Wednesday, December 21, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman



ABOUT THE BOOK (From Amazon):

Marriage should be based on love, right? But does it seem as though you and your spouse are speaking two different languages? New York Times bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman guides couples in identifying, understanding, and speaking their spouse’s primary love language—quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch.


By learning the five love languages, you and your spouse will discover your unique love languages and learn practical steps in truly loving each other. Chapters are categorized by love language for easy reference, and each one ends with specific, simple steps to express a specific language to your spouse and guide your marriage in the right direction. A newly designed love languages assessment will help you understand and strengthen your relationship. You can build a lasting, loving marriage together.


MY REVIEW

The Five Love Languages is a quick, easy read filled with valuable information for anyone in a relationship.  I enjoyed reading about each of the five love languages and the stories Chapman tells about working with clients who fit into each categories.

For me it became more and more clear in Chapter 9, Discovering Your Primary Love Language, what my personal love language is, but the 30 question profile at the end verified it for me (and surprised me a little, too). 

While I was reading it, I enjoyed talking with my husband about what I was reading and when I finished I suggested that he read key parts of the book. I was surprised that he read it right away. I look forward to practicing speaking each others' love languages and working toward a stronger, more loving relationship together.

I recommend this book for anyone in a relationship, particularly married/committed couples.  Even if your relationship is solid, learning to speak your partner's love language will help you ensure it stays that way. As a mother of 3, I can't wait to read The Five Love Languages of Children next!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Fandemonium by Outskirts Press


ABOUT THE BOOK (From Amazon):

The Facebook Anthology

In January 2011, Outskirts Press invited fans of its Facebook community at facebook.com/OutskirtsPress to submit poetry, short stories, excerpts, recipes, or anecdotes for free publication in an Outskirts Press Facebook anthology. Over 100 Facebook members submitted content on the Outskirts Press "wall" and to Outskirts Press directly. Fans were asked to "Like" the submissions they liked the best. Facebook fans then voted on the title of the anthology and the cover design of the book. More importantly, the social community was asked to vote for a charitable organization to receive royalties resulting from sales of this book. The American Red Cross received nearly 50% of the votes.

Proceeds from the sale of Fandemonium will be donated to the American Red Cross on behalf of Outskirts Press and its Facebook Fans. Thank you for the support.

Fandemonium not only brought our Facebook members together for a good cause, it provided an easy, fun, free way to experience the joy of publishing with Outskirts Press first-hand. If you are a writer or professional with a book in your future (or in your hands), Outskirts Press can help you with writing, publishing, and/or marketing it. Visit our website for more information: OutskirtsPress.com 


MY REVIEW:

This anthology is a really great introduction to a group of indie-published and/or previously unpublished authors.  It contains poems from writers such as Ronnie Lee, Robert Burroughs and Kimberly Raiser and short stories from writers such as Sally Cisney Mann, Colleen Rae and Chris Fisher, to name just a few.  There are over 60 poems and short stories from nearly 50 different writers.  

The poems and stories are easy to read and the themes range from poignant (short story titled "Strength" by Jon Burcaw) to humorous (short story titled "Sh*t Happens" by Pamela Frost) to inspirational (poem titled "Single Pink Ribbon" by Heather Jones).

I recommend this book if you like reading short stories and poetry.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: How to Make Money with Social Media by Jamie Turner and Reshma Shah




ABOUT THE BOOK (From Amazon):


How to Make Money with Social Media provides a clear, practical roadmap for businesspeople who are ready to get past the hype and start using social media to grow their sales and revenues.

This new book answers many of the most important questions people are asking about social media:
  • Can I make money with social media?
  • How do the Fortune 500 use social media?
  • What are the classic mistakes to avoid when launching a social media campaign?
  • How should I set-up, launch and run my social media campaign?
  • What are the top 50 social media platforms and how can they be used to get new customers?
  • Why did my first social media campaign fail?
  • How do I integrate my social media campaign into my traditional marketing campaign?
  • What are the Seven Deadly Sins of social media measurement?
  • What should I know about mobile media, augmented reality and widgets?
  • What should I do to ensure I get a positive ROI from my efforts?
  • What tools should I use once I get past YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter?
  • What are the 59 specific steps I should take to ensure my social media campaign is a success?

How to Make Money with Social Media 
gives you all the information you need to set-up, launch and run a successful social media campaign.

MY REVIEW

It's important to read the subtitle when considering this book: How to Make Money with Social Media: An Insider's Guide on Using New and Emerging Media to Grow Your Business.  While the first part of the title may lead you to believe it is a book about earning income with social media (and, therefore, possibly a "get rich quick" kind of scheme), it's really a comprehensive guide to creating a social media strategy for your business to increase your revenues using social media along with the existing traditional marketing strategies you are using.

People may believe that because social media platforms are free, using them is a free way to advertise their business; however, this book clears up the hidden costs that businesses have to take into consideration, mainly the man-power that is necessary in order to use them effectively.  It is filled with examples of good and bad social media practices of well-known and smaller companies, concepts to consider and action steps to take. The writing style is very casual and easy to read, even during the last few chapters where Turner and Shah get deeper into marketing terms and concepts.

