Posted in Giveaway, health, nonfiction, self help on February 15, 2018

Book Title: SNAP! Change Your Personality in 30 Days
Authors: Gary Small, MD, Director UCLA Longevity Center and Gigi Vorgan
Category: Adult Nonfiction, 224 pages
Genre: Self-Help / Personality / Health, Mind & Body
Publisher: Humanix Books
Release date: January 9, 2018

Synopsis

New York Times bestselling author Dr. Gary Small’s breakthrough plan to improve your personality for a better life!

Experts in psychiatry and psychology have long believed that our personalities are essentially set from early childhood and remain consistent throughout life. However, the latest scientific research contradicts this long-held assumption. New compelling evidence indicates that we can change our personalities – either on our own, with the help of a therapist, or a combination of the two – and meaningful personality change can be achieved in a snap! – as quickly as 30 days. These groundbreaking findings have shattered the false belief that we are locked into our negative personality traits – no matter how much they hinder our potential happiness and success.

As you read SNAP! you will gain a better understanding of who you are now, how others see you, and which aspects of yourself you’d like to change. You will acquire the tools you need to change your personality in just one month – it won’t take years of psychotherapy, self-exploration or re-hashing every single bad thing that’s ever happened to you. If you are committed to change, this book will provide a roadmap to achieving your goals and becoming a better you.

From New York Times bestselling author, head of the UCLA Longevity Center, and expert in neuroscience and human behavior, Dr. Gary Small, a practical look at the key components of personality development and tools and techniques for bringing the positive aspects of your personality to the forefront so you can become more successful, attractive, happier, and psychologically healthier.

Humanix Books

About the Authors

Gary Small

Dr. Gary Small, (Los Angeles, CA) is a professor of psychiatry and director of the UCLA Longevity Center* at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior. His research, supported by the NIH, has made headlines in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Scientific American magazine named him one of the world’s leading innovators in science and technology. Dr. Small lectures internationally and frequently appears on the Today show, Good Morning America, PBS, and CNN. He has written six books, including the New York Times best seller, The Memory Bible.

Gigi Vorgan

Gigi Vorgan (Los Angeles, CA) has written, produced, and appeared in numerous feature films and television projects before teaming up with her husband, Dr. Gary Small, to co-write The Memory Bible, The Memory Prescription,The Longevity Bible, iBrain, The Other Side of the Couch, and The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program. She lives in Los Angeles with Dr. Small and their two children.

 Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Youtube

Giveaway

Win a hardcover copy of SNAP! Change Your Personality in 30 Days (30 winners / open to USA & Canada)

(ends March 3, 2018)

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Posted in Christian, Giveaway, nonfiction, Spotlight on December 26, 2017

Book Title:  Seeking a Familiar Face: The Transformational Journey of Connecting with God by May Patterson
Category:  Adult nonfiction,  175 pages
Genre:  Christian Living
Publisher:  Exploration Press
Release date:  September 2017

Synopsis

The greatest adventure of your life awaits. And it will change everything.

Ever feel disappointed? Like your life isn’t as fulfilling as you had always dreamed it would be? Are you laden down with responsibilities, feeling overwhelmed and empty, or maybe even a bit caged?

You’re not alone.

Many people in the Bible felt the same way. Most had difficulties. Some felt stuck. Others were depressed, afraid and uncertain. And some just wanted to get closer to God. So they set out on life’s adventure —seeking God—and encountered the One who fulfilled their longings and changed their lives forever.

The same can happen for you.

Seeking a Familiar Face guides you on the transforming journey of connecting with God, through simple, yet extraordinary ways. It doesn’t matter if you are already seeking Him or just getting started, this book will encourage you to go a little farther toward locking hearts with God.

In this book you will discover engaging narratives from ten biblical characters, along with stories, humor, and practical ideas for seeking God. There are thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter to discuss with a friend or a group. Most of all, “Seeking a Familiar Face” will offer you fresh hope for deepening your intimacy with God.

Video of May Patterson explaining how she came to write her book

About the Author

May Patterson has been writing and teaching bible study classes for several years. Her new book, “Seeking a Familiar Face,” was birthed from a Bible study she wrote in 2014 called “A Time to Seek.” She was trained in small group dynamics for over ten years at Bible Study Fellowship, serving as a leader for four years. She has written for several magazines including Focus on the Family, Upper Room Magazine and Shattered Magazine, among others. She is married to her dear friend, Mike, and they have three grown children. She loves to tell stories, laugh, and talk about the adventure of seeking God.

