#amreading Review Time

Love Your Life, Not Theirs: Rachel Cruze’s Refreshing Point of View Does Not Disappoint!

Every dollar you spend is a reflection of your values. – Rachel Cruze

Love Your Life, Not Theirs, is now available online and through national bookstores. Image credit to Rachel Cruze.
Love Your Life, Not Theirs, is now available online and through national bookstores. Image credit to Rachel Cruze.

Last year, I had written about how Ryan and I enrolled in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Since graduating from the course, at least one of us (ahem, *me* hehe) has kept up with a monthly budget via EveryDollar. I am seriously about budgeting now, according to my family.

When I had heard about Rachel Cruze, Dave Ramsey’s daughter, releasing a book called Love Your Life, Not Theirs:7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want, I knew I had to pick it up. Fortunately, I was selected as one of her early reviewers, so I received a copy of her book to consume these past couple of weeks.

My verdict: a wonderful refresher from Financial Peace University; Rachel’s energy is so magnetizing, just like her father. Her writing is down-to-earth and very relatable: I especially like that the first habit listed in the book is about quitting the comparisons.

One of the most frustrating parts of social media is that it’s not always real life. – Rachel Cruze

I could definitely relate when she talked about the #blessed photos, status updates, etc. on social media. Haven’t we all been in that place, comparing ourselves to others? I read a lot of personal development books and articles, and even though the idea of quitting comparisons keeps getting hammered into my head through these other sources, Rachel’s insight into the comparison trap, *especially* when it comes to money, really hit the nail on the head.

Since I did take Financial Peace University (FPU) previously, the six remaining habits were more refreshers for me than any new material learned. But, I’d say that Rachel’s book is good for any person or couple who is looking to get their finances in order. Whether you go through FPU or simply read Love Your Life, Not Theirs, you will glean a lot of useful information on how to take charge of your finances, once and for all.

If you read Love Your Life, Not Theirs, let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts about the book.

#amreading Review Time

Book Review: Craig Lancaster does it again with “Quantum Physics”

Get your copy of "Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure"!

I have not been shy about how much I love Craig Lancaster’s writing. His two novels, 600 Hours of Edward and The Summer Son, simply blew me away. And now, Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure, Craig’s first collection of short stories, goes right up there with his novels.

At first I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy the short stories, since the first one, “Somebody Has to Lose”, moved along slowly. Once I got past a certain point in that story, though, everything began to fly.

The stories in Quantum Physics are all about very human lives set mostly in Montana. I feel the book proved to the outside world how people in Montana are pretty much the same as anyone else. We all experience the same problems in life, no matter where we may live in this country, in this world.

I really enjoyed how unfiltered Craig was in his writing: if you want to read a flowery, family-friendly book,  look elsewhere. Every story includes an element we all wouldn’t openly admit in public : affairs, experimentation, sexual abuse, etc. These are touchy topics, but it is refreshing to have these written about in such a matter-of-fact way.

My favorite stories out of the collection: “This is Butte. You Have Ten Minutes.”, “Cruelty to Animals”, and “The Paper Weight”. All ten are wonderful to read though. Don’t miss it!

Check out Craig’s author page on Amazon for information about his books: Craig Lancaster

#amreading Review Time

Book Review: Charlie Cole’s “Headhunters”

Headhunters is quite the thriller.

TODAY ONLY: Get Headhunters for your Kindle FREE!

There’s a monster at the end of the book, and Charlie Cole sure knows how to work that magic. This is my first time to read any works by Cole, but I already feel that he is an expert writer. I feel honored to write him a review since, in the short amount of time we have known each other (via Twitter), we are becoming quick colleagues.

