Posts filed under ‘book review’

Book Review: Stop and Smell Your Children

 Stop and Smell

Book Description:

Ready to laugh about motherhood and be encouraged? Tired of feeling overwhelmed and stressed out in the baby and toddler season? Need some fresh vision and perspective so you can enjoy—not just endure—your young children?

Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years offers moms-to-be and moms of young children short, real-life parenting stories that encourage and inspire. Leah Spina, mother of three children ages five and under, and former journalist, unleashes humor and perspective for tired moms who are parenting the “little” years. From the excitement of the positive pregnancy test to morning sickness and the banes of pregnancy, to childbirth, babies, toddlers and new parent struggles, the stories will make you laugh and see beauty in the chaos. Each story also includes thought-provoking takeaways to help busy moms gain a fresh outlook.

Strangers remind us that our children will be small only for a short time and to enjoy each moment. But then we return to the wild reality of parenting young children! All-night crying sessions. Never-ending laundry. Every-three-hour feeding schedules. Diaper explosions and projectile spit-up. Teething. Potty training. Yes, we enjoy our children, but we’d also like to enjoy a shower that lasts more than two minutes, or a meal that isn’t lukewarm (if we’re lucky). The truth is, pregnancy and parenting young children can be hard at times. But it can also be one of the best chapters of our lives, if we can learn to laugh and change our mindset.

Young children are one of life’s greatest gifts. Each page of this easy read will help you truly enjoy the “little” years!

Meet the author:

Leah Spina is a former journalist of a national newsweekly magazine and also worked as a childbirth coordinator at a large adoption agency. She has her B.S in Business Administration from Thomas Edison State College. She has two adorable children – Samson and Esther – and resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband, David. When she’s not changing diapers, she enjoys singing Broadway, sun tanning on Italian beaches and riding horses.

Interview with Leah Spina:

  1. Tell us a little about you. Sure! I am a former journalist of a national news magazine turned stay-at-home mom. I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area with my husband, David, and three children, age five and under. Samson is five, Esther is two and we have a baby that’s only five-weeks-old. Whew!
  1. What’s your book about? My new book, Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years is a short, easy read for busy moms of young children. It’s full of real life parenting stories to help overwhelmed parents laugh and change their parenting perspective so they can enjoy, not just endure, the little years. It’s full of encouragement and inspiration for the tired mom!
  1. Why do you feel your book message is important? I feel that so many parents, including me, can easily get bogged down in the constant caretaking that young children require. It’s not a fun way to live and you can start resenting your children because you are not enjoying it. I believe, with all my heart, that if we can STOP in our busy day to find and enjoy ordinary, extraordinary moments with our little ones we can truly enjoy this crazy but wonderful season of young children!
  1. What are some of the topics of your book? Oh, the chapters titles are topics all parents can relate to! Pregnancy, labor and delivery drama, sleepless newborn nights, teething, potty training, traveling with children, eating out with children, nursing, etc – it’s all there. The nitty gritty of new parenthood.
  2. Who is your target audience? Expectant parents and parents of children age zero to five years old is my target audience. But have I have also had grandparents and parents of older children read it and say it was fun to relive the little years through the stories.

My Thoughts:

I must admit that the first few chapters of this book made me want to close the cover and walk away. The author begins this book with a laundry list of complaints about pregnancy, childbirth and the experiences of mothering her first child. I believe the author was writing honestly about her feelings, but I was turned off by her tone, and I would imagine other new mothers might feel the same. She writes about the inability to adventure on her ‘babymoon,’ about driving around in her Suburban and about being grossed out by breast milk and other bodily fluids. It sounded like a whole lot of grumbling by a woman living an overly privileged life.

The first few chapters were a torture for me to read, but thankfully my feelings changed quite a bit around chapter eight. In that chapter the author describes an experience with miscarriage that altered her view of mothering. As a reader this chapter changed my perspective of the book and I found the words that followed much more enjoyable to read with interesting tidbits on treasuring the moments parents experience.

The takeaway from this book is to cherish the time we have with our children. Even in those early days and years of motherhood when our bodies are misshapen and our brains are tired from lack of sleep.

After years of infertility I never felt resentful or unhappy with my children so this book did not speak to me, but I would imagine the later chapters might speak to a mother struggling with the transition to motherhood. If you are unhappy with this phase of life I would imagine the author’s words would ring true:

“Unless you purposely stop in life to appreciate the here and now, you’ll rush through each day often unhappy and unsatisfied. Instead of resenting the new-parent pace of life, be grateful for this temporary, once-in-a-lifetime magical slow season of young children. Try to find times in your day to stop and relish the moment with your children… Savor today’s special moments and anticipate tomorrow’s rainbows. You’ll only find them if you look for them.”

Whether you or unhappy or not it never hurts to look for the special moments of motherhood. Over the years I’ve found it helpful to keep a journal for each of my children. I want to capture my thoughts and create a record of feelings as my children grow.