Website ~ LinkedIn ~ Facebook

Giveaway

Win a paperback copy of Seeking a Familiar Face (open to USA only – 1 winner)

(ends Jan 6)

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Posted in Guest Post, nonfiction, self help, Trailer on December 21, 2017

Title: YOU CAN CHANGE THE WORLD: BE A CHANGE WIZARD AND GET IT LIKE YOU LIKE IT
Author: Bever-leigh Banfield
Publisher: Twinkle Entertainment
Pages: 366
Genre: Nonfiction

Synopsis

You have an ultimate magic within you, capable of transforming yourself, your life and everything that exists. You needn’t fear change, leave it to others, or get stuck with whatever happens next. You can pull heaven right out of your hat with the alchemy of your heart and mind. You just have to know how to use your abracadabra presto change-o. You can make things disappear or pop up because you are the change you crave. Your dream is a reality somewhere, ready for you to experience it by making change your BFF. Tap into who you’re meant to be, and the special thing you’re meant to do – with this book about your mission in life, and how you can have it materialize to be happier, healthier, wealthier, wiser, and make the world a better place.

Guest Post

CHANGE CHALLENGE

How To Be A Change Wizard In Seven Steps

by Bever-leigh Banfield

Here we are in the holidays again! And you may be asking why all those things you thought would magically change this year may not have morphed as quickly as zombies transmute in The Walking Dead. It might feel like this year has streaked by at the speed of light and left nothing to show for it. That five pounds that was going to melt away still clinging and turning into ten? Still no date for New Years Eve? Drinking too much or sleeping too little? Closet still packed with clothes you never took the price tags off of and never wore or, worse yet, are still sporting despite their, shall we say, tattered appearance, advancing age and glaring out-of-styleness? Well, help is here. Or at least on the way – depending on how you transform your life by changing your state of mind.

Change is an inside job that can happen in the blink of an eye or at glacial pace. The good news is it’s up to you. You are The Changer and you are The Change. When you change, you change the world. You can commit to BE the change and work to see it come about. You can decide to work for change and make change work for you. Not just any old change, but change for the better. Change big enough to change the world.

You’re wired for change. You’re supposed to transform. It’s the reason you’re alive. Feeling you need to change is not an embarrassment or a sign of weakness. It’s the seed of greatness planted in you germinating, sprouting, budding, signaling it’s time to bloom. Change is what you’re here for – to become much more of YOU. 2018 is calling your name and you’re ready. Here’s how to take it on for you and those around you. You’re entering the realm of the Change Challenge now. Ready? C’mon, let’s go!

STEP ONE – DECIDE

Decide that you want to change, that you’re willing and ready and up for change. That you’re able to change anything you want – from top to bottom, from inside out. Take a breath. Close your eyes. Envision yourself. See your loftiest self where you most want to be. What are you doing? Who are you with? How are you at your happiest? Explore this. Touch it. Taste it. Smell it. Hear it. Capture the feeling. Meditate on your miracle.

STEP TWO – EXPLORE

Identify what you need to change. Is it your living situation? Is it the state of your finances? Is it a job that you’ve outgrown? A relationship that doesn’t serve you anymore or never did? Is it the way you treat yourself, your parents, your mate, your kids, your friends? Whatever it is, call it out. Nail it down. It’s on its way to change.

STEP THREE – COMMIT

Commit to implementing change to make yourself healthier, happier, more effective, more at peace. Commit to letting yourself be changed for the better in every way you can, and to changing the ills around you, by your example if nothing else. Claim the life you want to live and the way you want to live it. Realize that you change the world every glorious minute of every day, with every thought, word and deed you bring to it, every vibration you emit. You’re lifting up people in your sphere or causing derision in your midst. You’re encouraging people or tearing them down. You’re creating or destroying. You’re an up or a Debbie or Donald Downer. Face it, you matter, you have an effect. Commit to being a benefit.

STEP FOUR – DREAM

Dream a huge dream, and make it good. Set your imagination free. Set goals that can bring about lasting, impactful changes as far as your eye can see. Imagine a better world that works for everyone, everywhere, all the time. Let it come into focus as sharp as a camera lens or magnifier. Protect your dream from negatives. Be convinced that your dream life exists somewhere, that it’s yours and it’s meant to come true.

STEP FIVE – PLAN

Take the time to make a plan. It can change and become more detailed as you go, but you must have a plan you can implement to bring what may now just exist in your mind into form that the world can experience. Brainstorm the steps you’ll need to take. Write them down. Make notes as your ideas form. Create as coherent a plan as you can. You may only be able to see the first step when you start. Have faith. A plan will form.

STEP SIX – TASKS  

Plot the tasks your plan demands and set out to perform them one at a time. You can multitask if you do it well, as long as you focus on one thing at a time and you prioritize. Keep in mind what’s important and do that first. Organize a team to help you.

STEP SEVEN – PERSEVERE

A determined mindset is key to ensuring maximum performance. Avoid letting anything get in the way of doing what you know you must, or allowing people, circumstances or events to dissuade or discourage you. Be brave. Stay on course as it twists and turns. Be consistent and flexible. Research. Learn. Keep going until your dream comes true.

I’m rooting for you and I send you love. Go out and change the world!

Trailer

Excerpt

Welcome. I’m so glad you’re here. You are my brothers and sisters, and I’m excited to get into this. Okay, first let’s claim your ideal life—because it is ready to bring you joy. Your ideal life is the one the world is waiting to experience, watching to see it reveal and unfold.

