Tag Archives: book review

What I’m Reading For A Holiday Amazon Review


I will be reading Kathy Pooler’s new memoir, Ever Faithful To His Lead, for an upcoming holiday review at Amazon.com, courtesy of Story Cartel where you sign up to receive free books for review. I’m one of those long time members who always come back to pursue great reading material when time permits- I promise to get the review done! Go here if you’re interested in joining Story Cartel. https://storycartel.com/?awt_l=OcCo.&awt_m=3lB3fBnhAInXk5r

Also, if you’re in the spirit of continued inspirational reading material and gratitude, make sure to pick up my short ebook to read this holiday season on your Kindle or from Amazon.com:



Happy Holidays!

Always “Treat yourself special!”

All Beautiful Things: Amazon Book Review


Wow, overcast skies and a slight misty rain, makes for one of those awe-struck beautiful mornings. Happy Spring to my readers, writers, movers and shakers! Since my last visit, I’ve been putting in hours as a great grandma, working on writing projects, scouring for gigs, attending seminars, teleconferences, and reading an assortment of books:) which brings me to today’s Friday post.

If you haven’t read “All Beautiful Things”, a plot centered around the Beauty and the Beast fan tale by Nicki Salcedo, I don’t think your book collection is complete. Here’s the review that I posted on Amazon.com:

When I read a book for review, I’m usually conscious of my personal taste for story telling. The ability to keep the reader turning the page and the overall feeling of satisfying a hunger that burns in the belly of the reader is a plus. Redundancy, predictability and failure to persuade the reader can detract from a book’s praises.

In All Beautiful Things, the author writes a horrific attack scene that immediately horrifies and draws the reader in and sets the tone for a roller coaster ride of expectancy. The wonderful pace of Imagery moves the story from beginning to end.

There are a few predictions that played itself out that was not a surprise to this reviewer, but still so few that it didn’t detract from the overall expertly written and nicely applied attention to detail the author conveys.

The protagonist is Ava Camden, a rich African-American socialite in Atlanta who is brutally attacked and left for dead. Only she lives and her life is a constant reminder of her ordeal because of the deep scars in her face sustained from the knife the perpetrator welded in the attack.
Ashamed, angry and embarrassed by her disfigurement, Ava refuses to ever have her picture taken. She becomes withdrawn and spends her time working in a shelter amongst people who she feels doesn’t judge her.
When Ava’s white attacker who is serving ten years for the crime against her is released after only seven years and promptly disappears, the brother of the accused attacker sets out to find him, along with the answers to the mystery surrounding Ava Camden’s attack.

All Beautiful Things is a well crafted story that will keep readers intrigued until the end. I enjoyed reading it.

You can see the review here- http://www.amazon.com/review/R2LJ1FGQQTUQPN.

Nicki on Goodreads- url

Have you read All Beautiful Things yet? Feel free to share your thoughts with us.

On The Horizon at Clara54

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It’s been a looong Friday! So, I’m going to make this short but relevant:) I’m taking a page from Oprah when I say the one thing I know for sure is that nobody’s perfect. Every single creative on their writing journey want to become better at their craft. Readers just make better writers who are always looking for that next great read. I recommend “100 Ways To Improve Your Writing” by Gary Provost, who also wrote “The Freelance Writer’s Handbook.”

This particular handbook is only about 158 pages, but it is packed with useful information and proven techniques on everything from finding inspiration, punctuation and grammar, to rewrites and gaining the respect of your readers. It’s a great little writer’s resource and I finished it in about 60 minutes.


“All Beautiful Things” by Nicki Salcedo is be the next book on the horizon for an upcoming review at Amazon.com. If you’ll like to read the author’s debut novel, pick up a copy here: http://www.amazon.com/All-Beautiful-Things-Nicki-Salcedo-ebook/dp/B00H9H6JNE.

I was the featured author at BAB.http://buff.ly/1nHDsgs

What’s on your reading agenda?

An Amazon.com Book Review…

Website-Beyond-Self-esteem book

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m in a bit of a tizzy today- where did the time go? because I’m preparing to spend the weekend with my daughter and help her get settled in her new house. I’m going to share with you guys an earlier review I’d written at Amazon.com.

Eloisa Ramos is a student and teacher of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) or tapping, which she uses in her work. I’d vaguely heard of tapping via webinars, newsletters and such, but Eloisa explains the technique in more detail as a stimulus process used much in the same way as acupuncture on key areas of the body to,”unblock stuck energy showing up as negative emotions and beliefs- releasing them from our energy system.”

