Monday, February 28, 2011

King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition

Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D.

Modern History Press (2011)
ISBN 9781615990665
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

There are probably very few of us who have not read at least some of the stories and legends featuring King Arthur, and marveled about the ideals of Camelot, which could easily be described as an utopian sort of early democracy. The round table, around which the knights could be seated in such a way that they were all equal, the romanticism, the idealism and magic of the Arthurian legends are rather timeless and very familiar to us. But just like with any other story about somebody who lived so long ago, the details and the truth are rather elusive.

Like so many others I've only ever heard of Mordred, Arthur's son, who tended to be portrayed as villain. Tyler R. Tichelaar changed my perception about that and added several interesting directions to explore. And this was just the beginning of the fascinating tale spun by Tyler R. Tichelaar.

The book is divided into four parts. Part I talks about Arthur's most plausible other children, the three sons mentioned in the Welsh sources – Gwydre, Amr and Llacheu. Part II is devoted to the mystery of Mordred. Was Mordred Arthur's son or nephew? Was he a villain or a great king whose crown Arthur tried to usurp? Part III delves into Arthur's descendants, including the possible link between Arthur and the English royal family and Arthur and the famous clan Campbell. As the author mentioned already in the Introduction, if Arthur indeed had children, and more importantly, if Arthur ever really existed – and who could say that he did not? - quite a few of us could be his descendants. Part IV was, in some ways, the most fascinating to me, talking about possible other children, mentioned in different works during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, as well as the modern fiction featuring Arthur and his children. It was this last part that truly made me realize how very present the Arthurian legends still are, and how relevant they are even in the 21st century.

While this is certainly a scholarly study, the author's writing style remains accessible to any reader who is curious about the subject of Arthur's potential children. Even a brief glance at the bibliography at the end of the book tells one about the depth and scope of the research Tyler R. Tichelaar had to perform to write this fresh, fascinating and exciting study. Eight pages of sources should provide even the most curious of readers with lots of additional reading, and the Index decidedly made looking for content of interest much easier when I decided to go back and re-read certain sections. I have thoroughly enjoyed "King Arthur's Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition," and I recommend it highly to any lover of Arthuriana.

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French Fries, Ice Cream, & Cucumber Sandwiches: A Poetic Memoir of a Journey with Alzheimer's

Nell Dale
CreateSpace (2010)
ISBN 9781452880396
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

In her book "French Fries, Ice Cream, & Cucumber Sandwiches" Nell Dale captures the essence of the roller coaster of emotions faced by the victims and caregivers of those facing the afflictions of Alzheimer's disease.

In brilliant patterns of poetic verse Nell describes her journey through the havoc and confusion brought about by the ominous diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Her poems relate the progression of her husband Al's cognitive decline. In vivid word pictures she tells of how she went through the stages of denial, loneliness, and of experiencing grief as she experienced the slow loss of her loved one…living but "gone."

Nell speaks of Al's unyielding need for complete attention. She shares keen observations on the unexpected, unpredictable and emotionally draining demands on the caregiver. Nell's willingness to become vulnerable by expressing her deepest thoughts and emotions add another level of credibility to her writing. Her journal entries and poems reveal an amazing spirit of gratitude and a positive attitude in the midst of the various stages of her journey. Throughout the narrative a mutual love and devotion between Nell and Al demonstrate the strength given and received as new challenges are met head on.

A fellow traveler with Nell, I am a caregiver in process. I am reminded of the need to maintain a healthy perspective, to avoid burnout by asking for help, and to accept the challenge a step at a time.

In a moving tribute to Al, Nell encapsulates highlights of his life by using dozens of photographs. They reflect his academic and career accomplishments, as a scientist, as well as his love for life and family. These color pictures add a significant depth to the reality of the impact of Alzheimer's on his life journey.

In this brilliantly written memoir Nell Dale shares insights into her own life as she faces each new challenge of Al's relapse into "childhood." She tells of her faith, her work, her family, and of caring for Al three years in their home. She relates the story of discovering Barton House and of the loving care Al received while a resident. Their story is heartwarming and compassionate. Though unique, it is representative of the growing number of families who are and will be facing Alzheimer's and other dementia related diseases.

"French Fries, Ice Cream, & Cucumber Sandwiches" is a powerful memoir.  Al's life is a tribute to all victims of this dread disease. Nell's story is an inspiration to every brave caregiver and those supporters who help them along the journey.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Awakening Consciousness: A Woman's Guide!