I recommend this book if you are an entrepreneur, CEO or marketing professional who is considering developing or improving the social media strategy of your company.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal



ABOUT THE BOOK (From Amazon):

Satyal's lovely coming-of-age debut charts an Indian-American boy's transformation from mere mortal to Krishnaji, the blue-skinned Hindu deity. Twelve-year-old Kiran Sharma's a bit of an outcast: he likes ballet and playing with his mother's makeup. He also reveres his Indian heritage and convinces himself that the reason he's having trouble fitting in is because he's actually the 10th reincarnation of Krishnaji. He plans to come out to the world at the 1992 Martin Van Buren Elementary School talent show, and much of the book revels in his comical preparations as he creates his costume, plays the flute and practices his dance moves to a Whitney Houston song. But as the performance approaches, something strange happens: Kiran's skin begins to turn blue. Satyal writes with a graceful ease, finding new humor in common awkward pre-teen moments and giving readers a delightful and lively young protagonist. (May)
 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

MY REVIEW:

I was lucky to find this book on the list of Top 100 Free Kindle eBooks a few weeks ago.  I didn't really know what it was about, but it had a nice cover, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I'm glad I did.

The story is about an Indian boy, Kiran, who is going through some of the normal pre-teen growing pains that we all remember, such as bullying, friendships and discovering sexuality.  But Kiran has another set of hurdles to face as he learns how he is different from the other kids at school when it comes to religion, culture and...sexuality.

Although I couldn't identify with the cultural part of what Kiran was going through, I grew up in a similar environment (Midwest suburbia) where those from different cultures DID stick out and I could remember a few "Kirans" from my own childhood.  To bring it even closer to home, the references Satyal makes to music and television within the story made me believe he must be a fellow 30-something, with his main character growing up in the 90s with Strawberry Shortcake, Madonna and the Golden Girls.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you grew up in the late 80s/early 90s!


A FEW GOOD QUOTES:

"I am destined for great things, too. I am blue, too. You just can’t see it yet." - Satyal, Rakesh (2009). Blue Boy (p. 32). Kensington Books. Kindle Edition.

"I have my own language. I am my own language." - Satyal, Rakesh (2009). Blue Boy (p. 98). Kensington Books. Kindle Edition.

"I am a walking museum of oddities," - Satyal, Rakesh (2009). Blue Boy (p. 45). Kensington Books. Kindle Edition.

"A book’s content never changes, and yet it is always intriguing; something you read can mean something completely different to you at a different time. This is not the case with my classmates. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that people can be devastating at any moment." - Satyal, Rakesh (2009). Blue Boy (p. 100). Kensington Books. Kindle Edition.

"Our houses of worship may be vastly different, but there is a shared movement toward life, light, jubilance." - Satyal, Rakesh (2009). Blue Boy (p. 105). Kensington Books. Kindle Edition.

"We will never be more than two containers, full of the same blood but different in size, shape, owners. His belongs to the mind, and mine belongs to the heart." - Satyal, Rakesh (2009). Blue Boy (p. 225). Kensington Books. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck


Having finally finished Anna Karenina after 5 long months, I needed my next book to be something short.  A friend recommended Of Mice and Men.  A classic and only 112 pages, it was just what I needed and I'm glad I read it.

ABOUT THE BOOK (From Amazon):

They are an unlikely pair: George is "small and quick and dark of face"; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Yet they have formed a "family," clinging together in the face of lonelinss and alienation. Laborers in California's dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations of a flirtatious woman, nor predict the consequences of Lennie's unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.

MY REVIEW:

Published in 1937, Of Mice and Men tells the tragic story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers during the Great Depression in California.  George and Lennie have an unusual bond and travel together, George taking care of Lennie who is mentally disabled.  George's life would be much simpler without Lennie, and yet he sticks with him, even fleeing with him from the last ranch after Lennie was accused of rape.  George knows Lennie didn't mean any harm; he only likes to touch soft things like mice, rabbits and puppies (and in this case, a girl's dress).  Unfortunately his feeble mind and brute strength are often a deadly combination for many of these creatures he loves.  The girl was unharmed, but frightened and cried rape.  The two men escaped and moved on to another ranch where they found work and dreamed of buying their own farm someday where they could "live off the fat of the land."

"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley." (The best laid schemes of mice and men / Go oft awry.) - a line in a poem by Robert Burns which inspired the title.

Steinbeck's writing is simple and descriptive.  The characters draw you in to the story.  Towards the end I found myself reacting out loud to what was happening and found myself nearly in tears.  The ending is incredibly sad and yet the only way it could have ended.

I highly recommend this book.








Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Reading List - Summer 2011

I posted my reading list in January and, sadly, I haven't made much progress since then!  It took me 5 months to complete Anna Karenina (in my defense, that book is nearly 1,000 pages!).  Now that I'm done with that, I'm ready to tackle the rest of my list from January and a few more that I would like to complete this summer. 

Here is a list of the books I'm currently reading now (reviews to come soon):

KINDLE:
PAPERBACK:
AUDIOBOOK:
A friend also just recommended A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel and The Broke Diaries by Angela Nissel, so we'll see if I can get to those as well.

