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Publish America LLP
P.O. Box 151 Frederick, MD 21705
www.publishamerica.com (301) 695-1707
ISBN: 1413781691, $14.95
Aaron Paul Lazar, Reviewer
Unscrambled Eggs is a lyrical album of profound poetry. It glistens with quiet reflection entangled with sentiments of abandonment. Forlorn, lost, adrift on a sea of real emotions – Nadia Brown speaks with words not often combined. Take, for example, the following stanza from "Deprived."
My Crayola lips
plum of eyes, cello of body
are sick with need.
Crayola lips. Cello body. Sick with need. In thirteen short words we sense the image of a woman painfully alone and uncomfortable in her body. In the last stanza, we are assured of this stinging vision.
A rousing verse,
a mangled rose, a sigh of jazz
all sings your absence
Nadia Brown's imagery is strong and unexpected. The combinations of words are surprising, refreshing. These are not common poems. The tang of gritty despondency permeates the pages, in spite of the artistic composition. There is no pretense here. No false polish, cute rhyming schemes, nor purposeful cadence. In such an environment, only the imagery stands alone, spilling honest visions on the page.
Among the sixty verses lies another favorite, "There Were No Bells."
She said there were no bells,
only her clam hands
and fretful feet rattled in the eve.
The sirens would not go off
nor did her knees faint
from the tie-dye of bliss
She felt no quakes,
no bumble bees,
no panic sharks reeling
in the pint of her belly.
Not once did her shoelace hair
curl like ringlets
not once did she hear bells.
Uncommon pairings, curious verbs, and a splash of liberating spirit develop as the poetry travels through time. As Ms. Brown works through emotions of despair, a stronger woman evolves. The work sings of survival while painting distinctive images of the world.
Examine these vivid phrases from "Fishing for Salmon."
a laundry of birds gather
in a fold like sheep
like a fistful of jellybeans in a bottle
there is some wind
flossing back and forth between homes
This unpretentious yet moving collection of poetry will earn a place of honor on your bookshelf. Don't be surprised if you are drawn to reread it over and over again.
PO Box 10543, Tallahassee, FL 32302
ISBN: 1594930430, $12.95, 161 pages
The Phoenix Detective Agency's latest case sends Tally McGinnis and Cid Cameron to northern California coast in the search of a serial killer. A difficult task under any circumstances, their efforts are further impeded by a highly questionable local sheriff's department and a threat of seriously damaging political fall-out. Nonetheless, Tally begins the arduous task of determining exactly how, why, and by whom Johanna Haskall was murdered. As the mystery deepens, family secrets and seemingly inexplicable personal motives arise to further blur the lines between what appears to be and what actually is the truth. To share anymore would no doubt spoil the exciting adventure awaiting the reader. However, let it be said that the lyrics of that old song, "Somebody loves me…I wonder who…." will linger in the reader's mind throughout the journey.
There are many authors who write in the mystery genre. Too often they tend to overlap to the degree to which they sometimes seem indistinguishable. Nancy Sanra does not fall into this category. Her tightly written story begins quickly and rockets across the chapters. This is a novel which truly involves the reader. One can empathize with Katie as she continues, albeit reluctantly, to recognize that Tally's profession demands so much more than just time and effort; it demands a little piece of Tally's soul with each heartbreaking case.
Sanra knows her characters well, and it is with a deft touch that she brings the subtle facets of each to the page. Reading No Evidence is like spending time with old friends. The reader is comfortable within the setting and with these women who have carved out a business for themselves that very often tests them to their limits. The secondary characters exceed the stereotypical depictions often seen in lesser novels. Once confronted with the murderer, the reader is presented a chilling portrait of a savage psychopathic individual who will stop at nothing to accomplish his vision of his reality. This novel is the fourth in the Tally McGinnis series and is the best entry thus far.
This reader has enjoyed the previous novels, but No Evidence displays a growth in this writer's craft. The dialogue is crisp, at times sardonically humorous, and extremely readable. McGinnis' three main characters have developed into personable, stalwart, yet sensitive, women. The plotline is realistically developed and races across the pages. It is truly a book one cannot put down. Strong, independent, and likable women are exemplified in the characterization of professional partners, Tally and Cid. Tally's relationship with Katie, the receptionist and third partner in the Phoenix Detective Agency, has evolved over time, and the presentation here is very satisfying for those readers who have followed it throughout the previous novels. Fast-paced action scenes, characters consumed by self-doubt and a twisted sense of love, and intrepid and tenacious detectives add to the hard-boiled detective genre created by the author. No Evidence is an entertaining and rewarding way to spend a few hours. This reader eagerly awaits the next in the series.
Hook House and Other Horrors
Silver Lake Publishing
ISBN: 1933511095, $12.95, 165 pp.
HOOK HOUSE and Other Horrors by Sherry Decker is an utter delight for fans of mystery and horror. It is a combination of traditional structures brought up to date to reflect twenty-first century sensibilities--as if Sherry regularly shared afternoon tea with the spirits of Edgar Allan Poe, Charlotte Bronte and Alfred Hitchcock just prior to sitting down at her word processor.
"Hook House," the lead off and title tale is a traditional gothic story about a creepy old house, its malevolent spirit and the generations of tortured souls it has ensnared and corrupted, told compellingly from the perspective of the most recent victim to be embraced by the writhing tentacles of the familial curse. Brilliantly, it keeps the reader on the edge of his chair waiting to see if the heroine will extricate herself or become the next casualty as it slowly unfolds its cloying petals.
"Hicklebickle Rock" is a stark murder mystery evocatively told from the perspective of a precocious eight year old girl whose reality consists of a sadly dysfunctional family and an ancient spirit living in the middle of a secluded bay. Realism walks comfortably hand and hand with dark fantasy.
"The Clan" is an amusing account of an escalating dispute between suburban neighbors, one of whom happens to be a vampire, and the other a witch.
An eight year old telepath gets a harsh lesson in life's hidden dangers one summer Sunday morning after church, when all she really wants to do is pee in "Heat Waves."
A series of interviews by a tabloid journalist with an otherworldly serial killer, "Chazzabryom" is both a mystery and a portrait in black, with chills and humor eclectically blended. Two stories here, one of the demon possessed man who sucks out his victims eyes, and one of the journalist who is drawn into the demon's web.
"Shivering, We Dance," will leave you cringing the next time you hear the Tennessee Waltz. A tale of best revenge, served cold to be sure, but not quite as tasty as those goodies from the delicatessen for the perpetrator.
"Gifts from the North Wind," is a haunting tale of resurrection magic, with a bittersweet flavor akin to Borges The Circular Ruins." Quietly understated, it is a real delight.
A disturbing tale of insanity, guilt, compulsion, desire and hallucination, "Twisted Wishes, Twilight Dreams," is chillingly reminiscent of Poe's Tell Tale Heart.
"A City in Italy," is hard to describe without giving anything away - a wonderfully composed point-of-view exercise playing on the nagging doubts of a surviving twin on her way to oblivion.
"Jessica Fishbone" is another poignant account of a surviving twin, but one of realization eventually overcoming denial.
"Tarissa," a rip roaring tale of a witch's revenge rounds out the collection with a peal of thunder and a sizzle of lightning.
All but one of these short fictions have been previously published in such distinguished periodicals as Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, City Slab and Book of Dark Wisdom. It is easy to see why.