This book is deep and I initially thought too conservative in its writings for me, but, you’ll see from reading my review- I had, as Oprah would say, “aha.” moments during the read.

My amazon review:

Self-Esteem: Discovering Your Boundless Self-Worth (Volume 1) (Paperback)
When I downloaded a free copy of Beyond Self-Esteem, from Story Cartel. admittedly, I began my initial read of the author’s work, with bit of a closed mind, as I had preconceived notions of what to expect in regards to self development, enlightenment and spiritual self awareness- some of the the criteria for which my own work is based. The author’s work started to read like a college term paper at first, but, when I returned with a sincere determination to finish the book and give an honest review, I allowed myself to read, without prejudice and harbored no perceptions of what I thought the message should be. Overall, I found the book to be stimulating, interesting and humanly intriguing.

It was interesting to find out more about EFT and how it works when exploring the true ‘self.’ I was also encouraged by the author’s take on self-images and how we find our truths by recognizing what’s lies beyond our externals. I enjoyed letting go of limiting beliefs and opening up to the positives the author have to share. Important lessons to learn!

P.S. Let this be a lesson to all creatives- never assume anything until you’ve read the fine print:)

How about you guys- ever thought a book ‘difficult’ only to find it was really worth the read?

An Upcoming Authors Spotlight

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Hello Everyone! I’m caught up after completing a few projects that needed my attention and so this is my Friday’s post, a tad late,_geez, such is the life:) I’m going to have a very special guest author on this Friday for a one on one conversation regarding Domestic Violence or Relationship Violence. Darlene Greene is no stranger to me in that she has contributed often to Authentic Woman’s “From The Experts” section, speaking and offering invaluable insights to women on ways to leave a violent relationship “Safely.”

I recently read Darlene’s new book of her own personal tragedy where she talks freely about losing three members of her family to domestic violence. I asked her to share her journey with all of you. As founder and executive director of The Ina Mae Greene Foundation, Darlene is on a mission to help save lives.This book is such a valuable resource and a powerful testament to women worldwide, who are faced with life threatening situations from men who profess to love them.

In her book, Darlene shares “red flags”, safe measures women can take to leave an abusive relationship without becoming victim and more resources that are put in place to help any woman who seek refuge or a safe place to land. Darlene Greene wants you to become empowered and break the cycle and the silence of domestic violence…

Hope to see you on Friday!

Here’s Darlene’s website http://www.inamaegreene.org.
Here’s where you can pick up a copy of Blood Relatives; Breaking The Cycle, Breaking The Silence.


A Review of Numen Yeye by Abiola Olatunde

Where did May go? Happy Friday, everyone! It’s like the wheels of life is turning at warp speed:) Only a week ago, the excitement of my granddaughter’s Prom was the topic of conversation in my world and now, we’re gearing up for her HS graduation! Anyway, I’m still finding time to read and review great art from awesome authors for you guys and I might add, yours truly is being inspired and motivated to do more storytelling of her own! More about me in upcoming posts.

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I’ve just had the pleasure of reading Numen Yeye, a speculative work of fiction by Nigerian Novelist, Abiola Olatunde. The story centers around Numen Yeye, a Princess in the Kingdom of Light who must come to the human world to serve as their guide against the evil darkness that threatens to consume their light. In order to help these unaware humans and dispense of several dark foes( including a grandmother) Princess Numen’s spirit will live through the earthly body of a young girl named Ife.

As an earth mother withdraws and questions who this all-knowing child is; a father accepts and says very little. Amid accusation, polygamy, rituals; husbands with many wives; wives and jealousy, anger, suspicion and dislike, lies the fabric of life meaning within the workings of this book.

The author paints a beautiful canvas of richness and wonderment for the reader as we are led to explore the traditions, cultures, customs and religions of a people.

While the story is fiction, Nigerian culture is the backdrop as civilization comes to the forefront and antiquated teachings of myths, misconceptions and witchcraft is pondered. I truly didn’t know what to expect from reading this book. But, in the end, I feel it’s a testament to ones’ own spiritual interpretations.The book is over 200 pages, but, I believe it’s a worthy read.

And just to show how much I appreciate my readers?

I will have this wonderful prolific poet, writer, screenwriter and Novelist as my guest next week!
Can you believe she’s written over 200 stories for television and radio plays, in addition to anthologies and her novels? I will definitely ask her about this awesome feat in our one on one!

