Amazing Entrepreneurs by Charles Margerison

Amazing Entrepreneurs by Dr. Charles Margerison is nothing less than a fascinating glimpse into the hearts and souls of 25 world-shaping businessmen and women.

This erudite — yet highly readable — volume profiles some of the best-known names in twentieth century industry: telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell, airplane pioneer William Edward Boeing, and automotive powerhouse Henry Ford, to name but a few.

Dr. Margerison’s arresting style of presentation for these fact-filled vignettes is at once informative, inspirational and lyrical, arranged in a free-flowing style that compels the reader to move seamlessly from one “autobiographical” thought to another.

Little-known factoids bump against major career milestones as each entrepreneur tells his or her story. For example, everyone remembers Bell’s famous summons to his assistant over the first successful telephone line:

“‘Mr Watson-Come here-I want to see you.’ It was March 10th 1876. Our test had worked (and) it was the start of a revolution that changed the world.”

Yet, you may be surprised to learn that Bell also invented the now-ubiquitous metal detectors found everywhere from airports to rock concerts — in an effort to locate the bullet that killed President James Garfield.

Similarly, you may recall Thomas Edison’s famous quote: “‘Achievement is ‘1% inspiration and 99% perspiration’.” But few know that all his lifelong contributions to the development of the light bulb, the kinetescope (movie projector) and the X-ray machine would not have happened without the crucial loan of a single dollar bill from a friend when he was penniless and starving on the streets of New York City.

Finally, the book details many lesser-known entrepreneurs, like Madam C.J. Walker, who revolutionized hair products for black women and subsequently became ” a millionairess.” Along the way, she provided invaluable philanthropical assistance to civil rights groups like the fledgling NAACP, and, upon her death, left three-quarters of her fortune to charity, saying:  “‘Free enterprise needs to support the society on which it depends.'”

This book is a rousing celebration of the power of positive thinking and perseverance. Indeed, the one thing each of these 25 trailblazing business leaders shared is arguably the single most essential ingredient for long-term success: the dogged drive to never give up.

Five stars to Amazing Entrepreneurs. It’s sure to inspire a whole new generation of future innovators.

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Jake & the Dragons of Asheville by Brian Kacica

Jake Winston is just your ordinary thirteen-year-old boy who breathes fire.

Seriously?

He discovers his unique talent one beautiful fall day in Asheville, N.C., and finds his life  forever changed. YA standout author Brian Kacica has penned a stellar new novel, Jake and the Dragons of Asheville, and it’s spellbinding.

He provides a startling start to Jake’s journey in exploration of his singular heritage, which is native American infused with dragon blood — known as Destovans. Jake’s grandfather, Don, a rugged ex-cop who also happens to share the awesome bloodline, begins teaching Jake about his newfound powers — then is sidelined by a disabling stroke.

After that, Jake must go it largely alone, relying on best friend Arnie to help him get through the myriad of mystery surrounding his quest to find the Dragon King deep inside the Forest of Asheville.

It’s a harrowing, adventure-rich odyssey as Jake probes the depths of both the storied forest — filled with talking animals and sinister military drones — and his own emerging manhood, into which he’s been forced to grow way too early because of an incident involving his father early in the book.

However, best bud Arnie is also put out of the action just before Jake begins his greatest task and dons the almost messianic mantle for which he is destined — the saving of the world’s remaining dragons.

This is a finely wrought, well-crafted and meticulously edited story with wonderful humor and relatable characters of all ages. Even though it’s clearly geared for a Young Adult audience, just about anyone can get easily wrapped up in Jake’s improbable quest — which is skillfully rendered very believable by the author.

Some of his colorful dialogue and turns-of-phrase are priceless, such as this gem, hidden within a fortune cookie:

“A statue will be erected for you one day. Be kind to pigeons.”

In a great read that abounds in precarious situations, noble quests and dry humor, this novel never disappoints. Five-plus stars to Jake and the Dragons of Asheville. We hope there’s a sequel in the wings.

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Zombie Mage by Jonathan J. Drake

zombie

How would you like to wake up one morning only to find out that you are not what you used to be? And that’s just the beginning! There’s more weirdness to come in Jonathan Drake’s latest read.

Shocked to wake up transformed (with his mouth stitched shut, no less) and sitting in a pit of rotten corpses, Olligh spies two men who may be his way out of this hell hole until shots ring out at him. The strangeness continues to abound as Olligh suddenly vanishes but then reappears somewhere else.

Olligh continues to seek help, but his situations go from bad to worse since he can’t talk with his mouth stitched up. It also doesn’t help that he’s immediately earmarked as a hostile decrepit something-or-other that needs to be destroyed.

Is it possible to feel any compassion for a flesh-eating zombie? At least there is that hope with Drake’s protagonist Olligh, who doesn’t appear to have the typical carnivorous cravings.

