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Book Review: Winners Dream by Bill McDermott

Book Review Winners Dream by Bill McDermott

Hello Lovelies,

Welcome back! It has been such a long time since I read and reviewed a new book that I’m thrilled to get back into the groove by writing a book review of Winners Dream: A Journey from Corner Store to Corner Office, the memoir of Bill McDermott with Joanne Gordon.

 

Genre:

Nonfiction/ Biographies of Business Professionals/ Motivational Business Management


Synopsis of Winners Dream: A Journey from Corner Store to Corner Office:

A leadership and career manifesto told through the narrative of one of today’s most inspiring, admired, and successful global leaders.

In Winners Dream, Bill McDermott—the CEO of the world’s largest business software company, SAP—chronicles how relentless optimism, hard work, and disciplined execution embolden people and equip organizations to achieve audacious goals.

Growing up in working-class Long Island, a sixteen-year-old Bill traded three hourly wage jobs to buy a small deli, which he ran by instinctively applying ideas that would be the seeds for his future success. After paying for and graduating college, Bill talked his way into a job selling copiers door-to-door for Xerox, where he went on to rank number one in every sales position he held and eventually became the company’s youngest-ever corporate officer. Eventually, Bill left Xerox and in 2002 became the unlikely president of SAP’s flailing American business unit. There, he injected enthusiasm and accountability into the demoralized culture by scaling his deli, sales, and management strategies. In 2010, Bill was named co-CEO, and in May 2014 became SAP’s sole, and first non-European, CEO.

Colorful and fast-paced, Bill’s anecdotes contain effective takeaways: gutsy career moves; empathetic sales strategies; incentives that yield exceptional team performance; and proof of the competitive advantages of optimism and hard work. At the heart of Bill’s story is a blueprint for success and the knowledge that the real dream is the journey, not a preconceived destination.

 

My Take on Winners Dream:

I struggled at first, as I expected this book to be less memoir-like and more of a guide to success like The Oz Principle. IDK why, perhaps the “A global CEO’s life lessons in sales, motivation, and leadership” just felt like the book would be more focused on how to achieve success and not so much on the stories that shaped this man’s life in particular. That’s what happens when you grab a book at random from a book trade.

While this is a classic tale of rags to riches and starts with a lot of stories from his childhood that shaped who he is today, there were a lot of great nuggets of wisdom throughout that one can use to guide one’s own journey of success.  Each chapter starts with a quote from a famous person that sets the tone for the chapter. I appreciated a lot of his childhood experiences and can relate to the struggles.  The messages of optimism he experienced with his mom are fantastic. His shared experiences with his first jobs are relatable to an older generation. The drive to improve is a message that really resonated with me.

I am curious how much of the greatness of this book is because a certain generation can relate to it and anyone in sales/ marketing for more than 10 years would be able to relate. I cannot help but wonder if a younger generation could glean much from it and what they would get. Definitely encouraging Little Man to read this next and see what he gets from it as he is in his senior year of high school and at a different level.

My favorite message in the book is that you have to enjoy the journey to success and keep adapting and adjusting your goals as you go through life. That really struck a chord as I am going through my own priority shifts.

Have you read Winners Dream? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. If not, go ahead and take a peek inside and see what you think.

 

Until next time,

Keep Reading!  

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Book Review: Peak Performance Poker: Revolutionizing the Way You View the Game by Travis Steffen

Book Review Peak Performance Poker: Revolutionizing the Way You View the Game

Today, Travis Steffen is a well-known business guru. As a successful serial entrepreneur and author of the book Viral Hero, he has helped different enterprises in fine-tuning their growth and marketing strategies. But before he rose to prominence in the world of business, Steffen was a professional poker player and strength and conditioning specialist. And back in 2010, he wrote arguably the most useful book on the game of poker, Peak Performance Poker: Revolutionizing the Way You View the Game.

While primarily a book about being the best poker player you can be, Peak Performance Poker doubles up as a self-help book for anyone looking to cultivate either physical or mental fitness. Steffen believes that achieving peak performance as a poker player entails being able to enter a ‘flow state’ of relaxed intensity and focus. And achieving this state requires being in the best physical and mental shape that you can be.

