Monday, February 25, 2008

Butcher of Dreams, by Williams and Wyman

ISBN: 9780964924161 - Calliope Press (2007)
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (12/07)





I've always loved mysteries. If I had to read just one genre for the rest of the days, I believe my choice would be the immensely entertaining field of mystery and suspense. I like the short, cozy British ones, adore the old classics and fall easily under the spell of the more contemporary ones. A lot of the new ones, though, fall short in the "thrill factor" area – they tend to be unnecessarily graphic in their shocking descriptions, yet they do not make me truly afraid and even less truly perplexed.
 
Kay Williams' and Eileen Wyman's "Butcher of Dreams," aptly subtitled "A Suspense Novel about the Theater," was one of the really thrilling mysteries. No matter how much I tried to guess who the villain was, the authors managed to sidetrack and blindside me again and again. While I correctly guessed one of the subplots, the main mystery remained so until the chilling end of the book.
 
Lee Fairchild, a talented actress, is managing a rather fledgling theater in NYC's Hell's Kitchen. She is a strong, courageous and smart woman, yet weakened by the recent death of her husband and a crumbling relationship with her only child, Heather. The theater has its own share of problems, starting from the motley crew on its payroll and continuing to its not-so-desirable location, lack of future funding and strange happenings in the area. When a dead vagrant is found in the theatre, his body mutilated in a ritual-looking manner, Lee enters a bizarre world of unexplainable events, all of which threaten the further operations of the theater as well as the lives of crew and cast. Will Lee manage to solve the mystery – or will she become the next victim?

"Butcher of Dreams" by Kay Williams and Eileen Wyman delivered on all the fronts that I consider important for a good mystery book. The writing was tight and precise. The characters were amazingly detailed and believable, with their back-stories intricately weaving in and out of the main story line. None of them were totally good or totally bad, which made them all the more human and the reading more pleasurable. The mystery remained mysterious to the very end of the book. And the book was scary enough that I did not want to read it when I was alone in the house.
 
Utterly enjoyable, "Butcher of Dreams" is a book I would wholeheartedly recommend to any lover of well-written mysteries. If that person happens to like the theater and NYC, they will enjoy it even more. Kay Williams and Eileen Wyman have made my list of authors to watch in the future and I am eagerly awaiting their next book.

The review above was used with permission from ReaderViews.com. Reader Views provides a one-stop service for authors. Besides providing reviews of books, they provide publicity packages, editing services, live interviews, book videos, and book proposal coaching. Their services and staff are highly recommended by the Polka Dot Banner.


The Polka Dot Banner (PDB) is an author's web community especially designed for busy authors looking for Internet exposure but who lack the time or know how. The PDB is a great starter web home that can serve as a stand-alone website promoting your book(s). Or, as a fast-growing author community, the PDB can help direct web traffic to a site you already own. Better yet, they do all the work for you, saving you time and effort.

Journey from Head to Heart, by Nancy Oelklaus

ISBN: 9781932690439 - Loving Healing Press (2008)
Reviewed by Vicki Landes for Reader Views (11/07)





Do you ever feel like the 'real you' isn't the one living your life?  That what you do from day to day isn't what feeds your soul or nurtures your heart?  Author Nancy Oelklaus says that genuine person and real happiness are inside there somewhere and is determined to bring them out with help from her new book, "Journey from Head to Heart:  Living and Working Authentically."
 
Oelklaus' book is a result of her own struggles to find her path and transcend beyond what she'd fallen into in life.  Heartfelt and deep, she bares her past demons in her stories of experience and poetry from recovery.  Throughout the book, she gently urges her readers to lead a conscious life, with purpose and values that extend to all of our daily circumstances.  She uses touching examples from her own turbulent path to illustrate how we can rise above our egos, control our perspectives, live with courage, and see ourselves as what we really are – spirits with limitless potential. 
 
"Journey from Head to Heart" is a profound combination of science and religion with facts and feelings.  Even as early as the preface, Oelklaus captivates you with her honesty, sincerity, and hope.  Her writing style gave the sensation that I was listening to an old friend pour her life's heart out to me.  Her energy encourages and motivates to be more than we've become – both as individuals and as a society.
 
