Monday, November 29, 2010

End Game: Irrational Acts, Tragic Consequences (Book III in the Antarctic Murders Trilogy)

Theodore Jerome Cohen
AuthorHouse (2010)
ISBN 9781456710033                
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

 

"End Game" is the third and final book in Theodore Jerome Cohen's series the "Antarctic Murders Trilogy." The fictional story is based on actual events which took place in history.

Earlier books in the series describe in detail a robbery from the vault of the Banco Central de Chile in Talcahuano. Millions of dollars in cash, negotiable securities, gold coins, and jewelry were stolen. The incident involves members of the crew of the Chilean auxiliary fleet tug Lientur. The Trilogy takes place over a five-year period following the Chilean Earthquake of May, 1960, while the third book takes place only in 1965.


Dr. Grant Morris and Ted Stone, from the University of Wisconsin, members of the 16th Chilean Expedition to the Antarctic, played an intricate role in "Frozen in Time: Murder at the Bottom of the World." They now return in this final installment of the series. In an ambitious attempt by Captain Roberto Muñoz of the Lientur to cover up earlier crimes of theft, murder, and deception, Morris and Stone suddenly find their lives are in jeopardy.

Captain Mateo Valderas and his associate, Lieutenant-Commander Antonio De Rio, both of the Chilean Navy's Office of Internal Affairs, have met their match in Captain Muñoz, the Number One suspect of the Banco Central de Chile robbery. He is also the major suspect in a series of related murders. In a masterful technique of plotting, Cohen conveys a tension building drama of international intrigue.


The accompanying maps of Chilean Antarctic bases found on the North Antarctic Peninsula, the country of Chile, and France as well as a striking collection of photos of Iglesia de San Francisco, and the Teatro Municipal of Santiago, Chile, add another dimension to the reader's enjoyment of a complex plot that involves action on three continents.


As in his first book, "Full Circle," Ted takes the reader on an amazing journey through the world of orchestral music. "End Game" will awaken a latent gift for music appreciation in fans of the genre of mystery and suspense while adding a whole new world of drama and adventure to the music lover.


Theodore Jerome Cohen utilizes a style of suspense writing which builds anticipation and tension in the reader that calls for interaction, involvement, and emotional response. There is something unique and unexplainable in his writing style that becomes addictive, and is certain to attract an ever increasing base of Cohen fans.


"End Game: Irrational Acts, Tragic Consequences" is informative and entertaining. Cutting-edge drama and suspense, revealing characters and convincing dialog provide "The Antarctic Murders Trilogy" with all the elements of a cutting-edge, award-winning, best-selling novel.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

2012: The Year of The Changes

Fabio R. de Araujo
International Alliance Pro-Publishing (2010)
ISBN 9781609420246
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

 

For centuries there has been a curiosity about the reality of prophecies. In recent years a new interest in the Mayan calendar which predicts 2012 as the date of the end of era on earth has become a popular point of discussion.  Population explosion, global warming, war in the Middle East, and the recent election results in the U. S. and in Russia have created a surge of speculation on end-time prophecies, authentic and fabricated.

Fabio R. de Araujo has studied ancient prophecies, premonitions, and history for the last twenty years. He has thoroughly researched the works of Nostradamus, the Jewish Talmud, as well as writings going back as far as the 16th century.


De Araujo's book "2012: The Year of The Changes" details prophecies about U. S. president Barack Obama, Russian president Vladimir Putin, and other political leaders. He relates prophecies concerning global warming, World War III, and acts of nature which will impact every nation on our planet. De Araujo records his analysis of prophecies that have been translated from many languages, various origins, ancient and contemporary that foretell events leading to the year 2012. The Nostradamus prophecies regarding Obama and Putin were intriguing. 


The reader is invited to view de Araujo's writing as "nothing more than a curious compilation of prophecies about an American President, about a Russian President, and other issues related to the United States." However, he points out that there has never been a time in history when a U. S. President and a Russian President there have had so many prophecies and predictions as there are today. Other prophecies brought to light point to an economic crisis, the anticipated Jewish Messiah, a Muslim Messiah, and Russia's involvement in World War III.