When you envision the life you most want to lead, what do you see? Great health, of course. Maybe the perfect body, at the weight and shape that makes you feel invincible, relatable, and up for anything at any time. A high-paying, cool job, with health benefits—or maybe self-employment you can’t wait to get to every day. Let’s toss in some work that fulfills you, stretches your talents and abilities, and challenges your mind. Perhaps you desire Prince Charming too, riding up on his mighty steed to take your hand, or a Sleeping Beauty awaiting your sexy kiss to awaken her love. You might only long for a roof above your head that doesn’t leak, or that new car that doesn’t break down, puff smoke from the tailpipe, or embarrass you when you pull up to valet park. You may simply desire security, whatever your concept of that is. Maybe you crave a weekly mani-pedi or massage, relaxing vacays in exotic ports, a closet full of designer clothes, the latest tech, some diamond bling, a pair of name-brand athletic or red-soled shoes and cozy creature comforts. You could be aiming to play a sport, or pursue a hobby you adore. And who doesn’t want some excitement, adventure and fun to liven up their days? If you’ve chosen to have children, you will want them to grow up happy, healthy, prosperous, kind, educated and free. You will want all that’s good for them, and resolve to help that happen.

Though you might not want any of these, it might also be true you want all of them. And yet, there is something you must want most. Are you in touch with what that is? If not, then this is the time to seek it out and have it come to you. When you’re alone—or not alone—in the dark at night with your active mind, or when you wake up in the morning and realize the universe has gifted you with another day of living your life, what do you want to do with it? Do you want your life to shine, or are you content to just get through it, putting one foot in front of the other, surviving as the clock ticks and the years fly by like soaring jets.

When someone discovers an abnormality in some vital body part, or loses a parent, a child, a marriage, their business or a job, or is presented with some other ginormous hill to climb to reclaim their life, things tend to zoom into focus. Disparate ideas seem to coalesce into helpful realizations. They’re given to epiphany, become open to insights they’ve never received before. They often drop all pretense, and become able to skirt trivialities that might have irked them earlier. Other people in their life come closer or fall away. Those remaining are held cherished, and communication blossoms. Longrepressed yearnings surface that may cause them to rethink their choices and mull over past mistakes or missteps they may feel have brought them to that point. People look for the meaning of their lives, and seek to address and fulfill it when the rubber is meeting the road, the chips are down, and their back is to the wall.

Why wait for such a cataclysm? Life is occurring with every breath. Every now gives way to another now that presents great opportunity. Every instant is calling you to rise up and reach your highest consciousness, and nothing is standing in your way. On the contrary, even the beat of your heart is designed to uplift and support you.

You are the answer to all of your questions.

You are the change you’ve been waiting to see.

About the Author

Bever-leigh Banfield, M.F.A. is a writer, actress, voice over artist, host and speaker. She has penned numerous celebrity interviews, one of which, published in Essence magazine, won the American Diabetes Association National Media Award for journalism. As an actress, Bever-leigh has performed in television shows, movies, Broadway and off-Broadway theater and national commercials. Her voice has been heard in TV and radio ads, as an ABC network announcer, in animated films and cartoons, and as narrator of planetarium space shows at landmark Griffith Observatory in Hollywood. Ms. Banfield holds an M.F.A. from the Yale University School of Drama and a B.A. from Stanford University. She has lived in Europe and the Caribbean, and traveled in Africa, South America, and across the United States. She has been gifted with psychic perception since childhood, and as an intuitive, has experienced a vision of world peace. Creating is her joy. Her debut non-fiction book You Can Change The World is about helping you be who you are meant to be, and do what you are meant to do – live your dreams, and change the world for the better!

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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Posted in excerpt, humor, nonfiction on December 9, 2017

Synopsis

Who do you think of when you think of a banker? Perhaps you think of the bankers trying to foreclose on Kevin Costner’s farm in Field of Dreams? Bankers are usually portrayed as jerks who are trying to foreclose on widows and orphans. I have been a banker for nearly forty years and I want to show you some different sides to one banker – me.

I come from a family of story tellers, from my father’s mother’s family, the Gillhams. When a Gillham told a story at the campfire, you could feel the heat of the sun beating down and hear the calling of an owl just as if you were there.

The stories in this book are half from banking and half from my hunting, my dogs, and my childhood. Some of the stories are humorous, some are serious, and some are a little of both. As you read, you will hopefully share my puzzlement as I listen to a loan request, feel the pounding of a buck’s hooves on the dirt as it gallops toward me, and hear my father’s whistle. If you do, I have accomplished my goal in writing this book.

Excerpt

Lessons from Hog Wallow Flats

In 1980, I was living back in my hometown of Atoka. I had moved there after working in banking for a couple of years. I was working for my hometown bank which ended up being a pain but that is a story for another day.

During that time, I met Mark who had moved to Atoka while I was in college. Mark was an electrician who was making good money doing electrical work on new home construction. He was married to a nice lady and they had two children. Mark liked to hunt and fish so we became friends.

