The Key to Midnight (Book Review)

Any writer who is willing to revise an earlier book, especially a successful one, deserves a lot of respect, and I read this book because I saw the writer’s own explanation that he revised The Key to Midnight, one of his earliest novels, by cutting 30,000 words and adding 5000 thousand.

The Key to Midnight may be a different type of a Koontz novel, but it is just as exciting and suspenseful as his later work. It is very well written with skillful character drawing, internal and external conflicts, and car chases galore. The pacing is impeccable, for it makes the reader devour each word with the thrill increasing as the plot progresses.

The story begins with the introduction of the owner of the nightclub Moonglow Lounge in Kyoto, Joanna Rand, and her recurring nightmare that terrifies her. The nightmare is about a man with metallic fingers, appearing from somewhere in Joanna’s background or haunting her mind like her fake name and identity, making Joanna act irrationally at times.

When the private detective Alex Hunter while vacationing in Kyoto is attracted to Joanna, the knots start coming undone. Alex Hunter determines Joanna’s memory is a fake one and her mind is controlled by a formidable enemy using hypnosis. Alex starts helping Joanna, only to find out at the end , he too is manipulated by the rival side. The ending, however, is a happy one, and Alex and Joanna find solutions to their problems by outsmarting the international intelligentsia that still keeps fighting as if the cold war never ended.

The author, Dean Ray Koontz, was born on July 9, 1945 in Everett, PA. The child of an alcoholic father, Koontz took solace in books and in writing. He sold his first book at the age of 23, at first using a variety of pen names. After his first success with “The Key to Midnight,” Koontz created many suspenseful stories and attracted many followers. Although his writing is sometimes pushed into the horror genre due to the thrillers with supernatural overtones, Koontz should not be considered a horror writer. Koontz is a prolific, innovative suspense writer whose talent is highly respected.

Koontz influenced many writers with the quality of his work and fascinated his readers with his productivity, which never imitates itself. In other words, every book has unique characters and an exciting plot that grips the reader in a different way.

A few of his numerous books are: Odd Thomas, The Mask, Intensity, The Eyes of Darkness, Mr. Murder, Hideaway, One Door Away from Heaven, The House of Thunder, Dark Rivers of the Heart, Winter Moon, Fear Nothing, From the Corner of His Eye, The Face, The Book of Counted Sorrows, By the Light of the Moon, Velocity, Forever Odd.

The Key to Midnight, 1995 edition, is 419 pages in paperback with ISBN: 0425147517.

Once you start reading it, The Key to Midnight is a book you can not close easily.

Punk Wig – A Children’s Picture Book – By Lori Ries & Illustrated by Erin Eitter Kono

“My Mom’s got alien blobs inside of her. They’re called cancer.” Punk Wig is a children’s picture book with a story of a little boy who supports his mom as she gets her “alien blobs zapped with medicine”.

I love kid’s books… books with lots of pictures and a great story. Reading parents know what I’m talking about. I like to read them aloud to my kids and use all sorts of different voices. Maybe I love them because I am still a kid at heart, who knows?

There are times when you read a book and know that it is important. The potential is right there in your hands and you can only imagine the impact that this book could have if people knew of its existence.

Punk Wig a one of those books. It is a story of a little boy whose mom has cancer. The book is written from the boy’s point of view, in a child’s language. This book is unlike any I have read before. Lori Ries writes about this very serious subject in a matter of fact way and adds a hint of humor. Erin Eitter Kono’s illustrations enrich the story line. They are comfortingly simple, yet show a sense of fun.

The story begins with a Mom, Dad, and a little boy heading out to the hospital. The little boy explains that his “mom has alien blobs inside of her”. Next we see Mom in bed in the hospital, surrounded by flowers and cards. Later when Mom is home, there are several pictures where she looks tired and worn out. The little boy is loving and comforting to his mom and says, “I… give her my gorilla cup that was mine when I was little.” Later, the cancer treatment causes Mom’s hair to fall out. When Mom is feeling better, they go to “Harriet’s Hair” and try on wigs. They have a fun time trying on all of these crazy wigs! Mom eventually chooses a spiky orange long wig and it is named Punk Wig.

The book focuses on the importance of just being together as mom and son. They are shown picking out a pumpkin (as orange as the wig!), swinging together, and of course, trying on all of those wacky wigs. My favorite picture of the whole book is Mom wearing a black leather jacket, jeans and her orange spiky Punk Wig! At the end of the book, Mom’s hair has grown back and the little boy is grinning ear to ear: he now gets to wear the Punk Wig.

Lori Ries gets it just right. She blends just the right amount of sensitivity, childlike charm with a healthy sense of humor.

Children often times are the innocent victims when a parent has cancer. Explaining to children what is happening can be a tricky endeavor. A book like Punk Wig might be the perfect tool to begin that conversation: simple language, attractive pictures, and an amusing story of love and support.

Workout Books For Fat Burning – Burn The Most Fat With The Best Book

Losing body fat can be a struggle at the best of times. Emotional, physical and mental problems are all too frequent when trying to burn fat, unless you have the best workout books for fat burning.