Action Points

The true value of Peak Performance Poker is in its Action Points and their supporting appendices. In between explanations of poker basics and strategies, these Action Points contain detailed instructions on both physical and mental exercises that readers can perform immediately. This includes stamina-focused exercises, time management tips, nutrition data, and knowing how to rest for refreshing the mind. Meanwhile, the appendices include food comparisons, instructions for equipment-less exercises, and even an extensive bibliography of references – for those who want to go even deeper into the Action Points.

Indeed, 2010’s Peak Performance Poker is in many ways a glimpse into the full-blown serial entrepreneur and strategist that Steffen would later become. In many instances, he writes more like a motivational speaker than a poker strategist. But don’t be fooled by the motivational tone of the book – Steffen is an academically-trained fitness expert. Even if his Action Points are more than 10 years old, they’re actually backed by the most recent and comprehensive research on physical and mental fitness.

Evidence-Based Approach

The relationship between physical activity and increased brain function is well documented by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In an umbrella review published by the NIH.gov, data from 76 articles collated from 2013 to 2017 revealed “moderate-to-strong support” that cognition is enhanced by exercise. In particular, researchers found that physical activity can improve cognitive performance in neuropsychological tests measuring memory, speed, and executive function.

These are the primary brain functions needed for understanding poker strategy, which are based on mathematical elements. As the ranking chart of poker hands by Poker.org shows, mastering these elements can allow players to much more easily calculate odds on the fly and predict other players’ hands. These elements include the statistical probability for poker hands to show up and the number of each hand’s possible combinations. A ranking chart summarizes this information and arranges hands by how rarely they occur. But while the ranking helps, staying on top of these numbers – while assessing opponents’ physical tells and other factors – require significant cognitive effort. And as the science reveals, being physically healthier can actually improve your speed and memory in terms of implementing sound poker strategies.

Final Thoughts

Despite being more than a decade old, Peak Performance Poker: Revolutionizing the Way You View the Game is still one of the best poker books out there. And because of its deep and practical insights on physical and mental fitness, it’s also a useful book for anyone pursuing self-improvement. Whether you’re looking for sound advice on poker, general fitness, or optimizing your Keto lifestyle, Peak Performance Poker is a good read.

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Blogger, book hound, and online counselor Jenny Allen believes that wisdom can sometimes be found in the most unlikely places and situations. When she’s not rummaging through online and offline thrift shops for books, antiques, and trinkets, Jenny is either chasing deadlines or resisting the urge to go back to bed with her 3 cats.

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Book Review: A Thousand Words for Stranger by Julie E. Czernedo

A Thousand Words for Stranger

Hello Lovelies,

Been a minute since I did a book review. Sorry. I’ve been reading, I have just also been very distracted building other content (like my courses, my cooking and keto dieting, my business consultant landing page and sales funnels, some product reviews, and so much more) so I’m a bit behind on my reviews. I actually finished A Thousand Words for Stranger the beginning of June? (I know, I know.)

Anywho, let’s get on to the review

Genre

Science Fiction

Synopsis

Sira is on the run. The mysterious Captain Morgan has a starship. But if she goes with him, who will be at risk? Meet the Clan, shadowy figures of unfathomable power. Meet Huido, the lobster-like restauranteur. Meet the Trade Pact Enforcers, who have their own intentions. For events are beginning to unfold that will affect them all.

My Take

I actually picked this up as a recommendation from a female Sci-fi author when I complained that I really struggled to find female sci-fi authors who I could connect with their characters and a lot of male sci-fi authors were horrible about creating heroes with boobs. She assured me that I would love Sira.

And you know, for the most part I do. There were a couple of times where I found myself annoyed and rolling my eyes because she needed to be rescued/ fell in love with her captor/ fell into some other annoying stereotype, but I kept reading and actually found that the author turned those annoying stereotypes and cliches on their heads and created an astounding fictional universe where the patriarchy is still strong yet women have risen above it.

