Monday, February 22, 2010

Recovering The Self: A Journal of Hope and Healing (Vol. II, No.1)

Edited by Ernest Dempsey
Loving Healing Press (2010)
ISBN 9781932690835
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (1/10)

I always have to have something available for me to read.  If I find myself with nothing to do and nothing to read, I feel lost.  Sometimes this forces me to purchase a magazine that would be the paper equivalent of junk food.  Then I feel guilty.  With "Recovering the Self," I am pleased to report that no feelings of guilt were induced while reading. Instead, I found myself relishing each page of the journal.

"Recovering the Self" is full of articles written by inspiring authors about a variety of topics.  Many of these topics involve people taking back their power to recover from issues such as child abuse, anorexia, depression, and cancer.  These are just to name a few.  There is also poetry, fictional stories, book reviews and movie reviews.  I found everything printed in this journal to be of value. 

I also find it inspiring to read about people who become empowered to change their lives or the lives of those around them.  I like that each article has information listed about the author and a website to follow up on for more information about the topic.  This allows readers to delve further into information that they would like to pursue.  For myself, I now have a list of websites to refer to, and a list of reading materials to follow up on.  

"Recovering the Self: A Journal of Hope and Healing (Vol. II, No.1)" is highly recommended reading.  It can be read and enjoyed in one sitting, however, for people who do not have a lot of time to read, it will be perfect for them to be able to bookmark and read the articles as time permits.  Enjoy.

Short Circus

Stephen V. Masse
Good Harbor Press (2010)
ISBN 9780615320571
Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age 11) for Reader Views Kids (02/10)


"Short Circus" by Stephen V. Masse is the story of twelve-year-old Jem Lockwood and what he and his highly adventurous friends did one year.  When Jem's mother feels like Jem might be having problems with life, she decides to get Jem a Big Brother.  Thankfully for her, she gets what she bargained for - and more.  At first Jem was afraid of what kind of Big Brother he would get.  Luckily, Jesse Standish was not the drill sergeant that Jem was expecting but was a really awesome guy.  The book is Jem's retelling (for a school project) of his wild escapades with his Big Brother Jesse and a gang of friends.  But throughout their wild adventures, they are plagued by a mystery: who has been sabotaging the swimming pond?

It all started when Jem and his friends were having a crashing derby one afternoon and Jem almost completely destroyed his bike and a little of himself.  However, there was also the matter of several fist fights and a few other events that involved Jem getting hurt.  Since Jem's father wasn't around, Jem's mother thought that he might need a little additional help and signed him up for a Big Brother.  Finally, when Jem's mother got him a big brother she was very happy because she thought that Jem would now have a good role model.  And what a role model Jesse was!  Jesse knew how to do everything and was willing to teach Jem.  Together Jesse and Jem have many interesting and fun adventures like going to an aquarium, going to the circus, and shooting off fireworks on the Fourth of July and more.

One day when Jem, his brother Chris, and some of their friends were walking past the local swimming pond, they saw two kids one of whom had been badly cut by glass and was bleeding all over the ground.  Jem told the kid to hold on for another minute and that he would get help.  He ran into to two joggers who called an ambulance.  Later Jem and Jesse went back and looked at the pond.  They saw glass and barbed wire all over the bottom of the pond.  As a project, Jem and Jesse decided to clean up the pond.  But just when they started, some local police came over and told them to stop because it was too dangerous. They said that the city would take care of it.  But as the days and weeks passed, Jem wondered if the pond would ever get cleaned.  The day after it was cleaned they awoke to more glass and barbed wire in the pond.  They then made it their mission to find out who was putting glass and barbed wire in the pond.
I would recommend "Short Circus" by Stephen V. Masse to people who like good and well written adventure books.  This book had some mild cursing that some parents might object to, but was an otherwise good book.  This was an interesting book seeing that it didn't have much of a plot line, but it was still a very fun read because I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit

Muriel L. Crawford
Dillon & Parker Publishing (2009)
ISBN 9780981959009
Reviewed by William Phenn for Reader Views


