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This anthology is a really great introduction to a group of indie-published and/or previously unpublished authors.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.