Sunday, February 26, 2012

New Author April Plummer Answers Our Questions

Do you have a goal to publish a book in 2012.  Author April Plummer will stop by Blog of Books in March to talk about her new book, Coming Home.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

On The Trail of Ancestors A Black Cowboy's Ride Across America- A Man, A Horse, A Dream, & 8,000 Miles

This is what we are reading now!

What this book is about (from Amazon):
Miles J. Dean, a Newark, NJ schoolteacher, rode his horse from New York to California to celebrate the contributions African Americans made in the settling of the United States. During his six-month, 5,000-mile journey, Dean, a 57-year-old African American, addressed people along the way at schools and colleges, community organizations, and penal institutions. He met hundreds of Americans through informal encounters at campgrounds, Wal-Mart parking lots, restaurants, and country stores. With each, he shared his reasons for the journey and inspired others to fulfil their dreams. Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Dean first learned about cowboys from watching television. Like any boy at that time, he wanted to be like those heroes and pretended to be a cowboy. He galloped through the streets on his bicycle, ambushing outlaws on street corners. Although Hollywood helped keep his dream alive, the cowboys on TV didn’t look like Dean. At age 23, he saw Sidney Poitier play a cowboy in the 1972 film, Buck and the Preacher, and realized he too could be a cowboy. He deferred his teenage dream another 10 years before he could afford riding lessons and eventually bought his first horse. But the film inspired him to explore the African American history he never learned in school, specifically the contributions made during the 1500-1800s when horses were the primary means of transportation. He knew he wanted to make a cross-country journey and retrace the steps of these early pioneers; it was just a question of when. On September 22, 2007, Dean brought his horse, Sankofa, a 12-year-old Arabian stallion into New York City and rode to the African Burial Grounds, in lower Manhattan to begin his journey. Granted an unpaid leave of absence from his 5th grade social studies position, he embarked on this odyssey he had dreamed about for nearly 35 years. Six months later, Dean completed the trip with a celebration at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. In between he visited several historical monuments, paying homage to history’s forgotten heroes, including the black jockeys at Kentucky’s Churchill Downs and soldiers at Tennessee’s African American Civil War Cemetery. His travels through Memphis and Little Rock evoked his own memories of growing up during the Civil Rights Movement. His ride through the harsh deserts of the Southwest and across California’s formidable Chocolate Mountains allowed him to re-enact the conditions and perils faced by early cowboys and marshals. On the Trail of the Ancestors: A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America recounts how one man followed his childhood dream. Dean’s commitment to his journey helped him battle a brain tumor; his gratitude to his ancestors fortified his resilience; and his integrity to honoring heroes in history via his horse kept him on road. This book chronicles Dean’s cross-country journey and introduces readers to people from all cultural and social backgrounds. Dean’s many encounters with strangers who assisted him, his meetings with students, his participation in local community parades and other events as he travelled bring to life the complex tapestry of the country. As Dean travels from state to state, the reader learns about African Americans who contributed to US history. Dean’s relationship with his horse Sankofa provides insights about what it is like to ride a horse for six months. Whether navigating dangerous terrain and city traffic, riding long distances, handling medical problems for him and the horse, or facing the challenges of acquiring the four relief horses, his anecdotes regale readers with the visceral pleasures and difficulties of such a journey. Dean’s story demonstrates that an ordinary person can accomplish the extraordinary.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dollars and Uncommon Sense

Most people use common sense when they make decisions about their money. Most people also live paycheck to paycheck, have sleepless nights worrying about debt, and are not saving enough. In DOLLARS AND UNCOMMON SENSE former US Army Sergeant and Certified Financial Planner, Steve Repak outlines a strategy to change your misguided common sense ideas about savings and learn to think like a true builder of wealth. Steve served 12 years in the Army, racking up $32,000 in debt while he was there. He then drew on his military experience and put his own finances through boot camp. Not only did he get out of debt, but Steve Repak went on to help others do the same. Repak serves as your drill sergeant for your fiscal transformation in this ground breaking new book to show you why-and how-to use uncommon sense to get back on track.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Brown Bear, Brown Bear

This is the perfect book for kids learning their animals. You can easily teach them the sounds that animals make and they can even read the book themselves. Just let them seet the next page and they will tell you that the Brown Bear sees a Red Bird.

