Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Review: Invest and Beat the Pros

Create and Manage a Successful Investment Portfolio

Author Barbara A. Friedberg, MBA, MS / Reviewed by Felita Daniels / 116 Pages

This book is written for the person that knows they should be doing something to increase their odds at a happy retirement, but has avoided digging in and making a plan. If you have dodged addressing this because you thought it was too difficult, or were confused by the lingo, this easy to read work may be just the ticket.


Ms. Friedberg speaks to the everyday person and cites studies and includes charts for those that are more visually oriented. There is a table of contents that will help someone pinpoint topics they want to re-visit. There are helpful summary points at the end of each chapter also.

If you don’t want to do-it-yourself, she has included information about advisors. Knowing what types there are and how they are compensated will help you make a better choice.

There is some solid advice here and she makes everything accessible. If you are someone who has been managing your portfolio for a number of years, read Forbes or Financial Times and watch Cramer or other investment shows, this will be too basic for you. If you are someone at a dinner party that smiles when others are talking about ETFs and market class, this may be the book to get you started.

Author Links

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Filed under Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

Review: Don’t Fear the Reaper: Why Every Author Needs an Editor

Author Blake Atwood / Reviewed by Felita Daniels / 153 Pages

Book Cover Don't Fear the ReaperThis is a helpful book. It is especially important for that first-time, self-publishing writer that needs an editor. Someone new to the industry may not know what the different types of editing are, which they need, and what are reasonable prices for these services. These questions are answered.

I didn’t like that the author advertises his own editing services in multiple places in the work.  There were also places where he reiterated the same pieces of information and concepts. This made me doubt his editorial skills.

I did like that he tried to help the writer to understand the proper mindset and prepare the writer emotionally for being edited.

“In a later chapter, we’ll discuss much more about that first reaction to being edited, but for now, know that being open to becoming a better writer- and being open to even the most heinous of edits- is a character trait of all serious writers.”

Helpful, but a great deal of this information could have been found on line with some targeted search queries.

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Filed under Non-Fiction, Writing Craft

Creative Struggles

Our guest today is author Narissa Doumani, author of A Spacious Life

Before I wrote A Spacious Life I studied acting, and for a brief moment (read: a few years) tried to forge a career in the performing arts. I was offered many pieces of advice during that time, but the one I heard over and over was, ‘If you can think of anything else you could do and be happy, do it!’

Narissa Doumani PhotoSix years on and having now completed my first book, I get it. I really, truly get it. There are some special struggles us creative folk have to manage.

One of them, unfortunately, is money. How do you fund your work? A lucky few are paid handsomely for their creative talents, but the overwhelming majority of artists out there (some of whom are mind-blowingly talented) have to find supplementary channels of income.

I was lucky enough to have spent several years working as a model in commercial advertising campaigns, which meant I was sometimes paid extremely well for a day’s work. The work was unreliable, however, and at the end of the financial year I hadn’t earned as much as I could have in a corporate job with regular hours. Nevertheless, it was a blessing, because it gave me time to write.

Once you’ve found a way to fund your creative endeavors, the next challenge is to endure the internal struggle. Creating art can be soul-wrenching stuff, and writing a book is a long, solitary journey.

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There were times I wanted to throw my laptop out the window and admit defeat—more times than I care to admit. I’m so glad I didn’t, but finishing my book was an act of sheer determination. I recently attended a talk by a panel of well-known authors, and was interested to hear they’d all experienced something similar. Yup, this writing biz is tougher than it looks to the casual observer.

Having overcome the artistic struggle (possibly, by this time, having also bled our savings account dry), us creatives are then crazy enough to release our work into a world where everyone, it seems, is an expert. Everyone who’s never written a book, that is! I’ve been lucky enough to receive some extraordinarily kind words from early readers and reviewers of my book, but no piece of art is to everyone’s taste; those who don’t resonate with your style or topic will find ways to let you know, and in no uncertain terms.

Tour Banner Spacious Life

Even our creative process is up for judgment. Only the other day I had a woman say to me, ‘It took you five years to write your book? You know, I heard about a course that teaches you to write one in two days. I can find out the details for you, if you like.’

While she meant well, she clearly has never sat down to write a book of her own. If she had, she would realize that there is no ‘one size fits all’ methodology. Writing a book is an intensely personal creative journey; for many journeys worth taking, shortcuts simply won’t do!