Love is Strong as Death
William F. Powers
1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100, West, Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
1-610-941-999 1-877-BUY BOOK
ISBN: 0741429381, $16.95, 293 pages
"Love is Strong as Death" by William F. Powers joins the Shakespeare's & Dickinson's love story classics of our time. It is a poignant and deeply moving dissertation storied to explore love, life, the Catholic religion and human's frailties in order to discover the true meaning of our existence here on earth. The layered truths may hopefully help others to understand and accept with unconditional love the tragedies that emanate from lost souls moving with hope towards a final redemption and acceptance from themselves and from God.
Powers' book presents a historic account of the Catholic church which aids inquisitive intellectuals to understand why the church had tolerated deviance amongst its priests, plus many other important life issues from which Dr. Powers drew upon his own priesthood's experiences before leaving the church to join in matrimony with his beloved Ann. I am proud to have been a former student of a professor who obviously sees beneath the surface of life. However, I found myself disliking, but comprehending the conflicts of Dennis, the main character, but enjoying the basic premises presented in the book.
William Powers' other published books are: "Free Priests: The Movement for Ministerial Reform in the American Catholic Church", "Alive and Well: The Emergence of the Active Nonagenarian: and Tar Heel Catholics", "A History of Catholicism in North Carolina".
ISBN: 084991180X, $24.99, 451 pp.
I was given Peretti's book This Present Darkness as a birthday gift. After reading this supernatural thriller I was hooked. The suspense in Peretti's books make for exciting and gripping reading. Monster is no exception and the element of the supernatural is intriguing.
Peretti writes in simple, short sentences with plenty of dialogue to keep the story active. He reveals just enough information, as the story progresses, to keep the reader thinking. Many chapters end on a cliffhanger which keeps the pages turning. For example on page 257 we read "He didn't leave. He took another step toward them. They're going to kill him. Honest to God, they're going to kill him!"
The main characters in the story are Reed, Beck, Cap and Sing. Reed and Beck in particular grow and change through their experiences. Peretti also introduces them in enough detail that the reader genuinely cares what happens to them. This draws the reader further into the story.
The book will easily be enjoyed by the general reader, from teens through to adults. An interview with Peretti features at the end of the book. In it Peretti admits to being a Christian and to including Christian themes in his books. An evolution/creation theme does form the basis for Monster. However, this in no way confines Monster to a Christian-only audience. It will have wide, general appeal, particularly to those who enjoy suspense with a supernatural flavour to it.
Peretti succeeds in entertaining his reader and maintains a high level of suspense to the very end. The underlying theme of creation versus evolution is played out in an interesting way. The simple plot has its pros and cons though. It makes for a forceful story. However, I believe an intelligent audience could cope with a slightly more complicated plot.
Peretti is also the author of This Present Darkness, Piercing the Darkness, Nightmare Academy, Hangman's Curse, The Oath and The Visitation. An excerpt of The Oath is included in this edition of Monster and looks set to be another great thriller.
A Chance Meeting: Intertwined Lives of American Writers and Artists
Random House Trade Paperbacks
ISBN: 0812971299, $14.95, 363 pp.
Dazzlling, captivating, everything you ever wanted in a book that deals with sex, race, politics and American celebrities from the Civil war to the Civil rights movement. A Chance Meeting takes thirty American writers and artists ranging from Henry James and Matthew Brady through John Cage and Marcel Duchamp and ending with a series of notes that offer insights into the creative process itself.
Rachel Cohen makes enormous leaps of the imagination in this book. What results is a masterpiece of literary criticism. Cohen links an immense chain of artistic consequences and speculates on what may have taken place between creative people over time and in particular historical circumstances. She gives the reader a sense of intimacy and makes one feel totally in touch with the artists and writers she has selected to include; William Dean Howells and Annie Adams Fields and Walt Whitman, Mark Twain and William Dean Howells, W.E.B. Du Bois and William James, Gertrude Stein and William James, Henry James and Annie Adams Fields and Sarah Orne Jewett, Edward Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz, Willa Cather and Mark Twain, Carl Van Vechen and Gertrude Stein, Hart Crane and Charlie Chaplin, Langston Hughe and Zora Neale Hurston, Elizabeth Bishop and Marianne Moore, and many many more fascinating people and relationships.
I have rarely read a more innovative, balanced or graceful book. If this sounds like a rave--it is. Cohen is one of the most elegant prose writers I have read in years. Her takes on all of these major cultural figures are generous and sound. In each meticulously researched and written chapter she gives us a dazzling array of overlapping and cross referenced nuances that relate each and everyone of these writers and artists to each other. Sometimes it is through history and other times through aesthetics. Each artist seems to be boiled down to his/her essence. What Cohen has done is make us feel as if we are that "fly" on the wall listening to conversations among this group of immensely creative people. She shows us how creative people fit into each other's lives and cross pollinate each other. She even shows us the dark and underside of creative interaction, i.e. Hart Crane and Katherine Anne Porter.
If you walked down a street in your historical imagination of New York City you could expect to meet many of the people she has included in this book. What is impressive is how she has managed to rise to the challenge of making this a thoroughly balanced book in terms of representing heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian, black, white, male, female, national, and international figures. My hats off to her for pulling in off in a manner that seems effortless. Only those of us who have been confronted with such a challenge know how difficult it is and how often efforts of this kind end up looking akward and out of sync.
For anyone even vaguely interested in American culture, art and artists, literature and the rise of modernism this is a must read, must buy book and you can probably get it discounted. It is a book that you will want to read again and again and again.
School for Hawaiian Girls
Georgia Ka'apuni Mcmillen
The Permanent Press
4170 Noyac Road, Sag Harbor, NY 11963
ISBN: 157962121X, $26.00, 199 pp.
We are introduced to one generation of a native Hawaiian family, Sam and Bernie (Bernice), and then we skip a generation and meet the third generation, Moani and Puanani, Bernie's granddaughters. The reader given a glimpse of the real lives of native Hawaiians. Sam and Bernie are children of poverty. Their father was a drunk who died when they were young. "I (Bernie) pretended I wasn't relieved the morning Sheriff Pua told Mama that he had found Papa's body in the middle of Government Road . . . . He fell in a puddle of water and couldn't get up." (p53) Mother did the best she could. Sam is an uneducated but skillful businessman who has achieved financial success and is quite wealthy. Bernie lives with him and his sixth wife.
With a prosperous great uncle, Moani is more privileged than her Hawaiian peers, traveling and studying abroad. With generous financial assistance from him she has led a very comfortable life. "You watch, I (Bernie) told Sam. She'll come back thinking she's better than us." (p50) In addition she has her great uncle's business savvy and succeeds in operating a successful kayak service for tourists when she returns home. Puanani is retarded as a consequence of a childhood accident. Moani loves Pu and takes her from her institutional residence to live with her.
Most of us have an idyllic view of life in the islands. We picture beautiful scenery, carefree natives living out their happy lives. This books takes a different view. These people are minorities in their own land. Their relaxed lifestyle served them well before the advent of the white man but now they can't keep up unless they have the appropriate business skills and drive. Sam has both but he comes up short in the ethics department. One family member referred to him as, "that son-of-a-bitch." (p 190)
Sam and Bernie have another sibling, Lydie. At age 16 she fell in love with an Hawaiian and became pregnant. Her mother insisted she give up the baby. Lydie acquiesced, but one day she is found murdered in a cane field. Sam knows who did it and seeks revenge. The murder haunts Sam and Bernie. Moani finds out about it many years after the fact and begins to question them. They resent her intrusion into their past. Bernie says of Moani, "Damn that girl--asking about Lydie when Sam told her to leave it alone. Digging up our private business . . . ." (p49) Moani is not one to be put off. She goes forward.
