Success Redefined: Travel, Motherhood, & Being the Boss by Monique Alvarez

Click on the cover for a preview.

Although the borders remain closed, and nomadism is at a standstill, there is still the opportunity to change how you’ve been doing things up until now. Success Redefined: Travel, Motherhood, & Being the Boss by Monique Alvarez can help you do that!

The focus of this book is how to create an unlimited version of yourself by setting goals and tapping into your adventurous side. Personal narrative alongside practical guidance make this book a timely read, even if you won’t be traveling out of the country this year. 

There is no reason to stop dreaming about a different sort of life. Success Redefined can help you find work online, foster a rule-breaking mindset, and create a support network now so that when the time comes for you to hit the road, you’ll be ready.

In 2020, COVID-19 has drastically changed the way we think about school. The heated debates on whether it is safe or not to open in August need not concern you if you start making adaptations in your life now to accommodate homeschool, unschooling, online schooling or whatever combination best works for your family. Success Redefined: Travel, Motherhood, & Being the Boss can help with this process too!

If you are searching for a better way to live, then you’ll want to pick up your copy of Monique Alvarez’s book and start your planning!

MindStory Inner Coach: Overcome Your Past Stories so You and Your Business Can Thrive by Carla Rieger and Dave O’Connor

mindstory cover

I had some problems initially finding the motivation to read Mind Story Inner Coach by Carla Rieger and Dave O’Connor. The writing in the introduction and first few chapters seem stilted and full of cliches. The personal experiences were wordy rather than concise storytelling. For example, “I was starting from scratch all over again” just seems full of tautology.

Then there was the misquote from Henry David Thoreau at the beginning of chapter two. If the authors were paraphrasing Thoreau’s words from Walden, then that should be made clear because the quote that is there is not found in any of Thoreau’s works.

Despite these stumbling blocks in my reading, I was interested in the theme and persevered. I’m happy to report that it was worth it! The stories were more concise and less wordy, although there continued to be many cliches, after the first few chapters.

The book has five sections with three chapters in each section. Each of the sections detailed the AVARA Model, one for each letter in the acronym. Then each chapter highlighted a subsection of the main categories which included personal experiences from both authors. Additionally, it has self-reflection questions under the heading Homeplay to help the reader apply the information and recommendations found in each chapter.

My favorite section was about identifying and changing our mind stories. It’s true that sometimes we set ourselves up for failure because of the beliefs we’ve internalized. As discussed in this section, discovering our core values is also essential to success, both in business and personal endeavors. The activities designed to help the reader pinpoint the mind stories and core values were excellent. The Commonly Asked Questions section was very helpful in responding to doubts that may arise as the reader works through the AVARA Model.

If you are looking for some assistance in refining your business goals and making informed decisions that align with your core values as you move forward, then Mind Story Inner Coach by Carla Rieger and Dave O’Connor is the book for you.

four star

I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review here.

Blow the Lid Off: Reclaim Your Stolen Creativity, Increase Your Income, and Let Your Light Shine! by Robert Belle

Blow the Lid Off: Reclaim Your Stolen Creativity, Increase Your Income, and Let Your Light Shine! by Robert Belle will light a firecracker under your seat when it comes to creativity. Although there was somewhat excessive use of the exclamation point throughout the book, overall, the text was extremely creatively inspiring. 

The book was divided into two parts, based on the right and left hemispheres of the brain. The first section focused on the process of creativity while the second part gave practical activities you can use to incorporate creativity into your life. Each chapter had a section of takeaway thoughts that encourage you to self-reflect on your own experiences.

Everyone begins their lives as creative beings. Over time, social constraints stifle that creativity, leaving us a hollow shell of discontentment. It’s time to reclaim our creative souls and this book will help you do just that.

My favorite chapter by far was number four, entitled Your Creativity: The Message of Your Itching Creative Gene. Determining your purpose in life isn’t as easy as it sounds. So the section on what things are NOT your mission was enlightening. Then, looking at categories that could be your passion and examining your actions in certain circumstances to determine your mission in life made the process clear.

It’s not enough to understand your mission, you need to live it out loud. In part two, the author breaks down living creatively as a lifestyle, talks about how you can monetize your passions, and discusses the legal aspects protecting your ideas. 

Life isn’t something to be muddled through. Rather it’s meant to be enjoyed to the fullest. Each of us must ask ourselves if we are living intentionally or just going through the motions and if we are then whether that’s really how we want our lives to be. Blow the Lid Off: Reclaim Your Stolen Creativity, Increase Your Income, and Let Your Light Shine! by Robert Belle can help you find the answers to those questions and more. 

I received an advanced review copy from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review here.

Immersed in West Africa: My Solo Journey Across Senegal, Mauritania, The Gambia, Guinea, and Guinea Bissau by Terry Lister

africa book

I admit it, I’m a travel book junkie. I love reading about the experiences other people have had traveling around the world while I sit comfortably at home. Africa is one of those destinations that I love to read about but I am not too sure that I want to visit, ever. 