"Journey from Head to Heart" is written with the middle-aged person in mind – those that have realized that they are not living with their intended priorities at the center of their existence and are looking for a change.  However, young adults looking to start out with an authentic spirit (or change before that critical life precipice appears) would benefit from reading it as well.  If you enjoy reading Stephen Covey or Rick Warren, you'll find a friend in Nancy Oelklaus.
It takes a delicate voice to put your individual shortcomings and life obstacles in a self-help book without sounding egotistical or as if you are flaunting your personal victories yet Nancy Oelklaus does so gracefully and humbly within the pages of her book.  "Journey from Head to Heart" is simply the path we must take between those two points – opening the eyes, raising the voice, swallowing our pride, and releasing the soul.


The review above was used with permission from ReaderViews.com. Reader Views provides a one-stop service for authors. Besides providing reviews of books, they provide publicity packages, editing services, live interviews, book videos, and book proposal coaching. Their services and staff are highly recommended by the Polka Dot Banner.


The Polka Dot Banner (PDB) is an author's web community especially designed for busy authors looking for Internet exposure but who lack the time or know how. The PDB is a great starter web home that can serve as a stand-alone website promoting your book(s). Or, as a fast-growing author community, the PDB can help direct web traffic to a site you already own. Better yet, they do all the work for you, saving you time and effort.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Flying out of Brooklyn, by Beverly Magid

ISBN: 9780595455867 - iUniverse (2007)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (12/07)




The year is 1943, and Judith Weissman's apartment neighbor has just committed suicide.  Judith is not happy, and this incident makes her take a closer look at her own life.  Her marriage, family relationships and work are very unsatisfying.  She yearns to be living the dreams that she had as a teenager.  When Bobby, the object of Judith's high school crush, returns injured from the war, Judith reaches out to him.  The secretiveness of the relationship gives Judith the illusion that life seems more vivid and that she finally feels alive.  As Judith suffers through a serious tragedy in her family, she realizes what is really important to her and she learns who she can really count on. 
 
"Flying Out of Brooklyn," is a coming-of-age novel about a young Jewish woman from a Brooklyn neighborhood.  Beverly Magid wrote this story in such vivid detail that I felt I was looking at it through Judith's eyes and feeling it through her heart.  Judith is a woman that is desperately seeking a change in her life.  She makes some choices that are really not in her best interest, yet she must experience the repercussions so that she can learn from them and discover what really is important and what really matters.  It was interesting for me to be able to know that Judith was making poor choices, yet understand why she did.  I liked watching Judith learn from them and grow.
 
I enjoyed how Magid incorporated into her story, what was happening at the time.  While men were away at war, women were working in once male-dominated fields.  They were proud to be able to play a role in the war, and to be able to gain higher paying employment.  They were working really hard and proving themselves, yet they still had to deal with issues of sexism and in some cases, racial prejudice.  Families also had to deal with rationing and food shortages.  Magid also incorporates aspects of the Jewish culture into the story to add richness and dimension. 
 
I highly recommend this novel. I know that "Flying Out of Brooklyn" will be enjoyed by adults of all ages and ethnic and religious backgrounds.
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The review above was used with permission from ReaderViews.com. Reader Views provides a one-stop service for authors. Besides providing reviews of books, they provide publicity packages, editing services, live interviews, book videos, and book proposal coaching. Their services and staff are highly recommended by the Polka Dot Banner.


The Polka Dot Banner (PDB) is an author's web community especially designed for busy authors looking for Internet exposure but who lack the time or know how. The PDB is a great starter web home that can serve as a stand-alone website promoting your book(s). Or, as a fast-growing author community, the PDB can help direct web traffic to a site you already own. Better yet, they do all the work for you, saving you time and effort.

Twin Voices: A Memoir of Polio, the Forgotten Killer, by Janice Flood Nichols

ISBN: 9780595433162 - iUniverse (2007)
Reviewed by April Sullivan for Reader Views (1/08)




"Twin Voices" is a memoir by Janice Flood Nichols about a specific life-changing event.  In the fall of 1953, at the age of six, she lost her twin brother to polio.  Janice contracted polio as well.  She survived and overcame temporary paralysis.  She went on to become a rehabilitation counselor.  While her experiences as a youth shaped her adult life, she never thought that fifty years later she would be writing about the experience. 
 
