Monday, November 24, 2008

Sixtyfive Roses: A Sister’s Memoir


Heather Summerhayes Cariou
McArthur & Company (2008)
ISBN 9781552786789                
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (9/08) 

Siblings – if you have one or more, you probably know how that goes… Can't live with them sometimes, and can't live without them for sure. So often they are our mirrors – in which we see ourselves the way others see us, and at times the way we wish we would truly be. I just cannot imagine losing any of mine, and I realize all too well that they have helped shape me into the human being that I became, in many ways even more than my parents have.
Reading "Sixtyfive Roses" was incredibly sobering. I cannot imagine the courage Heather Summerhayes Cariou had to have to actually write this unbelievable story and have it published. But then, she had a lifelong training in "above-and-beyond" courageous behavior. Imagine knowing since early childhood that your baby sister is ill – and that she will never get better. Imagine promising her not to leave, and not to let her die alone. Imagine being her lifelong protector. Imagine living with this impenetrable black cloud surrounding you and your family. And yet, you have to grow up. And you realize all too well that one day your sister will be gone. Imagine the rage, the despair, the jealousy for not being the center of attention, the desperate desire to make your sister's life easier… all those conflicting, oftentimes violent emotions. And one day the unthinkable happens… and your sister takes the last, labored breath. She is gone. And you are still here.
The story of how Pam, Heather's younger sister, was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of four, and how her family fought for her and other children with this debilitating disease is not a happy one, but definitely a positive and hopeful one. The strength and courage of everybody involved, from Pam herself to her family, her doctors and others with the same disease shows the world at least two perennial truths: that good does not necessarily win and that courage and fighting spirit can make an unbelievable difference. Back in those days children with CF tended to die very young, and Pammy's prognosis was no better, yet she kept fighting for over two decades and lived to the age of twenty-six. And she did not merely exist in this world, she lived her life as fully as possible and she made a difference in many other lives.
Heather Summerhayes Cariou's "Sixtyfive Roses" is a memoir, a tribute and a love poem, written in a clear, sometimes brutally honest and always sincere fashion. Her words are beautifully crafted, and her voice is distinct and unique. I have no doubt that Pammy is smiling at her big sister right now, and feeling mighty proud of her.
"Sixtyfive Roses" should be required reading for anybody dealing with a seriously ill person in their life, as well as anybody with any kind of a big or small problem. It certainly puts a lot of things in perspective, and it made me so very glad that I can go, pick up a phone and talk to my siblings right now, which is exactly what I am going to do tonight.

Little Stories


Jeff Roberts
Outskirts Press (2008)
ISBN 9781432727277
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (10/08)

"Little Stories" contains a collection of eleven short stories about human nature.  The author, Jeff Roberts, did an incredible job with writing these tales.  He brings each one to life and is able to vividly describe them in a way that makes them appear real.  The stories range from a tale about a mischievous boy who gets in trouble, to one about an elderly grandfather who is preparing to die as his great-granddaughter is welcomed into the world.  Other stories involve relationship issues and making decisions without integrity.
The personal issues tend to deal with being disappointed about the ending of the relationship.  Loneliness and betrayal are often felt.  However, there is a feeling that the persons experiencing the loss of a relationship will find their own strengths in the end that don't involve being with someone else.   This comes from our evolution through personal growth. 
I really enjoyed these compelling stories.  I found myself wishing that there were more.  It really takes a lot of talent on the part of an author to be able to fully pull a reader into a story, especially when it is a short story.  Mr. Roberts is an exceptionally talented writer.  I was very impressed with his ability to write.  I wish I had adequate words to truly describe his talent, but I don't.  I suspect he could easily come up with them though.  While I am sure that these tales took a great deal of work to write, especially since he wrote them as a college student, his words do appear like they just flowed across the page.
I am trying to decide which story had the most impact on me.  I think it would be the last one, called "Cosette," that deals with the loss of a precious pet.  Having been in this situation several times myself, I found myself really feeling for the character as he had to deal with the loss for himself and for his daughter.  This story was especially poignant to me because it brought back many of my memories of being in this situation.  Fortunately for me, I had to deal with them alone, and have not had to watch a child suffer through it. 
I think that "Little Stories" by Jeff Roberts will make an excellent addition to the collections of people who enjoy quality fiction.  It would also be a great book for a college-level reading course and it would be a great selection for reader's groups.  I truly hope that more stories will be forthcoming from Mr. Roberts.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Trent the Racing Turtle


