Friday, November 28, 2008

Birthing the Elephant by Karin Abarbanel and Bruce Freeman

Birthing the Elephant
by Karin Abarbanel and Bruce Freeman

2008 - Ten Speed Press

I have started two small businesses in the past. The first was a tutoring company that serviced only No Child Left Behind students and the other was a cosmetics retailer. I loved each company for different reasons and while they did NOT fail, and are actually both going strong this book would have said me a lot of heartache and tears. Aberbanel and Freeman have taken a lot of what goes wrong with opening a small business and made these problems easier to navigate and resolve without losing your business and all your money.

This book is written for women entrepreneurs who have an idea but no idea what to do with that idea. Each stage of business development is patiently and thoroughly covered, which in such a small book (only 200 pages long) is amazing. The two best features are the resources at the end of the book and quick tips. The quick tips serve as a gentle reminder of points in the chapter that are important to remember. The resources are invaluable. While only a few pages there are quite a number of resources that I wish I had known about when I started thinking about my first business.

Women considering opening a franchise business would find a lot of helpful information at, for example.

I LOVE this book! I got a free copy that I had to return (didn't really want to do that!) but immediately went out and bought a copy of my own. Even if you aren't opening a business this book would be a great and useful addition to any library.

If you have read this book or have started a small business send me an email and tell me about your experience.


Publishers's Summary

Customized for the female entrepreneur's unique psychological experience of launching a business, BIRTHING THE ELEPHANT goes beyond logistics to prepare women for the emotional challenges they will face, with expert advice on reshaping one's business identity, giving up the paycheck mentality, anticipating problems, and avoiding costly mistakes. This supportive handbook gives the small-business owner the staying power to survive and succeed in the business of her dreams.

  • A female entrepreneur's guide to navigating the psychological aspects of launching and building a business during the critical first 18 months.

  • Women-owned businesses are increasing at twice the rate of other startups, with 500,000 launches each year.

  • With a foreword by cosmetics guru Bobbi Brown.

From Publishers Weekly
Starting your own business is tough, but learning to think like an entrepreneur is half the battle, say small-business consultants Abarbanel and Freeman. Part portable success coach, part step-by-step guide through the life cycle of a small-business launch, the book presents real-life stories—from the famous, such as makeup entrepreneur Bobbi Brown and stylish maternity-wear pioneer Liz Lange, to startups in the worlds of baking, filmmaking and high tech software. A great deal of space is given to tools for developing the emotional mind frame to succeed outside the comfort of the traditional workplace, and the authors devote particular attention to commitment, courage, persistence and other traits. Later chapters delve into the nitty-gritty of asset assessment, money management, support systems, success strategies and common pitfalls. This information is backed up with handy chapter-closing quick tips, checklists, action steps, real-life examples and a helpful resource guide. With the number of women-owned businesses growing in the U.S. at the rate of one every 60 seconds—roughly 600,000 launches a year, according to the authors—the audience for this positive, cheerful, practical book should be substantial. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Description
As the largest growing group of entrepreneurs, women need encouragement and guidance to push past those make-or break first 18 months. While most start-up guides address the practicalities of launching a business, "Birthing the Elephant" prepares women for the psychological and emotional challenges they will face, with expert advice on reshaping one's business identity, giving up the pay check mentality, anticipating problems, and avoiding costly mistakes. This supportive handbook gives the small-business owner the staying power to survive and succeed in the business of her dreams.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Believers by Zoe Heller

The Believers by Zoe Heller

March 2009; HarperCollins Publishers

I started off not liking this book. To be honest I despised the characters, hated them for their self-indulgence and prejudices for all they protested to be anti-discriminatory. They seemed to have little insight into themselves. But when I read the book again, and maybe, to be honest, I grew up a little, they seemed like people I know. We are born with the gift of insight and self-review; if we choose not to use that is our own problem. It doesn’t make us bad people, just willfully ignorant. This lack of insight by the characters made them much more sad to me but also much more real. I felt for Audrey, trying to keep her family intact and moving forward, when she didn’t know how to be a loving caring mother. I felt for Joel who needed to feel young and alive by creating a child with his mistress and then leaving his wife to pick up the pieces when he died. I cried for Lenny, the adopted son, who did not have enough faith in himself to make a life-saving decision. The characters that you feel the most dislike for are the ones that you champion at the end of the novel

This book is a sad commentary on modern life. For all of our modern conveniences we really are asking ourselves the same questions that our forefathers asked themselves. How does one deal with infidelity? How does one rediscover dampened religious beliefs and incorporate them into an uncooperative family? How does one go about reinventing themselves?