Robin Marvel
Marvelous Spirit Press (2010)
ISBN 9781615990641
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views


If you are a woman and know a little about energy, chakras, vibrations, auras, meditations, and spirituality, then "Awakening Consciousness: A Woman's Guide!" is for you.  I feel it's a book that would work well for any woman contemplating on expanding her wisdom and power through sources within herself. Thre workbook is simple, concise, and certainly not overwhelming for a beginner.

Robin Marvel presents to her reader ways to get in touch with the vibrational energy within, discover the aura, understand chakras, give self empowerment, recognize the messages in dreams, and much more. In her short and summarizing explanations, Marvel encourages the reader to expand her horizons and experiment with new concepts.  As well, she gives the reader the opportunity to write notes, messages, affirmations, or whatever needs to be written in the book itself.  In the end this book becomes a personal journal as well as an exercise venue.

All along during my reading and exercise journey I kept thinking that this book would work great in a group setting and sure enough, in Chapter 16, Marvel suggests just that. She also encourages using a talking stick in the group as well as how to make one.  I do believe that awakening consciousness is a very personal endeavor; however, I also believe that we need support from other women that have the same goals and aspirations to even take ourselves to a higher state of consciousness.

"Awakening Consciousness: A Woman's Guide!," by Robin Marvel, is one of those little books that you will always remember and keep in the back of your mind when you hear of someone wanting to delve into their consciousness, awaken it and take it to higher levels. This will be the book you will recommend because I certainly do.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

A Generation Awakes: Young Americans for Freedom and the Creation of the Conservative Movement

Wayne Thorburn

Jameson Books (2010)
ISBN 9780898031683
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

"A Generation Awakes" is an objective and comprehensive account of the history, philosophy, and objectives of the Young Americans for Freedom movement initiated, developed, and officially organized in the early 1960s. Wayne Thorburn is well qualified to author this objective account of the dramatic impact the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) has had on American politics over the last fifty years. He joined the organization in 1961 and served as executive director for the years 1971 – 1973.

The book details the activities of this group of conservative activists who took a stand against the liberalists who were espousing the New Deal in the post World War II years. They took a stand against Communism, took part in the Goldwater and Reagan campaigns, and established new conservative newspapers, and magazines, and opposed the stand taken by the Student for Democratic Society (SDS). Thousands of students have been influenced by YAF.

The influence of YAF still is being felt today as prominent former members have moved into positions of leadership in all sectors of American life. They have not only influenced conservative politics where they have served as campaign specialists and become members of Congress. They have made major contributions in forming policies in public service. They have brought about important conservative influences in the field of communications and media, and have established an important voice in academia. Their personal commitment to moral values has opened the door for them to play an important role in areas of religion. Many former members have become entrepreneurs and are making vital contributions in the world of finance, business, and industry.

I appreciated Thorburn's unbiased coverage of YAF's involvement in the issues relative to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy assassination, and the Viet Nam War. I also enjoyed the material Thornburg shared from the personal insights he learned through his own involvement in the organization.

Thorburn's writing is engaging, packed with a balance of political narrative, entertaining anecdotes. His careful attention to detail in historical content is brilliant. His work is thoroughly researched and well documented.

"A Generation Awakes" is highly endorsed for its historical accuracy, comprehensive detail and is destined to become an indispensable resource in the study of conservative politics in America. It is a major work on the history of the conservative movement and will be appreciated by all American history enthusiasts. A colossal accomplishment.

REPAIR for Toddlers: A Children’s Program for Recovery from Incest and Childhood Sexual Abuse

Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views

Marjorie McKinnon has done an excellent job developing an activity book for children ages 2-6 who have been a victim of incest or other sexual abuse. The book has bright, colorful pictures, explains feelings and gives prevention tips on what to do if someone tries to touch you and you don't like it.

This recovery book is intended for adults working with children. It gives children an opportunity to build their self-esteem and realize that it is not their fault that something like this happened. It is very easy to read and understand and has easy to follow activities.

The author starts out with defining what repair means; she then starts with each letter of the word repair and gives the parent (caregiver or therapist) and the child the opportunity to talk about the pictures and words. Along the way she provides children the opportunity to tell what they like or what they are good at. Too many times in a child's life there are "secrets" and this is discussed. There is an opportunity to draw pictures and I find that this is one of the best ways to get children to express their feelings.