Most people alive today have some memory of, or have at least heard of polio.  Yet, to the surprise of everyone who has not kept up with polio research, including Janice Flood Nichols, polio is still an epidemic in Third World Countries.  Although vaccines are available and worldwide eradication is possible, funding and education are needed to make this a reality.  Knowing first-hand the devastation of polio, Janice was compelled to tell her story in an effort to educate and do her part to eradicate this deadly disease. 
 
"Twin Voices" is structured in a unique way.  Janice invited professionals, friends, and family members to lend their voices to the story.    Each chapter is by one of many characters, including those who are no longer alive, such as her twin Frankie and her parents.  Other characters include the doctor who signed Frankie's death certificate, childhood friends, aunts, and cousins.  Not only do the voices tell the personal side of the story, they also tell the history and facts about polio.  The combination forms a nicely balanced book.
I applaud Janice for writing this book.  It was obviously not easy.  But she was able to bring a perspective to the subject that not many people can.  Janice knows polio as both a victim and a survivor.  When Frankie died, a part of Janice died.  Yet, on the other hand, when Janice survived, a part of Frankie survived, and this book is tangible evidence of that.  "Twin Voices" is about so much more than polio.  It is about the unique quality of twindom that Janice writes about so eloquently.  Being a twin myself, that is the part about this book that intrigued me.  Being educated about polio was an added bonus.
I recommend "Twin Voices" to anyone who wants to read a well-researched book and touching personal look at the polio epidemic.

The review above was used with permission from ReaderViews.com. Reader Views provides a one-stop service for authors. Besides providing reviews of books, they provide publicity packages, editing services, live interviews, book videos, and book proposal coaching. Their services and staff are highly recommended by the Polka Dot Banner.


The Polka Dot Banner (PDB) is an author's web community especially designed for busy authors looking for Internet exposure but who lack the time or know how. The PDB is a great starter web home that can serve as a stand-alone website promoting your book(s). Or, as a fast-growing author community, the PDB can help direct web traffic to a site you already own. Better yet, they do all the work for you, saving you time and effort.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Heretic by Andrew Feder

ISBN: 9781434330543 - AuthorHouse (2007)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (12/07)




"The Heretic" is the sequel to "When Angels Have Risen."  Not having read the first one, I can easily say that this book stands well alone.  This story begins in the life of Jerry Fletcher.  He is a United States Senator during the time after The Second American Revolution.  This is a time when the government is promoting: "personal growth, enlightenment, healing, respect, and, of course, freedom."  Jerry is not married; however, he is living with Kelly whom he refers as his savior and the love of his life.
           
Jerry has been having dreams that take him back in history to times of strife.  When he is at a museum one day, he discovers that he can read Greek.  He finds this discovery amazing, however, somewhat troubling because he has never studied Greek.  Following the advice of an ex-lover, Jerry consults a psychic who regresses him into his past lives.  Through this path, he discovers that he was the Spartan Aias, who was Alexander's mentor.  Aias also felt a brotherly closeness to Alexander. 
          
Aias and Alexander go to battle together. During particularly brutal campaigns, Aias became known as "The Decapitator."  This was for a good reason.   Also for a good reason, he was known as a great lover among women.  In this book, the majority of Greek males engaged in homosexuality.  Aias has no interest in this.  The women at the time were more than willing to let Aias make up for the lack of attention that they were receiving from men.  Aias was also known as "The Heretic" because he didn't follow the religious beliefs of his people.  He did not worship statutes, nor did he believe that they were God.  He believed in one infinite God. 
          
When Aias met the priestess Nefertiti, he immediately fell for her.  They were married and enjoyed their lives together when he wasn't away at war. Nefertiti also shared his religious beliefs and introduced him to the scrolls written by heavenly bodies referred to as "The Celestials."  These are enlightened beings whom we have derived a great deal of knowledge.
         
I enjoyed "The Heretic."  It was written in a modern voice, which might detract a little from the historical value of the story, however, it makes it much more interesting and easy to follow.   Aias is a man who stands on his own two feet.  In spite of his foul language and lusty pursuits, he also has deep spiritual beliefs.  I loved that this was incorporated into the story with Nefertiti.  I highly recommend, "The Heretic."



The review above was used with permission from ReaderViews.com. Reader Views provides a one-stop service for authors. Besides providing reviews of books, they provide publicity packages, editing services, live interviews, book videos, and book proposal coaching. Their services and staff are highly recommended by the Polka Dot Banner.


