Monday, August 29, 2011

Stealing Angel

Terry Wolverton

Spinsters Ink (2011)
ISBN 9781935226451
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

After Maggie Seaver's lover Yoli leaves her, she continues to be a mother figure to Angel, a child that was conceived while Yoli was cheating on Maggie. Knowing that Angel is a blessing in her life, Maggie loves her as if she had given birth to her.  Angel, now seven, calls Maggie "Maggiemama."

As Yoli pursues a career in music, she also hooks up with a lot of unsavory characters whom she hopes can help to further her career. This does not sit well with Maggie because she worries about these people hurting Angel. After Yoli removes Angel from Maggie's care, at the directive of her latest boyfriend, Maggie gets a call from Angel's teacher.  Rather than contact authorities and have Angel become a potential victim of the system, the teacher calls Maggie to let her know that Angel is being hurt. When Maggie arrives at Angel's school and sees her bruises, she rashly decides to take off with her. 

She hopes to get Angel out of the United States and down to The Light Beings, a religious commune in Baja California, without being caught.  As they venture down into Mexico, Maggie does everything she can to protect both of them.  Relying on others from her religious group Maggie gets some help along the way.  Venturing down into Baja California, below where the American tourists usually go, Maggie is seeking Guru Tam, whom she hopes can help guide her to make the right choices for Angel.

When Maggie arrives in the place where she believes that the commune is located nearby, she discovers that American way of life has been extended down to this part of Mexico and that with satellite television people will know that she is being sought, and might be willing to turn her in for the reward.  When Maggie finds her way to the Light Beings, she learns that Guru Tam is very ill, and she also sees that the people living there are not as friendly as the ones that she left behind in Los Angeles.  Having to rely purely on her faith as the situation escalates, Maggie discovers more of the truth about these people and how much they can really help her.  She also learns who her true friends really are.

"Stealing Angel" tells an incredible story of a woman who learns to seek the answers from the truth that she holds within herself first, before she seeks it from others.  Maggie's inner dialogue contains a great deal of wisdom from which all readers will benefit and find a great deal of material for journaling.  I loved reading this story because it tells the tale of a woman on a journey that will teach her to trust the voices within herself and to discover her sacred gifts. This is definitely a "must read" book.

Listen to Live interview on Inside Scoop Live

The Human Hologram: Living Your Life in Harmony with the Unified Field

Dr. Robin Kelly
Energy Psychology Press (2011)
ISBN 9781604150629
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

I found it incredibly refreshing to read "The Human Hologram."  By demonstrating how modern science and ancient wisdom are connected, Dr. Robin Kelly presents a convincing argument to explain his theory that we are living in a holographic universe.    To support his theory, he provides us with Ten Guiding Principles of the Human Hologram.  The Fourth Principle, "Modern scientific and mathematical theory lends support to the theory that our universe is holographic. It follows that we, as part of the universe, must also be holographic. Modern Science acknowledges that pure information is fundamental to our universe."  What this means to us, as both humans and holograms, is that we are actually able to play an active role in co-creating our future. In doing so, by combining our knowledge of modern science and the ideals of ancient wisdom, we can connect to a unifying field of consciousness that will enable us to transform our health and our environment.

In explaining how he arrived at this idea, Dr. Kelly heavily expounds upon scientific processes.  Having personally read many books that put a lot of emphasis on metaphysical ideas while throwing some scientific jargon in, I was pleased to see that Dr. Kelly utilizes his obviously extensive knowledge of natural physical laws and constants to show how "The Human Hologram" can be a reality. 

While "The Human Hologram" presents a lot of complex ideas, Dr. Kelly presents it in a way that I was able to follow, even though my last science class was fifteen years ago! I felt that this book was beautifully written and I loved how the author showed that both eastern and western medicine can be connected. Utilizing a great deal of explanations, diagrams, case studies, compassion and a touch of humor, I totally enjoyed reading this book, and was excited to see that scientists are heading us in a direction where as individuals we will be encouraged to play a more active role in taking responsibility for our health and transforming our lives.     

