Friday, August 15, 2008

Surprise Packages by Nancy Anderson, Lael Littke, and Carroll Hofeling Morris

"Fifteen years after meeting at Education Week at Brigham Young University, Juneau, Deenie, and Erin face new challenges. Deenie, now living in Gainesville, Florida, begins to question everything she has believed about herself as she sees her actions through others' eyes. Juneau's feelings of guilt come to a head when a secret from her childhood and the mystery of her great-grandmother, Letitia, combine to force her to confront her past. And Erin, whose painful divorce has made her cynical about love and marriage, must decide if she can take a risk when she has a second chance for love.

"Staying in touch through phone calls, e-mails, and periodic vacations together, the friends offer one another support, sometimes in the form of blunt feedback. But as they anticipate reaching their goal to become Crusty Old Broads, life takes a turn that puts their twenty-five-year pact in doubt."

Surprise Packages is the third book and final book in The Company of Good Women series. I was at a disadvantage as I started this book, since I hadn't read the first two books, Almost Sisters and Three Tickets to Peoria. Despite this handicap, I quickly became involved in the character's lives. The book is written in short vignettes and a series of emails sent between the three women.

I did find it difficult to keep the numerous characters straight as the story jumped from Erin to Juneau to Deenie. Despite that, the variety of problems and triumphs the characters encountered were interesting and made the story more real. Each of the 'Crusty Old Broads' grows through the course of the story, relying on their friendship for strength and support. It made me want a group of 'Broads' to call my own.

The authors took an interesting approach in writing this book, each author writing from a different character's point of view. They say: "The Company of Good Women is the story of three women in three different parts of the country and their quest to become Crusty Old Broads—written by three women from three different parts of the country who are self-professed Crusty Old Broads!" In the end I did enjoy the book and would recommend it to others, but only after suggesting they start with book one.

You can purchase this book here or visit the authors here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Preparedness Principles by Barbara Salsbury

“With “Preparedness Principles” you are going to learn the solutions for practical, personal preparedness right where you are…in your own home.

The Goal: To teach you how to be more secure in dealing with future emergencies.

The Purpose: To provide the “know-how” for setting up a realistic, organized program of personal preparedness: suited to your circumstances, environment and budget.

The Attitude: Begin with what you have…where you are, on your budget. One step at a time. No need for doomsday, the world is not falling apart. You don’t need to stockpile arms nor head for the hills. You can be prepared in your own home.

The Experience: Barbara Salsbury has lived what she teaches. For the Salsburys being prepared has lessened the impact of many crisis. Barbara shares her invaluable insight.

The Motto: If you are prepared you can cope! Or to put it another way, you will be shown how to make most crisis more bearable!”

Preparedness Principles: The Complete Personal Preparedness Resource Guide is a book I’ve looked forward to reviewing. There have been many instances in my life when whatever level of preparedness we’ve had has helped get us through a variety of difficult circumstances. Before reading this book, I already had a firm belief in the importance of being prepared. As with a lot of people, I lacked some of the practical knowledge required to put a real plan into place.

So many people believe they will never need to use their emergency supplies and fail to even have the most basic supplies. Others don’t do anything about it because they have an all or nothing attitude. Salsbury says: “Preparedness is not an all-or-nothing thing. Something is much better than nothing, even if the something is just a little bit of something.” This book is a great place to learn how to start gathering that little bit of something.

Upon receiving this book, I was first impressed with the size and amount of information packed into it. Just reading the table of contents left me feeling a little overwhelmed. But Barbara Salsbury presents the information in an easy to read format. Her writing style is entertaining and informative.

As I read through the different sections I was impressed with how thorough the book is. The author writes about food storage, what to do in a natural disaster, and having a family plan should family members be separated during a disaster. The book is divided into five sections: 1) Essential Elements, 2)Principles for Surviving Worst Case Scenarios, 3) Principles of Provident Living, 4) Principles for Dealing with Disasters, and 5) Principles for Emergency Evacuations. The book also includes a large appendix section with detailed instructions for many of the ideas suggested in the book.

Every principle is accompanied with ideas on how to put it into practice. There are charts throughout the book and many experiences shared by those who have had to put emergency preparedness to the test. There is so much information in this book, but it is vital information everyone should learn.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is: “Preparedness is being in control during out of control situations.” This book will help families take control. It’s a book every family should have and would make a great Christmas present.

Preparedness Principles can be purchased here and you can also visit Barbara Salsbury’s website for more information.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Caught in the Headlights by Barry K. Phillips

“We’ve all had those ‘deer in the headlight’ moments when we realize we’ve been chasing the wrong things. Caught in the Headlights is a frank, insightful look at 10 key goals most of us think we want – only to discover our eyes are on the wrong prize. Barry K. Phillips not only entertains, but also examines common values and us to the goals we should seek, what to do differently now that we know better.

From goals such as happiness, self-esteem, protecting our pride, or the perfect physique, Phillips takes a closer look at those aims prized by society and explores how we can pursue higher goals. A thoughtful, funny, and at times profound look into the real reasons we all have for the things we do, this book will entertain, enlighten, and inspire.”

Each of the ten chapters is accompanied by a comic to introduce the principle, a section on lessons learned and a poem to summarize. The writing is easy to read and Mr. Phillips uses humor throughout to make his point. He takes values society has told us are important and turned them upside down to discover what is really of worth.

I most enjoyed the chapters on Control and Success. From the chapter on Control, he writes:

“Combining worthy pursuits with a keen sense of discernment brings about or causes serendipity. It’s not just happenstance. These two elements in play bring about a state of mind where a person’s own awareness allows him to find something better than what he was looking for, a good thing he could not have planned but was aware enough to notice.”

And from the chapter on Success:

“Balance, perspective, service, and doing the most with what you’ve been given in all areas of your life is what success is all about. Success measured on those terms is harder to find but well worth the pursuit. My lesson learned was not that I didn’t want success, just that my definition was all wrong in the beginning.”

In this little 116 page book, there are so many gems of wisdom that I am looking forward to a second and a third reading. I recommend this book as an entertaining and enlightening read, especially to those looking for a new perspective on life.

This book can be purchased from Cedar Fort or from Barry K. Phillips website.