Posted in Book Reviews

Brain Hacks by Lara Honos-Wedd, Ph.D.

Brain Hacks: Life-Changing Strategies To Improve Executive Function has a cover that claims this book will help you “Work smarter, stay focused, and achieve your goals.” It is 140+ pages of useful information that actually gave me tips that I will use forever. As someone that works with numerous clients, from home, taking on a variety of tasks (reviews, article writing, editing, etc.), and has their own creative passion projects, I find it hard to stay on task sometimes – this book has the tools that will help even the busiest worker or entrepreneur.

This book, rightfully, begins with a chapter that explains exactly what executive function is. The key, here, is to keep your business life afloat and tap into the part of you brain that focuses on work (that’s my super-simple layman’s terms description anyway). I like that this chapter is filled with questions that will help you determine your executive style, which will help you learn what strategies will best work for you when it comes to getting your work done.

The layout of this book makes it easy to read. You won’t get bored with super-long paragraphs, and you’ll find the exercises are useful and easy to follow.

Goal setting is one of my passions, but I’ve found myself so busy lately (and it’s not that steady, “regular” schedule busy), so my goal setting falls to the wayside. My work is sporadic, and I fit in my own projects every chance I get – which sometimes isn’t much. Brain Hacks has a lot of tips on goal setting – ones that I am pretty sure will assist me in making it easier to set my own goals even with a sporadic full-time schedule.

This book will make you look at the way you set goals, the way you focus (or your lack thereof), and how you organize (your stuff and your life). It’s a must for busy professionals, whether you work for someone else or for yourself.


I received this book free from the publisher, and this is an honest and unbiased review.

Posted in Book Reviews

Modern Astrology by Louise Edington

Astrology has been a passion of mine since a young age, but at that time I only really delved into my sun sign. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I even learned what my moon sign was (It’s Aquarius, by the way). At that time I was reading a book that had all of the planetary and house info that you get from a natal chart, but it was too difficult to figure it all out. These days you can do all of that online, sometimes for free.

What I didn’t like about doing my birth, or natal, chart online was reading what everything meant online… I am a book girl, always will be. That means that holding a book in my hands with the info I need will always be my preferred method of learning. Louise Edington’s book, Modern Astrology, is just what I needed.

So, why do you need this book and a birth chart? Have you read your horoscope and spent hours trying to figure out how that “prediction” actually fit into your life? It’s sometimes hard to do because your sun sign is only one small part of who you are when it comes to astrology. By knowing where the planets were and what signs were ascending at your time and place of birth, you can understand yourself better.

I found this book to be extremely informative. I went through it with my birth chart, highlighting all of my planets and houses, and then read what it had to say. I thought, “Yep, that’s right,” “That explains things,” and “That is totally me.” Sure, there were a couple that explained me more when I was younger and less jaded.

A bonus within this book is that it contains journal prompts, as well as other things that will inspire you to learn more about your birth chart. I gave this book a five-star review on Goodreads because it is easy to use and understand, it is extremely informational on the subject matter, and it’s written in a way that allows you to enjoy reading all of the info within, even if it isn’t about your own signs!

I received this book free from the publisher, and this is an honest and unbiased review.

Posted in Book Reviews

30-Minute Cooking For Two by Taylor Ellingson

Most recipe books are filled with recipes that feed a family. 6 to 8 servings, with maybe a few 4-serving recipes within the pages. If there are only two of you eating you can freeze those leftovers, but not all frozen leftovers are created equal. I’ve reheated frozen leftover noodle dishes only to have nightmares about the paste I had to eat afterward (yuck). So, why bother with large quantities of food when you don’t need them?

Taylor Ellingson’s 30-Minute Cooking For Two combines small portioned recipes with easy to make meals, and you don’t have to spend a ton of time slaving away in the kitchen and then get stuck with a bunch of leftovers that end up in the trash.

This isn’t a “skimpy” cookbook either. It’s not just a bunch of boring recipes from every other cookbook you’ve looked at. These are also “Healthy Dishes Without All The Fuss.” I like seeing the world “Healthy” on cookbooks.

This book starts out with tips on how to shop for two – tips that will assist you in making sure that you don’t buy more than you actually need. There are also lists of pantry staples (for the healthy pantry), must-have cooking equipment, and best of all, tips on storing any leftovers you might end up with. With a cookbook meant for cooking for two, it’s less likely you’ll have leftovers, BUT… not every person eats the same portions as everyone else.

You’ll find breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes within these pages. There are dessert recipes, recipes for soups and salads, and pretty much anything you might be interested in dining on. That’s another thing I liked about the book – the variety. It even has smoothie recipes!

I highly recommend trying out some of the more creative recipes – like Pumpkin Fettuccine Alfredo (one that is on my list to try soon). My favorite so far has been the Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowls. Don’t eat meat? Swap the meat portions out with your favorite soy or other meat-free product.

I gave this book five stars on Goodreads. It’s a great book that will be staying in my collection (right in my kitchen for ease of use)!

I received this book free from the publisher, and this is an honest and unbiased review.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson

518Ek4zaVJLI was attracted to Book Girl because I am a “book girl.” To be a writer for a living and an author, you kind of have to be. You can’t be an accomplished and talented writer without also being a reader. It’s like a rule or something.

I chose this book because it is a book about books – a book filled with reading lists. Now, the author is a student of Theology, so her book reading and interpretations revolve around her chosen religion. That aside, this is still an excellent book about books. You can read anything you want into the words you read on a page, whether you want to find connections between God or yourself.