Read interview with Dr. Robin Kelly       

Monday, August 22, 2011

Boiled Peanuts: A Peeping Tom Goes Nuts Over A Blind Girl

John Patrick Doyle
Copperhill Media (2011)
ISBN 9780983280064
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

Paul Kirk doesn't have much of a life.  As a youth, he lost his mother to MS and his father, was and still is an alcoholic.  The few times in his life where he did try to participate in normal social interactions, he usually felt like a fool and had to blunder his way through. It didn't help that his peers were not very kind to him.
Never feeling comfortable with socially interacting with others, even from a young age, Paul found it easier to be a Peeping Tom.  He wasn't your typical perverted peeper. He just found it easier to watch other people engaging in their lives while just imaging that he had a role in their families. 

As an adult, Paul is a librarian. This allows him to continue to live quietly, yet still be involved with knowing the town people.  He is able to track them through his resources as a librarian.  While they might not know who he is, he knows who they are.  When Paul accidentally is identified as doing a heroic deed, he is forced into becoming more sociable.  He does his best to participate in these interactions. Then one day, while at church, he meets the beautiful Bronwyn, who recently inherited a home from her deceased Aunt Phyllis.  Paul falls for Bronwyn.

Bronwyn finds Paul endearing, but he doesn't realize this at first, so he goes back to his Peeping Tom ways and imagines himself a part of her life.  When Paul stumbles into a situation where he has to warn a local woman that she is being conned, he ticks off the conman.  Not knowing where to find Paul, he goes after Bronwyn.  This forces Paul to step out from behind his wall and become more involved. When Bronwyn lets Paul in on some family secrets regarding her Aunt Phyllis, he is excited to be involved in helping to solve her mystery. 

I absolutely loved reading "Boiled Peanuts!" I found myself relating to Paul's angst so many times in the story. While my own situations were never as extreme, I did feel a connection with him.  The story is also full of quirky, eccentric characters who add so much humor to the drama.  I also enjoyed the complexity of the mystery behind Aunt Phyllis. "Boiled Peanuts" is definitely not a typical fiction book, and when you find out how the name ties into the story, you will laugh out loud like I did!

Pacha's Pajamas: A Story Written by Nature

Aaron Ableman
BALANCE Edutainment (2011)
Reviewed by Madeline McElroy (age 10) and Sophia McElroy (age 8) for Reader Views

Madeline: A young girl named Pacha loves to go visit her dad at work at the zoo. She loves to help him feed, and wash the animals. She spends all day there and loves animals. When she comes home, her mom has a surprise for her. She gives her homemade pajamas with animals on them! There is a hummingbird, a whale, a mushroom, a tree, and a jaguar. She puts them on and hops into bed. While sleeping, she has a dream with all of the animals from her pajamas in it. Another surprise, in her dream, the animals could talk!

A hummingbird was flying around, then a whale came out of the water, a mushroom hopped along, a jaguar stalking, and a tree standing before them all. They were all discussing how bad the earth is getting and how humans ruining their habitats. The whale said, "Every time I turn around, there is a piece of plastic!" The hummingbird said, "There isn't enough flowers for me to drink nectar." The jaguar said, "They are cutting down my lands to make shopping malls!" The mushroom said, " The dirt is too dry! I won't be able to grow!" And the tree sighed and said, "They are cutting down my friends and family, we keep the earth breathing." They all sat there for a while and then they thought of an idea. They wanted to bring all different types of animals and nature to a big gathering in a arena and discuss how to make it better.

The end will make you want to help the earth too! This book is good for young and grown-up kids and adults too. It teaches you how to make the earth better, and when you make the earth better, everyone feels better too.

Sophia: This is a story about a girl named Pacha. She visits the zoo very often and helps her dad with the animals. Then one day Pacha's mom gave her some homemade pajamas with animals on them. Then she went into bed and drifted off to sleep. She had a dream about the animals on her pajamas, a humming bird, a beautiful whale, a spotted jaguar, a mushroom, and a talking tree. Pacha in her dream was disguised as a gorilla. And you know what else? The animals and mushroom and tree could talk! You don't see that in jungles, oceans, and gardens! And the animals decided to do a concert and there were singing people like a beaver named Just in Time. But when Pacha (the gorilla in disguise) was doing an act and her mask fell off when she was bowing, everyone gasped and said, "It's a human!"

