Monday, November 28, 2011

Your Daily Walk with the Great Mind, 3rd Edition

Richard A. Singer, Jr.
Marvelous Spirit Press (2011)
ISBN 9781615991143
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views 

As a person in recovery trying to make sense of my life and to identify changes I need to make, "Your Daily Walk with the Great Minds" is one of the best books I have read. Author Richard A. Singer did an excellent job in writing easy-to-understand terms to help us walk the path. 

Singer expresses that if he can just change one person or inspire him or her to make positive changes he has done his job. I believe he has done his job.

The book is very inspirational and uplifting. For each day of the week Singer has given words of wisdom from people like Einstein, Mother Teresa and Abe Lincoln. The book starts from January 1st with a quote, a meditation and, most importantly, a journaling exercise. He has provided an author's index with the date to find the desired information. In addition, there is a subject index by date, i.e., for 'adversity,' 'appreciation,' 'can't.' It is easy to find what you are experiencing in the here and now. For each month there are suggested books to read, most of which one can find at the library.

What I particularly liked, in addition to the above, is this is a great book to use for reading groups. As I reviewed this book, I felt hopeful that I could put these techniques to use to make positive changes in my life. Readers will enjoy "Your Daily Walk with the Great Minds."  It really is a must read, making notes along the way, then stop to look at what one really wants out of life.

Heaven’s Daughter

Maggi A. Petton
BookLocker (2011)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

When I began reading "Heaven's Daughter," I found myself immediately held spellbound.  The story begins with two runaway slaves, who are mother and daughter. Having been captured in Africa, taken away from her family and her fiancĂ©, the mother is desperate to give her daughter, Effie, a better life.  Since they are both slaves, this is difficult to do. As the daughter begins to suffer the same horrible abuses that her mother did, from their owners, they both know that they have to escape.  

As they begin the arduous journey north, they encounter a young blonde girl named Abby. Abby is also on the run, but in her case she is running from a kidnapper. The kidnapper grabbed her from her family's home so that he could pretend he was traveling with his daughter, instead of being an army deserter.  Fortunately, he did not abuse her.

Joining together to return Abby to her home, the girls develop a strong bond.  Effie's mother shares her African heritage with them with both songs and stories.  When they finally make it to Abby's home the family gives them a warm welcome and is grateful for their assistance in returning their daughter. As time goes by, and they suffer through some horrible tragedies, the bond between the two women becomes even stronger.  Knowing that this is a time where both interracial and homosexual relationships are not acceptable, the women have to keep their special love for each other a secret. Their incredible love for each other helps them hang on to their sanity and each other as they try to cope with family losses, betrayal, and tragedy. 
Having read and enjoyed "The Queen's Companion," I suspected that "Heaven's Daughter" would be an exceptional book. And I was correct. In this novel, the horrors of slavery, war, prejudice and discrimination are all brought together however; love and loyalty demonstrate a great healing power.  I found this story to be extremely realistic and well researched.  While I have studied this era and thought about how difficult it would be for people to mix interracially, I never considered what it would be like for homosexual couples. In this story, Petton addresses both issues in one relationship.  It was refreshing to be able to enjoy an incredibly written story, and to be offered something new to reflect on. I highly recommend "Heaven's Daughter."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair: An Empowering Fairy Tale

Jewel Kats  
Loving Healing Press (2011) 
ISBN 9781615991129
Reviewed by Madeline (age 10) & Sophia (age 8) McElroy for Reader Views Kids



This is another Cinderella story with something added! In this book, Cinderella is in a wheelchair. It may sound like a weird story, but it is very good. Life is hard for Cinderella; her jobs are harder to do and her step-sisters treat her like an animal. The day of the ball, her step-mother says she can go to the ball if she makes jewelry for her and her step-sisters. She had worked all day on the jewelry and had made herself a dress too. Right before they leave, Cinderella's stepmother sneaks up behind her and disables her wheelchair so she can't make it move. Cinderella cried, "What about the promise you made?" She laughed and said, "Promises can be broken."  Just then somebody says, "Don't Cry."  It's Cinderella's fairy godmother! She zaps her. "But remember, the spell wears off at midnight, be careful!," said her fairy godmother. Then she disappears. Now, Cinderella is flying to the ball! She lands inside and her step-sisters and step-mother get very angry. The Prince comes over and asks her to dance. She possibly couldn't! Then, her wheelchair flies up and he grabs her hands, everywhere he went, the wheelchair followed while flying. The end is for you too see.

I liked this book because I like fairy tales and Cinderella is one of my favorites. It is great for kids who have disabilities in life such as being in a wheelchair or having a disease that bothers them. This book can help them get through it and realize life can be the same as others lives too.


