Monday, December 14, 2009

The Judas Ride

Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

"The Judas Ride" is a very complex and dark tale of a number of young people, most of them from underprivileged families, their choices in life and their daily struggles to survive and in some cases try to "do the right thing." It is filled with a veritable menagerie of diverse characters - some of them are menacing and violent, some are borderline crazy, others simply abused and sometimes abusive as well, and here and there are some do-gooders who do not always succeed quite as well as they would like to.
 
The book opens with a series of scary scenes between an unwed teen mother-to-be, Sonia, and two possible fathers of her baby. Xavier, a slightly hesitant Christian, is trying to "do the right thing" and protect Sonia from the other man in the picture, Vader, as well as from her oftentimes self-destructive tendencies. Vader, abused and abusive, does not hesitate to hurt those around him, including the ones he should be protecting, including the mother of possibly his child, Sonia. In the first fifty pages alone the reader is confronted with senseless violence, destruction of property, severe beatings, verbal and physical abuse, rebellion against parents and other authoritative figures, abuse and dealing of drugs and more. This pace of violence and evil continues, with rape, molestation, murder, suicide and a few other assorted violent acts.

While it is clear that there are people trying to "do the right thing" in the mix, most notably Pastor Manny and Xavier, the overwhelming feeling one is left with is that life for the young people nowadays is pretty grim, free will and choices notwithstanding.
 
 I definitely want to commend Ms. Yarber on writing a story that shows the young people of today that their choices and actions have tangible consequences.


3 Aces


Reviewed by Beverly Pechin for Reader Views (11/09)

 

I was pleasantly surprised with the writing style of Richard Ide as he so easily weaved the lives of truck driver Abner Weaver, lost and complicated soul Dawn, and a mutt of a dog into a story that keeps your attention at every turn of the page.

The easy-reading style glides the reader through the pages of the book as if you were watching it on the big screen, flowing quickly and intensely as the lives of Abner and Dawn draw together into an amazingly tender relationship that's totally unexpected of this Viet Nam Vet and a gambling-addicted, hard-shipped mother of a beautiful young girl who can't understand why her own mother seemingly can't give her the love she so strongly desires. As with most any story, you add the undying love of a mutt dog and there's bound to be a bit of choking up, laughing, and even feeling amazement as the story takes twists and turns throughout - never quite giving you an assured ending until literally the last few pages.

Abner Weaver works for Groff Trucking, probably the scum de la scum of trucking companies, and suddenly realizes that not only is this company going under but it's going under fast. He needs to find answers and a way to keep afloat but more than that, his way of life on the road keeps him from going nuts; the one thing he fears most as a post-war vet of Nam. Suddenly he meets up with a young woman whom he has absolutely no intentions of taking along with him for the long haul, let alone falling in love with but then again, even the best of intentions can be altered in the blink of an eye. Suddenly this lost soul of a woman, beautiful and smarter than she sometimes lets on, finds her way not only into his truck but into his heart and mind. She can even quickly talk this hard-core loner into not only saving a struck dog on the highway, but allowing him to become part of what quickly becomes a team.  As they run the roads together, growing and learning, they both realize that they aren't the loners they thought they were but can truly depend upon and rely upon each other to get make their lives complete. Abner even takes on the idea of owning his own rig, especially now that he has a "partner" to help him out and it all seems to look pretty darn good on the books. But how long will it last? How much can they handle? And what happens when an addict, like Dawn, gets pulled into the world that ate her own life up as a child only to lure her as an adult again?

One of the most tender moments of the book to me was when Abner realizes how much he cares about Dawn, making sure he never sleeps with her in the sleep cab for weeks and finally realizes he has to "come clean" why he fears allowing her to sleep next to him. His post traumatic stress syndrome plays a huge part in why he has remained a loner for so long and his fear of hurting her during a night terror or flashback during his sleep truly seems to be the moment when you, as the reader, are brought into the realization of how very sweet and kind-hearted this gruff and grumpy man really can be. You flounder back and forth, questioning her intentions at time, while at other moments there's no doubt the love that she holds deep in her heart for this man who has given her a chance in life to make the change she needs. The question is, will she blow that chance all for a game of chance or will she learn to walk away?

Intense, endearing and dramatic, this story, "3 Aces" by Richard Ide will bring a lump to your throat a few times throughout the reading. And in the end, you will question exactly how strong love can really be when you hook up a loner, post-traumatic vet truck driver, a gimpy mutt of a dog and a woman with more baggage than a freight train.  Sometimes the stakes are just higher than you can imagine in that last draw of the card.

Short White Coat: Lessons from Patients on Becoming a Doctor

Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (11/09) 

 

"Short White Coat" by James A. Feinstein, MD, is a collection of wonderfully heart-warming stories about real life experiences of a third year medical student and the time he spent in the trial-by-fire environment dealing with real patients in different clinic and hospital settings. Ranging from frankly scary to truly uplifting, each of the stories teaches a lesson about listening, learning and growing. Written in a fluid, easy-to-read style, those stories are approachable and easy to relate to.
 
James Feinstein's clinical year took him from internal medicine through ob-gyn, pediatrics, psychiatry and surgery to emergency medicine. In each of the new settings he encountered new challenges and worked alongside a variety of very different personalities, and all of those experiences must have been very helpful in shaping his own view of the profession he eventually joined as a practicing pediatrician. Occasionally funny, oftentimes sad, always very personal and displaying touching honesty and vulnerability, those stories are eye-opening for a variety of reasons. Dr. Feinstein does not white-wash the reality of the medical profession or the training for it. He speaks frankly about the grueling pace the overworked hospital staff has to keep up with, the frequently infuriating limitations of the system, the different lessons the patients themselves taught him about how to handle them with the proper respect and allow them to keep their dignity, the dangers of assumptions and quick conclusions, but also about the joy of seeing somebody get well and observing a good doctor making a real difference in somebody's life. Dr. Feinstein describes doctors with hearts, those who know the healing power of touch and a warm word, as well as a few of those we all encounter all too often and wish we would have not; that is the superstars who are great technically, yet lousy human beings, and those who have no respect for patients and whose words cause more hurt than their actions would cure.
 
"Short White Coat" by James A. Feinstein, MD, should be required reading for everybody thinking of medical school as well as everybody working in the medical field. In addition to those, I believe that anybody close to those people as well as any patient would greatly profit from reading this wonderful collection of stories. Since that covers most anybody, particularly in the so-called "developed" world, let me simply say that I do believe reading "Short White Coat" would be a good idea for anybody who wants to understand more about doctors and doctoring. Judging by this book, Dr. Feinstein understands what makes a good doctor, and I sincerely hope more of his colleagues take his lessons to heart as well.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Humanizing Psychiatry: The Biocognitive Model


Niall McLaren, M.D.
Future Psychiatry Press (2010)
ISBN 9781615990115 
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

Author of "Humanizing Madness," Dr. McLaren predicts that within the next twenty years, worldwide, psychiatry, as we know it, will cease to exist.  The numbers of psychiatrists, and people in training to become one, are rapidly decreasing.  He reiterates that this extinction will occur unless there is a radical change within the profession.  He notes that there is currently a lack of humanity in psychiatry and the training for it.  This lack will continue to dissuade talented individuals from pursuing psychiatry as a profession. 
He recognizes there is a conspicuous lack of direction from leaders and that the bureaucracy has also added to its evolvement into something more like a dehumanizing pseudoscience.  Dr. McLaren states, "...unless psychiatrists come up with a proper model of mental disorder as the basis for daily practice, teaching and research, then things will only get worse for the mentally ill."  In a world filled with increasing rates of suicide, alcohol and drug addictions, and post traumatic stress disorders, this is really scary for people needing treatment.
 
Dr. McLaren feels that institutional psychiatry and its related publishing industry do not have a "formal, agreed model of mental disorder."  In "Humanizing Psychiatry" he outlines a biocognitive model that might be able to fix this issue and save psychiatry. He describes this model as "…the most complex and far-reaching model in the history of psychiatry."  McLaren developed this model so "It restores humanity to psychiatry by integrating the biological, psychological and cultural aspects of psychiatry."   Once the industry agrees upon a specific model, then a means for objectivity, accessibility and accountability needs to be created.
 
Once again, Dr. McLaren has written an incredibly interesting and thought-provoking book about the subject of psychiatry.  It is obvious a great deal of research and thought went into creating the biocognitive model that is extensively discussed in the book.  I found reading this book incredibly interesting and also scary, because if we don't do something to correct the problems that we are faced with in Psychiatry, we will be in huge trouble, especially people who have mental health disorders and the people who are dealing with them. I highly recommend that people currently working in the mental health professions and students studying Psychiatry read "Humanizing Psychiatry" Niall McLaren, M.D., so that their eyes can be opened.

