Category Archives: book reviews

Book Review: The Ultimate Mumpreneur’s Guide to Online Business Success

Do you hope to start an online business? If you’re one of the many potential mumpreneurs around at the moment, Mel McGee’s book, The Ultimate Mumpreneur’s Guide to Online Business Success, is a good buy.

Mel McGee is a NLP master and offers business coaching through She has used her coaching experience to write this motivating book, which is packed with handy lists and tools to help you examine your motivation and develop a business.

I liked ideas like the ‘7 Steps to Mumpreneur Success’. The book has lots of handy hints, Supermummy tips, and little cartoons to help you focus and refine your ideas. One essential idea that Mel McGee gets spot on is about how to decide on what your business will offer. It is all too easy to decide what you would like to sell, without looking at whether this is what people want to buy. Mel suggests identifying your ‘hot’ target market, and looking at the products and services that will address their biggest concerns. The next key tip is about tasking a good hard look at your potential idea and seeing if there is money in it.

The first part of the book will work whatever type of business you want to create, but Mel goes more in depth for mums wanting to get involved in online marketing, and in particular information marketing. An online business is ideal for mums and dads because it can run from home at times of day to suit you. Getting your online marketing right is essential, and Mel guides you through the use of incentives to collect contact details and turn them into paying customers.

Watch out for a competition to win copies of this book next month.

£15, available from Amazon. 188 Pages. ISBN-13: 978-1905430512 or download from Bookshaker.

Book Review:The See-Saw by Julia Hobsbawm

The See SawIf anyone knows how to juggle, Julia Hobsbawm does. As she says on her website, she is a mother, step-mother, wife, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, friend, cousin, niece, and businesswoman. The See-Saw is a guide to ‘inspire and reassure you that you can get your work-life balance on track.’

The book covers topics including flexibility, childcare, me-time, flexibility and guilt. It also looks at the ‘Dammy’, or stay at home dad: Julia’s partner Alaric has been taking this role for many years, allowing her to operate a busy full time business. It is up-to-date, written in the Summer of 2008.

Hobsbawm does her best to make The See-Saw applicable to people without children, featuring a few case studies, but basically it is a guide for parents to sorting out work life balance. The book has something of a flavour of privilege about it, despite including some people in ‘ordinary’ jobs there are many more high flying parents like Hobsbawm herself. More ordinary mums may be slightly irritated by the inclusion of Julia’s pals, Julia, a Rabbi, Antonia, a leader writer and ‘old friend’ Rosie Boycott in the space of a few pages.

Amusing cartoons and recipes break up the book. There is a good mix of views from men and women. It is easy to read – I managed to get through it quite quickly despite being 37 weeks pregnant, so in that way is ideal for time pressed parents. Overall it is a pleasant read, but you could probably get just the same tips by sitting round with a group of friends who are also juggling working parents.

The See-Saw (paperback) Published January 2009. 176 pages. ISBN: 978 1 84354 911 6. RRP: £6.99

Book Review: The Marketing Toolkit by Jeff Della Mura

Do you understand what marketing really is all about? Do you think you could be marketing your business better – but are unsure what to do? The Marketing Toolkit could be what you need.

I’m very impressed by Jeff Della Mura’s new book, The Marketing Toolkit. Ideal if you don’t have a marketing background, it is written in small bite sized chunks. You can learn about 50 different marketing ideas that are directly applicable to your business. I think the main danger of this book might actually be trying to read it too quickly: far better to read one short section each week, then try to put the new ideas into practice in your business.

On the cover the book is described as ‘a veritable Swiss Army knife of useful information’. It provides guidance on doing marketing yourself, as well as hiring freelancers and consultants. Della Mura does, unfortunately, report some statistics without looking at where they come from closely enough: it is unsurprising that the US Digital Printing Council survey reported that full colour mailings, customised with customers names, increase response rates. And if, say, you need to know more about website design, the 3 page section can only serve as an introduction. Overall, however, this is a great way to learn more about marketing your business, especially as The Marketing Toolkit is currently only £5.99 on Amazon. Add it to your business bookshelf – and remember to look at it each week, to see how you can improve your business marketing.

Book Review: You’re On! How to develop great media skills for TV, radio and the internet

You're On!If you are trying to improve your business profile on TV or Radio, you may want some help to improve your interview technique and give you confidence. I read this book from the point of view of someone who is asked for interviews and to provide expert comments. I’ve also been on several media training courses – the slightly more expensive way to work on your TV interview skills. For people like me, Chapter 9 on Being Interviewed was very much the most relevant. It breaks down the skills needed to be interviewed in a logical way, and gives you straightforward tips too prepare for any interview. Simple things like asking if the interview will be broadcast live or whether it is pre-recorded can affect how you perform.

Beyond that chapter, the book is more aimed at those who want to learn to be a TV or radio presenter. There is still a lot that anyone who simply wants to promote their own business can benefit from. Depending on your weaknesses, you can work on your vocal techniques, your interaction with your audience, and the material you are presenting.

The author, Alec Sabin, is an actor who now offers voice and presentation training. You’re On! is published by How To Books Ltd and is available at £9.99 in major bookshops and online retailers across the country. To see more about the book’s contents, click here. ISBN 978-1- 84528-255-4

Book Review: Raise Your Game Now! by Paul Stalker

Raise your game

Performance coach Paul Stalker is a great man to help you re-evelaute your attitude to life and deal with any habits that are holding you back. This book doesn’t just look at your behaviour, but also challenges you to take control of your health.

