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Lisa Ahlstedt RSS Feed (Knoxville, TN USA)

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The Young Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting and Running a Business: Turn Your Ideas into Money!
The Young Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting and Running a Business: Turn Your Ideas into Money!
by Steve Mariotti
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.68
67 used & new from $7.14

4.0 out of 5 stars Moving beyond the lemonade stand, June 27, 2014
Many young people have ideas about earning money, but need help refining those ideas into a money making opportunity. The new book The Young Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting & Running a Business gives budding business-people valuable information on how they can get started. The author, Steve Mariotti, has over 25 years of experience in teaching young people how to start their own businesses.

The book offers advice on all aspects of getting started in the marketplace. The first part of the book deals with setting up a business and covers such topics as how to find opportunities and how to raise money. Further chapters concentrate on how to find customers, dealing with financial aspects of owning and running a business and expansion. The many examples of financial forms are extremely useful for people who've never had to deal with accounting before! The final chapter includes a very detailed sample business plan.

I especially liked that the book incorporated many sustainable ideas and suggestions sprinkled throughout the chapter under the heading "Green Tips." There are also "Tech U" sections which discus how various technology (videoconferencing, apps, software, etc.) can be used to assist the budding business. The author also recommends many classic books that offer advice and inspiration for anyone just starting a business.

Many "Entrepreneurs Like You" and "Super Success Stories" are included to showcase successful businesses, how they were started, and how the creative people behind them got started.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money
Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money
by Dave Ramsey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.56
90 used & new from $11.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Get your piggy bank in order, June 13, 2014
Dave Ramsey is know to millions of people for his radio and TV programs which help people get out of debt using "common sense" solutions to money problems. His daughter, Rachel Cruze, has joined the family business and spends her time speaking to (mostly) young people in order to educate them about how to be successful with money and stay out of debt. The new book Smart Money Smart Kids, a joint collaboration between father and daughter, is filled with strategies to help parents give their children a strong financial base so that they will be able to enter adulthood with a good knowledge of financial principles.

Anyone who listens to Dave Ramsey's radio program will be familiar with his story: as a young husband and father, his real estate business collapsed and he had to declare bankruptcy. As a result of this traumatic event, he developed his rules for dealing with money, including always do a monthly budget, never borrow money, be a giver, etc. Rachel was only 6 months old when her parents experienced their financial collapse, but she grew up with the lessons her parents learned through bitter experience.

The chapters in the book deal with such topics as Work, Save, Give, Debt and Budgeting. Both authors alternate with stories and advice in each chapter, so we get to hear from different perspectives. I really like the way real examples are provided. For instance, they recommend giving kids "commissions" for completing chores around the house, starting at about age 4. This will help kids to understand the relationship between work and money, instill a sense of pride in a job well-done, and allow kids to experience the reality of using money they earned to buy something they want. The toy they're after might not look so attractive when they realize how long they'll have to "work" to earn the money to pay for it!

There is also a very detailed and motivational chapter about paying for college. The average student today graduates from college with $27,000 in student loan debt. That means they are in debt before they even start their careers. It should come as no surprise that the Ramseys are completely against taking out any type of student loans, so they give options for students and parents to consider to raise money for college, which includes lots of ideas no matter how late the project starts.

I really enjoyed all the practical and detailed advice and suggestions offered in the book. With all the easy credit available these days, teaching children how to deal with money (and be happy with what they have rather than responding to all the marketing messages they receive) is a vital job for parents. The guidelines offered in this book will make that job much easier!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Smart Money Smart Kids from the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for this review

The 21-Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom
The 21-Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom
by Michelle Singletary
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.96
70 used & new from $7.47

2.0 out of 5 stars Put your money on a diet, May 5, 2014
With the rise of easy credit, many people find themselves in over their heads when it comes to their finances. The book The 21 Day Financial Fast attempts to help people reign in their spending by giving them a daily lesson on finances and a daily assignment, both in the context of being on a financial fast -- not spending money for 21 days.

The author uses Biblical principles to underlie most of her ideas. At the same time, she incorporates a lot of common sense into her suggestions. The main ideas are the usual ones: set a budget and stick to it, cut out non-essential spending (after defining "non-essential" -- cable is not essential), get over feelings of entitlement, etc. By going on a three week spending fast, the author hopes to re-condition the reader to break out of negative spending habits that have resulted in debt and financial problems.

Each of the 21 chapters that relate to one day of the fast begins with a main point and a pledge to help focus on what negative habit or positive change will be worked on that day. Some of the topics include "the Salvation of Saving," "Marrying Your Money" and "the Curse of Credit." There are also testimonials sprinkled throughout from people who have followed the fast and gotten their finances under control.