There are some shockers out there, there are ones that give you mediocre information, and then there are ones that will take you from being whatever size you are, to a perfect beach body if you put in the work.

We need decent information before we can get decent results. Imagine just being gifted an airplane and trying to figure out how to fly it yourself… You will crash and burn.

Same with anything in life, we need to get the best information from somebody who has the results we want, can motivate us to do what we want and is willing to put the hard work into us.

Here are a few points when choosing a workout book to burn fat.:

  1. If you are buying an ebook, always email the author first and see how much of a detailed response you get, sometimes they won’t even email back – you want to make sure you get support after you buy, by making sure you get support before.’

  2. Check that the author has the results you want. Ask for a picture or some other proof.

  3. Decide if the author can motivate you to put in the work, do they offer further assistance, coaching, a mentoring program or another way to guarantee that you get results?

Book Summary: Pirates of Manhattan II – The Hijacking of America’s Savings – By Barry James Dyke

The concentration of power the banks hold are at the levels of the great depression. When the balance of power swings too much in favor of the rich then bad things start to happen. This was demonstrated in 2008 with Mortgage meltdown. Bottom line is that Wall Street has a gambling problem and nothing has changed since that bubble burst.

Why is this important to me?

I am not doing this summary to waste your time. It is my vision to provide concise action steps that you can adopt right now to enhance your financial life. There is an old saying, put a frog in boiling water and he will jump out but heat the water gradually and he will stay in it and die. This is what is happening right now with the wealth of the United States. The greatest wealth transfer in history is happening as we speak and has been since 2005. Wall Street simply cares about bonuses and payouts. Large companies and banks alike get big paydays even if they screw up and do a bad job. GE was hailed as one of the great American companies and the stock price is half of what it was 10 years ago yet the executive management team has made big money.

Where I come from, you do not get a trophy unless you win. Management today has no stake in the companies they run. The biggest problem we have right now is that for every dollar the U.S. Government spends on wars, defense, entitlements and other projects, they borrow $.43 cents. If the average American did this, bankruptcy would happen in less than 2 months.

Pirates of Manhattan II focuses on Target Date Mutual Funds and the fact that banks want to start managing YOUR 401K plans. In this summary, we will cover the what, why and how regarding Target Date Mutual funds and review performance to make sure you know how to protect yourself.

1. What are Target Date Mutual Funds? – A mutual fund in the hybrid category that automatically resets the asset mix (stocks, bonds, cash equivalents) in its portfolio according to a selected time frame that is appropriate for a particular investor. A target-date fund is similar to a life-cycle fund except that a target-date fund is structured to address some date in the future, such as retirement. These instruments are very complex and can include derivatives and other instruments. The disclosure documents and prospectuses are similar to the 1,900 page health care bill – very complex.

2. Why is understanding TDMFs important? Mutual funds in general are pitched and advertised as great investments by the likes of Suze Orman and other financial gurus. When you dig in and see what the wealthy invest in, the last thing on their list is mutual funds and 401K’s. Suze Orman pushes these instruments as if her life depended on it. Since her sponsors are big financial corporations then maybe her financial life does depend on it. The question becomes – Does she invest in these instruments herself? According to her, she only has 3% of her wealth tied up in the stock market because “I don’t care if I lose it.” How can she push these instruments if she does not invest in them herself? What you will find is that major businesses, wealthy people and smart investors do not invest in mutual funds and 401K plans.

3. How does it work? Target Date Mutual funds are not proven but there are three drivers exploding their growth. 1. TDMF’s are the default election now on most 401K plans. 2) Upon employment, several employers default the employee as elected so they get in the plan. 3.) Mutual funds and 401K’s are not guaranteed.

The media has done a great job on selling the general public on investments that are not guaranteed. Dave Ramsey pitches Mutual Funds as well saying you can get 12% per year. This is misleading because according to Dalbar that the average actively managed mutual fund averages 3.8% per year over the last 20 years. You can invest in GUARANTEED Annuities and Life insurance and beat these returns by 2-3% and your return is GUARANTEED. Mutual Insurance companies are owned by the policy holders and the capitalization requirements are 1 to 1 and not 10 to 1 like banks. Some Mutual Funds use leverage up to 60 to 1. If you remember the cause of the Mortgage Crisis in 2008 was due to derivatives being leveraged higher than 40 to 1 and now these same banks want access to your cash because of the fees and money making stream they offer.

This book is a must read and will scare you. Most people I chat with basically have “learned helplessness.” I hear – “I get my 401K statements and don’t even open them.” This is a travesty and needs to change. Account preservation is just as important as account accumulation. Will Rogers said: “It is the return of my money that I worry about.” Your retirement account should be guaranteed and rock solid. You can have other speculative investments after that but not your core nest egg. Another area that the book covers is the relationship between big business, the media, financial press and your retirement. The mutual fund business is a trillion dollar industry and the sharks know they make money on the fees and administration regardless if you win or lose.

