Monday, January 25, 2010

Transformations: Give Up the Struggle

Renee Wiggins
Results By Renee (2009)
ISBN 9780982561300
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

This inspiring book is written by Renee Wiggins, a woman who really knows how to motivate people to change their lives.  Each page of "Transformations" has something empowering written on it to motivate us to change our lives for the better.  Using very few but meaningful words, she manages to initiate some very deep contemplative thoughts within myself.  She really touched the core of who I am.  I am amazed at how well she managed to do this!   Renee writes that this book "is about choosing the right words to inspire, encourage, and heal-and to help our own or another person's dreams soar." 

Written with artistic touches added to the pages, it is really pleasing to both my eyes and my soul.  The first time I read "Transformations" was in one sitting. I now plan on reading it one page a day at a time and journaling my thoughts. I do not want to forget the gems of wisdom that are found in these pages!  By taking them one day at a time, I can apply them to my life. 

Anybody who does not have time to read a book will find time to read this one.   "Transformations" by Renee Wiggins would also make a perfect gift for a friend who is ready to transform his or her life.  It would definitely be well received with gratitude.  I highly recommend it!

This I Accomplish: Harriet Powers’ Bible Quilt and Other Pieces

Kyra E. Hicks
Black Threads Press (2009)
ISBN 9780982479650
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

"This I Accomplish: Harriet Powers' Bible Quilt and Other Pieces" by Kyra E. Hicks is an incredibly engaging and detailed history of two quilts stitched more than a century ago by a former Georgia slave, Harriet Powers. I am not a quilter, have little interest in this type of art, and I am not African-American, so at first glance this book was not something that should have piqued my interest, let alone hold it. In spite of the aforementioned, I found myself spellbound very quickly.

First and foremost there was the subject - a former female slave, presumably not educated at all, who crafted at least two outstanding pictorial quilts that have been exhibited several times and owned by several very interesting individuals. Their history presented several very interesting questions, and Ms. Hicks set out on a quest to answer them. What she found was nothing short of astonishing, and without revealing too much - since this book really reads like an intriguing mystery - I will only say that some of her finds were nothing short of miraculous. My two favorites: some incredible information on Harriet Powers' life and accomplishments, as well as the identity of the person who added some "embellishments" to the Pictorial Quilt. 

If the story itself would not have been enough to hold my interest, I could not have resisted the allure of Ms. Hicks' writing. Yes, the book is incredibly well researched, with roughly 200 bibliographic references, of which most of them are annotative and which cover some 50 pages; and that in itself is fascinating. But what made this book truly special is the incredible joy that shines throughout it, the joy of discovery of new facts and the joy of being able to share that with the world. Ms. Hicks found the perfect balance of authoritative, yet not overly scholarly writing and deeply personal revelations which made me feel like I was sharing a pleasant afternoon chatting with a good friend over a cup of some excellent coffee. 

The only thing that would have made this book even more perfect would have been some good color photographs of both quilts, since the black-and-white photographs as well as the sketches and descriptions made me really curious about them. In the absence of that, I can only hope that the Pictorial Quilt will really be on exhibit next year in Boston, and that the Bible Quilt is going to be exhibited again at some point in time as well.

I believe that anybody who enjoys well-researched historical narrative, as well as anybody curious about quilting, would find "This I Accomplish: Harriet Powers' Bible Quilt and Other Pieces" by Kyra E. Hicks to be a wonderfully enlightening and enjoyable book.

Beyond the Stars: Kataria

Kelly Beltz
BookSurge (2009)
ISBN 9781439222805
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

Even though she has most of her career working for the Space Island Group (SIG), Physicist Samantha Gerris has always managed to keep her feet on the ground.  SIG has been developing a space resort for years.  SIG is also secretly involved with working with aliens and studying alien technology.  Samantha doesn't discover this part until after she suffers a great loss.  At this point, her children are now young adults who also become employed by SIG.
When Samantha discovers that her kids have decided to work off planet, she knows that she will desperately miss them, so she agrees to follow them up to the off-planet resort site.  This is where the secrets begin to be revealed.  An emergency situation lands Samantha on an alien space craft that is headed home, which happens to be across the universe.  This turns out to be the trip of a lifetime for Samantha.  On this ship, she learns about the alien technology, the alien's culture, other aliens that are not so nice, and most important of all, she finds love again.