Have any other recommendations for me?  Let me know!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

At Christmas time last year I made a pact with a family member to read two chapters of Anna Karenina every day (5 days/week) to finish it in approximately 5 months.  I had tried to read this book when I was in college, but couldn't get into it at that time. This time, I almost gave up at chapter 5, but once I got through it, the chapters and the story line seemed to move along pretty quickly. It definitely had some long, boring parts that I had to struggle to get through and then other parts where I didn’t want to put it down.  I guess that’s to be expected with a 1,000 (or so) page book.  

Here is my summary of the book (scroll to the bottom for my review):

Part I - We meet most of the main characters including:
  • Stiva, Anna’s brother
  • Dolly, Stiva’s wife who has just discovered he had an affair
  • Levin, a bachelor who lives in the country and comes to ask Kitty to marry him
  • Kitty, Dolly’s younger sister who has feelings for Levin, but also for Vronsky and turns Levin down
  • Vronsky, who falls in love with Anna
  • Anna, who comes to visit to help Dolly and Stiva repair their relationship
  • Karenin, Anna’s husband
  • Seryozha, Anna’s son
Part II - We meet some of the secondary characters.  Kitty is in poor health emotionally after turning Levin down and Vronsky leaving and she goes abroad to get better.  Anna and Vronsky begin having an affair.  Karenin becomes suspicious of this relationship and warns Anna about public appearances, although he does not allow himself to believe that Anna is doing anything disloyal.  Anna tells Vronsky that she is pregnant.  He asks her to leave her husband and she tells him that she cannot, but in the end she confesses to her husband about the affair. 

Part III - Mostly about Levin, his agricultural work, his thoughts about the agricultural reform in Russia and his feelings about Kitty.  Levin is tries to forget about Kitty, but still loves her.  After Anna tells her husband about her affair with Vronsky, her husband decides it is best for them to stay together, but threatens to divorce Anna and take her son away if she invites Vronsky into their home.

Part IV - Anna continues her relationship with Vronsky, despite her husband's warning.  Karenin talks with a lawyer about divorce, which was much more complicated legally in Russia at the time.  Frustrated and hopeless, Karenin has a heart-to-heart with Dolly about the situation.  That same night Levin and Kitty reconnect and begin planning their wedding.  Although Karenin seems unchanged by the conversation with Dolly, she says some things that stick with him later.  Karenin receives word that Anna is dying after childbirth.  He makes his way back home to Anna's bedside where he forgives her and Vronsky (also present).  Vronsky attempts suicide, but fails, leaving himself wounded.  Anna recovers.  Karenin has forgiven her and becomes attached to the new baby girl.  Anna cannot bear to live with her husband any longer.  Her brother comes to talk with her and Karenin and pleads with him to grant her a divorce.  Karenin worries that granting her a divorce will lead to her ruin, which he does not want to be responsible for.  In the end, Anna goes abroad with Vronsky, leaving behind her husband (without a divorce) and son.

Part V - Levin and Kitty get married.  A few months later Levin realizes getting married wasn't all that he imagined it would be.  He begins to feel a little held back by Kitty and doesn't understand her interest in domestic matters.  Levin's brother dies of consumption, with Levin and Kitty by his side.  In the end Kitty finds out she is pregnant.  Vronsky and Anna begin to run into alienation by their circle of friends.  Vronsky takes up painting, but becomes bored with it.  The two return to Russia where Anna takes an opportunity to visit her son, unannounced.  Her husband and his friend, Countess Lidia Ivanovna denied her request to visit Seryozha, so she sneaks into the home and upon exit runs into Karenin.  Anna begins to worry that Vronsky is no longer in love with her.  In order to feel like she's part of her former circle, she attends a show at the theater, against Vronsky's wishes.  Vronsky has a feeling it will not go well, and he is right.  Anna is crushed by the way she is treated by her friends and she and Vronsky leave Petersburg.

Part VI - Kitty's family comes to stay with her and Levin.  Dolly's husband brings a gentleman named Veslovsky to visit.  Levin is uncomfortable with Veslovsky's flirtatious behavior towards Kitty and becomes very jealous.  At one point he makes a scene and asks Veslovsky to leave.  Dolly goes to visit Anna and Vronsky and is very jealous of their lifestyle, but also notices strange behavior in Anna. Vronsky asks Dolly to talk to Anna about divorcing her husband.  Although she tries, the conversation doesn't seem to persuade Anna at all.  After a brief visit, Dolly decides she prefers her drab life to the luxurious life Anna leads.  Anna becomes increasingly jealous about Vronsky when he is away.  While away at the provincial elections lasting longer than Anna expected, Anna sends him a letter to let him know that Annie is not well.  During this time away, Anna decides she must get a divorce and marry him in order to prevent him from leaving her.
  