I found myself fascinated with "The Roosevelt-Obama Spiritualism prophecy." The author cites, quotes and documents dozens of recent articles from reputable journals, magazines, newspapers, and internet news services on the subject. Climate change, global catastrophe, and International conflict, as well as signs of prophecies concerning end-of-the-world events have attracted the interest of political leaders, serious thinkers, theologians, environmentalists, scientists, and economists.


All are concerned and have various opinions and agendas regarding alerting the public with warnings derived from religious sources, from data showing historical and economic cycles.  There are implications from mathematical formulae and scientific evidence that indicate the relationship of these prophecies to current events and to the inevitable crisis facing the world today.


De Araujo's writing is articulate. His work is well researched, informative, and provocative. "2012: The Year of The Changes" is an amazing combination of prophecies, premonitions, historical fulfillment and speculations of things to come.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Vivian’s Song

Tom Pointer
CreateSpace (2009)
ISBN 9781442106000
Reviewed by Marty Shaw for Reader Views (10/10)

 

"Vivian's Song" will catch you by surprise. The book basically starts towards the middle of the story. A state senator, Charles Wentworth, is informed that a cult leader and his followers are moving to the quiet, little town of Bandicoot, Missouri. The good senator is shocked and outraged, and we can't help but feel a little sympathy for the guy. Then, an interesting thing happens. The author takes us back in time to see how William Joseph 'Duke' Tanner becomes the manipulative leader of a cult. This trip back in time allows us to see that Duke is just a normal cowboy from Texas. He's a good-hearted and good-natured guy whose unique views on the world, combined with his dissatisfaction of traditional religion, leads him to form a unique system that some others mistakenly view as a new religion. Duke's goal is simple. He wants to show people how to make money and find happiness, while making money and finding happiness himself.


He's aided in his quest by his wife, Melody Birdsong. Like Duke, Melody has led an interesting life that's had its fair share of up's and down's. When the two literally bump into each other, it seems like destiny has drawn them together. Duke and Melody are soon joined by other colorful characters, each one a friend or acquaintance from Duke's past. A real estate venture leads to all of them living in the same area, which they jokingly refer to as 'The Compound.' Duke's business has grown beyond even his wildest dreams and when he decides it's time to find a new location, Melody's spirit guide, a bird named Vivian, leads them to Bandicoot.


By the time we catch up to where the book started, we're able to see things from a new perspective. Duke isn't the evil cult leader that a few select individuals see him as, and the 'good' senator's motives become questionable. The two large personalities are headed for a collision that will provide laughs through almost every turn of the page towards the end of the book. The imaginative use of acronyms to get various points across, while still maintaining levity, is one of the most hilarious points in the book.

I wasn't entirely thrilled with such in-depth backgrounds being provided on so many characters. We naturally need the whole story on Duke but I feel that a few people, Melody included, could have done with just a few paragraphs of information, instead of an in-depth biography.


Even with the extra character information, the book maintained a steady pace and kept me interested through the whole story. Entertaining, humorous, and a little thought provoking, "Vivian's Song" will leave you intrigued and amused.



Words of a Journey: My Thoughts on Life and Living

Kaitlyn Kashman
Modern History Press (2011)
ISBN  9781615990528
Reviewed by Theresa La (age 16) for Reader Reviews Kids


Life.  A four-letter word that sounds so simple, but it's only a disguise for the true rollercoaster that life is.  The teenage years are one of the most difficult periods of life to navigate.  Many times problems become too personal to talk about with parents and friends.  Many times these problems can weigh you down and it's difficult to know how to cope with these problems.  This book is about the life of a teenager and her reflections and the way in which she has dealt with them.  There are also inspirational quotes about what she observes around her and the emotions and thoughts that are connected with those observations.  There are also many interesting thoughts that give a new perspective on things that have become such an integral part of life that many people now take for granted.  This book helps the reader to take a step back from a busy and disturbed life to reorganize priorities and reevaluate their lives.