My 18 month old has all three of the books I have seen. Brown Bear, Polar Bear, and Panda Bear. They are all favorites of his!

Monday, May 2, 2011


I had recieved several of these manners books a while back. I enjoyed them - and was sure to talk about them on this blog.  But with new developments wanted to touch base.

My kindergarten age niece had visited a while back and found these books on our shelves. She loved them and we read them over and over again to her. On every subsequent visit she asked if she could read them again.

Well it has been over 2 months since her last visit - and when we went to visit her - she asked us about the books. They obviously made quite the impression. We remind her and our son - whenever we use our manners - about the books. This is a great and easy way to teach your child manners. And before you know it the books are simple enough - that if they are reading - they can read them to you!

Are you Living

When I got this book - I didn't know at what age my son would want it. But while he is only 18 months he LOVES this book.

I think it is the combination of getting to read something that is interesting and different (not just pictures and associations of words) and the fact that it is sung. The book has just enough words on the page - and you can interrupt your song every so often to teach the child more about what the book has to say (in this case what it means to be alive).

Definitely a recommendation I would give!

While it isn't intended for children that young - I found it a fun book to read and the song makes it a fun book to listen to!

Away for a while

I know, I know - I have been away for a while. But that is the way it works when you have a small child at home.

So because of the said child - I will be changing the format of this blog a bit. Still going to be reviewing books. But unless I hit a great book for adults (which is unlikely as I have very little time to read) I won't be reviewing those. Instead I will be reviewing children's books.

If I have a guest blogger by - they may be all sorts of books!

Thanks again!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Review: Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

Book Review: Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

What a fun and happy book. Who would have expected a romance/ghost story to be so great. Not too scary, a menagerie of characters that are great to know.

Two kids - Alice and Carter seem to be having issues with their nannys. Their father had died leaving them in the care of his cousin - North. North has his own problems. Andy is his ex-wife who has tried to move on but can't seem to. Andy agrees to go help out with the kids and what ends up happening is a raucous ghost story with a bit of love too.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Review: My Give a Damn's Busted

My Give A Damn's Busted by Carolyn Brown 

Larissa is a hard working strong female who is used to being in charge.  She runs the local Honky Tonk. She has come become the one in charge because the other women who ran things - have found love. But Larissa is definitely not looking for love - or anything to do with a man.

Into her life walks Hank Wells. He definitely knows how to start things off with a bang (or should I say crash). He isn't what he seems to be and has ulterior motives to walking into Larissa's life. But when he falls for her it is all over.

Thoughts:  What a fun and flirty country romance. I love a strong heroine and I love when a man can't help but fall for her - no matter what he tries. Makes me think we should pick up the other books in the series just to see how they found the loves of their lives (I believe this is book three). 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Book Review: Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning

Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning (Sinners On Tour)

Myrna Evans has a history that she would rather forget. And when she comes across Brian Sinclair the lead songwriter and guitarist she figures what can it hurt to jump into something new. Of course it never works out exactly how you plan. A quick flirtation can become something a lot more.

Thoughts: This is the first book that I have read in this genre. Where it has a touch in the contemporary romance - but then add to it the erotic. It is interesting. While many of the erotic books that I have come across have a touch of the fantastic in it. (Then again some people might think hooking up with a rock star is totally fantastical).

The story line definitely kept me interested and wanting to read a little more and if you want the extras of the erotic - this is the book for you. In terms of what I like the best - I think I will stick to the crazy words that are far away from reality. Sometimes these books seem to be a little too like life - not mine - but what I think others live with - and at this point in my life I like using books to get away.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Manners on the School Bus and Manners on the Playground

I personally found these books to be interesting and educational and couldn't wait till my son was old enough to really get what these books were about.

Well I didn't have to wait that long to see them in action. I recently had my four year old niece over and she found these books on the shelf and couldn't stop having them read to her. She loved them. Over and over she had us read them and every time when we asked her questions she got it. These books definitely taught her some lessons that I know she will take advantage of when she goes to school in the fall.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Book Review: Witch by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

Witch by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

This book is supposed to be a young adult book of witches and warlocks. And while I believe that teens will find this interesting as an adult I do as well (which is why I probably like this genre so much). This is the story of Holly Cathers whose parents and best friend die in a tragic accident. She is then shipped off to be with her Aunt MarieClaire.