Honestly, looking at where we’ve come in the last 1,000 years as a society and how we treat women, there was a lot about this world that makes me feel that this could be humanity’s future another 1,000 years from now. I definitely want to get the rest of this series as soon as my book budget opens back up.

Yep, I’ve already spent my book budget. *Sigh* but it will totally be worth it!

Want to check out A Thousand Words for Stranger?

Until next time,

Keep Reading!

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Book Review: Conjure Women by Afia Atakora

Book Review Conjure Women

Hello Lovelies,

I actually finished reading Conjure Women, a historical fiction novel based in the reconstruction era south back in the end of May right before all the protests. It was the book of the month for The Reading Den. I really enjoy what Lin is doing with her reading group and if you would like to find an eclectic group of readers, this is the place for you. Lin is an eclectic reader and she lets all of us vote each month on the group read. We’ve been getting regular suggestions of historical, scifi, fantasy, and romance so far.

But I digress.

Genre:

Historical Fiction / Historical African Fiction/ Mystery Thriller

Synopsis:

A mother and daughter with a shared talent for healing—and for the conjuring of curses—are at the heart of this dazzling first novel

“Lush, irresistible . . . It took me into the hearts of women I could otherwise never know. I was transported.”—Amy Bloom, New York Times bestselling author of White Houses and Away

Conjure Women is a sweeping story that brings the world of the South before and after the Civil War vividly to life. Spanning eras and generations, it tells of the lives of three unforgettable women: Miss May Belle, a wise healing woman; her precocious and observant daughter Rue, who is reluctant to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a midwife; and their master’s daughter Varina. The secrets and bonds among these women and their community come to a head at the beginning of a war and at the birth of an accursed child, who sets the townspeople alight with fear and a spreading superstition that threatens their newly won, tenuous freedom.

Magnificently written, brilliantly researched, richly imagined, Conjure Women moves back and forth in time to tell the haunting story of Rue, Varina, and May Belle, their passions and friendships, and the lengths they will go to save themselves and those they love.

Praise for Conjure Women

“[A] haunting, promising debut . . . Through complex characters and bewitching prose, Atakora offers a stirring portrait of the power conferred between the enslaved women. This powerful tale of moral ambiguity amid inarguable injustice stands with Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An engrossing debut . . . Atakora structures a plot with plenty of satisfying twists. Life in the immediate aftermath of slavery is powerfully rendered in this impressive first novel.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

My Thoughts

I went into this story with no preconceptions. I didn’t get a chance to vote that month, but I wanted to participate and I do enjoy historcal fiction, so I was ready to go.

I’m glad I went into it blind. There were a couple of people in the group who had a hard time with some of the topic matters. Abortion, miscarriages, child sickness. It hit hard for several of us. We might not have chosen it if we’d known it covered those topics.

But I am glad I ready it, and glad we read it before all the protests. It was wonderfully well researched by the author, felt very authentic to my recollections of what I learned in school when we went to the plantations every year for a school field trip (welcome to the South.) The startling reality I recognized as I read the story is that a lot of the issues that the author addresses still plague women today. Certainly not in the same light, but they are certainly still a struggle and especially so for the impoverished.

While the main focus on the story is the plight of black women going from slave to freed, they’re not the only woman who’s story is told. While their white mistress’s life was seen as better, her life was still not much better and in some ways was exactly the same as theirs.

There was a soulful oneness woven at the end that left me too touched to even do a first thoughts video and by then we were swept up in the protests and loss and it felt like my voice was not the voice that needed to be heard right now. But that sense of oneness has not faded as life moves on. That sense of all humanity being tied by binds that may seem invisible but can be felt as life goes through so much upheaval still holds onto my heart. While I have moved onto another read, my heart often flickers back to Rue and Varina and how they represent all women.

Despite many of the tough themes, I really suggest that you take a look at Conjure Women.

Until next time,

Keep Reading!

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Book Review and Analysis of The Oz Principle

Book Review The Oz Principle

As many of you know, I am an avid reader. While my primary reading is fiction to unwind and escape, I will also read nonfiction books that strike my fancy. One such book that I came across recently was The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability by Craig Hickman, Tom Smith, and Roger Connors. This book is an interesting lesson on corporate and personal accountability.

