Monday, April 25, 2011

Women, War & Hypocrites: Studying the Qur’an

Robert A. Campbell
Cape Breton University Press (2010)
ISBN 9781897009536
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views (4/11)


Author Robert A. Campbell has provided an in-depth view of the verses of the Qur'an for readers who are interested in learning more about how translations from inception to contemporary times have evolved. His focus is particularly on the Fourth Surah which talks about women.

Really having no knowledge of the Qur'an other than media or comments from others, this reviewer found the book to be very detailed and informative. Although the author says readers don't need to have a great knowledge about the Qur'an prior to reading this book, some general knowledge would be helpful.

In the Introduction, the author talks about if one is not willing to learn about the Qur'an, their opinions will be shaped by others. He also relates that many of the general public want to know the actual content and how it guides, or doesn't guide, the beliefs and actions of today's Muslims.

The material is presented in four major chapters. The overview of this material talks about how the Qur'an came about, including a basic outline of shariah and the structure and content of the fourth surah. After reading these chapters, he states that readers can read any of the remaining chapters in whichever order they want.

The chapter on women was very interesting and the opinion could be controversial in some of the subject matter addressed such as: marriage, wife beating, lewdness, right of the husband and wife. This reviewer found this material very interesting.

This book is not something one can just breeze through. You really need to focus on what was being said and try to absorb the information before you move further on. The hardest part of reading the book was keeping all the history in one's mind, as well as the numerous views of translators on what the verses were actually saying. I found that making notes in the margins were helpful.

Overall, "Women, War & Hypocrites: Studying the Qur'an" was a very interesting read and very informative. The author provided every bit of information that one might want and do further research on. Each individual the author wrote about and their interpretations were quite an experience. We all perceive what we read and hear based on our own beliefs, cultural experiences and stereotypes of different cultures and religions.

Destined To Live, Despite Me: Biblical Truths for Suicide Survivors

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (4/11)


"Destined to Live, Despite Me: Biblical Truths for Suicide Survivors" is unique in that it is written from the perspective of a "suicide attempter." Author Yolanda Shanks' writing is based on true Biblical principles. She offers a compassionate message of hope at a time when suicide rates in our country continue to escalate.

Chapters One through Six look at questions or thoughts that are often prevalent in the thinking processes of one contemplating suicide: Questions like, "Why this void? Where is this pain coming from? Who am I? What are my options?

Yolanda is open and candid in relating her personal experiences. Her writing is authentic and bears evidence of an understanding of the brokenness that accompanies anyone considering suicide. Her work is highly endorsed by Pastors and Christian leaders. She advocates making an intentional and deliberate choice to live life to the fullest resulting in an experience of peace and freedom even in the midst of the difficulties and challenges that often seem insurmountable. She encourages the reader to recognize their need for a faith in the Creator, God, who promises to complete the work that He has begun in us.

Although Shanks recognizes the need for medical and psychological counseling, her approach is clearly on a spiritual level. Her message offers hope through an understanding of the Christian message, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yolanda balances the use of an easy conversational style with well-chosen scripture references, and narrative providing information and illustrative material, often probing and profound, always positive and articulate.

Yolanda advocates making an intentional and deliberate choice to live life to the fullest, a life resulting in an experience of peace and freedom even in the midst of difficulties and challenges which often seem insurmountable. She encourages the reader to recognize their need for a faith in the Creator, a God, who promises to complete the work which He has begun within us.

If you have ever seriously thought of suicide, made plans to commit suicide, or actually tried and failed in a suicide attempt, this book is for you. It can also be a source of inspiration and help to anyone concerned for a loved one showing signs of contemplating suicide.

"Destined to Live, Despite Me: Biblical Truths for Suicide Survivors" provides a blueprint for anyone on a personal quest for truth, wanting to overcome negative self-image, seeking renewal, and desiring a restructured life.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Return to the Desert

Dr. Jerry Burgener
iUniverse (2010)
ISBN 9781450205238
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"Return to the Desert" is the sequel to "Desert Journey."  In this adventure, Jerry continues on his spiritual path with lessons and guidance given to him by Tom, a Native American spirit guide.  On this journey, Jerry experiences past-life regression.  Freshly out of a relationship in which he felt betrayed, Jerry is able to make the connection between incidences that he did not clear up in his past lives with those that he is re-experiencing in this life.  As he progresses through his memories, he begins recognizing the connections between the different relationships and gains an understanding of how he needs to heal them, so that he will not keep reliving them.