The thing is Holly's life isn't what she thought it was. In reality she is a witch and a love in a previous life has destined her and her family to tragedy. Her true love is her families arch-enemy a Deveraux.

Can Holly with the help of her cousins Amanda and Nicole stop whatever is going to happen from happening?


When I started this I didn't know if I would like it. The idea of the whole group of them being evil (and the Deveraux's essentially being satanists) seemed like it would be hard to associate positive feelings with the book.  Add to that a quick search turning up a bad review - and the taste in my mouth was bad.

The thing was though that in the long run - it had me interested. I am interested enough to know what is going to happen with Holly and Jare that I keep coming back for more and am now on the second book - Curse.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

All August We Review It- You Win It!

Win a copy of Backseat Saints! 

Rose Mae Lolley is a fierce and dirty girl, long-suppressed under flowery skirts and bow-trimmed ballet flats. As "Mrs. Ro Grandee" she's trapped in a marriage that's thick with love and sick with abuse. Her true self has been bound in the chains of marital bliss in rural Texas, letting "Ro" make eggs, iron shirts, and take her punches. She seems doomed to spend the rest of her life battered outside by her husband and inside by her former self, until fate throws her in the path of an airport gypsy—-one who shares her past and knows her future. The tarot cards foretell that Rose's beautiful, abusive husband is going to kill her. Unless she kills him first.

Hot-blooded Rose Mae escapes from under Ro's perky compliance and emerges with a gun and a plan to beat the hand she's been dealt. Following messages that her long-missing mother has left hidden for her in graffiti and behind paintings, Rose and her dog Gretel set out from Amarillo, TX back to her hometown.  Two winners will be chosen in August.  To enter please send an email to

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Green Pieces: Green From the Pond UP

by: Drew Aquilina
Green Pieces is a delightful romp in another world.  Well, to be exact it is a pond, not another world.  I have always like comics geared towards adults that were a mix of easy sass, with a deeper meaning thrown in.  This book reminded me of some of my favorites, Tom Tomorrow, Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side.   The four main inhabitants of the wetland find some new some new and humorous adventure every day.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Win an audiobook copy of Delivering Happiness

A great summer business read!  To enter send an email to with Happiness as the subject title or respond to this post. Up to three winners will be chosen by 8/9/10.

Product Description:
Zappos CEO Hsieh offers a compelling account of his transformation from callow Harvard student entrepreneur through his years as a dot-com wunderkind to the creator of a formidable brand. Interest might flag as Hsieh, fresh off selling his Internet company LinkExchange to Yahoo in 1999 for $265 million, kvetches about lacking fulfillment. But as the tech boom bursts, and Hsieh confronts his dwindling investments, his story comes alive. As the funding for his incubator companies dries up and one of his most promising startups,, a shoe retailer, seems doomed, Hsieh blossoms into a mature businessperson, slashing expenses and presciently making customer service the essence of the company's brand. The story becomes suspenseful as Hsieh recounts the stress of operating in survival mode, liquidating his assets to fund the company in its darkest days and seeking out an 11th-hour loan. By the time Zappos is acquired by Amazon for more than $1.2 billion in 2009, Hsieh and his team had built a unique corporate culture dedicated to employee empowerment and the promise of delivering happiness though satisfied customers and a valued workforce. An uplifting tale of entrepreneurial success, personal growth, and redemption.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

I am in the middle of Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin and it has prompted me to try and think about some questions. Which is worse - an affair of the heart or a physical affair? If it gets to the point that it is both - does that mean there is no going back? Is the affair the fault of the people in the marriage - or the other woman/man? Does the fact that it means that there are problems in the marriage mean  that both are to blame or just the one that sets outside the marriage?

I have to admit this book has me hooked. It is hard when you like both the "other woman" and the person who seems to be wronged. Even the husband at times is likable - but I am biased and think at times he is manipulative - he doesn't have the right to blame someone other than himself when he has already started moving on without talking things through with his wife.

So what is your answer to those questions?