Don’t let any of this put you off, though. Artistic folk will understand when I say this: you can try to deny your natural creative streak, but the struggle of suppression will be far more torturous, for you are denying the truth of who you are. If you have the urge to write, then write! Or paint, sculpt, dance, sing or act…express your heart in whichever creative medium calls to you. And if you have a book in you, I wish you every success in bringing it out into the world. It will test you in ways you can’t imagine, but it will be well worth the journey.

Follow the rest of the tour for more about A Spacious Life: Memoir of a Mediator

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Blurb

‘Meditation and mindfulness are tools for working with the mind, but where they have led me is to a blossoming of the heart…’

Spacious Life CoverWhat does a spiritual seeker look like? Could you pick one in a lineup? If you said yes, chances are you weren’t imagining this meditating model. Born in Sydney, Australia, Narissa Doumani grew up well loved, well educated, and (reasonably) well dressed, but for years grappled with what she admits is ‘the ultimate first world problem’: how to be truly, deeply happy in any lasting way. In this intimate memoir, she explores the creative process, traverses the heights of romantic love and the despair of self-doubt, and comes face to face with her own fragile mortality. But it’s in a cave in a Thai forest, where she meets the Buddhist yogi who will become her spiritual guide, that she learns to unravel the messy states of mind and heart that had kept her from living a spacious life—and thereby begins to uncover the happiness, meaning, and connection for which she always yearned.

A Spacious Life is a heart-warming, honest, and at times surprisingly humorous look into the quest for meaning beyond materialism—and its relevance as an essential condition for well-being and fulfilment within modern-day life.

About the Author

Narissa Doumani is the student of a reclusive Thai yogi, and a dedicated practitioner of mindfulness, meditation, and the Buddhist path. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Melbourne, Narissa spent nearly a decade working as a model and presenter in the world of commercial advertising, using the circumstances of her everyday life to cultivate clarity and peace of mind. Born into a Thai-Lebanese-Australia family, she is a strong advocate for diversity, tolerance, and finding one’s own authentic path. Her debut memoir, A Spacious Life, invites us all to do just that, and to live with meaning beyond the material.

Website  |  Facebook  |  YouTube  |  Kirkus Review

 

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Filed under Giveaways & Prizes, Guest Post, Non-Fiction

Review: The World’s 99 Greatest Investors

Author Magnus Angenfelt / Reviewed by Felita Daniels / 325 Pages

I have been interested in how to invest since I was divorced and needed to figure out how or what to do with my 401K at work. I have read a great deal of trading and investing books since that time and have attended some seminars also.

Cover- World's 99 Greatest InvestorsWhat I found I liked about this book was that exposed me to some investors I hadn’t heard about. After realizing that the author was Swedish and that some of the investors were from other countries I was delighted to read more. I was disappointed that there were not any women featured. Each investor has his own chapter. There are headings such as: returns, advice, a brief biography, career, investment philosophy and any interesting facts.

I appreciated the contents of this book, because the author was a financial reporter and analyst he knew the concepts and had a sense of what people would be interested to learn. He also wasn’t selling a seminar, computer program or investment tip line or website. So there wasn’t any sales pitch. The writing was neutral and one of learning. If you enjoy reading any of Jack Schwager’s Market Wizards books, you will love this book also.

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Filed under Non-Fiction

Review: Author Power

Author Lynn Isenberg / Reviewed by Felita Daniels / 304 Pages

Cover Art Author Power

Generosity to the Extreme!

First off, I have to applaud this author for taking the time and effort to document what has worked for her and shared it with the rest of us. She didn’t asked us to pay hundreds to attend a seminar or sign up for an online course. She piled her experience, examples, tips and approach into a book any writer could afford. It is WELL worth this price and more. This will be a longish review because the content has so much to offer about the ‘business’ of writing. I think that is important.

Today’s authors are usually holding down a day job, attending to a family, putting time into their writing craft and also trying to learn about how to market their book with social media. Not all writers are born salesmen and promoting their own creative work is awkward for most. This book takes the promotional portion of a writing career to an entirely different level. It is very similar to product placement in the movies. I know what you are thinking. Where do I find time to learn and do that?

If writing isn’t just a hobby for you, if you want to make a career out of it and let go of that day job somewhere along the way, then you owe it to yourself to have a business plan. Branding yourself, your characters, and having multiple streams of income from your work are going to get you to your goals faster. Here’s just one priceless paragraph to help the writer:

“Okay, you’re about to call a complete stranger and ask them for money. Step back. Reframe. No. That’s not it. You’re about to call a really cool, creative person and forge a professional relationship and maybe even make a new friend. You’re going to ask them to believe in the opportunity you want to present to them, to read and consider your follow-up e-mail, and to invest in your idea. And maybe, if you can establish a professional friendship, it will turn into results you can imagine and some you can’t.”