Part VII - Levin and Kitty are in Moscow waiting for Kitty to deliver their first baby.  One evening after drinking and gambling Stiva talks Levin into going to meet Anna, against Levin's better judgement.  Levin enjoys meeting Anna, but knows he has made a wrong decision when he tells Kitty where he had been.  Jealousy begins to cause a strain on Anna's relationship with Vronsky.  She is sure he has fallen in love with another woman while he is out doing whatever he wants and she has lost ties with all of her social connections due to her "position."  Kitty gives birth to a son, Dmitri.  Levin is surprised by his feelings of disgust towards the baby, rather than the love he expected to feel.  Stiva is struggling for money and goes to visit Karenin to ask for a new post.  He also asks Karenin to grant Anna a divorce.  Karenin declines.  Anna becomes more jealous towards Vronsky and begins thinking of suicide.  She goes to visit Dolly to talk with her about what is going on and finds Kitty there.  She is too proud to open up about these issues with Kitty around and thinks Vronsky is still in love with Kitty.  Her thoughts become irrational and at the end Anna commits suicide by throwing herself in the way of a passing train, similar to a scene from the beginning of the book. 

Part VIII - Stiva gets the job he was hoping for.  Karenin takes custody of baby Annie while Vronsky volunteers for service in the Russo-Turkish war.  In this section Tolstoy discusses his views on war.  A lightning storm takes place at Levin and Kitty's home, frightening Levin while Kitty and the baby are outside.  This event helps him realize the love he has for his son, for whom he previously only felt disgust.  In this section and especially the last chapter Levin discovers his own faith and his desire to live a good life.

My Review:

Although I am pretty sure I will never read this book again, I am glad I read it.  I can understand why it is a classic - in about a thousand pages, Tolstoy covers almost every major theme of life, such as love, marriage, infidelity, relationships, death, war, politics, etc. Yet, being a classic doesn't make it easy to read.  There were some themes which I found challenging to get through, such as agriculture and war; where I personally preferred the parts about love, family and relationships.

My interest level in the book would go up and down throughout the book depending on the storyline.  For me, it was difficult when Tolstoy would shift between storylines (i.e. from Levin in the country to Anna in Petersburg to Kitty wherever she is abroad).  It would take me a little while to shift gears, but as I got further in to each individual storyline, that seemed to get easier. 

The feeling I came away with at the end of the book was, why was this book titled Anna Karenina?  I've read many descriptions that say the book is about Anna Karenina and how the Russian society in the late 1800's reacted to this woman who had an affair and left her husband, but for me it was not about that, at least not entirely.  The book seemed to be more about Levin than Anna.  It's about all of the things that had to happen in order for Levin to find peace within his soul. 

Levin was in love with Kitty who originally turned down his marriage proposal for the possibility of being with Vronsky.  If it hadn’t been for Anna accidentally stealing Vronsky’s heart, Kitty and Levin may not have ended up together.  Although Anna’s affair is a major part of the book, Levin’s quest for faith is equally as big of a theme.  All of the bad things that happened to other characters in the book (death, affairs and financial struggles) help Levin discover his own faith in the end.

If you are up for a challenge and a thought-provoking read, I recommend Anna Karenina.  If you're looking for something quick and easy, this is not the book for you!

BOOK REVIEW: Anna Karenina (Part VIII) by Leo Tolstoy


It's hard to believe that this day has finally come!  I can now say proudly, "I have read Anna Karenina!"  If you've been following my blog you know I have been reviewing each section of the book along the way, and there are 8 parts total - each approximately 100+ pages.  I am going to review Part 8 in this post and then compile all of my reviews to put together my full review for Amazon. 

Part VIII - Review
 

Stiva gets the job he was hoping for.  Karenin takes custody of baby Annie while Vronsky volunteers for service in the Russo-Turkish war.  In this section Tolstoy discusses war, which is a topic I added to my own list of themes I found boring in this book (other themes were farming, hunting and politics).
 

A lightning storm takes place at Levin and Kitty's home, frightening Levin while Kitty and the baby are outside.  This event helps him realize the love he has for his son, for whom he previously only felt disgust.  In this section and especially the last chapter Levin discovers his own faith and his desire to live a good life.
 

The feeling I came away with at the end of the book was, why was this book titled Anna KareninaI've read so many descriptions that say the book is about Anna Karenina and how the Russian society in the late 1800's reacted to this woman who had an affair and left her husband, but it's not about that.  The book is about Levin.  It's about all of the things that had to happen in order for Levin to find peace within his soul, and Anna had a major part in that, but I will talk more about that in my final review.
 

You can read my reviews for the previous Parts here:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Anna Karenina (Part VII) by Leo Tolstoy


I am reading Anna Karenina and made a pact with a family member to read 2 chapters per day (5 days/week) to finish it in approximately 5 months.  Whenever we would get close to the end of each Part (there are 8 total), we would read the additional 3-4 chapters to finish the Part and start with the next Part the following week. Once in awhile I'd get behind a little and then get caught up the next week.   I had a couple of bad weeks where I kind of lost track of how far behind I was, but I think I'm a little ahead of schedule now and should be finishing up this coming week.

I found a trick to help me get through the book faster.  I subscribed to a Podcast from LibriVox where all of the chapters are recorded in separate audio files, and I started listening to it during my morning walks.  I could listen to 4-5 chapters each morning and then pick up in my book wherever I left off.  I just finished Part 7, so there's only one more to go!  I am reviewing each part as I go so I don't forget what I've read by the end. When I'm done, I'll put the separate reviews together for my Amazon review.

