Reading Fanatic ReviewsSelf-Help & Motivational
Available at Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Indigo (Chapters).
Maintaining Your Rebel Life
I have read the other two books in this serious, Your Rebel Dreams and Your Rebel Plans, and I enjoyed both thoroughly. I thought the author gave a fantastic blueprint to claim the life you want. The two earlier books look at how to figure out your vision and then plan to make it a reality. I’ve actually been anticipating this book for a couple of months because I so enjoyed the other two. This series-ender is a little different from the other two, but once I understood what the author was going for, I appreciated what this book has to offer.
In looking at the big picture of the three books in this series, I think I can liken it to the trajectory of a weight loss plan. In this scenario, Your Rebel Dreams (the first book) is like choosing which diet you think would be best for you and your body. Your Rebel Plans would be the phase where you are actually structuring and implementing your weight loss plan. I would call this book the maintenance phase: You’ve established a plan, worked the plan, and now you need a longer range vision about how to maintain everything that you’ve worked so hard for.
The book has a relatively straightforward structure. There is a section of introductory material, some of which was familiar from the previous books. Here, she sets the foundations about the particular constructs of all these books, like the Passion Pyramid and the Heroine’s Journey. The bulk of the book looks at the ten key pillars of life as defined by the author. Specifically, she has you look at each of these areas and assess your strengths and weaknesses so you can set small goals for improvement. She then gives ten tips that will help with that particular pillar. There are check-ins at the end of each month for each pillar where you state what your goal was, how you did with it, and steps from there. I found this a fascinating approach to try to keep yourself and your life not only in balance but in a constant state of improvement, a little kaizen. If you’ve read the other books, you’ll most likely enjoy this maintenance phase of your Rebel Diva life. If you haven’t read the other two books, you probably should before you delve into this one as those two books will truly set the foundation for this one.
Short Book without Much Substance
This book is an odd combination of parts. The first forty pages or so are a brief look at some Taoist and ancient Chinese concepts. The author certainly overstates in both the subtitle and the book description what this book is. It is certainly not a “proven unique approach to mental health and behavior at the spiritual level,” as the subtitle says. Instead, the bulk of the book is the 20 very short Taoist “lessons”—just a few paragraphs really—on principles and ideas that end with actions to do or actions to avoid. Some of these are written more like affirmations and others more like directions of what to do and not to do. There are just three in each category (do and do not), so there isn’t much substance in these between these and the few paragraphs also in the “lessons.” The book is clearly written by someone who is a non-native English speaker. Not only does this cause problems with grammar, punctuation, and usage—which are unfortunately scattered throughout the book—but it also gives rise to some lines that are just completely nonsensical. For instance, in one of the first lessons, the author states, “ ‘Pile’ is not the opposite of ‘face’, [sic] that have [sic] two sides.” I have no clue what that sentence is supposed to mean. What do “pile” and “face” have to do with each other? I’m thinking something got mistranslated along the way. I believe EVERY writer needs to have their work professionally edited, but it is even more critical when the writer is not a native speaker of the language he or she is writing in.
I did enjoy some of the quotes from Lao Tzu, particularly the one that went with her first lesson, “If you don’t change direction, then you might end up where you are heading.” This is only a 59-page PDF that I received as an ARC, but on page 11, the author already asks for reviews at Amazon. I find that so annoying.
Then the last 20 or so pages is a quiz that you can take to see which Chinese element you most embody. Honestly, I found this book to have so little substance as to not be worth my time, really. I do enjoy reading books on a variety of spiritual topics, so I was looking forward to this book to see what wisdom and information I could glean. The book was so poorly done and so brief that it didn’t have much to offer.
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Thalia, Angus & Robertson, and Bol.de
Helpful Mindfulness Breaks for Women
As a person who has an interest in self-help books, I found the concept of this one to be fascinating. Mindfulness is such a buzzword these days, and I will admit that I am a bit leery of its use everywhere. Mindfulness itself is a hard word to define fully. It definitely has to do with being present, whatever that means for you in a given moment. But there is much more to it. In this book, the author offers 5-minute tune-ups that will either help you calm down (breathing mindfulness), see and get past self-limiting beliefs (empowering mindfulness), or figure out actionable plans as you learn more about yourself (achieving mindfulness).