This short novel is captivating. The story is told from the point of view of several characters making it especially effective in stepping up the pace in a riveting account of generational conflict, have vs have-nots, stresses of dealing with the mentally challenged, culture clashes and Christian/pagan antagonism. Georgia produced a good read for her first novel. I am looking forward to the next.
The Eye of the Wolf
Berkley Prime Crime
375 Hudson St., NYC, NY 10014
ISBN: 0425205460, $22.95, 336 pages
Connie Gotsch, Reviewer
Boulder, Colorado author, Margaret Coel calls the wolf a wonderful animal. "It's always two looks ahead," of everybody else, she says. Using the wolf as metaphor, she gets the villain in her mystery novel THE EYE OF THE WOLF at least two looks ahead of both readers and main characters.
The 11th in her series featuring the Boston Irish priest Father John O'Malley and Arapaho lawyer, Vicky Holden as the crime solvers, THE EYE OF THE WOLF takes the reader to the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. There, traditional enemies, the Arapaho and Shoshone, share the land. Father John serves an Arapaho parish. Vicky works with an Arapaho law firm. The two are close friends.
As EYE OF THE WOLF opens, someone has killed three Shoshone college students on the Bates Battlefield, where in 1874, Shoshone scouts led the United States Cavalry to an Arapaho village. The soldiers slaughtered everyone living there.
Animosity between the Shoshone and Arapaho, two very different peoples with diverse cultures, has smoldered since. Father John fears the worst when he sees the latest bodies at Bates, all posed like dead warriors in old photographs. Someone wants to encourage the hatred. Why? And Who?
He, his parishioners, and the police suspect Frankie Montana. This Arapaho trouble has often fought with Shoshones in bars,. Because he drifts around the reservation drinking and crashing at drug houses, most decent people of both groups despise Frankie.
His mother, Lucille, begs Vicky to become Frankie's lawyer. Lucille believes he's innocent. Because Lucille is a friend, Vicky agrees to take the case. However, she, too, believes Frankie is guilty. He concern is to get him a fair trial.
Frankie asserts he did not commit the crime, but will not talk to Vicky or the police. As he eludes them out of sheer terror of jail, Father John finds a fourth Shoshone victim at Bates.
Looking at the evidence against Frankie, Vicky begins think he may not be the killer. So does Father John, after talking to people in the parish. But, then who is? Can Father John and Vicky find the person, and prove his or her identify to the police?
Or--is the murderer like the wolf--two looks ahead? Will that give him or her time to kill again? Worse, have Father John and Vicky made a mistake to believe Frankie? Is he really the killer? Will he prove it by shooting one of them?
Their gamble on Frankie brings EYE OF THE WOLF to an end that one one could possibly expect. But the conclusion makes perfect sense, because Margaret Coel writes with understanding of Arapaho and Shoshone history. Through that history, she reveals the killer.
Also through that history, she also makes EYE OF THE WOLF more than just another mystery with an explosive ending. As the story unfolds, she presents two Native American groups that get little attention from novelists. Working closely with people who live on Wind River Reservation, she makes sure her depiction is accurate.
So EYE OF THE WOLF is not something like, or just like a wolf, it IS a wolf--two looks ahead of everybody. Readers will not only enjoy a gripping mystery, but they'll also learn something about other people and their lives. They'll receive the lesson through rich, well-developed and believable characters, quirky little subplots, lively dialogue, and solid description of locale.
Interpreter Of Maladies
Boston & New York
ISBN: 039592720X, $13.00, 198 pages
Dan Schneider, Reviewer
Were Jhumpa Lahiri in a writing group I ran I would tell her the stories that comprise Interpreter Of Maladies, winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, make for good first drafts, generally, but that, of the nine short stories, six of them exist simply because the characters are Indian, and Lahiri feels this makes them a compelling enough subject. It's for this reason, including her prolixity, which includes mainly a need to overdescribe everything from Indian food stuffs to toe nail polish, that I felt that reading the book was like being an attendee at a zoo: 'Ooh, see that- they are Punjabis; and there's a Bengali; and, oh, look at that weird Muslim!' If these characters were named Anderson, Klein, or Mills there would be no reason for most of Lahiri's tales to exist, because the equivalent American activities, and how they are rendered, would bore most good readers silly. This is not to say that Lahiri lacks talent- she has it, and it shows in the book's first two, and last tales, but a Pulitzer Prize worthy book this is not. Yet, alack, because she has been feted so early in her career, and for such a manifestly mediocre book (I'd give it a passable 65-70 out of 100), the woman has absolutely no incentive to improve as a writer. Granted, I, like all great writers, seek improvement from some well within, but those who merely have that potential, well, there are alot of variables, and those for Lahiri bode ill. Add to the fact that, at the time of the award, she was an attractive young woman from a chic ethnicity (Indian) and it takes no genius to see that the award was granted for who she was, not what she wrote. Of course, if editors nowadays actually did what they are supposed to draw their paychecks for they would have returned her manuscript with a polite note saying she had potential but these stories needed to be reworked, and depth needed to be added.
Too often Lahiri's tales work on just one or two levels, tops. And she is not such a poetic prose stylist that that lack of depth is compensated for by her spellbinding eye's insights. A Temporary Matter, the first tale, has moments, but is too long. It is about the dissolution of a marriage, which comes to a head during a series of enforced blackouts on their block, and there are enough universal touchstones that the couple's ethnicity is not an issue. But, there is too much listing of foodstuffs and over description that the 22 page tale could be cut by two thirds, and be much better for the denser prose and heightened descriptions. When Mr. Pirzada Came To Dine is also a solid tale, but with a weak end. It follows the travails of a Bengali man who dines at the house of a family in America, during the Pakistan-India war of the early 1970s, the independence of Bangladesh, and the memories of a little girl who relates them. Yet, even this passable tale Lahiri's overdescription kills. Here's Mr. Pirzada's reaction to news coverage of the war: 'As he watched he had an immovable expression on his face, composed but alert, as if someone were giving him directions to an unknown destination.' Not a bad sentence, out of context, but in the tale the character's situation has been thoroughly portrayed and this comes off redundant, not to mention self-consciously 'mysterious'- and this infects all of her tales. Imagine a tale of a lonely woman who finally marries her beloved, and then a sentence says, 'And she was happy, beyond all measure of joy she could have aspired to.' Well, aside from stating the obvious you'd be overstating it, with overdescription, to boot. Good writers know that detail and length do not equate with excellence.
Then come six forgettable tales that, if of Americans, would never have seen print. This is the 'zoo effect', as I call it. The title tale, Interpreter of Maladies, follows an Indian tour guide, who also interprets at a doctor's office, dealing with a returning Indian clan to the homeland, and his impressions of them, especially his hours-long infatuation with the mother. There are some moments that a better writer would have expanded to highlight emotional depth, but Lahiri misses them in favor of prolixity, a number of 'collapsible scenes' which, if excised, or merely skirted over, would have had the same effect on what the tale is about, with less overdescription. A Real Durwan is a pointless 'slice of life' tale, Sexy is a paint-by-numbers tale of a mistress who comes to her senses that, at 27 pages, is about 20 pages too long, Mrs. Sen's is even more vapid than A Real Durwan, and This Blessed House is a tale told just to show how funky culture clash can be when Indians move in to a place larded with Christian iconography. Of course, nothing of any depth is revealed within. The penultimate tale, The Treatment Of Bibi Haldar, is a plain old silly tale, the details of which elude me only a few hours after reading it. I would say this makes it the worst in the book, but I honestly cannot recall a thing about it.
