31. Quest, Inc.

Blog Tour:

Quest, Inc. by Justin Cohen for Tribute Books

A journey made in search of something or a long and difficult effort to do something are common definitions for a quest and that’s what this book is about.  When I was asked to review this book I was intrigued because I couldn’t see how anybody could make an interesting story about a bunch of personal development experts.  Boy was I wrong!

Robert Rivera is an obese, washed up weight loss coach.  He was the Flatten your Fat guy – six-pack stomach, trim and muscular. He made losing weight look easy.  Now, the fat is flattening him.  The story begins with Robert trying to commit suicide and being saved by an ex-colleague, Carter; after his wife leaving him and being evicted from his home.  Carter, realizing the desperate condition of  Robert, reunites the dynamic personal development team from the Living Well Campaign to guide him back to health mentally, physically, and financially – Jay, Alexia, and Mickey .  This leads to the five experts creating Quest, Inc.  Can five personal development coaches with their own problems steer their clients with various complexities on the road to a better life?  And for that matter, what is considered a better life?  Moreover, they must do it while being scrutinized by a dubious Huffington Post journalist, Victoria Holt.  “I’m Victoria
Holt and I believe it’s time to put all that self-help hype on trial. Let’s see if the gurus really can
change a life. Or not. With more than a bit of arm-twisting, I’ve convinced five leading personal
development experts to put their powers to the test.”(Quest, Inc. p.12)

I enjoyed reading this book because there was humor, a bit of mystery, and it was all framed up with a bit of interesting personal development psychology.  I can tell the book was written by someone who is a personal development expert because he goes through various concepts with the introduction of each new client at Quest, Inc.  I learned some things and found the book uplifting.  I also appreciated the mystery that runs through the story(will keep you reading) and that continues right to the end, which leaves us on a cliffhanger.  Can’t wait to read what happens in book two.  Although you know I’m not a fan of trilogies and series. 

I rate this book three and a half stars.  I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in reading a book with a twist and that’s out of the ordinary.  Although I wouldn’t recommend it for those of you who don’t accept the philosophy of personal development coaches or life coaches.  You may find it too preachy.  It’s well worth the read though for its originality.  So, check it out!!!  Happy reading…..

Justin Cohen’s Bio:
Justin Cohen is the author of four books and seven audiobooks. He produced and hosted a television talk show in which he interviewed some of the world’s top experts on success. As a leading authority on personal development, with an honors degree in Psychology, Justin speaks, trains and writes in the fields of motivation, sales, service and leadership. Having spoken professionally for nearly fourteen years, Justin has presented in twelve different countries, and in virtually every industry, to an average of ten thousand people annually.

Excerpt Link (Chapter 1):
http://questinc.blogspot.com/search/label/Excerpt

Justin Cohen’s Web Site:
http://www.justinpresents.com/

Justin Cohen’s Blog:
http://www.justinpresents.com/jchome/?feed=rss2

Justin Cohen’s Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/people/Justin-Cohen/522277183

Justin Cohen’s Twitter:
http://twitter.com/#!/justinpresents

Justin Cohen’s Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1094440.Justin_Cohen

Justin Cohen’s YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/user/justincohen?feature=mhee

Quest, Inc. Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13576148-quest-inc

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:

Quest, Inc. blog tour site:
http://questinc.blogspot.com/

Paperback & eBook
Publisher: Telemachus Press
Price: $9.99 paperback, $0.99 ebook
ISBN: 9781937387303
Pages: 284
Release: March 20, 2012

Amazon buy link: ($9.99)
http://www.amazon.com/dp/1937387305?tag=tributebooks-20

Barnes & Noble buy link: ($9.99)
http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=dcSBhG3Rj8w&offerid=239662.9781937387303&type=2&subid=0

Kindle buy link ($0.99)
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007MTPE1M?tag=tributebooks-20

Mirepoix and Carcassonne

Mirepoix is one of the prettiest villages in south-west France.  Mirepoix is located near Carcassonne in Ariège Pyrenees.  It has beautiful, colorful, colombage façades and has about 3100 permanent residents.

    

Carcassonne is a fortified medieval town founded by the Visigoths in the 5th century.  It’s located in Aude department in Languedoc-Roussillon.  It’s beautiful to see but unfortunately there are loads of tourists.  It’s a must see all the same.

29./30. Divergent and Insurgent

Another story about a dystopian world.  This world is divided into five factions:  Amity-quality of being friendly, Candor-quality of being open and honest, Erudite-quality of having or showing great knowledge or learning, Abenegation-quality of self-denial, and Dauntless-quality of fearlessness, determination, and bravery.  When teenagers are 16 they must take an orientation test which determines the faction they have an aptitude for.  They must then decide in the Choosing ceremony if they will remain in the faction where they were raised or will they forsake their family and friends for another faction.  Factions are thicker than blood in this world.  As it says on the cover: “One choice can transform you.”

Beatrice Prior is the heroine of this fast paced story, Divergent.  She and her brother were raised in Abnegation.  The people in the Abnegation faction wear grey colored clothes and are meant to think of others before themselves.  Beatrice feels that this is really difficult and not natural for her.  She sees her brother Caleb as an ideal Abnegation member  because he appears to do everything perfectly and willingly.  Everything really begins with the Choosing Ceremony.  Will Beatrice and Caleb choose to stay in Abnegation or will they choose another faction?  You’ll just have to read and find out.