Most of Jerry's regression memories involve experiences with a father who he felt abandoned him.  By not clearing up those negative feelings, he finds himself feeling betrayed again in a relationship with a woman.  Recognizing similarities between the two experiences, Tom helps him to figure out what he needs to do to heal so that he can move on with his life.  Jerry also has a friend named Sam who offers him some very sound, good advice.  Between Sam and Tom, Jerry is given a lot of things to think about.
"Return to the Desert" is beautifully told in vivid detail so that, as a reader, I felt like I was seeing Jerry's life directly through his eyes.  The settings were also beautifully described and Jerry's relationship with his horse, also added a special touch to what he had going on in his life because he knew that he could rely on her. His spiritual guide at times seemed very real, and at other times seemed to be an enigma.  I felt that this demonstrated that Jerry was progressing to the point where he could use his intuition to see the lessons that the guide had for him, especially since many of their contacts were in dream like states.
I gained some powerful insights from reading "Return to the Desert."  The first insight focused on the importance of clearing up past life issues so that we no longer have to relive them and so that they will not hinder our spiritual growth.  The second and third insight came to me at about the same time. I realized that it is important to clear up relationship issues in this life time so that I do not repeat the same mistakes in this life, as I have seen many people do, and also that I do not need to repeat them in future lives.  Jerry's story taught me to clean issues up now, so that they do not hinder my spiritual growth.  "Return to the Desert" is a wonderfully written story of a man's spiritual journey that will also have an impact on the reader's journey and spiritual growth.

The Bundle (Vic Fallon Mystery Series)

Tim Smith
eXtasy Books (2011)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

Ex-cop Vic Fallon quickly finds himself in way over his head when he reluctantly agrees to bodyguard a celebrity. He agrees to do this to pay back a favor to her lawyer, who is his friend. The pop singer Kimberly Daniels has come to Cleveland to promote her latest album.  She is also returning to the place of her roots.  Expecting her to be shallow and demanding, Vic is pleasantly surprised when he discovers that she is not. She is very beautiful, sexy, and appears to be quite attracted to him.  He is fine with this part of the job, however, shortly after her arrival things get tense when she receives a death threat from a stalker who seems to have a connection to her estranged family.

Vic finds himself using his detective skills and former professional connections to try to figure out who and why someone would be after Kimberly.  As he investigates the case, he sees a connection between an extortion attempt by someone threatening to reveal secrets from her youth, and the person stalking her now.  He and Kimberly also explore their attraction to each other while engaging in some very explicit sensual scenes. 

When the extortionist gives Vic 36 hours to come up with a million dollars, Vic is under the gun to keep Kimberly safe while he solves this mystery.  He also has to figure out what to do with his feelings for a woman who lives far away and who he knows will complicate his comfortable life of solitude.

I totally enjoyed reading "The Bundle." The author Tim Smith has done a great job creating characters that are very realistic, yet also unusually appealing. Vic is portrayed as a rugged ex-cop who demonstrates that he has some values. Kimberly is seen as an attractive woman who has had a painful past that she has not allowed to weaken her.  Nor has she allowed her fame to ruin her. The sensual scenes between the two are beautifully written, and perfectly illustrate the evolving attraction and emotion between them.  There are other side characters in the story that help set the background and provide some comic relief. 

I also found the mystery aspect of the drama to be well written, and very well thought out.  I appreciate how Tim Smith connects different aspects of the heroine's life to tie the clues together so that Vic is able to discover their connections as the he also learns about her past.  

I highly recommend "The Bundle" to readers who enjoy some romance and sensuality mixed in with a good mystery.  This was the first novel that I had the pleasure of reading by this author, and I know for sure it will not be my last.   

Monday, April 11, 2011

Clip-Clop, Tippity-Tap: French Vocabulary on the Farm

Kim Chatel

Guardian Angel Publishing (2011)
ISBN 9781616331368
Reviewed by Cayden Aures (age 6.5) for Reader Views Kids

In "Clip-Clop, Tippity-Tap" all of the animals on the farm have different jobs that they have to do every day.  There is a little horse and his name is Mini-Moi.  He isn't even close to as big as the other horses.  All of the other horses do things like pull wagons and help the farmer plow.  Mini-Moi is too little to do those things.  He is pretty sad about that but in the end he finds something he can do.  That is good because I think that there is always something that somebody can do even if they are little.