Part VII - Review
*WARNING: This review contains spoilers.


I have found that my interest level in this book has gone up and down depending on the story line.  There have been times when the plot would become really interesting and I wouldn't want to put the book down.  And then there have been times where 3-5 chapters seem to go on forever and it would take everything in me to continue reading.  The main themes I have disliked have been farming, hunting and, recently, politics.  The political discussions ended at the beginning of Part 7 and the plot became interesting again. Here's what happens:

Levin and Kitty are in Moscow waiting for Kitty to deliver their first baby.  One evening after drinking and gambling Stiva talks Levin into going to meet Anna, against Levin's better judgement.  Levin enjoys meeting Anna, but knows he has made a wrong decision when he tells Kitty where he had been.  Kitty is jealous.

Jealousy begins to cause a strain on Anna's relationship with Vronsky.  She is sure he has fallen in love with another woman while he is out doing whatever he wants and she has lost ties with all of her social connections due to her "position," which is a word used frequently in the book.

Kitty gives birth to a son, Dmitri.  Levin is surprised by his feelings of disgust towards the baby, rather than love. Kitty becomes sick after childbirth.

Stiva is struggling for money and goes to visit Karenin to ask for a new post.  He also asks Karenin to grant Anna a divorce.  Karenin declines.

Anna becomes more jealous towards Vronsky and begins thinking of suicide.  She goes to visit Dolly to talk with her about what is going on and finds Kitty there.  She is too proud to open up about these issues with Kitty around and thinks Vronsky is still in love with Kitty.  Her thoughts become irrational and at the end Anna commits suicide by throwing herself in the way of a passing train, similar to a scene from the beginning of the book.  

You can read my reviews for the previous Parts here:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Anna Karenina (Part VI) by Leo Tolstoy


I am reading Anna Karenina and made a pact to read 2 chapters per day (5 days/week) to finish it in approximately 5 months. We just finished Part 6 (only 2 more to go!), and I am reviewing each part as I go so I don't forget what I've read by the end. When I'm done, I'll put the separate reviews together for my Amazon review when I'm done.

You can read my reviews for the previous Parts here:

Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

Part VI - Review


In this section Kitty's family (sister Dolly, her kids and Kitty's mother) come to stay with her and Levin.  Dolly's husband brings a gentleman named Veslovsky to visit.  Levin is uncomfortable with Veslovsky's flirtatious behavior towards Kitty and becomes very jealous.  At one point he makes a scene and asks Veslovsky to leave.
 

Dolly goes to visit Anna and Vronsky and is very jealous of their lifestyle, but also notices strange behavior in Anna. Vronsky asks Dolly to talk to Anna about divorcing her husband.  Although she tries, the conversation doesn't seem to persuade Anna at all.  After a brief visit, Dolly decides she prefers her drab life to the luxurious life Anna leads.
 

Anna becomes very jealous of Vronsky when he is away.  While away at the provincial elections lasting longer than Anna expected, Anna sends him a letter to let him know that Annie is not well.  During this time away, Anna decides she must get a divorce and marry him in order to prevent him from leaving her.
 

There are three themes so far I have not enjoyed in this book. The first was in Part 3 when Tolstoy seemed to go on and on about farming; and then approximately Part 5 where he goes on and on about hunting.  In Part 6 it's the politics.  The themes I've enjoyed more have been love, marriage, family dynamics, parenting, etc. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Anna Karenina (Part V) by Leo Tolstoy

I made a pact with a family member to read two chapters of Anna Karenina every day (5 days/week) to finish it in approximately 5 months. The book has a total of 8 parts.  We just finished Part 5, and I am reviewing each part as I go so I don't forget what I've read by the end. When I'm done, I'll put the separate reviews together for my Amazon review when I'm done.

You can read my reviews for the previous Parts here:

Part II
Part III
Part IV

Part V - Review

Levin and Kitty tie the knot!  Not surprisingly, a few months later Levin realizes getting married wasn't all that he imagined it would be.  (Some things - men - haven't changed...100 years later.)  He begins to feel a little held back by Kitty and doesn't understand her interest in domestic matters.

Levin's brother dies of consumption, with Levin and Kitty by his side.  This was probably the longest chapter of this section.  The dying process seemed to go on and on, but in the end Kitty finds out she is pregnant!

Vronsky and Anna begin to run into alienation by their circle of friends.  Vronsky takes up painting, but becomes bored with it.  The two return to Russia where Anna takes an opportunity to visit her son, unannounced.  Her husband and his friend, Countess Lidia Ivanovna denied her request to visit Seryozha, so she sneaks into the home and upon exit runs into Karenin.

Anna is worried that Vronsky is no longer in love with her.  In order to feel like she's part of her former circle, she attends a show at the theater, against Vronsky's wishes.  Vronsky has a feeling it will not go well, and he is right.  Anna is crushed by the way she is treated by her friends and she and Vronsky leave Petersburg.

