Book Review: Women Empowering Themselves: A Financial Survival Guide by Antoinette Babek & Hollis Colquhoun

Amazon summary
“Women Empowering Themselves: A Financial Survival Guide” will take you through the basic steps to calculate your financial worth, identify your financial needs and gain control of your financial destiny. Inside are simple exercises and tools to help you understand what you own and what you owe and to show you how to manage your budget and debt, whether you’re in a relationship or alone. Keep this guide with you as a reference, a financial record keeper and a resource; you will become more financially aware and independent. It will be like having a credit counselor in your purse!
Inside this guide you will find:
• Definitions of financial terms and concepts
• Tips for organizing your financial information
• Marital and personal net worth charts
• Personal income calculators
• Household expense analysis
• Budgeting and problem-solving tools
• Debt and credit report explanations
• Warnings of potential financial pitfalls
• Housing and major expense evaluations
• Financial considerations for divorce negotiations
• Savings tips and financial goal setting
• Resource directory for information and assistance

My review
The full title of this book is Women Empowering Themselves: A Financial Survival Guide – For Women at Risk of Drowning Financially Before, During and After Divorce, but it’s a great resource for anyone. It’s short and to-the-point, with detailed tables for recording your  assets, liabilities, and expenses. The authors have also included a few inexpensive, easy recipes in the back to help with menu-planning and grocery expenses, and there is an extensive list of resources.

The authors also point out several financial mistakes that women often make (no, buying too many shoes is not one of them) and how to avoid them. Every woman needs to read this book, even if you think you’ll never get divorced. The sudden death of a spouse can have devastating financial effects as well, if you’re not prepared. Following the advice in this book will help women feel more in charge of their financial health, no matter their circumstances.

About the book
Title: Women Empowering Themselves: A Financial Survival Guide – For Women at Risk of Drowning Financially Before, During and After Divorce
Authors: Antoinette Babek & Hollis Colquhoun
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC
Release date: June 10, 2009
Pages: 132
Where I got the book: For free through the WLC Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble by D. Robert Pease

Goodreads summary:
Noah lives for piloting spaceships through time, dodging killer robots and saving Earth’s animals from extinction. Life couldn’t be better. However, the twelve-year-old time traveler soon learns it could be a whole lot worse. His mom is abducted and taken to thirty-first century Mars; his dad becomes stranded in the Ice Age; and Noah is attacked at every turn by a foe bent on destroying a newly habitable, post-apocalyptic Earth.

Traveling through time in the family’s immense spaceship, Noah, a paraplegic from birth, must somehow care for the thousands of animals on board, while finding a way to rescue his parents. Along the way, he discovers his mother and father aren’t who he thought they were, and there is strength inside him he didn’t know he had.

My review:
Noah Zarc and his family are travelling through time collecting animals from Earth – while the animals are still around to collect. In Noah’s own time, the Earth has been uninhabitable and all animals extinct for almost 1,000 years. There is a bit of “Take care of the Earth before it’s too late”, but it’s part of the story, and not preachy. (I think that’s common sense myself, but obviously not everyone feels that way.) Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with the project, and Noah’s entire family is in danger.

This was a fun book to read, with all the 31st-century gadgets, and Noah and his siblings picking at each other. The time-travel stuff made me a little dizzy, though. It always does. If you go back in time, are you changing events from that point forward, or were they always that way because you’d already been there… See what I mean? Time travel is fun; it just blows my mind. LOL

There was also all the references to the Noah’s Ark story: The most obvious one being Noah’s name: Noah Zarc. Also the massive ship on which they traveled and transported the animals: the ARC. The smaller ships they use to for short jaunts: DUV ships. The robot that accompanies Noah’s parents to Earth to keep records: MOSES. And we can’t forget Jonah the whale. (Not actually from the Noah story, but roll with it.)

I loved the twists and turns in the story and how it wasn’t predictable. Even the bad guy wasn’t completely evil. I do like a well-rounded villain.

While reading Mammoth Trouble, I couldn’t imagine what the author would have left to write about in a second book, but Pease did a great job of wrapping up this part of the story while leaving enough for another book.

About the book:
Title: Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble
Author: D. Robert Pease
Publisher: Walking Stick Books
Release date: August 13, 2011
Where I got the book: Free from the WLC Review Program in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: A Manic Marriage by Nina Mensing

Amazon summary:
Having lived with someone suffering from Bipolar Mood Disorder for over twenty years, Nina is better qualified than most to speak about the affect this condition has on relationships. From caring for her partner whilst he was suicidal with depression to visiting him in a state mental asylum after he was committed during a manic episode, she’s seen first hand the ups and downs of bipolar. This story is a journal account of her tumultuous relationship in amongst worldwide travel and finally marriage. Juggling motherhood, a career in journalism and photography, and a partner who refused treatment, she has been left with some battle scars. However, she has persevered and through her book, support groups, and community workshops on Bipolar Awareness her knowledge is now helping fellow supporters conquer and befriend this monster she calls Bipolar.