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

Fiona Ingram
iUniverse (2008)
ISBN 9780595457168
Reviewed by Dylan James (age 13) for Reader Views Kids  
 
Are you ready for Egypt?  In "The Secret of the Sacred Scarab," Adam's Aunt Isabel invites him and his cousin Justin to go to Egypt with her on a vacation. They go, expecting excitement, but what they get is way overboard!  The boys discover something sinister after an archeologist vanishes.  He was trying to find the tomb of the Scarab King, a king hidden away with all his riches.  Criminals, ancient artifacts, and the wonders of Egypt combine to give Adam and Justin an experience that comes along once in a lifetime.
I can say, without a doubt, that "The Secret of the Sacred Scarab" by Fiona Ingram is exciting.  It is an exhilarating adventure, with strange mysteries and dangerous criminals. It has a great storyline, keeping me enthralled throughout the whole book.  Boys and girls around ages 10-12 will enjoy this book the most. Boys will probably understand Adam and Justin's emotions better than girls and so may have a better reading experience.
 
The one bad thing I noticed considerably was the realism. The things the characters say and do sometimes contradict each other.  For instance, although the characters are turning thirteen in a few weeks, they act nothing like teenagers. They act like eleven-year-old boys.  If the characters had been eleven, it would have been more realistic.  Also, when the adventure really starts, the characters are really in mortal danger.  People try to kill them and steal from them several times.  Yet throughout all this, the boys do not tell any adult.  They keep silent.  And even when Aunt Isabel found out about the situation, she simply lets the boys wander through a strange town unsupervised directly after saying they were going straight home.  No matter how unsuspicious the people around you look, no adult in their right mind would do that.  Luckily, though, the whole book does not contain these incidents.  Only specific parts were like this.  If you are not reading with a reviewer's eye, you will probably not even notice them.
 
Overall, I loved "The Secret of the Sacred Scarab" by Fiona Ingram and I am glad I read it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Will & Dena: Love and Life in World War II

Bob Rogers
Booklocker (2009)
ISBN 9780615310350
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (11/09)

 

"Will & Dena: Love and Life in World War II" is a work of fiction based on the heroism of real people. Although the names of the primary characters have been changed, with the exception of Oakton and Cardinal County the references to historic men and women, the organizations, events, and places, are real.
 
During the years of the economic tyranny of the great depression, of lynching, and of the growth of Fascism, Lil' Will struggles as a lumberjack working with his father.  He falls in love with Dena, the local pastor's daughter. Early conflict reflects the prevalence of class distinction even within families when Dena's mother aspires to link her daughter with a more affluent young man in the community.
 
Young Will excels as an amateur baseball player.  A group of influential white businessmen have a devised plan to exploit Will's incredible intuitive baseball skills for financial profit by breaking "unwritten laws" of no black athletes on white teams. Their plan is foiled when the Ku Klux Klan counters with extreme measures of scare tactics and murder.
 
Will is forced to flee for his life, is aided by the local judge to change his identity and to enlist in the army. Will and Dena are secretly married. They are representative of millions of other young couples caught in the depredation of World War II. Will is assigned to the US Army's 366th Infantry Regiment and the 92nd Infantry Division fighting Hitler s Wehrmacht in Tuscany, Italy. 
 
Will becomes bonded with three members of his infantry platoon. They become friends, like a tight-knit family. Together they experience the hateful use of court-martial and the war crimes of Wehrmacht.  Facing the hardships of ongoing prejudice and both physical and verbal abuse, the four friends try to make the best of army life.  They have an ongoing debate among themselves, defending their own unique reasons why they should fight the Germans and the fight to over turn the injustice and hatred behind the Jim Crow laws.
Rogers, a former army captain, Vietnam War veteran, and a charter member of Baltimore, MD's 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association is an avid baseball fan. He is well qualified to author this timely and thought-provoking novel.
 
Rogers' careful attention to dialog consistent with the time, culture, and geographical setting, his strong word choices, and excellent characterizations, and story transitions give life to his complex plot.
 
"Will & Dena: Love and Life in World War II" is historical fiction at its best. Bob Rogers skillfully conveys the irony of a country that combats racism abroad while simultaneously promoting a most menacing form of racism within its own borders. Rogers uses the platform of fiction to communicate a valuable message relevant to today's reader.

The Divine Theory of Everything: Book 1 Wanderer

Robert D. Berger
Llumina Press (2009)
ISBN 9781605942841
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (10/09) 

Fantasy can be a very tricky genre. Take it too far into the "unknown" and you risk being incomprehensible. Stay too close to the "reality," whatever that might really be, and your reader will quickly lose interest. Finding a balance between those two is never easy, and sustaining it throughout a book even less so. Robert D. Berger's  "The Divine Theory of Everything" succeeds remarkably well in doing just this, mostly by using many known elements, yet combining them  in a new and oftentimes slightly challenging way.
 
Of the many perplexing questions that humankind has faced throughout generations, the one of evolution versus creation is surely at the very top of the list. When one combines this with the other impenetrable dilemma, that of the obvious duality of the world surrounding us, a raging battle has to ensue, be it inside the hero or in the world surrounding him. When the hero battles an internal battle while fighting tangible enemies in extremely hostile environment, you can be assured of a wild and hair-rising tale.
 
Steve Morgan is snatched from his safe, if somewhat stagnant life, and thrown in the midst of an epic battle between the forces of the evil and those of good. The balance in the world has been upset, and without restoring the proper order, the world is surely going to end. The existence of two worlds, one of science and one of magic, is revealed to Steve and he is rigorously trained for a journey that does not seem to have a clear destination and a known path. While he can choose some of the elements himself, the rest is in the hands of divine destiny. He is thrust into the world of magic, and begins his wandering that ultimately should alter the course of the raging battle fought between the evil and the good.
 
While I detected many influences and echoes from books and other diverse sources, ranging anywhere from the world of Tolkien over Battleship Galactica and back to Plato, "The Divine Theory of Everything" by Robert D. Berger remained fresh and engaging. Although moving slightly too slowly at times, and with an ending that disappointed in its abruptness and "middle of the action" termination,  I have to admit I am eagerly waiting for the sequel. With an ending of this nature, one must surely be coming soon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ferdinand Uses the Potty: An Empowering Toilet Training Tale

Jay Tucker
Loving Healing Press (2009)
ISBN 9781932690828
Reviewed by Cayden (age 5) and Max (age 3) Aures and Mom for Reader Views (10/09)

 

"Ferdinand Uses the Potty" by Jay Tucker is a book about a frog who is potty training.  The opening page reads: "T'was the middle of the night some time ago, and our friend Ferdinand was in slumber.  While dreaming of race cars and candied bugs, he felt a leak that required a plumber!"  Ferdinand is confused as he can't figure out what the problem is and thinks that he might have a leaky ceiling.  When he wakes up in the morning he told his friend what had happened and his friend told him that it was because he had wet the bed.  His friend reassures Ferdinand that it had happened to him to when he was little too.  The friend tells Ferdinand to use the potty and then his bed won't be wet anymore, but Ferdinand is afraid of the sound that the toilet makes when it flushes.  Ferdinand tries to get around using the potty, but finds out that the only way that it is going to work is if he actually does it.
 
Here are comments from my two boys:
 
Cayden:  "I thought it was funny that the frog didn't know that he wet the bed in the beginning and he thought it was the roof leaking and he needed an umbrella!  I liked the rhymes in the book and the end when the frog goes potty."
 
Max:  "This was a funny book!  I liked when the frog wasn't scared of the potty anymore, but it said he won't wet the bed anymore because he uses the potty now.  But I use the potty now too and sometime I wet the bed still, how come?"
 
As you can see, my children really enjoyed the story although Max, who has been using the potty for about six months, still has a bed-wetting accident here and there and couldn't figure out why the frog wouldn't have accidents sometimes too. 
 
Overall though, I thought that "Ferdinand Uses the Potty" by Jay Tucker was a very creative book and really enjoyed the rhyming text throughout the book.  The writing was humorous and delivered a positive message.  I really think that this would be a fun book to use when potty-training your child.

