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. 

lister

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.

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.

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.

Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is told through a series of letters from 28-year-old Robert Walton to his sister Mrs. Saville. While Robert is on an exploration in the Arctic ocean, he happens upon Victor Frankenstein and a single sled dog upon a float of ice. 

Victor is from Genovese, the eldest son of an important family who discovered a way to create the spark of life in inanimate bodies, from whence came all of his woes which he recounts to Roberto who then records the story for his sister.

Frankenstein’s creation is amazingly sensitive and fluent in German, French and English having taught himself by spying on different people he encounters. He manages to dress himself and forage for edibles without any difficulty at all. When the monster, who is never given a name, first speaks, I was astounded by the femininity of his speech. 

The creature begs Victor to create a companion for him to end his loneliness. When he refuses, the being exacts revenge by attacking Victor’s family and friends. In the end, despite the atrocities he committed, my sympathy was ever for the creation and not the creator.

The author’s own life was as pitiable as the monster’s. Her mother died shortly after Mary was born. She ran off with Percy Blythe Shelley, who was already married, at the age of 15. Mary herself lost several infants in quick success as she was writing Frankenstein, only one child surviving to adulthood. Her older sister commited suicide. Shelley’s wife also commited suicide, allowing the couple to finally marry. And then, Mary was widowed at 24 when Percy drowned. Is it any wonder that the monster speaks with such painful eloquence?

The World is Your Lobster by Lee Mountford

Lee and his wife Nicki decided to take a belated gap year in their 40s and travel the world. Beginning in Melbourne, Australia, they went to 27 countries, covering a total of 77,427 kilometers and sampling 276 domestic beers. Lee recounts the highlights and little adventures in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, with corny jokes, and nearly funny puns. You can’t say the man didn’t try. 

The adventure itself had some inevitable lows, including icky accommodations, being charged extraordinarily high prices, and one instance of denied entrance to the temple for the blatant display of knobby kneecaps. They met some memorable characters on the way, such as the Italian Hamster and Paul, the poetry reciting Russian. 

As I was reading, I kept thinking that I would love to see some of these pictures Lee was yammering on about. Lo and behold, midway through the book, there was a QR code above to view some of the pictures online. Since I may be one of the last remaining people in the world that does not own a smartphone, that feature wasn’t as exciting as the link to their Instagram account. (https://www.instagram.com/worldisyourlobster/). My personal favorite photo was of Lee carting around the hotel safe in Myanmar.

Roundabout the time when the Mountfords arrived in Europe, both trip planning and book proofreading went to the dogs. Random apostrophes appeared in places they had no business being (her’s). Muddled homophones confused the issue at times (who’s vs. whose). Enough inconsistent capitalization sprouted up to drive this English teacher bonkers. (Eiffel Tower, Eiffel tower, eiffel Tower, anyone?) Maybe Maggie-Jane, the orange Brazilian VW camper van that the couple was trundling around in, affected the grammar in some way.

Like all good things, eventually, the journey came to an end. Nicki and Lee took up the yokes of the middle-aged once again, albeit with a gleam of wanderlust in the eye from time to time. So if you are an armchair traveler and enjoy a good travel story, or in this case hundreds of good travel stories, then The World is Your Lobster by Lee Mountford is the book for you!

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

Bad Sons by Oliver Tidy

I love a good mystery and Bad Sons by Oliver Tidy didn’t disappoint me. David Booker was teaching English as a second language in Turkey when he came back to the UK to help his aging relatives liquidate their bookstore. When he arrived, no one was there to meet him. No one had seen his aunt and uncle that day. And then a body washes up on the beach.

The descriptions were so detailed I could imagine myself on the gray, chilly mornings, standing next to David looking out at the English Channel. David wasn’t a superhero, quite flawed actually, a smoker, drank a little too much, had a bit of a temper but was overall decent. His concern for his relatives drives him to do more investigation than the local police would like. 

David forms a sort of alliance with Detective Cash, the female detective assigned to his case. Together they do some poking around in an effort to discover what has happened. Not to spoil the story, but they discover that sometimes things are exactly what they seem. 

Delightfully, this is only the first book of the Booker and Cash trilogy. I wonder what sort of other mysteries find themselves entangled in.