That leads into the best and last tale, The Third And Final Continent, the only tale that can be said to be a good to very good story, about a man whose first room in America, in 1969, is with a weird old centegenarian woman enraptured with the moon landing, and her national pride in the achievement. The ending, after she has died, is very good, and suggestive that Lahiri could become a good, if not great writer. Now, refer back to what I said in paragraph one about rewarding writers of promise, not accomplishment, too soon. Cross your fingers, I guess.
This is because the six stories that tank do so because of a very workshoppy approach to writing- that is to describe everything as if it were of import. Length does not equal intellectual nor artistic heft, yet I can imagine tales like this setting banal hearts atwitter with their loving descriptions of mustard seed and saris. Good writers know to tell only what is needed to serve a tale, and if a good writer gives a lot of detail it's usually because he or she is writing of a tale where such description adds to the milieu or the personae of the characters. This is not so with Lahiri. Her writing is not original, because if you merely change the tales' characters' names you have the same stories told by a Sandra Cisneros, or an Amy Tan, or an Alice Adams before that. That is, she's the New Yorker writer/flavor of a year- a purveyor of stock ethnic exoticism. In short, the only original thing in Lahiri's overall mindset is something outside her own control, which is her ethnicity. Thus, most of the tales come off as slight variations on a theme of didactic lamentations of loss, an Indian History 101 lesson, or an Indian ethnic cookbook. Such may please a stomach, but not a mind. She makes mere zoo animals to be gawked at of her 'exotic' characters. Her tales also lack true passion, are too suffused in redundant details, are void of most poetry, a probing intellect to dig deeper under the banal veneer of life, and her endings are rather banal and dull.
Lahiri needs to grow up, and move to a more universal realm, as well dash the impulse to safely genericize her tales to a workshop/New Yorker mold, and take real artistic and narrative risks, or else she will be 'another of those writers from the millennium who were only published because of their ethnicity, not their talent.' Thus seems to have been the case with the rather cold reception of her follow up novel. This pattern happens over and over. A raw writer is feted for mediocre work, made into an icon of something they are really not, and this delimits their potential future audience, artistic growth, and publisher interest after their still mediocre follow-ups do not do well. The public is fickle and you can only fool them once or twice with generic pap. Then they move on to the newer flavor. The old flavors, however, are often dropped after a third or fourth book fails to make money, and are swiftly forgotten about- pariahs in an industry that cares not of real talent and nurturing writers of great scope and vision, and which has killed all midlist writers, yet is content to toss a hundred bad chic/hot/hip writers against a wall and pray one sticks with a moneymaking career, as that is initially easier, but far more costly- in true economic and real artistic senses- over the long run, to writers and readers. My advice: start counting your change, Jhumpa!
Isn't That Bigamy?
3131 RDU Center Drive, Suite 210, Morrisville, NC 27560
ISBN: 1411634241, $12.95, 216 pages
POD (Print On Demand) is a burgeoning model of producing and distributing books that sneering pseudo-academic reactionaries summarily dismiss. They claim that the majority of POD books are amateurish in execution and frankly, they're right. But POD gives decent writers an opportunity that they wouldn't otherwise be given to hone their skills while producing a respectable artifact/product. Mike Vogel's Isn't That Bigamy? is proof.
While walking home from the swank restaurant where his girlfriend dumped his philandering ass, Stan Smith unwittingly witnesses a mob hit. Federal agent Becky Li trots Stan off to a small town in Utah, where he'll supposedly escape the deadly wrath of the crime boss (who acted as hitman for old time's sake) against whom he's slated to testify. To avoid the suspicion of the presumed naive townies, Becky poses as Stan's wife. Only she's a lesbian and Stan has irritated her from the beginning of their ill-fated relationship. And polygamy is the norm in Tamarin, Utah.
An out of the ordinary situation demands unique characters, and Vogel competently fills the bill. Stan Smith's witty though somewhat acerbic womanizer provides an effective foil to Becky Li's self-sufficient lesbian gun nut. Throughout the tale this mismatched duo interact, both willingly and unwillingly, with a roster of vivid idiosyncratic characters that includes a crime boss who uses the language and strategies of a calculating CEO; a hulking hitman that unabashedly smokes women's cigarettes; a prototypical aging eccentric hippy mayor and his enigmatic daughter.
Vogel's success lies in guiding the reader through familiar terrain embellished with quaint elements that make the terrain seem foreign. The novel's quick pace is one of its major strengths. Events and descriptions mount at such a lively clip so as to immerse the reader before they have a chance to retreat. Despite the main characters possessing traits that might otherwise be annoying, Vogel manages to sculpt them into charming folks without sugar-coating their quirks. Even the mobsters are likeable in a likeable mobster sort of way.
I personally don't care one way or the other for a traditional narrative - whatever works, works. In fact I consider such time-honored elements to be overrated; they've already been done, and done well, by many great writers throughout history. I gladly weathered a few awkward bumps in the otherwise smooth and solid but intentionally off-center narrative of Bigamy. Given Vogel's description of the involved characters' physical locations at the murder scene, their ensuing behavior is implausible if not downright impossible. Toward the end of the book, Becky matter-of-factly reveals to Stan a personal reason for coaxing him to testify. Her previous actions or moods don't suggest a vested interest and her private motivation is never explained or mentioned again. Early in the book, Becky may have alluded to an as yet unspoken incentive but Vogel never makes this clear. And the fact that Becky is Asian could have functioned as a device that spawned a few more smart-ass observations about her reception by the relatively sheltered citizens of Tamarin. A cool cover makes up for such minutiae.
Isn't This Bigamy? doesn't so much as nudge any envelopes (unless you're a wuss that lives in a cave). But Mike Vogel's novel is well-crafted entertainment worthy of competing with the big boys.
Networking for Career Success
McGraw-Hill Professional Education
Two Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10121-2298
ISBN: 0071456031, $7.95, 64 pp.
Emanuel Carpenter, Reviewer
When you think of networking, what comes to mind? Do you think of attending a tradeshow to find a lot of people for whom to sell your products or services? Or maybe you think of meeting someone who will help you land that perfect job. While these are both legitimate reasons for wanting to network, Diane Darling's "Networking for Career Success" reminds us that networking is the art of building and sustaining mutually beneficial relationships. In other words, one should expect to give as well as receive.
"Networking for Career Success" is packed with powerful ideas and suggestions on how to network the right way. The author gives great advice on etiquette, preparation and execution. For example, she suggests packing a networking kit that includes index cards for notes, business cards and breath mints (among other things). She also drives home the need to build relationships and advises readers to be prepared to help others when asked.
Though the book is light on pages, it is heavy on sound advice for professional networking. Diane Darling has written an intelligent handbook that should be included with anyone's networking survival kit. Highly Recommended.
A Dirty Job
HarperCollins Publishers Inc
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
ISBN: 0060590270, $24.95, 400 pages
Gypsi Phillips Bates
Charlie Asher is a nice, likable and (except for his exceptionally over-worked imagination, common in a "Beta Male") normal guy. At least he was normal, until the day he accidentally walked in on Death--well actually, one of his minions, the dapper and cool Minty Fresh--and finds himself as one of Death's Little Helpers as well, collecting the souls from the newly departed and saving these souls from unscrupulous use by a set of female demons and their wicked lord. Once Charlie gets the hang of it, he finds out that it's not such a bad job, makes him a decent living and gives him plenty of time with his daughter Sophie. There's just one flaw. . . it seems that the Sewer Harpies (as Charlie comes to call the female demons) are growing stronger. So strong in fact, that there will be no other course of action than a ferocious battle for the world, between the forces of good and evil.