Torn

Amber Lehman
Closet Case Press (2009)
ISBN 9780979593369
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (11/09) 

 

Let's face it - growing up is a terribly confusing process. One day you are playing with dolls or cars, and then all of a sudden you start noticing boys or girls, and maybe both. Finding out who one is and what one really wants can be a long and oftentimes painful process and more often than not, the adolescent has few, if any people, who can really help with the ensuing confusion. Amber Lehman's "Torn" is a brave and candid book about a group of teenagers searching for their identities and dealing with everyday school and family issues.
 
When she transfers from a Catholic school in Ohio to a public school in California, fourteen-year-old Krista McKinley's life changes rapidly Very quickly she is befriended by Carrie and Brandon, who in turn introduce her to a bunch of other teens and Krista's life suddenly does not look so bleak. But teens will be teens and a simple game of truth or dare threatens to shake Krista's life and her beliefs to the core. Is she gay? Is she straight? Does she love Carrie? Or maybe Daemon? Or is it somebody else who has really captured her heart?
 
"Torn" frankly and openly speaks about the realities of life faced by today's teens. It touches upon the subjects of homosexuality, drugs, underage drinking, date rape, statutory rape, STDs, dysfunctional families, absent parents and more. Ms. Lehman's writing is very fluid and vivid, and her characters colorful, believable and likeable. I particularly enjoyed learning more about Brandon, and I found him the best developed and most thoroughly explained character in the story. Although some of the dilemmas the teens in the book faced did not really resonate with me personally, I definitely see the value of speaking about those matters in the straightforward way that Ms. Lehman used. There was one slightly jarring note in the book for me, namely the way the adults in the book dealt with the issues of underage sex, use of drugs, alcohol and the borderline improper sexual conduct with the minor. I would have liked it better if the book made it clearer that none of those is a good idea and that they are all both illegal and highly dangerous. While I am definitely not closing my eyes against the reality, and I do realize all of those things do and will happen, I would have really liked the book better if the consequences of such behavior would have been more emphasized and the instances of it shown in a less permissive way.
 
Having said that, I would like to commend Ms. Lehman on a courageous and well written book; "Torn" could certainly help any teenager who feels alone, abandoned and confused.  And I am quite certain that would be quite a large percentage.
 

Monday, November 16, 2009

Jamie and the Angel: Meeting Her Guardian Angel

Carol Guy
Marvelous Spirit Press (2009)
ISBN 9781615990023
Reviewed by Grace (age 5) and Ella (age 4) Gleichner and Mom for ReaderViewsKids
"Jamie and the Angel" is the story of a very shy, young girl and the amazing revelation that changes her life.
 
Jamie felt different from other children but wasn't able to understand why she felt sad inside.  She longed to have friends but she was teased and made fun of so this wasn't a possibility.  Add to this a home life with an older brother who didn't want to be bothered, a military father who was gone a lot, and a mother who was very busy, and it's easy to understand how Jamie would feel sad.
 
Grace:  "I felt bad that the other kids made fun of her.  It's not like that at my school."
Ella: "The other kids should be nice.  I would play with her and share my toys."
Jamie could see things that others couldn't.  Things like people standing over children in school trying to help.  When Jamie tried to explain what she was seeing, her parents told her it was just her imagination.  She felt very alone.
 
One night, Jamie had a long conversation with God and asked for help in understanding what was happening to her.   Soon after, she meets her Guardian Angel who reveals to Jamie that what she has experienced is a gift and that it's okay.
 
Grace: "The Angels wings are really pretty.  She seems nice; I'd like to meet my Guardian Angel."
 
Ella: "She is pretty but I think I would be scared if I saw an Angel." 
 
Grace: "I'm glad that the Angel made her feel better and made her happy."
 
The author did an admirable job of explaining the concept of a special gift in the case of clairvoyance through the eyes of a young girl and showing how it impacted her life.  While this book took a decidedly spiritual look at clairvoyance, I believe that anyone could read this book and find a way for them to deal with their own special gift.  I enjoyed the part where Jamie's parents dismissed her concerns as an overactive imagination. This may seem like a curious choice as a favorite part but it was this particular exchange that reminded me as a parent to listen to my children and always try to be sure of the difference between imagination and genuine concern. For children, everything is new and different, and sometimes that can be scary. Helping our children understand all the new and different things they experience is one of our most important jobs as parents.

The illustrations by Richa Kinra brought the book to life and helped explain the story to children as young as mine.

I was impressed at the author's ability to take such a complex subject and put it in a story that young children such as mine could enjoy as well as children in elementary or middle school. Maybe that's really my favorite part of "Jamie and the Angel" by Carol Guy, the fact that there's something everyone can take away from the story. That is this book's special gift.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Black Road 2012

Jeffrey A. Friedberg
INDI Publishing Group (2009)
ISBN 9780978924720
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

 

"Black Road 2012" is book one in a four-part book series called "Empire of the Gods: The God Conspiracy."  After reading the first one, I cannot wait to get my hands on the rest when they become available.  Like a dangerous addictive substance, I was hooked immediately.
 
Jack Vane is an aging, injured, ex-private eye.  He is head over heels over his much younger, beautiful, pregnant wife.  When she and the twins that she is carrying are brutally murdered, his whole world appears to collapse. But in reality something in him has awakened.  As he discovers that there is much more to her death than meets the eye, he finds himself evolving into something more.  He learns that he is a key player in an ancient prophecy that involves a Sumerian relic.  He also discovers he now has a darkness within that at times threatens to overwhelm him.
 
As Jack continues to investigate who caused his wife's death, he learns there are three potential groups involved.  Each one is seeking the mysteriously powerful relic for their groups' own means.  Initially, Jack is not quite sure what is happening to him, he just knows that one of the three groups was involved with his wife's murder. He is more interested in seeking revenge than anything else.  As time passes he realizes he could benefit from learning more about the prophecy and how it involves him.  He must do this to stay alive and possibly save the world.
 
"Black Road 2012" is an incredible book.  The characters are well developed and very interesting. The scenes are vividly detailed, so that you feel like you are watching what is happening instead of reading about it.  Friedberg has done an excellent job with creating a plot that has so many twists and turns, you will feel like you are on a rollercoaster ride -- a really intense one.  As a matter of fact, while I didn't hold my hands up in the air and scream, I did find myself holding my breath, covered in goose bumps, wishing that I could shut my eyes, but of course since I needed to be able to read the print to move on with the story, I had to keep them open. I highly recommend "Black Road 2012" by Jeffrey A. Friedberg.

Murderous Intellectuals: German Elites and the Nazi SS

Jonathan Maxwell
American Book Publishing (2009)
ISBN 9781589825635
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

"Murderous Intellectuals: German Elites and the Nazi SS" is written as the result of Jonathan Maxwell's keen interest in the history and background of World War II. Extensive reading from the writings of acclaimed authors like William Shirer, Simon Wiesenthal, and Ian Robertson fed his interest and influenced his conclusions regarding the desensitized values and actions of the social and political climate of the days preceding World War II in the world and of the Nazi SS in particular.
 
Holocaust writers Yehuda Bauer, Wofgang Benz, Deborah Dwork, and Jan Van Pelt alerted him to the dangers of another Holocaust. His book is a wake-up call to world leaders and conscientious citizens to take proactive steps to break the cycle of neo-Nazism, the Ku Klux Klan, and other terrorist groups. His work is unique in that he addresses the corrupt rancorous personalities, and the vicious actions of the German elites and intellectuals, their influence in leadership and their role behind the scenes in the Nazi SS.
 
I found the chapter dealing with murderous intellectuals throughout history particularly disturbing. Stories of the Spanish conquest depict carnage of horrific sadism, genocide, and atrocities of torture on a parallel with the Nazi SS during in the years leading up to and during World War II. Can we afford another Holocaust?
 
Theories of the motivation behind the diabolical programs of death, destruction, and the barbaric behavior of these men and women of intellect take into account ten theories for consideration. They include a discussion looking at personal reasons, sadism, genetics, and Nationalism. Other Germans did nothing to combat the Nazi regime because of fear.
Maxwell draws from the writings of Ian Robertson in his discussion of Nazi idealism, and the nature of German society, authoritarian government, and totalitarianism. He concludes: "The Nazi elites were motivated by simple evil, seduced by the desire of stature and as of personal fear." He also maintains that: "Today's Germans thoroughly repudiate both anti-Semitism and Fascism." Maxwell provides an important analysis of the danger of a modern technology, stockpiling weapons, and the influence of the media in an atmosphere fired by hatred, deception and conspiracy. He talks about the conflicted and dual personalities of Nazi military leaders, scientists, lawyers, doctors, and educators of the SS their unsavory reputations, and their vindictiveness.
 