The Polka Dot Banner (PDB) is an author's web community especially designed for busy authors looking for Internet exposure but who lack the time or know how. The PDB is a great starter web home that can serve as a stand-alone website promoting your book(s). Or, as a fast-growing author community, the PDB can help direct web traffic to a site you already own. Better yet, they do all the work for you, saving you time and effort.

AIDS Orphans Rising: What You Should Know and What You Can Do To Help Them Succeed

ISBN: 9781932690477 - Loving Healing Press (2008)
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (12/07)




There are alarming statistics that warn "every 14 seconds a Child Headed Household is formed." Sister Mary Elizabeth Lloyd has written a guidebook to help alert concerned citizens of the magnitude of the problem and to provide the reader with answers the questions: "What should I know, and what can I do to help them succeed?" A Child Headed Household is defined as: children who have survived the death of their parents from AIDS.  These households are made up of "little brothers and sisters struggling to stay alive and remain together as a family." There are often three to eight children per household.

Sister Lloyd is quick to point out that the current view taken by most that these are victims dependent and powerless must be replaced with a vision of how these children have the courage to take control of their economic hardships, deprivations, and exploitation in positive ways so that they can remain together as family.  It is this determination that became the motivation for Sister Lloyd to write this book.

All regions of the world are impacted by the enormity of the plight of these children.  India, alone, is faced with 3,700,000 children orphaned.  Statistics indicate that China has 2,300,000.  Other countries around the world afflicted with the same dilemma bring the total orphaned children to over 16,000,000.

The book provides a broad selection of photos which depict bright-eyed children, resilient, with endurance and with promise, doing their best, struggling to stay together, taking the role of adults in caring for younger siblings.

Each chapter of the book offers suggestions for actions for the reader to take as members of a growing world community of concerned citizens.  Comprehensive references with additional web links to organizations working with these children offer solutions which help insure that these children will survive, and will succeed.

Sister Mary Elizabeth opens her final chapter with a challenge for the reader to respond to Mother Teresa's call to action:  "If I look at the masses, I will never act.  If I look at the one, I will."

"Aids Orphans Rising" will grip your heart.  The needs will linger in your consciousness long after you have read the final word and closed the covers of the book.  Sister Mary Elizabeth Lloyd has presented the case for these children.  Now it is up to us, the readers, to decide which suggested action steps we can take to help them succeed. 


The review above was used with permission from ReaderViews.com. Reader Views provides a one-stop service for authors. Besides providing reviews of books, they provide publicity packages, editing services, live interviews, book videos, and book proposal coaching. Their services and staff are highly recommended by the Polka Dot Banner.


The Polka Dot Banner (PDB) is an author's web community especially designed for busy authors looking for Internet exposure but who lack the time or know how. The PDB is a great starter web home that can serve as a stand-alone website promoting your book(s). Or, as a fast-growing author community, the PDB can help direct web traffic to a site you already own. Better yet, they do all the work for you, saving you time and effort.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Disappearance of Lilya Bekirova: A Novel of the Supernatural

ISBN: 9780595425495 - iUniverse (2007)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (1/08)




The heroine in this story is Catherine Moore.  In spite of her liberal upbringing by her free-spirited mother, Catherine is pretty conservative in her views.  She is a doctoral student who tries to find rational explanations for paranormal events.  The more that she is drawn into the plot in this story, the less she finds herself able to do so. 

Catherine resides in her deceased mother's home.  She seems to be in kind of a funk, unable to really feeling passionate about anything.  That is until some mysterious events start taking place around her.  Catherine now has something to get excited about.  In addition to strange events taking place around Catherine, she also finds herself drawing closer to her grandmother, Natasha who shares her story of her painful upbringing during World War II in Crimea and she also tells her of her childhood friend Lilya, who just disappeared one day.  Catherine finds herself relieving Lilya's life and memories.  She becomes totally drawn into Lilya's story and yearns to find out what happened to her.  People, from the past and future, play into the story as Catherine continues her search.

"The Disappearance of Lilya Berkirova" is a wonderful story.  I found myself having difficulties in putting it down.  Just as Catherine wanted answers, so did I.  The author, Michelle D. Dixon, has extensive experience on the subject of the Crimean Tatars.  She uses her knowledge of this to add depth to her story.  She successfully weaves several dramas from both past and present into one story.  At the center of this is Catherine, who appears to have a supernatural link to the past. 