I loved reading "Beyond the Stars: Kataria."  The author, Kelly Beltz, has combined the perfect blend of science fiction, adventure, mystery and romance.  The story is a pleasure to read. It is interesting to see how Beltz uses her imagination to create technology that actually seems like it could be plausible.  She also takes you deep into the heart and soul of the main character. Through Samantha's eyes we get to share her experiences, her fears, and her new love.  The character has to transition through a variety of stages to be able to move on to a higher level of her self.  In spite of the science-fiction elements, I found myself really being able to relate to this character.  I highly recommend "Beyond the Stars: Kataria."  I also think that it would be a great selection for a reader's group.  I look forward to the next adventure in the series.

Listen to interview on Inside Scoop Live
Read interview with Kelly Beltz

Monday, January 18, 2010

Explore the Book of Revelation

Julius M. Scott
Infinity Publishing (2009)
ISBN 9780741456465
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views


Julius M. Scott's "Explore the Book of Revelation" is a chapter-by-chapter exposition of the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ as revealed to John the Apostle on the Isle of Patmos.  Scott shows how the book of Revelation reveals Christ's identity and God's plan for the end of the world as we know it today. His book is an excellent resource for the exegesis of the apostle John's Apocalypse. It is a good introductory study and guide for all Bible scholars and researchers, a well-rounded handbook for the study of the book of Revelation.

Scott discusses in some detail the main themes of Revelation, for example: The message to the seven churches, God's throne room, the opening of the seven seals, the seven part judgment, the temple of God and the altar, the great conflict between God and Satan, the birth and life of Jesus, his death and resurrection, the new heaven and the new earth, and the New Jerusalem. He talks about the poetic approach, the symbolic language which the apostle John used, and the imagery through which he revealed a victorious Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Scott does not attempt to fix the date for the time of the Last Judgment and the establishment of God's Kingdom. He does point out many of the events that we can watch for which are revealed through the study of the book of Revelation.

Scott's writing will be helpful to scholars. He uses an easy to understand layman's language which provides a wealth of insight and information, easily adaptable for individual or small group Bible study, for incorporating in church Bible classes, or as curriculum or recommended reading for Bible School and Seminary study.

Because the book of Revelation is often misunderstood with conflicting opinions and a divergence of interpretations there will be those who will disagree with some of Scott's conclusions; however, all will acknowledge that it brings "the message of infinite love, power, and justice of the Lord Jesus Christ." It is written to bring encouragement, inspiration, and practical teaching on Christian living to all who read and study its' contents.

It is Scott's prayer that his readers will get to know God better and learn to trust him more completely through the reading of "Explore the Book of Revelation."

Listen to interview on Inside Scoop Live

Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With Sensory Processing Disorder

Chynna T. Laird
Loving Healing Press (2009)
ISBN 9781615990085
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (12/09)


"Not Just Spirited" tells the story of a mother desperately trying to help her daughter deal with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).  At three months of age, Jaimie acted differently than what her parents expected her to.  She did not seem to be able to relate to her environment or her parents the way that an infant normally would.  Initially, her mother's concerns were dismissed by her pediatrician.  As Jaimie reached two years of age, it could no longer be denied that something was wrong.  Jaimie was "not just spirited" as the parents had been told. 

Chynna Laird set out on a difficult path to find help for her daughter.  Along the way she learned what SPD is, and how some of the symptoms can be mistaken for Autism. She also discovered how to work within the system to get them to help her daughter.  This was really difficult, because first she had to get them to believe that her daughter was different and desperately needed help.  Next she had to find the right people who knew how to effectively deal with SPD.  Because Jaimie demonstrated that she was intelligent and did not have learning delays, this kept her from receiving some services.  Having been a social worker for people with developmental disabilities, I have seen this happen so many times. I was relieved to see that Chynna still found a way to get her daughter treatment. 

Having a chance to read "Not Just Spirited" opened my eyes to what Sensory Processing Disorder is all about.  The earlier the intervention, the greater the chance will be that the child can lead a more normal life.  A co-worker, who is a therapist, saw me with this book and told me that her son was currently being evaluated for this disorder. It was interesting to have a chance to talk to someone who is dealing with SPD firsthand.  Fortunately, my colleague's son's case is not as severe. She is excited to know that she now has access to a valuable resource that will help her family.

Jaimie's journey has not been an easy one, however, Chynna demonstrates how advocating for her daughter has made her life so much easier to manage, and helped her whole family. I truly feel that parents of children with SPD, or really any developmental disability, can learn a lot about self-advocacy from reading "Not Just Spirited" by Chynna T. Laird.  They will also be able to relate to the frustrations that this family went through. Having a child that rejects your affection would be heartbreaking. Learning how to break through to them is inspiring. There are also helpful lists of resources in this book that will be very valuable for both parents and professionals to utilize.