Maxwell provides a comprehensive list of the resources he used in his research. He documented his quotes, and also provided an extensive index to assist the reader in additional study, reference, or review of the material covered within the book.
"Murderous Intellectuals" by Jonathan Maxwell has a wide-reaching appeal, is convincing, compelling and highly readable. The book is packed with insight into the minds, personalities, and the moral compass of the German elites and the Nazi SS. Maxwell's writing graphically details the results of bigotry, morbid sadism, and the seductive nature of an evil influenced by ethnic hatred, dysfunction, greed, and a hunger for power.

Listen to interview with Jonathan Maxwell on Inside Scoop Live

Monday, November 2, 2009

Coming Home to My Heart: For Inner Peace

Donna Solitario
Outskirts Press (2009)
ISBN 9781432734923
Reviewed by William Phenn for Reader Views

In as little as 132 pages, the author has packed an amazing amount of heartfelt emotional verse. From the reminiscence of a child to the wisdom of an adult, Donna has revealed her life and views of life as told in verse and prose.
 
Her memories begin with the tragedy of knowing she was an unwanted child born into a dysfunctional family. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother a drug abuser, making for a hellish home life. The verse is heart retching to say the least, told with vivid recollection as if it were only yesterday. Ms. Solitario is quite thorough in her descriptions of her mother and father. Comparing herself to Cinderella, she tells of being the scapegoat for the whole family. Picked on in school and at home, she finally breaks out.
 
"Coming Home to My Heart" has a brighter side too. The brighter side is full of wisdom and moral values. Donna speaks of praying and keeping the faith, how she turned herself over to God and entrusted him with her life. She stresses the importance of a belief in a higher power, whatever that power may be for any individual.
 
The author is thankful to so many people in her life and expresses it very well in such fine verse as, "Debbie (A Special Strong Woman of God)," "Dawn," "Erica," and even has a special birthday poem for her Mom and Dad. There is so much in the way of encouragement for young people in her book that it makes for good reading for young adults. With passages like "Rise Above and Succeed" where she stresses the need to keep the focus on one's self and "Believe," which tells the reader to "hold on to your dreams, never give up."
 
I have nothing but praise for Donna Solitario and her book "Coming Home to My Heart." It is written in a moral fashion without having to resort to graphic violence or adult content.  "Coming Home to My Heart" is a wholesome and family-oriented book that will appeal to a general audience and is intended for all. I gave it an A and consider it to be one of the better books I have read so far this year.
Listen to interview with Donna Solitario on Inside Scoop Live
Read interview with Donna Solitario

In and Out of Madness

N. L. Snowden
Sneakaboard Press (2009)
ISBN 9780977476770
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (10/09) 
 
"In and Out of Madness" is one of the most disturbing, yet also one of the most powerful books I've read in a long time. Carrying an intriguing subtitle of "A fictionalized account of a true experience," it left me wondering what is it that propels some people into madness while others seem to benefit from the harsh experiences life deals them and simply careen into growing stronger and more resilient.
 
The book's protagonist, Lee Thames, is somebody who seems to attract violence, be it physical or emotional, throughout her life. Having grown up with an abusive grandmother and no less abusive mother, she briefly seems to find solace in the arms of her first husband. That happiness does not last and his actions - as well as his inactions - push Lee into a series of affairs, which, although endorsed by her husband, certainly contribute to the demise of her first marriage. Her second marriage becomes her true undoing. Cursed with an honest desire to please her husband, and almost unbearably willing to trust him, Lee gets entangled in an intricate web woven by her husband Joe, a slick talker who lies, cheats and exploits her in every possible way. The one bright spot of her existence, which luckily remains consistent, is her daughter Jolly.
 
The book begins with Lee escaping from a mental facility after an unsuccessful suicide attempt. She decides to take revenge on her husband, Joe. Planning a perfect murder, Lee revisits the events that lead to this powerful decision, thus familiarizing the reader with the way her mind works.
 
N. L. Snowden's writing is sharp, precise and powerful. The story grabs you quickly and most certainly does not let go. I found it strangely fascinating, somewhat akin to picking on a dried scab on one's knee when we were children. Yes, it hurts, but... Reading "In and Out of Madness" was much like that. Parts of me wanted to put it down, feeling like I was intruding on somebody's most private thoughts. My always inquisitive mind was dead set on finding what happens next. And I was not disappointed. This is definitely a book that I would recommend to anybody who loves solid, tight writing and to anybody who's curious about the ways people's minds work, especially in case of multiple personalities disorder coupled with a bi-polar condition. Enlightening, powerful and strangely uplifting, this is one of those books that will haunt you for a long time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Auteur

Ward Wood
iUniverse (2009)
ISBN 9781440163531
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

Abandoned by his mother, who could no longer put up with his father's abuse, Scott has to suffer alone.  Starting high school in a new town, Scott meets Cody.  Cody immediately intrigues him and lets him know that he is interested.  Unfortunately, Cody betrays Scott almost immediately by secretly filming them for his porn site.  Scott is still drawn to him, but is unsure of what he should do about it.  He continues to hang out with Cody's group who are also involved with his work.  When Scott suffers violence at his father's hands, this group of people and especially Cody step in to protect him and be there for him.  As Scott is coming to terms with his feelings for Cody, Cody takes off to look for his lost mother.
 
Encouraged to find him, by Cody's father, Scott sets out on a journey that allows him to have some interesting adventures and introduces him to some eccentric characters.  His interactions with these new people help him to discover more about himself and his strengths.  When he finds Cody, he has the chance to be there for him and they discover how strong their feelings are for each other.
           
"The Auteur" is a very powerfully written coming-of-age novel.  The characters in the story have some very strong attributes that are mixed in with their weaknesses.  It was very interesting to watch them evolve as individuals.  Being homosexual young adults puts lot more stress in their lives.  Working together they learn to support each other. 
 
Mixed in with the story are some very humorous scenes that involve the pornography industry.  Coupled with many explicit sex scenes, this novel is not for the faint of heart.  I think that young adults, especially those dealing with issues regarding their sexuality, will really relate to this story.  It also might make their lives seem a lot easier.  I highly recommend this novel, "The Auteur" by Ward Wood.

Read interview with Ward Wood

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Dawn of Saudi

Homa Pourasgari
Linbrook Press (2009)
ISBN 9780977978014
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

 

Homa Pourasgari's "The Dawn of Saudi" is a surprising and eye-opening book. While at a first glance it appears to be your run-of-the-mill romance with some mystery mixed in, the reader might well find a good deal of enlightening and educating reading in it. In this shrinking world of ours I always found it to be a good idea to familiarize one's self with other cultures; and few of them are as mysterious and incomprehensible to most of us as the radical Islam culture, where woman's rights are not even a word.
 
Moving seamlessly between Saudi Arabia and the United States, the story of two young women, Dawn and Sahar, is gripping and engaging. Dawn, a young American, meets and falls in love with a Saudi man, who persuades her to convert to Islam and marry him, pretending to be a progressive thinker who will let her live a modern life. All too soon Dawn is faced with the grim truth and the only way to escape it is through rather grisly violence. Sahar, Dawn's friend, is a Saudi from a wealthy family, whose parents are quite progressive, but unfortunately the family is still ruled by her paternal grandfather who sees Sahar as a useful piece of barter in his business dealings. Sahar refuses to marry somebody she does not love and does her utmost to escape such fate, yet in the end she has to give in and is married to Husam, a cold and calculating business partner of her family. While both young women are trying their best to find a way to escape, the business dealings with Crawford Enterprises in the United States are going strong, and Jason Crawford, the rather spoiled and self-centered son of the owner, is busy making more money for the family's business. The fates of those three people interlace in a most unlikely way, and through a series of surprising twists and turns the reader learns a lot about life in Saudi Arabia.
 
I've greatly enjoyed Homa Pourasgari's "The Dawn of Saudi" and I found her subject refreshing, well balanced and well researched. She does not preach the superiority of one religion over another, but rather points out the severe violations of human rights and the desperate plight of females in the Muslim society. She also manages to remind the reader of how lucky most of us are to be living where we are living, and how often we take our freedom for granted.  Her writing is fluid and expressive, her characters well fleshed out and the storyline extremely engaging.  If you like your romances contemporary, and if you don't mind learning something new while reading, "The Dawn of Saudi" will delight you. I also believe that it would make for a great pick for any book club that does not shy away from slightly political subjects.