I liked some of the lessons in this book, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the tone in which those lessons were presented. Perhaps a mother struggling with her new found parental status would enjoy it more than I did.

Connect with Leah:    Website    Twitter    Facebook

November 20, 2015 at 8:00 AM Leave a comment

Book Review: Ditching the Drive-Thru

Ditching the Drive Thru

Book Description:

After an exhausting day at work, hitting the drive-thru or nuking a pre-fab meal is all too often the go-to decision for feeding a family. Cooking a meal from scratch using fresh ingredients can seem beyond the average person’s time, energy, or financial means. But with mounting evidence pointing to processed food and our industrial food system as the culprits behind many of our nation’s health problems—including obesity, diabetes, and cancer—it’s now more important than ever to be fully informed about what goes on your family’s dinner plates.

If you’re ready to take control of your food choices but don’t know the difference between grass-fed versus grain-fed, pastured versus free-range, or organic versus sustainable, read this book to discover:

• How to create your own thirty-month plan to convert your family from junk food to real food, without a revolt!

• Recipes and advice on planning and prepping meals so you can make homecooked a habit for your family

• Instructions for getting the most out of produce using techniques such as lacto-fermentation, dehydrating, and canning

• introduction to the world of farm-direct sales, including tips on locating local farms, seeing through marketing buzzwords, and shopping with CSAs Ditching the Drive-Thru exposes the insidious hold the commercial food industry has taken over the fast-paced lives of the average American and the danger these processed foods and diet plans pose to our health, environment, and emotional wellbeing.

Learn how to break free from the grind and return to a simpler relationship with food from farmers, not factories, and home-cooked meals that are created in your kitchen, not on a conveyor belt.

Buy the book: Amazon Barnes & Noble

An Excerpt:

Modern Tools Help You Source Better Food by J. Natalie Winch

Once I was married, I never ate commercial beef at home. My husband’s family, who live in Minnesota, had been getting their beef from the same in-state farmer for fifty years. As insane as this sounds, we too began getting our beef from this same farmer, in Minnesota. Did I mention we live in New Jersey? My in-laws would pack it all up in their car and drive it out to New Jersey every year at Christmas time, and this was our supply for the year. We were all very sad when we were told that the farmer was retiring and none of the children were taking over the farm. We needed to find a new meat source, because the steaks we picked up at the grocery store just didn’t have the same flavor or consistency, and we weren’t happy with the rather expensive meat from a local butcher shop, either. It was all very depressing, but this cloud had a platinum lining!

Where does one go to find a new source for beef? The internet, of course. Even if you don’t have internet at home, I would venture a guess that your local library does. My search for local, sustainable meat at last landed me at the website, founded by Eating on the Wild Side author Jo Robinson, dedicated to providing research-based information about the benefits of choosing modern foods that are nutritionally similar to their wild, natural forebears. The site’s directory of pasture-based farms and dairies led us to places like Nature’s Sunlight in Newville, Pennsylvania, and our CSA at Fernbrook Farm in Chesterfield, New Jersey. That was back in 2004, and we found quite a few farms where we could purchase pastured meat products. When I accessed the site about a month ago, I was awed by how it has grown. There are so many farms listed! How do you sift through? Slowly. Decide what you would like to try first, read through the listings for your area, and give the farm a call. The farmers are friendly people who want to do business with you. They will answer your questions. Just be aware that, unlike a grocery store, you can’t call the farm on a Monday and expect to go pick up a side of beef on Tuesday. Many of these farms take orders well in advance (six months to a year in some cases) and raise animals to fill those orders.

Ditching the Drive-Thru by J. Natalie Winch (2015, Spikehorn Press, ISBN 978-1-943015-06-1, $19.95).

Author’s Bio:

J. Natalie Winch lives in southern New Jersey, not far from where she grew up, with her husband, two children, and dogs. When she isn’t mothering, teaching, grading, or making lesson plans, Natalie runs the Hebrew School at her synagogue, coaches soccer, teaches lacto-fermentation classes, writes the occasional entry for her blog Food Empowerment (, and fights the dust bunnies that threaten to take over her family room.

Connect with the author:   Website

My Thoughts:

Ditching The Drive-Thru is a book about real food. Do you want to know where your food comes from, when it was cut from the trees and plants it grew from and how it was processed? I know I do. At this point, in the year 2015, we are more abstracted from food then ever before, but Natalie Winch, the author of this book, wants to broaden our minds. She wants us to understand more about the items we eat. After all, we eat for sustenance and nourishment every day. Shouldn’t we understand what it is we are biting into?

Winch hopes this book will help readers regain control of the food we eat, by understanding where food comes from, how it is processed and ultimately how what we eat impacts us each and every day.

This book steps the reader through the every day catch phrases of food and distinguishes the differences between categories like all natural and organic. The author talks about the perimeter of the grocery store, why it’s important to pass by boxed, ready-to-serve meals in favor of real food that must be cut and cooked.