The most pleasurable thing about this book is that the characters aren’t static. Those that start out as bullies and villains at the beginning of the book are championed at the end of the book. I began the book not liking Audrey at all, wanting to blame her for the family’s problems but when the book ended I cried for her. It is not easy to care for your children and have to stand by as they direct their own life. There were times that she was brutal and cold but children cannot be babied forever. Especially grown children.

I do have one bone to pick with this book. I don’t think that the character of Lenny was as developed as the characters and I would have liked to learn more about him. What we do get is great reading but in the end really not much insight at all.


From the Publisher

When New York radical lawyer Joel Litvinoff is felled by a sudden, massive stroke, his wife, Audrey, uncovers a secret that forces her to re-examine both her belief in him and her commitment to their forty-year marriage. Meanwhile, her ne’er-do-well adopted son, Lenny, is back on drugs again and her daughters, Karla and Rosa, are grappling with their own dilemmas. Rosa, a disillusioned revolutionary socialist, has found herself increasingly beguiled by the world of Orthodox Judaism; now she is being pressed to make a commitment and must decide if she is really ready to forsake all her cherished secular values for a Torah-observant life. Karla, an unhappily married hospital social worker and union activist, falls into a tumultuous affair with a conservative newstand proprietor: can she really love a man whose politics she reviles? And how to choose between a life of duty and principle and her own happiness?
The highly anticipated new novel from the author of the acclaimed What Was She Thinking? Notes On a Scandal (which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and adapted into an Oscar-nominated film) delivers on every level: with wit, heart, and -- as always with Zoƫ Heller --tremendous intelligence and verve.

Publishers Weekly

Heller (What Was She Thinking?; Notes on a Scandal) puts to pointed use her acute observations of human nature in her third novel, a satire of 1960s idealism soured in the early 21st century. Audrey and Joel Litvinoff have attempted to pass on to their children their lefty passions-despite Audrey's decidedly bourgeois attitude and attorney Joel's self-satisfied heroism, including the defense of a suspected terrorist in 2002 New York City. When Joel has a stroke and falls into a coma, Audrey grows increasingly nasty as his secrets surface. The children, meanwhile, wander off on their own adventures: Rosa's inherited principles are beleaguered by the unpleasant realities of her work with troubled adolescents; Karla, her self-image crushed by Audrey, has settled into an uncomfortable marriage and the accompanying pressure to have children; and adopted Lenny, the best metaphor for the family's troubles, dawdles along as a drug addict and master manipulator. Though some may be initially put off by the characters' coldness-the Litvinoffs are a severely screwed-up crew-readers with a certain mindset will have a blast watching things get worse.

(Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Real Girls Eat by Anthea Paul

It must be common knowledge that I am on a diet and I love to read. Cookbooks keep popping up everywhere I go, people leave them in my car when I’m at work, and my favorite librarian piles them up on the counter when I visit. It’s getting out of control. When I got home from the library last night I realized she had slipped me a copy of Real Girls Eat by Anthea Paul (2005 Everbest Printing Co.)

It’s okay for what it is; a book about food, nutrition and cooking aimed at teenage girls. It is a little heavy on organic and “natural” food, which has never really factored into my food related thoughts. I’m most likely wrong, and I’m sure someone will correct me, but I really only concern myself about the price. I don’t care if a bird is free-range, hand fed or whatever.

There’s some good wisdom in this book, especially if you have never learned to cook, if you eat a lot of fast food or don’t know anything about nutrition. The food groups are presented early in the book with a list of serving suggestions and nutrients. Paul has given the reader the breakdown of serving sizes for each of the food groups. Did you know that for fruit a serving is a medium sized apple, banana, orange, etc, ½ cup (3 oz) cooked or poached or chopped fruit, or ¾ cup (6 fl. Oz) fruit juice? I didn’t. I wanted to know so now I now.

What ticks me off is that there is no nutritional information included with the recipes. I know that the book is geared toward young girls who should not be considering a diet, counting calories or obsessing over fat content but for everyone else give a little info or a link to where we can find that info. That would have been nice. The book is a little hard to read. Varying fonts and colors make it hard to follow at times. It is VERY colorful with loads of pictures which made the book a lot of fun to look at.

