Friday, May 30, 2008

Island Life, by Michael W. Sherer

Michael W. Sherer
Five Star Publishing (2008)
ISBN 9781594146336
Reviewed by Danielle Feliciano for Reader Views (4/08)



In “Island Life,” we are drawn into the world of Jack Holm, suddenly single father to his two children after his wife suddenly goes missing. Jack’s relationship with Mary was on the rocks before her disappearance and with her job as a flight attendant, he does not report her missing for a few days. This puts the story in motion as the police arrest Jack for Mary’s murder, Children’s Services takes his children and begins their own investigation, Jack’s mother-in-law files for custody, and Jack realizes he has no one to rely on but himself to solve the mystery of what happened to his wife before he and his children become the next victims.

Interspersed with the narration are snippets of conversations between Jack and his therapist. These conversations give great depth to the story as they are the only times you are truly in Jack’s head. In his day-to-day life, he is going through the motions, just doing his best to hold on for the sake of his kids. With his therapist, however, Jack truly lets go of pretending and opens up like he does to nobody else. These interludes give “Island Life” a voice of originality that you don’t see often in this genre.

There is nothing perfect about Jack and that makes it all the more wondrous that you find yourself rooting for him. He admits to affairs, has ignored the problems in his marriage, and does things that many parents would never think of (dragging his children to Las Vegas while he goes after the killer). It is exactly these imperfections that make him so real. He is tortured, he makes no excuses for the choices he has made, and while he makes a few questionable parenting decisions, he truly believes those decisions are what is best for his children.

“Island Life” was truly gripping. I read it in one day, as I kept finding myself lost within the books. It does fall apart a bit towards the end, where it feels as though the author tries too hard to attain action and thrills rather than staying at the same pace as the rest of the book. Sherer quickly redeems himself, however, and leaves the reader feeling satisfied.


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, May 26, 2008

The World of Women Ain’t No Joke: Beautiful, Intelligent, & Powerful in An Unforgiving World

by Keith G. Wright

ISBN: 9780977834228 - Ain't No Joke, Inc. (2008)
Reviewed by Vicki Landes for Reader Views (1/08)




Author Keith G. Wright has released the latest addition to his "Ain't No Joke" series.  Unlike his previous two books – one about being a successful parent and another about surviving the teenage years – this one is about something he's never gone through…being a woman.  Does a man – or even this man – have what it takes to write a book about the struggles and roadblocks that modern women face on a daily basis? 

"The World of Women Ain't No Joke: Beautiful, Intelligent, & Powerful in an Unforgiving World" is a look into the realities that women throughout history have faced.  From the times of our forefathers (or foremothers) fighting for equal rights to today's woman who fights a glass ceiling and the derogatory entertainment media, the female gender has always had obstacles to overcome.  Wright paints a passionate picture of women's history and an alarming look at the future as he urges our society to stop its disrespectful behavior towards the female sex.  He concludes his book with a call to all women to take responsibility for the fate of their daughters and granddaughters – to speak out against the injustices.  Men can't be blamed for everything and "it isn't always a man at the helm of a disaster."

Wright does a very thorough job of presenting statistical data to show that our 'modern' world isn't as fantastic and enlightened as we may think it would be.  Violent crime, divorce, AIDS rates, and lack of education are only a few of the problems. Wright advocates American women to take the lead on and fight globally.  I think his most astounding point in the book is made when paralleling the modern woman's current plight with the downfall of Black America.  "Women and Black America shared a similar rise throughout the Civil Rights Era, and it appears, at the current rate of degradation, they may share a similar fall…today Black America is spinning out of control, and out of relevance…and America's women seem bent on blazing the same trail, eyeing a very similar fate."  He also notes the double standard on racial slurs - Don Imus' words still ringing strong in our ears but D.L. Hughley's comments on Jay Leno's show were heard by millions but no public outcry ensued. 

"The World of Women Ain't No Joke" is not at all what I expected.  Admiration coupled with inspiration and motivation, his writing reaches across the boundaries of race, religion, and even gender.  I found myself more and more intrigued as I got deeper into Wright's message in this book of empowerment.  Women of all ages are sure to find "The World of Women Ain't No Joke" informative and eye-opening while men can learn to be more respectful sons, boyfriends, husbands, and fathers. 

