Monday, October 27, 2008

Water Voices from Around the World

 

William E. Marks, Editor
Water Voices, Inc. (2007)
ISBN 9780979304606
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (9/08)


Mesmerizing!  That is my first comment as I flip through the book.  However, that said, this is not a "flip-through" book.  "Water Voices from Around the World" is a coffee-table book that takes you on a journey of many hours and days through 400 photographs and over 100 biographies of writers around the world.  The letters are from well-known authors, politicians, religious leaders, and water scientists and researchers. Each has their own distinctive water knowledge and shares it with the reader.
But, there is more to this journey. It's not just another coffee table book with pictures and some text, it is a compilation of science; philosophy; politics; history; art; economics; religion; society; music and culture.  As I kept reading through "Water Voices" my constant comments were "wow, I didn't know that."  For me, this book is an eye-opener indeed.
My first "wow" came at the beginning of the book when I saw the beautiful photo of Lake Sarez in Tajikistan, a natural dam named Usoi Dam, created by an earthquake in 1911.  The dam is considered the largest natural dam in the world and if it fails, it will jeopardize the lives of 5 million people. The letter written by Emomali Rakhmonaov, president of the Republic of Tajikistan, explains his country is "the source of freshwater for most of Central Asia and possesses more than sixty percent of the water resources in the region."  He further explains even though the country has a large number of rivers, lakes, and glaciers, they still experience difficulties with their drinking water supply.  Personally, I have never heard of Tajikistan before and had no idea of the issues this country has surrounding their water supply.
This is only one example of the impact "Water Voices from Around the World" has. William E. Marks, in his three years of compilation of the photographs and information, takes the reader to another realm of understanding of issues surrounding our world fresh water supply.  He sums up the concerns as "If we fail to awaken to a new water consciousness – our surviving civilization will only have stories of mythological proportion about the Living Age of Water – an Age when clean water and life once existed in abundance." What a scary thought!
"Water Voices from Around the World" edited by William E. Marks awakens us to a point where we, as collective readers and concerned citizens, must make a distinctive effort to save our planet from fresh water destruction.  Until I pursued Marks' book, I had no idea of the devastation that is occurring worldwide. Personally I am committing to doing my part in conserving our fresh water supply and if each one of us is mindful, jointly we can make the difference.

Little Boy Broken

 

Jeremy Todd
Modern History Press (2008)
ISBN 9781932690712
Reviewed by Richard Blake for Reader Views (9/08)


"Little Boy Broken" is Jeremy Todd's story.  This is a case study of a victim of child abuse and the long-term impact on his life. This is not simply a story of a dysfunctional family.  It is a story of unimaginable and unspeakable brutality to a young child. It is all the more appalling by the shocking acts of abuse, physical, verbal, and sexual over a period of twelve years.
The story begins as Jeremy tells of awaking from a nightmare screaming.  He goes on to introduce his family and develops a picture of his father's background, demand for dominance, and cruelty to his children. This background gives credence to the story that follows.
Jeremy was a top student always doing his work until the day he was molested by his father.  His grades dropped, his behavior changed. His teacher badgered him instead of looking for the root cause for this change in behavior. The school principal joined in the cycle of abuse by getting permission from Jeremy's parents to punish him by "paddling" for his uncooperative conduct.
 
Educators, teachers, and school administrators did not recognize the symptoms of abuse and the traumatic devastation this played on a child's mind. The haughty school administrator missed or intentionally ignored the signs of physical abuse and "stole" the one thing Jeremy had left, the solace and peace he found through his school classroom and his friends.
Twenty-one years later Jeremy visited a mental health expert, a therapist, Dr. Sam Donaldson. Through the dialog between Dr. Donaldson and Jeremy as he revealed his story, the reader gains a deeper understanding of the long-term effects of child abuse, and a hope for the future. Jeremy learned that the feelings of shame, pain, and embarrassment he endured could be transformed into personal strength through these new insights he began putting his life back together again.
Dr. Donaldson helped Jeremy understand that his flashback experiences as well as hearing voices were a result of blocking out painful childhood experiences. Dr. Sam explained these as symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and disassociation resulting from the images burned in his memory, stored away to be revealed at another time.
Jeremy has been accused by his family of fabricating his story based on an alcohol-induced fantasy. Although Jeremy turned to alcohol to find momentary peace he remained optimistic throughout his ordeal. For a time he lost faith. He later identified his life with the sufferings of Job of the Old Testament.
Jeremy has been encouraged by therapists for years to share his experience in writing to help others face their issues.
The story of Shawn H., a fifteen-year-old boy, kidnapped by a pedophile predator at age 11, was the motivation Jeremy needed to publish his story. Shawn was put through the same brainwashing Jeremy had experienced. Jeremy identified in Shawn "an uncommon will and inner strength" to face each new day.
This true life story reads like a novel. The characters are well developed and become the real people they are. The bitter truth is horrific and unbelievable; however, it is repeatedly happening all around us. "Little Boy Broken" is an important book for parents, educators, counselors, mental health therapists, pastors, and first responders, to family related emergency calls. Heart wrenching!