My review:
If you’re expecting a “poor me” story full of horror stories, you won’t find it in this book. In fact, most of the first part of the book is stories about Mensing and her then-boyfriend Bradley as they travel on a shoestring budget. Occasionally, Bradley would pull something frightening during a manic phase, but mostly I was just thinking, “How cool to be able to travel like that.”

The closer we get to present-day, though, the more we read about specific incidents and how bipolar affects not just the person with the disorder, but everyone around him. Mensing stresses over and over in her book that it is crucial to find not only a reputable professional to prescribe and regulate medications, but also a support system. Not just family and friends who truly understand what’s happening, but also others who have experienced bipolar illness. She also lists facts and statistics about Bipolar Mood Disorder to help readers understand what it is and is not.

As someone who has not had any personal experience with a person who is manic-depressive (as far as I know), I found this book to be an eye-opener and a little frightening, to be honest. It’s definitely worth your time if you’re looking for books to help you learn more about Bipolar Mood Disorder.

About the book:
Title: A Manic Marriage
Author: Nina Mensing
Publisher: Porcupine Press
Release date: July 1, 2010
Pages: 208
Where I got the book: From the author for free in exchange for an honest review.

*CLOSED* Win Departures: Two Rediscovered Stories of Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen by Robin Jones Gunn

Thanks to I Am a Reader, Not A Writer and Down the Rabbit Hole for hosting this hop! The Young Adult Giveaway Hop runs from Jan 27- Jan 31. I’m giving away Departures: Two Rediscovered Stories by Robin Jones Gunn. This book has one Christy Miller story: “Now Boarding at Gate 10”,  and one Sierra Jensen story: “In the Event of a Water Landing”. You can read my review of the book  here(I’ll warn you it wasn’t one of my favorites; I got it through a publisher’s review program.) 

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They’re Always Smarter Than We Think

I was getting ready to sit down here and put down some cute things the kids have said when Bennett totally freaked us out. (And now I can’t remember all the things I was going to write.) I read to him all the time. I have always read to him and Jeffrey. Well, Jeffrey’s been reading on his own now for years, but you know what I mean. There have been a couple of times that Bennett has “read” something on a sign, but I just assumed that someone had told him what it said previously and he just remembered. One day, he was watching Netflix and I was getting ready to turn the TV off while he was between episodes. I don’t remember what show he was watching, but it he said, “I want to watch the elephant episode!” I looked at the screen and there in the description of the next episode, was the word, “elephant”. And this was months ago. He had probably just turned three. I thought, “There is no way he read that. He just remembers that there is an episode with an elephant and it just happens to be the next one.”

I still don’t know if he can actually read. I haven’t “tested” him and I won’t. He’ll let me know when he’s ready, or he’ll just start reading books. Whatever. He’s only three. What freaked us out was that he was sitting here spelling words. It started when he said something about the Lego dog. “D-O-G” “Did you tell him that?” I asked Jeffrey. Then out of curiosity, Jeffrey started asking him several other “starter” words, cat, pig, car (C-E-R, but he’s got the idea), bird, a few others I don’t remember.

It’s not that big of a deal that a three-year-old knows that stuff. I know preschool is all the rage these days and there are probably three-year-olds reading Tolstoy somewhere. Not my style, though. I think three-year-olds should be playing with toys and aggravating their big brothers, not going to school. I’m not going to start doing anything differently now that I know he’s picking up on some stuff. I’m not going to pretend that I’m not proud of him, though. 😀

On to the cute stuff:

Every night before he falls alseep, Bennett tells me that he’s scared of the dark.
“Close your eyes. Then you can’t see the dark.”
“Then it will be even darker!”
“But you won’t be able to see it.”
He never falls for it, by the way.
Yesterday morning, when were having our early-morning snuggle, he said, “I’m not going to be scared of the dark anymore.”
Last night: “I’m scared of the dark.”
“You told me this morning you weren’t going to be scared of the dark anymore.”
“I meant tomorrow.”

The boys and I are living in an in-law suite in a friend’s basement. We were upstairs Monday and I suggested to Jeffrey that he come back down here and read. He said, “I’ll be alone!” My friend’s three-year-old daughter, K, told him, “God is in the basement!” A few minutes later, she said, “Jeffrey! God is in the basement alone!”

Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway of Eating Smoke by Chris Thrall

My review today is part of a Blog Tour for Chris Thrall’s Eating Smoke. I’m also giving away a copy of the book, so keep reading!