I was skeptical at first. But after the first few chapters, it was evident that this was something worth reading. Right off the bat and not pulling any punches, Ms. Crawford talks about "Early Death and Disability" caused by smoking. Needless to say, it got my attention. She continues to emphasize the many hazards that smoking impales upon the body. There are the dangerous and noxious chemicals that are given off in the form of smoke, and the variety of different molds.  She explains that nicotine is actually a very poisonous chemical that acts as a powerful stimulant and a depressive on the nervous system. Muriel mentions the diseases that smoking causes and briefly explains them as a bit of information for those of us that don't know about them (or, are dumb enough not to care).

Covering such things as "Blood Disease, Heart Disease, Cancer, Brain and Nerve Disease, Digestive Tract Disease" and on and on, there is not a single body part or life-support system that is not affected by smoking and Ms. Crawford touches on all of them. Then she mentioned one item that I was shocked to read, "Impotence."  The author mentions how a man's smoking increases the chances of impotence! I went back and read this a second time to be sure that I didn't miss anything. I don't know about anyone else, but that alone has caused me to take a good hard look at the affects of smoking on my body. Oh, and for the ladies, Ms. Crawford mentions the problem of "Menstrual Pain" and how smoking has a direct link to the duration and increases the severity.

"Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit" is just full of all the hazards of smoking, from how it affects the human body to its impact on the environment. Fact upon fact throughout its 350 well-written and researched pages, Ms Crawford educates the reader. There is nothing in the book that will sound like a lecture, it is all fact-based and informative and the reader is left to draw his own conclusions. She does not push the reader to quit, she merely presents the facts. Scary facts as they may be, but only facts nonetheless. But, I might add, "facts that made me think very seriously about what I am doing to myself by smoking."

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it to all audiences (especially teens) in hopes that they do not start the nasty habit to begin with.  But if they do, maybe reading this book will point them in the right direction so they at least have a chance to live a long and normal life. I have nothing but praise for "Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit" by Muriel L. Crawford.  It has earned my highest honor of an A+ and should be on every smoker and non-smoker's bookshelf. Even if you are a non-smoker, I'm sure you have friends that are still puffing away their lives.

Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting!: A Bridge From Addiction To Early Recovery

Robert Bolch
iUniverse (2009)
ISBN 9781440121074
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views

As a Psychologist and former substance abuse counselor, I have witnessed many attempting recovery from drugs and alcohol. Many succeed but many do not, which I feel comes from their viewpoint "If I just cut back or control it, I am okay." Robert Bolch was one of the latter. His personal journey from using to attempting recovery and finally "getting it" was not an easy one as readers will find through his narratives and notes from his journaling.  Not only did he have problem with substances, his wife did as well. She chose to go to a rehabilitation program in California and Robert chose to do it on his own by going to Europe.

By traveling to Europe he thought he would be away from the distraction of substances, however, he took drugs with him. "Might as well use it all up, no sense letting it go to waste," was his stance, a common thought for many addicted to substances. 

The author takes us through his nightmare and successes by addressing honesty, resentment and humility just to name a few. He does state several times that he is not telling readers how to become recovered, but he is telling what worked for him. I liked his honesty and ability to admit weaknesses during this process and letting readers know that abstinence is not sobriety, regardless of drug of choice. Journaling is very therapeutic and it is very hard to read after you have written your thoughts.

This is a journey of change from the inside. Robert, as many of us, always needs to take a self-inventory frequently. It is not an easy thing to do, but is a necessity. "Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting!" by Robert Bolch certainly is a book that I will recommend to my college Psychology students as it gives an honest point of view on recovery.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Dish Best Served Cold

David Carl Mielke
Mill City Press (2009)
ISBN 9781936107193
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views (1/10)

As the author states at the beginning of the book, there are times in our life when we have been taken advantage of and want revenge. Does it help to be revengeful? Well, if you ask our two main characters Lena and Anne, the answer would be a profound yes. Follow these two gutsy ladies grow up and finally get the revenge they want on numerous people and along the way they find each other and what their lives are really about.