I picked up Immersed in West Africa: My Solo Journey Across Senegal, Mauritania, The Gambia, Guinea, and Guinea Bissau by Terry Lister and did a little virtual traveling the other day. The pictures that the author included were amazing! I have to say that there is nothing quite like the raw nature of those countries he visited. 

The story he told about his travels was interesting as well. I never thought that there might be monuments and museums about the slave trade in Africa. I suppose that anything can be turned into an attraction. With a little more dedication and money, I’m sure those remote places could become educational and even a profit center for the otherwise isolated settlements. 

I chuckled at the author’s horrible transit stories. I mean really, a vehicle with 15 people stacked three high (that was the image I got from reading the account anyway). The hassle with the ATMs, customs and police bribes, general miscommunication, and so on are quirky, real tidbits that make an adventure story ring true. 


My favorite section was the description of the elaborate tea preparation in Chinguetti, Mauritania, and the Terjit Oasis. I also marveled at the villages that were only accessible by ladder in Djiakan. I could just picture women with babies tied to their backs ascending and descending those ladders. 

I would have liked to have a little more explanation about the author’s thoughts on certain items, like his opinion on renewable energy which he says he was “pretty sure you know how I feel”. Well, I didn’t. Or the thing he had for volcanoes and waterfalls. What thing was that? More details would have been nice. 

Regardless, if you are an arm-chair traveler by choice or circumstance, Immersed in West Africa: My Solo Journey Across Senegal, Mauritania, The Gambia, Guinea and Guinea Bissau by Terry Lister will take you to distant lands.

four star

How to Not Kill Your Small Business by Lavonne Ayoub

I had high hopes going into How to Not Kill Your Small Business by Lavonne Ayoub. The introduction started out strong. It claimed that this book was for all business owners and entrepreneurs who struggle with interpersonal relationships. It said that the book would help you identify those who do not have your business as a priority and keep you focused on healthy boundaries. Good stuff, right?

Then I read the book. It contained 31 positive affirmations which were inspiring and nothing more. For example, Day 1 “Do not be afraid to lose clients, customers, or staff. Trying to please everyone creates chaos.” I flipped the page ready to learn more, but there wasn’t anything else in chapter. That was it. And I wanted more. 

I wanted to know why I shouldn’t be afraid to not please everyone. What was at stake by trying to make everyone happy? Where was the research that backed this declaration up? Where were the personal experiences that showed the folly of people pleasing? Where were the reflective questions that I could use as an entrepreneur to align myself to this statement?

So, I have to say that overall I was disappointed with How to Not Kill Your Small Business by Lavonne Ayoub. I thought the affirmations were excellent, but since there was no practical application to them, they were easily forgotten. 

I didn’t feel that I had the edge I needed to protect my business as promised in the introduction by simply contemplating these admonishments. I didn’t feel that I could identify boundaries that would create a stable and secure business that would endure for years. I felt cheated out of my time. Granted, it only took a few minutes to read the entire book but I’m a busy person and those are minutes I’ll never get back.

I received an advanced review copy from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review here.

Queen of America by Luis Alberto Urrea

Queen of America by Luis Alberto Urrea is the second half of the life of Teresita Urrea, the Saint of Cabora, so imaginatively told in The Hummingbird’s Daughter. Forced to leave her home in Mexico, she begins a new life in Arizona in 1892. 

Things aren’t easy for Teresita. Endless petitions for healing, unscrupulous business conglomerates running the show, and a husband that tries to murder her on their wedding night. Somehow, she manages not just to get by but thrives in the turn-of-the century New York world that clamors for her attentions. 

While I was fascinated with the story of the girl who inspired a revolution, I didn’t find the second installment as interesting to read as her childhood in Mexico had been. Perhaps because there were more documented facts about her life in the US from newspaper clippings and interviews, the author didn’t let his imagination take wing as he had when writing about her youth. That’s not to say it wasn’t an enjoyable read, just not as good as The Hummingbird’s Daughter.

The title confused me somewhat since the only reference to the Queen of America in reference to a servant in the Urrea household. However, in a commentary by the author, he indicated that he wanted a title that had the same number of syllables as The Hummingbird’s Daughter. He also made an allusion to one of the titles of Mary, Queen of the Americas, although I think he would have done better to choose a name from the titles granted to la Virgen de Guadalupe such as Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas. After all, she was indigenous and often credited with miraculous healings in Mexico, just as Teresita was.

Regardless of where the title comes from, Queen of America is an interesting read, especially if you were captivated by this little Yaqui girl’s story from the onset.

Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life by Thomas Jordan, Ph.D.

It was obvious that Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life was written by a researcher. The book begins by explaining what book will cover. Then the book discusses those points, one by one. Finally, the conclusion recaps the information, exactly as if it were a research paper. 