Mine? When I was in college I had very strong feelings about cheaters. They physically made me sick. And it wasn't because anyone in my family had been affected by them. I just didn't understand. And then some things changed. I saw people I knew in situations and had my own issues with people who had told me they weren't in a relationship but were. And I loosened up a bit about things. I think it isn't as black and white as people would like it to be. In terms of me - I don't know if I could mend a relationship when there was either an affair of the heart or a sexual encounter. It might be possible - but it would require a lot of work on both people's part and I don't know if my heart would be in it. Who is to blame - the person who does the cheating. No matter what brought you to that point - the person who is involved with  someone and can't face ending things with them before moving on is to blame. Does that mean they are a bad person? No - but if it requires fault then it is more their fault. The other woman/man are not to blame because it isn't their relationship that they are ruining. They have nothing invested. Again do I think it is a nice/moral/good thing to be the other person - no.

I would say the one thing that I see some people really disagree on is - if you cheat -should you tell the person you are with or not? Especially if you want to move on and make things work. Some would say that it is better to not tell them. Why punish them when they did nothing. Especially if you are stopping. Others say you need to be totally truthful to make things work. I think I am of the truthful thing. I compare it to a problem like stealing. If the people around you don't know that you have problems with it - they won't be aware of the signs. And by the time they notice (if ever) it might be too late. Additionally cheating can be somewhat of a health issue as well. You have a right to know if it is happening.

But I am sure there are lots of other perspectives out there. Tell me about yours.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Author Article: Infatuation or Love

The Infatuation or Love Quiz

 By Sherrie Dillard,
Author of Love and Intuition: A Psychic's Guide to Creating Lasting Love

Our intuition is constantly bombarding us with unspoken intuitive messages about others, especially those with who we share a romantic interest. But how do you know what the intuitive feelings, sensations and mysterious messages really mean?
You may for instance, feel drawn, almost magnetized to another and are not sure why? Has a certain someone ever walked into the room and your stomach churns and your palms sweat? Or you wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of a dream about your partner? Even though you have not yet spoken to one another, every time the new hire passes your desk your heart races and your body trembles, why? Have you ever felt that your boyfriend was being dishonest but disregarded the feeling because you had no proof or evidence to back it up?
Everyone has innate intuitive ability and even when you ignore or suppress it, your intuition is always at work. Although it may seem hard to understand, spontaneous and even confusing, with a little focus and practice your intuition can become a powerful relationship ally.
To receive the most benefit from your innate intuitive sensing, pay attention to how those sometimes subtle and sometimes not so subtle intuitive messages emerge. You may for instance, receive intuitive impressions in your body as a "gut feeling" or tingles of shivers up your spine. I had a friend who pays attention when she gets what she call goose bumps up and down her arms. This is to her a sign that her intuition is trying to tell her something. Some people get immediate mental thoughts and impressions about others. While some may be empathetic and feel what a loved one feels even when they are miles away. Your intuition might surface in your dreams and even in your daydreams.
Once you are more familiar with the way that your intuition most often emerges, you can begin to decipher the meaning and message behind those feelings, thoughts, sensations and impressions. This is not always easy, especially at the beginning of a relationship when you are hopeful, excited and stimulated by the prospects of a new love. The rush of energy, the tingling and the inner sense of connection that you might be feeling does not always mean that you will have a positive fulfilling relationship with him or her. Your intuition may be sending you a message that you have just met a true partner it might also be signaling you to run the other way.
The following questions will help you to discern the unspoken intuitive messages that often accompany the beginning of a relationship.
1. When it comes to a romantic or potential romantic partner which statement is most true?
a. I feel relaxed, safe and can be vulnerable and completely honest when I am with him or her.

b. I have a nagging sense that something is not right and not adding up

c. We have a highly charged emotional connection
2. When I am in my partner or potential partner's presence or even when I think of him or her my body:
a. relaxes and I feel a sense of calm

b. tightens and I feel tense

c. I become intensely sexually stimulated
3. I want my intuition to help me to:
a. increase my ability to feel and express love

b. figure out what my partner is thinking or feeling

c. alert me as to when my partner is lying or deceiving me

4. I have had sudden moments that seem to come out of nowhere where:
a. I feel my heart expanding with love and compassion