We start out with Anne who grew up in a funeral home that gave her daily headaches and the only way she could get rid of them was to take walks in the woods.  She finds that she has some strange power to communicate with the dead and animals.  When Anne leaves for college she finds that her roommate is less than tolerable, so she spends most of her time out of her dorm room.  Then she meets "Mr. Wonderful," Winthrop Stedman, III, but she is less than cordial to him. Stedman will not give up; he is used to getting his way and Anne intrigues him.

Lena finds that her body and looks can get her anything she wants and decides to take advantage of it. Her job is at Diamond Divas and her stage name is Electra.  Lena is weary of others, has trust issues and mostly keeps to herself. Finding that she has made the money she wants, Lena goes into hiding in an RV in the forest. She wants to forget her life as Electra and find something more meaningful.  Enter politician Winthrop Stedman, III, who will get what he wants at no cost and Lena is someone he wants. However, he wants to shut down Diamond Divas and Lena won't let that happen- the trap is set.

Years later the two women meet and decide that it's time to take their lives back and give payback for those that abused and used them.

The author has done a tremendous job in describing each character and their journey through life. You can smell the cigarette smoke and musty beer in Diamond Divas and you can smell and visualize what it is like to live in a funeral home.

"A Dish Best Served Cold" by David Carl Mielke is a fast-paced book with numerous seedy and loving characters. The action is never-ending, but blends well from one character or event to the other. You will meet criminals, users, a loving deputy and one mean alligator, "Ol Clyde," who also has an active role in this story.

Breakaway: How I Survived Abuse

Nadia Sahari
Pink Butterfly Press (2009)
ISBN 9780982041307
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views


In "Breakaway: How I Survived Abuse" the author Nadia Sahari tells us the story of her life.  Unfortunately, many of the events that she experienced in her early years were heart-wrenching because they involved sexual and physical abuse.  She bares her soul to us as she describes horrific events that she experienced.  I think that it was important for her to do this, so that if the reader is going through the same experiences, they will know that they are not alone and that there is hope.  For a person who is not experiencing abuse, Nadia's story will give them an understanding, and answer many of the "why" questions that run through the heads of people that have not had these experiences, such as, "Why didn't she tell anybody?"

In addition to dealing with the abuse, Nadia also had issues regarding being from a different culture.  Being of Lebanese descent, her family was not receptive to her mixing with the Americans.  She endured a great deal of abuse from her father, for going against him on this issue.  Her family also tried to keep her very naïve about life, which set her up for being in situations where she did not know how to handle herself.  The fact that she was a good person at heart, really shined through the pages, and made my heart go out to her.  She endured abuse and betrayal by family members, then a spouse.  In the end though, Nadia came out on top.  This will give women who are in similar situations much hope.  She also offers a list of resources to access for more information and help.

I loved reading "Breakaway: How I Survived Abuse" because it taught me how strong someone can be, and also to never give up hope.  Others will see this message as well.  I hated that it had to be a true story, because of the amount of pain and suffering Nadia was forced to endure.  This is not something that a person could wish on anybody.  By sharing her story with the world, Nadia Sahari has made her life story one that will inspire others.  I admire her for being willing to do this.  I think that everyone should read this book.

Listen to interview on Inside Scoop Live - recorded November 2009
Listen to interview on Inside Scoop Live - recorded June 2009
Read interview with Nadia Sahari

From Beer to Maternity

Maggie Lamond Simone
Brodman Publishing (2009)
ISBN 9780615289922
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views (01/10)

The author gives readers laughter, sarcasm and humor in this incredibly funny but true book. She admits that she writes today the way she wrote in college; the only difference she wasn't drunk this time


Ms. Simone writes what most of us, especially women, think but dare not speak out loud. She addresses topics such as: why women are jealous of each other; how men think; if one is single they are out to find Mr. Right; and being an older mother.