I found myself really enjoying the mysteries and paranormal touches, but I also enjoyed the historical elements that were presented about the Crimea Tatars.   Having personally known someone, from the Ukraine, who suffered greatly during this time, I felt that Dixon really did an incredible job of telling their story of loss and suffering.  There was no easy way out of the hardships forced upon the people at the time.  The only thing that people had to hang on to was their spiritual and faith-based beliefs.  Those who didn't have that had nothing.  Yet some people died for these beliefs.  Dixon did an incredible job of getting the feelings of hunger and helplessness across to me.  I wanted to celebrate as both Catherine and Lilya began evolving spiritually.  A whole new world opened to both of them, literally.

I highly recommend this novel.  "The Disappearance of Lilya Berkirova" would also make a wonderful gift for people who enjoy both paranormal and historical stories.  


The review above was used with permission from ReaderViews.com. Reader Views provides a one-stop service for authors. Besides providing reviews of books, they provide publicity packages, editing services, live interviews, book videos, and book proposal coaching. Their services and staff are highly recommended by the Polka Dot Banner.


The Polka Dot Banner (PDB) is an author's web community especially designed for busy authors looking for Internet exposure but who lack the time or know how. The PDB is a great starter web home that can serve as a stand-alone website promoting your book(s). Or, as a fast-growing author community, the PDB can help direct web traffic to a site you already own. Better yet, they do all the work for you, saving you time and effort.

Gifts from the Child Within: Self-discovery and Self-recovery Through Re-Creation Therapy, 2nd Edition

ISBN: 9781932690460 - Loving Healing Press (2008)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (12/07)



"Gifts from the Child Within" is a recovery workbook written for both survivors of childhood abuse and the counselors that work with them.  It helps readers discover how childhood trauma has caused emotional suffering in their lives today.  For me, personally, it gave me a better understanding of how past events from my childhood had a tremendous impact upon my personal relationships today.  The author Barbara Sinor, PhD, has had extensive professional experience in dealing in this area.  She also has her own personal history of having been abused as a child.  She uses self-disclosure to present some very powerful examples about her own healing.  Both her personal and professional experiences validate her knowledge in this area.

Sinor offers a paradigm for empowering yourself or a client to resolve their problems by working with body, mind, emotions, and spirit.  Sinor states, "Today there are signs that after a long and tumultuous courtship, spirituality and psychology may be finding common ground."  Connecting all of these aspects of oneself leads to a holistic approach to healing.  She encourages the person in recovery to proceed at their own pace for healing.   She does not believe that it should be forced upon anyone.  She says, "Each individual must proceed through his\her life discoveries, or in therapeutic intervention at one's own rate with one's own sense of how things are and with one's own resolutions."

She teaches you how to get in touch with your inner child to release negative emotions and recreate childhood beliefs and experiences.  To learn to live in the moment, you must learn to let go of the past.  "You can learn to live in the present by releasing the retained hurt and not allowing it to direct your life.  You can accomplish this by using self-empowerment, by acknowledging your personal power."

There are seven key steps to the process:  Acknowledgement; Self-Awareness; Meeting Your Child Within; Emotional Release Exercises; The Re-Creation Process; For-Giving; and Letting Go.  Each step is fully explained in its own chapters.  For deeper exploration, at the end of each chapter are thought-provoking Child Within exercises, affirmations, directions for autohypnosis and blank pages for journaling.  By using these tools to recreate your past, you will be able to change your present reality and alter your future.

"Gifts from the Child Within" is an incredibly powerful healing tool.  By using the exercises, I gained some incredible insight into how my past has tremendously affected me today.  I learned things about myself that I had never realized before.  I am truly grateful to Dr. Sinor for writing this incredible book.  I also appreciate that she shared her own personal experiences.  By doing so, I knew that she really could relate to what she was writing about.



The review above was used with permission from ReaderViews.com. Reader Views provides a one-stop service for authors. Besides providing reviews of books, they provide publicity packages, editing services, live interviews, book videos, and book proposal coaching. Their services and staff are highly recommended by the Polka Dot Banner.


The Polka Dot Banner (PDB) is an author's web community especially designed for busy authors looking for Internet exposure but who lack the time or know how. The PDB is a great starter web home that can serve as a stand-alone website promoting your book(s). Or, as a fast-growing author community, the PDB can help direct web traffic to a site you already own. Better yet, they do all the work for you, saving you time and effort.