Bill Franklin
BookSurge (2007)
ISBN 9781419679940
Reviewed by Matthew Feliciano (age 8) for Reader Views (10/08)
"Trent the Racing Turtle" is about a turtle named Trent who has wheels instead of feet.  He likes the wheels because he can go really fast.  He has two best friends that he has all sorts of adventures with; they are Jesse and Mina.  One day, Jesse got Trent into a race against Vane, an evil treasure hunter.  He was also the commander of the Scorchies, who are little red creatures who do not listen very well (just like me!).  The winner of the race gets the golden Isols statue.
Mina's uncle once worked with Vane and knew that one day Vane would find the third Isols statue.  If Vane won the race, he would melt all of the gold and make himself more jewelry.  He was trying to get rid of Trent so that Trent couldn't race by having the Scorchies build a monstrous racing machine.  Mina's uncle told stories to help give them guidance.
Trent won the race and saved everyone from the bad guy.  The end of the book made me look forward to more books with these characters.  The only two things that need to be fixed a little is the way the book is typed because it doesn't look like a real book. It looks like something just printed off a computer.  There is no space when a new chapter starts.  Also, the cover is cute but it looks like it could be for a little kid's book and this is a book for big kids. 
I liked "Trent the Racing Turtle," by Bill Franklin, a lot and Trent and his wheels were fun to read about.

A Case of Wild Justice?


Yvonne Jerrold
Troubador Publishing (2008)
ISBN 9781906510718
Reviewed by Richard Blake for Reader Views (10/08)

Hannah Meadows finds herself in a traumatic dilemma. Her sister won't talk to her. Her grandson,  Billy, is in police custody and she has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. The neighborhood is overrun with intimidating young hoodlums, gangs of uncontrolled teenagers. Plagued recently with the nagging guilt of a well-kept secret of her past Hannah becomes restless and confused.
Hannah needs an action plan to rescue her family and save the community. A group of concerned seniors are fighting back against this crime and vandalism in a concerted effort to right the wrongs. Hannah joins the cause of the "silver bees."
Jerrold uses a unique technique for developing her plot through back flashes into the past that introduce the reader both to the incidents surrounding the characters and the personality of the characters. She allows the reader to see glimpses into their innermost feelings. This results in a kind of mystical insight into, and empathy for, an amazing cast of likeable characters.  Readers will recognize the friction of sibling rivalry and the differences in parental reactions in discipline philosophies and the resultant frustrations that, spoken and unspoken, can fester unresolved for years.
As the story unfolds, Hannah is confronted with the fact that her grandson Billy has an unexplainable, dark, evil fascination with inflicting pain on others. She saw this first when she observed Billy capturing insects, later small animals and, more recently, suspected him of being a gang leader spreading fear and terror among the elderly. Hannah describes it this way, "Behind his casual insouciance, behind his inscrutable smile, lay a dangerously antisocial intelligence unfettered by ties of human affection."
After several incidents of deaths of an elder victim and a young hoodlum, due to unexplained accidents, arson, and bombings, with accompanying suicide notes from the elderly victims, "the silver bees" issue a statement to the newspapers. "We are determined to fight back against the wave of crime and intimidation currently being directly against the elderly…" This statement leads to a newspaper report stating, "…the current bombing campaign is being masterminded…by our own frail elderly citizens."
Watching her family disintegrate with the news that Billy is being released from custody, Hannah is torn as she experiences the curse of old age and the knowledge that her illness could end her life at any time. Her thoughts turn to violence, to murder as self-defense, even though she believes that no one is beyond redemption.
The story is geographically set in a small English neighborhood but is universal in its appeal. Every preceding paragraph, page and chapter leads to the suspenseful build up of the final chapters. In this masterfully crafted, haunting novel, "A Case of Wild Justice?," Yvonne Jerrold has captured the plight of the aging citizen and the psychological warfare that often exists within the family circle.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