“Since it was originally published in 1994, The Oz Principle has sold nearly 600,000 copies and become the worldwide bible on accountability. Through its practical and invaluable advice, thousands of companies have learned just how vital personal and organizational accountability is for a company to achieve and maintain its best results.

At the core of the authors’ message is the idea that when people take personal ownership of their organization’s goals and accept responsibility for their own performance, they become more invested and work at a higher level to ensure not only their own success, but everyone’s. Now more than ever, The Oz Principle is vital to anyone charged with obtaining results. It is a must have, must read, and must apply classic business book.”

So, full confession, I picked this book up after interviewing for a sales enablement position for a local SAAS company. The interviewer mentioned that the executive suite was really big on The Oz Principle and creating a team based on accountability. They even had one of the authors come out and teach the whole team a seminar on the principles. It sounded like a great place to prep for my second interview.

I really struggled with the first half of this book. It seems like principles that are so obvious and which I was raised to practice in my life. I have always looked at every situation, whether personal or business and asked myself three key questions.

1. What went well?

2. What didn’t go well?

3. What can I do to make things go better next time?

I guess it was something my mother taught me as a self-reflection tool for building strong communication and accountability. But honestly, I cannot recall being “taught” this. Perhaps I just learned it through observing her? Hard to say.

Around 1/3 of the way into the book, with a bit of reflecting, I realized I do know people for whom being accountable is not the norm. I had dealt with people who were always blaming others for what went wrong. It had not occurred to me that this behavior was the norm or that it could get built into company culture.

Now, on the other side of reading and reflecting on The Oz Principle, I actually see it ALL. THE. TIME. Especially with the crisis hitting just as I was finishing reading it. Companies complaining because they couldn’t afford to be closed. Laying off employees because they would rather take a wait and see approach. Many people who were furloughed fell into the same wait and see pattern. I watched people take to the streets protesting and blaming the government for not being able to work.

I also watched people take on the Oz Principle quite quickly and adapt to this crisis. Change their business model to meet the public’s needs during lockdown. Individuals starting new businesses online, focusing on their side hustle and treating it like a real job rather than just waiting for their steady check to come back. The difference in the outlooks of each group is quite striking.

So what is the Oz Principle? In a nutshell, it is 4 basic principles done in a specific order.

Step 1- See It

The book lists a ton of examples of companies who did not acknowledge that there was a problem until they were already flying off a cliff. I watched a bunch of companies who had no contingency plan for when COVID-19 struck and were not prepared. They didn’t know what to do except close their doors. But there were a lot of companies who were prepared. For example, my husband works for a global corporation. They saw how this was spreading through their non-US communities. They knew that when it hit the Americas where the bulk of their businesses were, they needed to be prepared. A week before New York went into lockdown, corporate sent out a notice to all offices to encourage staff to work from home.

They have always allowed 1 day a week that staff could work from home. The network was originally only designed to support 20% of the team. After IT did some major rework, they estimated it could maintain 80-100% of the workload but were not sure. Without wanting to panic the teams, they encouraged a greater number of people to work from home specifically so that they could test the system. When New York was required to go to lockdown, my husband’s company was ready and confident they could handle the whole corporation’s workload. They saw the potential problem and they followed the steps recommended by their teams to keep their employees operating.

Step 2- Own It

So often we see problems in the world, in an organization, in our relationships. We know the problem is there, but we blame others for the problem. By blaming others, we (according to the book) allow ourselves to be the victims. As victims, we have no responsibility. But we also have no power to change anything either.

This section was really hard for me because I am an over-owner. To the point that I feel guilt and responsibility for things for which I have little ability to control or change the outcomes. It leads to me offering advice unsolicited, developing programs to try and help others, and spending entirely too much of my time trying to solve major problems alone. I then get angry when others feel no responsibility to try to solve them. For example, for over 4 years I have listened to friends and loved ones complain about the political divide in this country and how the other side blames all the ills on them…. and then watch them do the same thing.

Over and over and over.

I point out when people are doing it, suggest non-biased articles to “fact-check” opinion bias, and try to get either side to see the other’s point. In return, I am called a Libtard by one side and an Alt-right “snowflake” by the other.