Mark walked into the bank one day and sat down to talk to me. “Ken, I did it,” he said, “I bought my own place to hunt.” Unknown to me, Mark had been looking for a place to buy in Atoka. I was surprised to hear that he had purchased some land. I asked him to tell me about the place.

He said it was one hundred and sixty acres about eight miles east of Atoka. He said the place was part timber and had a really nice pond on the property and that he got a terrific deal on the price. He added that there was quite a bit of deer sign on the property and that he was looking forward to hunting deer there.

Since I grew up in Atoka and hunted all over the county, I was curious where his place was located. I asked him to tell me how to get to the property.

He described the route to the property and I knew instantly the property he had purchased – Hog Wallow Flats. Locals called it Hog Waller Flats and I had hunted the property many times. It was called Hog Wallow Flats because there were some mud holes on the property that hogs liked to wallow in (I know  –  too obvious an answer to why it was named that!)

I was troubled at this information and Mark could tell by the look on my face. He asked me why I was frowning. I was unsure at first how to tell him.

First, I need to tell you a little history. When I grew up, there were certain properties that most locals hunted that were considered open to everyone. I know that may seem strange today but that was how it was when I grew up. My family hunted deer on property near Daisy that was owned by the Hunt family in Dallas. We did not have permission but we hunted anyway. There were a number of people that hunted the area at that time and no one apparently gave it much thought.

Hog Wallow Flats was another place that most locals hunted. I had hunted there, my father had hunted there and his father had hunted there. It was considered open land. One of the reasons was because it was located at the end of a county road with no fences or gates indicating borders or ownership.

I told Mark that numerous people had hunted Hog Wallow Flats for years and that it might be difficult to stop them from coming on the property. Mark looked at me with disbelief and said it was his property now and that he was going to put a gate on the property and keep everyone out. As logical as this sounded, I knew that it might be extremely difficult to keep people off this property.

Mark fenced and gated his 160 acres. People cut his fence and hunted anyway. Mark rebuilt the fence and strengthened the gate. They tore down the gate. He rebuilt and they tore down.

This went on for about a year. It seemed that every time Mark went to the property, someone had trespassed and I thought Mark was going to kill someone if he caught them there. Finally, he hired someone to watch the property on a part time basis. That seemed to help for a while.

One day Mark was driving down the dirt road on his property and discovered that he had two flat tires. Someone had placed nails all along his road. It took weeks for him to search and get all the nails out of the road.

Then, it seemed to calm down a little. He was not seeing cut fences or broken gates. He decided to build a small cabin on the pond, just a place to spend the night with his family on a weekend. Three months after the cabin was completed; someone burned it to the ground.

I moved to Texas just before that happened in 1982. I do not know whether Mark kept the property, sold it, or exactly what happened. I know he did not go to jail so he must not have killed someone over the trespass issues.

However, I do think there are lessons to be learned from Hog Wallow Flats.

Lesson 1: Check with knowledgeable local sources when purchasing property. If Mark would have asked me or other local sources, we could have told him what he was about to get himself into – a real mess. He could have chosen to purchase the property but he would have been forewarned. There was a reason the price on the property was “terrific”, everyone and his dog hunted there.

During this time, Mark kept saying to me that people should respect his rights and that they should stay off his property. Of course, he was absolutely correct. I make no excuses for the people who trespassed and tore up his fences and gates.

I am probably a pragmatist but I found myself telling Mark that that was just the way things were. People do not always do what they “should” do. People had been hunting this property for years and did not respect his property rights enough to quit going on his property without a battle. I am not saying he should have just accepted the trespassing but expecting people to do the right thing can drive you insane. Lesson 2: people do not always do the right thing.

About the Author

Ken Mixon was raised in Atoka, Oklahoma and graduated from Atoka High School in 1974. He attended Oklahoma Baptist University and graduated in 1977 with a degree in business administration. He has an extensive career in banking that began in 1977 as an auditor with First National Bank in Oklahoma City. From there he worked at a variety of different banks and concluded when he became President and CEO of City National Bank in Corsicana Texas, where he remains today.

Ken is a member of First Baptist Church in Richardson and is very proud to be a Rotary member in Corsicana. One of his biggest passions is being involved in selecting the high school senior to receive the Corsicana Rotary Scholarship each year. Ken is a big fan of the Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Cowboys, and Oklahoma Sooners. He enjoys hunting and fishing and being with family and friends.

Website * LinkedIn

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Posted in Interview, nonfiction on October 7, 2017

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY HERO

T.J. Patterson’s Service to West Texas

by

PHIL PRICE

  Genre: Biography / African American Leaders

Publisher: Texas Tech University Press

on Twitter  ┃ on Facebook

Date of Publication: November 20, 2017

Number of Pages: 277

On April 7, 1984, T. J. Patterson became the first African American elected to the Lubbock City Council, winning handily over his four opponents. It was a position he would go on to hold for more than twenty years, and his natural leadership would lead him to state and national recognition.

