“Convicted”–Review

51KKYkaafTL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_A crooked cop, an innocent man, and an unlikely journey of forgiveness and friendship.

Taking place in Benton Harbor, a small city on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, this story is narrated by Andrew Collins—a white narcotics officer—and Jameel McGee. When Andrew Collins became a police officer, he knew he always wanted to make a difference in his community. Things got better for him when he moved up to being a narcotics officer. However, the more drug busts he went out on, the bigger his ego. He got a bit too greedy. That’s when everything changed for Jameel McGee—a black man who was in the wrong place, at the wrong time—who Collins had framed for possession of drugs.

After his being falsely convicted, McGee had spent four years in federal prison. During his time behind bars, McGee vowed to get back at the cop who’d ruined his life.

A few years later, after investigations of his falsifying police reports, Collins is thrown in prison. During his time in prison, Collins starts to face his reality, that he’d become everything he’d hated, that he’d ruined too many lives, all because of his greed and his ego. It is during an unexpected reunion, however, that makes the two men face their own realities and how they wound up where they were. No matter how much anger and mistrust they have in their hearts, they both must learn, that in order to truly live again, that they need to forgive.

I enjoyed reading this book. For a while, I really was wondering how things were going to go down between Collins and McGee. As difficult as it was for the two of them, it definitely took a lot of strength to make peace with everything that went wrong in their lives, to let go of all the remaining anger, and to maintain a strong friendship. If you’re interested in this story, I recommend it.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

Convicted will be available on September 19, 2017.

*I received this copy from Waterbrook Multnomah, in exchange for an honest review.

About the authors: Jameel McGee works for Emergency Shelter Services, a program to help the homeless find sustainable housing. Andrew Collins works with youth, as part of Young Life. Mark Tabb is the New York Times best-selling author and collaborator of Mistaken Identity and other books.

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“Not Exactly Love”–Review

41gn49ulxjl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Part memoir, part warm-hearted look at the ’70s, and part therapeutic journey, Not Exactly Love: A Memoir is an intense and inspirational story of a woman who grew from her experience.

It was in 1969 when Betty—a single schoolteacher—met Jack, a handsome but edgy new teacher at her school.  When they got to know each other, they clicked instantly.  Their relationship was filled with happy times and Betty couldn’t ask for anything more…

But when they got married, Jack was a different person.  He was quick-tempered.  He’d easily get angry about anything, taking it all out on Betty.  His fits of rage constantly ended up in verbal and physical violence.  Every day seemed to be unpredictable.  Was Jack going to be in a good mood?  Was he going to be angry?  Betty had to live with her decisions on a daily basis.  When Jack was loving, Betty tried to assure herself that their lives would be better.  But when the rage would come back, she didn’t know what to do.

Because nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men in the U.S. suffer from physical violence from a partner, Betty had to see the reality of her marriage and decide whether or not her marriage was worth saving or to save her own life.

This is great memoir.  It was almost like reading a thriller novel.  It’s just sad to think about situations such as these because, although it doesn’t excuse it, there’s always a story behind the violent outcomes.  This book is an inspirational read, especially because it raises awareness of domestic violence.

Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

About the author: Betty Hafner lives outside Washington, DC and has written a popular monthly book column for twelve years in The Town Courier newspapers in Montgomery County, MD. With a M.S. in counseling, she was a teacher and counselor in high schools and colleges for twenty-five years. She continues to lead workshops, give talks, and facilitate groups. She wrote two practical career-change books that stemmed from her workshops―Where Do I Go From Here? (Lippincott) and The Nurse’s Guide to Starting a Small Business (Pilot Books). Always ready to converse, she also loves telling stories through her drawings, photographs, and writing.  Follow her on Twitter and you can check out her website here.

“The Secret Language of Dogs”–Review

61xos-763hl-_sx385_bo1204203200_Good morning, bloggers!  Here’s a new recommendation for dog owners/lovers.

Many of us have more likely wondered what dogs go through on a daily basis.  Sometimes we wonder if there’s some hidden language dogs share with each other.  In this book, trainer and star of Animal Planet’s It’s Me or The Dog, Victoria Stilwell reveals how to both interpret and “speak” the hidden language of dogs.

Each chapter will answer particular questions, such as:

  • What do different tail wags mean?
  • What does being right-pawed say about my dog’s personality?
  • How can I tell the difference between boredom barking and warning barking?
  • What does it mean when my dog spins around, arches his back, or gives me the whale eye?
  • Do dogs feel guilt?
  • How do dogs perceive human faces?
  • Why do some scientists think dogs’ emotional experience is even greater than ours?