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Projected History: A Catalog of the National Stories Produced by Universal Newsreel, Volume One, 1929-1930

 

Phillip W. Stewart
pms press (2008)
ISBN 9780979324383
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (09/08)


"Projected History: A Catalog of the National Stories Produced by Universal Newsreel, Volume One, 1929-1930" is a comprehensive compilation of information based on Universal's textual records and microfilm documentation.
This and subsequent volumes of the series are compiled and edited by Phillip 'Phil' W. Stewart, retired U.S. Air Force officer, historical film consultant, and video and TV producer. Stewart is also an award-winning author of three previous books: "Battlefilm," "War Wings," and "America's Film Vault."
Phil focuses on the documented history of the U.S. and around the world as recorded by Universal Newsreel movie cameras. This edition contains all the stories nationally released during the first two years of production and distribution.
The Universal Newspaper Newsreel was released twice weekly during 1929 and 1930. The productions included highlights from the week's news, thought to be important or entertaining, including such topics as: developments of the aircraft and shipping industry, beauty pageants, sports, politics, and celebrities. The format of the book includes short descriptions written at the time for the newsreel's synopsis sheets. Stewart has also provided a comprehensive and exhaustive title and subject indices.
I enjoyed the frequent inclusion of "News Oddities" in the earlier editions. This was a kind of predecessor to " America's Funniest Home Videos." Another feature appeared in late-1929 called "News Paragraphs." These were human interest stories with intriguing titles that captured my curiosity. The sketches included catchy phrases like: "Stockholm, Sweden - Fancy Steppers meet" - Novel `hoofing' features 10th anniversary of Folk Dancers' League." Volume 2, Number 95, Monday, November 24, 1930 included this holiday tidbit: "New York, NY - Turkey pluckers compete! Establish feather-denuding record of 30 birds in 50 minutes."

Phil Stewart has created an important work. The book includes all the Universal Newsreel stories released nationally in the U.S. This is the first time that a Universal Newsreel story title, description, and availability have been compiled in one single reference work.
"Projected History" will quickly become recognized as an invaluable resource for students of film, U.S. and world history enthusiasts, genealogy aficionados, and by those involved in TV, video and multimedia communications services.

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What the Church Does Not Want You to Know

 

Greg Espinosa
Cereb Press (2008)
ISBN 9780979757235
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (9/08)


"What the Church Does Not Want You to Know" contains an in-depth discussion about how churches have evolved into corporate-like money making entities. As a result of this, the followers are the ones paying the true price.  Church members are threatened with damnation if they choose to leave.  Espinosa was not just disillusioned by the ministers; he was also disgusted by the behavior of the congregation.  There is also a lot of peer pressure among them for people to behave and even dress a certain way.    This could include tithing, or even with going to services.  I have seen some of this myself.  A church that I grew up in used to post member's contributions annually in the bulletin.  Another church used to have a priest that expected members to turn in copies of their tax returns so that he could make sure that they were tithing appropriate amounts.  
To my own observation, cult-like behavior is promoted among many congregations.  Another example of this is of a church, in my town, that admonishes its members if they do not attend mid-week services and two services on Sunday.  It appears that God is only present in that church and if you do not attend, you miss out on seeing Him.  There are also collections at both services.  Unfortunately, Espinosa has experienced similar events in his own life.  How disillusioning this is.  Turning to the Bible, he discovered that it is not necessary to go to church to have a close relationship with God. He found that he can go to God directly and experience the Holy Spirit in his life, without having a middle man.  He fills his book with biblical quotes to back up his beliefs.  He also enjoys living his life based upon his relationship with God, and not living in fear of retribution by what someone else tells him, especially if that person stands to profit from what they say.  He hopes that readers will find their way to a close relationship with the Holy Spirit by reading the Bible on their own.
I found "What the Church Does Not Want You to Know" to be very interesting and well-supported with biblical references.  I have seen so much of the negative experiences that Espinosa writes about, either in churches that I have attended, or from watching what my friends have gone through. Though I have to say I have not had this experience with every church that I have attended.  This book made me really appreciate the church that I currently attend.  I have not had any of the negative experiences that have been discussed in the book.  So I will keep going where I go.  I do read the Bible and pray on my own, but I enjoy the music and fellowship of the services.
"What the Church Does Not Want You to Know," is an eye opener that will make its readers become more aware of the traps that religions can put out to snare their members. I think it a very important book that should be read by people who find their relationship with God to be very important (hopefully everybody).  It should definitely be read by those who have feelings that things are not right with their religion.  It will help them overcome fears of damnation because they are having doubts.  Churches and religion are manmade; it is our relationship with God that we should have no doubts about.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Crossing 13: Memoir of a Father’s Suicide