Charlie is alternatively helped and hindered on his path by the sort of wonderful characters only Moore could create. There's Lily, the wise-cracking teenaged Goth and "creepiness child prodigy" (who quickly became my favorite), and Ray, an ex-police officer searching for love on Asian dating sites. Charlie's sister Jane -the Alpha Male that Charlie isn't- gives Charlie strength and love--all the while looking better in his suits than he does. Even Charlie's daughter Sophie, who grows up before our eyes, has some odd tendencies--bad luck with pets, one very dangerous word, her own personal hounds from hell and the typical child's memory for things that one was not supposed to hear in the first place. Of course, one couldn't expect her to be completely normal, given her father (who was convinced he saw a tail on her six-month sonogram) and the influence of her unintentional hilarious babysitters, Mrs. Korjev (and her bears) and Mrs. Ling (and her wok). Even Charlie's enemies are wonderful; I adored the Sewer Harpies with their bickering, evil ways, puppet shows and continually amusing antics. In addition, Moore throws in a few return characters from other books which was a thrill for the Moore fan. I was especially glad to see the Emperor again.
Charlie's experiences as a soul collector are both funny and touching. As is so often the case with Mr. Moore, a surprising tenderness turned up on some scenes. There is one scene in particular (the cheese scene--read it and you'll agree with me), that made me step back and say, "Wow! I need to be sure I appreciate life to the fullest!". Terminal illness, hospice care, nurses, and death all received a reverential treatment at his hands--while still being funny in that twisted Moore way.
A Dirty Job has overtaken Lamb as my favorite Christopher Moore novel and rates a full five stars. Pick it up and join Charlie in the life of Death. It's a dirty job, sure, but somebody's gotta do it!
The Genomic Environment and Niche-Experience
A. R. Cellura
Cedar Springs Press
2418 Cedar Springs S, Abbeville, SC 29620
ISBN: 0976056100, $34.95, 208 pages
P. Alex Mabe, Ph.D.
As findings from the U.S. Human Genome Project and similar microgenetic projects have seeped from press releases into popular culture, the notion that genes hold the key to understanding and treating such complex diseases as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mental illness has become common place. We regularly hear news that the gene for some complex human condition or experience has been identified and thus the assumption is made that this gene has predetermined our lives in some specific way. This book disputes this simplistic view of genes' influence in our lives, and provides a more credible model of the genome as intricately connected to an environment that reciprocally relates to its niche-experience. The essence of the book is its portrayal of this niche-experience that cogently argues that the genome not only expresses itself in human experience but also is a function of a complex human ecosystem that operates at the molecular, physiological, psychological, and social levels. The stated objective of the author then is to build bridges that will connect scientific disciplines that for most the part have either ignored the other or have constructed models that artificially negated the influence of the other.
The methodology used to persuade the reader of the influential nature of the niche-experience was more illustrative than inductive. That is, arguments are well articulated but the "data" provided are a sampling of illustrations rather than cumulative evidence systematically constructed to confirm a theory. The development of the author's thesis begins with a brief overview of key microgenetic components and processes as we have historically come to understand them. I would anticipate that for those of us with relatively little knowledge of microbiology this section will be viewed as quite taxing and frequent trips to the annotated glossary provided at the end of the book can be expected. Nevertheless, the labor of this early chapter is necessary for the development of the book, and the reader is rewarded with some fascinating illustrations of the interplay of genomic expression and regulation with various diseases as they have transpired and evolved in the context of biopsychosocial historical events. Subsequent chapters further develop the reader's understanding of the niche-experience from the genomic environment to adaptive somatic networks to broad biological adaptive mechanisms (i.e., homeostasis, the stress response, and allostasis) to psychosocial adaptation. Again, the illustrations provided are both interesting and compelling in regard to the reciprocal nature of biological and psychosocial components and adaptive processes. The concluding chapter provides a relatively good summarization of the primary thesis of the book along with interesting case illustrations that describe quite diverse outcomes for individuals with similar biological vulnerability for psychiatric disorder. The impact of the concluding case illustrations, however, was limited by the author's editorializing regarding the biological bent of current psychiatric care.
As a book intended to build bridges across the divides of diverse scientific perspectives on human experience, this work aptly argues and illustrates that genes do not unilaterally dictate the course of our lives. Moreover, what is provided is a compelling theory of the genome that is part of a complex environmental niche that is characterized by a dynamically interplay of genetic material, biopsychosocial events, and organism response. What now is needed is an inductive development of data that places the theory on harder empirical ground.
The Tenth Circle
ISBN: 0743496701, $26.00 U.S./$36.00 Can., 387 pp.
For some, hell is a concept; for others, hell is inside ourselves where we confront personal truths. In the The Tenth Circle, Jodi Picoult explores dark places in perfect suburban lives. It's easy to understand her best-seller status. Her latest novel's twists and suspense will satisfy the most adrenaline-addicted reader.
Picoult's writing has matured. In Plain Truth, an early book, she explored the suspicious death of an unwed Amish mother's baby, nailing the battle between self and culture but filtering it through a soft lens. An occasional faulty detail pulled us out of the plot. Like this – a character, cruising a Wisconsin highway in early June muses about seeing corn in full tassel. Not going to happen in June, and anyone who knows that snaps right out of the story. There are no such slips in The Tenth Circle.
As the book opens, we get to know Laura, Daniel and Trixie in reminiscences and well-crafted conversations. All looks pretty normal, but a pointed uneasiness lurks. The novel, like a proverbial onion, unfolds in layers. The more we delve, the more Picoult shows us.
Laura and Daniel are role models of perfect middle class family life. She's a college professor; Daniel is a successful graphic novel artist, a stay-at-home dad who dotes on his daughter. We meet Daniel in a prologue reliving a parent's horror – his baby daughter is missing. We're shown that this is only the first time Daniel has to cope with the loss of his child. Trixie, a great kid, good student, pretty-as-a-picture, rebellious, and 15 years-old, will be gone again. Another layer.
Daniel grew up in an Eskimo village where his mother was the only teacher. He was the only white child. For children, different is terrible. For Daniel, the teasing was bad, but his self-inflicted feelings of exclusion from the clan were intolerable. With fists and rage he lashed out against his own demons, but held everyone else at fault. Stealing, drinking, fighting – then committing an unforgivable crime against his best friend, Cane. Daniel runs. From Alaska and from himself.
In Boston, buried in his art of creating graphic novels, he meets Laura, balm for unhealed wounds. She ends up pregnant and intimidated by his dark side. To win her for keeps, he clamps down on his wild streak, blanketing himself in middle-class normalcy like it's one of those protective bunny suits hazmat teams wear. He never wavers and, for fifteen years, life is uncannily right. Then that layer peels away and Trixie's tragedy sets fire to Daniel's fuse again.
"Daddy, he raped me…."
Those words ignite an explosion of action, emotion, confrontation and terror. Nothing is what it seems. Picoult must have set her keyboard on fire as she wrote. The energy and tumble-down acceleration is extraordinary. We follow 15 year-old Trixie on a 4100 mile Odyssey to strip away the final layers for that sense of closure critical to a good read. No lame gimmicks – real truths show the Stone family in sharp, unflinching detail.
Picoult's chapter transitions are intriguing with frame-by-frame segments of Daniel's graphic novel as an effective bridging device. Alternating between Picoult's plot and the graphic novel is fun, a place to catch your breath.
No novel is perfect, but it's tough to pick at this story's continuity. I wasn't aware of misplaced details. Picoult's complexity put me off at first. She's fond of omniscient point-of-view and, until I caught the rhythm of switching between her places, times and characters' thoughts, I felt disoriented. Was I inside Daniel's head or Laura's? Was it the present or the past? The author, herself, calls the project a "massive undertaking," and the research had to have been extreme. It shows with richness and texture. I tripped over minor pacing bumps at the beginning, but in the end, that complexity made the story as engaging as a fine game of cat's cradle.