Love Each Day: Live Each Day So You Would Want to Live it Again

Gail Bernice Holland
Modern History Press (2009)
ISBN 9781932690798
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"Love Each Day" is a beautifully written book that contains 40 inspiring essays about people from different walks of life.  The main point of the book is to "Live each day so you would want to live it again."  Each story focuses on an individual's experience in which they realized that they were having one of those days that they would want to live again.  The topics cover a variety of situations which run from having a relaxing day, to qualifying for the Olympics, to setting foot on the moon.  Each one is valuable in itself because I felt like it inspired me to see that my ordinary life has incredible meaning, and if I choose to have the right attitude, even the difficult moments can be seen in a more favorable light.
I really enjoyed reading these stories.  I appreciated that each person allowed the author to interview them for this book. Their stories should be told so that we can be inspired to look at our lives and create our own stories.  Some of my most incredible life-altering moments have come from mundane experiences.  I found myself tapping into a source that allowed me to see things on a higher level.  "Love Each Day" reminded me of many of these experiences that I have had.  Several have happened while at work.  Realizing that I have my own special moments reminded me that I need to appreciate my career more and the incredible people that come into my life.
 
By reading this book, I see that there is less emphasis on the importance of money and material things and importance placed on engaging in activities that are meaningful and being of service to others.  This is where we will find true meaning in our lives.  I highly recommend "Love Each Day" by Gail Bernice Holland to graduates who are ready to launch themselves out into the world.  By giving them this message early, they will find themselves seeking out much more meaningful careers.  I also think that people who are in public service jobs will also benefit from this book.  It might even help them avoid burn out. 

Listen to interview on Inside Scoop Live
Read interview with Gail Holland

Monday, October 12, 2009

Storm Surge

Nadine Laman
Nadine Laman Books (2009)
ISBN 9780982332122
Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views (10/09)
 
It was a nice surprise to see that Nadine Laman finished her third book in the Kathryn McKenzie series.  The first two books in the series are "Kathryn's Beach" and "High Tide."  You do not need to read the other two before this one, but I highly recommend that you do not miss them.  As with the first two books, this one does not disappoint. 
 
"Storm Surge" takes place four years after "High Tide."  The story begins with Kathryn getting the surprise of a lifetime when her Grandfather McKenzie publicly announces his retirement and appoints her to take over the family empire.  This sends the press into a feeding frenzy and she knows that the quiet life that she has built for herself has come to an end.  As she comes to terms with the changes, she leaves the job that she has had for several years and has come to love as a Social Worker at St. Mark's convent.  
 
As Kathryn leaves her beloved beach behind to move into her new position and the family mansion, she finds herself cleaning up her cousins' messes and that she is less than welcome by them.  She also begins to unravel family secrets, threats to her life and very suspicious corporate activity.  Just one of those issues would be enough for anyone to handle, but Kathryn must meet them all head on.  As usual, with large doses of her prized coffee, she does beautifully.
 
As Kathryn faces all these challenges, she is confronted with her own health challenges and must dig deeper than she ever has to deal with them.  As she does, she learns who she can really trust in her life and that being courageous is the only thing that will get her through. 
 
"Storm Surge" is very well written and as usual with Nadine Laman's work, I did not want it to end.  Hopefully, we will see more of her work in the near future.

The Seven

Sean Patrick Little
Dog Ear Publishing (2009)
ISBN 9781608440665
Reviewed by Maggie Desmond-O'Brien (14) for Reader Views Kids 

Shortly before their eighteenth birthdays and legal adulthood, tensions are building among the Subjects—seven kids torn from their families to be part of a top-secret genetic experiment at age seven; they can't help but wonder what, exactly, the experiments are supposed to prove. But when their powers suddenly manifest in horrifying ways, escape becomes a matter of life and death, love and the destruction of all that they hold dear. If only they could figure out who they are supposed to be fighting against….
 
This book is absolutely one of the best books in the genre I've read this year, period. I always pick up a self-published book with some trepidation, but honestly I've found more flaws in spelling and grammar in the paperback copies of major publishing houses' chart-topper novels than existed in this one! The formatting and presentation are flawless and the writing is (almost) beyond reproach.
 
To put it simply, this book is a comic book in novel form, and the author makes no secret of his inspirations. However, he takes it a step beyond shoot-em-ups and cheesy romance to bring us characters that we genuinely care about, even if right and wrong aren't always clear, and their motives are less than admirable. Here are teens that anyone can relate to! While I occasionally struggled with the dialogue and the pace was a little uneven, this book was a truly refreshing excursion out of the norm.
 
Perhaps because it is self-published, this book has a sort of nonchalant freedom about it that is a joy to read. Without caring who's reading, the author is free to make pointed statements about the true value of human (and inhuman) life, and is surprisingly philosophical for something so fun and entertaining to read. The government is especially portrayed in an unforgiving light, but it never crosses the line into angry justification or righteousness. Teens will most likely especially enjoy this book due to its anti-establishment feel, as the feelings of rejection experienced by the seven have been felt on some level by every adolescent as they struggle to metamorphose from the child they were to the adult they will become.
 
With "The Seven" by Sean Patrick Little, I think I have found a new favorite to pore over, and against all odds I am dying to read more!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Angels in the Wilderness: The True Story of One Woman's Survival Against All Odds

Amy Racina
Elite Books (2009)
ISBN 9781600700668
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

I've never thought of myself as anything but a brave person. I don't shy away from adversity, I welcome challenges and very little throws me off for any length of time. After having finished "Angels in the Wilderness," a book on true courage, I have to admit I might have to rethink my assessment of my own bravery. Compared to Ms. Racina, I am a wimp.
 
Before I tell you what her book is about, I'd like to tell you what this book is not. It is not pretentious, not bragging, not self-aggrandizing and not preachy. What it is, in short, is an unbelievable story of a hiking trip gone haywire and a fantastic rescue and recuperation of an incredibly brave woman, who manages to find the best in even the most adverse situation and overcomes incredible odds to survive, heal and thrive again, while also discovering some more truths about herself and those around her.
 
On that fateful trip in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains Ms. Racina fell sixty-feet onto solid granite, in the process shattering both her legs and sustaining a variety of other smaller injuries. Having lost the trail shortly before that, and already hiking one of the less-traveled areas, the chances of her rescue were slim to none. In spite of the debilitating injuries she managed to drag herself a short distance from the site of her fall over the period of the next three days, a distance that has probably saved her life since three hikers were able to find her on the third day of her ordeal. She was rescued and airlifted out at the end of the fourth day, and treated by the capable and dedicated staff at the UMC in Fresno. Her friends rallied around her and against all odds Ms. Racina healed to the extent where she is perfectly capable of hiking again.
 
I absolutely loved "Angels in the Wilderness," both for Ms. Racina's compelling writing and her incredible courage. Her descriptions of nature and what hiking means to her were powerful and beautiful. Her ruminations on faith and tenacity, gifts we are all given, and ways we decide to accept them or not were thought-provoking, wise and definitely worth remembering. If you are struggling with a difficult situation and see no way out, you could do much worse than follow Ms. Racina's 12 steps, the spiritual tools for physical survival, which are:
 
 1.  Look, listen and learn.
 2.  Create a world in which help is available to those who need it.  
3.  Know what you want the outcome to be.
 4.  Never give up.
 5.  Acknowledge the interplay between attachment and surrender.
 6.  Allow for the unexpected.
 7.  Narrow your focus.
 8.  Look for the good.
 9.  Make a plan.
10. Do everything you can.
11. Count.
12.  Pray.
 
If some of those steps sound unclear to you, pick up Amy Racina's "Angels in the Wilderness." You will be glad you decided to do that.

The ART of Grandparenting

Edited by Valerie Connelly
Nightengale Press (2009)
ISBN 9781933449791
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD,  for Reader Views

"The ART of Grandparenting" is a wonderful collection of stories, humor and wisdom from several authors. Whether you are a soon-to-be, current, or seasoned grandparent, the author's real life stories and experiences give you great insight into some good and not-so-good adventures.
 
This was such an easy-to-read and fun book that I look forward to using it as a gift to my friends who will be grandparents. No one tells us how to be parents, much less grandparents. We often think it is an easy job, but we find that we must conform to the parent(s) guidelines, share our grandchildren and learn through each adventure.
One of the things I particularly loved about this book is that it was not telling you what to do, but sharing experiences others have had and how they overcame any obstacles they encountered. After each story, there was a wonderful Tips and Tricks page which summarized what one had just read.
 