"Cinderella's Magical Wheelchair" is a good story for kids who have had a horrible accident or injury. This book is about a girl named Cinderella with two evil step-sisters and one step-mother. The step-mother says the step-sisters can go to the ball, but the step-mother said Cinderella couldn't go. But the step-mother said she could make jewelry for the step-sisters. When Cinderella makes the jewelry for the sisters she gets ready. But when she is ready the step-mother makes a flat tire on her chair. Then she realized she had a fairy godmother! The rest you should read to see yourself. This book was very wonderful.

Listen to Live interview on Inside Scoop Live

Monday, November 14, 2011

How to Paint Chickens: And other Stories

Vladimri A. Shvarstman
VS Holding, LLC (2011)
ISBN 9780984377022
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"How to Paint Chickens" is a collection of short stories that follow Mr. Shvarstman from his childhood in Siberia to his adulthood in the United States.  I found his recollections of growing up in Siberia to be absolutely fascinating.  His stories of having been raised in a poor area where governmental control reigned supreme were very eye opening for me.  Reading about how his family struggled to maintain what possessions they had, including chickens, was interesting and entertaining.  I also gained a deeper appreciation for what opportunities I have had living in the United States.

After the author immigrated to the United States, he married, had a son and experienced a painful divorce.  As he relives some of those experiences, he shares what he has learned from them.  He also does a great deal of reflecting upon how things could be improved in the United States.  I agree with much of his discourse, however, I know that most liberals will not.  But I think he makes a lot of sense.

When the time comes for Mr. Shvarstman to move on to a new relationship, he hits some interesting bumps in the road.  I found some of these experiences to be very amusing; however, I suspect at the time, they were not.  Exploring online dating proved to be both adventurous and disastrous.  He definitely put himself in situations where he could easily have been taken advantage of, yet I suspect his expectations from some of these women would have involved him taking advantage of them if they had not struck first.  In addition to entertaining, this section was very eye opening and enlightening.  Learning from this, I don't recommend that people make themselves vulnerable by traveling long distances to meet potential mates.  I also think that he learned that trying to date married women, who say they are in bad relationships, is futile.  I think it works this way for both sexes.

The last half of the book focuses on dialogue from some of his potential mates.  While there were some interesting points made in this section, I found some of the material to be too lengthy and this detracted from some of the story. 

Overall, I really enjoyed reading "How to Paint Chickens." I liked that the author included some of his artwork and pictures in the book. That definitely added to it. On the other hand, I found that there were a lot of grammatical errors that caused me to pause and try to figure out some of the meanings. I think that professional editing would really help make the book more enjoyable to all.

Read interview with Vladimi Shvarstman

A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis (eBook)

Irene Woodbury
SynergEbooks (2011)
ISBN 9780744314977
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

A few months from now I will be turning forty-five. Having suffered through the mid-life crises of two men, I figured it is my turn to have a good one.   For me a good mid-life crisis doesn't involve betraying anybody, it just involves buying a brightly colored sports car with a big engine. However, the cost of gas is so high right now my practical side is thinking of just dying my hair red again and renting a Corvette to drive up the Pacific Coast Highway.

Already forty-five years old, newlywed Wendy is facing a pretty major mid-life crisis. Hers actually extends into a total identity crisis.  Having dated her husband Roger for seven years, and only recently marrying him, she finds herself uprooted and unemployed. Sharing an idyllic life in Los Angeles; each had their own career. When Roger's career involves accepting a dream job in Houston, Wendy readily agrees to sell her condo and move with him. Recently unemployed, she is not leaving behind any prospects. However, shortly after they arrive in Houston, Roger turns into a major workaholic. 

Losing her identity as a career woman, being ignored and living in a home with critters and other problems, Wendy does not settle in easily.  While Roger is eager to become a part of high society in Houston, Wendy does not enjoy the snooty women who she feels pass judgment on her.  When an opportunity arises for her to go away to Las Vegas for five days, Wendy jumps on it. Feeling the honeymoon is over after less than four months, part of her feels disappointed that she is looking to get away from her husband.

After spending five crazy days with her friend Paula, that include a wedding being cancelled because of Paula's indiscretion with the groom, Wendy finds life in Las Vegas, crazy, but she is also enjoying massive amounts of food, retail therapy, and spa treatments. She has also made some eccentric new friends.  When it is time to return home, Wendy bolts from the airport and begins living her own life in Sin City.
While she tells Roger that she is just staying on for a little while longer, she actually doesn't know when she will be home. As weeks turn into months, Roger's frustrations at not having his wife with him cause many arguments. The communication between them becomes sporadic. Meanwhile Wendy begins building a life for herself that also involves achieving some of her career dreams. 