Constantly confused and wanting answers, Olligh finds himself in one unwelcome and comedic situation after another—until he goes to Ekelton Village where the local barber (a blind one, as a matter of fact) gives him a haircut and snips his stitches.

Olligh discovers his past when the blind barber mentions knowing of an old magician in the village, Olligh Selthnik, who had died two years ago. Better known as Mage Selthnik, the old magician had a wife, Lara, who was the love of his life and who died a few months prior to his death.

It is at that point Olligh knows he has to return to the graveyard and speak to Lara. “Only then would he hope to learn the truth and find a solution to this madness.”

Drake provides zombie enthusiasts with a different take from the norm. Indeed, there is a sinister side to his tale, but not from the zombies. As Olligh comes to terms with who he was in life, memories from his past — and most importantly his powerful incantations — begin to surface.

A combination of clichéd and totally unexpected situations, Drake’s narrative flows seamlessly from one chapter to the next, mainly centered on Olligh’s adventures. He eventually puts two-and-two together that the Dark Cloaks, a religious cult, are the ones behind the Walkers (zombies, mainly flesh-eaters) and the rest of the zombie-like people left in limbo, never able to attain eternal rest.

Olligh discovers a potion used by the Dark Cloaks when he talks to Lara. Then, just as everything begins to fall into place and Olligh figures out the “solution to this madness” (Walkers and limbo zombies), the Dark Cloaks take him captive.

Can Olligh find a way to overtake the Dark Cloaks before it’s too late? Drake employs plenty of twists and turns to keep his audience mesmerized till the very end.

Zombie Mage is a fun and fast-moving tale that comes highly recommended for zombie buffs.

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Coming into Balance: A Guide for Activating Your True Potential by Dr. Jane Ely

The Wheel of Life is turning and we’d better be on it for our own good.

So says Dr. Jane Ely in her excellent new book — and accompanying workbook — Coming Into Balance: A Guide for Activating Your True Potential.

This is at once an ambitious and yet eminently practical primer that teaches, among other things, how to  navigate the treacherous shoals of human interaction and traverse the turbulent waters of  human existence — all while staying calm and collected.

This concept is not new, of course. Library shelves the world over are sagging with the weight of works by many esteemed experts, whose universal message exhorts us to “let go and live in the now.” That’s the advice of no less an authority than Albert Einstein, who once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

In other words, if you constantly see your glass as half full, you’ll never be thirsty.  Or words to that effect.

The Wheel of Life is an ancient ideology that is examined here expertly and succinctly by Dr. Ely. She adroitly covers the following concepts:  wholeness, change, cycles, realities, learning, growth, development, participation, engagement, patience, commitment, remembering, and — coming full circle — the sacred wheel of life itself as the guiding principle in our lives.

For instance, staying centered every minute is essential if we want to see and commune with God — or whatever you might want to call the divine spark that reflects and is part of the universal soul. This is essential to the pursuit of personal well-being, Dr. Ely says.

Another key to healthy living involves being mindful of each moment. Dr. Ely’s advice is to “wake up from the trance in which you are living,” and become fully engaged in the world by accepting your gifts — the ones God and circumstance put in your path each and every day.

Of special note is a very helpful segment for anyone who has been the victim of a crisis or PTSD. Dr. Ely has helped many people over the years deal with rape, suicide and end-of-life issues by leading them through a very precise relaxation and meditation process that really only takes a few moments. In fact, much of the book provides these outstanding exercises which, if followed, can lead to a state of relaxation even in your worst times of tension.

Finally,  Dr. Ely quotes the venerable guru of living in the moment, Eckhart Tolle, to introduce one of the most valuable chapters dealing with the masks we so often put on when dealing with — or dealing out — unpleasantness. Tolle says, “To end the misery that has afflicted the human condition for thousands of years, you have to start with yourself and take responsibility for your inner state at any given moment. That means now.”

Dr. Ely then details seven specific “masks” we don, such as the one we wear when someone asks how we are. “Fine,” is the universal response — when all too often we are anything but.

Dr. Ely then walks the reader through in exquisite detail the steps needed to bring healing and separation from your masks. She explains how many of them form in childhood and linger into adulthood to often hamper our happiness.

Five-plus stars to this amazing guide to self-awareness and soul recovery. If you follow the steps outlined meticulously in this book and workbook, you will undoubtedly gain a whole new level of inner peace.

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STAINER: A novel of the ‘Me Decade’ by Iolanthe Woulff

Benjamin Steiner has begun his twenty-second year high above the glittering streets of New York City — impossibly stoned and still, despite his best efforts, very much a virgin. But he hopes that will soon change.

In this superbly rendered story of a devout Jewish college boy’s headlong rush into manhood, Ben and a remarkable cast of supporting characters grapple with issues of nascent love, reckless infatuation (with both sex and drugs) and the ever-popular question of whether the KBH really cares (Kadosh Baruch Hu: Holy One, blessed be He).

