Friday, May 02, 2008

The Mind of a Genius by David Snowden

What in the world could possibly be of interest to MI4, the CIA, the British Secret Service, and Scotland Yard? British Scientist Malcolm Prince had just completed work on a secret formula--so secret no one really knew what the secret formula was or what it would do. But, when Prince dies without having formally announced the details of this formula, world agencies go berserk.

Snowdon weaves us through a tale that follows one particular MI4 agent and his efforts to find out everything he can about the formula through seducing Prince's widow, Laura--and, at the same time, protect her from all the people wanting to get their hands on the secret information.

What we get is a mind-blowing race...I won't ruin the ending by revealing who wins!

A quick, satisfying weekend read.

Darlene Oakley
The Sunpiper Book Review
Freelance Editor & Suspense Fiction Writer

Monday, April 28, 2008

What To Do When You Become The Boss - Bob Selden

Having been on both sides of the management/employee relationship and having to cope with some pretty awful bosses in my time, I was curious to see how Bob Selden’s book, What To Do When You Become The Boss: how new managers become successful managers, would tackle the subject. Would it be something I could relate to as a former manager and as a former employee? Would it be useful to me if I became a new manager, or a new employee?

The answer is a resounding “yes!” Selden uses decades of personal experience and research into management practices to very effectively guide readers – both new and experienced managers – along the path to success. This well thought-out, well organized book breaks down the varied responsibilities most managers have to face, not only when new but also over the course of their careers, into an easy-to-understand, easy-to-apply, comprehensive, and practical aid. Topics range from the more general, how to be an effective leader and manager, to the more specific, dealing with your employees, your co-workers (your own bosses and peers), and yourself. The one aspect of the book that I particularly appreciated was the author’s emphasis on the welfare and happiness of employees as complete people rather than treating them merely as obedient workers.

As a new manager, I was thrust into a position with virtually no management training. Like the author, I was able to rely upon the guidance and experience of subordinate co-workers to teach me the ropes and make my life easier. However, when it came to certain jobs, such as interviewing new employees, working on projects such as budgets or rewriting standard policies and procedures, or leading meetings, I was pretty much on my own. No one explained to me nor showed me techniques for how to get the most from my employees, how to schmooze with the higher ups or establish a supportive network of peers, or how to be an effective communicator. It was trial and error. Sometimes, I was successful, other times not. Had I had this book, or been trained by someone using the suggestions and wisdom shared in the book, I believe I would have been more effective, and happier with my jobs in the long-run. Had my managers been trained with the ideas in the book, I might have stayed in the jobs I quit because the bosses didn’t have a clue of how to deal with people, didn’t know how to positively motivate me, said one thing but did another, didn’t hold certain people accountable, or didn’t allow people to do their jobs without micromanaging. I have even been thinking of anonymously sending a copy to a former boss!

This is a great book with lots of practical advice, sample forms, “rules” to follow, and techniques to use. In fact, many of the suggestions also apply to daily life. For example, I was quite impressed with the section on time-management and the management of one’s email. Procrastination combined with opting to work on what the author calls “comfort tasks” can be anyone’s downfall, whether one is employed by a company or self-employed. One can only hope that most managers are interested enough in the quality of their management skills to take this book seriously and implement the plans and ideas discussed within. Bob Selden’s What to Do When You Become the Boss should be part of the orientation package given to every new manager, regardless of how high up the corporate ladder they are starting.
By Lise Hull
The Sunpiper Book Review

Monday, March 10, 2008

She Came From Heaven by Rosanne Pellicane

Delightful. This book can easily be summed up in this one simple word. Delightful.

Rosanne Pellicane, former interior designer, weaves a story that comes from her own personal archives. With a graceful, flowing and storyteller style, Pellicane takes us into her own marriage and relationships and struggles and, more particularly, into the relationship between her and a stray puppy that appeared on her doorstop without any clue to her whereabouts. The black labrador retriever is quickly adopted by Pellicane and her husband and named, Whimsey.

As Pellicane faces personal, spiritual and vocational challenges, including a husband she has a hard time figuring out, Whimsey is a constant and faithful companion that seems to be able to calm and comfort in any situation.

This story is well-written, not only from the perspective of real life twists and turns that you would never expect, but also because Pellicane has a talent for drawing you into her story, crying and laughing--and eating--along with her, a feat which most autobiographers fail to accomplish. This story truly reads like fiction and is worthy of a Saturday afternoon of reading.

Pellicane is working on a couple of other books. I look forward to reading those as well.

Darlene Oakley
The Supiper Book Review
Freelance Editor & Suspense Fiction Writer

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Spiriting Around: A Modern Guide to Finding Yourself by Martin "Mark" Tomback

Martin "Mark" Tomback gives a new outlook to spirituality in this modern guide to finding happiness with yourself. This guide is just that, a guide to growing up a facing the reality of life itself. This is not your normal book about God and spirituality.

The book may have been written with teens in mind but anyone can gain knowledge to all aspects of life and learn to stand by their actions and be responsible for them. It is broken down into six chapters of "steps" in how to work toward goals, find what’s right for you and how to follow through to accomplish those goals and any you might have in the future.Tomback tells us about everything from love to money, marriage to divorce, and to conflicts and controversies. Spirituality and God are also included in this journey of discovery, but he speaks more in a universal manner than as a lecturer.

He uses a common sense way to speak about growing up and finding solutions to problems and explains how to be patiently deal with them while staying focused. Life's resistances pop up at every corner, but with every problem there is a solution if you just know how to look for it in all the right places.

There are things we need in this life; a value system to live by, success that is worth all the effort put in, friends and true romance, and an understanding of society's rules and how to live within them without having to give up our own identity.