Listen to interview on Inside Scoop Live

View from the Middle of the Road IV: Pathway to Dreams

Xavier Clark, Daniel Y. Harris, Pete Klimek, Clifford D. Ponder
P.R.A  Publishing (2009)
ISBN 9780982140703
Reviewed by William Phenn for Reader Views


Beginning with Xavier Clark and right on through the other three poets, "View from the Middle of the Road IV: Pathway to Dreams" is strictly male-dominated. In her introduction, Lucinda Clark explains this by telling the reader that she wanted to show the sensitive side of the male species. She sets out to prove that men can and do have a knack for writing poetry.

Daniel Y. Harris is the second writer to be featured in this 65-page compilation of various styles of masculine poetry. His work has been featured in many magazines and journals throughout the land. His poetry style is different and shows his diversity. From "Baseball" to "The Last Romantic," his work is colorful, descriptive and thought-provoking. Mr. Harris is very family oriented in his poetry as is evidenced in his dedications. His offering to this volume gave it an inspiring shot in the arm.

Pete Klimek is the third poet to add his fare to this anthology. His musical background allows him the insight to write with a song in his heart, as is the case in his offering, "Somebody Cares." Pete has such a unique background, from his days in Prague to his migration to South Africa. His work reflects his love of music and his South African home.

Last but not least is the fine work of Clifford D. Ponder, a man that has written over one-thousand poems. Clifford says that his work is a template through which one may view the effect of time. His poem "Buying a Piece of Time" depicts this exact feeling. With as many poems as Mr. Ponder wrote, it was disappointing not to see more of them offered here, but sometimes that can't be helped.

"View from the Middle of the Road IV: Pathway to Dreams" was quite diverse and thought-provoking to say the least. I enjoyed most of the offerings of three out of the four poets and I will leave you to wonder which one it was that I didn't enjoy. With only 65-pages in its entirety, it will make for a very fast read if you are on a bus or plane. I enjoyed it and gave it a B as to grade point. This is because, when you put together an anthology, you can never please all of the people with all of the authors' works. We are all different, and as such, our tastes vary.

Read interview with authors

Monday, January 11, 2010

Beating About the Bushes: Minor League Baseball in the ‘60’s

Tim Sommer
Infinity Publishing (2008)
ISBN 9780741449818
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

Tim Sommer highlights an almost-forgotten era in American baseball. He gives the reader a candid look at a time when professional baseball players were motivated by the love of the sport and of the simplicity of professional baseball in the 60s and 70s. He tells how his family circumstances, personal persistence, and his boyhood dreams impacted his entry into an eight-year career in professional baseball.
"Beating About the Bushes" gives an insider's perspective and a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the lives of professional athletes, their loyalty to one another even amid the competitive nature of achieving the major leagues. Sommer also points out the human faults of the sports heroes created by the media.

Sommer's writing is humorous, entertaining, informative, and sometimes controversial. Although he pulls no punches, his allegiance to Orioles, the players, trainers, coaches, managers and fans are all a part of who Tim is. He relates stories of dozens of professionals who are now professional baseball legends as well as those who have become members of the Hall of Fame.

Tim Sommer talks about his own unique experiences during his eight years in professional baseball. He gives play-by-play accounts of games that were important to him in his drive to attain personal success. He shows another side of his personality as he describes a road experience, "Always it was a wonderful opportunity to experience the size and diversity of America while traveling…opportunities to absorb the many flavors of life along the way."

Sommer provides the reader with a broad overview of professional baseball. He gives insight into racial tension, contract negotiation, free agency, pensions and the player strike of 1969. 

The format of the book is ideal for today's busy sports fan. The forty-five short chapters are fast reading, entertaining and contagious. Each chapter highlights an incident, a celebrity story, or a funny expose of one of Tim's peers. Chapter titles are made up of catchy titles which draw the reader in compelling them on to the finale chapter "One Last Hurrah." 

Tim Sommer is articulate, witty, and is a veritable encyclopedia of baseball trivia, history, statistics, and first person vignettes. Baseball enthusiasts, from little league coaches to professional fans, trainers and managers are destined to bond to the persona who is Tim Sommer. "Beating About the Bushes" is a book for all sport fans.

All About Clean Energy

Edward Hujsak
Mina-Helwig (2009)
ISBN 9781886133129
Reviewed by Ron Standerfer for Reader Views


As I write these words, representatives of about two-hundred nations are converging on Copenhagen to begin talks on a new international climate accord.  The issues they will be discussing have the potential to dramatically impact the world we live in for generation to come.  Yet the debate on the core issues will be conducted against a background of cynicism if not outright attacks on the basic science of global climate change.  How can this be?