For future reference for all you cookbook writers out there there are a few things a cookbook needs to have to be welcome in my house. Pictures, easy to read font and NUTRITIONAL information!

Here’s a recipe I enjoyed. It’s easy and yummy.

Lychee Slushy

Shopping List:
13 oz can lychees in syrup (for core choose light syrup)
Fresh mint

How to make it:
The night before you want to eat this, empty contents of the can into a durable plastic or ziplock bag or Tupperware freezer container. Seal tightly and place in freezer

24 hours later, remove from freezer 10 minutes before churning so it has a chance to soften.

Place in blender and whiz quickly in spurts. You may need to use a wooden spoon (when stopping the blender naturally!) to quickly mix the chunks if the blender isn’t getting through them.

Scoop out into your serving bowls and garnish with fresh mint.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Seer of Shadows by Avi

The Seer of Shadows by Avi

authors website:


Horace Carpetine is an apprentice to MR. Middleditch, self-styled “Society Photographer” in 1872 New York. When forced to deceive a client, the evil Mrs. Von Macht and her husband, Horace finds himself with the ability to bring ghost’s to life through photography. Horace brings to life the angry and vengeful ghost of Eleanora Von Macht, niece of Mr. and Mrs. Von Macht. With the help of Pegg, “sister” of Eleanora Horace must stop the destructive ghost from exacting revenge on those who wronged her in life.


I normally hate ghost stories and mysteries. Why? Because I never seem to understand how the protagonist figures out who did it and how, even though it most usually is clearly laid out for me. That said, I LOVED this book! It was a brilliantly written novel that didn’t shy from including the political, racial and social climates of the time. It is not condescending, which is completely abhorrent in children focused literature, and forces a reader of any age to actively employ their vocabulary. The book is a great late night read. It has just enough suspense to keep the reader going but not so much that you have to put the book down. As an adult I found The Seer of Shadows to be a page-turner. I did not put down the book until I was finished and promptly restarted it.

I only recently began reading Avi and I am so mad at myself for not discovering him earlier. He blends history with good story telling so effortlessly. For example:

“My name is Horace Carpetine. I was born in New York City and spent my youth there. Perfectly happy years they were too, though my childhood occurred during the vast upheaval known as the Civil War. And I can assure you there was nothing civil about that conflict, certainly not in New York City.” (ch.2, para. 1)

It's not everyday that I find myself wanting to learn more about the history of photography!

Book Blurb:

From the Publisher
Newbery Medalist Avi weaves one of his most suspenseful and scary tales—about a ghost who has to be seen to be believed and must be kept from carrying out a horrifying revenge.
The time is 1872. The place is New York City. Horace Carpetine has been raised to believe in science and rationality. So as apprentice to Enoch Middleditch, a society photographer, he thinks of his trade as a scientific art. But when wealthy society matron Mrs. Frederick Von Macht orders a photographic portrait, strange things begin to happen.
Horace's first real photographs reveal a frightful likeness: it's the image of the Von Machts' dead daughter, Eleanora.
Pegg, the Von Machts' black servant girl, then leads him to the truth about who Eleanora really was and how she actually died. Joined in friendship, Pegg and Horace soon realize that his photographs are evoking both Eleanora's image and her ghost. Eleanora returns, a vengeful wraith intent on punishing those who abused her.
Rich in detail, full of the magic of early photography, here is a story about the shadows, visible and invisible, that are always lurking near.

Publishers Weekly
Newbery Medalist Avi (Crispin: The Cross of Lead) sets this intriguing ghost story in 19th-century New York City, where a photographer's apprentice has a horrifying run-in with a spirit bent on revenge. In the fall of 1872, 14-year-old narrator Horace Carpetine reluctantly becomes involved in his employer's scheme to dupe a superstitious client, wealthy Mrs. Von Macht. The plan is to make a tidy profit by producing a double exposure and offering her an unusual portrait, one incorporating a superimposed image of her dead daughter, Eleanora. Events depart from the expected when the ghost of Eleanora literally enters the picture, and Horace discovers his ability to capture departed souls on film. Suspense builds as the Von Machts' servant, Pegg, reveals secrets about the Von Macht family and explains that Eleanor's angry spirit, brought back into the world through the camera lens, may want revenge on both Mrs. Von Macht and her husband. Mirroring both the style and themes of gothic novels of the period, the story takes ghastly and ghostly turns that challenge Horace's belief in reason. Details about photographic processes add authenticity, while the book's somber ending will leave spines tingling. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.