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.