I also found it interesting, although we all want to jump in with both feet and spoil our grandchildren and help the parents, we must sometimes "watch from the sidelines without trying to coax" or intervene.  I know, just like many of these authors stated, we just want to "be in the moment" and let schedules and rules fly out the window. In my own experience I have found that sometimes that is okay, but on a consistent basis it causes problems on the home front.  Heaven knows I have had this "battle" with my daughter many times.
 
Even though we are ready to help whenever we can, we must learn that there are two sets of grandparents and we must share. This part of the book made me laugh as I'm not too good at sharing my granddaughter, even at my mature age.  I really enjoyed the encouragement grandparents are given to share stories of their lives. The authors give many great suggestions on how to do this from verbal to journals to recordings.
The authors relate that there will be many times that you will not live near your grandchildren and it is important to keep in touch with them through mail, phone calls, cards or email.  Also the authors suggested that we must be "flexible" in our holiday schedules. Usually during this time there are many family members to visit, and sometimes we just might have to have our holidays and visits not on the actual day.
This is such an excellent resource full of humor and is non-threatening. "The ART of Grandparenting" is a book that all should have on their shelves and read many times, especially when things get rough.
 

Monday, September 28, 2009

Audacious Aging: Eldership As a Revolutionary Endeavor

Edited by Stephanie Marohn
Elite Books (2009)
ISBN 9781600700613
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (9/09)

As we age we need encouragement from others; the knowing that transformation is natural and we can choose to wallow in some of the changes, or embrace them openly and enjoy the years of wisdom, clarity and empowerment.  A group of well-known healers and inspirationalists have given us just that.  The compilation of narratives with experiences and how their work contributes to "audacious aging" comes from forty forerunners such as Joan Borysenko, Deepak Chopra, Ram Dass, Larry Dossey, Gloria Steinem and Andrew Weil. Each narrative is powerful, encouraging, and most of all contemplative as well paralleling to our own lives.
 
Hendrieka Fitzpatrick's "Move Over, Barbie and Ken" caught my eye immediately and I began to read "To be audacious is to be empowered and independent, spirited and energetic, original and bold.  Sadly, not many people think of these characteristics when they think aging. If you ask teenagers about aging, they will use words like shriveling, limping, confused, wrinkly, and feeble. They are just voicing the view of aging that most of us in this society hold."  Fitzpatrick is so correct.  How many times have we, as we age, complained of the aches and pains, or look at others and see ourselves just like them - wrinkled and confused?  Further in the anthology Fitzpatrick explains to us that there is a "misconception that supports the idea of aging is that once humans reach middle age, development stands still."  Proving this isn't true, Fitzpatrick and the rest of the contributors tell us differently; life as we know it doesn't come to a standstill until we transition.  The contributors also encourage us to step away from the conceptions and perceptions of aging, and embrace ourselves with faith, confidence, and clarity.  As well, the overall theme is to tap into our inner knowledge and accept our wisdom, knowing that we are in our prime of life and to enjoy every minute of it.
 
Personally, I was encouraged by the narratives and many confirmed what I already knew.  Audacious means "to dare" and that is exactly what "Audacious Aging" by Stephanie Marohn is encouraging us to do.  Dare to step out of the box created by society and cultures, and live the audacious life we were meant to have.  There is no such thing as aging; we are just getting wiser each day.

Rimfire: The Barrel Racing Morgan Horse

Ellen F. Feld
Willow Bend Publishing (2009)
ISBN 9780970900210          
Reviewed by Sara McGinn (age 9) for Reader Views Kids 

 

"Rimfire: The Barrel Racing Morgan Horse" by Ellen F. Feld brings the Morgan Horse series back to life!  This time the star, Heather Richardson, meets Katie and her horse, Hot Shot.  Katie introduces Heather to barrel racing, which is a sport for horses.  Heather thought it was so much fun that she became interested in barrel racing as well.  Soon she meets Rimfire, another barrel racing horse.   She thought he was beautiful and could not wait to ride him.  It was love at first sight!  It must be a coincidence when Rimfire turns out to be a Morgan Horse! (I think a Morgan is a horse breed.)  Soon Rimfire is bought by Heather's best friend, Nicholas.  Rimfire goes to many barrel racing competitions, but when he goes missing, yikes! See what happens when you read about Heather and Rimfire.
 
This book is wonderfully adventurous.  I love how Heather and Nicholas develop a relationship with Rimfire.  This book was fun to read and review and it's definitely a keeper!
My favorite things about this book are the skillfully named chapters and the great storyline!  I learned a lot about barrel racing and horses!
 
"Rimfire: The Barrel Racing Morgan Horse" by Ellen F. Feld is highly recommended and I won't be exaggerating when I say that this book is spectacular!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wildfire

Christyna Hunter
Wasteland Press (2009)
ISBN 9781600473241
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (8/09) 

Joanna Webb is no stranger to brute male force. She grew up with a father whose cruelty to animals was overpowering and who never failed to remind her that men were far superior to women. So she decided to dedicate her life to protecting wildlife and to forget about anything else, including dating. Her plan works pretty well until the day she runs into the hunky Ryan Stewart. The mutual attraction is immediate and clearly palpable. But any chance of further developments is quickly squashed when Joanna identifies Ryan as an enemy, due to the fact that he is utterly dedicated to his family's construction business, whose current project is the erection of a commercial building very close to Joanna's place of work, the Animal Conservation Trust.
 
While both Joanna and Ryan fight the lust and the loathing they feel for each other, they can't seem to stay apart for long. Their affair escalates quickly and virtually erupts in flames - just not the kind one would expect. Can they find a solution that would enable them to build a life together or are their differences insurmountable?
 
Christyna Hunter's "Wildfire" is a contemporary romance with a very relevant side-theme of preservation of nature. Although slim, this book packs quite a powerful punch. Transcending the mere romance, it discusses much graver matters as well, such as blaming oneself for things one could not have prevented, sibling rivalry, forgiveness, compatibility and many ways humans impact the nature with oftentimes mindless urban overdevelopment.
 
While I found the story overall appealing and nicely written, there were oftentimes huge time gaps that I felt needed more explanation or more backstory. At 144 pages, the book would not be overly long-winded even if the author added another 50 or 100 pages, and if they were written as compellingly as the original 144, I would have enjoyed reading them for sure.
 
I would recommend "Wildfire" by Christyna Hunter to lovers of contemporary romance, who will certainly not be disappointed by Ms. Hunter's latest offering. Endearingly infuriating hero and heroine, interesting supporting characters, fiery twists and satisfying ending make for a fun read anytime.

Gentling: A Practical Guide to Treating PTSD in Abused Children

William E. Krill, Jr., LPC
Loving Healing Press (2009)
ISBN 9781615990030
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (8/09)

 

"Gentling" is described by the author as "… the process of delivering the balm of gentle gestures."  This includes using both compassion and empathy in dealing with young children who are victims of severe abuse.  In "Gentling," the author discusses his personal experiences in working with young children who have stress disorders.  In doing so, he also thoroughly covers the differences in the behaviors of children who are acting out because of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD,) versus normal children who are just misbehaving.  It is also noted that a child who is being raised in a home that is highly dysfunctional, can also experience stress disorders, even if an acute incident has not occurred.
 
Because young children's brains are still developing they tend to be more acutely affected by abuse and stressful environments.  Based upon his experience, Krill has found that adult PTSD treatments cannot be successfully adapted to meet the needs of young children who are dealing with stress disorders.  One reason why these treatments do not work on young children is because they are not yet able to express themselves like adults can.  They also have not developed the same internal resources to draw upon that an adult can create.
 
Included in this book is an extensive appendices which provides vital information that includes a Child Stress Profile, Handouts for Caregivers, and Quick Teach Sheets.  There are also interesting case studies which demonstrate how the gentling process was applied to real situations.  Unfortunately, because many abused children end up being moved around in the foster care system, their treatments are interrupted.  If more professionals became familiar with Gentling, then there would be more people to pick up where others left off. 
 
Krill believes that victims of child abuse have their own version of PTSD.  If this child does not receive appropriate treatment, the behaviors can become worse, more embedded and harder to treat.  Therefore, I believe that it is essential that people who are involved with these children especially clinicians, parents, foster parents and teachers read "Gentling." By doing so it will help them to recognize the behaviors and deal with the child more effectively.

Monday, September 14, 2009

How to Fight for Your Goals: Social Combat Theory

Avi Schneider
Lulu (2009)
ISBN 9781409283362
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (8/09)

In "How to Fight for Your Goals," author Avi Schneider teaches you how to apply your martial arts skills to more than combat situations.  You can also use these skills to help you achieve goals in your personal and professional life.  According to the author, "Social Combat arises any time an entity attempts to exert influence over another entity, which will not readily accept that influence."
 