I hope you have found this short summary useful. The key to any new idea is to work it into your daily routine until it becomes habit. Habits form in as little as 21 days. One thing you can take away from this book is to setup a guaranteed retirement plan. Do your research and make part of that research annuities and life insurance. I am not a financial planner but I advocate financial education. I can tell you I do not own mutual funds and do not tie my money up in 401K plans. This is a road to nowhere in my opinion. I do save money in guaranteed instruments like life insurance and annuities. Set a time on your calendar each week and get educated.

What To Say When You Talk To Yourself – Book Review

“What To Say When You Talk To Yourself” by Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D. is an excellent book on the power of the mind. It is another great book on the subject.

Allow me to share a personal story about my own experience with this book.

It came into my life in about 2005. A time when I first began taking my network marketing business seriously. A side-line friend and I were talking, well, I was griping and complaining, about the setbacks I was experiencing with regard to forward motion in my business.

This friend started pointing out the power of my own words – the power my own words had upon myself!

The teaching of my parents came to my mind…the information they shared with me growing up…and I began asking questions. He just said, “What To Say When You Talk To Yourself, by Shad Helmstetter.

He said that he had picked up the book in a thrift store (for 25 cents!) and he ran out to his car and gave me his copy. I promptly devoured it. I just couldn’t put it down until I had imprinted it on my brain. I read it cover to cover.

Wanna know what I learned? I learned that it is important to know the power of what you SAY has on your ability to reach your goals.

I also learned the importance of subconscious programming. Brainwashing? Well, sort of. But think about it more like Brain Washing…you know, clearing out the garbage and making room for better stuff.

Is there any argument over the fact that whether you believe you can or believe you cannot you are absolutely correct?

I hope not. I live my life by that motto. It has proven to be true time after time. It is important to know that your subconscious mind is NOT in control. It is your conscious mind that runs the show. If you don’t control what goes into subconscious mind it will believe whatever seeps into it.

Let’s say you are watching a rather violent and graphic movie. If you don’t TELL yourself that it is just play acting, pretending, and the actor will get up from the scene and walk away to be in another movie another day then your subconscious mind will believe that what you are seeing is REAL.

Shad Helmstetter, in “What To Say When You Talk To Yourself,” tells about his experiences with helping people who want to stop smoking. He taught them to speak to themselves with great conviction thus reprogramming their minds to believe that they are no longer smokers. He continues in great detail about success story after success story from his work.

Since reading “What To Say When You Talk To Yourself” I have had other information come into my life that both confirms and builds upon the concepts that I learned from this mind-altering book. I highly recommend this one.

I hope you will take it to heart that you can change the circumstances in your own life by changing your mind. Talk yourself into success!

I’m not saying that it is ALL in your head. But I am saying that when you teach your mind to function on a higher level ideas will come to you from all (and unexpected) directions. I hope you act upon them because it is simply the law of attraction. *wink*

Go out and pop those dream seeds!

I will talk to you later.

21 Success Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires by Brian Tracy – Book Review

Title and Author: 21 Success Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires by Brian Tracy

Synopsis of Content:

Brian Tracy is a very successful business man and consultant who also has some higher education. He has developed a reputation for his knowledge of what works in business. He has worked with and studied self made millionaires and other successful people and here provides the simple formula for success.

In this simple and very brief little book Tracy covers his list of 21 essentials to be a self made millionaire. Nothing here will surprise you however the style and manner of his presentation is enjoyable and easy to follow.

Tracy touches on the true essentials for personal success. Each chapter is no more than 4 pages long. The entire book including index is only 80 pages long. You can sit down and read this little gem in an hour.

If you find yourself struggling with success (or failure) and you do not know where to start to change your life to move on to success this is a great primer. Read it more than once and absorb the wisdom here. It is the genuine thing.

His chapters address the importance of having a big dream; developing a clear sense of direction and maintaining it; seeing yourself in control of your own destiny by seeing yourself self employed; do what you love to do; commit to excellence; work longer and harder; dedicate yourself to lifelong learning; pay yourself first; master the details of your business; dedicate yourself to serving others; maintain absolute integrity; concentrate on your highest priorities; develop a reputation for speed and dependability; climb from peak to peak; practice self discipline in all things; unlock your creativity; associate with the right people; take good care of your health; be decisive and action oriented; never allow failure to be an option and be forever persistent.

These are all tried and true. They are all the gold standard of success advice. Tracy gives some brief illustrations and develops each item only long enough to explain it.

Readability/Writing Quality:

This book is very easy to read. Each chapter is short. The entire book can be read an hour or less.

Notes on Author:

Brian Tracy is a professional speaker, trainer and consultant. He is also a self-made millionaire.

He has a Masters Degree from Columbia Pacific University. He has worked with over 22 different companies over the years. He began lecturing and teaching in 1981 and has done so ever since, translated in 20 languages around the world.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

1. You must develop your sense of direction and then commit yourself to seeing through your dreams through action.

2. Master your business and your own potential through continued education in your area of business and through constant learning to improve your own abilities.

3. Practice self discipline and persistence, the two most important qualities to reach success.

Publication Information:

21 Success Secrets of Self Made Millionaires by Brian Tracy

Copyright: 2001 by Brian Tracy

Published by Executive Books

General Rating: Very Good