Most of the information was pretty obvious, but for people in dire financial difficulties, I can see how following the daily guidelines set up in the book would be beneficial (although if someone really needs to be told to take their property tax amount, divide it by 12, an set aside that much per month so they can pay their taxes, they are probably beyond help!). I did find some of her advice to be a bit questionable. For instance, she is very big on tithing, which is fine, but she goes so far as to suggest that people go to non-profit agencies or churches for food and clothing aid, so people don't have to tap "into your tithe to pay your expenses." So, you may have enough money to pay your expenses, but better to get handouts so you can give your own money away? This makes no sense, especially as advice for those who are financially challenged to begin with.

Still, for people who have absolutely no idea how to control their money, this step-by-step program offers some concrete steps to take. The back of the book includes budgeting forms and expense journals to help people keep better track of where their money is going.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for this review.

Burley Cross Postbox Theft
Burley Cross Postbox Theft
by Nicola Barker
Edition: Hardcover
22 used & new from $0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Return to Sender, April 24, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
When I first read about the Burley Cross Postbox Theft, it sounded like a book for me. A postbox is vandalized and the letters found discarded in a yard in a sleepy English village. The police must investigate to figure out what happened and who is responsible. Because quite a large number of letters have been left behind, the police must attempt to determine what is missing and why. For some reason, the police investigators decide that they must read all of the recovered letters.

Unfortunately, the entire book consists of letters, both from the police and the residents. This wouldn't be a problem, except that there are SO MANY of them, and most of the writers have an annoying tendency to ramble, put in lots of unnecessary asides (one even has footnotes) and otherwise lead the reader far, far from the story. There are so many letters that it's basically impossible to keep all the people in the story straight, without some sort of diagram or chart of the village and who lives where.

Once the mystery of the burgled postbox is finally revealed, of course it transpires that the vast majority of letters had nothing to do with the theft, but rather, I suppose, were an effort to demonstrate the intense rivalries, jealousies and gossip that takes place in a small town. I would have liked more story and fewer characters to keep track of. Some of the letters were amusing, but still, there were simply too many of them! The events in the story take place around Christmas time in 2006, but even so, I would think that people had somewhat slowed down in the posting of letters by that time.

Critical Condition
Critical Condition
by Richard L. Mabry
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.73
66 used & new from $6.49

3.0 out of 5 stars A doctor's brush with danger, April 24, 2014
This review is from: Critical Condition (Paperback)
Poor Dr. Shannon Frasier is really having a bad couple of days. During a dinner party at her house, a man is shot and killed in front of her house. Then her junkie sister shows up for an extended visit. On top of all that, her father has a serious health crisis. All that would be bad enough, but then a threatening anonymous caller begins harassing her to find out what the murder victim on her front yard said before expiring.

Shannon has even bigger problems, because when she was in medical school, her fiance was shot and died in her arms. Although she was in the process of becoming a doctor, she was powerless to save her wounded fiance. That left her with doubts about her abilities, as well as something of a "post traumatic" response when she encounters gunshot victims in her work. She does have a new boyfriend, pathologist Dr. Mark Gilbert. Her unresolved feelings for her dead fiance, however, are also preventing her from moving forward in her latest relationship.

Things get a more complicated when it turns out that Shannon's sister Megan, who hasn't been out of rehab for very long, knew the dead man. They had been in rehab together, so the victim was also a pretty sketchy guy. Megan was fleeing yet another abusive relationship when she asked Shannon to take her in. When Megan's boyfriend also turns up dead, the police begin to question whether the Frasier sisters don't know more than they're telling. An interesting complication occurs when the investigating officer seems to have more than a professional interest in Shannnon.

Eventually, the mysterious caller makes personal contact in frightening and increasingly violent ways. Mark urges Shannon to get a gun, but given her tragic history with firearms, she's unwilling to consider the subject. All of this stress also begins to take a toll on her professional life as well.

The book did lead up to a pretty thrilling conclusion, and the story moved along at a rapid pace. Shannon's relationship with Mark, who is much more religious than she is (even with a pastor as a father!) also develops in an interesting manner. The two shootings (the boyfriend and the front lawn guy) are both sort of glossed over and not really explored much, to my mind. Of course, those are sort of peripheral events, but still, I would have liked them to be explained and tied up in a neater fashion. That's a small quibble with an otherwise enjoyable and suspenseful read!

I received a copy of Critical Condition from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for this review.

Miss Brenda and the Loveladies: A Heartwarming True Story of Grace, God, and Gumption
Miss Brenda and the Loveladies: A Heartwarming True Story of Grace, God, and Gumption
by Brenda Spahn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.07
70 used & new from $9.70

4.0 out of 5 stars A close call leads to good works, April 11, 2014
Most of us who had a brush with going to prison would choose to run as far away from it as possible and never look back. When Brenda Spahn faced the prospect of a long jail term, she made a pact with God: if she could avoid prison, she would spend the rest of her life doing his work. The book Miss Brenda and the Loveladies tells the story of what happened when Miss Brenda decided to devote her life to helping women newly released from prison.