b. feel as if I need to have sex with my partner to assure that we are close

c. have an impending sense of doom

5. When it comes to my romantic relationship my inner voice is telling me to:
a. trust and let go of outcomes

b. take care of myself

c. heal my past emotional wounds

If you answered most questions a, Your intuition is signaling you to the start of a healthy and loving relationship. Keep listening to the inner promptings that are encouraging you to grow and evolve. Love is an active participatory journey. The more self aware, honest and forgiving you are with yourself the more able you will be to give and share with another. Love does not happen to us. Instead as you engage in the process of listening within and honest communication with your partner the stronger the love bond will become.
If you answered most of the questions b, your relationship may be more infatuation than love. The relationship may be exciting, energizing and fun but it may not have the true love potential that you are looking for. If you find that you feel increasing off balance, tense or sense that something feels "off" or "not right" about the relationship, trust your feelings even if you do not have tangible evidence to support your intuition. Increase communication with your partner, ask the tough questions and be honest about whether or not the relationship is able to support your core needs and desires. Listen to your inner voice and trust its guidance, even if does not tell you what you want to hear.
If you answered most of the question c, your relationship may cause you more pain than joy.

When you find that your intuitive attention is focused more on your partner than yourself you may be heading into a co-dependent relationship. Co-dependence is an insidious emotional cycle where your happiness and sense of well being is dependent on the moods and feelings of your partner. In a long term co-dependent relationship you run the risk of losing your sense of inner power, self worth and self esteem. If you are in this kind of relationship, take time to tune into your intuition. Listen to the wise and loving voice within as it will guide you toward taking the necessary steps to heal and move forward either in or out of the relationship.

Your intuition is always at work. It is an innate and invaluable sense that when listened to can help you maneuver the often tricky waters of dating. Your intuition can signal you as to the beginning a fantastic relationship or it can warn you of potential heartbreak. To make the most of intuitive guidance, spend time in silence, breathing, relaxing and allowing the inner voice to emerge. Trust and act on what you receive. Know that when you do you will be lead to a supportive and loving relationship.
© 2010 Sherrie Dillard, author of Love and Intuition: A Psychic's Guide to Creating Lasting Love
Author Bio
Author of the bestselling Discover Your Psychic Type, Sherrie Dillard has been a New Thought pastoral counselor, professional psychic, medium, and teacher for over twenty years. She has taught classes and workshops, both nationally and internationally, on the life-enhancing aspects of intuition development. Her writing has also appeared in New Age Journal and on and  For more information please visit and follow the author on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Well-Read Commuter Reviews: Private

By James Patterson

You could say that former Marine and Afghanistan War Hero Jack Morgan has a lot on his plate. At the helm of one of the world’s most elite investigative firms, Private, his team is tasked with helping the LAPD find a serial killer stalking high school girls. He is also juggling an office romance that is on the rocks, a multi-million dollar NFL betting scandal, an evil twin brother and his best friend is a murder suspect.

That sets the scene for the latest James Patterson novel. This was one of my first James Patterson novels and it surely won’t be my last. The book was excellent and Patterson certainly must deserve his following. There was a complex storyline which can be tricky when listening to it as an audiobook while driving. However, the story was developed in a way that held your attention and the multitude of characters were richly developed and interesting. There were several places where Patterson could have turned to cliché cheap thrills, but that never happened. It was a nail bitter and I found myself more than once backing the audio up if I was interrupted because I didn’t want to miss a single minute. I haven’t been this sad to see a piece of fiction end since last summer’s The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly. This book is six CDs and was just the right length for a good summer driving book. It was excellent and I was sad to see a couple of reviews trashing it. I don’t read a lot of fiction so something has to be just right to work for me and this was great.  The audiobook is excellently narrated.

Monday, July 12, 2010

July Book Giveaway- Our Summer Cleaning= Your Summer Reading

We have over 20 books to give away this month! To enter e-mail your address and the books you are interested in winning to Winners will be announced all month. Our summer cleaning equals your summer reading!

Julie & Julia Product Description
Julie & Julia is the story of Julie Powell's attempt to revitalize her marriage, restore her ambition, and save her soul by cooking all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I, in a period of 365 days. The result is a masterful medley of Bridget Jones' Diary meets Like Water for Chocolate, mixed with a healthy dose of original wit, warmth, and inspiration that sets this memoir apart from most tales of personal redemption.