One of the things I liked about this book is that McKinnon discusses and defines what the private areas are in a kid-friendly way.

After I read "REPAIR for Toddlers," I sat down with my six-year-old granddaughter and asked her to read it and tell me what she thought. She did respond to the activities and said she was glad the author described the real terms for the body parts. She also said she wanted to share this book with her school counselor.

This book and program can be used over and over, even a little at a time depending on the child. There was also an unwritten message for the parent(s) or guardian- maybe they felt guilty about what happened, but this book will help them too.

As a Psychologist, I think the program in "REPAIR for Toddlers" can be used in other areas of abuse, like physical, verbal or emotional.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

A First Guide to Space Creatures

Faiz Kermani
Lulu Publishing (2010)
ISBN 9780557748792
Reviewed by Evan Weldon (age 9) for Reader Views Kids

"A First Guide to Space Creatures" by Faiz Kermani is a humorous guide about creatures from around the galaxy that are under threat because of industrial pollution, inter-galactic travel, war, hunting, and other alien activities.  The book categorizes creatures into Furry, Small but Greedy, Smelly, Definitely Weird, On the Move, Endangered, and Very Dangerous.  Under each category there are details about three or four creatures and a color drawing of each one.

My favorite creature was the moonrock hound, an endangered species.  It used to be an alien pet but when the aliens left, they abandoned the hounds.  The alien government has put out advertisements looking for beings to adopt the hounds.  Unfortunately, it is kind of hard to find new owners for them because the moonrock hounds need to be walked seven times per night, they like to live in very cold and dark homes, and due to their huge diet they produce a green gas with a pungent and irritating odor.  Do you want to adopt one?

This is a very funny book and must have been a lot of fun for the author to write and to illustrate.  The names of the creatures were hilarious gobbledygook that sounded funny but made no sense.  Some creatures seemed based on earth animals.  For example the blue glod looked somewhat like a dog with an elephant trunk.

I would recommend "A First Guide to Space Creatures" to people who have a good sense of humor and who enjoy reading books about space creatures.  I think all my friends would like it.  After reading this book, I think people will be inspired to draw alien creatures.

ERIC II: The Encyclopedia of Roman Imperial Coins

Rasiel Suarez
Dirty Old Books™ (2010)
ISBN 9780976466413
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (12/10)

When I first received "ERIC II" for review, I went into overwhelm and wondered how I was going to give a book of near 1500 pages the justice it deserves. But, with a little persistence and a whole lot of interest I delved into it. I have to admit, for the purpose of this review I did not go through every page in detail but I do feel I read enough and perused the rest to give this book the kudos it is worthy of.

"This book chronicles the nature and evolution of the money made by the Romans and through the end of its spinoff civilization, the Byzantines." (p ii) Rasiel Suarez goes on further to tell us that "Most Roman coins feature religious or military themes," and they "came in many different denominations. The weight and metal type of each coin determined how much purchasing power each coin had." (p iii)  The historical aspects of coins in "ERIC II" were of much interest to me as I'm sure they will be to avid coin collecting buffs or historians.  As well, Suarez gives photographic examples of coins.  Crude as the coins may be, the images are clear and the reader can enjoy the vivid comparisons.

"ERIC II," in encyclopedia format, is easy to use.  Each ruler is defined by title and dates of reign, biography and plate of the bust. As well, Suarez provides reverse and obverse legends, mint location, metal type, references, and much more for the over 60,000 coins listed. Of particular interest to me was market pricing and I was amazed to see that these rare coins are sold on eBay and for what I felt a very reasonable price considering the age.  Others have auction prices which often are much more.

I must say that I am grateful I took on the challenge to review "ERIC II: The Encyclopedia of Roman Imperial Coins" because I have expanded my knowledge of ancient coins by a hundred fold. It is evident that Suarez is an expert on Roman Imperial coins and his passion comes through in his research. I'm sure the coin collecting community is elated with this book because the basic research has been done and provided to them. 

I can't imagine any other book on the market even comes close to being compared to "ERIC II: The Encyclopedia of Roman Imperial Coins." Rasiel Suarez, calling himself "just a geek," is to be commended and praised for offering his research to others.  I believe every national and international library, with English speaking patrons, should hold at least one copy of "ERIC II" as so should Roman coin collectors.

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