If you are looking for a thought provoking book about life or the functions of live in general, this book may be just the guide you need. A belief in god isn't a requirement to walk away with some great insight. Just a desire to be a better you and find our own happiness.

Jessica Koster
The Sunpiper Book Review

Monday, February 11, 2008

Public Lies by Brenda Youngerman

"Why don't you just leave?" Every woman in an abusive relationship has faced that question, whether from friends and family, or from deep within herself. Anyone who has ever experienced abuse knows that the issue is much more complicated than those five words, and Brenda Youngerman masterfully takes the reader into the web of marital abuse in Public Lies.

Nancy Cooper is a beautiful woman who has a seemingly perfect life: two kids, devoted husband, fledgling business venture, a home in the suburbs with two vehicles parked in the driveway. But behind the facade of the normal suburban wife lies a terrible truth. Nancy's life is not what it seems.

When fear for her safety finally drives her from her home, Nancy determines that she can only escape if she disappears. And it works . . . for a while. But the seething anger inside Vincent Cooper, Nancy's husband and the father of her children, follows her family and eats away at the life she builds. Her children, especially her son, begins to ask questions that Nancy cannot answer, and she begins to ask questions of her own. Is there any freedom when you are constantly running away? She knows that she must return to face Vince . . . and his anger.

Vince has spent three years thinking of only one goal: to punish his wife. It is an obsession that consumes him and becomes the sole guiding force in his life. He attacks her through the only area that she is still vulnerable: their children. Fueled by substance abuse, his need for revenge seeks only its need to destroy Nancy, no matter what the cost. And Nancy can only watch her children pay the consequences.

Tautly written, Public Lies takes the reader into a land of terror seldom explored so realistically. Can a woman be abused without physical violence? Can children be endangered by a legal system that cannot deal with a new form of domestic violence? Can you stop a person who is single-mindedly determined to destroy you, when the law is on his side? Suddenly, "Why don't you just leave?" isn't so simple anymore.

Alesha Gee
The Sunpiper Book Review

Saturday, February 09, 2008

"Seasons Among the Vines : Life Lessons From the California Wine Country"

Paula Moulton has brought together a menagerie of amusing escapades, learning experiences and life lessons in a book that exceeds the boundaries of a typical memoir. This wonderfully entertaining sometimes hilarious book is a compilation of a grape farmer's garden journal, a wine making guide and the diary of a woman who is following her dream.

This is a down to earth story of one woman's experiences as she follows her dream of living the life she always wanted, as a farmer in the wine country of California.

Paula takes you on a very personal journey of self-discovery, learning a new way of life and when to listen to yourself. During this journey she explains every step in creating a thriving healthy organic vineyard that produces grapes for her award winning wines and also for some of our wine country's best-known wineries. There are many situations along the way that prove humor and wit are needed strengths to get thru the day. She also shares with her readers’ recipes and instructions on wine making along with seasonal farming tips and everything from soil conditions to grape harvesting. She shares the good times and the bad and how she overcame obstacles in farming life she never would have thought existed. She does this with humor, grace and the ultimate feeling of being human in the realm of Mother Nature. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It shows you how to listen and understand life's ups and downs and how to follow your dreams and be triumphant. I know it will be one of those books that you keep going back to for instruction and for inspiration.

Review by:
Lisa Pratt
The Sunpiper Book Review

The Healer's Way

"The Healer's Way" Bringing Hands-On Compassion to a Love-Starved World
By: Earnie Larsen with Carol Larsen Hegarty

In this age of self-help books on every subject imaginable--how to find the right man/woman, how to cure oneself of alcoholism, how to lose weight and keep it off--Earnie Larsen sets himself apart from all the rest.

"The Healer's Way" is an in-depth and detailed look at the inner workings of a person's mind and psyche, and how the "training" we receive as children based on the care we receive from our parents or caregivers shapes how we respond psychologically to the events that we face throughout our lives--abusive spouses, alcoholism, drug addiction.

Through elegant, flowing, storyteller prose, Larsen uses simple, yet, direct analogies and stories to emphasize his point. He uses examples of people he has met to illustrate his thoughts and bring the advice and situation home to a person dealing with that particular difficulty. He presents a fresh perspective and effective imagery to the nature of healing.

He takes the reader through a thorough and detailed look at "The Hoop"--all the things that happen from the very beginning (core needs not being met) to the culmination of a crisis in a person's life, which cannot be overcome. Unless this whole hoop of conditions is addressed, a person can never truly heal.

If you are looking for a different self-help book. A book that takes you step-by-step through what you truly need to do to be healed and not just survive one crisis after need to read this book.

Darlene Oakley
The Sunpiper Book Review

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Truth Seeker: Straight Talk From The Bible by Warren M. Mueller

As the back cover states, “Truth Seeker—Straight Talk from the Bible" explains how much of the controversy surrounding what the Bible says stems from a lack of systematic study, the taking of verses out of context or the attempt to pull more “truth” out of a passage that is clearly stated.” I could attempt to make this a long review, but I have to say, this is an accurate account of what the book is about and sums up effectively what it does.

Warren M. Mueller has taken intrinsic societal issues such as abortion, angels, baptism, forgiveness, gambling, marriage, judgment, money and many other issues we deal with daily, and has composed a narrative of what the Bible expects of us. However, he doesn’t just stop there. Unlike many Christian commentators, however, Mueller directs you to the chapters and verses in the Bible for you to read and decide for yourself.

Mueller’s book, Truth Seeker, does a wonderful job of letting you know what the Bible actually says about a situation, not just the popular opinion in which many carry today.
Robert Denson
The Sunpiper Book Review