Patterson grew up during a time of American social unrest, protest, and upheaval, and he recounts memorable instances of segregation and integration in West Texas. As a two-year-old, he survived polio when African Americans were excluded from “whites only” hospitals. When he attempted to enroll at Texas Tech after graduating from all-black Bishop College, he was not allowed even to enter the administration building–the president would speak with him only outside, and then only to say Patterson could not be enrolled. Two years later, his aunt would become the first African American to attend Texas Tech.

Patterson spent his whole adult life as a grassroots activist, and as a city councilman he understood how important it was to work in solid partnership with representatives from the predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods of the city. Over the years, Patterson took every opportunity to join African American and Hispanic forces, but with a few exceptions, the traditional geographic divide of the minority population limited his efforts–and yet Patterson never gave up. His brave public marches to homes of known drug dealers brought attention to their undesirable activities. Patterson also supported city investment in Lubbock history and culture, plus new development activity, from annexation to paved roads to water mains to fire stations. During his long career he truly was an equal-opportunity hero for all of Lubbock’s citizens.

CLICK TO PURCHASE

 

**Why did you choose to write about this topic? 

As a black city councilman who served his community for more than twenty years, TJ Patterson endured the Equal Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, and segregation. He made an impact on all he served.

**Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured if your book?

Black communities survived hardships with amazing resiliency. Despite laws and restrictions imposed upon their race… honor, dignity, and service prevailed. TJ Patterson led the way.

**What does your perfect writing spot look like? Is that what your ACTUAL writing spot looks like?

Large windows with seasonal colors outside. A large stone fireplace with a 52-inch TV above. Winged backed chairs to read and reflect. Bookshelves floor to ceiling. Food delivered to my desk. Thank you, wife, for making it a reality!

**Is there any person you credit for being your inspiration for writing?

My sister, (best selling author, Jodi Thomas), has the imagination and love for the written story. With my forty-two years as an advertising agency owner, I had to tell a story in 30 and 60 second commercials.

**What is your favorite quote?

“Jump!!! Grow wings on the way down.”

**What do you want your tombstone to say?

I would love to do it all over again!!

Phil Price has been friends with T. J. Patterson for more than twenty years. Now retired, Price was President and CEO of a marketing and design agency. Over the years he has served the Lubbock Independent School District, the Lubbock Better Business Bureau, the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, and other city agencies. He lives in Lubbock USA, with his wife, Victoria.

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Posted in nonfiction, Spotlight, Trailer on October 1, 2017

Coffee Shop University: A Book About Mythology, Spirituality, Philosophy,

Psychology, Religion, Politics, Economics and the Ecology

Synopsis

The place Bailey’s Gym, Los Angeles, California-6am-the fall of 1999…From a bourgeois neighborhood in Beirut to the schools of the streets of Europe and the United States, the story takes you on a journey of self-exploration and transformation that goes through weight rooms, boxing rings, libraries and the stock market. Relentless, unconventional and independent; these successive experiences yield immense benefits for personal development. Your life is not set in stone, it’s a gift for which the first page is carved in your DNA and the rest is yours to pen. When history fades pale next to our daily trials and tribulations, survival comes from a boundless, insatiable thirst for learning, social justice, as well an iron will for breaking up with tradition, and walking the unbeaten trails drawing our prints in the dust and mud we all come from.

Trailer

 

About the Author

Mario Kfoury is a private investor with credentials in martial arts, physical education, real estate, aviation and Technical Analysis. Self-taught in the streets of Beirut, Brussels, London, LA and New York, he synthesizes his views on life through different disciplinary and cultural prisms in favor of a peaceful/secular agnostic Deism. The story he shares appeals for democratic-socialism founded on sensible educational and healthcare systems, rigorous tax regulations; and cautions against the perils of religious beliefs, demography, and the reckless attitude towards the planet and its ecology.
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Posted in 4 paws, nonfiction, Review on October 1, 2017

Synopsis

Did you know that the corporate world is deliberately bleeding you dry?

The corporate soul is faster, stronger, and sneakier than any government or regulator. It aims to plunge you deeper and deeper into debt until you become no more than a hamster on a wheel, endlessly scurrying to try to pay your way out. Meanwhile, you are manipulated into buying more and more . . .

Tired of being a modern slave of the production line?

The first step is to recognize corporate brainwashing for what it is: an insidious, consumerist force that is not subject to principles of morality, ethics, or compassion. Digital Power to the People is your guide to breaking the slavery-to-debt cycle. It exposes the insidious workings of consumerist forces and provides antidotes for you to utilize in your day to day life.

Wake up and tune in to the power you hold in your wallet!

Choose to be part of a change! This booklet will show you how you can make that change by altering the way that money flows in your life and in the world. Each time you pull out your credit card, or choose not to pull it out, you can do more to change the world than does your vote on Election Day! Open your eyes and say “no more!” to corporate manipulation!