Before her brush with the wrong side of the law, Brenda Spahn seemed to have it all: a flourishing business, wonderful children, a new successful husband, several expensive houses, and more clothes than she could ever possibly wear. Having grown up in poverty, she had made a vow to be successful, and she had succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. When one of her business associates was arrested and facing jail time, she claimed that Brenda was falsifying returns in her tax preparation business. The authorities didn't do much investigating (from Brenda's perspective), but just came in and started putting her entire family under a microscope. She finally agreed to a plea bargain which allowed her to stay out of jail, but which also meant she had lost much of what she'd spent her life building up.

Still, she didn't lose her faith and she determined to keep her bargain with God. She decided to start visiting jails to see what she had so narrowly escaped. While initially terrified of the incarcerated women, once she started volunteering at the prison, she quickly realized that most of the women had been abused their entire lives (and that the abuse by authority figures was continuing in prison). She was dismayed to see people get released, only to return quickly to prison. After learning that the women were given no support or efforts at rehabilitation when they left prison, she realized she had found her calling: to establish a "whole-way house" (as opposed to the traditional "half-way house") where the women would receive support, training, counseling, and spiritual guidance.

As luck would have it, her real estate executive husband just happened to have a seven-bedroom, six bath house that wasn't selling. Miss Brenda decided this would be the perfect place to do her work. She had anticipated that the women sent to live there would be like the ones she was used to working with in work release programs -- non-violent, motivated women who would be receptive to help. The prison authorities decided, however, that this foolish woman should be taught a lesson quickly, and sent her seven of the toughest cases they could find . These seven women had been convicted of a variety of crimes and were hostile, angry and suspicious.

Brenda soon learned that most of the women had suffered from such severe abuse and neglect as children that they had no idea how to do the simplest tasks. Making beds, setting the table and doing laundry were things they had never done before. She also learned that years of institutionalization had left them fearful and rigid. During their first outing, to Wal-Mart to buy clothes and toiletries, the women were dazed and intimidated by the wide variety of products available to them.

Brenda soon realized that each woman needed responsibility to be trusted with various tasks. At first the women felt that they were being brought in to be "maids" and work for free, or else that "Miss Brenda" was collecting some sort of government assistance for taking them in and getting rich off them. Soon, however, they began to respond to being responsible for doing laundry, or cooking, or watching Brenda's young son. Once someone trusted them, they became more confident and less resentful.

Things were going well until a newspaper article, meant to showcase the good work being done, instead alarmed and inflamed people who lived in the neighborhood. These people reacted with fear and hostility to the idea of all these criminals and drug addicts living next door to them. While this caused a minor blip in the work done by Miss Brenda, she soon found that it was instrumental in allowing her to expand her reach to help even more women.

Along the way, Brenda finds that, although the Loveladies (so named because this was Brenda's maiden name) learned a new way of life from her, she and her family also learned many valuable lessons from them as well. I was really inspired by Brenda's spunk and tenacity. Even when she was afraid, she never doubted that she had been called to do this work. She endured the belittlement of authorities, anger from her family, fear from the neighbors and her own doubts to found the "largest faith-based transitional center for women and their children in the country." Not bad for a woman whose biggest concern not long before was where to go for her next luxury vacation!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life
I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life
by Brad Formsma
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.85
69 used & new from $3.80

4.0 out of 5 stars You don't have to be rich to make a difference, March 27, 2014
Many people would like the opportunity to make a difference in the world, but don't really have any idea where to begin. They may think that they don't have enough money to help others, or that they lack specialized knowledge. On the other hand, there are so many problems in the world that just knowing where to start can be challenging.

The book I Like Giving by Brad Formsma tackles all the questions that potential helpers might have, as well as giving many inspirational stories which will encourage everyone to give what they can.

A major focus of the book is the effect that giving has on the giver. Multiple studies have shown that spending money on others or giving to charity increased the giver's well-being and leads to higher levels of happiness. I also enjoyed reading about how college students who planned to enter "helping" professions later reported greater levels of happiness than those who were in professions that made a great deal of money. Givers should also focus on the act of giving and not on the expected response of the recipient. Expecting too much praise or gratitude will detract from the experience.

The author also discusses how everyone should look for opportunities every day to make a positive difference in the lives of others. You should avoid the "nasty 4 letter words" that might become obstacles to this mission: debt, fear, busy, etc. The gift doesn't have to involve money, can be anonymous and should have no strings attached. This helps the giver to constantly be on the lookout for ways to give and make a difference. The potential giver's attitude should be "how do I get to give" -- not feel like an obligation.