By reading this book, I am learning how to apply these strategies to go beyond the physical and actually work with behavioral responses to situations.  I also enjoyed the discussions about how this theory applies to psychological theories.  The author states, "Martial Arts is a discipline that teaches effective strategies and techniques to combat opposition to ones goals. Any opposition."  Learning how to apply the strategies to other areas of our lives makes the training much more meaningful.
 
Physical attacks are discussed, and demonstrated in photos, to show how they can also be applied to social situations.  The three main types of opponents and strategies for best handling them are also covered.  These three types are the Brawler, the Bluffer and the Boxer. In relating to social interaction, these opponents are viewed as aggressive, passive or in-between.
 
As an individual with a second-degree black belt in karate and a Master of Science degree in Counseling, I found "How to Fight for Your Goals" to be incredibly informative, presenting information that can apply to my everyday life.  I also realized that in some areas of my life, I had been subconsciously applying these strategies.  By reading this book, I have a much better understanding of how best to use them.  One of the reasons I began training in martial arts was with the hope that it would give me the confidence that I would need so that I would not actually ever have to fight.  But if I ever do, I am prepared.  The knowledge gained from reading this will definitely help me continue to avoid violence in confrontation situations.
 
I believe that utilizing the information presented in this book will assist me with achieving my goals outside of the dojo very effectively.  I highly recommend "How to Fight for Your Goals" by Avi Schneider to martial artists.

Requiem of the Human Soul

Jeremy R. Lent
Libros Libertad (2009)
ISBN 9780981073507
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (8/09)

In the late 22nd century, earth is ruled by d-humans.  These are people who have been genetically designed.  Seen as superior beings, they view the primals, people who have been unaltered, as genetically inferior and frail.  Primals are susceptible to getting diseases and genetic disorders.  While d-humans might seem superior, somewhere along the way, they seem to have lost their soul.
 
When the UN proposes PEPS (Proposed Extinction of the Primal Species), primal Eusebio Franklin is chosen to defend the primals to allow their existence to continue.  Having to review the often times violent history of primals, Eusebio gets questioned about their responsibility in the massacre of indigenous people and the forced extinction of species of animals.  While history doesn't look good for the primals a renegade group called the Rejectionists help Eusebio to see what the d-humans are up to.  As with incidents that have taken place throughout our history that have murdered and wronged many, the d-humans don't seem to be much different.  They just seem to have better control over enforcing their goals.  The Rejectionists offer Eusebio an opportunity to help save the future of the primals, but in taking action, Eusebio will be responsible for killing millions - including himself.
 
Eusebio has much to decide.  Relying mainly on his heart and his love for his people, he tries to do what is right.  He is an extremely spiritual soul who values the wisdom passed down from his ancestors.   This makes Eusebio seem much more evolved than the d-humans.
 
"Requiem of the Human Soul" is incredibly deep and thought-provoking.  The story is so much more than a fictional novel.  Being that the book is set in the future, Eusebio would actually be representing me because I am a primal.  Looking at the plot from this perspective really added to how I viewed the story and our violent history.  It seems silly that Eusebio is on trial for atrocities committed by his ancestors, yet this attitude is pervasive today with many cultures and there are many people killing others in the name of their gods.  Also, even though Eusebio was not physically genetically superior to the others, his soul made him so.  Even though they might try, the soul is something that cannot be created by science.  I highly recommend this novel, "Requiem of the Human Soul" by Jeremy R. Lent. I think that people who have interests in bio-ethics will really enjoy it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Shakespeare Ashes: A Novel

Chris DeBrie
Infinity Publishing (2009)
ISBN 9780741454492
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views (8/09)

Chris DeBrie has written a highly-entertaining, fast-paced book for readers. We follow the lives of four individuals through trials and tribulations of finding the right love; addressing gender issues and the all-encompassing racial issues.
 
The book is somewhat like letters and conversations exchanged between friends. With the elaborate descriptions of the characters readers will feel they know each one individually. The language is completely today's language that you would hear anyone speak.  In his writing he starts each sentence with small letters instead of the usual capital letters, which I found intriguing. I might even compare this to a journal one would write.
 
Readers will find themselves rooting for each of the characters and disliking other minor characters in the book.  From the very first page readers will be captivated by the writing style and language.  This book is everything we experience in our daily lives, right down to the elderly lady with an open umbrella and cane trying to maneuver getting on public transportation.
 
The author has written two other books, neither of which I have had the pleasure of reading. If they are anything like "Shakespeare Ashes"- they are a must read for all.

Listen to interview with Chris DeBrie on Inside Scoop Live

There Are Two Types of People in This World Among Other Things

Uche Nwakudu
AuthorHouse (2009)
ISBN 9781438959016
Reviewed by William Phenn for Reader Views (9/09)

Ulche Nwakudu is like the Socrates of modern time. His book is a revelation of his concepts on life. His beliefs are extraordinary and vividly raw and unsettling to what would be the norm, but imaginative and inquisitive to say the least.
 
In the beginning of this 273 page philosophical digest is an interesting story that sets the mood for the rest of the book. This short little story packs in all the attributes of the book into a few short pages. The story is the name of the book, "There Are Two Types of People in This World," and in it Mr. Nwakudu mentions, "The Smarts, The Suckers and The Wise." His reasoning for mentioning "The Wise" was because he thought, even though they were few, they did exist and deserved to be mentioned.
 
The adventure continues and gets involved in such matters as "What is Osama Bin Laden's beef with the world, with the West, with the United States"? Then questions turn to accusations such as  "The smart guy is the politician who is aspiring to the highest office in the land. He employs scare tactics and tells the people that there is an enemy at the door waiting to enter and destroy them."
 
Question after question with few answers leaves the reader of this philosophical composition with many more questions than it answers. Although there are many answers to many other questions which (if you share his beliefs) you can work with. A few examples are:
 
"Religion will neither make your marriage work nor make it fail."
"Your marriage working is really up to you."
 
I highly doubt that this book will appeal to the general audience as it is written in an adult manner. Though some of the life lessons in the book may pertain to and be beneficial to the younger generation, it remains an adult piece of literature. 
 
His questions to God are just some of the examples of the kind of language contained in this volume:
"Why did you give the hapless mother a son who became a drug addict"?
"Why did you give her a daughter who became a whore"?
Then the mention of the Pope and the questions put to him:
"Do you get horny"?
"Do you get a hard-on"?
"Do you have sex"?
"Do you do doggy style sometimes"?
 
And there is the reference to the aged:
"Or maybe your mom is seventy but she has the sexual vigor of a fifty year old and the looks of Halle Berry at sixty. She has secretly acquired a dildo and helps herself once in a while in the bathroom when no one is looking but that is not enough."
 
I could go on and on but I think that is enough to belabor the point. I personally did not find this appealing and although I grasp what he is saying, I am too old-fashioned to accept it as written.

Modern Socrates or not, I personally think this was a bit much (just my opinion).
My take on this whole book was one of questionable integrity on the part of the author. Life is raw, I agree and sugar coating is not this author's forte. But crude and lewd does not make for the best reading either.  I gave it a B-and believe it should be placed on the adult shelf along with the other adult reading material.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Artificial Imagination

Kalpanik S
Center of Artificial Imagination, Inc. (2008)
ISBN 9780981476247
Reviewed by William Phenn for Reader Views

Kalpanik S. is an artificial imagination software program. He has a wife and two daughters and resides somewhere in the United States. I candidly say "somewhere" because one never knows where he will be next. Constantly moving to accept interesting positions with software corporations, Kalpanik does not let moss grow under his feet.  Born twice, once in 1988 and then again in 2002, Kalpanik was not just an ordinary Artificial Intelligence program. He was created to be different, to feel and imagine like a real human. He was his own character, a graduate Computer Science Engineer.
 
Beginning with San Francisco, the story leads the reader through the many adventures of Kalpanik. After losing his job in San Francisco, he moves to Seattle, the comparison he draws between there and Silicon Valley is hilarious to say the least. He talks about the rain and the weather changes as opposed to California. How he hated parting with his California drivers license and how gently he was treated by the understanding clerk.
 