While I personally felt that the section on what will be covered in the book was unnecessary, the rest of the book was well-presented. Appropriate citations were included throughout the book to reinforce the main points. The author also used his own love story to make the message personal. When I finished the book, I felt like I had attended a “love relationship class”, which I believe was the author’s intent all along.

So what did Dr. Jordan have to say about love relationships? In a nutshell, our relationship choices are often based on the types of relationships we had in our family of origin. It’s likely that a person who was abused as a child, will find a way to become an abuser or take on the role of victim in his or her romantic relationships.

This recreation of past hurts isn’t really a new concept. However, Dr. Jordan takes the idea a step further and proposes that once we realize this, we can change it. The types of unhealthy relationships are discussed as are their healthy counterparts. There are questions to help you determine what types of interactions you are repeating so that you can work towards finding healthy and whole love relationships. 

The material is simply and clearly presented in terms that everyone can understand. In conclusion, I feel that Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life by Thomas Jordan, Ph.D. is a book that should be read by those in a relationship, those looking for a relationship, and those who have ended a relationship.

I received an advance review copy from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review here.

Authors’ Revolution Workbook by B. Alan Bourgeois

Unbelievably, I did it again. I choose a workbook to review without having read the main book that the workbook as a companion for. This time I chose Authors’ Revolution Workbook by B. Alan Bourgeois and had high hopes. After all, I am a self-published author myself and am always on the lookout for tips. 

My reaction towards this book was mixed. There were excellent bits of information for authors that help them look at the publishing dream reaslitistically. The graphics were also very useful as visual representations of that reality. The Cost of Publishing Worksheets were worthwhile additions. Using them, an author could compare his or her costs to the average amounts spent by authors in the creation, publishing and marketing areas. Becoming a successful published author isn’t an overnight event as the uninitiated might believe. 

The companies and organizations that were listed under different headings were also practical resources. Each company or feature was classified by average price and services offered. There were listings for places to have your book reviewed, marketing and publishing companies, and useful social media tools. There was even a section on companies to avoid. 

You may ask, with all these beneficial guides included, why have I not given this a five-star rating? That’s a fair question. Yes, the workbook contained great resources for authors. However, I didn’t feel that it was enough for the workbook to stand on its own. In fact, the workbook would have done better to be included as an appendix in the main book. 

There was also inconsistent capitalization throughout the text, as if headings had been copied and pasted from another source. Then there were an overwhelming number of blank pages. There were no exercises to complete or self-reflective questions to respond to as might be expected in a workbook with lots of space to respond. In fact, the only work in this workbook were the The Cost of Publishing Worksheets and a question about your book’s launch date.

Finally, there was a second author bio included at the end of the book. The first bio was shorter and placed at the beginning of the workbook so readers had a general idea who the author was and why he was qualified to bring us this workbook. However, a second author bio which said pretty much the same thing was really unnecessary. 

So even though I found much of the information in Authors’ Revolution Workbook by B. Alan Bourgeois useful, I find myself unable to justify its existence apart from the main book, which I have not read.  

I received an advance review copy from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review here.

Live Your Gift by Dana V. Adams

Having read and enjoyed the companion guide to Live Your Gift by Dana V. Adams already, I was excited to read the main book. Although a good read, I didn’t find it quite as useful as the workbook, which was a little disappointing but not overwhelmingly so. 

Let me start with the Foreword. While I think that having the Foreword written by Bill Cohen who was the author of the little yellow book called Life Mapping that changed Dana V. Adams’ Life, was a great addition, it was amazingly dated 2081. Perhaps a little time travel occurred? 

The introduction to Live Your Gift by Dana V. Adams, mother of four, covers everything from personal fulfillment to global reckoning, a momentous challenge for just an ordinary person. From the onset, I was interested in learning how Ms. Adams was going to make the connection between self-development and world-shaking betterment in her book. That seemed to be a big stretch to me. I never did feel that the connection was made, though. 

I would have liked a little more focus on the concept of life mapping in the introduction or maybe in the first chapter, what it entailed and what it can provide. I felt like I was jumping from concept to concept without seeing the whole picture. To be fair, life mapping was thoroughly explained in section two of the book. By then I was committed to reading the entire book, whether or not I was fully following the steps.

I also thought the book relied heavily on the stories of celebrities and famous people. I found more inspiration in the chapters that the author shared her own story and that of her oldest son. Some of the biographies didn’t really illustrate the concepts covered in the chapter or tie directly in to the self-reflection activities at the end of each section. Others did an excellent job of making the connection. For example, chapter four focused on values. The story of Walt Disney was a great way to illustrate what it means to live with values. The tie-in was very clear. 

I loved seeing Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues list used as an example of how to design your own principle list. The author’s own examples were also very helpful in completing the assignments for each section. Overall, the book convinced me, as if I needed convincing, that I too needed to make my life map, which I believe was the intention of the author. 

So if you are ready to take control of your life and “Live Your Gift” you’ll find inspiration galore in Live Your Gift by Dana V. Adams and a place to create your own life map in the companion guide. 

I received an advance review copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review here.