All-in-all, a good section.  I still wish the book wasn't 8 million pages long, but it's still hanging in there and holding my interest.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Anna Karenina (Part IV) by Leo Tolstoy

I made a pact with a family member to read two chapters of Anna Karenina every day (5 days/week) to finish it in approximately 5 months. The book has a total of 8 parts and I am reviewing each part as I go so I don't forget what I've read by the end. Then I'll put the separate reviews together for my Amazon review when I'm done.

You can read my reviews for the previous Parts here:


Part IV was much more exciting, dramatic and suspenseful after the long, boring Part III.  I had heard the ending of this section was going to be bad, so I was bracing myself for something terrible to happen.  It wasn't nearly as bad as what I thought.

Anna continues her relationship with Vronsky, despite her husband's warning.  Karenin talks with a lawyer about divorce, which was much more complicated legally in Russia at the time.  Frustrated and hopeless, Karenin has a heart-to-heart with Dolly about the situation.  That same night Levin and Kitty reconnect and begin planning their wedding.

Although Karenin seems unchanged by the conversation with Dolly, she says some things that stick with him later.  Karenin receives word that Anna is dying after childbirth.  He makes his way back home to Anna's bedside where he forgives her and Vronsky (also present).  Vronsky attempts suicide, but fails, leaving himself wounded.  

Anna recovers.  Karenin has forgiven her and becomes attached to the new baby girl, who is possibly underfed and crying terribly.  Anna cannot bear to live with her husband any longer.  Her brother comes to talk with her and Karenin and pleads with him to grant her a divorce.  Karenin worries that granting her a divorce will lead to her ruin, which he does not want to be responsible for.  In the end, Anna goes abroad with Vronsky, leaving behind her husband (without a divorce) and son.

I am now over half-way through the book.  On my Kindle I'm at 54%.  If the remaining sections are as exciting at Part IV, I could easily finish this book ahead of schedule.  Now that Levin is with Kitty, hopefully we will read less about farm life for a single depressed guy in Russia, which seemed to be the main theme of Part III.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Anna Karenina (Part III) by Leo Tolstoy

I made a pact with a family member to read two chapters of Anna Karenina every day (5 days/week) to finish it in approximately 5 months. The book has a total of 8 parts and I'm going to review each part as I go so I don't forget what I've read by the end. Then I'll put the separate reviews together for my Amazon review.

You can read my reviews for the first two Parts here:


Part III got a little less interesting for me.  I don't think we met any new characters (at least not any that seem important to the story at this point).  It focused mostly on Levin, his agricultural work, his thoughts about the agricultural reform in Russia and his feelings about Kitty.  We know Levin is trying to forget about Kitty, but still loves her.  Also, after Anna tells her husband about her affair with Vronsky at the end of Part II, her husband decides it is best for them to stay together, but threatens to divorce Anna and take her son away if she invites Vronsky into their home.




Friday, March 11, 2011

BLOG BOOK TOUR: Reflections of a Successful Wallflower by Andrea Michaels

Outskirts Press author, Andrea Michaels, is taking her latest book, Reflections of a Successful Wallflower, on a virtual book tour and stopped by here for a visit. 

Time Ninja book cover


ABOUT THE BOOK:


"This book is a life lesson, a success road map and a laugh-out-loud look into one of the great business and creative minds working today." -John Klymshyn, Author of How to Sell Without Being A JERK! and The Ultimate Sales Managers' Guide

Andrea Michaels is literally one of the backbones of the special events industry. Launching her business when there was no formalized or defined marketplace, she was and still is a trailblazer, pioneering the way for others to follow. Always on the cutting edge of the business, she has stacked up a pile of firsts (and 50 prestigious awards) in her legendary career - from initiating corporate branding and messaging into events and interactive themes that create experiences for guests to entering the international market ahead of her colleagues and incorporating never-before-used technology into her events, just to name a few. That alone should make her extraordinary, but she runs much deeper. Noted as one of the most caring and giving educators of our time, she has traveled the world to teach others not just her art and craft but to help them learn from her own mistakes. How did this genius evolve? Why is she so revered by all her peers? What does she know that we don't?

Reflections of a Successful Wallflower can only be compared to reading Andrea's diaries. This first inductee into the industry Hall of Fame shares, openly and candidly, not only the public wunderkind but the inner woman. Discover the workings of one of the foremost event producers in the world. You'll laugh; you'll cry; you'll be in disbelief and fascinated at the same time. She is a storyteller, and her stories and her life are great lessons for everyone.

Never one to miss an opportunity, this book shares the behind-the-scenes stories that relate to not just her life but her life in events and answers the multitude of questions she's asked. How did she keep it together with all of the personal and business challenges that are a part of everyone's life? How did she deal with the stress? How did she venture out globally? How did she manage to raise a child along with a 24/7 career? What about working effectively with different cultures and values? What did she do when nothing went right? Unions? Missteps? The weather? Dealing with inexperienced and difficult clients? Developing trust? What about new and current trends like "Going Green" and "Sustainability" and "Social Responsibility"? This book tells all.
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R&T: Why did you write Reflections of a Successful Wallflower?