Oh Really now

I can’t fix how people choose to communicate, however, I can choose how to invest my time. If my previous approach one-on-one is not working, I can choose to take a different approach. In my case, rather than telling people why they are wrong, I refer them to Fighting Disinformation. I suggest that they take a look at some of the tools and recommendations to aid in fighting disinformation.

Step 3- Solve It

This is the natural progression of seeing the problem then owning the problem. If you own it then you empower yourself to take the next step, solving the problem. When I got to this section I realized that perhaps I had experienced this more than I thought. When everyone is implementing the Oz Principle, then everyone welcomes input on how to address problems. When you operate in a siloed management style where X department is responsible for Y then having someone not from your department pointing out a problem that exists and making recommendations to address said problem could feel like blaming or finger-pointing instead of that person taking ownership of helping to address a problem. No matter how much “we” language that person coaches the suggestion in. The same in your personal relationships. When someone asks for advice and you provide concrete steps for them, often they justify and shut down the advice you offered because for them your advice may feel like blame. What they really are looking for is someone to tell them it is not their fault.

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Step 4- Do It

It is impossible to get to Do It if you cannot agree that there is a problem. Then take responsibility for solving the problem. You must also come up with a solution to the problem. Yet, once you establish those elements, it is not guaranteed that the “Do it” part of the equation will happen or continue to happen. It is easy to slip back into old habits or ways of doing things. Creating systems to help remind one another to continue operating with The Oz Principle is key to keep moving forward.

The suggested way to do so using The Oz Principle is to look at actions and behaviors that “separate success from failure”. “Above The Line” represents the area of “accountability and success”. “Below The Line” represents the area of “self-victimization and failure.”

Using those terms allows everyone to support and monitor themselves and the organization in the path to improvement and growth.

Those were the big takeaways from the book. The rest of the book is made up of hundreds of examples of companies and people. Many of whom the authors had coached or worked with. Discussing how they get stuck below the line and use the principles to bring themselves above the line to have massive success.

The Downside of The Oz Principle

And that is one of the problems I have with both the book, and the principles expressed in the book. The authors used Enron as an example repeatedly. And yet, I think their problem was not that they didn’t see the problem, own the problem, solve the problem, and do it. As a matter of fact, the biggest problem was that they did exactly that to an unethical degree.

The examples of people reaching success are always tied to people doing whatever it takes to achieve the goals and needs of the company. One example was of a company that was shipping a new product. They were so invested in success that there was a party as the trucker who was contracted to deliver the product was leaving. He was so swept up in their excitement at completing on time that he went above and beyond when his truck broke down and he ran into issues with the delivery. He did not want to be the reason that they did not achieve what they had hoped.

It is awesome that the trucker went above and beyond. I do fully agree that there are times when going above and beyond is needed. However, one must be cautious not to get so caught up in the optimizing process that setting unrealistic expectations becomes the norm. Going above and beyond every day is the norm. That is a quick path to burnout and turnover.

This is a concern that can be addressed using the “see it, own it, solve it, do it” approach. Yet, I know the press and exhilaration of doing more than just a job. Of getting caught up in the delight of “building something”. The pain of not realizing until I was already burned out that burnout had hit.

I do see the value of The Oz Principle. I think that as a management tool, managers also need a book like Start with Your People by Brian Dixon to keep the right mindset and balance.

Is the Oz Principle Useful Personally

As I mentioned at the beginning, I struggled reading The Oz Principle because I have always been one to look at things and ask:

1. What went well?

2. What didn’t go well?

3. What can I do to make things go better next time?

I am very much in control of my life. I hate when I feel like I am not. Reading the Oz Principle made me realize that a lot of people do not have that empowerment. I cannot fathom how trapped that must make people feel.

If you often feel like you have no control over your life. If you find yourself caught in a pattern where everything that happens is somehow because of someone else. When you find yourself constantly just reacting to what life throws at you. You may very well find a deep benefit in adopting my questions or practicing the Oz Principle.