The Guild Gene Product Description
Diana Raab will write anywhere about anything to not only rid herself of childhood "ails" but to enjoy herself completely, even poking fun at her foibles. She takes a close and courageous look at all her life's experiences, and in so doing, shares her wisdom and forgiveness of self and others with a raw honesty that is both refreshing and inspirational. Her poems are, as she writes of her ancestors, "bright candles trembling in their own wax." The Guilt Gene is a prism with a hundred facets offering glance and glimpse and deep seeing into encounters with love, loss, longing, and epiphany. From an author who has taught us the power of memory and story, these poems take us along the road from a World War II typewriter to the eyes of an old dog. Poetry here reminds us to heed what calls to us daily.
The Guilt Gene, Diana Raab's second book of poetry, has the straight-forward confessional tone that distinguishes her best work whether in prose or poetry. Eschewing high flying metaphor and dressed up formality, she confines her subject matter to her inner life and her journal-keeping voice and makes her poems through an emphasis on the line. Her poetry does not pretend to have figured things out; rather, this work is her process of figuring them out, of sorting her past and contemplating her present. The best of these poems derive their beauty from a disarming frankness and a heart that is open, willing to find a personal truth and say it .

Sunday, July 11, 2010

More FREE Books in the July Book Giveaway

We have over 20 books to give away this month! To enter e-mail your address and the books you are interested in winning to Winners will be announced all month. Our summer cleaning equals your summer reading!

Your Best Body Product Description

Each of us is unique. We were all born with a specific body type and body shape based upon our genetics. Although we can't change our genetics, we can take charge of our shape by "specific body shape blueprint training." To do this we need to understand our individual shape and put together a workable and enjoyable fitness plan to achieve the best version of ourselves that we can. Your Best Body Now is a new and unique way of discovering the best fitness plan for your individual body shape and will change the way you see yourself and your body for life.

What Sex is a Republican Product Description

What Sex Is a Republican? takes a look at the political game from behind the curtain with one intention: to call on each of us to serve in our local, state and federal governments. The principles of republican government have been lost on the money changers in our state and national capitols. There is only one way to change that. We the people must take responsibility for what our government has become while we weren't looking.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Win an audiobook copy of The Lion

Enter to win a great summer read- The Lion!  To enter send an email to with The Lion in the subject title.  Up to three winners will be chosen by 8/1/2010.

Asad Khalil (aka "The Lion"), the ruthless Libyan terrorist who menaced ex-NYPD cop John Corey in The Lion's Game (2000), returns to the U.S. 18 months after 9/11, bent on finishing old business in DeMille's fast-paced fifth John Corey thriller (after Wild Fire). In Los Angeles, Khalil dispatches the last of the eight American pilots who dropped the bombs that killed Khalil's family in the historic 1986 raid on Tripoli. In New York City, a daring encounter with Corey, a member of the federal Anti-Terrorist Task Force, and Corey's FBI agent wife, Kate Mayfield, who's also a member of the ATTF, sets the stage for the mano a mano struggle both Corey and Khalil crave. DeMille splices gripping action scenes with accounts of Khalil's horrifically inventive attacks and the ATTF's futile countermeasures. While Corey isn't much more appealing than his foe, those who enjoy starkly black-and-white battles between good and evil will be satisfied.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Delivering Happiness: The Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose

By Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay)

Audiobook, read by author

Would you pay a new employee $2,000 to quit or make company culture your organization’s #1 priority? What about randomly sending an employee flowers or insisting that your vendors let YOU treat them to dinner? Would you fall out of your chair if I told you that reading a business book by a CEO will make you want to be a better person?

The motto of might be delivering happiness, but this book by the CEO of Zappos delivers, period! I really liked this book and had to listen to the entire selection in one day.

The book details Hsieh’s early years, growing up in California in a strict and close knit Asian family where he started various small businesses and faked his way through forced piano and violin lessons. It goes on to follow him through his Harvard graduation and his first big business, Link Exchange. The business made him a multi-millionaire when he sold it to Microsoft for $265 million when he was in his early twenties. Hsieh sought to keep his tribe of friends from college together through the early dot com days and the craziness of the late nineties. Keeping his tribe together (they even all bought lofts in the same building) would lay the foundation for the revolutionary way he would look at customer service and corporate culture while at the helm of Zappos.

Using his Link Exchange monies Hsieh became an investor and later the CEO of and would eventually steer the company to over a billion dollars in sales. What is really inspiring is the way Hsieh forever changed the way corporations look at branding. Long gone are the days when a company can draw a logo and spend truckloads of money advertising to tell consumers what their brand and image is. With the pace that modern information moves, your brand emerges from the company culture that you create. The whole book was fantastic.