Amazon summary
Chris Thrall left the Royal Marines to find his fortune in Hong Kong, but instead found himself homeless and hooked on crystal meth. Soon he began working for the 14K, Hong Kong’s largest triad group, as a doorman in one of their nightclubs in the Wan Chai red-light district. Dealing with violence, psychosis and the ‘foreign triad’ – a secretive expat clique which, unbeknown to the world, works hand-in-hand with the Chinese mafia – he had to survive in the world’s most unforgiving city, addicted to the world’s most dangerous drug.

My Review
I have to confess that this is the first book I’ve reviewed on this blog that I have not read completely. It wasn’t because the book wasn’t fascinating, because it is. But life’s been crazy lately and although, theoretically, I should have had plenty of time to read the book, life didn’t really work out that way. The book is 417 pages and I read the first 250 (last night), then the last chapter (this morning). Which I never do. But I had some questions that I hoped would be answered at the end, because if not, it affected the review. It seems they were, though. 

This was an amazing read. Not so much because of what happens, but because of how the author tells it. Some people can just tell a good story and Thrall is certainly one of them. I did wonder before reading the book, and am still wondering, how can a person remember so much when they were constantly strung out on crystal meth. I know absolutely nothing about drugs, so I have no clue how meth affects people. It just seemed strange to me.

Wherever the story comes from, it’s a wild ride. I had no idea what to expect when I started reading, but Thrall is actually a very likable guy who is a serial bad-decision-maker. He even says, “Now I don’t think I’m a stupid guy. I’m just an average guy who does stupid things.” The action was interesting, and I can’t wait to sit down this evening and read the rest of the book, but what I loved were the emotions in the book. This is far from a dry account. It’s obvious that Thrall has a great sense of humor.

But that wasn’t all. Despite the crowds surrounding him, and the friends, some of whom he was actually able to count on when the going got tough, he still felt alone. At one point, his response to encouragement from a friend was, “It was a kind thing to say to a lost young man a long way from home.” And I loved this passage. It pretty much sums up the whole book. Thrall is a good guy with an addiction, and because of the drugs and to feed the addiction, he makes some really stupid decisions. (One could argue that the initial move to Hong Kong wasn’t the best decision, and he wasn’t even high then.)

“And don’t you feel a bit guilty, you know… like ripping people off?” the angel on my shoulder piped up. I don’t know why she was getting her knickers in a twist and acting all high and mighty all of a sudden. She’d just shut up and watched as I bought a boatload of drugs and shoveled them into my head.

The weird thing was how snakes kept turning up in the story. If there is really that high of a percentage of snakes in Hong Kong, they don’t have to worry about me (or Indiana Jones) ever visiting.

UPDATE: I finished the book, and it really does get even better. Wow. It is a little disconcerting reading about all the people and experiences, and not really knowing what’s real and what is a result of drug-induced paranoia. I can’t imagine living like that (the paranoia, not just the drugs) and I’m amazed that Thrall managed to hold it together as long as he did.

Enter below to win my copy of Eating Smoke. (Sorry, US only.) You fill out the form while I go finish the book. I’ve extended the giveaway until the end of the week because I didn’t have the full review posted.

About the book
Title: Eating Smoke: One man’s descent into drug psychosis in Hong Kong’s triad heartland
Author: Chris Thrall
Publisher: Blacksmith Books
Release date: October 16, 2011
Pages: 417
Where I got the book: From the author in exchange for an honest review.

You can purchase Eating Smoke at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Where to find Chris online
His website

Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour!

22nd Caitlin @ Chaotic Comprendiums
23rd Coral @ alchemyofscrawl
24th Sandie @ Booksie’s Blog
26th Zohar @ Man of la Books
26th Kathleen @ Celtic Lady’s Reviews
27th Chantale @ Geeky Girl Reviews
28th Mary @ Sweeping Me
29th Eileen @ Books R Us
Thanks to Stormi at Lightening Book Promotions for setting up the tour!

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Author Interview: Stacy Eaton

Welcome Stacy Eaton, author of My Blood Runs Blue!

When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?
October 2010, although I cannot give you the exact date, lol. I had never thought about being an author before, people joked that I should write down some of my stories, but I never took them seriously until the plot for my first book came to me. Then I sat down, starting writing and I just can’t stop. It is like a virus that runs rampant in my blood now and that’s a good thing!

On average, how long does it take you to write a book?
My first book took me 9 weeks to write. It just flowed! The second one in the series took 11. It is a bit longer then the first one, but again it just flowed. I have a whole lot of projects going on now, and they are all taking me a bit longer because I split myself up between them. I have 4 projects I would like to have released this year.