However, a small warning. Be careful that you do not over-practice these principles to the point that you constantly blame yourself. I have found myself caught in that trap. You can look at what went wrong, ask yourself what you could’ve done better, and then hold that for your future. But dwelling on it for too long turns into a form of self-masochism. Once you’ve done that analysis let it go.

As an example, I was part of a start-up a few years ago. Things fell apart. I beat myself up for too long about it failing. The reality is that there were 25 other people involved. It was not all on my shoulders to make it succeed. When I finally stopped beating myself up for it, I took from it expectations of what worked and what didn’t. When I was invited to be part of another start-up, I was able to look at what worked and what didn’t from the previous start-up. Then I could determine how invested I wanted to be with this start-up and plan an exit strategy that did not leave me so deep in the start-up that my own dreams went to the wayside. I set clear boundaries so that I wouldn’t become so invested that if it failed, I was a failure.

All that to say, while I appreciate the Oz Principle, as with anything there must be a balance in life. Find your balance and empower yourself, without making yourself accountable for everything that happens in the world. Set realistic expectations of yourself and others.

What are your thoughts on The Oz Principle?

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Book Review: Dark Omens

Book Review Dark Omens

Hello Lovelies,

Man, my reading passion has been reignited! It was such a delight to so thoroughly enjoy Charmed and Lethal. I took a day to embrace the shock of how it ended and then dove right into Dark Omens by Rosemary Rowe, which my eldest asked me to read eight months ago.

Genre:

Historical mystery

Synopsis:

A perplexing new mystery for Libertus set against the backdrop of a Roman Britain in turmoil after the death of the Emperor…

Libertus accepts a contract to install a pavement for Genialis, a self-important citizen from a nearby town, in the Glevum house of the customer’s intended but unwilling and young bride, Silvia. However, the weather is exceptionally severe, and although the pavement is laid in time to receive the promised bonus, Genialis goes missing in the snow before payment can be made.

Meanwhile, at an important feast, the sacrifice is spoiled as an aged priest lets go of the sacrificial ram- and when news arrives that the emperor is dead, it seems that these dark omens are being realised. The subsequent discovery of not one, but two local mutilated corpses only adds to this. Who holds the answer to these mysteries? Libertus attempts to solve the puzzle of the deaths against the backdrop of a superstitious fear of auguries, and public riots following the confirmation of the Emperor’s death.

My Take

I am not sure what to make of my feelings of this novel, published in 2013. The first I must say is that I appreciated the foreward greatly. I have a hard time with historical fiction of late, especially when often they are not so historical. However, in this case a lot of the story elements have been very well researched and the author clearly made a great effort for accuracy.

I also didn’t realize until a bit further into the story that this was not the first book in the series, and the author obviously made a fine effort to make them independently readable. I appreciated the story, enjoyed it even, though I have really struggled with mysteries since I was a teenager because I always figure it out beforehand. When the mystery is gone, one is left with an annoyance that it takes the main character so long to see the answer, despite them having the same information before them.

Despite that, I did enjoy the world-building and the historically accurate portrayal of life in the Roman-held outposts of Britain at that time.

Would I read more of Libertus’s stories? Probably not. I found it exceedingly frustrating that there were repeated errors in the story that had nothing to do with the differences between American and British grammar rules. No, there were blatant spelling errors.

Also, the story was quite drawn out and doddered along, much like the main character. But if you enjoy cozy mysteries and/ or Roman-era settings then you may find Libertus and his Patron Marcus quite enjoyable. Take a look inside and see if Dark Omens is for you.  

Until Next Time,

Keep Reading!

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Book Review: Charmed and Lethal an urban fantasy by Christine Eller and Lin Ryals

Book Review Charmed and Lethal

Hello Lovelies,

One thing the lockdown has been useful for is giving me a lot more time and desire to read. I have really struggled the last few months trying to get into anything. But April had me wrapping up The Oz Principle and diving into Charmed and Lethal. I got Charmed and Lethal as an e-book from the authors for a review when it was released a year ago. I started it then, but my life was in so much upheaval that I just couldn’t get into it or any of the other books I picked up at that time. I was a bit nervous to find myself in a similar situation and expecting similar feelings.