I liked that I learned some different words in French from reading "Clip-Clop, Tippity-Tap."  It was sometimes hard to figure out how to say them though.  Even mom had trouble.  Some of the words were easy to say like for bird in French it says oiseau (wazo).  But some of the others where it says how to say it had things like buisson (bɥisɔ̃) for bush.  I really didn't have any idea what that meant in the parentheses.  It sounds kind of like the word is spelled though.  We did listen to how to say the words on the computer though for the ones I wanted to know.  It was fun to learn new words.  My favorite one we learned was poulet, which is chicken in French.    

The Imprint Journey: A Path of Lasting Transformation Into Your Authentic Self

Liliane Desjardins

Loving Healing Press (2011)
ISBN 9781615990870
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

There has never been any doubt in my mind that we are all products of our environment as well as of our genetics. And both of those factors, whether we like it or not, lead us to some rather peculiar behavioral patterns or, probably even more accurately, the repeating patters of such behavior. What has never been quite clear to me though was exactly why and how we keep repeating such actions, which are all too oftentimes very destructive and/or self-destructive. The best answer I've found so far is the one provided by Liliane Desjardins in her book "The Imprint Journey," which I have been privileged to read before it was even published.

What exactly are imprints? Let me quote the author herself. "You might wonder what are IMPRINTS: they are our emotional map, the deep-seated beliefs and values stored in our brain's limbic system. In spite of everything we know, our imprints govern our life at the subconscious level." If you are anything like me, this would be enough to make you curious. Do yourself a favor and delve deep into "The Imprint Journey," even if you usually do not read self-help books. I bet you will be amazed at how often the book will strike a nerve, and how many of those will be very, very raw indeed.

"The Imprint Journey" starts with a deeply personal, courageous and touching personal story, in which the author tells us about her early childhood in what is today Croatia, and what was back then war-torn Yugoslavia, followed by the untimely death of her mother, the immigration path leading her family to France and later to Canada, her struggle to find her true self and the dysfunctional life she led, all the way to a suicide attempt which resulted in a near-death experience and a gradual change in attitude adjustment.

Following the rather chilling first part is Part II, which provides one with a deeper understanding of what imprints are, how they are created and maintained and how they can – and should! – be changed so that an individual can be transformed and reach the Authentic Self. The techniques are illustrated by a series of true life stories from a variety of subjects, who dealt with many kinds of adversity and addictions.

Never judgmental, never preachy and never overly technical, "The Imprint Journey" is one of those rare books that will make you think and re-evaluate who you are and why you are acting the way you are. If you are lucky, you will gather enough courage to deal with the issues that bother you. All the tools are there, you just need to find the courage to make that first step...

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Monday, April 4, 2011

The Bridge Club… was never just about the cards

Patricia Sands

iUniverse (2010)
ISBN 9781450241359
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

At the first glance "The Bridge Club" with its title and the retro-looking pink and black cover did not look too promising. I don't play or understand bridge, and pink has never been my favorite color. But I am so glad I picked this one up! My first clue should have been the little note on the cover itself, saying, "….. it was never just about the cards." And while bridge runs throughout the book, it certainly is not the most important part of the story.

Where should I start, without giving away too much of the story? Maybe with a quick quote from the book itself… "The Bridge Club: eight women, just over their sixty-year speed bump. They were never anything remotely resembling Desperate Housewives or Ya-Ya candidates but simply great friends since their footloose days of finding the way through their early twenties. During those heady days of the mid to late 1960s they had, in various combinations, lived, worked, studied, traveled, and certainly partied together."

Here you have it, the framework of an amazing story of enduring friendship of the best kind, one that stands the test of time and is always supportive, even when things get really bad and some tough love is the only possible solution.

Ms. Sands wrote a convincing and heart-warming story of a diverse group of women who found out that the one true constant in their lives was this group of friends, always there to support, to advise, to console or prod them along, no matter what life threw their way. There to party, there to help, there to commiserate, there to admonish – no situation too small or too big, too ugly or too unusual for them to handle. Eight separate stories, one for each of the members of the club, dealing with a variety of truly life-changing, very realistic situations of different kinds, set the stage for the final, ninth story. This is the one that will test all of their beliefs again, and since I truly do not want to even hint at the ending, let me simply say that I love the unconventional way Ms. Sands dealt with the identity of the heroine of this last story.

I absolutely loved "The Bridge Club..." It made me enormously grateful for the friends that I have, and for the things I've experienced and places I've been to. It made me realize again how important female friendships are for us women, and how nothing else can really take their place. Great writing, great story and for certain one you'll want to share with your own friends!

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