The only thing that was off for me was the author dedicates the book to his eleven year old daughter and mentions his parents three times in the book, but otherwise the book is void of any family references. There is no mention of his daughter being born, or adopted if that is the case. There is no mention of a marriage, a bad date, a first date, a kiss in college. It is all wiped clean as if by a court order. While you might not think this has a place in a business book, for most adults balancing career and family is an ongoing daily struggle.

I am always interested in how the brightest and best minds in business attempt to have it all. Hsieh also really promotes a work culture of employees socializing after hours. It is encouraged at Zappos and Tony even flew the entire team from San Diego and Kentucky in for an all expenses paid weekend in Vegas in the early years of the company. Some of the company’s innovative ideas came while having a few beers with co-workers during happy hour or on the golf course. I was a little further curious because such robust socialization, while fun, can wreak havoc on marriages and relationships. I wondered again how it was all balanced.

More FREE Books in the July Book Giveaway

We have over 20 books to give away this month! To enter respond to this post with just your first name and then e-mail your address and the books you are interested in winning to Winners will be announced all month. Our summer cleaning equals your summer reading! Whether you are traveling, on a staycation or haven't had a vacation since Clinton was in office, try some new authors and enjoy some great summer reading on us.

The Gathering Storm Product Description

Tarmon Gai’don, the Last Battle, looms. And mankind is not ready.
The final volume of the Wheel of Time, A Memory of Light, was partially written by Robert Jordan before his untimely passing in 2007. Brandon Sanderson, New York Times bestselling author of the Mistborn books, was chosen by Jordan’s editor---his wife, Harriet McDougal---to complete the final book. The scope and size of the volume was such that it could not be contained in a single book, and so Tor proudly presents The Gathering Storm as the first of three novels that will make up A Memory of Light. This short sequence will complete the struggle against the Shadow, bringing to a close a journey begun almost twenty years ago and marking the conclusion of the Wheel of Time, the preeminent fantasy epic of our era.
In this epic novel, Robert Jordan’s international bestselling series begins its dramatic conclusion. Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, struggles to unite a fractured network of kingdoms and alliances in preparation for the Last Battle. As he attempts to halt the Seanchan encroachment northward---wishing he could form at least a temporary truce with the invaders---his allies watch in terror the shadow that seems to be growing within the heart of the Dragon Reborn himself.
Egwene al’Vere, the Amyrlin Seat of the rebel Aes Sedai, is a captive of the White Tower and subject to the whims of their tyrannical leader. As days tick toward the Seanchan attack she knows is imminent, Egwene works to hold together the disparate factions of Aes Sedai while providing leadership in the face of increasing uncertainty and despair. Her fight will prove the mettle of the Aes Sedai, and her conflict will decide the future of the White Tower---and possibly the world itself
The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Author Article: Great Places to Score a Discount Designer Handbag

By Dorothy Howell
Author of Shoulder Bags and Shootings: A Haley Randolph Mystery
You don't have to dress less-than-glam during these hard economic times -- not when shopping centers and Internet sites are flush with places to snag a genuine designer handbag at a deeply discounted price.
Stores selling discounted handbags range from small, intimate vintage and consignment shops to large department stores, and even larger outlet malls. Internet sites offer a wide range of styles, colors, and designer names. The Premium Outlets and the Tanger Outlets far and away have the largest concentration of discounted designer merchandise. Along with handbag stores such as Coach, Judith Leiber, Kate Spade and Dooney & Bourke, you'll find a fantastic array of designer stores. Michael Kors, Liz Clairborne, Prada, DKNY, Gucci, Calvin Klein, Burberry, along with many others, carry everything from clothing to shoes, and a sampling of their handbag lines.
The Premium Outlets have over 40 locations nationwide, along with malls in Puerto Rico, Japan, Korea, and Mexico. Tanger Outlet has over 30 locations in the U.S. Both offer AAA and AARP member discounts. Join their VIP Club and visit their Web sites for coupons and special offers. Check out their seasonal sales weekends and national promotions for extra savings in addition to everyday discounts.
First, and in some cases, second quality merchandise is available. You'll have to bring along a magnifying glass to find flaws, though. Most are detectable only to the factory-trained eye.  These outlet stores are great places to shop. There's no digging through clearance bins or blowing the dust off of merchandise that's been sitting around for months. The stores are immaculate, the shelves are orderly and well stocked. The staffs are knowledgeable and helpful, the same as you'll find in their retail stores. Many times, after making your selection, the clerk can bring you a "fresh" bag from the stock room. Care is taken to wrap your treasure in the store's signature tissue paper, and deposit it into their trademark shopping bag.

