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review 2017-12-07 06:11
Book Construction Blueprint - an essential reference book for self-published authors

Whenever I search the internet trying to find some information to resolve a self-publishing issue invariably an article written by Joel Friedlander comes up.


I've read a number of them and found them professional, helpful and, most importantly, understandable.


When I was offered all this knowledge free in his book Book Construction Blueprint by Joel Friedlander - Expert Advice for Creating Industry-Standard Print Books it was a no-brainer.


Book Construction Blueprint is a comprehensive guide and includes preparing your manuscript, interior book design, cover design, printing and working with professionals.


A good deal of it wasn't relevant for my needs but some was invaluable including the section Cleaning Up Your Word Files. Pretty much all the problems you're confronted with when you upload your original manuscript to a self-publishing platform can be attributed to formatting glitches in your Word file. Friedlander has some nifty tips, accompanied by screen shots, that saved me countless hours of hair-pulling frustration. They're now incorporated into my pre-upload check-list.


Ever wonder about the order of your book's front matter? What goes on the Copyright Page and does the Dedication Page come before Acknowledgements? It's all spelled out in Friedlander's book.


He also has some great suggestions on what components make an eye-catching cover, designing running heads and font choices.


I try to review a lot of new indie authors and it's very distracting and unprofessional to read poorly or incorrectly formatted books. I know what a challenge it is and mine still aren't perfect, but they'll be a lot better now that I have Book Construction Blueprint by Joel Friedlander - Expert Advice for Creating Industry-Standard Print Books to refer to.


I downloaded this book free from the BookBaby Blog



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review 2017-03-18 22:27
You Need More Sleep: Advice from Cats - ... You Need More Sleep: Advice from Cats - Francesco Marciuliano

A very cute book filled with adorable cat pictures and lots of silly cat advice. It is definitely good for a few cat-related laughs and will remind any cat owner to ponder the basic question, "Why did I ever get a cat?"

I liked Marciuliano's poetry more, because of the uniqueness that format presented, but this book was still a fun read.

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review 2017-01-31 15:14
How to Think About Sex (Without Overthinking It)
Action: A Book About Sex - Amy Rose Spiegel

Action: A Book About Sex is the cool guy/gal you hooked up with in high school or college who was way too attractive and confident for you but helped you find your way from theory to concept (in a sexual sense). After years of euphemisms and pseudo-psychology, and (worst of the bunch) seduction guides and self-help books, Action is the grown-up (but not too grown-up) discussion about sex we never knew we needed. It's direct, sensitive, encouraging, and mostly just a lot of fun -- alone or with friends!


Sex writing usually wavers between the sensual and the technical, Action doesn't much bother with either. It's crass and straightforward, but not demeaning. Spiegel shows that sex doesn't have to be so self-serious to be mind-boggling enjoyable, or to be meaningful for that matter. She doesn't really present any new information here, at least not to anyone buying a book about sex who isn't a 15 year-old boy, but she kind of opens the blinds on all the kind of unspoken assumptions many of us harbor about sex/dating/etc. and exposes them to the daylight. This happens in a number of ways but I wanted to focus on three themes that come out of the book. They're kind of suggestions but also demonstrated in the way Spiegel writes.


The first is openness. Spiegel says we should really be talking more about sex. About consent, about identity, about sexuality and kinks, about relationships, about positions, and everything else. Especially with your partners (obviously), but in public life too. It's kind of like talking about money, decorum tells us to hush up, but some frank discussions would do a lot of good in both realms.


Spiegel starts with a section saying as much right away, which makes openness less a theme than just a thing she says, except it continues popping up throughout the book. I mean, if the branding wasn't so bad it could be called "Talking: A Book About Sex."  Talk to new people you might want to sex! Talk with people you already sex to make sure your sex is as good as it can be (for both involved)! Talk with someone your maybe about to sex to see if they're really down with that! Talk about trying something new! Talk about a trip to the sex store! It touches on a bonus theme of embarrassment I won't really discuss, but by not talking about sex we are closing off possibilities we can really enjoy. We've all been frustrated by situations where everyone is deferring and nobody will make a decision where to go for dinner, it's like that except no one bothers to mention dinner and just hopes to happen into a restaurant and then order food for the other person.


Second: Spiegel reminds us that there are two people (or three) in the bed. Note the emphasis on people. Gender always comes second to humanity in this book, because this is obviously the treatment we've needed for a very long time. Action is a book about sex, largely for entertainment but with a lot of practical content too, and that content is about having a better sex life. What it is not is a book about seducing women, or pleasing men. Spiegel is always working under the assumption that the other party in this matter is a thinking, feeling person and would like to be treated as such.


Of course, Action gets more specific when it comes to handling genitalia, but when it comes to seduction technique or being better in bed it's not about some technique or trick or pseudo-psychology, it's about respect and openness (see above). Success isn't about who you have sex with, it's about how you feel about that person and both of you having a good time. There's no shortcut there, you just have to think about it and work it out. Actually, there's one technique she says will make you as insightful as Mel Gibson in What Women Want but you'd have to go back and read point 1. (Edit: more insightful than Gibson, he mostly uses his gendered mind-reading in that movie to be a manipulative dick.)