After my children go to bed my husband and I prepare dinner two nights a week. You can find us in the kitchen at 10 o’clock at night mixing up sauces and sauteing chicken. It is a time to fill the house with warm smells and to prepare meals that can be heated up throughout the week.

I purchase a lot of organic meat, fruits and vegetables I didn’t realize how much there was to learn about food and the means by which it gets from the farm to our table.

One moral of Winch’s story is to place more importance on the value of time. You can spend hours mindlessly surfing the Internet and checking Facebook or you can purchase real food and learn how to prepare it.

As a personal finance blogger I would add that we all need to eat, but when money is saved in one place it can be spent in another. Unless you live paycheck to paycheck you can choose to avoid unnecessary spending and to use the money saved to purchase food that truly nourishes you.

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November 16, 2015 at 8:00 AM 2 comments

Book Review: REEF LIBRE

Reef Libre
Book Description:
Cuba reefs host apex predators and coral cover at optimal levels. While Cuban reef vitality may be linked to economic default and no shoreline development, no agricultural pesticides or fertilizers and limited human population growth, the Castro regime is aggressively developing its reef potential. Seas to the south are now 100% shark protected. Most Cuba travelogues advise “getting off the beaten path,” but Reef Libre examines that path, to see where it might lead as things change. Will Cuba reefs remain protected? Or is this perilous age of natural decline a last chance to see a healthy reef system? Robert Wintner and the Snorkel Bob Jardines de la Reina Expedition herein provide narrative insight with photos and video. First stop is the baseline: Havana urban density. Down south at Cayo Largo, reef collapse seems imminent with 600 guests changing daily, and the phosphate-laden laundry water flowing directly to the deep blue sea. Will Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism step up with the Jardines de la Reina paradigm? Rising from the Golfo de Ana María, Jardines is a thousand square miles of mangrove estuary, for ages compromised by constant extraction of its biggest predators, taken as food. Protected, it now rises on the world reef stage.
A DVD comes with the book in a paper sleeve glued to the inside cover. Reef Libre, the movie, runs about an hour.
My Thoughts:

This book is an interesting mix of history and beauty. It contains absolutely beautiful pictures of the Cuban reefs. Vivid images of colorful fish and muscular sharks jump off the shiny pages. I read this book at the dining room table and my son climbed right into my lap so he could see the pictures up closely. He was so excited to see the fish that I had to put aside reading the text for another time. He pointed out all of his favorites then flipped the pages back and forth time and time again to make sure he didn’t miss any.

This is a beautiful coffee table quality book. The front cover image displays a beautiful yellow fish and is one of the most striking images in the book. This book isn’t just about the beautiful Cuban reefs though. It also contains many images of Cuba and the residents who live there. It provides a detailed history of the land and the impacts that US relations have had on the land, sea and inhabitants there. The author provides extensive information on the conservation efforts in Cuba and how the lack of tourism has allowed Cuba to maintain spectacular sights in deep contrast to tourist heavy reefs located in his home state of Hawaii.

It is equal parts beauty and history, which makes for a very interesting read with incredible images that make it feel a bit like a very complex travel guide. The book includes a DVD, which brings the images in the book to life. The tone of the movie is quite laid back, told in a conversational way that is both accessible and interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and watching the accompanying film.

Meet the author:
Best known as Snorkel Bob in Hawaii and around the world, Robert Wintner captures Cuba above and below the surface with urgency and hope. As a pioneer in fish portraiture, Wintner demonstrated social structure and etiquette in reef society. Reef Libre goes to political context, in which human folly will squander Cuba’s reefs as well—unless natural values can at last transcend political greed. As pundits joust over who did what to whom and why, Wintner ponders reef prospects in view of political changes.

Robert Wintner has authored many novels and story collections. Reef Libre is his fourth reef commentary with photos and his first overview of survival potential in a political maelstrom. He lives and works in Hawaii, still on the front lines of the campaign to stop the aquarium trade around the world.

Connect with the author:     Website  ~   Facebook

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October 26, 2015 at 8:00 AM 2 comments


america is an idea

Book Description:

From a co-founder of comes this “Why?” story behind the massive social platform, empowr, that’s been in the making for fifteen years.
Learn exactly what drove the participants (founders, advisors, success coaches and 1,000 employees plus 100,000 alpha test users) in their gigantic moonshot project.
After meticulously discussing the “Why?” the author then delves into how empowr has been designed to exploit the exponential characteristics of the web – via its tightly-integrated democratic, economic and educational platform – to deliver opportunity to people everywhere.
The book reads like a manifesto and a manual. One can’t help but come away with newfound or elevated inspiration to dream big, take on their own moonshot project and make a massive difference on the planet.