This book came at a perfect time in my life.  Summer is ending and I have an overload of homework to do. As I was reading this book to review, it helped calm me down and helped to see the bigger picture.  I like the title of this book.  I liked how each of the pages had a lined page across from it so that the reader could reflect on his/her thoughts as the same time.  I really enjoyed reading all the short stories and reflections and many of these reflections could relate to many people.  My favorite quote was "Our biggest fear in life is to fail, but failure can sometimes be the best thing. We learn from every mistake and we achieve great things because of them. "This is certainly true as the pressure rises each day to for students to get into the best colleges, the top schools."  However with this quote, it reminds me that failure has led to some of the greatest achievements and with every mistake that we make, we could learn a lot and those mistakes could change our lives.  I would suggest that, if possible, the author include a possible quote from a famous person who echoes the same thought or a quick short story of someone who was successful and embodies the same reflection that Kaitlyn has. This story reminds me much of the "Chicken Soup for the Teenage Souls," but I can connect to this one more because it's more female-oriented and I can relate to these stories better. I would suggest this to any teenager, especially any female teenager who is feeling the stress of life and wants to know that someone else has also gone through the same problems and how they dealt with the problem.  This was a motivational book and an inspiring read!  This book has a great format.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Kaleidoscope: An Asian Journey of Colors

Sweta Srivastava Vikram
Modern History Press (2010)
ISBN 9781615990344
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (09/10)

 

I love Sweta Vikram's ability to create a colorful pattern of words that describe many aspects of a Hindu woman's life, both in sorrow and happiness, from birth to death.  "Kaleidoscope: An Asian Journey of Colors" is her second chapbook of musings.
Touching the heart of women, Vikram gives us an opportunity to reflect within ourselves to deepen our own understanding of life.  In the introduction Vikram says "The color she adorns herself with almost depicts the story of her life. (For instance, widowhood cries white and green conveys conception.)" Although each culture has its own interpretation of color, a woman from any culture can resonate with the words Vikram so gracefully carved:
Poetry in Flowers

With feet like petals of daffodils
dipped in almond milk.
Mind, a butterfly nudged
by the toothed leaves of Buttercup.
I dash to chase the breeze
of daisies singing melodies.
Vikram's wordsmithing is outstanding.  I have read much poetry and have never seen such creativeness as that of this author. She allows her words to flow with rhythm and deepness.  The wisdom that comes through her is beyond any I've seen.  She best describes it as:
...the round of turmeric
in the sky serenades me with its color
and tulips sing rhythmic words of poetry.
"Kaleidoscope" by Sweta Srivastava Vikram is like tulips sing[ing] rhythmic words of poetry. Sensational!

The Shaman Speaks: How to Use the Power of Shamanism to Heal Your Life Now

Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls
Marvelous Spirit Press (2010)
ISBN 9781615990078
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (10/10)

 

Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls has a 400-year old heritage of Shamanism that has been passed down to her by her Shaman Grandmother.  Practicing Traditional Shamanism for over fifty years, Shaman Elder Maggie is now passing her knowledge to those that have an interest in this pagan principle of healing.  Over the years of using her healing skills on others, as well as teaching and counseling, she has been asked thousands of questions. Although all important, Shaman Elder Maggie has chosen forty questions and provides answers in "The Shaman Speaks" - answers that most aspiring Shamans, or those seeking healing, would have.
One of the most common questions is "Why study Shamanism?"  Her answer is lengthy, but to summarize, she says "Healing the spirit is the primary function of a Shaman."  This can be done through soul-retrieval, soul restoration, hands-on healing, herbal healing, dreamwork and soul leading.  Shaman Elder Maggie continues to say "Each of us has one or more of these gifts buried somewhere inside our spirits."
On the flip-side, the answer to "I have the sensation of swimming or flying up to a different point in time" is "this...has been happening to more and more people as we move along the spiral of earth changes.  It happens because there is a message for you in that place you are swept away to."  She continues to say these are astral journeys and that we are to look for the messages that are there for us. They are lessons for our growth.
I found the questions interesting and in many cases felt I would have had the same ones if I was sitting with Shaman Elder Maggie and talking to her.  In fact, the writing is much like she is talking; not only does she answer the question but she often tells a story of her own experience or relates to a situation.  Her voice is gentle, peaceful, and with a tone of spirituality. 
I feel "The Shaman Speaks" would be ideal reading for anyone wanting to learn more about Traditional Shamanism.  Although each one of us has the ability to become a Shaman, not all of us are destined to do so in this lifetime.  Those that are called to become Shamans will find their teacher and Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls' "The Shaman Speaks" may be the catalyst that opens up the spirit to move forward and let the healer out.
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Homeless Narratives & Pretreatment Pathways: From Words to Housing