Fighting her attraction to some charismatic men, she is determined to stay faithful while she figures out what she is going to do.  Wendy has to decide whether or not she wants to be a wife and live in a place where she will see little of her husband and be miserable, or continue on with a rewarding career that helps her make headlines.
While Wendy's decision result in her making extreme changes in her life, I suspect that there are a lot of middle-aged married women out there who fantasize about doing what she has done.  Unlike Wendy, many of these women probably married their high school sweethearts and never had a chance to establish their own identities. Circumstances caused Wendy's identity to be taken from her, and her desire to reinvent herself, based upon her terms, does not mesh well with her role as a wife.  Wendy's dilemma is tough, especially since she has a husband that loves her but is waiting for her to return to his world.

I found "A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis" to contain both humor and drama.  The eccentric characters and the crazy Las Vegas lifestyle added a great deal of enjoyment to the story.  The dilemma faced by the main character is very complicated, yet I feel there are readers who will find themselves relating to it, perhaps just on a smaller scale. I recommend this novel to all midlife-crisis aged women!

Read interview with Irene Woodbury

Monday, November 7, 2011

Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet

Cameron Conaway
Threed Press (2011)
ISBN 9780615521770
Reviewed by Joseph Yurt for Reader Views

Author Cameron Conaway is wise beyond his years. He demonstrates this clearly with honest self-analysis and unfiltered feelings in his fierce first book, "Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet." It's as much about casting off the cages in his life as it is about the constraints they imposed on his heart and soul.

"Caged" delves deep into Conaway's demeaning, painful upbringing by his pathetically dysfunctional father. By the time he was thirteen, he was totally devastated by his environment and experiences. The remainder of the book is spent retelling and reflecting on the events of his past and present and on the application of his learned lessons on his aspirations for the future.

Conaway takes the road less traveled on his self-discovery journey the reader is invited to join. The choices he makes in pursuit of redemption are unexpected. His writing style is unconventional. His chapters are unpredictable. They flow smoothly enough to weave his writing tightly, but not so smoothly to allow us to know what's next; what's next is sometimes impossible to anticipate. The chapters have a self-contained, short story quality; some are rough and raw, some inspire, some are magical, and, some impart an almost heroic dignity to Conaway's Warrior Spirit.

"Red Tail, Chapter 14" and "Caged – Part Two, Chapter 15," which describes his second MMA cage fight, are back-to-back demonstrations of the range of Conaway's craft and creative process. Both are at once real and surreal, raw power and mysticism.  Whenever he feels like doing so, he steps outside his story to deliver teachable moments and to offer explanations and revelations of personal philosophies. He seems to find learning in every activity and invites the reader to do the same.

"Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet," is one hell of a debut book. In this review, I have chosen to deliberately provide only the bare bones of Conaway's story. Instead, I have concentrated on my reactions during and after reading the book. "As for the adjective: when in doubt, strike it out." said Mark Twain, but "Caged" leaves one addicted to adjectives.

I want you to read "Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet." I want you to root for Cameron Conaway. Most importantly, I want everyone to seriously consider the Warrior Spirit movement he has conjured. If you seek inspiration for dramatic change in your life, you will find it in "Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet."

Facing Demons

Ashley Sanders
Trafford Publishing (2011)
ISBN 9781426951701
Reviewed by Avni Gupta (age 17) for Reader Views Kids

When I received "Facing Demons," I was quite excited to read it. I have always been pretty interested in reading about people who have had to go to rehab and the stories behind them. Normally, you just hear about them as a statistic, but behind every number and every statistic, there is a real person and a real story. Although the first three or four pages seemed a little preachy, in the "don't do drugs" sense, as soon as I got past the first few pages, and really got into the book, I was hooked! I was not able to put this book down (technically speaking, I was not able to put my i-pod touch down, since I was I was reading the e-book version)!

This book begins with a prologue, in which Blake Solomon, the man who runs the Anchor Beach Rehab clinic, is in the hospital with a boy from the clinic who doesn't seem like he's going to make it. Blake seems rather distraught, and in his mind, is transported to a different time and place in that hospital. That hospital is the place where Blake was cured of his cancer! The rest of the book is devoted to telling the stories of four of the residents of the Anchor Beach Rehab clinic. It talks about their issues with drugs, alcohol, child prostitution, self harm, gangs and other issues that many teenagers have to deal with.

This book was absolutely amazing. I definitely read it twice before I started writing this review! With every page I read, and every detail into someone's story, I became more and more hooked on this book. I feel like anybody who reads it will be in the same boat as I was!
One thing that I really liked about "Facing Demons" was the dedication that the author made at the beginning of it. This book is dedicated to "those who deserve a second chance."  I feel like that dedication was a perfect beginning to this book because all of the characters made a mistake and deserved the second chance that they were given.

Read interview with Ashley Sanders