From there to Nashville like a wandering soul, he tells about the demographics of his new digs in Tennessee. Similar to a tour guide on a bus, he describes the different attractions and scenic beauty of each point of interest, giving the reader a humorous commentary. He even includes comparing the Chinese restaurant to others he has been in. He explains that while in such a restaurant one day, he noticed that all the servers were Caucasian. He had never noticed Caucasians in any Chinese restaurant working as servers, in any place he had ever been. This had to be the first one of its kind. The Nashville tour finishes off with Kalpanik comparing the ethnic percentages. Coming from a city where a high percentage of people were Asian, he had a bit of culture shock when he came to Nashville and saw that it wasn't Asian but African Americans that was the cultural dominant. After Nashville, he finds himself in San Diego; a California city more to his liking. He tells of the seventy miles of beaches and how they spread as far as the Mexican border. His description of "Mission Beach" (complete with picture) is straight out of a travel folder.
 
"Artificial Imagination" is a funny and well-written book with some very good photography peppered into its 176 pages. I enjoyed the unique way in which it was presented and gave it a very good grade of an A. I would recommend it for a good read for the general audience.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Love Each Day: Live Each Day So You Would Want to Live it Again

Gail Bernice Holland
Modern History Press (2009)
ISBN 9781932690798
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (7/09)

"Love Each Day" is a beautifully written book that contains 40 inspiring essays about people from different walks of life.  The main point of the book is to "Live each day so you would want to live it again."  Each story focuses on an individual's experience in which they realized that they were having one of those days that they would want to live again.  The topics cover a variety of situations which run from having a relaxing day, to qualifying for the Olympics, to setting foot on the moon.  Each one is valuable in itself because I felt like it inspired me to see that my ordinary life has incredible meaning, and if I choose to have the right attitude, even the difficult moments can be seen in a more favorable light.
I really enjoyed reading these stories.  I appreciated that each person allowed the author to interview them for this book. Their stories should be told so that we can be inspired to look at our lives and create our own stories.  Some of my most incredible life-altering moments have come from mundane experiences.  I found myself tapping into a source that allowed me to see things on a higher level.  "Love Each Day" reminded me of many of these experiences that I have had.  Several have happened while at work.  Realizing that I have my own special moments reminded me that I need to appreciate my career more and the incredible people that come into my life.
 
By reading this book, I see that there is less emphasis on the importance of money and material things and importance placed on engaging in activities that are meaningful and being of service to others.  This is where we will find true meaning in our lives.  I highly recommend "Love Each Day" by Gail Bernice Holland to graduates who are ready to launch themselves out into the world.  By giving them this message early, they will find themselves seeking out much more meaningful careers.  I also think that people who are in public service jobs will also benefit from this book.  It might even help them avoid burn out. 

Tangling with Tyrants: Managing the Balance of Power at Work

Tony Deblauwe
PageFree Publishing (2009)
ISBN 9781589615786
Reviewed by Tyler R. Tichelaar for Reader Views (7/09)


Tony Deblauwe's "Tangling with Tyrants" offers practical advice for dealing with stress at work, primarily resulting from a difficult boss. Deblauwe begins by making a case for how the workplace is full of difficult bosses and how many people have difficulty with their employers. While few people I think would disagree, Deblauwe offers some interesting statistics; for example, surveys about work attitude show that a person's relationship with his or her manager is the most important factor in determining a person's satisfaction at work, even outranking pay and benefits. Television programs such as "The Office" reflect how common bad bosses have become in today's business world, and people need to learn how to manage their managers, how to get their work done despite their managers, how to avoid emotional bullying from managers, and how to know when to move to another job. Furthermore, today people are being asked to do more work, with fewer resources, which puts pressure on everyone, including the managers, who then put pressure on their employees.
 
"Tangling with Tyrants" offers numerous suggestions for dealing with a difficult manager. The answers are not simple, but largely introspective. Employees need to change their perspectives, understand the situation from the manager's point of view, and avoid making assumptions or having pre-conceived ideas about their managers based on past actions or stereotypes. Having an effective communication process with your boss is extremely important, and it can be used to align your actions with your boss' needs to create a partnership to get the job done.
 
For me, this book had two strong points. The first was the discussion of popular ideas for how to deal with a difficult boss, and why those ideas are not the way to handle the situation. Among the seven common ideas are standing up for yourself, going over your boss' head to his or her boss, and getting your co-workers to complain with you as a group about your boss. Instead, Deblauwe suggests the GRACE model, which shows how to be Grounded (rather than reacting to your boss from fear), then Reframe the request, Acknowledge the boss' perspective, create a Consensus with the boss, and then Execute the action necessary to complete the task. The second strong point was the inclusion of scripts demonstrating the GRACE method so people could see ways to verbalize how to respond to the boss.
 
I thought "Tangling with Tyrants" was a good starting point for dealing with difficult bosses. I would have liked to have seen a great deal more of the scripting, and maybe even a sort of index or appendix that provided multiple scripts to use on different occasions such as: when your boss expects you to cover for him, when your boss takes credit for your ideas, when your boss comes to work in a foul mood, etc. Some of this was covered in the book but a handy reference guide to multiple situations with effective scripts would have been a bonus and an easy way to keep going back to the book in times of need. Even in the form of a workbook this would have been helpful.
 
I hope "Tangling with Tyrants" will help many people find ways to improve their work situations. If not, Deblauwe also offers good advice on when and how to leave your job.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Defenders of the Scroll: In Some Places You Should be Afraid of Shadows

 

Shiraz
R. M. Productions Ltd (2009)
ISBN 9780981013503
Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age 11) for Reader Views KIds


"Defenders of the Scroll" by Shiraz is the action-packed adventure story of fifteen-year-old Alex, a guitarist, who is sucked into a strange and troubled world.  The realm of Mythos has problems.  A Shadow Lord has risen and is taking over.  Possibly worse, the king has been imprisoned, leaving the princess in danger of capture.
 
When nine-year-old Dara's father Mornak was abducted by the Shadow Lord, he managed to send all of his power to a magic scroll that Dara now possesses.  The Scroll has a massive amount of power that the Shadow Lord wants.  While Askar has distinct orders from the Shadow Lord to capture Dara and the Scroll, he would rather just destroy everything in his path including the Scroll.  If the Shadow Lord can get the Scroll, he can drain its magic and become invincible, and a mythical world apocalypse would ensue.
Soon after Alex appears in Mythos, he meets Dara, the princess of the realm. Seconds later, a giant, evil two-headed monster (an ettin) tries to viciously club them.  As he is being attacked, Alex recalls a character from his history book and wishes he were present.  Amazingly, a Roman legionary named Scorpius (the character that Alex had wished for) appears and slices the monster to bits.  Alex learns that he can summon other characters from his history book:  Tenzin, a very likable Shaolin monk; Bantu, a giant African warrior; Maya, an Amazon archer; and Genjuro, a fierce young samurai. All are youthful like Alex, and very skilled with their preferred weapons.  This will come in very handy seeing that this is only the first of numerable monster attacks.  Can they defeat the Shadow Lord and protect the Scroll? Will Mythos fall into the hands of the evil Shadow Lord?
       
The story is very riveting on its own, but the color illustrations that occasionally appear make it even better. The illustrations look like they are out of a graphic novel.  I think that they are computer generated, but they are still really cool and look like paintings.  The pictures were really exiting and gave me and even better feel for the characters.
     
This is Shiraz's first book, and has understandably won several awards.  If you have questions about the book you can go to his website and contact him.  This book ended with a cliffhanger and I can't wait for the next one.  I would recommend this book to people who like action, adventure, and fantasy.  I think that kids age nine to fourteen or so would especially like this book.  "Defenders of the Scroll" by Shiraz was an awesome book and I think that most every one that reads it will like it. 

Wally the Walking Fish Meets Madison and Cooper

 

Gary Lamit
BookSurge (2009)
ISBN 9781439225417
Reviewed by Sophia McElroy (age 6.5) for Reader Views Kids 

This is a great story about a walking fish named Wally. Madison and Wally meet when Madison catches Wally in the pond. Of course, she let Wally go because she believes in "catch and release." Madison and her dog Cooper discover that Wally can walk and talk! Wally is my favorite.
 
I never knew that Catfish could walk! They are called "Walking Catfish." They put their tail in like a puddle or something and can stay out of the water for several days as long as they stay moist.
 
The three friends have fun singing songs in the forest and swimming to meet the beaver family. Wally, Madison and Cooper met a flying fish named Frankie. They don't really have wings!
 
The artwork is beautiful. My favorite picture is of Wally walking. My favorite funny part of the book is when Cooper, the yellow Labrador, jumps into the air trying to fly. This really made me laugh!