And so forth.

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Leah (in the above picture) is extra hyper and can be a handful, yet she’s so sweet.  The book has a chapter on the reason for howling, which is something Leah does often, especially when I play music for her.  It could be that she just enjoys singing along to music.  And it boosts my mood.

13244127_1055301057894889_2686228353419622822_oBecause I look after a senior mini pinscher, named Mandy (in the above picture), I was definitely interested in the chapter on the language of aging.  When dogs get older, it’s especially important to know about certain signs in their body language.  Also, signs of aging could effect their daily activities, and oftentimes, they lose interest in what they usually love doing.  Because Mandy is arthritic and can’t walk anymore, I have to assist her with certain things.  Despite her ailments, however, I always treat her as if she were my little child.  So that’s mainly the reason I took interest in this book.

To all the dog owners/lovers, this may be the book for you.  As always, feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*FTC Disclosure: I received this copy from Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review.

Flashback Friday

Good afternoon, bloggers, and Happy Friday!  I hope this month has provided you with great books, writing, and any other goals you’ve pursued.  Since NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) posts have been all over social media, lately, I’ve been thinking about participating.  I haven’t participated since 2014, so we’ll see.  How about you?

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about this month and how quickly it’s gone by.  I’ve overwhelmed myself with books I’ve wanted to read, which I’m glad I did, anyway.  Speaking of which, I just wanted do my first Flashback Friday post on here.

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Vroman’s Bookstore is one of my favorite bookstores.  If you’re in the L.A. area—or plan to visit—check it out, in Pasadena.  In mid-October, my sister and I stopped by to meet Cary Elwes.  He’s famously known for his role as the gorgeous farm boy, Westley, in The Princess Bride.  He was signing copies of his book, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride.  Luckily, the excitement of meeting him was a good distraction from standing in that long line, in the heat.  Either way, I didn’t mind.

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While waiting in line, I took advantage of reading a few pages of this beautiful copy.

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Signed to my sister and me.  I love it!

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It was just an honor to meet Cary.  He was so polite and charming.  He’d asked us if we were sisters, and then he replied, “That it so sweet.”  It was the highlight of our day.  Meeting an author is always exciting.  Now that I think about it, I believe that’s the second author I’ve met this year.  When my sister and I left the bookstore, we practically swooned like Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz when they would meet celebrities.  It was worth it.

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to this coming month.  I’ll be posting a new book review soon, by the way.  Happy reading!

“Marrow: A Love Story”–Review

51bgxbf6cl-_sx323_bo1204203200_A mesmerizing and courageous memoir: the story of two sisters uncovering the depth of their love through the life-and-death experience of a bone marrow transplant.

Elizabeth Lesser always took an interest in finding out what it means to be true to oneself and to be truly connected with our loved ones.  Then she receives a phone call from her sister, Maggie.  Maggie is dying and is in need of a bone marrow transplant.  When Lesser finds out she’s a perfect match to be Maggie’s donor, she starts to question what it really means to love.

While Maggie goes through the transplant, the sisters eventually become more open regarding their relationship—as well as with their other sisters—to clear a path to unconditional acceptance.  They examine their family history, difficult conversations, old assumptions, etc.  Within time, they offer forgiveness and love.

Even with the transplant and additional treatments, however, Maggie’s body becomes too weak to fight the illness.  Lesser takes on more than she can handle, all to give Maggie a longer life.  Despite the struggles, the sisters become closer, their blood cells a symbol of the bond they share.

I’d just finished reading this book today and I enjoyed it.  Not only does the author talk about family and sisterhood, she talks about getting more in touch with ourselves, accepting ourselves, loving ourselves, including the importance of letting go.

Marrow: A Love Story is available now.  Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*I received this copy from Shelf Awareness’ giveaway, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Elizabeth Lesser is the New York Times bestselling author of Broken Open and the cofounder of the Omega Institute, an organization recognized internationally for its workshops and conferences focusing on health and healing, psychology and spirituality, and creativity and social change.  Prior to her work at Omega, she was a midwife and childbirth educator.  She attended Barnard College and San Francisco State University, and lives in the Hudson River Valley with her family.  For more info on the author, click here.

“A Field Guide to Lies”–Review

41PBiqBSfLL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_It’s raining bad data, half-truths, and even outright lies…We are bombarded with more information each day than the mind can process—especially in election season.  Levitin shows how to recognize misleading announcements, statistics, graphs, and written reports, revealing the ways lying weasels use them to manipulate and cheat.