My Thoughts:

As one who writes about personal finance this book was an absolute dream to read. I am offered quite a few books for review each year, but this book spoke to me more than any other I have read in a very long time. The author, Michael Pousti, discusses so many important financial topics in an effort to explain why he built, a massive technology platform that hopes to redefine the American Dream and deliver that dream to people via the Internet.

Pousti actually summarizes the first few chapters himself stating

  • First-world democracies are being hijacked by special interests and big money;
  • Educational systems are leaving students woefully unprepared to participate in the modern, global economy where only highly skilled labor jobs matter as software and automation replace low skill jobs;
  • Network technologies are making it much easier for single corporations to rapidly take over entire industries and form job destroying monopolies;
  • To add insult to injury, each structural problem is making the others even worse, leaving the human race completely unequipped to face the many complex threats facing humanity.

Does that sound down right frightful? That is nothing compared to the three core problems Pousti is most concerned about. The issues listed next may make your heart race. They are problems that should concern each and every one of us. They are:

  • Poverty and inequality
  • Terrorism and extremism; and
  • The backsliding and destruction of democracy

In the second half of the book Pousti explores each of these three topics in great detail. He shows us just how easily terrorism and extremism can rise in areas where poverty and inequality abound.

He states quite eloquently what we all know. “When people have nothing to lose in their current lives, extreme ideologies and promises of a perfect afterlife have a much greater appeal. This often makes them easy targets for groups with radical ideologies and seemingly simple answers to complicated questions… the key factors of poverty and inequality once again create monsters that can do almost immeasurable damage to their own countries and to the rest of the world.” This is certainly a frightening but absolutely true commentary on the Taliban and other terrorist forces around the globe.

I am not certain if empowr will be successful, but either way this book contained a lot of interesting information about the world, economics and technology and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Meet the author: 

Mike Pousti is the co-founder of empowr, a partnership between academia and tech entrepreneurs that’s attempting to deliver a democratized social media experience where the company is governed by its citizens.

Mike began his entrepreneurial journey when he founded his first start-up during his senior year as a computer engineering student at UC San Diego (UCSD). Employing 200 people and generating millions of dollars in profits before the age of 22, his company, Higher Educational Resources Corporation, developed the first commercially successful search engine on the Internet, known as the Arpanet.

His next start-up, Productivity Solutions Corporation, was acquired when he was 24 and two years later, Mike started, the world’s leading website for the 18-23 year old demographic.

After the dot-com crash in 2000, was acquired, and less than a week later, Mike started Phase 1 of empowr. empowr’s highly patented suite of technologies generated over $150M U.S. and today, empowr’s proprietary technologies are used by all major social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus and Tumblr.

While Mike remains an integral part in the daily operations of empowr, he recently relinquished his CEO position and handed over control of the company to empowr’s citizens, who formally elected their leader (and new President of empowr) via a web-based election.

Connect with the author:   Website

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October 23, 2015 at 8:00 AM Leave a comment

Book Review: Someone Died Now What

someone died

Book Description: 

Someone Died… Now What? is a GPS for grieving. Corrie Sirota provides Guidance, Perspective and Support to help navigate through the grief process. Whether someone you love has died or someone you know is struggling with a loss, this book addresses many of the issues and questions that surface, providing concrete assistance on what to do immediately following a death, how to deal with feelings of sadness, anger and guilt, non-death losses and how to support grieving children. You will learn that grief is an ongoing process, and is as unique and individual as you are.

Link to Montreal Gazette:    Article

My Thoughts:
Our fifteen year old cat died earlier this year. I mourned for his loss, as any pet owner would do. My husband and I knew what needed to be done, but it didn’t make it any easier to take him to the veterinarian in the morning. While I struggled with my own feelings I struggled even more over the discussion that would take place with my three year old son.

How do you talk to a child about death? I wanted to be honest with my son but I wasn’t sure what to say. I told him the truth. That his dad took the cat to the vet, but that he was very sick and couldn’t be cured. As a result the cat died. I made certain not to tell him that our cat went to live on a farm or that the cat went to sleep, but of course, a three year old doesn’t exactly understand death. As I cried telling him what happened he said “It’s okay if you’re sad mommy. If you’re really sad just bring the kitty back home.”

So we talked about what it means to die. We talked about the flowers we bring home from the store. How they stand tall and vibrant in the vase and then slowly wither and die. He brought up death in little bits and pieces after that. He pointed out plants that died or flowers that were wilting. He asked questions about the cat. When he struggled with the idea he asked again why the kitty couldn’t come home.

I am grateful that our first conversations about death involved our pet. My grandmother is ninety-two years old and it is quite possible that our next conversation about death will be about her.

Among the chapters in Someone Died… Now What? is a chapter specifically focused on speaking to children about death. There are many practical suggestions including talking to your children about life and death as a part of your everyday routine. That you are honest and speak with love. That you explain that death is irreversible, that you do so at eye level and that you ensure the child is surrounded by loved ones.