 

Carrie Stark Hugus
Affirm Publications (2008)
ISBN 9780981593807
Reviewed by Neha Kashmiri (age 14) for Reader Views (9/08) 


What would you do if your mother or father suddenly committed suicide? In today's world a teenager has to deal with looks, friends, school and family. How could you manage with a felo-de-se?
"Crossing 13" is an authentic account of a thirteen-year-old survivor of a father's suicide. Carrie Stark Hugus writes honestly and courageously about her experience. "Crossing 13" is an incredible book relating to the events before and after the suicide. Suicide is always a touchy topic and Carrie Stark Hugus handles it with care.
The book includes several sections in the end like: Grief Support Tips, Understanding Suicide, and Facts and Statistics.
I have never had anything like a suicide of a loved one happen to me, so I can't relate.  All I know, as a blissfully unaware person, is that something like that happening to me would be terrifying and traumatic. It must have taken a lot for Ms. Hugus to cope and, more so, publish her experience. I recommend "Crossing 13" to everyone and especially anyone who has had this happen to them.


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The Bag Lady War: A Novel

 

Carol Leonard SeCoy
iUniverse (2007)
ISBN 9780595470358
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (9/08) 

Imagine working hard your entire life, and upon retiring you find yourself alone, a tiny step from financial ruin and scared out of your wits. Your husband has been shot to death by a burglar, your neighborhood is being terrorized by a gang of hoodlums, the apartment you are renting feels like a prison and your social security is in jeopardy, since the local political bigwigs clearly believe that the money would be better spent on more jails and other "corrective measures" for criminals. What in the world is a senior citizen in such a dire situation supposed to do?
Well, if your name is Josie, Mabel or Mil, you might come up with a truly ingenious plan: spending the rest of your life in a safe and secure place, with free meals, clothes and medical services for the rest of your life, and surrounded with lots of other women, most of them young. The catch? Well, the only such place for them is the prison. With government spending forty-thousand-dollars a year per prisoner, the three elderly widows come up with a fantastic plan – they will remove enough criminals from the street to save the government an appropriate amount of money, which would cover their care until they die. So they get guns and get to work, very efficiently dispatching an impressive number of thugs and covering their dead faces with grocery bags. The detectives in charge are utterly stumped by this latest crime wave, until the ladies give themselves up and explain their motives.
Carol Leonard SeCoy's "The Bag Lady War" touches many a raw nerve. The three heroines might possess a peculiarly twisted logic, but the reader has to ask him or herself what is wrong with our society if the criminals are treated better than the honest senior citizens; and the amounts spent on them are so much higher than the available funds for seniors. Josie, Mabel and Mil also touch on many other problems of today's society, from lack of parental involvement, the question of euthanasia and better use for abandoned military bases to low self-esteem bringing certain people into serious trouble. They do not mince their words and they have something to say on just about every topic. Lovable, wacky and incredibly real, those three are some of the most endearing heroines I've encountered in a long time.
Crazily funny and written in an engaging, fluid style, "The Bag Lady War" by Carol Leonard SeCoy forces the reader to stop and reexamine the world we are living in. Although labeled as a satire, this is a book that hits close to home, and it packs a punch.


