how it focused on health and ingredients.  Readers are not told to count calories or diet-system "points" or to even starve themselves.  Readers are told simply to eat real food and avoid all the chemicals and fake "food-flavored products" that are on the shelves and in the restaurants.  It's really quite simple.  I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to be healthy and improve their life.

"The Prophets" by Abraham Joshua Heschel

I've been told that Heschel's writings are works of genius.  After completing this 600+ page masterpiece, I can say I am not disappointed.  This book chronicles the passion, fury, sadness, and unmistakable emotion that swims through the veins of the Jewish prophets.  There is an emphasis on social justice, brotherly kindness, and how God feels about His creation.  Also fascinating are the additional parts / sections of this book that discuss the psychology of prophets, both in Judaism and in other religions.  Historical context is provided and will open the eyes of readers.  Where one man may take a quote from the Jewish prophets out of context to "spiritualize" it, Heschel puts history in its proper place and explains the time, politics, and place that likely influenced the prophet to say what he said.  The ideas in this book will stick with you.