Archive for the ‘How-To’ Category


Retirement Is Murder – “Clues”

September 25, 2015


Retirement Is Murder by Susan Santangelo

This is not a book you would expect. The narrator is in her sixties and she gets her husband (unhappy with work) to plan for retirement (or so she thinks. He believes this will be a new client.)

Why would this be on Kindle (not exactly a media for older readers)? Why the subject of retirement (not something people usually plan)? And why am I reviewing this (who happily waddle through my own senior years without much direction)?

It is free. And worth thinking about. Not the plot which is kind of interesting, but what retirement means today.

I asked my 80 year old neighbor some of the discussion questions at the end of the book. If like him, and me, you don’t have a clue to your answers, read this book.

4 out of 5


Adventures for Your Soul – “Life Changing”

June 9, 2015

Soul Book_

Adventures for Your Soul by Shannon Kaiser

This is the kind of book I get for someone else to read (my wife, my daughter). I am suspicious of anything with “soul” in the title. But, despite the very small print, I thought I would give this a glance. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Some of the chapters, “we fixate on our flaws” and “why we get comfortable being uncomfortable,” for example, are useful, but larger questions, such as, “if your life were a movie and you were a leading character how would you want to be portrayed” and “what did you want to be when you were still a kid?” keep you awake at night thinking.

This book can literally change your life. But this comes at a price. We have spent our whole time thinking one way, and now we are asked to consider life differently. Books used to ask us to do this in college, but it has been years of mystery novels and TV reruns. Now…”but there is only this life and we do matter.”

4 out of 5


The Karma Queens – Better and Better

May 25, 2015

The karma Queens


I would have done this book differently. Changed the title to something more appealing to those of us who are suspicious of karma, past lives, numerology. Put user benefits on the cover instead of the blonde with a tattoo and her mother. Maybe, these are grabbers for people who know their TV show, but, to be honest I don’t, and yet I think the book is very thought provoking and helpful.

I may not subscribe to “past lives” but I do think we get many of our prejudices from our family and our parent’s generation. Doesn’t mean we can’t change, only that we need to be honest about our imprints and start there. I have a fear of campfires and my dad did too. What is that all about? And we seemed programmed for rejection.

This book tells us what is necessary to change all this and feel good about ourselves. When I came to the chapter on numerology I thought “no way.” But then I started to do the numbers on my own life and read the descriptions and…they were correct.

I liked the chapters on dealing with a death, friendship, community and karmic cycles. With my own interpretation of things, that is. But there is plenty to think about on any terms. I have to say this proved to be an important book for me, despite the cover.

4 out of 5


The Poet’s Home Repair Manual – “Taking Poetry Out of the Tower”

February 26, 2015
Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser

How many things give you a choice. Buy a car because it offers less miles per gallon, what’s the choice? Live in a house that your parents’ would approve of, what’s the choice? Interpret a poem in a way that is beneficial to you because that is what a poem allows you to do—in fact that is the definition of a poem—now you have choice. Now you are free to be yourself.

So what if it isn’t the kind of magic teachers have presented to us with awe. To be free, to be yourself, is a magic being offered to us that is even better.

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Midlife Cabernet: Life, Love & Laughter after Fifty

January 1, 2015


Midlife Cabernet: Life, Love & Laughter after Fifty by Elaine Ambrose

I liked this book (except for the last couple of chapters which were somewhat maudlin). It is real. Down to earth. Full of practical Erma Bombeck-like advice for those of us watching the end of the parade. So what are some advantages of growing older:

You no longer have to worry about:

  1. career
  2. appearance
  3. dating and finding right spouse
  4. your kids
  5. where to live
  6. losing your savings in a spam investment
  7. being alone
  8. what others think of you (exercise programs)
  9. living this long
  10. fancy vacations

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Write Away – “Worst Book of the Year”

December 30, 2013

Write Away

Write Away

by Elizabeth George

Perennial Currents

13.92 Paperback, 260 pages

I remember giving a presentation as part of a panel with Elizabeth George. I don’t remember a thing I said, or she did. Wait a minute it was Margret George, not Elizabeth George. No matter, I won’t remember a word of this either.

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From First Word to Last–“Shut up and write.”

March 13, 2013


From First Word to Last

by Arlene F. Marks

247 pages, $19.95

Publisher: Legacy Books Press Reference

A behind the scenes look at writing risks spoiling the magic trick (at least in my experience teaching high school and adult students), but for a writer it is essential learning.  My technique emphasizes the dynamics between characters in scenes, but many of Arlene Marks observations hold. This is what we need (at least the first three-quarters of the book, then it starts to seem pedantic). Read the rest of this entry ?