Sprinkled throughout the book are personal stories from people and how they were able to put the giving project into action. It was very inspiring to read the stories of people who set out to make the lives of those around them better. Frequently, the whole family gets involved and the tradition of giving is passed on throughout the generations. There are many stories of people who woke up one day hoping for a chance to make a difference, and before long that opportunity presented itself. Each story begins "I Like . . ." followed by what was given (such as "I Like Nursing Fees").

To get inspired to increase your own spirit of giving, you can visit the website for ideas and inspiration!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

The Happiest Life: Seven Gifts, Seven Givers, and the Secret to Genuine Success
The Happiest Life: Seven Gifts, Seven Givers, and the Secret to Genuine Success
Offered by HarperCollins Christian Publishing
Price: $12.09

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do your part for a happier life, January 30, 2014
Books about happiness and how to achieve it seem to be all the rage lately. I was interested to read The Happiest Life to see if I could gain any insights that would help me lead a happier life. The author of the book, Hugh Hewitt, is a nationally syndicated radio host, and in the book he discusses the many famous people he's interviewed over the years. He gives some insight into what makes for a good interview, even if he and the interviewee don't always see eye to eye.

He lists both seven gifts and seven givers who can impact the lives of those they interact with. The seven gifts are encouragement, energy, enthusiasm, empathy, good humor, graciousness and gratitude. Each gift is explained in its own chapter with plenty of examples that Hewitt has witnessed in his own life. The seven givers are the spouse, the parent, family members, friends, the coworker, teachers and the church.

I wish this book could have been more focused on the message, instead of using every opportunity to bash those with differing political or ideological viewpoints from the author. There are many snide comments and belittling asides about those he perceives as not having he same viewpoint he does. There's also so much name-dropping and thanking of those who have helped the author along the way that the book becomes very tedious in places. I think if you can look at his seven gifts, and realize that they can be "given" freely and without much effort to friends and strangers alike, you don't really need to wade through the self-congratulation that makes up the bulk of the book.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Happiest Life from the BookSneeze program in exchange for this review
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 30, 2014 10:42 AM PST

The Legacy Letters  his wife, his children, his final gift (WINNER- Gold Medal- Mom's Choice Awards)
The Legacy Letters his wife, his children, his final gift (WINNER- Gold Medal- Mom's Choice Awards)
Price: $7.99

8 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too sentimental, December 20, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This book is a collection of letters from a man who discovers he doesn't have long to live. In addition, he is estranged from his pregnant wife, so he knows he will never get to meet his children. He decides to leave them letters which discuss the lessons he's learned in life, as well as giving his children some advice on how they should live theirs. The set up for the book has the author retreating to a remote cabin to live out his final days, but leaving instructions to his attorney on how to retrieve the letters and when they should be given to his children. I found it a bit strange in places -- quite a lot of drinking goes on, and not only that, be he seems to be encouraging the children to drink? He tells them in the letter to be read on their 10th birthday to start "learning about the rarities of life" by having some champagne. He also mentions writing the letters while drinking in bars, and in another letter he gives drink recipes with the admonition, "damn the teetotalers and bless the whiskey-makers." Again, odd advice to be giving 10 year olds . . . The rest of the "advice" is pretty standard, along the lines of offering wisdom on what's important in life and advice such as "know when and how to forgive." I think the book was supposed to be somewhat sentimental and heartwarming, but the advice being imparted by the father seemed pretty obvious and unsurprising. I received a copy of this book as a GoodReads giveaway.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 6, 2014 6:51 PM PDT

Advanced Tattoo Art (How-To Secrets from the Masters)
Advanced Tattoo Art (How-To Secrets from the Masters)
by Doug Mitchel
Edition: Paperback
Price: $25.04
69 used & new from $1.45

3.0 out of 5 stars Step-by-step tattoo creation, December 16, 2013
It seems that everywhere you look these days, you'll see someone proudly displaying their tattoos. Today they are used as forms of personal expression, which demonstrate the wearer's interests and personality. This book shows how the modern form of tattooing is practiced by featuring the works of 10 prominent tattoo artists. Each of the ten artists has chosen a design that showcases his talents (sadly, no female artists are featured in the book). The designs are shown, though numerous photographs, from original idea all the way through the process to completed tattoo. It's fascinating to see how the design progresses through the various stages. The book also has a short history of tattoos which goes over the rise and fall of the art across human history. I found it interesting that Thomas Edison was the inspiration for the first electronic tattoo machine. The artists are all interviewed by the author on such subjects as their background and training, inspirations, and how they see the future of the industry. Anyone who is interested in tattoos and how they are created would enjoy this book.

I received a LibraryThing Early Reviewers copy of this book.

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