As the son of a single mother, Keith G. Wright took his first-hand perspective on what life is like for today's woman and put it into beautiful, intelligent, and powerful words.  Advocating for a better society tomorrow, he urges today's women to take a stand against disrespect, devaluation, and objectifying while fighting for whatever cause the world needs them to succeed at.  Regardless of race, religion, or gender, "The World of Women Ain't No Joke" is a superb tribute to the past and an empowering message for our society's future.  So what do I think of a man – this man – writing this kind of book?  I think his mama raised him Wright.



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.

Alysa of the Fields: Book One in the Tellings of Xunar-kun

by Tina Field Howe
ISBN: 9781594678660 - Booklocker.com, Inc. (2006)
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (5/08)




Tina Field Howe's "Alysa of the Fields"is set on a planet Xunar-kun, some 3000 years after a catastrophic event, referred to as the Cat'clysm, wiped out most of the planet's population. Alysa is member of the Field Folk, one of the two clans remaining in the area. The other clan, the Trailmen, is considered by the Field Folk to be rather uncivilized and quite dangerous; and the two meet rarely, only to barter for the goods that the other clan does not possess. Alysa's father, Abso, is one of the rare Field Folk who actually interact with the Trailmen in his role of the Trader. After Abso's untimely demise, Alysa's world is thrown for a spin – everything she's been taught and everything she believed in seems to be very shaky all of a sudden.


Alysa's character is one that adolescents, especially girls, will be able to relate to extremely well. She is a child in many ways, wise beyond her years in others, vulnerable and extremely brave at the same time, obedient, yet questioning authority.  Ms. Field Howe captures the oftentimes extremely difficult world of an adolescent perfectly. She teaches important life lessons without unnecessary moralizing or preaching. She shows how individual desires and needs are not always aligned with the way others live and are taught to live. More importantly, she shows us that it is important to follow our dreams, that things can change, that questioning the authority is not necessarily bad, that bad things can and do happen to good people, that different is not dangerous and that perseverance usually pays off.


The world of Xunar-kun is beautifully described in great detail. While it might remind you of the books about the prehistoric tribes a lot, it does have a charm all of its own. I've enjoyed the descriptions of day-to-day life of both the Field Folk and the Trailmen a lot. The Planting Calendar is charming and certainly unique. My favorite parts of the book dealt with the differences between the Field Folk and the Trailmen – which just like in today's world were mostly perceived and not real. The more we study our "neighbors", the more similarities and common areas we usually discover; and that is one lesson that is taught to perfection in "Alysa of the Fields".


It will be interesting to see where the author leads this charming story, "Alysa of the Fields," in the sequel – or even better, sequels. Although it has been very many moons since I was an adolescent, I am looking forward to the new 'Tellings of Xunar-kun.' There is a lot of literature supposedly geared towards adolescents that should – and hopefully will – find its way to the bookshelves of adults as well, and I believe Tina Field Howe will join the ranks of J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Cornelia Funke and the likes shortly.




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, May 5, 2008

A Good Woman by Dorothy Weil

ISBN: 9781891386855 - Plainview Press (2008)
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (4/08)




In "A Good Woman" Dorothy Weil has created and developed a masterful story.  Her characters are so genuine and believable that the book takes on the flavor of autobiography rather than a novel.  Weil's protagonist, Mary Lou Friedman, tells her own story in this third person narrative.  Weil uses both dialog and flashbacks to carry the plot to a suspenseful climax.


Mary Lou reminisces about incidents in her eighty-five years of life, from her early childhood, prior to World War I, through to the turn of the century, Mary Lou shares tales of growing up on a farm in Ohio, the loss of her mother, and eloping against her father's will before graduating from high school. The story centers on her home in Cincinnati, her husband, Don, and parental relationships with her four children, Frederick, Helen, Elaine, Sylvia and her grandson, Billy.