But that was not the case at all. Without further ado, let’s get to the  book review of Charmed and Lethal by Christine Eller and Lin Ryals.

Genre

Urban Fantasy

Synopsis

Best Friends living a normal teenage life find themselves caught in the middle of an ancient war between the Guardians and the Were. With their new-found powers they must choose the right path. But which side is good and which is evil? Follow Renee and Lydia on their road of self-discovery, forbidden love, personal growth, and friendship as they make friends and enemies that could ultimately mean life or death.

My Thoughts

Don’t miss my first thoughts video:

This is a debut novel for this writing duo and it took me a minute to get my stride with it. Despite the two main characters being so different, often I had to check the chapter heading to confirm who was speaking. Which is interesting because I have known both the authors for more than half our lives and, just like the main characters, on the surface they are very different people. But I think the similarities of their internal dialogues are indicative of the deep bonds they hold.

However, there was definitely a distinct difference in the characters’ thought processes when facing conflict and struggle. I appreciated how consistent the characters were in that respect. Each trying to grow in different ways, but each still having their “primal” reaction, if you will. Watching people go through trauma and life experience, I have found that tends to be the case with most people. Certainly, it has been the case for me. My gut reaction is always to respond in a specific way. Despite years of trying to improve myself, that first instinct is always the same.

But I also loved how they demonstrate that we can overcome that initial instinct. It doesn’t make that initial feeling go away, but we can be more than just our instincts.

I know, way deeper store that I got from it than what was perhaps intended. But I got what I needed from the story, what I was not prepared to get last time I read the story.

I also got more. This really is a fun read of two young women discovering themselves and realizing that they are more than just their birthrite, more than just a prophesy, and that despite their innermost self-talk they can choose to be whatever they wish. It is also about love.

At the beginning I was hardcore shipping one couple and felt the other was… creepy. That creepiness gets explained partway through and I felt vindicated. At the end, I was totally shipping them too. And the way it ended was just so cruel! Come on, man!

I know there will be more in this series and I very much look forward to reading them. While there were a few grammatical errors, I will certainly forgive it as the next book I read by a big traditional publisher had far more errors. *Sigh*

If you enjoy shifter stories and a dash of romance with your urban fantasy, then you should definitely take a look inside Charmed and Lethal today!

Until Next Time,

Keep Reading!

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Book Review: New Hope by Steve Hobbs

Book Review New Hope

Hello Lovelies,

Hope everyone has had an awesome summer. We are just getting back into the swing of school and I am happy to share my latest read, New Hope by Steve Hobbs.

Genre:

Urban Fantasy/ Mystery

Synopsis:

DESPERATE EVIL descends on a quirky Maine town in Steve Hobbs’s gripping debut thriller, New Hope.Seventeen year old Miri Jones has always wanted to be a detective. When she discovers mutilated human remains during her morning run, she’s found her case. But the bizarre nature of the crime will shake everything she believes in and might just get her killed. The town of New Hope is about to make its last stand in a war Miri never knew existed.

Only the brave will survive.

My Take:

All the feels! This book takes me back to my childhood. Quite literally, as it’s set in the 80s. With all the charming nostalgia of Stranger Things, the Nancy Drew Heroine, and the campy group of kids fighting vampires that’s reminiscent of Lost Boys, there really wasn’t much not to love about this book.  
If you are looking for a fun read with all those feels, then you will love New Hope. There weren’t any deep questions, and I figured out a lot of things pretty quickly, but it still was a nice break and a fun read. 
If that sounds fun to you, then take a peek inside.

Until next time, 
Keep Reading!

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Aroon Book 1 in the Duncullen Saga by M.B. Gibson

Aroon M.B. Gibson

Hello Lovelies,

I am excited to share with you a bit about Aroon by M.B. Gibson. I was honored to receive a free paperback in exchange for an honest review and to use in my booktube and bookstagram channels.

You can see just how excited, as I open the shipment!