One of my favorite chapters was entitled "Cooties" and deals with how to tell if your date is bored, and how dating companies will check out a potential date by looking at their resume, education, credit scores, and criminal records. She tells us that we all have made stupid mistakes in our life, but do you really need all that information to consider dating someone?

Her chapter titled "Tick Tock" is one that many of us have been through. When our mother keeps pestering us as to when she is ever going to have grandchildren.  Ms. Simone relates that raising children is like raising dogs - you feed them, water them and talk to them in baby talk.

Readers will find that the author is saying things we have always wanted to say or question.  One will laugh, cry and make notes on witty things to say the next time one of these topics come up. "From Beer to Maternity" by Maggie Lamond Simone was such a funny read- once you start you can't put it down till you reach the last page and then you want more.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Lost Secret of Fairies: The Crystal Keeper Chronicles Book 1

Tiffany Turner
Trafford Publishing (2007)
ISBN 9781425146719
Reviewed by Avery Largent (age 9) for Reader Views Kids

"The Lost Secret of Fairies: The Crystal Keeper Chronicles Book 1" by Tiffany Turner is a great book about a young girl named Wanda, who becomes a protector, or Keeper, for the fairy clan. She has trouble protecting the fairies because she is stuck between the fairy place and the human world. The author's style was beautiful; not only were her characters very well-developed, but she wrote with lovely and detailed description. I was interested in the book at first sight and wasn't disappointed after reading it.

The first thing I noticed when I saw this book was the cover art. I loved the colors and the forms they made up.  Just by looking at it, I could see mystery. Who were the three people standing in the picture? Where were they? Why was there a crow, of all things?  Even after finding the answers to these questions, I still love sitting and looking at the picture.

The author's beautiful and descriptive style matched the lovely cover art.  Through the author's writing, you can really can picture the scenes.  For example, one of my favorites is the description of when Wanda came to a mysterious door. "It was nothing but a regular old door, with a polished surface. Except this door had no handle. It only seems like a door since it's blocking the corridor. I tried rubbing my hands over the surface. Cool, smooth wood swam underneath my fingers as my nose wiggled from the fresh cut smell." I really enjoyed scenes like these; how I could picture the door and even imagine what it would smell and feel like.

The author described her characters just as well as she described the scenes of the book.  I felt like I really got to know the characters.  By the end, I even knew Wanda's cat's personality! I knew pretty much enough about each of the characters to fill a page.  From the beginning I realized just how much author Tiffany Turner talks about her characters. The very first sentence reads, "So, you want to know how I became keeper?" In the very next paragraph, you learn what Wanda looks like, what her favorite hobby is, and even more.  Right away, my attention was grabbed and I wanted to learn more and more about the characters.

"The Lost Secret of Fairies: The Chrystal Keeper Chronicles Book 1" by Tiffany Turner is a very good book with gorgeous cover art, a great, descriptive style by the author, and very well-developed characters, I would recommend this book to my friends, and hope I can read the next in the series, very soon.

The Friday Night Club: A Novel

Jacob Nelson Lurie
BookSurge (2009)
ISBN 9781439262474
Reviewed by Ron Standerfer for Reader Views (01/10)


"The Friday Night Club" by Jacob Nelson Lurie is one of the funniest books I've read in a long time; and that's saying a lot considering I am at least a half a century older than the characters it portrays.  How funny is it?  Let me put it this way: I started laughing on the "Disclaimers" page before the story even starts.  Here's an example, "Disclaimer A: This is a true story.  Aside from the parts that aren't true, of which there are few, though not as many as you would believe."  Huh?  Or this, "This is a novel and not a memoir.  Aside from the parts that are a memoir…of which there are many, although not as many as you would believe."  Oh, I get it!