Headhunters starts out with a bang: Simon’s wife Claire leaves him chasing after her in their respective cars. Then, she dives to her death over the railing.
And the book continues to spin like crazy, with Simon constantly getting curveballs thrown at him as he moves from the Washington, D.C. area to Chicago. He thinks he’s safe there, but then, the chase continues.
Although the subject of the matter is deep and dark (Simon is a secret agent), there are a few times where I end up laughing, i.e., the reference to “literal dead weight”. Also, Cole puts in a quite X-rated scene in the book to lighten things up a bit. I almost felt ashamed while reading that aspect. But then the thrilling parts came back again.
I normally wouldn’t read a book so suspenseful/thrilling/disturbing, but I really enjoyed Headhunters. I practically could not put it down the whole time. Too bad I have classes…I could have finished this book in less than a week. Next time, perhaps? (I love speed-reading but not when there are a billion other things to complete).
If you like a ton of suspense, mystery, action: read Headhunters. You won’t be disappointed. And look out for Cole’s next novel, Suicide Doors, coming out in April.
music Review Time

Music Review: Alejandra O’Leary

Goodies from friends (L-R): Craig Lancaster's short stories, Rita Chu's plushies & Alejandra O'Leary's album

What a refreshing voice to listen to; Alejandra O’ Leary is a Michigan-based artist with musical influences from the Beatles. I’m sure there are other artists that influence her style, but, as I listen to her album, “Broken Mirror Baby”, I get the Beatles vibe.

“Broken Mirror Baby” was released in September 2011 and is Alejandra’s second album. I had the pleasure to interact with her a lot via Twitter, so I know she is a hard-working and sweet person.
Below are my album notes:
1. @ the club – The song starts out innocently enough with Alejandra’s crisp vocals; in fact, the song almost appears like a happy one. Listen to the lyrics and you’ll realize the sad theme of a man cheating on his girlfriend.
2. K.Y.O. – I wondered what the title of the song meant, since I hadn’t seen that acronym before. The song starts off with a nostalgic guitar medley, making me think about 1960s rock bands. As the song’s chorus comes along, you’ll discover what K.Y.O. means. Clever!
3. When Will They Learn? – This song is a little more laid-back/casual from the first two. Sounds like a song from the 1980s, which I like.
4. On Your Dime – First Beatles-reminiscient song of the album. A little sunshine, a little melancholy.
5. Connect with Me – Also Beatles-reminiscient. Love the casual ballad feeling of the song & the guitar solo in the middle (this part DEFINITELY made me think of the Beatles). A little sad to realize the woman is an alcoholic.
6. Broken Mirror Baby – LOVE THIS SONG. It is my favorite of the album; a good mix of retro and modern feel. The bridge really keeps me hanging onto the rest of the song. This song is good for when you’re angry with a significant other or ex.
7. Horses – Synthesizers, commence! You might think it’s a completely synthesized song, but Alejandra and her band jump right in after the opening. I like how she incorporates “hold your horses” into the chorus.
8. The Habit – Upbeat and blunt ending to the album. “You’re not fooling no one!”
Although the album is short and sweet, I love it: just the right number of songs to enjoy. Would like to see a few more songs on the next album, if time permits!
Overall, I love Alejandra and her songs. I look forward to seeing her career blossom and hopefully meeting her in-person one day.
For more information & free song samples, visit Alejandra’s website:
#amreading Review Time

Book Review: Max Lucado’s Cast of Characters


As you can tell from my picture, Cast of Characters really rocked my boat.

It only took me two years to finally finish it….

Yeah, you wonder why it took so long. Well, a lot of things happened since I requested for this book in 2010…to the point where I had to stop reading for a period of time. Too many headaches, and not related to the book.

But I’m so glad I came back to the book, because it really resonates with me: society believes in Biblical characters being perfect, or that’s how the Bible has become known for.

So many of the characters are flawed, just how we are. Nobody is perfect. And Lucado sets out the many examples from the Bible to shine the light on this truth. Do we need a full book to tell us that we aren’t perfect? Well, the Bible has that all written out. And Lucado condensed it down into understandable, present-day situations.

I highly recommend this book for those who need a quick reminder of our imperfections through the showcase of major Biblical characters. You won’t regret it!