The Divergent trilogy is Veronica Roth’s first publication.  She is a twenty-two year old successful American writer.  She is a graduate from Northwestern University where she earned a diploma in creative writing.  Lucky for some, she wrote Divergent when she should have been doing her homework.   Both Divergent (2011) and Insurgent (2012) were bestsellers and I suspect the third part of this trilogy will be too.  It is due to be released at some point in 2013.  There should also be a film adaptation of Divergent coming out soon (estimation date is 2015), since the film rights were sold in April 2012.  Unfortunately, Veronica Roth isn’t participating in the screenplay writing.  Only her agent will be there to oversee that things don’t go too wrong.  Check out Veronica Roth’s website here http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.fr/

People will probably say that these books are too violent and even compare them to The Hunger Games trilogy but that’s not the case.  Yes it does have elements of violence, but that’s not the essential point of the novel.  I predict that the movie adaptation will make Divergent just as popular as The Hunger Games if not more.  Unfortunately, I have some problems with this trilogy.  Divergent was interesting, read well, and kept me reading.  Insurgent otherwise wasn’t the case.  I began Insurgent looking for answers that don’t seem to come up.  What is given as an explanation at the end of Insurgent is unacceptable and frankly boring.  Roth’s writing becomes very predictable because she always leaves the end of each chapter with new questions and action.  While reading Insurgent, I felt as if I was being manipulated to keep reading, basically baited from beginning to end.  I hate when that happens!  I get the feeling that Roth wrote Divergent as one book and her editors asked her to write a trilogy.  It’s like trying to stretch gravy when we don’t have enough to go around.  You add water.  I rate Divergent four stars and Insurgent two stars.  Of course I’ll read the third book when it comes out because I want to a. see how things turn out and b. see if Veronica Roth can redeem herself.  The idea of the story is good but I don’t think she went about it the right way.  I just watched Total Recall at the cinema two nights ago and there were things that made me think about this trilogy.

I can only suggest to read this trilogy at your own risk.  This seems to be the problem with YA novels is that they are often in trilogies or series.  Moreover, a lot of them tend to be dystopian now and contain similar characteristics in themes.  I’m really surprised they continue to be so popular.  I’ll be looking to read more YA but I’ll be steering away from the dystopian theme for the moment.  Happy reading….

The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it.”

                                                           ___ Benjamin Disraeli

The Australian Park

Who would have thought we would find a little down under flair in south-west France.  We headed out to The Australian Park which is located just outside of Carcassonne.  It was created in 2003 by one of the first ostrich breeders in France.  This is a perfect visit to do as a family.  Not only will you learn about kangaroos, ostriches, emus, and camels but also about the Aborigines.

Kangaroos are really cute!!! The wallabies look like stuffed animals that you want to take home as a pet.  That idea quickly goes out of your head when you see how much they crap all over the place.  The Australians sometimes have kangaroos as pets and they often put diapers on them as a solution to this problem.  I think that would be one too many diaper changes for me.

Other interesting facts that I learned:  The red kangaroo and the emus are unofficial emblems of Australia because they are animals that can’t back up.  That seems logical since the Australian national anthem is called “Advance Australian Fair”.  Another learned fact is that ostriches copulate twenty-five times a day during mating season, to the point where the poor females don’t have many feathers left on their butts. During this time they lay an egg every other day.

Here are some female ostriches waiting to be fed by tourists.  They gave us rubber cups on long wooden sticks that we held out to the ostriches or leaned on the red wooden barrier.  Boy did they pick our cups to death for the food.  It was obviously a ritual for them because as soon as they saw us line up they did too.  Funny animals!

There are other activities to do in the park like learning to throw a boomerang, looking for “gold”, trying the mechanical rodeo, and  reading all the interesting information posted around.  Another unusual opportunity is seeing the ostrich eggs.  People can buy them there for cooking.  The content of the egg is comparative to 24 chicken eggs.  Ostrich eggs are 15 centimetres long, 13 centimetres wide, and weigh about 1.4 kilograms, which is over 20 times the weight of a chicken’s egg.  The guide told us that the egg yolk is a slightly brighter yellow than a chicken egg and the taste is almost the same as a chicken egg although there is something different about the taste that isn’t easy to describe.  The egg-shell is impressive!  Click the following link to see a cute kangaroo being fed.  MVI_1575.MOV

  

Chateaux Lastours

Chateaux Lastours are four Cathar castles of Lastours.  They dominate the little village of Lastours and were built at an altitude of 300m along a rock wall which is 400m by 50m wide. Cabaret, Surdespine and la Tour Régine stand in line. Quertinheux was built on a separate pinnacle close by.  The views are absolutely spectacular!!! Needless to say, the climb was grueling to say the least.  It was two hours to ascend and descend.  It doesn’t seem very long in time but the terrain is really rough – from sharp rocks to sliding pebbles to uneven stone stairs.  The lady selling tickets said that we were fast.  It didn’t feel fast.  I suggest you wear good walking shoes if you do this.  I saw a lot of people doing the “Medieval walk” as I call it, which means wearing flat sandals for a rugged climb.  All I can say is “Ouch!!!”  When we were a quarter of the way up my youngest daughter who is 13 said, “We had to pay to walk up this thing.  That’s messed up.”  We certainly earned our dinner last night and were very glad to all have made it to the top.

Montolieu

Yesterday we strolled along the quiet, breezy streets of Montolieu looking for a deal.  What kind you ask? A book deal.  Montolieu is a village in the south-west of France in the Aude department.  It’s known as the village of books.  It’s one bookshop after another.  Rare, manga, comic, dictionaries, historical, literary, classics……  There is one English bookshop but unfortunately it was closed.  In spite of that disappointment, we found some other shops that were selling English books along with French ones, but nothing interested me.  My husband and daughter got two deals though: 1. My daughter bought two mangas for 6€ and 2. My husband bought a Stephen King novel in French called Ça, which is It in English, for 2€ and it’s an enormous book.  I think it around 600 pages.  It just wasn’t my day for deals but I did enjoy visiting the shops and sucking up the atmosphere of this relaxing village.