Reader Services Blog

Winter thrills

If this winter has been too mild for you, you'll find lots of snow and cold in these thrilling winter tales.

Women's fiction

Are you looking for some good books about women's lives and relationships?  Here are some of the best titles published in 2011:

Book Review- Discover True North by Anne Bruce c 2004

This self-help book has a 4-week approach to ignite passion and achieve potential. In the preface the author explains her approach. The book’s purpose is to help others find more meaning, value, passion and higher potential in their personal and professional lives.

Discover True North appears to be a practical guide on how to identify areas of a person’s life, personal and professional, and then set out steps to accomplish what one would like to do and stay focused on goals while surrounding one’s self with nurturing people and developing good relationships.

The author provides stories of people and charts to illustrate her instruction. She provides questions, exercises and examples to help the reader analyze and assess oneself to develop their own solutions and answers to improve their life.

The following are some of the author’s highlights:

One should create the healthiest emotional and physical environment to enable oneself to be their best self and live their best life.

Stand up for yourself and ask for better service when you think things are not right. Write a Profile in Courage that lists your past accomplishments and successes to determine where you have been and where you want to go. Update the profile annually.

You cannot be anything you want, but you can be anything you are capable of becoming.  Cultivate interests by traveling, reading and seize moments by taking leaps of faith in pursuing things during your life.  Write down your goals on a time table. Learn to mediate, relax and learn patience. Try not to force things when the timing is not right. Listen to your inner voice or gut feelings.

Read about people that listen to their intellect and spirit such as Einstein, Deepak Chopra, Gandhi, Saint Teresa of Avila, Mohammed, Benjamin Lee and Jesus. Read Intuitionby Patricia Einstein and Developing Intuition by Shakti Gawain.

Be true to your feelings, talents, abilities and desires so you can really go after what you want. Concentrate on focus, service and gratitude so you can continually improve yourself. Avoid people and things that detract you from focusing on your goals by setting boundaries. Serve others and what you sew you will reap. Do things for others with intent but not necessarily expecting something in return.  Be grateful for things. Express your gratitude which will allow yourself to develop and maintain good and deeper relationships to others that can provide you with lasting joy. Your service may result in a lasting legacy.

A simple life allows you to enjoy the important things a little more. Questions are provided to help consider necessary steps to simplify a person’s social life, finances, spiritual life, and to improve one’s physical and emotional well-being to increase one’s energy and make one stronger inside and out.

Ask for help when you need it, than accept it.

Bruce gives guidelines for her readers to start their own optimist group.

At the end of the book Bruce provides a contract one can fill-out and view periodically to check their status and progress. Bruce asks her readers to keep four things in mind: 1. Are you living in the place where you belong?, 2. Are you with the people you love?, 3. Are you doing the right work?, and 4. Are you living your purpose?

In conclusion,Discover True North reads quickly and Bruce does not use much technical jargon which makes it a wonderful resource for the lay-person.

There is an extensive bibliography for further reading and an index. Lastly the author lists her credentials, past appearances, previous books she has written and her contact information. Anne Bruce is a motivational speaker, author and life coach who has given seminars for major corporations such as Coca Cola, British Petroleum, GEICO, and Southwest Airlines. She has also given presentations at the Pentagon and the White House. Her website is

Here are some of her latest books:

Manager’s Guide to Motivating Employees 2/E (Briefcase Books Series) by Anne Bruce (Nov 8, 2011)

Solving Employee Performance Problems: How to Spot Problems Early, Take Appropriate Action, and Bring Out the Best in Everyone by Anne Bruce, Brenda Hampel and Erika Lamont (May 26, 2011)

 Perfect Phrases for Employee Development Plans (Perfect Phrases Series) by Anne Bruce (Jun 18, 2010)

I recommend Discover True North to adults and teens as a quick practical guide for helping a person discover their interests, talents and find more meaning, value, passion, harmony and a higher potential in their lives. - MA


New SF audiobooks

Just in for those who like to listen:

February Bestsellers

These bestsellers will be released in February.  Place your holds now.

Chinese New Year

Celebrate Chinese New Year on January 23rd by reading a novel set in China.  Here are some suggestions:

Book Review – Cosby The Life of a Comedy Legend by Ronald L. Smith c 1997

Dr. William Henry Cosby Jr. was born on July 12, 1937 in Philadelphia. Bill Cosby is known as a comedy entertainer, and actor who has performed in numerous nightclubs, starred in movies and TV shows. Cos has also produced a large number of comedy albums and some videos. He is widely known for the cartoon series Fat Albert and The Cosby TV show featuring the Huxtable family.

Smith chronicles the events of Cosby’s life showing how Cos was influenced by his surroundings such as his childhood in the Richard Allen Project Homes, facing racial discrimination at a restaurant as a teen, Temple University, navy, marriage, birth of his children, entertainment world, sports activities, charities he supports and the death of his son.

The author also shows how Cos relates to others professionally and socially. Smith also compares Cos with other entertainers. At the end of the book there is a listing of Cosby’s albums, Emmy and Grammy awards, television series, movies and videocassettes, stage performances, videos and his authored books.

Cos learned some comic rules: 1. People have to like you to want to listen to you. and 2. A comic is not supposed to get angry in public.

Bill’s comic materials have consisted of his Noah and the Ark routine, parent-child relationships and lampoons of irritating commercials. Cos told a reporter, “I see things funny and I talk about the way I see them. I try to project a family atmosphere of sharing a joke with friends or relatives at home.” p.43

Smith compares Cos with other black entertainers such as Sammy Davis Jr., Richard Pryor, Red Fox, Harry Bellefonte, and Sidney Poitier. Some would do jokes with racial humor, and use profanity. Others would try to confront the race issue by showing societal discrimination in movies and TV shows. Cos tried to keep neutral on the race issue and keep his humor family – oriented in order to try to appeal to everyone. His humor involved story-telling of common child hood human nature experiences such as sharing things with one’s siblings, and the consequences of not obeying one’s parents.

Cos did his doctoral thesis on the Saturday cartoon, Fat Albert that ran from 1972-85 with the aim of trying to entertain and educate children by trying to teach them moral lessons such as staying in school, honesty pays and how hard work pays off.

TheCosby Show TV Series about the Huxtable family ran 8 years from 1984-92 and was more popular than The Simpsons. The Cosby Show became very popular and was rated number one at NBC for a number of years. Cos kept a firm control on the writing staff and script. They wrote about human behavior. The book talks about how they rehearsed for the show. Cos consulted experts on medicine, law, and psychiatry to give out the correct information.

Smith states that Cos tries to compliment his family in public and keep their lives private.

Bill Cosby has been doing stand-up comedy to top concert venues and producing comedy albums for over 30 years as well as authoring a number of books. His latest book is entitled, I Didn’t Ask To Be Born (But I’m Glad I Was) c 2011 which is a collection of comedic observations about life experiences.

Cosby is Chairman of the National Hemophilia Foundation. He supports the congressional Black Caucus, American Cancer Society, The American Heart Association, the Aids foundation and other charities.

I would recommend this book and the biographical and/or the autobiographical genre to anyone (teens and adults) who like to learn about others and their experiences. -MA