PTSD Blog Tour for Lady Cerelli

Lady Cerelli is an incredible woman who I had the opportunity to meet last year during the production of her book "My Journey to Peace with PTSD." Until that time, I had little knowledge about PTSD or exactly what happened to a person who experienced it. While I had heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in conjunction with soldiers of war, particularly Viet Nam, I only knew how movies portrayed this dis-function with violent dreams, night sweats, and distressed conduct. I did not yet know that a violent memory could be suppressed to the point of non-existence such as in Lady's case of nearly 40 years.

I think the most surprising thing about Lady's book was to learn that anyone might have such a memory and that it could be a hidden symptom in other life situations. Lady's book will cause you to turn pages faster than you know while you read in disbelief of her memories and how they surfaced. More importantly, you will learn the signs and symptoms of PTSD, which could be vital for you or someone you love.

When I learned that Lady would be taking part in a blog tour, I readily agreed to participate since I whole-heartedly believe in the work she is doing and wanted to help her spread the word about available support and services. You will find a few words below about Lady's book. There is also a review on this blog in November of 2007, and you can read her profile on the Polka Dot Banner by clicking the title link.

Lady, what did you learn about yourself from writing this book? I learned who I am and what I needed to do to change into the person I am today. It was truly devastating to discover that 40 years of my life had been built on a lie. I had suppressed the military rape for over 40 years and was not aware of why I had behaved the way I did until I was nearly 60 years old. The hardest part of this journey was sifting through the various aspects and parts of my life and my inner core to discern what I wanted to keep, what I wanted to change, and what I needed to let go. The biggest surprise was after carrying around the incest memory for over 50 years; I had to refer to the book for a piece of information that had faded. I knew this to be a major sign of healing. When you have dealt with what caused the inner anger, the trauma no longer retraumatizes. The trauma actually becomes just a memory that eventually fades away or can be put into a place in the brain where we can see it but it doesn't affect us. The biggest pleasure is after the anger I had carried around with me for over over 50 years, I discovered the love of self. Not only have I forgiven my abusers and all those who have harmed me, I have learned to love them, including my rapist. I despise what they did to me and would not allow it today, but I now know they were hurting also. The impact of this revelation is even more phenomenal when I know that because I was pregnant at the time of the rape, it had caused me to psychologically abort 6 babies over a 10-year period.

What makes this book unique? Every counselor or therapist who has read the book has learned information that was not available to them. Over 30 years ago, my methods of treating traumas through journaling and connecting with the senses during the trauma has been discovered by very few. I was told this method was cutting-edge. A couple weeks ago, CNN had a severe PTSD victim share his ability to heal by journaling. Several have learned to do this from inner direction. I have other readers journaling their life right now and have amazed their therapists with their rapid healing. There is a technique in connecting the journaling to the senses and is shared through one-on-one. Once shared, the client can use it with their friends, family, etc. It's a tool that can be used throughout their lifetime for addressing traumas immediately after they happen to help prevent the trauma from cementing into the psyche. The book also helps family members of a PTSD victim to understand what is going on. Relationships often break up more often because of the inability to understand what is going on or if it is felt there is no hope. The book offers hope and understanding.

Aside from this book, what other products and services do you offer?
My path has taken me back to natural healing and have enrolled into a school of natural medicine, specializing in trauma - past and present. We have a DVD, Dance of Release (DOR), for sale on Amazon and soon, also on our website. The DOR, through Qi Gong movements, opens doors of the Chakras to allow one to express themselves, not only through stress-releasing movements, but through heart, throat, and emotions, etc. We are looking to offering weekend retreats beginning in 2009 that will include using the third-view perspective of dealing with traumas and finish the retreat by making masks of empowerment. Tentatively, it will be a weekend of sharing, looking at and empowering oneself. The actual dates will depend on my two other staff members and their schedules. I shall also hope to be offering alternative methods to dealing with stress and trauma, through other websites, blogs, our site, etc. A lot of options are opening up right now and I'm looking at each one.