Review

This was an interesting spin on how we are all affected by items/products and the companies that market them to us and how they play on our emotions and desires so that we in turn purchase their products, whether we need them or not. The author made it seem as if all corporations were bad, and while the corporations are out to make a profit and satisfy the shareholders, I don’t know that i believe that all companies are inherently bad or that they operate without morals or ethics. Yes there are many companies that do, but not all.

I liked the little bit of history in regards to the first companies and how they operated. Since I am not familiar with that part of history I did find it intriguing.

I think the main point to take from this book is to not watch commercials or if you “think” you need a product, wait before purchasing. You may find out you don’t need it after all.

We give this 4 paws up.

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Posted in Giveaway, nonfiction, teaser, Travel on June 15, 2017

THE SWIMMING HOLES OF TEXAS

by

Julie Wernersbach & Carolyn Tracy

  Genre: Travel / Outdoors / Swimming

Publisher: The University of Texas Press

Date of Publication: May 16, 2017

Number of Pages: 240, 100 color photos

Scroll down for Giveaway!

Nothing beats a natural swimming hole for cooling off on a scorching summer day in Texas. Cold, clear spring water, big old shade trees, and a quiet stretch of beach or lawn offer the perfect excuse to pack a cooler and head out with family and friends to the nearest natural oasis. Whether you’re looking for a quick getaway or an unforgettable summer vacation, let The Swimming Holes of Texas be your guide.

Julie Wernersbach and Carolyn Tracy highlight one hundred natural swimming spots across the entire state. The book is organized by geographic regions, so you can quickly find local places to swim—or plan a trip to a more distant spot you’d like to explore. Each swimming hole is illustrated with an inviting color photo and a description of what it’s like to swim there, as well as the site’s history, ecology, and conservation. The authors include all the pertinent info about admission fees and hours, parking, and on-site amenities such as showers and restrooms. They also offer tips for planning your trips and lists of the swimming holes that are most welcoming to families and pets.

So when the temperature tops 100 and there’s nothing but traffic in sight, take a detour down the backroads and swim, sunbathe, revel, and relax in the swimming holes of Texas.

CLICK TO PURCHASE

Hamilton Pool, Dripping Springs 

Come and Take It, Gonzales

Julie Wernersbach, Austin, is the literary director of the Texas Book Festival and a former marketing director at BookPeople, Austin’s largest independent bookstore. Carolyn Tracy, Austin, is a freelance photographer who works for an animal welfare nonprofit. They are the authors of Vegan Survival Guide to Austin.

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Posted in excerpt, memoir, nonfiction, Spotlight on June 14, 2017

Synopsis

At 46 years old, Mark Moore was in the prime of his life. He was a successful businessman, loving husband, involved father, and dedicated amateur athlete. His life was turned upside down after being hit in quick succession with two strokes that should have taken his life. After spending a month in a coma, Mark awoke to find his life forever changed, wondering if he’d ever be able to walk or speak again.

Mark’s inspiring new memoir, A Stroke of Faith: A Stroke Survivor’s Story of a Second Chance at Living a Life of Significance, follows his incredible journey from successful businessman to unexpected stroke victim and survivor. Now having made an almost-full recovery 10 years later, Mark has dedicated himself to his family, faith, extensive philanthropy within his community, and educating others about stroke awareness, prevention, and recovery.

Though his life will never return to his pre-stroke normality, through this crisis, he has gained a deeper understanding of the centrality of God’s role in his life and in all of our lives. A Stroke of Faith tells the story of moving from acceptance to surrender and from hope to faith and reveals God’s work in Mark’s life as He transformed him from thinking he had everything under control to knowing God has had control all along.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * IndieBound * ChristianBook.com

Excerpt

Introduction

“Beyond My Control!”

WE ALL HAVE gifts of one kind or another, natural abilities that seem to flow out of the very core of who we are. For some, it’s music. They can look at a sheet of crotchet and quaver notations and hear the melody in their head as if a full symphony orchestra were playing right in front of them. Others have a knack for languages. A few lessons, and they sound like a native speaker.

I was always a numbers man. Math may not be as glamorous as melodies and words, but I never saw just a bunch of figures on a page. For me, they turned into a score or a story I could follow. A company spreadsheet could be like an x-ray, revealing all the inner problems of an ailing business. Or it might become a road map, pointing the way to prosperity. I could read columns of debits and credits like a book.

As with any innate ability, that aptitude could only take me so far. Raw sugar cane has to go through a process to release the sweetness. With application and determination, I was able to harness my gift for math in ways that transformed my life. It took me from a tough New York City borough to the leafy suburbs of Washington, DC. From a two-bedroom house into which ten of us were squeezed to a ten-thousand-square foot property with a pool.

During that climb up the ladder of success, I had raised two billion dollars in capital as I rode the financial wave of twenty-first century new technology. Overcoming some prejudice along the way, as one of a minority of successful African American entrepreneurs, I’d established a reputation as a fair but firm businessman.