Few subjects have vexed politicians and scientists alike like "global warming."  To some, global warming is an anathema to industry and the global economy; while others view it as the number one problem in the world today---a problem that must be solved for the sake of mankind's survival on this planet.  But if some of the (arguably) brightest minds in our global society cannot reach an accord on the basics of global warming, how can the rest of us participate in the debate and fulfill our responsibilities to be stewards of Planet Earth?  What is needed is a basic primer on the subject that can serve as a baseline for reading and understanding the issues as they are being debated.  That's where Edward Hujsak's thoughtful and well-written book, "All About Clean Energy" comes in.

The first thing I should point out is that the focus of Hujsak's book is on "clean energy," not global warming.  But that's okay because as he points out in the book's Foreword, clean energy is all about lowering greenhouse gas emissions, which of course is the key to reducing global warming.  I should also mention that the book is targeted specifically to gifted teenagers, as a project reference book, as well as an assist in determining what career choice would be most rewarding in a rapidly growing industrial area; however, having read the book twice, I can assure you that the book is a worthwhile read for all of us that are concerned about the wellbeing of our planet.

"All About Clean Energy" begins by reviewing the earth's climate behavior over hundreds of thousands of years and discusses how the present situation is anomalous and due to human activity.  Subsequent chapters examine photovoltaic energy (terrestrial and space based), solar thermal, geothermal, wind, tides, hydro, ocean currents, nuclear fission, nuclear fusion research, and biofuels.  The final chapter is concerned with conservation measures, describes the smart grid and predicts the demise of the internal combustion engine.

Hujsak's easy and readable writing style undoubtedly reflects the fact that he has written several books including "The Future of U.S. Rocketry," "Who Rang the Church Bell," a children's book, an award-winning book of short stories titled "A Pig in the Rumble Seat," and two books of poetry.  He is also a career rocket engineer who was propulsion engineer on John Glenn's famous orbital flight.  The latter suggests to me that perhaps it does take a "rocket scientist" to explain what's going on with global warming. In any case, "All About Clean Energy" by Edward Hujsak is a remarkably simple and understandable book that should be mandatory reading for everyone who is concerned about the health of our planet.


Running River
Hawk Feather Press (2009)
ISBN 9780979918018
Reviewed by Avni Gupta (age 15) for Reader Views Kids

When I received "Forever," I was really excited about reading it. Once I found out that the author was a 13-year-old girl, I became a little worried. There is nothing wrong with a 13-year-old, but I just wasn't sure how well someone this age would be able to create realistic characters and a well-defined plot. However, once I read this book, I found out how well this 13-year-old could write!

"Forever" by Running River starts out with General Pengfei talking to his mentor about his upcoming wedding to the Princess of the Moon Country. Soon after being warned against this union by his mentor, Pengfei is summoned to the King's palace to talk about some Jungle Country spies that had been seen and shot at in the forest. Since Pengfei is the most-honorable, well-known and most-trusted General in the entire kingdom, along with the youngest one in the history of the kingdom, he is one of the few generals who the King always confides in and trusts more than his own advisors. Shortly after his meeting with the King, Pengfei stumbles upon a half-dead girl covered in wounds and a shredded green tunic (green is the color of the Jungle Country and only they may wear that color). Now Pengfei finds himself in love with this girl in green. Will he be able to break off his engagement and marry one of his country's enemies?

This book was a fun read and a great book for people of all ages. Even my 13-year-old male cousin thought that this book was interesting and wanted to keep reading after I let him read the first few pages. Overall, I felt as though this book was very well written and gave another interesting take on the common star-crossed-lovers concept. I feel as though anybody reading this book will be able to love it and want to read all of the rest of the books to come soon. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone for its wonderful characters and amazing plot line. If you see this book, "Forever," anywhere, be sure to buy it. You will not regret it! Congrats to Running River for writing such an amazing book!

Listen to interview with Running River

Monday, January 4, 2010

Currencies that buy Credibility

Tom Wanek
Wizard Academy Press (2009)
ISBN 9781932226768
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views


Small book. Powerful message.  Yes, great things do come in small packages, and Tom Wanek is out to demonstrate that in his pocket-size 159-page book "Currencies that buy Credibility" he can do just that.