Keeping Employees Accountable for Results
Brian Cole Miller
ISBN: 0814473202, $17.95, 145 pages
Roger E. Herman
Easy to Use Handbook
Accountability is essential to individual and organizational success, but few leaders know how to make it happen. Consequently, accountability remains at too high a level - far away from the people who really should be accountable for their work. Managers spend far too much of their valuable time chasing after details, progress reports, and hope-it-got-done worries. If there were a way to calculate the value of managerial time wasted because of our accountability deficiency, the cost would be astronomical. If you could calculate the cost to you, personally, it would far exceed the price of this book.
Miller presents his advice in a design that's easy to grasp - complete with anagram. He offers a SIMPLE system: Set expectations, Invite commitment, Measure results, Provide feedback, Link to consequences, and Evaluate effectiveness. Each of these components is explained in its own chapter, following the same format. The principle is presented, followed by an explanation of why it is important, then the how-to. Examples and checklists (good ones at the end of each chapter) strengthen the book's value.
You will gain a considerable amount of worthwhile knowledge, technique, and advice reading this book from cover to cover. However, the strongest benefit will come over time as you use this volume as a reference book, a handbook to return to for refreshers and reinforcement.
Idea: copy relevant items from the end-of-chapter checklists and use them as daily reminders that you're doing what must be done to build and maintain accountability. This is a book you'll want to keep close to your desk as an important companion. PS - the principles will work in non-business situations, as well.
The Bungler's Paradox: In Search of the Nexus, Book 1
10940 S. Parker Rd. -515, Parker, Colorado 80134
ISBN: 1598001140, $14.95, 244 pages
Sherryl King-Wilds, Reviewer
Meet Buggy Crenshaw. She is a writer--soon to be twelve--who often writes letters to Ernest Hemingway. She has an older brother, a secretive mother, and an inventor father who incessantly blows up the garage. For that matter, her father's last fiasco got him and his family on a fast track out of town.
Thus, the Crenshaws move to Lloyd's Hollow, a little town where the magic of imagination blossoms in the air. Here Buggy makes friends with Veronica and Sid on the first day of school.
Buggy soon finds that the Greater Good and the Darkest Evil are ever battling each other, and the Apocalypse will soon be upon the world if a collection of prophecies called "The Appendices of Souls" is opened and read under certain conditions.
Things get funky when the trio seeks information from a mystic living in, or over, a swamp; the trio gets the information it seeks and then some. Things get even funkier when the signs of the Apocalypse coalesce and Buggy, along with her friends, must face the Darkest Evil in a final showdown.... Or is this showdown just the beginning?
The Bungler's Paradox is a great story for kids--big, small or just young at heart. Buggy, Sid and Veronica present characters younger readers will relate to in a heartbeat while the storyline presents predicaments full of mischief and laugh-out-loud hilarity. Buggy's quirky line of thinking also revs up the good time while R.M. Wilburn's amusing voice shines through and through. In one word: COOL!
The NAZI Connection to Islamic Terrorism: Adolf Hitler and Haj Amin al-Husseini
Chuck A. Morse
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN: 0595289444, $15.95, 155 pp.
This describes a "playbook" being followed today, a historical method, almost to the letter by some latter day Moslems who are direct heirs of the German Nazi regime. These direct ties are usually footnotes, but in this case, the author has pinned the entire case against the Nazi-Moslem link, who was "lost" or at least remained unrecognized until this very timely book. This book is a biography of Haj Amin al-Husseini and the subsequent Nazi Connection to Islamic Terrorism.
This biography contains much of the same vernacular being used today by the same kind of media which Adolf Hitler employed to cover and deceive his enemies. This book describes a leadership path from the original Brotherhoods and Moslem associations until today's leadership from Egyptian through to Hamas in Palestine. It has photographs of al-Husseini and Hitler, his Nazi-Arabic troops, and then at his funeral, among other "dignitaries," the late Mr. Arafat. Today's national socialist leadership has now been exposed as what it is a direct, unpublicized German Nazi lineage.
Thus Chuck Morse lays out, in one breath practically, literal parallels with Hitler's mystical "living space" and the Arabic equivalent that necessitates complete military triumph worldwide. Here we find the same obscenity that fueled Hitler's dream and driven onward by means of propaganda. It makes one wonder how this highly relevant story might have escaped the attention of the world, but is now another point and pursuit for persons who study communication or media theory.
What al-Husseini relied on were the same "orchestrated" riots we've seen employed recently as even prior to the cartoon flap. Other lists of recent rioting can be apprised in a much different view after reading this biographic account of a master propagandist and his latter day brotherhoods. These riots and "outrage" are a recognized piece of a "playbook." Today's most perplexing question, or rationale behind Iran, are resolved in terms of frankly whether or not "they" ought to be trusted diplomatically. Morse has laid out this public relations playbook in plain practical terms with a new historical pivot. This book will explain the "big lie" method. For other readers, it will show the reverse, or big "omission" as it were, and leave them wondering about who, what, where, and how these historical people have not been so recognized before.
What is most frustrating, after reading this book published three years ago by an independent publisher, are such prescient comments Morse made then as "Spain being missed the most" by Islamacists, and now recently we've begun reading articles about Arabic children's books making such wishful statements.
This phrase "carefully orchestrated" has been the strategy behind riots and blood libel. Morse shows this to be part of wider strategy and gives enough names, dates, and references to satisfy any missing links. He is able to trace these tactics from times prior to al-Husseini and then we can plainly see how these have been implemented today. There is no excuse to support Nazis of any stripe or nation, but after reading this book frankly, there will be no excuse to have supported the present Islamacist regime in any manner except perhaps this thread was not ever delineated so well until this particular book. You will share Chuck Morse's astonishment over what are serious historical omissions in this admirably clear, effective 155 page book.
Miss Webster and Sherif
ISBN: 0747582777, $29.95, 244 pages
"She was marched across the atrium to yet another security gate. The guards stood at ease, watching the shifting line of passengers, their hands on their machine guns".
Our first meeting with Elizabeth Webster is entirely uncharacteristic. She is uncertain, lost, and soon in tears - an "abandoned, fragile old lady" in a foreign airport, and unable to speak the language. Nothing in these first few pages prepares us for the fiercely independent, tough old bird, fluent mistress of modern swearing as well as Classical French, who emerges from these pages a short time later.
But Elizabeth Webster has been ill. It was not a stroke, or a heart attack, she just "came to a dead halt", was "beached", "crash landed in a desert". It was nothing anyone could really explain, but her doctor - an ugly man with hideously deformed hands, who is equally as eccentric and stubborn as Elizabeth - diagnoses a complex form of breakdown, something only the patient herself can explain and cure. He prescribes a journey, far away, to somewhere totally unfamiliar, but to a place where her beloved French language is spoken.
So, Elizabeth Webster travels to Morocco. And there, her strength returns and she again becomes "Miss Webster" - sharp-tongued, fiercely independent, authoritative, and confidently dismissive of terrorism, bombs and politics, yet suddenly a little more open to new experiences. She is a wonderful, funny and believable character, very much in the mould (as she herself suggests) of Agatha Christie's Miss Marples, but she lives in the 21st Century world of rock concerts, mobile phones, computers, xenophobia and terrorism.