Pacha's Pajama's Single

Madeline: It has a very good beat and I like the raps. I like the tambourine playing in the background and the other instruments. It is a good song and it's fun to listen to if you feel like dancing or just want some loud relaxing music. I like how it is like, pop, hip- hop, and just calm too. It would be good to dance with and it would be fun to listen to at like a party or a get together. It is a good song and it really relates to the book.

Sophia: I really liked this song, it was funny!

Listen to Live interview on Inside Scoop Live

Read interview with Aaron Ableman

Monday, August 15, 2011

your new look

I like it!!!

Kingdom in the Balance

Debra Killeen

Helm Publishing (2011)
ISBN 9780983010937
Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age 14) for Reader Views Kids

"Kingdom in the Balance" by Debra Killeen is the story of several kingdoms that are plunged into chaos by the demise of their rulers.  Several kingdoms threaten war, and others attempt and fail to withdraw from the oncoming events.  Connected by marriage, royals are unwillingly thrust into battles they would otherwise avoid.  Everything depends on the outcome of these individual battles between royals.  They are truly kingdoms in the balance.

When the King of Esterlyn was found dead, killed by disease, chaos ensued.  Also on this dark day the two-year-old King of Wyckendom was found murdered in his bed.  And then, to make matters worse, the Prince of Esterlyn, due to be crowned, was abducted by a vicious band of vagabonds interested only in helping a more distant evil prince ascend to the throne.  Four friends from a nearby duchy set out to find the missing heir.  But with many obstacles in their path, will they find the missing prince before he is killed?

For all the fighting that went on in this book, there was little blood.  It was almost all verbal sparring and threats.  The verbal sparring made it rather complex as you would have to mentally connect the previous threats to get the full message.

The book made for an interesting read as I was able to learn a little about how the medieval feudal system worked with respect to inheriting the throne.  The book was somewhat confusing and had about four different plot lines all going at once.  These plot lines include things like an unknown heir unexpectedly showing up and royalty unwilling to renounce their king.  Several characters had dalliances which some parents might find inappropriate for young readers.       

I would recommend "Kingdom in the Balance" to people who like books centered on a very politically-based storyline.  This was the fifth book in a series and I highly recommend that you read the preceding books first.  I had not read the previous books and had a hard time understanding several things that required knowing information from the other books.  This was a rather slow book, but became much more interesting towards the end and I began to enjoy it very much.

Target Sitting

Cathy Travis
Kindle Digital Publishing (2011)
ASIN: B00599S9GY
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

The last seven years of Cathy Travis's twenty-five years of service working on Capitol Hill were incredibly stressful due to being a "target sitter" for terrorists.  Prior to the 911 attacks security on the "Campus" was always a concern because the Capital Building would be a prime choice for terrorists to attack to gain maximum worldwide exposure.  Concerns about how these attacks could occur were thought of and discussed however; it wasn't until 911 that reality struck so close to home.  Literally.

Knowing that one of the three planes involved in 911 had been headed for the place where Cathy worked hit her very hard.  While appreciating that the heroes on the plane saved her life by diverting it, she still had to deal with the fact that she was inside the intended target.  Additional crises worldwide and within our nation after this time, further increased her stress levels.  At the recommendation of a counselor from Human Resources, Cathy put the power of her pen to use in two ways. The first way was to seek release by writing out her feelings about the events that were occurring following this tragedy.  The second way was to share her story with the world. 

By reading "Target Sitting" the reader's eyes are opened to the daily stresses of working in a building that is constantly under threat of attack.  By hitting both a national symbol and our leaders, the United States would definitely be brought down a couple of notches.  Learning about how the system is set up to make sure that our government has a back-up plan for leadership is reassuring.  However, I also found it disconcerting to learn about glitches within the actual security of the building. Like the author, I hope that these issues have been corrected. She had a first-hand experience of seeing how bad communication was when she reported seeing a man who resembled a known terrorist within the area of the capital.  Her concerns were not immediately followed up upon and dismissed. This is not reassuring at all.

Having to endure the memories of evacuating during 911, the anthrax attacks, false alarms at the capital (namely by planes who fly into the No Fly Zone) and other attacks that occurred worldwide takes a toll on one's health and soul.  By sharing her story, I am hoping that the author will receive some healing from knowing that she is helping others to wake up to the reality of what is happening both within and outside of our country. It is scary. 