I will admit that I think Lynn maybe had a head start compared to the rest of us. It seems with some of the name dropping and info about her previous career she may have already been around the entertainment industry and had a few contacts we may not have. Her character in her novels is also an entrepreneur, this may have made it a touch easier to associate an industry with her novels. However, we could all put this plan into place on some level. Maybe you don’t know a movie star, but the local weather man attends your church. Is there an opportunity there? Maybe you can’t land a national chain like 1-800 Flowers, but could you forge a 10% discount at a local restaurant for anyone that takes of picture of themselves with your book in hand? Maybe.

This author includes technical as well as inspirational content. There are examples of contact letters and emails, scripts for making phone calls, bullet lists of the benefits of sponsorship, examples of contracts for promotional agreements, sections on alternative marketing campaigns, and a resources section.

I think any author that intends on making income from their creative work needs to read this book. Hands down 5 stars.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Non-Fiction, Writing Business

Review: 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

Author Amy Morin / Reviewed by Felita Daniels / Pages 272

I believe that most folks that like to read are also the type of people that like to grow and improve themselves. Even if you aren’t into reading psychology books in general, I think anyone can related to some portion of this book. The author Amy Morin discusses 13 areas or weaknesses that can slow the journey to contentment and happiness.

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do CoverMost people would look over the list of 13 and mentally say to themselves “I’m fine with that one, that one, yup, okay on that, “ but then hit one and stop dead in their tracks. Or their spouse reading over their shoulder would say “Skip to #7, you need to read that chapter, honey.” If you are wondering where your weak spot may be, the publishers have provided a quiz.

The style and formatting of the book is easy on psychological terms and organized in a practical style. The use of real life examples, bullet points, beginning chapters with famous quotes and summarizing ‘What’s Helpful’ and ‘What’s Not Helpful’ at the end of each topic make for light reading of serious subject matter. I liked that references for each chapter were included at the back of the book. If you decided you wanted to delve more deeply in to research on your soft spot, you could. Continue reading

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Filed under Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

The Adrenal Reset Diet

Author Alan Christianson, NMD / Reviewed by Felita Daniels / 288 Pages

First off in this review I want to say that I am not in any way in the medical profession, nor had any training as such. I am however, a woman in my 50’s who has had a raised a son, worked hard, tried to eat right and exercise when I can. Still I have had trouble with my weight. Thus, my interest in this book.

Adrenal Reset Book Cover

Have toxins, mental and dietary stress knocked your system out of balance?


I think many would agree that sometimes traditional medicine is about the masses.   If X symptom is cured 90% of the time by Y medication. If you go in with that symptom, chances are they are going to give you Y medication. Many of us have seen a co-worker have great success with a particular diet. We buy the book, change our pantry, follow the instructions and we have less than stellar results. Clearly there isn’t one answer for everyone. This book addresses this.

Christianson has identified three patterns or ways your cortisol, adrenal hormones and metabolism may have gone out of balance. Then he outlines the way to gently correct your system back to the way it was intended to work. I was intrigued that a large part of this wasn’t about cutting out things, but more about what time of day you ate certain things. There is a quiz to allow you to self-select which path may be the correct one for you. He does also gives a mini-lesson about your adrenal hormones and cortisol / melatonin cycle. It’s the correct amount of facts without losing an everyday person in the technical.

The NMD after Christianson’s name stands for Naturopathic Medical Doctor. He also provides information about a study he did about this program. It was a smallish study. My remembrances from statistics class in college was that you needed 21 for a statistically significant experiment/study. Christianson had 58 in his. They were patients of his and not strangers that signed up off the street. I would think that their relationship with him and his work would mean they would be more likely to follow the protocol. I appreciated that he narrowed the test to only the one variable… the change in diet. He didn’t ask them to exercise or change anything else. Thus you could see that the results, where ever they fell, were due to the diet. The average results were a weight loss of 9 pounds in a one month period. Two to four inches were taken of their waist lines also.

In addition to the recipes, there is also a resources section, a FAQ and footnotes. I liked that the book was written in a factual style and not hypish like the screaming belly fat commercials. If you are concerned that your system may be out of balance, you just don’t feel as energetic as you should be, or have struggled with your weight, this book may be of interest to you. I am impressed enough that I have taken the quiz and I’m going to try the protocol outlined for myself.