Click here to purchase your own copy of "My Journey to Peace with PTSD" * Disclaimer: The information provided herein this book should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition, or during any medical emergency. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Boys Should Be Boys: A Headmaster’s Reflections


Brian R. Walsh
TMC Books (2008)
ISBN 9780972030762
Reviewed by Dr. Michael Philliber for Reader Views (10/08)

How often mothers, sisters, aunts and female teachers have wondered, "What's wrong with those boys?" How many times have parents of either sex fretted over their sons' underdevelopment and strange interests, asking themselves, "Is my son normal?" Their reactions may range from seeking professional help to simply grinning and bearing it hoping for the best. Well help is here! Brian R. Walsh brings his 42 years of experience as a Headmaster of both a co-ed and a boys K through 9 school, together in his hardback book, "Boys Should Be Boys: A Headmaster's Reflections." This short, 213-page piece is chock full of wonderfully humorous and insightful anecdotal stories, experiences and observations of boys, their antics and their growth from kindergarten to 9th grade.
The format of "Boys Should Be Boys" follows a fairly helpful order. The first two chapters deal with simple aspects of what makes boys tick and how they develop friendships. Walsh brings out some very basic, wholesome clarifications that should calm many a troubled mother's heart. For example, how a boy's self-esteem grows and is strengthened as he gains competence in a given skill. Therefore competition, which is usually not from malice, is a fairly normal aspect of a boy's mindset, whether in math or games. Humor also plays a big role for a boy to deflect vulnerability in themselves, as well as to encourage competence in other boys.
The next section of the book approaches the actions and growth of boys from a more developmental line. Walsh covers in three chapters the boys in primary grades, then intermediate years, and finally on into early adolescence. He lays out the fairly typical places of boys at each stage, giving loads of examples. Walsh also passes on several observations with regard to their academic progress.
The third set of chapters covers relationships with parents, teachers and girls, as well as in regard to leadership and physical contact. Much of the material in these chapters is already anticipated in the early ones, but here Walsh widens his analysis and helpful suggestions. Most parents will be encouraged as they read these chapters, and will simultaneously start seeing how to strengthen their own approach to the boys in their life.
The final two chapters of "Boys Should Be Boys" are more about Walsh's concepts of what manhood means and how it is often distorted in professional sports, movies, and video games.  It is here that the reader will meet Walsh's underlying aim for boys. The idea of being a man, for Walsh, is not ham-fisted bullying, or macho rooster strutting, but having strength and restraint in serving others, and protecting those less powerful.
One of the immediate ideas in "Boys Should Be Boys" is that there really are differences between the sexes, in how they develop, process things, view relationships, and competition. But Walsh has clearly and successfully distinguished the differing traits between boys and girls without falling into sexist stereotypes. Having raised two daughters and now raising two sons myself, his observations have been very helpful for my comprehension of the differences that have perplexed me for years. "Boys Should Be Boys" by Brian R. Walsh is a must-read book for parents, scout masters, teachers, aunts, uncles, sisters, and anyone else who cares about the boys in their life. It will encourage, inspire, correct, lead, and enhance your perception and relationship with your boys.

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Mickey Mantle: Rookie in Pinstripes


Fred Glueckstein
iUniverse (2008)
ISBN 9780595469215
Reviewed by Dr. Michael Philliber for Reader Views (8/08)