So what is the Friday Night Club and what is the book all about?  It's kind of hard to explain, but in a nutshell the Friday Night Club is a group of college friends who met in a dormitory every Friday night to celebrate the week's end and fortify themselves  for another soirée into the bars and clubs of Boulder, Colorado.  During their college years, these friends enjoyed a joyous romp through their adolescence; a romp fueled by alcohol, driven by a constant search for sexual conquests, and littered by mistakes and poor choices.  In addition to the club members, another principal looms large in the story, namely the alcohol.  Lurie asserts that "alcohol is the main character, culprit, mother, lover, therapist, hero and villain."

As the book begins, Davis Roberts, the narrator of the story is walking down the aisle on his wedding day and he is scared to death.  Ahead of him stands his bride to be, and in the congregation sit at least three women whom he bedded and who are in love with him.  One of them he still considers the love of his life.  He is badly hung over and still nursing the wounds he received during a violent and unexpected attack by a group of enraged strippers at his bachelor party.  Meanwhile, the moment of truth has arrived.  Should he forge ahead and marry his fiancé, thereby risking a possible death by boredom or should he abscond with the love of his life to enjoy a life of lust, passion, and uncertainty? Or perhaps he should simply walk away from it all and continue living his hedonistic life-style, filled with the proverbial wine, women, and song.  It is not until the very end of the book that the reader finds out what he decides to do.

 Lurie has an interesting style of writing which is an admixture of Joyce's stream of consciousness, Jack Kerouac's rambling narrative, and Henry Miller's puckish ability to combine sex and humor.  The dialogue is crisp and fast moving; and as far as I can tell, authentic.

Getting back to the disclaimer page, the last paragraph suggests that there may be a higher purpose for reading the book other than simply to get a good laugh.  I'll let the author have the last word.

"Whether you know this or not, these people are your friends, your lovers, or your family.  I guarantee that you know someone like one of those characters.  I guarantee that person has lived a life more interesting than all these characters combined.  I guarantee that if you didn't know that person then, you would hate who they were.  And I can guarantee that you love that person now." 

So there you have it.  Whether you are looking for a good laugh or a chance to reflect on your own adolescence, "The Friday Night Club" by Jacob Nelson Lurie is a damned good read!

Breaking Through Betrayal: And Recovering the Peace Within

Holli Kenley, MA
Loving Healing Press (2009)
ISBN 9781615990092
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (1/10)

Historically we have seen people and even whole cultures devastated by the act of betrayal.  Written in a compassionate voice, "Breaking through Betrayal," addresses the different types of betrayal, including relationship, cultural, financial, political, and environmental.  The author Holli Kenley, MA, describes three categories of betrayal and explains how we are affected by each.  She developed a five-part recovery process to help the reader to heal.  This process is very interactive and involves using the exercises and activities that are at the end of each chapter. 

We cannot fully heal from being betrayed until we are able to get past it.  By not doing anything to deal with our pain, these feelings constantly reoccur forcing us to keep reliving the incident. The pain will not go away by itself.  This can cause us to develop other disorders and issues.  Reading this book will help you understand what you are feeling.  It will also help you understand what others, who have been devastated by betrayal, are experiencing.  This was really eye opening to me.  Having been seriously betrayed more than once in my life; I gained a great understanding of my actions and feelings in dealing with the pain.  I also got a better understanding of why others that I know have reacted like they have.  Especially when I have seen people act really irrationally.  An example of this would be a woman who stays with an abusive or unfaithful partner.

In addition to people who are suffering from having been betrayed, I believe that clinician's who work with these people should also read this book so that they can fully understand how a person is seriously affected by this issue, and they can also help their client's utilize the recovery process. 

We must work on our own recovery.  We cannot wait for the person who has wounded us to see things from our perspective and change for us.  It won't happen, and it allows someone else to be in control of our own healing.  We need to take responsibility for our healing. This can be done by following the steps outlined in this book and participating in the activities.  The author also recommends frequently reassessing our feelings to see if where we are at in the recovery process so that we know what steps to take next.  I highly recommend "Breaking Through Betrayal: And Recovering the Peace Within."

Listen to interview on Inside Scoop Live