This book is extremely helpful in guiding the reader through the grieving process or helping others grieve. The author dispels the myths around what is or is not expected when one suffers a loss. She lists ways of speaking to those who are grieving including what you should and shouldn’t say and points out that everyone handles these situations in different ways.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. You never know when you will suffer a death of a loved one. You also never know when you will need to support someone who is suffering a loss. This book is a great reference to assist the grieving process.

Meet the author:

Corrie Sirota holds a Masters degree in Social Work as well as a Graduate Certificate in Loss and Bereavement from McGill University (Montreal) where she has been teaching as a lecturer in the School of Social Work for over 20 years. Corrie is a licensed psychotherapist who currently maintains a private practice specializing in Loss and Bereavement, Parenting issues and Relationship issues. She is a well-known lecturer who regularly presents at conferences and workshops, both locally and abroad. Working in the Montreal Community for over 2 decades, Corrie has developed numerous prevention and intervention programs for families, children and professionals, students and various community agencies as well as Day and Residential Camps.

Corrie has also written numerous articles and blog posts and is regularly interviewed on local radio, news and TV programs to consult on issues relating to loss and bereavement, Child Development and Parenting.

To learn more information about Corrie Sirota visit her website

Connect with the author: Website  Twitter  Facebook

October 7, 2015 at 8:00 AM 1 comment

Book Review: Inspector Dewey

Inspector Dewey

Book Description:

My name is DeweyInspector Dewey.

I live in the big green house on Hampshire Avenue with my family: Thumper, Lily, and Anna. I am the Big Cat—responsible for keeping everyone safe and in order. I do this quite well, in spite of the fact that managing my family is like, well, herding cats!

Mostly our life is peaceful. But one night it wasn’t. That was the night the bad guy showed up on our block. Of course, I knew exactly how to outsmart the outlaw, but—miserable mullet!—would Anna and the police understand my instructions?

To find out how the adventure ended, you’ll have to read my book. But I’ll give you a hint: there’s a reason I’m called Inspector Dewey.

Fifty percent of the profits from the sale of this book will fund veterinary care for pets whose families are in financial need, so that the animals can remain in their homes and out of the shelter system.

My Thoughts:

My oldest son loves to read. As a small child he would stare at the pages of a book and let me choose board book after board book from his tiny library until the pile of books was as tall as he was. Every morning, from the time he was twenty-two months old until the time he turned three, he would climb into my bed and settle in to read three stories. When those three stories were finished he would scurry off my bed, choose three more, (with my assistance), and climb back on the bed. We could spend an hour reading together that way each morning.

I loved snuggly beside him. He awoke in those warm, footed pajamas with his hair all messy and disheveled. He would borrow his head into the crook of my arm and rest quietly against my chest. Back then we went to the library once a week, but never picked up books. He had a few favorites that he wanted to read day after day and showed no interest in adding new ones to the list.

These days he loves to read new library selections and is filled with over-the-moon excitement when we receive a book he can keep. Inspector Dewey is a gorgeous book. My words honestly cannot provide justice the beauty with which the cats and their owner Anna are depicted. There is a hazy, almost dream-filled way in which they are drawn.

My son loved the story about a crime solving cat. It’s told from Dewey’s perspective and Dewey is one smart creature with great telepathic powers that help Anna and the police figure out exactly what to do to catch a thief.

Our family recently lost our beloved cat of over fifteen years, so reading about Dewey and his family is a great way to remember our own cat and imagine all the thoughts he might have had if presented with a similar situation.

This is a beautiful story for any child, but might be particularly special for a child with cats of his or her own.
Meet the author:

Marketing Officer, Strategy Expert, Innovator and Brand Builder, Kristen’s business career spans 20+ years serving the biggest brands in industry and the biggest hearts of start-ups and entrepreneurs. Kristen revels in bringing compelling products and services to life and helping leaders and individuals with big dreams realize their big goals.Kristen’s life joys include her 2+ year obsession creating the most beautiful self-published picture book possible, the breathtaking forests and lakes of her Minnesota birthplace, the family that really does love her no matter what, and her three magnificent Norwegian Forest Cats who together, with Kristen, helped catch the bad guy on their block that inspired her upcoming book (stake out and high speed chase included!)

She holds a master of science in eCommerce from Carnegie Mellon University, an MBA from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, and a BA from the University of St. Thomas. As the great transformer in her life, Kristen supports others’ education and literacy as an adjunct professor of business and strategy and, more recently, through her children’s book, Inspector Dewey (Available September 2015).

Connect with Kristen:   Website  ~   Facebook Author  ~   Facebook Inspector Dewey  

Author Interview:

What genre do you write and why?

Picture books played an important role in my development as a child. They still influence me today. I collect them by the dozens, reading them as others read novels. I can’t imagine creating anything other than picture books—I love the marriage of words and visuals too much.

