Secrets of Organization by Peggy Bishop

Book Blurb:
I used to be busy every minute of the day, fall into bed exhausted every night, yet still have unfinished work hanging over my head. I knew there had to be a better way and started looking for tools to help me.
Do you want to learn how to regain control of your life? Would you like to discover how to organize your time at work and at home, reduce your stress level, and find happiness and contentment in your daily life?
That sounds like a fairy tale, doesn't it? Sure, you'd love to live like that, but you live in the real world. Wouldn't you like to find out how, even in the real world, you can achieve and live that fantasy? You can if you know the Secrets of Organization!
This useful step-by-step manual will help you improve multiple aspects of your daily life like organization, finances, time management, travel, entertaining, children, and pets. You'll find guidelines ranging from how to organize finances to creating a household evacuation plan to finding hidden storage space within your home.
You'll learn easy-to-follow methods for handling the basic demands of work life and home life. Using the Secrets of Organization, you can create organization out of chaos and have a more efficient and happier life.
Peggy Bishop has found a way to get organized with three basic steps: organize, prioritize, and simplify. Some are easier to set up than others, but knowing the basic foundation for an organized life paves a way to handle it all.

Secrets of Organization is a great little book filled with all kinds of organization tips. 14 different chapters cover all of life's organizational opportunities: Get a Routine; Organization; Be Prepared!; Prioritization; Cost-Cutters; Finances; Travel Security Tips; Pets, Storage; Children; Entertaining; Time Management; Career; and You've Learned How to Do it. Each chapter ends with a 'Quick Reference Chart' highlighting the key points.

A handy book with just the info needed to help bring balance back to a busy and disorganized life. Good read for anyone wanting to get organized.

Book Info:
Disclosure: This was provided by the author and any opinions are my own.

The Aspen House by Ellis Drake

Book Info:
Immediately after graduating from college, Miranda Morton suffered a severe illness. Now she has 100 dollars in her bank account and is on the verge of homelessness. That's why she accepts a job she's totally not qualified for: personal chef to rock god Michael de Bracy at a remote mountain retreat. Although Miranda expects to face challenges in cooking for de Bracy and his five friends, her real problems turn out to be much more serious: three people are viciously murdered with an ax during a freak snowstorm, and no one sees or hears a thing.
Now Miranda finds herself stranded in the mountains with a killer. Even worse, she thinks the killer might be the man she's fallen head over heels for, Michael de Bracy. Can Miranda protect herself and her heart until the police arrive?
Miranda was desperate. She needed a job, and fast, and a perfect one just landed in her lap - as a private cook to a famous rock star who happens to be someone she harbors a secret crush for. She has no professional cooking experience but thinks she can wing it. It all goes well until a surprise blizzard has everyone locked in and people are being knocked off, and everyone wonders to whom they can point a finger, even the guy she thinks is cute. Everyone in the house is a suspect: employees, ranch hands, the band members, and a ghost which has been said to haunt the property.

Part mystery, part light romance, the story starts out sweet enough making the reader long for something to happen between Michael and Miranda. Miranda is very likable, and how she reacts to the situation at hand is realistic. As typical in most campy murder mysteries, it has gore, a little something lurking behind every corner, and love triangles to swim around.

All this equates to a fun summer read. Easily devoured on the beach (which is what I did), but be careful when you begin reading. The story moves along at a quick pace and is hard to put down once it is started. Recommended read.

Here's an excerpt from the story:
Trapped with a killer...
Miranda cracked open the hallway door enough that she could see the shadowy outlines of the bedroom furniture and a vague lump in the bed. Making her way toward it, she tripped on a sneaker and fell forward, catching herself on the edge of the mattress with her hands and letting go of the fondue fork.
But it wasn't the loss of her makeshift weapon that made Miranda gasp. It was the feel of the mattress beneath her palms. It was soaked with something thick, and warm but already cooling.
Blood. She knew it as surely as if she could see it. With a jerk, she stood up and took some quick steps backward, pressing the back of her hand to her mouth to hold in a shriek. Squeezing her eyes shut, she tried to take to slow, deep breaths.
And that's when she heard the creak of a step behind her.

Author Bio:
This review was part of a book tour. Here are other stops:

July 15 Dina Rae's Write Stuff   - Review
July 16 Blogging By Liza - Excerpt
July 17 Busy Moms Book Reviews   - Excerpt/Review
July 18  Over A Cuppa Tea  - Review/Guest Post
July 19 Succotash Reviews  - Review/Excerpt
July 20 My Cozie Corner   - Guest Post

Disclosure: This book was provided by the author and any opinions are my own.