In most cases when we hear the word currency we immediately relate to money.  However, Wanek proves that it's not only money that will buy you credibility in the business world but also what you say, how you say it, and what your actions are. All these things amount to being currencies that establish your credibility and create more traffic and sales in your business.

In the final chapter Wanek says "Throughout this book I've argued that our customers are looking for a buying experience they can trust."  Also throughout the book he points out that credibility can be purchased by investing currencies of:

1.  Material Wealth - e.g. statements of guarantees and warranties
2.  Time and Energy - e.g. free seminars
3.  Opportunity - e.g. projecting image
4.  Power & Control - e.g. using comparisons
5.  Reputation & Prestige - e.g. displaying authenticity
6.  Safety & Well-Being - e.g. personal guarantee

Wanek takes each currency and expands, giving examples from major corporations and shows how they succeed using the currency, or fail because they don't.  The bottom line of his message is to look at our own business and delve into the connotation we send out.  Is it authentic and do we ourselves believe what we say?

I repeat:  Small book. Powerful message.  I firmly believe, and know from experience, using at least one of the currencies in Wanek's book will change your business.  However, I also know that using all six currencies can make a 180 turn-around in no time.  Be an "insider" and glean Wanek's expertise to make a powerful change to bring in more customers/clients, more sales, and more income.  I highly recommend the investment of purchasing "Currencies that buy Credibility."

Listen to interview with Tom Wanek

From Crisis to Recovery: Strategic Planning for Response, Resilience, and Recovery

George W. Doherty, MS, LPC
Rocky Mountain DMH Institute Press (2009)
ISBN 9781615990153
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views


Between war, natural disasters and pandemic illnesses, such as the Swine Flu (H1N1), worldwide we are currently experiencing a tremendous amount of stress-inducing events.  The proper training of first responders and mental health professionals is critical.  Mental health response has been left out of most emergency response models for national, state and local response team training.  Incorporating resilience, recovery, and proper preparation into a strategic plan is vital.  It is also very important that these professionals have an understanding of other cultures when dealing with people from them in emergency situations.
Every individual can be affected differently by a crisis situation. "From Crisis to Recovery," discusses how the community and the people in it tend to respond to and recover from disasters.  Being aware of the effects of both individual and collective trauma is important in how people will be affected. Activities taught involve preparing for, responding to, and recovering from disasters. Learning about resiliency and how it can affect the outcome of disaster induced stress and emotional trauma is very important. Stress reduction techniques are also taught.

I feel that this book is critical for people who are involved in all aspects of crisis response.  It is important for these people to acquire the valuable information that is offered here.  It is also for the responders to recognize that they too are affected by these crisis situations.  By recognizing this, and learning how to effectively handle these stressors, the responders will be able to avoid having to be hindered by the emotional trauma of the situations with which they are dealing.  This in turn will allow them to be more effective in a crisis situation and in their personal lives, avoid burn out and avoid needless suffering.  "From Crisis to Recovery" by George W. Doherty is written in a manner that not only imparts critical information, but it is also incredibly interesting to read. I highly recommend this book.

Listen to interview with George Doherty

Why I Love Men: The Joys of Dating

J.J. Smith
Adiva Publications (2009)
ISBN 9780982301807
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

I found "Why I Love Men" to offer a very refreshing, up-to-date approach on dating.  While telling her own personal story, the author, J.J. Smith also offers a wealth of advice on dating for women who are either getting back into the dating game or dissatisfied with their current dating situations. I really felt that there was something for everyone in the book. 

One of the most important issues that stood out to me while reading "Why I Love Men" was that Ms. Smith encourages women to better themselves in the areas of their looks, finances and careers.  While reading the book, I thought that there are going to be people who will perceive this negatively because they believe you shouldn't have to change yourself for Mr. Right.  Well, I disagree with that idea.  What I liked about Ms. Smith's positive encouragement to better yourself was she emphasized that in doing so you will have a better life.  By improving our lives, not only do we make ourselves better catches, but we also will enjoy our lives a great deal more, whether or not we are single or in a relationship.  Both men and women are more drawn to people who are attractive, successful and truly enjoying their lives.

"Why I Love Men" offers some great ideas and action items on how to improve your life.  By taking a good hard look at what you have to offer a partner or what you are most likely to attract, you get a really good reality check.  Gaining an understanding of why you attract what you attract can also help you evaluate ways to improve your life so that you can start attracting what you really want.  And in doing so, you have fun!

I highly recommend this book.  I truly enjoyed reading "Why I Love Men" and I found Ms. Smith's writing to be highly motivating and energizing. 

Listen to interview on Inside Scoop Live
Read interview with J.J. Smith