In this book, Daniel J. Levitin shows readers how to distinguish misinformation, pseudo-facts, distortions, and lies from the most reliable information.  This field guide is grouped into evaluating numbers, words, including evaluating the world by showing how science is the answer to critical thinking.  Although newspapers, bloggers, the government, and Wikipedia are expected to present factually and logically correct information, the truth is that they’re not always right.  Levitin suggests we all need to use critical thinking if we want to be successful in all areas of life.  It’s important to check the plausibility and reasoning of particular statistics, instead of just accepting them and making decisions based on them—which is a common thing.

I may not be the greatest with statistics, but this book is worth reading.  It’s a plus if you’re a fan of numbers.  In fact, I never really got around to the idea that statistics aren’t actually facts; they’re considered interpretations.  So if we’d like to know why these certain numbers show up on a chart, graph, etc., critical thinking is necessary.

A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age will be available on September 6, 2016.  Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*I received this book from Dutton Books, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Daniel J. Levitin is the James McGill Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience at McGill University and is dean of the College of Social Sciences at the Minerva Schools at KGI.  He is the author of This is Your Brain on Music, The World in Six Songs, and The Organized Mind.  He divides his time between Montreal, Quebec, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

“The Productivity Project”–Review

25733994In The Productivity Project, Chris Bailey shows us how to be more productive in any part of our lives—work, school, meetings, etc.  If you’re looking to become more productive, to make any simple changes in your life, this book provides helpful tips.

Chris Bailey talks about how he’d turned down lucrative job offers in order to pursue his lifelong dream: to spend a year performing an experiment into the pursuit of productivity, which has been his area of interest since he was a teenager.  After obtaining a business degree, he created a blog that talked about his yearlong productivity project he conducted on himself, including where he continued his research and interviews with some of the world’s foremost experts, from Charles Duhigg to David Allen.

Included in Bailey’s experiments were: getting by on little to no sleep, for several weeks; cutting out caffeine and sugar; living in total isolation for ten days; using his smartphone for just an hour a day, for three months; and, stretching his workweek to 90 hours.  Because he was usually a late riser, he forced himself to rise at 5:30 a.m., every day, for three months.  He did all this while monitoring the impact of his experiments on the quality and quantity of his work.

Throughout this book, Chris will teach you:

  • Slowing down to work more deliberately
  • Shrinking or eliminating the unimportant
  • The Rule of Three
  • Striving for imperfection
  • Scheduling less time for important tasks
  • The 20-second rule to distract yourself from the inevitable distractions
  • The concept of productive procrastination

Somewhere near the middle of this book, I made a goal to start rising, every day, at 7 a.m.  Even 7:30, at the latest.  I set my alarm every night.  I don’t remember when I started the goal—I have a bad habit of not keeping track of certain things—however, it’s been working out.  Whether I have to be somewhere early or not, I just like the idea of appreciating a nice morning.  Oversleeping got me nowhere; I’d just miss out on a good morning.  So far, so good with rising early.

Although I love a good cup of coffee, including soda, Chris Bailey has a relevant point on the constant consumption of caffeine and sugar: it slows you down and ruins your productivity, especially depending on the time of day you consume it.  I’m doing my best to cut back.  After all, Bailey suggests we consume caffeine strategically, not habitually.  I’m glad he mentioned how our health can make a big difference with our productivity.

Here’s one passage I did like from the book: Working deliberately and purposefully throughout the day can make or break how productive you are.  But having a purpose is just as important.  The intention behind your actions is like the shaft behind an arrowhead—it’s pretty difficult to become more productive day in and day out when you don’t care about what you want to accomplish on a deeper level…Investing countless hours becoming more productive, or taking on new habits or routines, is a waste if you don’t actually care about the changes you’re trying to make.  And you won’t have the motivation to sustain these changes in the long term.”

Bailey also points out: Productivity is about how much you accomplish.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to read this book.  I still have a long way to go with making some changes in my life.  It’s helpful to know that productivity isn’t about having so much to do on a daily basis; it’s about how much you accomplish on a daily basis.  I encourage you, readers, to check out this book.

About the author: Chris Bailey, a graduate of Carleton University in Ottawa, wrote over 216,000 words on the subject of productivity on his blog, A Year of Productivity, during a yearlong productivity project where he conducted intensive research to discover how to become as productive as possible.  He has written hundreds of articles on the subject and has garnered coverage in media, such as The New York Times, The Huffington Post, New York magazine, TED, Fast Company, and Lifehacker.  For more info, click here.

Happy reading!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book from Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review.