Adding to the Cooking Stacks and Book Finds: $5.00 Gets You a Lot

You never know what you are going to find at a used book store. I picked up some great cookbooks at my local Friends of the Library bookstore. This is what 5 bucks got me:
    The Cookbook Papers
  • Pack of 15 different cook booklets from the Culinary Arts Intstitute (1960s)
  • Sunset Cook Book of Breads (1976)
  • The Wine Industry: Wine Handbook Series No. 1 (Wine Advisory Board, 1962)
  • The Seafood Cookbook, Southern Living (1972)
  • And a Larousse Gastronomique, 1961 edition.
I already own two different versions of the Larousse Gastonomique, one the same exact edition, but this was in mint condition. And for 2.00, I figured I'd be a person who would actually appreciate it.

Old cookbooks are fun to flip through. And I love looking through older versions of books I already own. At times recipes are updated to reflect the proper usage of modern appliances, but in some cases things are left out, omitted to make room for what is 'hot' now, or even truncated. Case in point, the Larousse. Some of the older recipes are gone or changed (I know some of this is due to who ever is editing at the time) but shouldn't the definitions and entries still be roughly the same?

I did an article for that listed the basic definitions prep for variety meats. One of the first places I went to for information was the Larousse. If I relied solely on the newer version, I'd be sadly informed. Working in the kitchen and handling different variety meats gave me a working knowledge, but if I had just opened up the book, I would be sadly without all those recipes. Granted, not many people I know of would actually search for cooking information on mesentery (the membrane around the intestines attaching it to the abdomen), but it got me to thinking what else has been changed or omitted.

That's why all those old, vintage books are so important. And why so many chefs refer back to those for the original way a comfort food dish was prepared without everyone else's take on it. I'll be putting up reviews to many of these cookbooks and sharing recipes from them on my pastry and cooking blogs, but as always, will be putting the link up here, too, so they are easily found.

Enjoy. And share your own cookbook haul.

From a Dead Sleep by John Daly

Book Trailer:
Few residents in the small, secluded mountain town of Winston, Colorado, have kind words to say about Sean Coleman. He's a bully, a drunk, and a crime show-addicted, armchair detective with an overactive imagination. After a night of poor judgment, Sean finds himself the sole witness to the unusual suicide of a mysterious stranger. With the body whisked away in the chilling rapids of a raging river, no one believes Sean's account. Tormented over the doubts and mockery of the people of Winston, Sean embarks on a far-reaching crusade that takes him across the country in search of the dead man's identity and personal vindication. At the end, he hopes to find redemption and the truth--but sometimes the truth is better left unknown. There are times when the truth invites evil. There are times when the truth can get you killed.
Imagine witnessing a murder and no one believes you. Then imagine you not giving anyone a reason to because of the person you are. Initially, Sean wasn't someone I expected to be the hero. As the story went on and as the mystery unfolded, he was actually perfect for the part.

I liked how each character was detailed, which gave me a face to the action. Daly goes back in forth in time and between characters to fully paint the picture for the reader. If it wasn't for the action, I might have got lost but it worked well in this novel. I also appreciated a faulty character who finds redemption and love.

Book Information:
This book was part of Virtual Author Book Tours

Enter to win a signed copy of this book. The giveaway is for one signed print copy, open to the U.S. If international, the winner will receive the ebook in pdf or epub. Please pick you winner as soon as possible after your giveaway has ended and send me your winner's name, email and ebook format, for international, and mailing address for print. The publisher, BQB will then send the book or ebook to the winners.

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Disclosure: This book was provided by the author and any opinions are my own.

Divorce: Think Financially Not Emotionally by Jeffrey A. Landers

Book Blurb:
Divorce is an emotional roller coaster. And if you're a woman going through a divorce, you may not be thinking about financial matters, such as how your assets might get divided, tax liabilities, and what your living expenses might be ten years from now.
But, here's the problem: the decisions you make both before and during your divorce will directly impact the rest of your life, for better or for worse.  
Thinking financially is not always easy. But, it is possible, especially if you have some help. Anyone, no matter how savvy, can benefit from expert advice when she is crossing through treacherous and unfamiliar territory.
Divorce is an emotional decision on many levels. And the financials between the two parties are on another level all together. Jeffrey A. Landers has written a book specifically geared to dependent female spouses, wives who rely solely on their husbands for financial support, to help them get their financial futures in order. But it is an important read for any woman in this situation.