 The Adrenal Reset Diet: Strategically Cycle Carbs and Proteins to Lose Weight, Balance Hormones, and Move from Stressed to Thriving

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Filed under Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

Review: Books That Cook

Jennifer Cognard-Black / Reviewed by Felita Daniels / 384 Pages

Books the Cook Coverart

The Making of a Literary Meal

The subtitle is The Making of a Literary Meal. I need to make something transparent so that you can decide if this is a book you would enjoy or not. Yes, it does have recipes, so technically, it is a cookbook. No, it is not like any cookbook you have ever perused. I would guess it is literature 80%, recipes 20%. This book has poetry, essays on how food and cookbooks can serve as a commentary on the times of that era, slice of life stories such as how to go mushroom hunting, and all sorts of lovely reading about food, cooking and how we feel about those aspects of our lives.

I love to cook and I have two shelves of cookbooks. I enjoy Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver cookbooks where they also share about entertaining and how they feel about food. I also love mysteries and have a Nero Wolfe and Nancy Drew cookbook. These books tie in with the characters of the mystery novels. So I was fairly certain this would be a book I would enjoy. If that rings a bell, you will probably love this book as much as I do.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

Book Blogger Platform Giveaway

Book Blogging – One of the Best Hobbies in the World!  Join thousands of book bloggers in expressing their joy of reading!

Banner for The Book Blogger Platform

Are you a book blogger or do you want to be one? Are you having trouble handling the technical details of blogging? The Book Blogger Platform can be a “user manual” for your blog! A book written by a book blogger for book bloggers and that answers all your questions!

The Book Blogger Platform covers topics such as:

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Author Barb DrozdowichSocial Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich has taught at Universities and Colleges, trained technical personnel in the banking industry and, most recently, used her expertise to help dozens of authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world. She owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular blog, Sugarbeat’s Books.

 

Bakerview Consulting (Business Site) http://bakerviewconsulting.com

Barb Drozdowich (Author Site) http://barbdrozdowich.com

Sugarbeat’s Books (Book Blog) http://sugarbeatsbooks.com

Facebook(Author blog) https://www.facebook.com/BarbDrozdowichAuthor

Twitter http://twitter.com/sugarbeatbc

Google+ https://plus.google.com/110824499539694941768

Buy link: http://amzn.to/1seIYyc (only available currently on Amazon)

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Filed under Giveaways & Prizes, New Release Announcement, Non-Fiction, Writing Business

Review: Living Intentionally

Author Dr. Bonnie Aaron / Reviewed by Felita Daniels /212 Pages

The author begins her book by showing you that she has endured some hardships and suffering that caused her to question how to get past them. “I believed my only options were to break down or break through.” In this book she outlines how to break through.   “Instead of playing the victim, I made up my mind to take action and change my circumstances by changing my perspective.”

Living Intentionally Review

Beautiful Book Cover !

Aaron has studied others in this field of self-improvement and happiness. There are quotes sprinkled throughout the work from experts such as Stephen Covey and Anthony Robbins, Confucius and Gandhi, but also from philosophers, writers and psychologists.

A great deal of questions are asked in this book. That makes sense. She can’t tell you what will make you happy. The author has never met you and doesn’t know what is important to you. She can guide you to putting your finger on what will help you, by prompting you to ask some honest questions. The challenge is, will you answer them courageously with your truth.

There is mention that she is a Christian in the introduction. There are some word choices such as stewardship, or law of reap and sow, devotions, faith and prayer that you may recognize as faith based vocabulary. “Each of us was born with a light within.” There is not any preaching or dictating of doctrine or telling you what you should believe or think.

My favorite sentence was: “Love is the antidote to fear.” For a second I thought this was only in the context of ones relationships with others. But the section was on excuses, how some resign themselves to failure. Then I realized that these people don’t love themselves, believe that they deserve happiness. I hope this is an example for you of the kinds of questions and thought provoking themes running through this book. My second favorite sentence was “Your life’s recipe is made up of the ingredients you choose.” I love to cook.

There is a table of contents to enable you to locate a step in the blueprint with ease. There is not an index to the book. There are some exercises in balloon graphics to enable you to take some action and participate in the book. The introduction mentions that there is an accompanying workbook for those of you that like to document and follow along in a process. I was not provided a copy of the workbook for the purposes of this review.

I think there are two types of people that will appreciate this book. Those that are somewhat self- aware and enjoy reading books that are ‘enlightening’ as a sort of pep talk and furthering their path. The second group are those that are struggling with some part of their life that they just can’t seem to get a handle on. They perceive that they could be happier somehow, but they don’t know how to get there.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Non-Fiction