Dorothy Weil has amazing insight into child development, family relationships, harbored emotional hurts, misunderstandings, and personality differences among siblings. She is able to convey the impact these pressures have on our routine decisions and the reactions these produce in our daily lives and relationships.


I especially enjoyed Mary Lou's banter as she compared her oldest daughter Helen's conservative religious dedication to service with that of her youngest daughter Sylvia's free spirited wacky ego centric lifestyle.


As Don's diabetes condition worsened he became depressed and more difficult for Mary Lou to care for. Taunted and threatened by two teenage hoodlums from the neighborhood, Mary Lou felt alone and helpless to protect herself, her home, and her husband.  In an effort for self protection Mary Lou purchased a gun.


Faced with her husband Don's terminal illness, upkeep and repairs on an eighty year old house, and a fragmented family Mary Lou came to grips with the cost of independence as her own health began to take its toll. Tragedy followed.


I found the story both nostalgic and haunting as I identified with Mary Lou.  I recognized the almost undetected deterioration of a community, the fragmentation of a family separated by geography, memories of World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Viet Nam War, and the confrontations going on the world today.


Few adult children have a realistic glimpse into the 24/7 pressures facing their aging parents. "A Good Woman" is an important story for readers of every generation.  A combination of superb writing, genuine characters, and a haunting plot insure the success of Dorothy Weil's latest novel.




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.

The Boy in the Window: A Journey Through an Unexpected Tragedy

Barbara Coppo

ISBN: 9781600372650 - Morgan-James Publishing (2007)
Reviewed by Dr. Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (3/08)




One of the things we mothers have is an incredible sense of things going wrong with our children. Barbara Coppo was no different.  She and her husband Ken already had a beautiful healthy girl, when she found out she was pregnant again.  She wasn't sure how she felt about being pregnant again now that she had a great career and her daughter was a teenager, but as time went on she was very excited and hoped that this pregnancy would bring her husband and her closer together.  On February 1, 1978 she delivered a healthy boy whom they named Kenny. Kenny was the center of attention for his first year of life--adored by everyone. When it came time for Kenny to have his eighteen-month shots, Barbara got a "feeling," and wasn't sure what was causing the apprehension. After several lengthy discussions with her pediatrician, her husband and family members, she finally decided to get him his boosters.


On September 6th, 1979, Kenny got his last series of the d.p.t. booster – his life would change forever.  After a few days, Kenny wasn't able to talk, walk or respond in his normal happy way.  Even the doctor's were stumped as to what had happened-- they continued to explain that vaccines for children were very safe. And again the next day Kenny began to have convulsions -- still no reason why.


This was Kenny's life to this day-- seizures, mobility problems, no friends and he has characteristics of autism. Doctor's even had the gall to tell his mother that he was retarded. With numerous evaluations, behavioral schools, special classes and countless hours of care and research by his mother, it was realized Kenny would never be a normal child again.


Even through the years, pediatricians kept telling Kenny's parents that vaccines were safe. Yet one doctor finally told Barbara that through research it was indicated, after the d.p.t. vaccines, that some children became autistic, mentally-challenged and some even died. This is a parent's worse nightmare – all of us today think about the effect of vaccines on our children. Yet never once did Kenny's parents, friends, therapists give up on him. They continued to push him to the point that he was finally able to talk through the use of facilitative communication. No one even imagined he had all those thoughts and intelligence in him. He was very aware of his challenges and knew he was different. He was also very mathematically inclined. 


To this day, Kenny is a loner, but has many friends and supporters. He loves to watch people through his upstairs window. He has a set routine that no one can upset or his violent behavior will come out. But he has made great strides even though he came across many obstacles with very little support from the school systems.


How does a mother do this? You do what you have to do to save your child, never take no for an answer. Many parents of children with special needs have been through this high and low road.


Having worked with family members who have children or adult children with special challenges for over 25 years, Barbara Coppo's story is the same for many of them. The frustration, anger and trying to figure out what they did to cause this. My personal and professional opinion is that everyone involved with children; teachers, coaches, school boards and therapists should read "The Boy in the Window" to get a first-hand knowledge of what families go through.




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.