I am inspired by experiences—beautiful, emotion-packed, multisensory experiences. These are the things that memories are made of. And no book imparts a 360-degree sensory experience for me more so than the picture book choicefully designed to be read aloud by parent to child—with cherry-picked words, cadence, rhyming, alliteration and, of course, illustrations, those masterful swoops of the brush that add texture and beauty to the story, bringing it to life.

What are you working on now?

Right now, Lily’s silliness and certainty have taken hold of my heart. She’s a kind-hearted kitty who earnestly believes that she is the center of the universe. Her life isn’t too shabby—everyone should have days as delicious as Lily’s! So I started writing short little ditties about the silly, Lily-centered things she does to pass her time. I would love for these to turn into a picture book for young readers. However, I realize, as her human, I may be a little bit biased about her adorableness. Thank goodness my editor is a genius with a gentle touch—she’ll set me straight!

I’m also documenting my book journey online for Children’s Writer’s Guild ( It’s a monthly series that kicked off in July 2015 entitled “Trailing Joy.” I named it that because it was my emotions, and only my emotions, that propelled me to pursue the absolutely glorious, but highly impractical and unpredictable, journey of book creation.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or paper/hard back books?

A traditionalist, I refused to welcome the e-book into my life for a long time. Then the desire for immediacy got the best of me. When that first e-book graced my device the instant I pressed “go,” I was hooked. To this day, I’m an e-book buyer, albeit selectively. Speed, travel convenience, variety, and cost—e-books have advantages on all of these fronts. But the fact is, I prefer real books—the kind I can touch, smell, and feel their heft in my hand and their comfort on my pillow. My favorites grace the bookshelves in my home. They remind me where I’ve been, what I am thankful for, and what I dream for the future.

What is your favorite travel spot?

My favorite travel spot is the place I have not yet visited! I love to travel. My parents were responsible for instilling wanderlust in me at a very young age: I was hooked after my first trip abroad. I’ve been traveling ever since. I love exploring diverse cultures—the more different from my own, the better. People, history, architecture, food culture, and, well . . . experiencing and learning anything new excites me. Right now, I feel strongly that I need to get to India. But I’m not terribly picky. I’m all smiles anytime I can pack a bag, grab some Pearson’s Salted Nut Bars, and jump in my car on a road trip with family or friends. Anywhere will do—especially if there are homespun diners, antique shops, and historical markers along the way.

What is your favorite positive saying?

Ooh, tough. I believe fundamentally in the power of one’s environment to help or hinder one’s growth. To the best that I am able, I create a beautiful, supportive environment around me so that I can be my best. Practically, this means a clean house, fresh flowers when I feel like it, and a tidy to-do list. It also means being willing to let go of naysayers and soul-sappers, and the courage to walk away from harmful cultures—work or otherwise.

When it comes to positive sayings, I don’t think I could choose just one. I have hundreds, even thousands of sayings and quotes that I love. I collect them from books, online, and my own inspirations. I pin at least one or two each day on Pinterest as a reminder to me that, in life, it’s all mind over matter. Thoughts are things. I collect the good ones to keep the negative ones at bay.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I spent a good portion of my early life trying to do and be what was expected of me or believed to be in my best interests—by my family, my friends, our society, and culture. My advice to my younger self would be quite simply: Trust yourself. That inner voice of yours is divine. Follow it, and you will discover your dreams and live the life you were meant to live.


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September 28, 2015 at 8:00 AM 1 comment

Book Review: Lola’s Money

Lola's Money

Book Description:

Lola French is stunned when she wins millions on the Lottery, and she is sure all her dreams are about to come true. However, right from the start, before she even claims her winnings, things begin to change and she separates abruptly and acrimoniously from the man she has been living with.

Lola’s colleagues are initially pleased for her, but eventually begin to resent her new status. One of them, Tom, whom she really likes, asks her out; but he does it on the day that news of her win spreads through the office and she sadly turns him down. She decides to leave her job as a Financial Adviser in Edinburgh and explore the limitless possibilities of her new lifestyle.

When Lola and her mother excitedly set off on a Mediterranean cruise, it’s not long before they both meet men they are interested in. However, their holiday of a lifetime catapults them into a life-changing sequence of dramatic and terrifying events that neither of them will ever forget. When she has to return to reality, Lola unexpectedly finds herself involved with Tom again! But the storm clouds are looming overhead, and as the recent past catches up with her and forces her to confront violence and danger once more, Lola risks losing Tom forever.

About the author:

Rosanna Rae is married with three grown-up sons and lives in Livingston, Scotland. She has a B.A. (Open) in Social Science subjects and also took a writing course with The Writers Bureau some years ago. She spent 16 years at home raising her family and then returned to full-time secretarial employment in Edinburgh.

Rosanna has wanted to write fiction since she was ten years of age, after reading an abridged version of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. She is delighted to be now fulfilling that early ambition.

Lola‘s Money‘ is the author’s fifth novel; she is currently writing her sixth book.

My Thoughts:

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you won the lottery? What relationships might change? Where you might live? What you might do and where you might go with all that money?