Lastly: Spiegel grounds the discussions in real terms and situations. Some jargon does appear here -- intersectionality, non-binary, cisgender, BONE-A-ZONA -- but Spiegel uses it sparingly and playfully. Like I said above, she is unflinching, as it should be: she's writing a book about sex, now is not the time to get coy. Her candidness makes everything better and more clear because she describes something real and specific. Here she talks about just meeting people:


"Eight times out of ten, if you introduce yourself to a new person, assume some air of great purpose about you, and tell them something honest and enticing in its irregularity (especially if it also happens to be funny), that person will talk to you."


Spiegel then spends most of the chapter on talking: good pick-up lines, having something to say, asking questions, pushing when they answer "good" or "not much." It's five pages on what is essentially you're time-tested, basic script hook up, but she demystifies it. Here's where you are, here's what you do, there's no script, just some prompts, because the biggest problems are getting the gumption up to talk with someone and have the grace to move on when it doesn't pan out. Again, it's not about seduction, it's about meeting people (see point 2). If you're open and outgoing, opportunities will arise, but if you fixate on someone you forget they are a real person with their own feelings and tastes that has no obligation to return your attraction.


When Spiegel does share tips they are broad and she doesn't claim universal, though they seem like a good idea. Spiegel admits she's into good posture, or how she digs getting oral sex while lying on her stomach, but everyone has their own preferences, it's what makes the world go 'round.


Then it all cycles back to point 1, or maybe they're all one point: talk respectfully about sex in clear terms, you wild lovechild.


SUMMARY: This was kind of a weird review, but this was also an unusual book and I was really interested in the way everything was presented. The result was something about style and about what spoke to me, but also recounting some messages from the book. This makes some sense because form is important and the way Spiegel presents the information reflects the approach she is advocating: direct, unashamed, sensitive and curious. I hope this review made sense is all I'm saying. Thanks for reading!



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review 2016-07-24 01:04
Fun book but it really helps if you're familiar with the blog.
My Mom is a Fob: Earnest Advice in Broken English from Your Asian-American Mom - Serena Wu,Teresa Wu

Although I needed a "lighter" book and had this for a few years now this wasn't exactly what I was looking for. Years ago the authors had a popular blog cataloging the hilarious and interesting ways Asian families have adapted to the US (or not, depending on how you interpret it). While the title might seem derogatory, the back of the book claims this project was about seeing their parents navigate a completely different culture and country.


That's about it. It's a short book that has snippets and pieces from the blog, so it isn't exactly thick reading. I think the blog/site might be defunct because I tried looking it up (I remember seeing it years ago) and found Facebook pages that are no longer updated. At least one author seems to have moved onto other ventures so it seems like it ran its course.


Some of the writings are funny, heartwarming and genuinely interesting to see how the parents negotiated with the culture, language, how things are done in the US. Some of it was universal, strange parental ideas that are probably not necessarily limited to culture. Others are somewhat specific. However, this probably worked better in the original blog/website format rather than as a book.


The best part, probably, was the introduction by Margaret Cho. She talked about being the only US citizen of her family and dealing with the painful deportation of her father when she was just a baby and how that affected her parents when he was finally allowed to return. This also reverberated in her upbringing, where Cho had to speak only English to her family and could not speak Korean. Her experiences were worth reading in light of the issues of immigration, assimilation, cross-cultural learning/adjustment, etc. Unfortunately it also only the introduction.


Anyway, I think this is probably very specifically just for the fans of the site/blog or maybe people are Asian/Asian American. At best it's definitely best as a library borrow or bargain book, but if you can't find it I wouldn't rush out to read it either.

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review 2016-05-21 00:02
Enjoyable book about and for HSPs.
A Highly Sensitive Person's Life: Stories & advice for those who experience the world intensely - Kelly O'Laughlin

As a highly sensitive person, I have found I have grown less tolerant of external stimulation as I get older. I can't handle smelly soaps or lotions. I don't listen to music through headphones as much (speaker or just less in general). When stressful things happen, I try not to continuously go over it in my mind again and again and again. I've read Elaine Aron's book on the subject but I wasn't all that impressed with her text and was eager to read being an HSP from another POV.


Author Kelly O'Laughlin gives a brief overview of what is the criteria to be an HSP, shares some stories of what it's like in part 2 and then looks at it in more detail in part 3. Even though I've known about being an HSP for years and have read up on it online and elsewhere, I still found there were bits and pieces of her experiences that I thought were interesting and gave me food for thought.


That said, if you're familiar with being an HSP, there probably won't be a lot that's new here. Even though I knew this would probably be geared towards someone who is not that familiar with being an HSP, I'm not sure people would find the second part of the book (her personal stories) very helpful. It's just how she, an HSP reacts in different scenarios and different stresses. It would have been nice if she had more in depth analysis. She does talk a bit about her husband (an extrovert non-HSP) as a contrast and that's helpful. But I found the stories a bit repetitive to read.


I also found the third part, which is about delving deeper as an HSP, a bit too similar to the second part. She talks about having empathy for sports players and teams, which was something I could understand. But there was nothing more to it.


I also don't know if this material is lifted from her blog (which she mentions) or not. It may be more helpful to read her blog instead or to think of this more as a supplement.


That said, this is probably not a terrible resources to have, especially if you can borrow it from the library or buy it cheap. I was not a fan of Aron's book because I felt some of it got a little too unapproachable for me: a bit too much discussion of religion and spirituality that was something simply does not interest me. It's a relatively thin read as well so it wouldn't be too overwhelming for an HSP.

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