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


"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.

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!


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

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


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)

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!