AM: I wrote the book for personal satisfaction AND because I hope that, in addition to being a fun read, it will inspire young people and women – two distinct populations I am dedicated to educating. Young people need to understand that their own power and internal drive can lead them to thinking creatively and decisively on more levels than tapping the keys on their computers for solutions. And women need to know that there is no “glass ceiling” if they can figure out a way to work around it. They have to believe that they can do anything, including raise a child, enjoy a marriage, run a business (do I sound like a Helen Reddy song?) and do it all successfully and happily without sacrificing any one of these relationships.

My stories are about survival – business survival, and about approaches to challenges and how to overcome them. Business is no more than one element of life, and surviving in business is the same as surviving in life. It’s all about approach and attitude.

R&T: What types of readers would be interested in this story?

AM: The obvious ones are other professionals in the special events industry and suppliers to that industry; business leaders, particularly women; young people interested in an incredibly creative and challenging career; women who have had challenging relationships in their lives. People who are looking for ways to laugh through the pain of working during difficult times and situations.

R&T: What is special about your book?  What differentiates it from other books in the same category?

AM: Most books by event producers display gorgeous photos of their events and talk a little bit about them. Others are “how to” books on the subject.  My book is different because it reveals the challenges that I had to overcome to actually get the events produced. It intertwines my business and personal life. Each chapter is a story about an event and its challenges and the lessons I learned both professionally and personally, and I relate everything to my personal life. I expose my failures and my successes in an open manner.

R&T: Have you published any other books? Do you plan to publish more?

AM: I have never published before, and I do plan to write a sequel to this one.

R&T: Thanks for your time, Andrea! We look forward to learning more about you as you visit other bloggers!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Andrea Michaels, an international meeting and event producer, is the President/Founder of Extraordinary Events. In a few words, she sets the trends; others follow.


For more information or to contact the author, visit www.outskirtspress.com/andreamichaels.






Wednesday, March 2, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

I don't normally review multiple books in one day, but since March 2nd is Dr. Seuss' birthday I wanted to review a couple of our favorite Dr. Seuss books before the end of the day.

I just posted a review for One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.  Another of our favorites is Oh, the Places You'll Go!


ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

Inspirational yet honest, and always rhythmically rollicking, Oh, the Places You'll Go! is a perfect sendoff for children, 1 to 100, entering any new phase of their lives. Kindergartners, graduate students, newlyweds, newly employeds--all will glean shiny pearls of wisdom about the big, bountiful future. The incomparable Dr. Seuss rejoices in the potential everyone has to fulfill their wildest dreams: "You'll be on your way up! / You'll be seeing great sights! / You'll join the high fliers / who soar to high heights." At the same time, he won't delude the starry-eyed upstart about the pitfalls of life: "You can get all hung up / in a prickle-ly perch. / And your gang will fly on. / You'll be left in a Lurch."

But fear not! Dr. Seuss, with his inimitable illustrations and exhilarating rhymes, is convinced ("98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed") that success is imminent. As long as you remember "to be dexterous and deft. And NEVER mix up your right foot with your left," things should work out. (All ages) --Emilie Coulter

MY REVIEW:

This book has a grown-up message in the form of a story that kids will love!  My daughter received this book as a gift when she graduated from Kindergarten.  Although the message was bigger than what she could really grasp at the time, the story is filled with emotion that kept her interested with each turn of the page.  From the excitement of seeing new sights to the slumps of reality to escaping the Waiting Place to being alone and then hiking on to success!  In a children's story, Dr. Seuss challenges readers in any walk of life to push on through the hard times because we all have the potential to move mountains.  It is an inspirational book no matter how old (or young) you are.

"Step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act."

Happy birthday Dr. Seuss!

BOOK REVIEW: One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss

March 2nd is Dr. Seuss' birthday.  Although he died in 1991, he would have been 107 today.  In honor of his birthday, I'm going to review a couple of our favorite Dr. Seuss books.  

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

"Did you ever fly a kite in bed? Did you ever walk with ten cats on your head?" Such are the profound, philosophical queries posed in this well-loved classic by Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel. While many rhymes in this couplet collection resemble sphinx-worthy riddles, Seuss's intention is clear: teach children to read in a way that is both entertaining and educational. It matters little that each wonderful vignette has nothing to do with the one that follows. (We move seamlessly from a one-humped Wump and Mister Gump to yellow pets called the Zeds with one hair upon their heads.) Children today will be as entranced by these ridiculous rhymes as they have been since the book's original publication in 1960--so amused and enchanted, in fact, they may not even notice they are learning to read! (Ages 4 to 8)
MY REVIEW:

Dr. Seuss books are classic.  This is one of my favorites because while written in 1960, I have to wonder if Barnes and Noble was inspired by this book when naming their e-book reading device, the Nook..."We took a look. We saw a Nook.  On his head he had a hook.  On his hook he had a book."

One Fish Two Fish Read Fish Blue Fish doesn't read like a story, but is more of a collection of child-length short stories.  Each page is a new adventure as we explore everything from the fish to a Wump, a Zans, a Yink, a Nook, a Ying, a Yop and many other silly things.  Not only does this book hold the attention of the kids all the way through, but it makes the reader giggle from beginning to end.  

"From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere."

Happy birthday Dr. Seuss!