Genre:

Historical fiction/ 18th Century Ireland

Synopsis: 

Amidst the lush beauty of Tipperary, a darkness runs through Duncullen Estate. Young heir Richard Lynche is suffocating. Between his father’s disgust and mother’s plunge into drug-induced lethargy, his only solace are the arms of the new maid, Eveleen. Yet, mounting pressures give rise to chillingly ominous visions. Richard must destroy his parents’ chokehold and create a life with Eveleen whilst maintaining his sanity. He will eradicate the torture. Whatever it takes. Aroon is a cauldron of old-fashioned Irish stew. Spiced heavily with Downton Abbey, sprinkled with Shakespeare’s Hamlet and a dash of The Godfather’s Michael Corleone, it explores the underbelly of life during the Protestant Ascendancy.

My Take:

I have been on a bit of an Irish kick, lately. I loved and hated Aroon. It is rich, hauntingly accurate to the time period, and full of intrigue. As I read it, it reminded me of a crazy mash up of Downton Abby, Poldark, Jane Ayer and Wuthering Heights. It was interesting to see Richard and his mother through their eyes, and how they viewed Richard’s father and the servants, then to later see how others viewed them was quite a telling view of the world we live in today. I liked Richard to start, but much as Heathcliff and Poldark change (and not for the better), the classsist demands twist Richard into something I did not much care for. Gibson plays with some dark themes demonstrating how even knowing our past doesn’t necessarily allow us to escape becoming the very things we despise. She looks at it from every perspective. From the upper class, down to the poorest servant. Definitely a book that you will need a day or two to digest after reading. 
If you are a fan of dark period pieces, this is right up your ally. Take a look inside today!

Until next time, 

Keep Reading! 

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Book Review: Lightspeed Frontier: Kicking the Future Adam Corres

Book Review Lightspeed Frontier

Hello Lovelies,

I received Lightspeed Frontier : Kicking the Future in exchange for some exposure on social media and an honest review. This book was received along with several others as part of a summer reading drive for my kids several years ago.

Genre: 

Sci-Fi/ Comedy

Synopsis

Lightspeed Frontier: Kicking the Future is a comedy science fiction novel by Adam Corres, unlike anything else ever written in the genre. It is a book of intensive imagination, idea-fuelled wit, fascinating scientific thought, occasional parody and there are lines in here you can’t help quoting. This novel has been released alongside Lightspeed Frontier the video game, by Vid Rijavec and Philip Devine, developed at Crowdwork Studios and published by Riveted Games.


My Take

Ya’ll, I did not even know what to make about this book. I started it back in April, 2019 and DNF’ed it because I just couldn’t get into it at the time. It is definitely a book you have to be in the right mood to read. I picked it up the second time just after New Years because one of my family members asked about it and I felt guilty that I never finished it. It was better, but it was still remarkably slow reading for such a small book. 
It is really hard to quite pin down exactly what my issue is with the story. I think, in part, because it is exactly as the description says “unlike anything else ever written in the genre”. And hey. so was Firefly once and a lot of people didn’t get that and I hate them all for it. (J/K)
I can totally see this developing a cult following just like Firefly. Mind you, I am not really comparing it to Firefly because I am a total Firefly Fangirl for Life and this was just… meh? I mean, I finished it and I don’t regret finishing it so it gets 3 stars. It was well written, no major plotholes, the grammar was pretentious at times, but well done.  The world-building is excellent and if even half of that went into the game, then I imagine the game would be quite fun.  
I think one of the elements I struggle with is the way in which the “story” is told. During the story, I was very annoyed because we kept jumping from character to character and yet most of these characters didn’t ever connect, and the few that did didn’t do so until about halfway through the story. In a way, looking back, it kind of reminds me of a first-person shooter where you meet a lot of different characters, sometimes more than once, and get different bits of story that help with worldbuilding but the only thing that really ties them all together is you. Except this didn’t play out as a choose your own adventure novel and that is the only time in which I can recall that this style of character hopping with little to nothing except the worlds to tie them together has ever really happened in books. Maybe it is wildly innovative and a way to pull gamers back into reading. Maybe the game and the book work better as a package deal. Not sure. 
For me, it missed the mark.  
If you find this review has piqued your interest, then be sure to take a look inside!

Until next time, 

Keep Reading!