Here is a link to all of my Amazon product reviews, where I use the pen name, "Bassocantor"

All my Amazon Product Reviews

Michael Nesmith Infinite Tuesday


Here is my Amazon review,
You Can, You Will: 8 Undeniable Qualities of a Winner  by Joel Osteen


YOU CAN, YOU WILL is an uplifting book, a positive book of encouragement. It's not a dull book on some obscure theological point; instead, it's a practical, inspiring read. And that's the whole point of the book. The author lists 8 specific traits that sincere Christians should exhibit if they want to achieve all that God has in store for them. These benefits come about because God favors his children, and wants them to achieve greatness, even here on Earth.

The winner is exhorted to remember these 8 qualities:

♦ Keep Your Vision in Front of You
♦ Run Your Race
♦ Expect Good Things
♦ Have a Positive Mind Set
♦ Commit to Excellence
♦ Keep Growing
♦ Serve Others
♦ Stay Passionate

YOU CAN, YOU WILL is full of encouraging anecdotes and actual stories from friends of the author. They often relate to having a positive attitude, and not becoming discouraged. This positive mindset is a recurring theme through the book--face problems with a can-do attitude and avoid victim-hood thinking at all costs. A winner should not give in to negative thoughts, and even not associate with those who are negative influences. Avoid those negative anchors, because they are likely impeding your drive to achieving great things.

The classical puritan work ethic is also a theme of this book, although not called out by name. The Christian winner should do MORE than is necessary--MORE than required by their employer: "When you're a person of excellence, you do more than necessary. You don't just meet the minimum requirements." The "Spirit of Excellent" can manifest itself in many ways, the author states. In a great example, Pastor Joel makes it a point to keep the church grounds clean. He explains his thinking: Don't send the wrong message about the Christian church; believers "represent God, and He is not sloppy. God is not run-down. God is not second class." I found this particular example to be an endearing one. Here we have a world-famous pastor and writer picking up trash to honor God's house--what a good example!

YOU CAN, YOU WILL is bound to be a subject of controversy. The theme of the book focuses mostly on what a Christian can do to achieve in this world--that is, what wonderful things we can accomplish. The idea of exactly what type of "Success" God wants for believers is assumed by the author--it's not really open for debate. And therein lies the controversy. In YOU CAN, YOU WILL, success in the Christian world is presented as the same type of success that everyone wants--job, money, family, position, etc. That position is sure to ignite lots of debate.

I'm afraid the more controversial portions of this book may mask the many good ideas that believers should follow. For example, Pastor Joel encourages the reader to practice supreme stewardship--using one's abilities to the maximum, being diligent and hardworking, and not blaming others. Wow--nicely stated! Every Christian can agree that these are solid Biblical principles, with roots in the Protestant Reformation.

In summary, YOU CAN, YOU WILL is an inspirational book aimed at believers who want to see God's favor explode in their life. This book is a fun, uplifting read, with lots of good, practical suggestions. Christian readers who are looking for specific actions to take will find lots of material here. YOU CAN, YOU WILL will definitely light that fire.

Finally, even if you don't like, or agree with some sections of the book, there are a TON of excellent ideas that are well-grounded in scripture. I keep on thinking of the author's humbling himself to pick-up trash, and Pastor Joel's admonition to be a good steward. These are practices that all Christians can agree on and practice.

If you liked this book, you will likely also like the inspirational bestseller by T.D. Jakes, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive.

For a contrasting perspective on the Christian life and Success, see Charles Stanley's excellent work, Success God's Way: Achieving True Contentment And Purpose. Dr. Stanley is a much more experienced pastor, and his perspective should not be overlooked. Dr. Stanley spends more time discussing just what "success" means to a Christian.

And just in case you were asleep for the past decade and missed it, don't forget the classic book by Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? ( Expanded Edition).

For a non-religious book on achieving your potential, I found this book by Dr. Candice Best to be excellent: Your Genius Mind: Why You Don't Need To Be A College Graduate But You Do Need To Think Like One.


 
Here is my Amazon review,
What Color is Your Parachute, 2015 by Richard Bolles


This book is widely recognized each year as the top guide to finding a job. Various editions of this book have sold MILLIONS. It is easy to see why. The author has extensive experience in the field, and backs up his ideas with impressive evidence. The research the author has done is impressive. WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE? 2015 is not just a book of some off-the-top-of-my head notions; these are recommendations based on extensive study and research. His recommendations are backed up by FACTS not theory. What else would you expect from a trained physicist?


► THINGS I LIKED THE MOST ◄
♦ Insight into the actual interviewing process--especially the suggested time to take (minimum and maximum) for your responses.

♦ Bolles provides "Conversation Tips" to use for your interview preparation. This section alone is worth the price of the book. For example, "Conversation Tip #12,"Employers don't care about your past; they just ask about it as a way to predict your FUTURE behavior.

♦ Suggested response to the common question, "Tell me about yourself." Bolles notes, "How you answer that question will determine your fate during the rest of the interview."

♦ The 5 key questions that the applicant must know:
-Why are you here?
-What can yo do for us?
-What kind of person are you?
-What distinguishes you from other people?
-Can I afford you?

♦ Six Secrets of Salary Negotiation. I was already aware of some of these, such as not being too quick to mention a salary first.

♦ Suggestions on how to best use social/networking sites like LinkedIn. For example, the author points out the importance of completely filling out your user profile, so that prospective employers (who will search these sites) can get an accurate picture of your qualifications. I had no idea how important it was to have your PICTURE on these sites. Bolles notes that surveys always show that not having a picture is a turn-off.

♦ Explanation as to how the job hunt as changed in some ways with technology, but in essence is still the same.

► QUALITY OF EDITING ◄
+ Excellent editing and book design. Someone has spent a lot of time getting this right! The book is well laid-out into logical sections.

+ Even the appendices are impressive. The first appendix will certainly be the most controversial, because the author makes his own religious beliefs clear in the thought-provoking section, "Finding your Mission in Life."

+ Bolles defends his inclusion of religion in a book on job-hunting by citing this statistic: In the United States, about 89% of the population believes in God. So, Bolles reasons, "Leaving out a section that 89% of my readers might be interested in, and helped by, in order to please 11% of my readers, seems to me insane."

+ Finding your mission in life will not be trivial, and will not be quick. The author points out that being forced to find a job can also have beneficial effects on our whole life. It offers "a chance to make some fundamental changes in our whole life. It marks a turning point in how we live our life."

► OTHER APPENDICES ◄
The other, less controversial appendices include:
+ "A Guide to Choosing a Career Coach."
+ "A Ten Minute Crash Course for Vets."
+ "Sampler List of Coaches"
+ "Recent Foreign Editions" (well, okay, this one does seem a bit self-serving.)
+ "Final Word from Author."

The author's "PostScript" is a very poignant missive--almost a plea, to the reader. When faced with a job crisis, you can abandon your beliefs, or rethink the things that have been your core principles. "While we are out of work, we can reach toward a larger conception of our God and of ourselves."

√ HIGHLY RECOMMEND! This review doesn't do justice to this outstanding work. WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE 2015 is a COMPREHENSIVE, well-written book by the #1 expert in the field. Honestly, if you are struggling finding your next job, you would be nuts to not read this book.