Where do you find writing inspiration?
Many of my stories come from thoughts and experiences I have had at work. I’m a police officer, so all my stories revolve around law enforcement in different ways. Incidents that I have responded to or witnessed are brought into my books, not in every detail but the pieces of them.
I am also writing a book about Domestic Violence – something that is a very serious problem here in the US and around the world. This one is tough, it hits closer to home.

What do you think makes a good story?
Personally, I want to see depth in a story. I want to see deep characters and deep plots. I want to be able to fall into the story and live in it. If an author can pull me into the story and give me the depth to make me feel like I am one of the characters or the proverbial ‘fly on the wall’ than I think they wrote a great story.

I know from experience it is hard to pull readers in and even harder to keep them there. So keeping your characters interesting and bringing in twists and turns to the plots keeps readers wanting to turn the pages. I try to do that in my writing.

Is there another sub-genre aside from your primary sub-genre that you would like to write for and why?
The first two books I wrote are part of the My Blood Runs Blue series. My Blood Runs Blue & Blue Blood for Life are Paranormal Romance with a suspenseful and mysterious plot. People have talked about them as Crime Novels too and they are correct since both these books are written in the law enforcement world and deal with investigations. There will be two more books written for this series, I am currently working on book 3, but have not titled it yet.

I mentioned before a book on Domestic Violence, it is called “Whether I’ll Live or Die”. It speaks from the voice of a young woman who deals with it and also from the point of view of a female police officer dealing with it through the law.

A contemporary romance called “Liveon” is in the works also. I am about two thirds done with this novel, but I had put it on the back burner to work on other things for a while.

I am also working on a series with another author called “Blue Haze”. This series is an intense graphic series that deals with the depths of addiction in many forms.

Is there a main genre besides romance that you would like to write for?
I love writing about my job, so crime and action books will always be part of my future in writing. Authors always say to “write what you know, and know what you write”, and I think that is very true. I think that definitely makes me a better author and I hear it again and again in my reviews that my knowledge shines through in my written words.

How important is reader feedback, good or bad, to you?
I love feedback! I think that an author can only improve on themselves if the readers out there tell the authors what they loved or what they didn’t like about the books. Many authors get disappointed or depressed about bad reviews, but in my honest opinion, I believe that those are some of the most important reviews!

Of course, I personally love the positive kind! Seeing what my readers thought was wonderful in my book humbles me. When a reader tells me that they got sucked in and couldn’t put the book down and now they can’t wait for the next one; I am in awe. Many times I can be found doing a dance in my office when I read that another reader loved my books. My daughter usually joins me for the dances too!

I have had a few readers who had some negative comments and I appreciate them. I take to heart what they say so that in my next book I can improve on my writing skills. I think all authors need to do this.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
If I am not looking through the world through my characters, I might be looking at the world through a viewfinder. I love photography! I have been doing photography since I was in high school and I used to have my own dark room. These days I don’t have as much time, and everything is digital, but I am never far from my camera.

I also love to read, and my kindle is always with me. I love to play games with my family and just chill out with friends enjoying a beer or a chocolate martini.

What advice, if any, do you have for aspiring authors?
Accept the good with the bad. You don’t become a known author overnight. It takes time. It takes patience and it takes a thick skin. Learn to accept what people say good and bad about your stories. Use them to help you grow! Understand that what you write will never appeal to everyone, but eventually you will find your niche in the writing world and go after your dreams from there!
Also, surround yourselves with other authors that believe in helping one another. I am very involved in the WLC (currently called the WoMen’s Literary Café, but soon to be changing the name). The WLC is a huge part of my life! It brings authors, readers, reviews, bloggers and so much together. It’s a one stop place to get help and to help others. I love it!

About My Blood Runs Blue
Officer Kristin Greene has always felt that something was missing from her life. Although her job with the Fawn Hollow Township Police Department keeps her busy, she still feels like there is something else out there for her.

She soon finds herself investigating a homicide where a young woman has had her throat ripped out. When she has to give the death notification to the family, her investigative nature comes out fast and strong when the parents seem too accepting of their daughter’s death and make comments that just don’t fit.

When the family requests the assistance of the VMF Securities, Kristin is confused that they would think a security company could assist with the murder investigation. When Julian and Alexander arrive she quickly finds herself being pulled into a love triangle that has been going on longer then she has been alive. Why do they look at here as if they know her? And why do they keep talking about Calista?

Join Kirstin as she fights to learn the truth about the recent murder, the seductive and blood drinking men that have entered into her life and the rear truth about herself.

Where you can find Stacy
Twitter: @StacySEaton and  @WLCDrillSgt
Amazon Author Page