Divorce: Think Financially Not Emotionally covers all the basics in the book's sections: Preparing for Divorce; Dividing Assets and Debts: Key Concepts; Protecting Your Assets; and Special Topics. The Appendix includes a Divorce Financial Checklist. Each chapter walks you through a concept with added reminders (recap of any terms), hot tips, and legal matters.

Property, pensions and retirement accounts, and equitable distribution states are all covered, and specific chapters deal with hot button issues: Eight Places Husbands Hide Assets; Protecting Your Credit; and Intellectual Property. The book helps women do the work to protect themselves, and find the right answers. The second chapter sums it up well with reasons you shouldn't listen to or get divorce advice from family and friends.

An important read for any women facing a divorce as it provides not only concrete steps to take to protect themselves financially, but also presents concepts to bring up with their divorce team that might have been overlooked.

Jeffrey Landers is founder of Bedrock Divorce Advisors, LLC, and his articles on finance and divorce can be read on Landers has pledged to donate a portion of all profits from this book to the Bedrock Divorce Fund for Abused Women, a nonprofit charity he started whose mission is to help female victims of domestic abuse, and the organizations that support them.

Book Information:
Disclosure: This book was provided by the author any opinions are my own.

Till the Last Petal Falls by Elizabeth Rose

Book Trailer:
Jolee Bellissa is a 21 year old English major graduate living with her soon-to-be penniless inventor father, Moe, in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. All that's waiting for her in this 'bubble' of a town is a relentless suitor, Gage Aristade son of a rich accounting CEO and notable playboy, and a part-time job at the local Tattered Cover. When she sees a job listing for a literature and poetry tutor for a shut-in adult student in Aspen, room and board paid with a $4000 a month stipend, she figures she has nothing left to really lose. 

Adam Emile is a 33 year old eccentric artist, whose paintings' beauty is only matched by their disturbing choice of focus. Scarred by a horrific childhood and holed up in the mountains to keep from embarrassing his wealthy and famous father, he is beginning to lose all sense of reality. As a last resort, his personal nurse Chip has put out an ad on Craigslist, under the guise of tutoring, for a new friend for his patient. Will the beautiful young woman who answers the ad change Adam and break the curse of his mental depravity? Or will the secrets he harbors drag them both into madness?  A dark twist on the beloved story of 'Beauty and the Beast.
This is a modern day retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Only this version is much darker than any previous rendition I've read. Till the Last Petal Falls deals with child abuse in all its horrific forms, as well as domestic violence and self-mutilation. The main character, Jolee, is born beautiful and cannot believe that the people around her are genuine. The richest and most handsome man in town is set on having her, but the beast in the book isn't what you would expect him to be, as in the fairy tale, which makes this version an incredibly great read.

Jolee is a twenty-two year old who comes across a job offer too good to pass up: a great paycheck for tutoring a recluse. She takes the job and leaves her home for two years with high hopes, and soon envisions herself saving the master of the house solely with her love. And the longer she stays locked away from the outside world, the more she falls in love with her student ten years her senior, and the more she falls under his spell failing to see the telltale signs of the abuse he is giving her.

The faults of the abuser is with that person alone, never the victim, even when abusers have been abused themselves as children. The story has a running theme: accept responsibility for your actions and be honest with yourself. The best line in the book comes from an expected visitor during an especially dramatic point:
"Trauma does not create a monster. A man always has a choice."
Jolee fights for a long time to win over a violent man's love and to be loved in return. In the end she realizes that the only person she can truly change is herself, and she digs deep to finally see the abuse she has gone through. It is only after this does she open herself to love, and with the most unlikely person.

This was an exciting read. I love retellings of old fairy tales, but this one had characters that were much more flawed and much more vulnerable. Their hurts were genuinely described, in sometimes gruesome detail. I especially enjoyed the author's choice of not using the basic template of Beauty and the Beast: the beauty doesn't just save the beast with her love, she must first accept herself before she can love. That is the most important lesson for any young person to learn from any tale, modern or fairy.

This book deals with domestic abuse. The author is doing her part by bringing awareness through this story and helping out by donating a portion of her royalty sales of this book to battered women’s shelters in Colorado, the setting for the novel. For information on the author’s projects and the donation status, visit Elizabeth Rose ‘Till the Last Petal Falls.

Book Information:
Disclosure: This book was provided by the author and any opinions are my own.