First she talks generally about what the book will have in it; she also does define mindfulness and why she considers it to be important. The book has been broadly divided into three sections: breathe, empower, and achieve mindful breaks (as laid out by the title). These are mostly short concepts to meditate on although some of them do require you to write or do other actions. Each of these exercises is preceded by a fairly lengthy essay describing what the exercises is meant to do for you and some of its background. I found the essays engaged my mind and made me more interested in trying the exercise. Meditation and inner awareness have been subjects that have interested me for decades, and I enjoyed this spin on it. By the way, this book is geared toward women specifically. The author states that women have some unique responsibilities and challenges that require special acknowledgement and handling. I think each of the book’s parts have value. It is so easy to get stressed and overwhelmed; the breathe section can help with that. If you have beliefs that stop you from going after what you want, the empower section is tailored to that. I recommend this book.
Book Not as Described
I enjoy a variety of self-help and motivational books, so I was definitely intrigued by the title and concept of this book. However, I find myself disappointed by its contents. The subtitle says it is a guide to awaken your inner strength (on a bicycle no less), but I found nothing of the sort in the book. The first full half of the book is just a variety of stories from the author’s life with nothing said about how this can parallel the reader’s life or how the reader could learn from such an experience in her life. After the middle point, the book does start to talk about some issues from the reader’s perspective, but every chapter is really mostly about the author’s story. If you enjoy books where someone talks about their life and some lessons they’ve learned, you might enjoy this book. But if you are expecting it to live up to its subtitle, you will be disappointed.
Needs Organization and Focus
The title and subtitle of this book do not wholly accurately reflect what the contents are. The author seems to imply in the subtitle that this is about the why and how of the toxic relationship between empaths and narcissists. It does include elements of both of those, but they don’t seem to be the main thrust of the book, which appears more to be about what a toxic relationship is and the dynamics of it.
I thought the book had some good information, even though I thought some topics were too short. I also think it needed better organization. The book starts with 15 danger signs of a toxic relationship. Given what the subtitle is, I think it would have been better to start with defining the terms, which comes a bit later in the book, as well as an introductory foreword aimed at the empath, the target audience of this book. This opening section could discuss some of what the book description talked about; namely we can sometimes have toxic patterns in our relationships that repeat over and over with different partners and that this book aims to help break a person out of that mold. Then she should have gone on to the definitions and set up what an empath-narcissist relationship looks like before teaching about how to escape this toxic pattern.
Instead, we are given a loosely organized and somewhat disjointed grab bag of information about empaths, narcissists, and what relationships between them look like. A little at the end has some about getting out of such relationships. Again I thought some information was a bit too skimpy, but there is definitely much food for thought here, especially if you are trapped in a cycle of this kind of destructive relationship and haven’t been able to see the patterns. This book could help you understand them more clearly. All in all, I think this was a good effort that needed more focus.
Can Joy be Found in Productivity?
This book wasn’t quite what I was expecting. The title, of course, is a spin on the fear of missing out (FOMO), which is quite a catchphrase these days. My thought was that the joy of missing out (this book) would be the opposite of the fear of missing out, but that’s not how this book comes across. In fact, it is about productivity and uses the author’s four-part system to analyze and build that. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t associate joy with productivity! It almost feels as if the author is combining two buzzwords in trying to cobble together a method. The book is heavily anecdotal, particularly of the author’s life, though she also includes discussion of other people’s issues and forays into solving them. In general, storytelling is a good way to get across nonfiction concepts, but it must be done with a light hand. Examples shouldn’t go on for too long, and they should definitely correlate to whatever the topic is. These personal experiences and anecdotes often failed one or both of these criteria. The storytelling at times overwhelmed the message, so I wasn’t really clear what I was supposed to be taking away. That’s the danger of storytelling; the actual message can get lost in a high noise-to-signal ratio. The book, too, seems to be focused more on mothers of at-home children. Whether you’re looking at the topic from the perspective of the joy of missing out or productivity, not everyone who needs such guidance fits into that category. All in all, I found this to be a disappointing read.
Not Truly New Mantras, but Mantra Actions are Good
In this book, you will find 75 mantras along with suggested actions for you to take to fully embody or embrace what the mantra is about. The book is divided into 5 core topics: peace, love, happiness, strength, and journey. I was surprised as I was flipping through the book at how common these mantras are. A few of them might be original to the author, but most are short, commonplace sayings–commonplace, at least, if you’ve done much reading in self-help or self-development. What does make this book interesting are the suggested mantra actions, though some are a bit general. After all, it is one thing to say a mantra and another thing to try fully practice, embrace, or get to know it more deeply. I think that’s what this book’s strength is. The writing is a little awkward, as if the writer is not a native English speaker or has been translated from another language. If you have an interest in positive thinking or translating positive thinking into action, this book could be for you.