Proud to be a self-made man who had a different, tailor-made suit to wear for every day of the month—a far cry from the hand-me-down wardrobe of my childhood―I had written more checks than I could remember, the largest single one for two-and-a-half million dollars.

And now I stared helplessly at the blank check that Lisa had placed in front of me. I could read the words: Pay to the Bearer, and all that. I could see the lines and the blank box where I was supposed to write the payee’s name and the amount.

But I didn’t know how to do it. Something was missing between what I knew in my brain and the pen I held in my right hand. It was like one of the bulbs had shorted out midway in a string of Christmas lights, breaking the connection and extinguishing them all. The chain was interrupted. I should have known without even thinking what needed to be done, but somehow I just could not bring to mind the steps necessary for completing the simple actions I had performed so many times previously. I froze, mentally paralyzed.

Here I was, the successful numbers man, and I could not even put two and two together.

I felt crushed, helpless. The head-down determination that had brought so many rewards was somewhere out of reach. No matter how much I gritted my teeth and concentrated, I just could not will myself to do something as basic as write a check.

To make matters worse, I could not even spring up and pace about in frustration. A lifelong athlete, I still pushed myself as hard on the basketball court in my two-hour weekly games as I did in my twelve-hour days at the office. A non-smoking non-drinker, I was in excellent shape for a man in his

mid-forties.

But now I could only sit in my wheelchair as I contemplated the chasm between what my life had been and what it was now—and might be for as long as I was alive.

That I was even breathing was something of a miracle itself. A month or so earlier I had been within minutes of dying, my life saved only by emergency surgery that opened up my skull and left me in a medically induced coma. I had, of course, been grateful to open my eyes again and see my beloved wife, Brenda, and our two children. But facing the rest of my life as a shadow of who I had been weighed heavily now.

Overwhelmed by not being able to manage such a rudimentary action, one I had performed so many times previously, I sighed.

“This is crazy,” I said. “Something so simple I’ve done it a million times, and yet it’s beyond my control!”

Sensing my discouragement, Lisa smiled brightly at me as we sat in her speech therapist’s office at Mount Vernon Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. Dark curly-haired and petite, dressed in hospital scrubs and sneakers, she managed to sound professional and personable at the same time.

“The brain is really quite remarkable in the way it can recover from a traumatic injury like the one you have suffered, Mark,” she told me. “You are going to get better. Most of the progress in recovery usually occurs in the first year or two. And we are going to do all that we can to help.”

Though the gap between my former life and my present circumstances seemed vast, miles wide, I had been brought to its edge by something quite small: a ruptured blood vessel deep in my brain. Two strokes had pulled the curtain down firmly on the first act of my life. How the rest of my story would unfold was unclear and, for the first time I could remember, seemed beyond my control.

About the Author

Mark Moore is a philanthropist and successful businessman. Along with his wife Brenda, a former nurse, Mark has established the Mark and Brenda Moore and Family Foundation, through which he supports advances in healthcare, education, culture and the arts, and Christian evangelism. Prior to engaging full time in his philanthropic work, Mark was Chief Operating Officer and co-owner of Segovia, Inc., a leading provider of global internet protocol services to the US Defense Department. Mark is also the Mid-Atlantic Ambassador for the American Stroke Association and the author of the memoir A Stroke of Faith, which is now on sale. More about Mark and A Stroke of Faith can be found at and on Facebook and Twitter .

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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, nonfiction on June 7, 2017

THE REBIRTH OF HOPE

My Journey from Vietnam War Child to American Citizen

by

Sau Le Hudecek

  Genre: Memoir / Inspirational

Publisher: Texas Christian University Press

Date of Publication: June 15, 2017

Number of Pages: 160

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Born in a demilitarized zone during the Vietnam War to a Vietnamese mother and American soldier, Sau Le arrived in the United States as a young woman with only twenty dollars in her pocket. Though bullied and abused since childhood, she nevertheless came to her new homeland armed with courage and determined to build a decent life for herself, her infant son, and her traumatized mother. This is the story of how she overcame every conceivable hurdle—significant culture shock, a daunting language barrier, serious illness, heartbreak, and betrayal—to become a landlord, a successful business owner, a joyous wife and mom, and a woman blessed with generous, loyal friends. She describes an arduous journey, both physical and emotional, from a place of terror and utter despair to a life overflowing with love and prosperity. Ultimately, this is a story of hope, something Sau Le thought she’d lost long ago in the minefields of Vietnam. Her goal is both to uplift and to remind everyone born on American soil that anything in this land is possible for those willing to put dedication, faith, and passion to work.