Written in a casual journal-like style, I truly felt like I was reading the private journal of a friend.  The only thing missing was the handwriting.  As I read through Cathy's experiences, I relived many of my own thoughts and feelings about what was happening at the time.  She also opened my eyes to some things that I did not realize had happened. I suspect part of this was due to her proximity to national leadership. I also think that part of this was due to my mentally blocking what was happening at the time.  Having family members personally involved with 911 and some in the military at the time, I don't think I let myself fully let everything sink in.  Sitting and looking back, Cathy gave me what I needed to fill in a lot of blanks.  This book is highly recommended for all Americans. It will definitely make you think.

Listen to Interview with Cathy on Inside Scoop Live

Read interview with Cathy Travis

Monday, August 8, 2011

Stolen Secrets: A Dr. Cory Cohen Mystery

Sandra Levy Ceren
Modern History Press (2011)
ISBN 9781615990689
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

Dr. Cory Cohen, a therapist, was worried. One of her patients, Morgan, a successful attorney running for the District Attorney, was missing. Shortly before her disappearance Morgan confronted her following a strange, threatening late night phone call in which the caller divulged Morgan's best kept, dirty secret. To the best of Morgan's knowledge, Dr. Cohen was the only other person aware of her fantasies. Cory, extremely surprised about this, tried to find out how Morgan's secret could have leaked from her office, just to discover weird and sinister events happening to her as well. Realizing that all of this is too much for her, Cory decided to hire a private investigator to help her discover the truth, and somewhere along that path she started getting quite interested in him as a man as well. Will they find Morgan? Which of Cory's patients is behind those disturbing incidents? Will they discover the villain on time?

"Stolen Secrets" is a tense, quick paced and engrossing mystery. Its cast of characters is diverse and engaging, and the range of strong females will make this a particularly attractive narrative for those readers who enjoy books with prominent female protagonists. The dialogue flows, the premise of the story is engaging and the psychological insights into the various behaviors of Cory's patients add some interesting side stories to the mix. A well placed red herring – or two – will keep you guessing for a good while, and while the solution to the mystery might not be mind-blowingly unusual, it certainly kept me entertained. Strangely enough, I probably enjoyed the side stories even more that the main mystery, which just shows how the author's professional background – a clinical psychologist for over forty years – truly enabled her to entertain the reader with her insights into the darkest recesses of human souls.

I would recommend "Stolen Secrets" to any reader who enjoys a well written contemporary mystery with intriguing psychological undercurrents and a feisty, intelligent heroine.

Listen to interview with Dr. Ceren

Nine Insights For A Happy And Successful Life

Mitchell Earl Gibson, MD
Tybro Publications (2011)
ISBN 9781463538088
Reviewed by Joseph Yurt for Reader Views

Psychiatrist, Dr. Mitchell Earl Gibson, has spent years listening and helping thousands of people successfully navigate the obstacles in their lives. His personal journals documenting what he learned from his clients throughout their shared journeys, were the basis for his newest book, "Nine Insights For A Happy And Successful Life." The book explores the author's simple, straightforward Insights with an easy manner that uses numerous thought provoking stories to engage and stimulate the reader.

"Nine Insights" has been conceived by the author as guide and reference book for anyone who is ready to "decide that is something that you want, above everything else." "Happiness is an art." Dr. Gibson proclaims. Readers should be aware, however, that the insights and methods of practicing the author's art of happiness are neither new nor innovative. Concepts such as contributing to your own happiness by contributing to the happiness of others, searching for, finding and following your inner most thoughts and dreams, and the importance of evolving and adapting to the world around you are accepted universal truths with regard to the pursuit of happiness and success. But, in concert with the many supporting stories and anecdotes, especially those based on the author's personal clinical experiences, the book's content is inspiration rich.

For me, the most inspiring and timely of the book's nine insights is titled "Early Failure Often Leads to Success," an insight that explores the power of failure. I found the story of "chaos, despair and disappointment" that was occurring in the life of "Harry Potter" creator JK Rowling, while she was struggling to find a publisher, to be particularly motivational. In telling this story Dr. Gibson notes: "When we are young, life seems to have no boundaries. Dreams are plentiful, and at times, anything seems possible. For many people, however, emotional setbacks, failures, or loss of a loved one signal the end of the period of dreaming. The focus then becomes survival and the avoidance of failure. This is not the way of happiness."