It’s All About Change
This book is an extended excerpt from this author’s other book that I had previously reviewed which was about doing two dangerous things each year. So if you’ve read that book, you don’t need to read this one because there isn’t anything new at all here. I wasn’t aware of this fact when I chose this book from my favorite book review site because the title and the blurb were different enough that I didn’t see the similarity. And, of course, it’s not as if I go through my notes to see if one book by an author is related to another when I’m choosing titles to review. The title and the subtitle of this book are so different from that of the other book. Also, I didn’t really think that the title and subtitle of this one matched up with what was actually in the book. I like my nonfiction descriptions (including title and subtitle) to promise what the book delivers… and for the book to deliver on the promise. I think the author should have actually slightly rewritten what he took from his other book because of this (or changed the title/subtitle). It didn’t really discuss being average, why it sucks, or why staying in your comfort zone is a slow death (all from the title and subtitle). The book is really all about change: why it’s important, why we have difficulty with it, a better mindset to approach it with, etc. I think the author would have served his content better by actually titling and subtitling it what it’s about (or changing the content). Just make it all line up! People do have a hard time embracing change, so that might be why he was reticent. But with the right title, subtitle, and blurb, he could sway hearts and minds I am sure, and this would have been better than the disconnect between content and title.
Concepts Standing Between Us and True Understanding
The subtitle of this book definitely intrigues: The little space between what you know and don’t know. In this book, the author seeks to make us aware of this gap that can exist personally, professionally, and culturally. It isn’t a step-by-step blueprint to, say, help you better understand your relationship with your spouse or how to understand your company’s corporate culture. Rather, he looks at several concepts like gatekeepers, intelligence, bias, and specialists; and gives insight into them so that you can better understand what these really mean and how they are reflected in our experience of the world. Within each concept, he gives an example, sometimes a counterpoint, and a one-sentence takeaway. Given that some of the concepts can be a little intangible, the book is surprisingly engaging and makes you think about some of your preconceptions about yourself, others, and the greater world. It is a book best taken in small doses so you can ponder the information presented. The line isn’t always clearly drawn about how a concept is necessarily part of the gap between the known and the unknown, but the ideas are still interesting to think about. If you want to explore some of what could be seen as barriers to true understanding, you may very well enjoy this book. I know I did.
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo (Chapters), and Bol.de
Surprisingly Helpful Book
I think it is unfortunate when an author or a publisher believes that they have to oversell a book. This book is a victim of just such a stratagem. This is actually quite a detailed, well-thought-out, and well-written book about how to get your financial house in order. So I have issues with the title, subtitle, and book blurb. The title suggests a humorous or edgy approach, and the subtitle—as it begins with a rather strange directive—supports this theory as well. The book blurb makes you think that it is going to be more about retiring early or entrepreneurship. While the book does address the former, that isn’t really the main thrust of the book. The book is really about getting your financial house in order and aligning what you do financially with your own personal values so that you can live a better present and future.
This book is meant for millennials, but I believe that most people could find benefit from it even if everything doesn’t apply to you, because of your age group or for any reason. The book is broadly divided into four parts: foundations, growth, investing, and living your life. The first part begins with getting your money mindset correct by considering your approach two money. This part moves on to take a look at where your money is going and looking at your savings. Then he looks into having an emergency fund before diving into debts. In the growth section, he discusses a salary negotiation and having a side hustle. In the investing section, he looks at index funds, retirement accounts, and real estate. The final two chapters that make up part four step more into the mindset perspective, looking at purpose in retirement and happiness with your financial goals.
This book is chock full of ideas and things for you to think about in your approach to your finances both now and in the future. The author freely admits that most of these ideas are not his own. He does have an MBA and is a certified financial analyst, but he also states that he has gathered information from various places online. Honestly, there is much that will help people here, both in mindset and in practicalities. It will get you thinking about what you do with your money now, what you want to do with it in the future, and why you want (or shouldn’t want) to do all these things. If you want financial freedom now and years from now, I would recommend reading this book—whether you are a millennial or not.