Discounts typically run 20% to 40% off the MSRP, with deeper cuts of up to 65% off of sale and clearance items. Many of these stores offer a full guarantee on their products, plus a money back return policy. But, as with any store, ask before you buy. Keep in mind that these outlet malls are huge, so wear comfortable shoes and plan for a full day of shopping.  Great bargains can be found in retail giants such as Macy's and Dillard's Department Stores. These discounts are usually offered seasonally so you'll have to watch for them. The selection of these bags will be limited, but you can expect to pay from 20% to 30% off their retail prices.
Leading discount department stores such as Ross Dress For Less, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls offer designer handbags. The selection varies. You might find a Diane von Furstenberg, Betsy Johnson or a Fossil bag mixed in with their non-designer bags. Merchandise varies from location to location. These are no-frills stores. If you don't mind digging for a good deal, you can expect to save 20% to 60% off of department store prices.  Some of the most sought-after designer brands are offered at Websites such as Rue LaLa and Gilt Group. These sites offer members-only pricing on luxury brands, usually for a limited time. Shop early. Expect to pay sales prices of up to 70% off retail.

The website e-bay, along with many other online sites, offers designer handbags at considerable savings. The selection is wide and varied. New as well as used purses are available. You'll have to pay shipping costs, in most cases, so take that into consideration when looking at their prices.  Consignment stores and vintage shops are also good places to find a handbag at a low price. Keep in mind these purses are gently used. Designer names and selection will vary widely. Inventory fluctuates so it's good to check back often. Savings can be considerable.  No matter where you choose to shop for your designer handbag, it's important that you can distinguish a genuine bag from a knock-off. Read product descriptions carefully. Do your homework. Know the tell-tale signs of a counterfeit bag. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

There's no need to deny yourself the joy of sporting a designer handbag when so many places offer great merchandise and outstanding discounts to the everyday fashionista. Get out and see what's available. Shopping for your new bag is half the fun!

© 2010 Dorothy Howell, author of Shoulder Bags and Shootings: A Haley Randolph Mystery
Author Bio: Dorothy Howell, author of Shoulder Bags and Shootings: A Haley Randolph Mystery, was inspired to write Handbags and Homicide by her crazed obsession with designer purses. She lives in Southern California, where there is, thankfully, no rehab program for handbag addiction, and is hard at work on her next Haley Randolph mystery. Visit her Website at
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More FREE Books in the July Book Giveaway

We have over 20 books to give away this month!  To enter respond to this post with just your first name and then e-mail your address and the books you are interested in winning to Winners will be announced all month.

The First Thirty Seconds offers suggestive prompts for improving the management of one's behavior, thoughts, emotions, and relationships. It is presented in a unique format juxtaposing a relevant concept with a suggestion for further reflection. The result is a book that is effective as a personal growth resource and a library of thoughtful guidance.

A woman's travel through grief and finding hope while dealing with unexpected loss. 

Does a mysterious manuscript, discovered by chance in the library of a Burma's monastery, contain the oldest thriller story of Southeast Asia literature? In the far east of the Indochina peninsula during the Ninth Century A.D., young Prince Asaka fights against the intrigues of the Khmer Court. A son of the Khmer King is found assassinated: why would somebody want to accuse an innocent poor slave of such an important crime? Our hero, also involved in the crime, as owner of the slave as well as more directly, manages to extract himself and to identify the true culprit, thanks to the help of two friends. Twists and turns are abundant in the story; and in the final hearing, although according to the canons of Anglo-Saxon law the development of the latter is unusual, we do find the Public Prosecutor and the Defense Attorney, with abundant cross-questioning ante litteram of the testimonies, documentary proof as well as circumstantial. Not a classic thriller, but rather a mixed genre of police, adventure and spy-story.