If you’ve read Numen Yeye, please share your thoughts with us. To pick up a copy of Abiola’s book, go to http://www.amazon.com/numen-yeye-ebook/dp/BOOA1o22EM

Clara54’s Author Spotlight…


In 2011, I received a Christian Romance Novel for review by Yvonne Randle of http://www.lovingrelationships.biz. The book was enjoyable, informative and a supportive resource for victims of relationship abuse and domestic violence. Yvonne and I reconnected recently and were in talks about her reasons for penning “Loving Relationships” from a Christian perspective as opposed to other genres.

Truth be told, I am a believer in God, a participant in daily prayer and a faith follower – all connected to living right. But, I’ve read only a handful of books in the Christian genre. It will be a pleasure to have Yvonne Randle join us on Friday as she talks about her latest works in the Christian romance.

In other news, you guys know by now that I operate 3 blogs, as well as work on projects that will supplement my retirement income:) My business brand, Authentic Woman Networks is making great efforts and strides in bringing women together worldwide and readership has increased to over 1000 pageviews/day…I am truly blessed! Recently, I opened an empowerment apparel shop for women to purchase empowerment t-shirts in solidarity of women stepping out in voice and in ownership of their power, all over the world. Please take a moment to show your support for women to use their voice and make a difference.

Visit the shop and purchase an authentic woman tee shirt for yourself and for the strong women in your life at http://www.cafepress.com/AuthenticWomanApparel for a great cause.

Also: Short Story contests are trending. If you’re stuck writing your novel (like me) why not enter a few short stories and keep writing, until you get the ‘feel’ for your book? Here are some contests to consider.

Writing Tomorrow Magazine
Flavorwire Magazine
Kenyon Review
Women Who Write 2013 International Poetry & Short Prose Contest.

What are you guys working on? See you on Friday!

Book Review- Me & Him: A Guide To Recovery

Happy Friday to all of my readers, writers and authors! I’m bringing you the last in a month long series focused upon the Memoir. It has been a wild ride and I’ve loved and learned from all of you great story-tellers:) I hope you all picked up gems that will assist you on your journey to telling your truths. We’re seen so much community from lovers of the written word in every genre and I hope to keep the momentum going in the thrilling reads ahead!.Today, I’m introducing the work of a woman whose story will resonate with anyone personally connected or diagnosed with a mental illness.


Me & Her: A Memoir Of Madness is Karen Tyrrell’s personal journey of Bipolar Disorder. She shares with us how she spiraled out of control after suffering constant harassment and abuse from the parents of a student she was teaching. The abuse, according to the author would span over a year. Me & Her, have gotten rave reviews from professionals in the Mental healthcare industry, colleagues and readers worldwide. Karen, however, isn’t finished with her story.

Karen recently published Me & Him A Guide To Recovery and the second book that serves as a teaching guide for people who are suffering from Bipolar Disorder and other mental illnesses. This book introduces readers to tips on how to become pro active in recognizing triggers that offset their illness and how to incorporate coping skills into their daily routines in order to help them better cope with their illness.

The author stresses how recovery process is different for every individual, requiring different medications, treatments and management skills. She encourages continued counseling and to embrace positive psychology as a positive trans-formative experience. Karen says that by being proactive in her own diagnosis and treatment, she hasn’t had an episode since 2006. There’s a mound of positives for recovery in this book, including sessions on how to live in the now, practicing mindfulness, managing your triggers,balancing your emotions, meditation techniques, nutrition, exercise and so much more. Karen’s goal in writing her books is to ‘humanize’ mental illness and she has accomplished her mission.

gide to recovery

As I read Me & Him, I couldn’t help but consider, although the focus is clearly a well-being guide for people who suffer from mental illness, I also felt it was one of those books that could just as well empower everyone in their daily lives who wanted to live a balanced life. I reached out to the author for her thoughts.

I envisaged my “Guide” to be an empowering resource for those who want to recover from mental illness and remain stable.
And for everyone who wants to be mentally happy.
My recovery and resilience skills evolved from personal successes, the same tips proven by wellness experts.

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Karen Tyrrell is a multi-genre Brisbane author, passionate mental health advocate, teacher, and accredited speaker. She was the co-ordinator of Logan Writers collective 2010-13.
Karen presents the Life Writing program and Resilience Training workshop to hospitals, wellness centres and the workplace. She presents creative writing workshops to schools and memoir writing workshops to libraries.

Learn more about Karen at http://www.karentyrrell.com

Have you or anyone you know been diagnosed with mental illness? Please share your experiences with us.