TCU Press * IndieBound * Barnes & Noble * Amazon

Praise for The Rebirth of Hope:

“Sau Le has an innate abundance of beauty, wisdom, loyalty and dignity which led her to overcome unbelievable challenges and fully realize her dream in America. Thus proving once again that adversity builds character. I couldn’t put it down.” —Dan Jenkins, bestselling author of Semi-Tough

“Sau Le lifted her head and walked through years of hard work and determination, inspiring other women along the way! Every word of her personal journey was written to remind all of us!” —Robin Sanders, Sanders Travel Agency

“An inspiring story of a Vietnam refugee’s journey to achieve the ‘American Dream.’ This book is a lesson for everyone.”  —Martin C. Bowen, financial executive

“To have written this remarkable story is one more example of the focus and tenacity that Sau Le Hudecek has shown in achieving her previous goals. You will remember this gripping tale of resilience and courage.”  —Gail Williamson Rawl

“A truly inspirational story of a fearless person who overcame unbelievable odds to make a better life and obtain the ‘American dream.’”  —Janie Beggs

You mention throughout the book feeling flickers of hope. Can you tell us about a specific time or event that you remember feeling this most strongly?

The first time I remember having a sense of hope after my sister died was my experience in the running rain (flash flood) when I knew at least God loved me enough to save me from being swept away in the flood.

Another time was when my mom’s friend said that my father came back to look for us. Whether this was true or she was just trying to make me feel better it did help.

I also had a strong sense of hope when I earned my beautician’s license here in America. My hard work and sacrifice paid off, and I knew that I could make a better life for my family and that anything was possible.

In the book, you say you wanted a job that made you feel valuable and connected to something important. How does that translate to working in a salon?

Because I was different from everyone else in my village in several ways, growing up, people tried to make me feel defeated by calling me a freak and always trying to make me feel “less than.” I still remember that hollow feeling, thinking that I was a freak just as many people were telling me. I knew how you look can have an impact on how you feel about yourself. Although while in Vietnam I didn’t know that that there was much I could do to help myself. I felt that if I could at least help others feel beautiful about themselves that I would feel I was worth something.

Once in America, listening to my clients talk, I found that everyone feels self-conscious or unhappy with something about themselves. Remembering my hollow feeling makes it natural for me to empathize with my clients, and if I can help them get past this negative feeling and allow them to feel better about themselves, I believe that it will make their lives better and that this positive energy will naturally be passed onto others as well.

Each time I see someone light up about how they feel about themselves I think that it also heals me a little bit.

How have your family members in Vietnam and your mother reacted to your story?

I don’t think my mom really understands. I’ve told her a few times about writing this book, but I don’t get the feeling that it registered with her. My mom didn’t have the opportunity to get an education, and she never read a book for pleasure or otherwise. She tries to read a Bible in Vietnamese, but other than that I don’t think she has the concept of a book that isn’t for instruction.

I haven’t told my brother and sister or anyone else in Vietnam.

What do you miss from Vietnam?

Two people who are now gone: my sister and my grandmother. They took care of me growing up. Other than them, only the few friends and neighbors who were kind to me when the easy thing to do was to act as the others who yelled at me, called me names, and were always trying to put me down.

There are also a few things I reminisce about, such as chewing on a good stalk of sugar cane.

When did you first feel like you’d found a home in America?

Day one! I woke up on June 4, 1993, and I felt I was home. It was like breathing fresh air for the first time. I had no clue what I was going to do for a job or what I was going to do to even survive, but I did know that now it was up to me. I felt home.

How has it felt to write and share your story with the world? What advice would you give others who might also want to share their stories, but may be a bit apprehensive?

Writing the book and then reading it back during the editing process were the first times I truly cried about many of the things that happened to me as a child because it freed memories that I had buried deep down below my skin and away from my heart just to survive.

Growing up, many people tried to ruin me, and I was lucky to find ways to cope and survive and not break and kill myself from feeling less than and hopeless.

I had originally started this book just for my children, hoping to teach them various lessons that I had learned without them having to live through the pain I did in order to learn what I have, but I found out that writing this book was healing many old scars that I had forgotten I had.

If someone has a feeling to share their story, chances are that they do have an important story to tell. Maybe as a book, but at least as a story to share with others. Maybe it will be painful, but telling your story won’t kill you. Not speaking up will kill you because your untold story will eat you up from the inside.

Tell your story—all of it. And be true to yourself. Don’t leave anything out just because you think it is uncomfortable. Those uncomfortable things are probably the parts of your story that you need to tell for your own self, for something in you that needs healing. Maybe it’s related to your skin color, hair, shape, weight, religion, beliefs, intelligence, clumsiness, speech, your past. No matter what, don’t be afraid. Don’t feel alone.

If publishing this book helps someone beyond my children who feels “less than” for whatever reason, it would be a blessing.

What do you hope your children learn from your story?

I want my children, and others, to stand tall and honor themselves. To be true to themselves and accept where they are at so that they can get where they need and want to be. To understand the importance of being polite and kind to others and to understand the damage that can be caused if they aren’t. To honor their country and be good citizens.

Sau Le Hudecek owns a successful salon in Fort Worth, Texas, while still serving her own elite clientele.  In 1993, she arrived in the United States at the age of 22 and was sworn in as a citizen in 2001. She lives with her family in Granbury enjoying the sunsets from their home on the lake.

 

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