Make no mistake. This is no ordinary coming-of-age story about a privileged undergrad unsteadily feeling his way into the eye-opening wonder of first love. It is, rather, the poignant and often raucous recounting of just how Ben traverses an emotional minefield of his own making.

Along the way, award-winning author Iolanthe Woulff explores what it meant to be Jewish in the 70s subculture of Gotham and its major universities like Columbia and Princeton. And she probes with a practiced authorial hand the complexities of each well-drawn character — from feckless but endearing Ben, to his wisecracking, dope-dealing bud P.T. Deighland, to the impossibly sweet Rebecca Glaser, whose sudden emigration to Israel sets an unfortunate set of events into motion.

Almost cinematic at times, this could easily be adapted to the wide screen, with entire sequences, dialogue and plotline left firmly in place. Indeed, one particular party scene during Princeton’s famed annual Reunions event is especially memorable. Fans of the film classic Animal House will love it.

Five-plus stars to Ms. Woulff, who relates a singular story of her own in the Author’s Preface. It has nothing — and everything — to do with the book itself, and provides fascinating background into the creative — and oft-delayed — process surrounding the book’s publication. We’re glad she persevered to produce one of the best works of fiction we’ve seen this year.

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Guest Post: A Very Special Book Giveaway…

GIVEAWAY: THE BEAUTY OF THE FALL BY RICH MARCELLO

Praise for this book from Publisher’s Daily Reviews:

“This is a rare read, and one to be savored, especially now, when seeking respite from the current worries of an uncertain national — and international — future. It’s good tonic for the soul; a restorative tale of perseverance against tall odds. Five-plus stars to Beauty of the Fall. From start to finish, it never disappoints.”

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Hi there,
    My name is Rich Marcello and I’m the author of three novels––The Color of Home, The Big Wide Calm, and The Beauty of the Fall.
    When The Beauty of the Fall came out, Don Sloan wrote a wonderful review of the book that you can read here:
    As Don’s review indicates, The Beauty of the Fall is, in part, about having meaningful conversations in a polarized world and turning those conversations into real change.  The two main examples I use in the book are climate change and domestic violence.
    In light of Donald Trump’s recent decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, I’ve decided to give away 1000 copies of the book at my expense. Some of these books will be given away through Goodreads, but I’ve decided  to offer bloggers who’ve written a positive review of TBOTF the opportunity to give them away to their readers.  That’s why I’m posting as a guest blogger on Don’s site.
    Here’s the deal.  In the States, I can send a reader a physical copy or an ebook.  In the rest of the world, I can offer an ebook gift certificate through Amazon.  All I ask in return is that readers help spread the word if they like the novel (through reviews or word of mouth or both). If you are interested, just send your address or your email to rich.marcello@gmail.com, and I’ll get a book out to you.
    Thank you for your consideration.
    Peace,
    Rich
    You can check out more about my work here:

Winchester’s Bargain by Murray Lee Eiland Jr.

What is it they say about a Chinese meal? They’re great, but an hour later you’re hungry again?

Chinese is definitely on the menu in this richly layered romp through the shadowy subculture of international stock manipulation. And there’s plenty for previous Bart Northcote, P.I., fans to devour as Bart and his eclectic Greek chorus of investigative team members try to penetrate the veil surrounding the Golden Dragon banking cartel.

Bart is once again lounging in his posh Los Angeles manse’s hot tub with staffers Honey Moons, Salome Jones, Wanda Malone, and new addition Black Jade each night as they methodically unravel the knotted ball of clues that will lead them to the incredibly wealthy and powerful planners behind an outrageous plot to send the financial world into a titanic tailspin.

It’s a worthy test of the team’s investigative prowess as layer after layer of deceit is peeled back to reveal — what?

That’s the beauty of this stellar addition to the Bart Northcote canon of hardboiled detective novels. They are fourteen cuts above the usual tough-talking, wiseacre noir narratives on the market today. This gem has a sheen of sophistication far exceeding the usual fare.

Shoot, you practically need a degree in macroeconomics to fathom the seriousness of the threat exposed with disarming ease by Bart and his bevy of co-investigators. Well, not really. But the ingenuity of the plot premise outdoes any ordinary P.I. adventure.

As the story rachets up in intensity, Bart and his bunch enter a danger zone reserved for those with too much insight into how the mysterious Mr. Winchester Lee and his sinister associates move the Dow up and down with impunity.

There are also tantalizing side plots that delve briefly into Bart’s past, and a couple of red herrings thrown in just to flavor the fictional stew, but in the end, as with all the Northcote narratives, this story is tied up with a literary bow that will leave the reader satisfied.

The writing here has never been better and the author goes to great lengths to avoid even the least salacious sex scenes — which otherwise could abound in a book prominently peopled with large-breasted, long-legged babes who also possess the keenest of intellects. No sexual stereotyping here!

Five plus stars to Winchester’s Bargain. Once again, Murray Lee Eiland, Jr., strikes a deep authorial chord that will resonate with all his fans, old and new.

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