Book Review: Nine Rubies By Mahru Ghashghaei

 In 1946, Mahru Ghashghaei was born in Ardebil, Iran, somewhere along the Russian Border. The youngest of three daughters, her life was like that of any child with love and appreciation for her Iranian upbringing. The onset of Revolution would bring change to the young girl’s life and to the people of Iran. Marhu’s mother would suffer humiliation and theft from her husband; father to Mahru and her two sisters. As the family struggles from the embarrassment of financial ruin and nearly destitute, their mother must make hard decisions to protect her three young daughters in a male dominated world where women have no voice.

In 1990, Mahru Ghashghaei, a Muslim woman would meet Susan Snyder, a Jewish woman,at a school function both their children attended. Their 20 year friendship would help to unleash secret stories buried since childhood…Stories that would evolve into an inspiring account of women survival, courage and resilience.

Mahru Ghashghaei, the author of Nine Rubies, along with Susan Snyder, co-author, sheds light on how people faced with adversity share commonalities, regardless of cultural differences.  I enjoyed reading this book filled with heartfelt moments, historical modules, passion and purpose. As a book review blogger, I encourage you to visit www.NineRubiesTheBook.Com  to purchase your copy of Nine Rubies today!

Clara54 received complimentary copy of Nine Rubies for review purposes…

An extra bonus for my readers!

Clara54 In Conversation With Mahru Ghashghaei:

Mahru, I want to thank you and Susan as well, for allowing me to review NINE RUBIES for my readers. I enjoyed the book immensely and also got a bit of education in Iranian Culture.

 How long has it been since you’ve been back to your homeland and is that difficult, considering the state of affairs in Iran now?

I haven’t seen my homeland for more than 3 years.  And now I am living where my sons and husband are with me, in the United States.

While reading Nine Rubies, I was struck with how very little laughter there was In your family growing up…was your childhood so structured and strict? And can you elaborate on what’s more important in an Iranian household?

Actually, I had my own world that was sometimes happy and sometimes not.  I was happy in the garden with my flowers. Even though I didn’t have a father, mom replaced him by telling stories and creating a woman’s world where I didn’t miss men.  This was very natural to me.

If strict means that I had discipline, this is true.  Mom guided me to follow the cultural rules such as “don’t laugh loud,” or the rule of “tarof (if you want something, don’t accept immediately – use lots of self control),” and “cover yourself decently.” In many Iranian households, privacy is important, and personal matters are secret.  Also, it is important to show yourself as more than you are, especially financially.  Iranians are proud people.

Mom actually had a very free soul, but in our situation living between two worlds, she often did not want us to appear close to her.  This was confusing and difficult for my self-identity – I didn’t know I belonged.

Why do you think your mother trusted your father by signing over papers that would rob your family of her father’s wealth? Could she have done anything about it and who was there to help her?

My father was devoted to his mission.  The Communist party was called Tudeh, and Tudeh means ‘people.’  As a Tudeh member, he wanted to take resources from wealthy families and distribute them to the poor.

I don’t know the circumstances under which he had mom sign away her wealth. However, at the time she may have felt very secure, or been assured by him that things would be fine.  She may have signed the paper to save her marriage, or maybe she was betrayed.  Or maybe she was convinced that it was right to give the money to the poor.  We just don’t know.

She did have her father for help, but she did this in secret, and hid the paper away – my husband and I saw the document many years later.  Her father probably would have stopped her.

It’s always interesting to look back and think about what decisions you would have made, but decisions are made without the advantage of hindsight.

Tell us about your mother…

My mother was always a very peaceful person, and her strong belief in her mission and that harshness was a good message for her.  Her father taught her that her life was not going to be easy, and she learned the lesson well.  She waited faithfully until the end of her life, knowing that she would be rewarded in the afterlife. 

Through my work, I was able to eventually release her from her servitude.

After my marriage, Khosro and I sent her on many trips to Mecca and other holy places that she wished to go. She had the best time with my children, and I gave her the privileges that she would have had in her father’s home.  She wasn’t ‘grandma’ in my house, she was the house manager.  Whatever rules she made, that was how it was, and she liked this life.  I wanted her to finally have everything she wanted, and I sacrificed for her the way she sacrificed for me when I was young.

At the end of her life, she lived happily in the United States for five years, even though she was quite sick.  Her health was poor, but her mind was peaceful.  She returned to Iran days before her death with peace in her heart and soul.

You spoke of your sisters. How are they and are they in Iran? Your half- brother as well? Have you two ever spoken about your lives as children of the same father?