Most people have heard of the great ball player Mickey Mantle, but few know the story of his rapid rise from obscurity to distinction, and the hurdles he had to overcome to get there and stay there. Fred Glueckstein has masterfully captured part of the famous baseball player's life in his short book "Mickey Mantle: Rookie in Pinstripes." This book, written for young adults, will be enjoyed by anyone desiring to learn about Mantle's early years, and how he rose from out of the Depression and Dust Bowl to the 1951 World Series.
Though Glueckstein could have written a full biography of Mantle's life, he has intelligently limited his scope to the baseball star's rookie year with the New York Yankees, and all that led up to that formative time. By narrowing his range, Glueckstein has been able to both focus his attention to the important parts of Mantle's early years in Oklahoma, Kansas and his first year with the Yankees, and to provide young adults an easily readable book that will inspire their desire to succeed and never give up.
"Mickey Mantle: Rookie in Pinstripes" is the story of a young Oklahoma boy whose father and grandfather worked hard in the zinc and lead mines by day, and then at night poured themselves into helping Mickey become a superb switch hitter, able to hit solid homeruns from either the left or right side of home plate. This is the story of a young man who learned that he had a serious bone disease while in high school, and yet never let it stop him. This is a story of a developing success that failed and then overcame his failure to soar high in baseball history. This is a story of a father's encouraging drive and a son's determined love.
In this nicely-bound, well-edited book, "Mickey Mantle: Rookie in Pinstripes," Glueckstein has pulled together loads of batting averages and other important statistics for the baseball fanatic. And yet the author has also woven in the personal side which makes the story come alive before the reader's eyes. Everything from snippets of personal dialogues, to snatches from his personal letters to his future wife, Merlyn Johnson, the humanness of a Major League Baseball star comes out.
If the reader is looking for an easy, inspiring, well-written book that will encourage both younger and older, then I recommend "Mickey Mantle: Rookie in Pinstripes," by Fred Glueckstein.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Creation Theory Revised


Stacey T. Pollock
Wordclay (2008)
ISBN 9781604812169
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (10/08)

When I took this book on to review I knew it wasn't going to be a breeze-through task and I was right.  "Creation Theory Revised" by Stacey T. Pollock is intense, thought-provoking, and deep. It takes you on a journey deep into yourself to explore your beliefs, and possibly took at other concepts, of creation of physical bodies and how they are formed within matter.
Pollock's model is of her own perception as is in her mind, and her personal journey to understand science and belief of human creation.  She says "Often God is seen as creating humans as a model of his perfected state, that then leads to the idea that he is trying to achieve something…..Is this a goal to achieve, to be one with God….?"  Questions like this transcend on one's belief system and Pollock gives reason to question and come to terms with beliefs.
She separates the mind and the brain and contends they are their own place in creation. Her concept is:  the brain and the body conjoin as does the mind and the spirit. But, there is more.  Pollock explains duality, energy, and vibration as well as bio-cylindrical creation.  She touches on dimensions, time and travel, and the third dimension.
Interspersed with illustrations, "Creation Theory Revised" is very concise, straightforward, and definitely deep. Stacey Pollock doesn't mince her writing, she powers her words with intensity and directness, guiding the reader to go within themselves and question their own beliefs and knowledge by providing a creation model that may be a new concept to him or her.  In the end, the reader will be able to create their own understanding of what the meaning of life is for them.

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The Money Washers: A Paige Harrington Mystery


Allan McLeod
Lulu Publishing (2008)
ISBN 9780557007417
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (9/08)

Free-lance journalist Paige Harrington is at it again in the third book of her mystery series.  Her latest adventure involves the banking industry and money laundering.  Paige's interest is sparked when two female bankers are murdered.  She fears for her banker friend Emily, because Emily's profile is very similar to these women.  Emily isn't as worried as Paige is.  However, when a tragedy occurs to someone mistaken for her, she definitely realizes that she has to be very concerned.  Paige's involvement is also taken very seriously and her life becomes endangered as well. 
The further that Paige investigates, the more she discovers the depth of the corruption.  High ranking United States officials, the CIA, and influential corporate executives are all involved.  They aren't all good guys either.  These are people that will stop at nothing to get what they want.  Paige really has her hands full, but it seems like the more they try to thwart her, the more determined she becomes.  That is one of the things that I love about her character, she does not let anything dissuade her.
Once again, I loved being able to get my hands one of Allan McLeod's books.  "The Money Washers" will draw you in and make you feel like you are sharing the adventure with the heroine.  I really enjoyed the creative ideas that are interwoven into the plot.  When something unexpected happens, McLeod builds the story up around the event, so that while surprising, it seems plausible and makes sense.  I like that he can keep me guessing what the characters are going to do next.  McLeod also sparked an interest in me to learn more about money laundering and corruption that has already occurred in the United States.  I found out some really interesting information on this subject, which also made the story seem even more real.  "The Money Washers" is definitely a book for your must-read pile!

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