In the introduction you can read about Paul’s personal journey, from struggling at school, through business ups and downs, to his battle with cancer. This gives you a great background to see where Paul’s advice is based.

The book takes you though how to get physically and mentally fit, then moves onto looking at how you can get rid of negative attitudes. The third section helps you improve the way you relate to and influence others. Importantly for this sort of book, the fourth section looks at enjoying yourself and how to ‘do what you love, love what you do’. Finally, Paul helps you devise your game plan and put into action the lessons you have learnt.

One to one sessions with a life coach don’t suit everyone, whether it is because of time or cost: this book makes a great alternative if you want to change the way you think, take control of your life and achieve your goals. With Paul’s GAME mnemonic, Gratitude and Attitude, Make a friend, Enjoy yourself, this book will help you improve your life and business.

Paul has kindly donated a copy of the book to be won as part of our essential business books competition.

To find out more and buy the book, visit

Book Review: Personal Social Responsibility by Arvind Devalia

Personal Social ResponsibilityIn this book, Arvind Devalia asks you 52 searching questions to help you evaluate your attitude to social responsibility and business. It is ideal for every business owner who wants to take responsibility for their place in the planet.
If you want to take social responsibility more seriously, this book from coach Arvind Devalia is a great place to start. The book gets you thinking from the start, with questions like “How will the world be a better place because you lived?” Maybe not an easy one to answer straight off, but something certainly worth giving serious consideration to. After exploring your attitudes, the books asks questions to help you understand more about corporate social responsibility. You are asked to look at other companies and see what you can learn from their ethics, and how it can apply to you and your business. The book then takes you through implementation, reporting and measurement.

Arvind has kindly donated a copy of the book to be won as part of our essential business books competition. He has signed it with the inspiring message, “Go, Change the World!” which really sums up what the book is all about.
See more and buy the book at

Book Corner

I’ve been enjoying the Book Corner series by Lucy Mangan in the Guardian, particularly this weeks entry about Antonia Forest’s Autumn Term, the start of the series about the Marlow family. Lucy’s job of recounting the essential books for a child’s bookshelf is one I would love to have, not least because she and I have many similar ideas.

I have an enormous collection of girls school stories left from my childhood, enhanced by those books I added in my 20s as my book buying budget increased. Of the Antonia Forest books, I think I prefer the non-school stories, but they, along with Arthur Ransom, Noel Streatfeild, EJ Oxenham et al are making great ‘end of pregnancy’ reading.

Review: Special Educational Needs: A Parent’s Guide

Need2Know Books are doing a sterling job sending out “Special Educational Needs: A Parent’s Guide” to relevant charities and organisations. It is really useful to hear what people who are working in SEN think about the book … and so far the reviews have been great.

The latest review reads, “Whatever your situation, “Special Educational Needs: A Parent’s Guide” will help you through your child’s diagnosis and through the complex systems you might encounter.”

It continues, “If you are a parent or carer of a child with special educational needs you will know the feeling of uncertainty as to where to go for help. Or perhaps you are a teacher or other professional working with special educational needs children and would like to have clearer facts about the subject. This practical guide spells out clearly how to deal with the problems that special educational needs can present. For families at the end of their tether because of sleep deprivation, or worn down by battles to get the proper support at school for their special needs child, or who maybe facing the need to adapt their home, this guide is invaluable.”

You can buy the book from

Victoria Dawson and I have another couple of books in the pipeline, one for parents of children with special educational needs, focussing on looking after your relationship, and the other focussing on sleep problems. I hope that these will be as well received as the first one.

Cerebra Reviews “Special Educational Needs: A Parent’s Guide”

Special Educational Needs: A Parent’s Guide has just been reviewed ver favourably in Cerebra’s newsletter.

“This is a very straightforward book with easy-to-follow information and advice for parents. The many areas covered include speech problems, family life, housing and finance.

“Each chapter explains the issues and provides tick box lists to help apply it to your own child’s situation. Photocopyable charts help to deal with issues such as behaviour.

“Every chapter is clear, to the point, and very helpful. An appendix lists charities, support groups and government help. A great resource.”

Review of Special Educational Needs: A Parent’s Guide on Best Bear

A Parent's GuideOne of my recent books has just had a great review on Best Bear member Bea reviewed this book. She says,“My daughter has learning difficulties and is due to start school next year, so the timing of this book could not have been more perfect. I am just starting the statementing process for her, and this book has helped me understand more about the support that will be available at school and the what will be included in her statement.”

Bea continues, “I also really liked the checklists throughout the book which are useful for diagnosing specific problems and for writing notes/reports about her development. I also felt that there were lots of practical ideas and suggestions of things I can be doing at home to help my daughter. The book looks at a wide range of educational needs including autism, vision and hearing problems, dyslexia, dyspraxia and global developmental delay. It gives ideas of where you can go for additional help, support and information (12 pages of contacts at the back of the book!) together with details of how professionals such as Occupational Therapists and Speech Therapists can help. I think this book would be worthwhile reading whether you just have some concerns about your child’s development or schooling, or whether you have a named diagnosis already. One to keep for future reference I think.”

Find out more about what Best Bear said about the book.