My sisters are in Iran, and living very full lives with their children and grandchildren.  They are role models – Ashi is a spiritual guide in her community, helping orphan and abused children as a non-certified counselor.  Aki is still very wise – the wisest person in our family  – and a powerful example for all of us.  She competes with her children and grandchildren in using new technology, and with the grace of the Internet, we are in touch every day.

As for my half brother, this is a painful story that requires more than a short answer.  The confusion and shame we felt as a result of our father’s actions was a disaster for us, and we did not continue contact.  With wars around the world, this story is repeated more than can be imagined, and will continue to be a source of pain for many young people as a result of forced separations.  We hope to be advocates for these innocent victims.

Do you think/believe Iran will ever become a democracy? 

Why not?  Iran tasted democracy before the coup in 1953 against Dr. Mossagdeq, and I believe there are many intellectuals in Iran who favor democracy.  Today, many Iranians pay their lives to bring democracy back.

For all of my curious readers, please explain the significane of NINE RUBIES

When my grandfather was on his deathbed, he gave nine rubies to mom, who had lost her only son and was heartbroken.  He promised her if she stayed strong and took good care of her daughters, and didn’t give up on them, she would have nine grandsons.  And she had nine grandsons (and two granddaughters!).  Three of the rubies are mine.

Have you always felt that you wanted to become an advocate for women rights?

I have always felt that I was an advocate for EVERYONE’S rights.  And I know for that is a price to pay.  There are many examples in Nine Rubies, and in the rest of my life.  But it is always worth it to speak out for others.

Khalil Gibran…  why do his words bring you comfort?

I loved him since I was a child, hearing the poems in Farsi and their metaphors for my experiences.  The words helped me understand and process often-difficult situations and relationships.  After I learned English, I loved the poems even more, because they helped me understand my new language, and the new language helped me understand the poems more deeply. The comfort is because he speaks to my heart and calms it.

On a lighter note: Do you watch Reality Television’s Shahs Of Sunsets airing on VH1?

Yes.  I watch it because it reminds me of the time before the revolution in Iran, when a very small group of royal and privileged Iranians lived that way, only more gloriously.  Their behavior, like this group in California, was very flamboyant, and was harmful to the overall Persian culture. This group became an example that the clergy could hold up as being destructive to the culture, thereby pushing toward the revolution.

What do you think about how the Persian people are represented to American viewers?    

Definitely, Persian people are not well represented in Shahs of Sunset.  Persians in America have the same range of lives as all Americans.  Persians are scholars, business people, teachers, artists, hard working people, mothers, fathers, children, politicians, doctors – dealing with the daily issues of life. Iranians have a positive effect on the American culture, using our research and knowledge to improve our surrounding society, and are members of families, communities, and the country.

Also, as other Americans, there are a wealthy few, some of whom seek fame rather than positive influence and contribution to society.  I know that most Americans are aware of the difference between a reality show that flaunts the riches of a few, and the real and productive lives of the majority…

What do you think of this interview? Will you purchase a copy of NINE RUBIES?

Book Review: Falling for Me

“If you’d like to be loved, then love” Sex and the Single Girl

In 1962, Helen Gurley Brown, editor and chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine all but galvanized a single women’s movement with the publication of her bestselling book Sex and the Single Girl.

Sex and the Single Girl became the go-to guide, advocating for women to use their wit, brains, and beauty to capture the man of their dreams.

Fast forward to 2011’s new millennium to a single 30-something author and journalist named Anna David who doesn’t believe in soul mates or cupid’s arrows, but, after experiencing several dsappointments in life, love, and shrinks, decides to become a self-proclaimed prote’ge’e of Sex and the Single Girl.

Armed with determination and a few “whatifs”, David sets out to find ‘the one” by following the rules of Helen Gurley Brown’s dating and relationship etiquette.

Anna David’s memoir, Falling for Me, takes us on a whirlwind of experiences as she share insights into her past drug abuse & family dynamics. She bravely and sometimes fearfully, tackles cooking , pottery classes, rollerblading, online dating , decorating, fashion, traveling and slight escapades of sexual naughtiness.

Falling for Me might not be for everyone to read in order to get to that “aha” moment in their lives, but I recommend that you do.

Anna David is the author of 2 novels, Party Gir (2007) and Bought (2009). She has appeared on many television shows, including CNN Showbiz Tonight, Hannity, Red Eye and the Today Show. She is Executive Editor of the addiction and recovery website, The Fix.

Visit www.annadavid.com and www.amazon.com for more information.

Clara54 received no compensation for this review.  Are you a single Sex in The City girl?  Helen Gurley Brown follower? or,

Have you read Anna David’s Falling for Me? Share your thoughts!