Monday, February 28, 2011

BLOG BOOK TOUR: Lessons from the Concrete Garden by Kurtis Smith

Outskirts Press author, Kurtis Smith, is taking his latest book, Lessons from the Concrete Garden, on a virtual book tour and stopped by here for a visit. 


Lessons book cover

ABOUT THE BOOK:  

The Most Advanced and Comprehensive Selling System Designed Specifically for Dealerships and Their Sales Teams 

Over a decade has been spent in research, development and field testing in order to identify and document the specific skill sets, characteristics and knowledge of a highly skilled and professional salesperson.

“Lessons From the Concrete Garden” is a by-product of this work and is packed with insight and ideas that will explain why many salespeople struggle and most fail.

It shines a spotlight on the struggling automotive industry and its selling practices and asks the question:

How is it possible to spend billions of dollars on R&D, manufacturing and marketing to produce some of the most technologically advanced and complex products, then miss the mark when it comes to educating the individuals responsible for selling them?

It drives the point home that salespeople are the first and last to touch the actual buyers of these products and they are probably the most important spoke in the business development wheel and are deserving of a quality and proper education.

This exciting book provides real answers and proposes real solutions for businesses and selling professionals that are struggling to find a plan of action that actually works. It discusses what to do, when to do it, how to do it and why it needs to be done. Lessons From the Concrete Garden is a Gem!

This is a must read for anyone involved in selling, training or business development.
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R&T: Tell us a little bit about Lessons from the Concrete Garden. What is it about?

KS: The book is about providing real answers and solutions to selling professionals struggling to do their jobs daily. It was important to me to use real examples and relatable scenarios to make my points, not theories or conjecture so I drew from over two decades of experience in sales, management and business consulting to form my thesis. I decided to use the automotive dealerships as the case study to explain how an ambiguous policy regarding the development of selling professionals is not only a failing proposition, but a recipe for disaster. It allowed me to emphasize how a lack of a system to educate and measure a selling professional’s performance 
against a standard is responsible for the quality of the client experience and poor sales numbers which in turn leads to high employee turnover and business failure rates, regardless of industry. The goal of this book was to spotlight the profession as a whole in order to draw attention to the fact that there is no formal education program available to its practitioners and, in my opinion, is the reason for the extremely high failure rates.

This book introduces a solution in the form of Professional Standards for Sales Excellence, a set of systems and process that anyone can use to produce more predictable and consistent results as the new core competencies of professional selling and business development.

R&T: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

KS: I wrote the book out of a necessity to organize my thoughts in order to explain a process that is literally changing lives. There is a desperate need for a new approach to developing selling professionals and those responsible for business development and I had the answer. The problem was that the answer was more than one word and consisted of a series of systems and processes that when I tried to explain it to some, they would get this glazed over look on their faces because it was unlike anything they had heard before. The fact is that selling as a profession is not being taught at institutions of higher learning and is not looked upon as a real profession. However, when you consider that someone has to sell something in every company in order for them to stay in business; you would think that the person they hire would be of the highest caliber with the formal training to confirm what they know. Ironically it is just not the case. 

I wrote this book to outline the standard and offer a solution by using the automobile industry as the case study, because what happened to them is a mirror image of what is happening in most businesses. But most importantly, it was written to give salespeople a roadmap to follow and management the understanding that without specific activities for them to measure against standards, it is difficult to do their jobs effectively.

R&T: What types of readers would be interested in this story?

KS: The book was written to speak to three specific types of readers; the first being the selling professional who is struggling to produce consistent results and has no idea why he or she is struggling. The second is the entrepreneur or business owner who has a business and needs to put him or his sale force to work and does not know where to begin. And finally, for the sales managers who are responsible for producing results through a sales team and are still trying to manage by coercion, intimidation or even begging and pleading to produce results.

R&T: What is special about your book?  

KS: As James Dyson puts it, “Solve the obvious problems that others seem to ignore.” Lessons from the Concrete Garden was specifically written to identify and address the reasons why salespeople struggle and fail. It provides answers that challenges the paradigm of those individuals stuck in this is the way we have always done it here mentality. 

It is an original thought written to provide hope for those looking for answers in a world full of sameness.

R&T: What differentiates it from other books in the same category?

KS: I believe Lessons from the Concrete Garden focuses on substance by offering specific original solutions and not regurgitated rhetoric. My goal in this book was not to tell you what you should do, but to provide you with tangible solutions backed up with process based action plans.

R&T: Have you published any other books? Do you plan to publish more?

KS: No I have not. Yes. There are several other projects in the works.

R&TThanks for your time, Kurtis! We look forward to learning more about you as you visit other bloggers!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andy Schoepp
With a diverse background as a United States Marine, sales and management professional,business 
owner and consultant, Kurtis Smith brings over two decades of experience and know-how to the table.

He is the president and CEO of The K-Method Group, a teaching organization focused on teaching businesses, entrepreneurs and sales professionals the step-by-step processes of how to build, maintain and manage a book of business.

His vision for the company is to continually provide the content and the environment where organizations and their salespeople can acquire the knowledge they need in order for them to flourish.

For more information or to contact the author, visit www.kmethod.com.