Jay S. Levy, MSW, LICSW
Loving Healing Press (2010)
ISBN 9781615990269
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views (09/10)

 

This is one of the best guides I have read about working with the underserved and homeless. I wonder why all cities don't put it into place. Quite frankly, I get tired of hearing professionals say they are overworked and underpaid. How we approach our homeless can definitely make a difference. Sometimes it's not in the techniques, but in the attitude of the case manager.
As the author says "It was equally clear that many of the most severely impaired were unwilling to 'accept' their illness under the terms and conditions imposed by housing programs with strict eligibility requirements." In addition, this is the life the individuals live regardless of we like it or not, or point fingers. Change is very hard for them. When someone gets into the homeless individuals' face and starts spouting what they should do, naturally they are going to back off and you may lose them forever.
The author discusses two types of the underserved. Those who live under bridges and in the woods who would come in occasionally to get help. These individuals are often not treated for their mental illness and/or substances abuse and had serious medical problems. The other group was those who are high profile. These individuals have difficulty in homeless shelters, have conflicting behaviors with what society feels is "normal." It seems as if we cannot come up with a term that will describe chronic homelessness.
An important point the author made was regarding pretreatment. Whenever anyone approaches the homeless on the street or in the shelter it must be made carefully, not too quickly and with compassion and understanding. They must be able to see how we interact with others in a shelter or on the street and take little steps. Pretreatment is important in safety and enhancements, from painful bleeding feet to getting a warm winter coat and shoes.
Throughout the book, the author describes in detail homeless individuals he or his organization has come into contact with. It really gives you a look at how these individuals do not trust the government or anyone in power, regardless of their reasoning. This is a process that takes time; it is not an overnight cure. Trust is very important, along with speaking the same language the client does.  Client-centered work is also very important- it's not what we want, but what the client sees as a need at any given time.
Overall, "Homeless Narratives & Pretreatment Pathways" was very enlightening and full of compassion and caring. You can tell the author, along with others, has changed the direction to working with the homeless. Anyone in the helping field will do a great disservice to themselves if they do not read this book.

The Everyday Housewife: Murder, Drugs, and Ironing

Bryan Foreman
iUniverse (2010)
ISBN 9781450234726
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (09/10)

 

What do you do when you are a thirty-eight-year-old housewife, from Oklahoma, with a husband who can't keep his hands off another woman, a daughter who can't keep her hands off of food, and a teenage son who publically can't keep his hands off himself?  Well, you can put up with it and pretend like it isn't happening, or you can hop on a bus to New York City and explore your aspirations to be a published author.
In "The Everyday Housewife," that is exactly what Katharine Beaumont did, only things turned out to be a lot different then she expected. First of all, she discovers that you can't just show up at a literary agent's office with a handwritten story in a notebook.  Secondly, she learns about how high rent is in New York City, even if the apartment comes complete with unruly spiders and cockroaches.  She also discovers why some apartments come furnished. I don't want to give that one away, but it was an eye opener!
Katharine also learns about the fine art of waitressing, when she finds that she has to get a job to pay the rent. Books don't get published as quickly as she expects.  She also gains some interesting new friends.  One is a sensitive hitman/bartender and the other is a crackhead neighbor who is always fighting with her pimp lover.  Yes, for Katharine things are very different in New York City versus the suburbs of Oklahoma. 
Katharine also graciously shares the novel that she is working on with us. Truly a bodice ripping tale, it is like none that I have ever read before. Actually, "The Everyday Housewife" is also like no fictional novel that I have ever read before.  I think that the author, Bryan Foreman, threw out all the standard rules on how to write fiction.  As a result of this, "The Everyday Housewife," is one of the most unexpectedly entertaining novels that I have had the pleasure of reading.  In this story, and the story within the story, nothing is as it should be, and I found myself totally unable to guess what was going to happen next.  What a refreshing change from the usual fictional formats!
I highly recommend "The Everyday Housewife" to readers who are feeling the need to "get away from it all!" It might make you think twice about doing so, or at least distract you enough to forget that you have the need to go.