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Monday, October 6, 2008

Moving Your Aging Parents: Fulfilling Their Needs and Yours Before, During, and After the Move

 

Nancy Daniel Wesson
Loving Healing Press (2008)
ISBN 9781932690545
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (8/08) 


There are very few certainties in life. We are born and we die. If we are lucky, we age. If we are very lucky, our parents live to a ripe old age as well. When that happens, the traditional roles of children and parents become somewhat reversed. The oh-so-strong, capable and never-wrong person of our youth all of a sudden finds him- or herself in need of our assistance - their child!  This is always a difficult position to be in, and usually it is true for both of the involved parties. So how does one handle such delicate situations without "putting down" one's parents?
 
Wesson's "Moving Your Aging Parents" is a true gem of a book. It is rarely gentle, compassionate, but utterly useful and practical at the same time. Wesson seems to have thought of every aspect of moving – from the very initial stages of planning and mapping things out, to the practicalities of the actual moving activities, packing, unpacking and settling in to the ways to create a "new home" quickly and efficiently. Wesson understands very clearly that a house is not a home, and she guides the reader into making it a home quickly, suggesting the essential activities, key pieces and rituals to achieve that. She is forever attentive to the fact that it is the parent's comfort, safety and happiness that count the most and she suggests ways of respecting their wishes, while maintaining a level of practicality and feasibility.
 
Having read "Moving Your Aging Parents," I found it an invaluable resource not only for those who have to help parents move, but really for anybody contemplating a move in general. The advice contained within those pages is incredibly practical and well thought out. I wish I would have read it sooner; or at least before our last cross-country move. If there is one piece of advice I could not agree with more, it would be the one about hanging the artwork you own as soon as possible. Nothing says home more than that as far as I am concerned.
 
I could not recommend this book highly enough to anybody who is lucky enough to be in the position to help their aging parents move. "Moving Your Aging Parents" provides all the advice on the technicalities of moving you'll ever need; and it will also teach you some valuable lessons in patience, understanding and compassion.

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.

Letters Between Us

 

Linda Rader Overman
Plain View Press (2008)
ISBN 9781891386626
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (6/08)


Thirty-nine-year-old Laura is not having an easy time in her life right now.  Her mother is suffering from dementia and her once happy marriage is on the rocks.  Life has definitely gotten in the way of her happiness.  Totally destroying any sense of contentment, she gets a telephone call notifying her that Katharine, her best friend since childhood, has been found dead.  Her body was discovered dumped in a trash bin after she disappeared while on a picnic outing for hospital psychiatric patients. 
 
Putting her life on hold, Laura goes to Katharine's funeral.  Afterwards, she begins going through a box of diaries and letters from Katharine's life. Combining them with her personal collection, she takes refuge in a hotel room, away from everybody, and begins reading.  As she reads, she also remembers. This novel is written about the information in those diaries and the letters that were written between the girls starting twenty-six years ago.  The current time in this story is 1989.  Laura tells her story to us through her current journal writings.  
 
Neither one of them had a very stable upbringing, yet it was Laura who was both promiscuous and heavily involved in experimentation with drugs and alcohol.  Katharine, in spite of her mental health issues, was more reserved and restrained.  Katharine's first hospitalization in a mental health facility began in 1969.  Being a child of alcoholic parents and a father that was abusive and unemployed left a huge scar on her psyche.  As she grew into adulthood, her psychosis worsened.   Towards the end, her psychotic behavior was turning her into a person that Laura had trouble recognizing as her friend.
 
As Laura looks back over the years, she sees clues about Katharine's life that she missed while knowing her.  This is also the first time that she has stopped and taken the time to evaluate her own life.  Laura's young adulthood was more focused on sex, drugs and alcohol than self-examination.  Now that she is taking time, she also finds clues as to when things started happening in her own life, such as when her marriage died.  It also hits her hard that these mementos are the end of her memories with her dear friend.  With Katharine gone, there will not be any new memories to make. 
 
"Letters Between Us" is one of those books that leaves you sitting quietly and contemplatively after you are done reading it.  Initially, all that I could say about the novel was, "Wow."  This is definitely one of the most realistic fictional stories that I have ever read.  As a matter of fact, the story was so real to me, that while I was reading it, I kept checking the category it was listed under to make sure that it really was a fictional story.  Linda Rader Overman has such a talent with words.  Using similes and metaphors she does a wonderful job of imparting a visual picture over everything, including emotions.  Part of me feels like I just finished watching a movie, instead of having read a book.  This novel is about looking back and contemplating life, not death.

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.