We’ve all heard the adage money doesn’t buy happiness. We all know lottery winners often end up destitute and broke yet most of us wouldn’t mind laying out hands on a winning ticket.

In Lola’s Money the main character Lola French’s life changes dramatically when she watches television and realizes she’s won the lottery. Unfortunately that lottery ticket brings heartache rather than happiness.

As a writer of a personal finance blog I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The first chapter captured my attention as Lola discovers she’s won and immediately leaves her boyfriend behind in dramatic fashion. She leaves her world behind and gathers her mom for an on the seas adventure.

My husband always says I’d rather win money then earn it. He’s partially right. There is a lot of excitement and thrill in winning.

I don’t play the lottery but I have wondered what I’d do with a windfall. This book is s lot of fun to read for those who joke about winning the lottery.

Money doesn’t grant your every wish and sometimes it makes life rather complicated and messy.

Connect with the author:    Website  ~   Facebook  ~  Twitter

August 26, 2015 at 8:00 AM 1 comment

Book Review: No Poverty Between the Sheets

No Poverty Between the Sheets

Book Description:

This book documents the strong ties that bind generations together. When the author poses the question to her Irish Granny, “If you were so poor why did you have ten children?” Says she, “To be certain, there was no poverty between the sheets!” This sassy saga of a large family that is half Irish and half French Canadian captures hilarious voices and comical antics of a vibrant family that is cloaked in love. A horse theme and song lyrics are neatly knitted throughout the layers of generations.

My Thoughts:

This is a memoir of a tight knit Irish family. The author highlights many different members of the family over generations and includes cute little catch phrases and conversations amongst the members. The title of the book is a great example of those catchy phrases; “no poverty between the sheets” immediately caught my attention.

I would imagine that the author’s family enjoyed reading this book. Not all of the family members have been highlighted in the best light, but I bet it would be interesting to reflect on past events, especially as they are being told from the author’s perspective.

I’ve always thought of writing a memoir and I would LOVE to watch the faces of family members as they read the details of prior events and envision those events through my eyes.

Unfortunately, as a common reader, and clearer not a family member, I found little interest in the stories that were told.

I received this book in the mail just as my youngest went down for a nap. I picked a cozy spot on the couch, poured a glass of ice water and started reading, but the book did not capture my interest the way I expected. I enjoy reading all sorts of genres and topics, but this book was simply not my cup of tea.

I’ll be honest; I gave up on reading this book all at once time and read a chapter a day for a couple of days. I was able to finish the book but never found much interest in the stories that were told.

Meet the Author:

Pauline Kiely has been an avid student of Creative Writing her entire life. This author has consistently taken various courses and workshops offered at University of Toronto and Trent Universities. A year long memoir course with Susan Reynolds brought out this witty honest voice that shoots straight from the hip aiming for the heart.

Connect with the author:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

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August 20, 2015 at 8:00 AM Leave a comment

Book Review: Calming the Chaos


Book Description:

Far too many people in contemporary culture feel they don’t have enough time to “get it all done.” The stress of this chronic overwhelm creates a disorganized mind that leads to a chaotic life. Based on her highly acclaimed “Energy Management” workshops, and drawn from over 25 years of counseling and coaching experience, professional trainer and speaker Jackie Woodside shares her breakthrough methods that lead to becoming the least stressed, most productive person you know!

In Calming the Chaos, you will learn the step-by-step skills and thought processes that lead to increased productivity and peace of mind. Jackie’s approach stems from the new frontier of human performance called energetic consciousness. Part philosophy, part psychology, fully practical application, you will learn:

  • Why there is no such thing as time management and what to do instead.
  • How to manage your energy instead of your time and stress.
  • The three-step formula for managing every component of your life for the rest of your life!
  • Why “to-do lists” are a set up for failure and what really works.
  • “The Three Strikes Rule” that will end procrastination for good!
  • How to always know that you have the time for what you want and need to do!

Many books promise to change your life. Applying these principles will make this a reality!

My Thoughts:

This quote is a perfect summation of this book:

“Calming the chaos means you recognize the sacredness of this life here and now, not living in the hope that life will get better ‘someday.’ It means being and doing the things that align with your highest sense of self, with your deepest desires and passions.”

So how does one go about recognizing the sacredness of life? According to the author the journey begins by taking note of the way you manage your energy. How do you interact with your environment, well-being, relationships and finances? The author begins by guiding readers through an energy drain inventory.

Here are the types of questions you must ask yourself.

  • Do you live in a clutter filled home or workplace?
  • Do you have stacks of mail and paperwork that you haven’t managed?
  • Do you misplace things?
  • Do you fail to get enough rest or feel fatigued?
  • Do you work long hours without adequate periods to rest and recharge?
  • Do you procrastinate on daily tasks?
  • Do you worry about money?
  • Are your bills late or overdue?
  • Do you have difficulty letting go of upsets and sometimes blame others for circumstances?
  • Do your relationships feel more draining than fulfilling?