I was surprised with how many great books are out there that I haven’t read yet. This tome is one that will guide me a bit on making sure I expand my reading repertoire some.

The author, Sarah Clarkson, breaks her lists into different categories – like the books that helped shape her and the books that inspired her. You know, if you’re a reader that is, that books are a guiding light in our lives. They help us become who we are and even avoid who we don’t want to be. They teach us things that are real while also helping us hone our imaginations.

I am open minded with all religions, so I found the Theology side of this both interesting and distracting. Because of this, I give the book 4-stars (out of 5). It was definitely worth the read, but aside from skimming through to write down a few books I’ve missed in all my years as a reader, I probably won’t pick it up again.


I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Book Reviews

The Crescent Stone by Matt Mikalatos

51rF0Y+4o3L._SY346_The Crescent Stone is a tale that will take you to strange lands, where you’ll meet strange people (both good and bad), you’ll find out what makes a girl have to choose between living her life with her family or fulfilling a promise to fight for strangers in a strange land.

Mostly, this book is the story of Madeline Oliver, a girl with a lung disease that is killing her. Then, it’s also about her “friend” (they were lab partners) Jason. It’s about the land of the Elenil and their fight against the Scim warriors, as well.

What I Loved About This Book

I don’t speak that word loosely – I LOVED this book. I really enjoyed the world that Mikalatos created within these pages. His details are amazing, though most of the detail revolves around the many races of people within the story. So many different types of people (creatures?). You feel like you’re inside the story.

The story is well-written, keeping you hooked from page to page. There were nights when I found this book hard to put down. What kept me reading was a need to know what would happen with Madeline. Her friend Jason is a bit of a “wild card,” and seems to be causing issues for her every chance he gets – so you’re left continually wondering which of his “pranks” are going to cost Madeline her life.

In the end, though, Madeline is able to make her own choice about life and death.

This book didn’t make me cry, but it had the potential, and I bet future tales will bring tears.

I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.


Posted in Book Reviews

National Poetry Month Book Review: Freedom for Me by Jessica Lucci

51SRejN2X5L._SY346_I was lucky enough to get a free gift from Jessica Lucci today. It was a copy of her new poetry book that was just released yesterday. I wasn’t given this book to review it, but I felt such a connection to Lucci’s words that I was compelled to say something about it. A Kindle copy of Freedom for Me is only 99 cents on Amazon.

The book’s intro immediately caught my attention. It’s a message to people going through, or who have gone through, domestic abuse, letting them know they are not alone. As someone that has survived domestic abuse (and more), I felt drawn to get reading. As I read, I began to feel a kinship with Lucci and found a lot of similarities in her experiences with my own, which can be read about in my own poetry book that touches on abuse, Fighting With Myself.

One poem that really resonated with me was “Days and Nights.” This perfectly describes what my days and nights were like with my ex-husband. I learned so many lessons from going through 8 1/2 years of domestic abuse, which I had not seen or acknowledged myself until I was diagnosed with high blood pressure out of the blue and was driven to find out what had me so dang stressed.

Anyway, back to the poems. “Disgust and Desire” reminded me of my sexual relationship with my ex-husband. Forcing yourself to do your “wifely” duties is painful and heartbreaking, AND it IS sexual abuse. Having sex when you don’t want to, even if it’s with a husband/wife, is still sexual abuse, it’s still rape.

“For the World to See” captures that feeling once you’ve gotten free of an abusive relationship. It’s like you’re a newborn adult in a strange world, still afraid to let others in. I could keep going on about how I relate to poem after poem in this collection, but I won’t.

I will say that this is a well-written collection of poetry. You’ll find a blend of poetic styles, some rhyming and some freeform. You will find tears, pain, and more. “If he had loved me” ends one of the many poems in this book and that rang so true with me too. I wasn’t loved in my previous marriage. I was a means to an end. I was used so that he didn’t have to be alone. I was his second choice, and he made sure I always knew that.

Lucci’s poetry will evoke painful memories if you’ve ever been in a bad relationship, but it’s also an inspiring tome that will remind you of why it’s so important to be free.


Posted in Book Reviews

National Poetry Month Book Review: Beldams & Bedlam by Jen Chichester

510XNk+MdmL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Happy National Poetry Month! I know it is already half over, but I’ve been busy writing poetry (among other things). I’ve also been reading plenty of poetry this month. One of the best poetry books I picked up this month is Beldams & Bedlam: Another Verse, Another Curse by Jen Chichester (it’s available on Amazon, print and Kindle). It’s a fun romp through craziness and aging, and that’s probably why it resonated with me so much.

Chichester is a personal friend, but this is an unbiased review. Her poetry is honestly some of the best stuff I have read in years. Most of her poems are short and to the point. While they could be longer and tell you more, they get the point across just fine in those few words.

This book of poetry touches base on witchcraft, aging, and many other mysterious things. I found it an easy read, but it makes you go within yourself and determine how these poems speak to you and about your life. It’s deep. It’s dark. It’s unforgiving.

There are 41 poems in this third collection from Chichester. I couldn’t put it down when I read it. You’ll feel that sometimes the poet’s life sneaks into her poetry, yet she also finds inspiration from all sorts of things, from history to pop culture. I think this makes her poetry more accessible to more people, and even more interesting to a broader array of folks.

This poem is one of my favorites in this collection:


The feckless fiend

Did not see

The gypsy, the witch

With her violets and voodoo dolls

Or the hundred feet wall

Standing tall, proud, firm

Against love and its compass.

Her witchy poems are my favorites. When you’re on Amazon, be sure to click on the author’s name so you can see the other fantastic poetry books she has available.