Over the years, I have read numerous books concerning the achievement of "true" happiness and success. These are universally desired, yet strongly subjective needs. But, in "Nine Insights," Dr. Mitchell Gibson has managed to create an objective and effective guide to aid individuals at any point on the proverbial "scale from one to ten," significantly improve the degree of happiness and success in their life. This book definitely stands out from others of its kind.

Listen to live interview with Dr. Gibson

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Sister Makes Me Laugh

Amy Toms and Sara Toms
RLT Industries, Inc. (2010)
ISBN 978-0977649723
Reviewed by Zoey Crane (age 7) for Reader Views Kids

This is such a cute book written by two sisters. One wrote the story and the other illustrated the book. When you share a bedroom with a sister and you aren't sleepy - how much fun can you have? Cute illustrations by older sister Sara adds to the reality that we as kids have fun with family members and shows sister love.

Zoey: I loved this book, it was so much fun to read and especially that two kids wrote the book. When we have to go to bed at night we aren't always sleepy and we try to figure out how to have fun till we are sleepy. My best friend Dalianna and I spend the night together a lot. She is so funny and just like a sister to me. We get upstairs and watch TV and read, and then we move the mattress on the bed to make a slide. I don't think my Nana knows this, but she does now. She tells us to be quiet and go to sleep but we can't so we play instead. I love my best friend Dally and we have so much fun when adults aren't watching us. I like the pictures in this book because it was kids' drawings. The kids had their dad help them a little but it was their idea. Now I want to write a book too. If you don't have a sister like Sara and Amy you could use your best friend.

Nana: Zoey really loved the fact that this book was written by kids. She loved the pictures and how the book read. She doesn't have a sister but a best friend who is just like a sister. I admire kids that come up with ideas for a book and they should get help publishing them. Kids have great ideas, and, oh did I say Zoey wanted a bowl of water on her last stay over with Dally?

A Murderer’s Mind

Patricia Turner
CreateSpace (2011)
ISBN 9781456428105
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

When Rusty Linden is handed the opportunity to take on a journalist assignment that will have her living with a recently paroled murderer, she feels both excitement at having this opportunity, and trepidation because her safety could be at risk.  Being the kind of reporter that she is, she chooses to take the assignment and the risks that go with it.

The parolee is Antonia Brandon. Paroled after thirty-nine years, she had been in prison for being part of a cult that was responsible for committing heinous multiple murders.  Her cult leader was trying to model himself after Charles Manson.  Because of her active role in the murders, she is still despised even almost forty years later.

Rusty has mixed feelings about meeting Antonia, especially after she interviews one of the victims who survived.  Without a doubt, she knows that Antonia is guilty; however, it is also thirty-nine years later.  Being locked up for that length of time does not necessarily make one a better person, instead it might make her even less humane and more dangerous.
When Rusty and Antonia meet, they both have to overcome reservations that they have about each other.  As far as Antonia knows, Rusty might be looking to write a story that will completely discredit any progress that she has made in her rehabilitation efforts.  Knowing that she is despised also forces her to try to maintain a low profile.

When innocent people who were involved with either the victims or the trial start dying, the public looks to placing the guilt on Antonia.  Because Antonia doesn't have perfect alibis, either she is guilty once again, or someone really knows her whereabouts.  This situation really forces Rusty to tread carefully; however, in fairness to Antonia, she is honest about her concerns.  Working hard to find out the truth, Rusty also puts herself in danger.  In the end, the shocking truth is discovered.
"A Murderer's Mind" is so well written and thought out that it would be easy to believe that it was based upon a true story.  As the author Patricia Turner takes us into Rusty's mind, we get to see what is happening through her eyes, and share her feelings of both hope and fear.  I appreciated that Rusty was very honest with herself about looking at both sides of the situation. Having interviewed a victim and a former cult member who still seemed hooked on the cult leader definitely gives Rusty cause for concern.  But also having the chance to get to know the murderer and see how she reacts to things that are happening in the real world, Rusty is able to form her own opinions and pray that she is correct.

I really enjoyed this story and think that fans of true crime and mysteries will also enjoy "A Murderer's Mind."