Based on your answers to these questions and fifteen others you can determine how well you are managing your energy. Are you enjoying the full life benefits of peach of mind, vitality and well-being or are you experiencing negative life outcomes as a result of the chaos around you.

If you fall into the second category, if your life feels difficult and draining, this book will guide you through a series of steps to find more peace and tranquility.

I connected quite deeply to this paragraph:

 “what happens when you actually have a couple of hours with no meetings or no place you have to go? Do you sit down and become wildly productive ticking things off that you know you want to accomplish?” No, you don’t, do you? Do you know what happens when you have that open space in your schedule and there is so much in your head? Your mind goes into a blur or what I call “the dumb air” and you can’t think straight. So you do busy work, a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a few emails, check your Facebook page, read the news online… and then at the end of all that busy work you only have a half hour left before your next meeting so you can’t start anything too involved in such a short period of time! And it is not your fault. It is not because you are lazy, disorganized or inefficient; you are simply not trained in managing your Self in time.

Does this sound familiar? How are you spending your time? Do you think you are wasting the valuable minutes you have here on earth? Would you like to learn how to harness your energy towards the things that truly matter? If so, buy a copy of this book or pick up a version from your local library. Readers will find very sound advice for creating a more meaningful, better balanced life.

I already follow much of the advice in this book, but it still opened my eyes to a new way of perceiving my life and improving upon it.

Author’s Bio:
Jackie Woodside, CPC, LICSW is a psychotherapist, coach, speaker and author, specializing in the power of managing personal energy, rather than time or stress. An Amazon bestselling author of ‘What If It’s Time for a Change?’ and highly sought-after speaker on leadership and empowerment topics, Jackie conducts training programs for public, private and government sectors nationwide.

Connect with Jackie:  Website  ~  Twitter   ~  Facebook

Disclosure of Material: I received this book for free, but the opinions I have expressed are my own.

June 26, 2015 at 8:00 AM 1 comment

Book Review: How to Blog a Book

How to Blog a Book
Book Description:

Transform Your Blog into a Book!

The world of blogging is rapidly changing, but it remains one of the most efficient ways to write and share your work with an eager audience. But how do you purposefully hone your blog content into a uniquely positioned book that will be noticed by an agent or a publisher?

How to Blog a Book Revised and Expanded Edition is a completely updated guide to writing and publishing a saleable book based on a blog. Expert author and blogger Nina Amir guides you through the process of developing targeted blog content that will increase your chances of publication and maximize your visibility as an author.

In this revised edition you’ll find:

• The latest information on how to set up, maintain, and optimize a blog
• Steps for writing a book easily from scratch using blog posts
• Advice on how to write blog posts
• Tips on gaining visibility and promoting your work both online and off
• Current tools for driving traffic to your blog
• Extensive information on how to monetize your existing blog content into a book or other products
• Profiles with authors who received blog-to-book deals, including four new “from blog to book” success stories

My Thoughts:

I’ve always wanted to write a book. It started in elementary school. Each first grade student was assigned a fifth grade partner. The fifth grader asked us lots of questions like “do you own a pet,” “what is your favorite food” and “who is your best friend.” They gathered all of the information and helped us create a story using the answers we provided.

We were each given ten sheets of paper and a sentence or two was written carefully at the top of each page. Then we drew a picture depicting the details of that sentence. The teacher created a fancy cover sheet for each of us and used string to bind the ten pages together. It was my first book and I showed it to everyone that was willing to read it with me!

I would still love to write a book and one day I still hope to do so. I’ve toyed with numerous topics over the years, but I’ve never taken the time to create an outline. Instead I started a blog over nine years ago. It’s much easier to write a few paragraphs about a variety of topics then to streamline everything into one book.

But Nina Amir’s book teaches readers how to convert blog posts into the content required for a book. Perhaps the words on my blog can be gathered, edited, reordered and expanded upon. Perhaps I can create a book from my blog. There are certainly a lot of best sellers that started out that way.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It focuses on how to create a solid blog with substantial followers as well as how to grow the ideas from that blog into a book. I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to finishing that novel, but this book has inspired me to find the time to focus on it.

Author’s Bio:
Nina Amir, the bestselling author of How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual, is a speaker, a blogger, and an author, book, and blog-to-book coach. Known as the Inspiration to Creation Coach, she helps creative people combine their passion and purpose so they move from idea to inspired action and positively and meaningfully impact the world as writers, bloggers, authorpreneurs, and blogpreneurs. Some of Nina’s clients have sold 300,000+ copies of their books, landed deals with major publishing houses and created thriving businesses around their books. She is the founder of National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge, and the Nonfiction Writers’ University. As a hybrid author she has published 15 books and had as many as four books on the Amazon Top 100 list at the same time.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~   Facebook

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June 19, 2015 at 1:25 PM 5 comments

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