In Morocco, in the strange desert landscapes and in the unfamiliar culture, Elizabeth Webster encounters people whose lives, unexpectedly, will change her own. Back in her English cottage, and back amongst the neighbours she either loathes, ignores or wars with, she suddenly becomes landlady to a young Moroccan man who turns up on her doorstep and who, to her own surprise, she invites to stay.
Sherif is an enigma. He has come to England to be a foreign student at the nearby university but has not yet been formally accepted. Elizabeth Webster helps him to negotiate the initial hurdles, experiences first-hand some of the racism he will encounter in the local community, and becomes a sort of eccentric aunt to him. She is protective but aloof as she learns, not without difficulty, to share her house, her meals and her time with this charming stranger.
And Sherif, polite and thoughtful as he is, remains a stranger: even, at times, not seeming to recognize his own name. Elizabeth Webster becomes increasingly aware of this and she notes Sherif's seeming lack of contact with his home and family and his deep absorption in TV news reports of war and terrorism, especially in his own Muslim world. It bothers her, but not seriously until, after a bizarre accident and news coverage of the fall of Baghdad, she decides to surprise Sherif by taking him home to Morocco for a brief holiday. The results are surprising, plausible but not always believable, and an interesting resolution to the story; and Patricia Duncker is a fine enough story-teller to carry it off.
Miss Webster and Sherif is a funny and absorbing story. Patricia Duncker's descriptions of the desert landscapes are superb and her accounts of life in a modern English village (seen, of course, from Miss Webster's point-of-view) are caustically realistic and wry . With great skill, Drunker smuggles in some of the most serious issues of our time without ever becoming ponderous and, as one would hope from a Professor of Creative Writing, this book is beautifully written, imaginative and enjoyable.
ISBN: 0747582254, $29.95, 155 pages
This book was not at all what I expected. I can't remember what I had read about it, but I was looking forward to enjoying another collection of Margaret Atwood's short stories, like Wilderness Tips or Bluebeard's Egg. Instead, this is a collection of brief flights of imagination which are, as the media release says "smart and entertaining fictional essays...chilling and witty, prescient and personal, delectable and tart."
There is no doubt of Margaret Atwood's inventiveness and skill, and individually many of these pieces are very funny. However, this is a book to be taken in small doses, because the cumulative effect is brittle, joyless and decidedly uncomfortable.
One piece, 'Voice', describes the writer's impression that her artistic 'voice' is attached to her like "the translucent greenish membrane" which balloons our of "a frog in full trill"; and Atwood's accompanying drawing shows it as plant-like tendrils on which a small heart blooms. It is an interesting conceit, but this writer's 'voice' threatens to take over her life. It becomes her public persona - it is the voice people want, not her. Margaret Atwood's 'voice' is certainly strong and distinctive throughout this book, but is it her only voice? Other books would suggest not. And even if it is, does she not have a choice about that? Perhaps the attractions of being wanted for that public voice outweigh the disadvantages. As the writer in this particular piece notes, she and her voice sit in a hotel suite, rather than just a hotel room, "because it's still nothing but the best for us".
It is a pity that the title piece of this book, 'The Tent', is placed so near the end, because only after I had read it did the framework for all the pieces in the book become clear; and only then, too, did the words and shapes on the distinctive red and black cover ("designed by Atwood and Wood") have some meaning. The tent of this short story is a fragile shelter, a place to which "you" retreat from the threatening demons of a hostile world. As a sort of magical protective ritual, you must write constantly on the paper walls of your tent in order to protect your loved ones and to keep the demons at bay. The parallel with what any writer does when they retreat into their paper world and erect barriers of words is clear; and that most of the pieces in this book deal with various ills is also clear; but by using the impersonal 'you' Atwood includes us in this story. Perhaps if I had read this piece first I would have found the whole book less disturbing. But it is more likely that it was Atwood's intention to disturb the reader. Certainly the world she describes in this book is our world, and the demons are our demons.
Margaret Atwood has always been concerned with the demons which threaten our world but her early warning system is never polemic - she never harangues us. Instead, she makes imaginative extrapolations from things which she sees already happening, and suggests what the outcome might be if we do nothing to stop it. So, The Handmaid's Tale was like an early warning to women of the dangers of letting men control technological development. And Oryx and Crake was her most recent vision of the possible future of our brave new world, its bleak outlook well tempered with ironic humour.
There is still plenty of this humour in The Tent, but the overall mood is darker and less optimistic. The final two stories in the book appear to offer a lifeline - a baby survives a cataclysmic disaster in a treetop; a bulb is planted in the dirt from which new life may come - but this lifeline is so fragile and comes so late that by the time it is thrown the world may seem to be so drowned in mud that you will already have given up hope and accepted your fate. That, however, is not Margaret Atwood's way.
Many of the pieces in The Tent have been published before, in small magazines; in journals; as limited editions; and as part of fund raising schemes for disaster relief groups or wildlife funds. Collected together in a book like this they are likely to find a larger, more diverse, readership. The Tent may not be what many readers expect, or want, of Margaret Atwood's 'voice', and it may not change the world, but at least she is doing what the increasingly desperate leaders of 'Take Charge' command: "Well", they say as imminent disaster seems unavoidable "do the best you can". And Margaret Atwood's best is always worth reading.
Ann Skea, Reviewer
How On Earth Did Jesus Become A God?
Larry W. Hurtado
Eerdmans Publishing Company
255 Jeferson Avenue, SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
0802828612 $20.00 www.eerdmans.com
How On Earth Did Jesus Become A God?: Historical Questions About The Earliest Devotion To Jesus by Larry W. Hurtado (Professor of New Testament Language, Literature, and Theology, University of Edinburgh, Scotland)is an informed and scholarly study on the perception of Jesus in the early Christian movement. Investigating the absurdly quick infatuation which so many Christians adopted after the death of Christ, and His inclusion into what became the Christian faith, How On Earth Did Jesus Become A God? delves into many ideals focused on the Christian historical significance and progression of it's central personality. How On Earth Did Jesus Become A God? is very strongly recommended and thought-provoking reading for all seminary students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the evolution of the Christian faith in general, and the role and perception of Jesus of Nazareth within that evolving theology.
Creation vs. Evolution
Ralph O. Muncaster
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop N, Eugene, OR 97402
DVD $19.99 1-877-307-0662
Creation vs. Evolution: What Do Current Scientific Discoveries Reveal? this superbly produced 135-minute DVD by Ralph O. Muncaster (founder and executive director of the Institute of Contemporary Christian Faith and established Christian author) deftly address the ongoing argument between the validity of creation over that of evolution. Painstakingly researched and knowledgeably presented from the perspective of a renowned Christian scholar, Creation vs. Evolution educates its viewers with respect to creationist supportive studies consisting of microbiology, physics, probability analysis, and cosmology. Enhanced with computer animations and illustrative graphics, Creation vs. Evolution is a thorough and well-produced documentation of creationist viewpoints and counterarguments, and is highly recommended to all students and leaders of the Christian faith dealing with the issues of creationism and intelligent design.
Harbors Of Heaven
4 Brattle St, Cambridge, MS 02138
156101267X $14.95 www.cowley.org
Harbors Of Heaven: Bethlehem And The Places We Love by Jeffrey Johnson (Pastor of Peace Lutheran Church) is an encouraging story of pilgrimage, shrines, sanctuaries, and the land that Jesus called the Kingdom of God. Drawing upon favorite Biblical texts, outstanding poetry from numerous poets, and the self-reported accounts of the authors interesting childhood, Harbors Of Heaven delves into the psychological attachment which we all so seemingly have to places that have special meaning for us. Very highly recommended to those students of the Christian faith wishing for a greater understanding of their faiths encouragement toward the importance and reflection of relationships with all, Harbors Of Heaven enlightens the reader and gives rise to inevitable, thoughtful introspection.
Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr.
1300 Crescent St, Wheaton, IL 60187
1581347278 $27.99 www.crossway.com
Isaiah: God Saves Sinners by Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr. (Senior Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee) is an expository commentary of the Old Testament Book of Isaiah. As an informative and inspirational companion to the studying this great Biblical prophet, Isaiah: God Saves Sinners offers a "reader friendly" and accessible understanding of Isaiah's writings, and is to be given especially high praise for its remarkable analysis. God Saves Sinners is commended to students of the scriptures as an invaluable and irreplaceable commentary and reference.
Where Jesus Walked
108 Milky Way, Shippensburg, PA 17257
1591453445 $24.99 email@example.com
Where Jesus Walked: Experience The Presence Of God, with photography by Ken Duncan, and excerpts from the Holy Scriptures, the disciples, and many other known and important writers, is ideal as a coffee table book for Christian households and church school libraries. Where Jesus Walked introduces the reader to the rare vicarious experience of walking, traveling, and feeling where Christ himself once lived, taught, prophesied, healed, and died. Where Jesus Walked is very strongly recommended to all non-specialist general readers with an interest in Christian historical documentation, as well as those following the path of faith in Christ Jesus.
Praying: The Rituals Of Faith
445 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10016
1596270160 $16.00 www.churchpublishing.org
Praying: The Rituals Of Faith by Lucinda Mosher (an academician, theologian, and a member of the Diocese of New York Episcopal-Muslim Relations Committee), is a thoroughly "reader friendly" introduction the many faiths composing contemporary American neighbors and neighborhoods. As an interfaith guide for Christians Prayer: The Rituals Of Faith will provide an informed understanding of their neighborhoods of varying faiths. Praying: The Rituals Of Faith focuses on public, family, and personal worship, with an insightful discussion of how different faith may become more apt to join together for a collective service or prayer, thus enhancing the relationship and practice as an enlightening and educating experience. Praying: The Rituals Of Faith is very strongly recommended to all Christians with an open mind for exploration and interfaith unity among their fellow community members to address social needs and issues through cooperative community based efforts.
His Cross Never Burns
Alethia W. George
The Local History Company
112 North Woodland Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15332-2849
0974471534 $19.95 1-412-362-2294 www.thelocalhistorycompany.com
His Cross Never Burns: The Life Of The Reverend Samuel Williams George by Alethia George is an informed biographical look into the inspirational life of the great Reverend Samuel Williams George. As the wife of Reverend Samuel George, Alethia has produced His Cross Never Burns as an intimate telling of the man's commitment and the strength which he received from such incredible devotion to his faith. His Cross Never Burns is very strongly recommended reading, especially for those in study of African-American, history, the Civil Rights movement, and Christian living, as Reverend Samuel Williams George has been committed to his faith, family and church for the full of his inspiring life.
How The Bible Was Built
Charles Merrill Smith & James W Bennett
Eerdmans Publishing Co.
255 Jefferson Avenue S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49503
0802829430 $12.00 www.eerdmans.com
Knowledgeably co-written by the late United Methodist Minister Charles Merrill Smith (1919-1985) and is long time friend and award winning author of several young adult novels, James W. Bennett How The Bible Was Built is a superb introduction to just how the Bible did come to be as we know it today. As an in-depth exploration of what influences, ideas, concepts, people, and visions were inspiration for the gathering and writing of the Bible, How The Bible Was Built offers readers a greater understanding and premise to work from when viewing the unfathomable records of such a holy and influential scripture. How The Bible Was Built is very strongly recommended to all students of the Holy Bible (be they clergy, laymen, or theology students) for its casual and easy-to-read formatting, filled with educated and invaluable understandings from first page to last.
Bob Knight: The Unauthorized Biography
Steve Delsohn and Mark Heisler
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 074324348X, $25.00, 335 pages
During his career as a college basketball coach Bob Knight has collected three NCAA titles, 11 Big Ten titles, and, up to the start of this season, 854 victories, placing him second on the all time wins list behind Dean Smith. Already a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, Knight's place in the collegiate basketball history is already assured no matter how his present coaching stint at Texas Tech finally plays out.
Acknowledged by his admirers, as well as those who loathe him, as a brilliant coach, Knight's career has been marred by a series of incidents that have cast a cloud over his accomplishments. In "Bob Knight: The Unauthorized Biography" Steve Delsohn and Mark Heisier look at how irrational behavior and bizarre temper tantrums have been as much a part of Bob Knight's story as winning basketball games.
Nothing new, Knight's penchant for losing control and berating officials, players, the press and even college administrators can be traced back to his days as a young head coach at Army. The reason Knight's behavior was tolerated and even condoned underscores everything that is wrong with athletics. Although we would like to believe otherwise, in all too many situations from Little League to the pros, winning is everything. The most outlandish and unacceptable behavior has often been deemed acceptable or at least it has been tolerated as long as the victory tally keeps climbing!
Knight's antics became more outrageous as he became more successful. The youngest coach in history to reach the 100 and 200 win levels, the University of Indiana's boy wonder won his first NCAA title at age 35. Unfortunately, Coach Knight's emotional outbusts generated as much print as his team's victories.
Tom Boswell of the "Washington Post" once wrote, "To call Knight a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality would be understatement. It took Jekyll several seconds of gasping and fang-growing to become Hyde. Knight can do it in a flash."
Time and again, in practice, at court side, during press conferences, while traveling in the team bus or airplane, and even in restaurants, Knight has shown just how accurate this assessment of his volatile personality is.
Much, perhaps too much, has already been written about Knight's notoriety so perhaps another book really isn't necessary. Delsohn and Heisler draw on the a number of these previous volumes including Knight's biography ("Knight: My Story"), but they have also interviewed 145 sources including former players, colleagues of the embattled coach, and sports writers.
By showing a step-by-step progression from his days as a player through the glory days of coaching at Army and then IU, the authors show how Knight's problems were exacerbated by the reluctance of league officials and college administrators to stand up to him.
Like the undoing of another legendary Big Ten coach, Ohio State's Woody Hayes, Knight eventually went too far and his tumultuous tenure at IU ended in 2000.
Now in his middle 60s, the enfant terrible of college basketball has moved on to the state of Texas where he was offered a coaching position in 2001. Knight has turned the Texas Tech floundering program around and he certainly will eclipse Dean Smith's 879 career victories this season or next, but has he changed? Even his harshest critics say he has mellowed but the outbursts still apparently occur.
Like one of his fellow coaches who acknowledged Knight's technical ability in one breath and then finished by saying he would never want his son to play for Knight (because of the abuse he doles out to his players), I have to think there may be more important things in life than winning a basketball game. How one treats other people should count for something!
Mr. Knight has vilified the media on more than one occasion, but, no doubt, he is laughing all the way to the bank as this latest installment of what has become the long running Bobby Knight Saga plays out.
Golfing With God
ISBN: 1565125010, $23.95, 277 pages
Henry "Hank" Fins-Winston is in heaven, which is pretty remarkable considering he was a golf pro on earth. Although in his past life he was a failure on the professional circuit, Hank was an exceptional teacher, which explains why the pro has been called in to help iron out some quirks in the Almighty's game.
To this end, God and Hank play some heavenly courses in paradise and on earth. Not long into their golf tour, Hank realizes that he is the one being taught some important lessons about fearing failure, seizing second chances, and about using one's God-given abilities to improve oneself.
It's not often one gets a second chance but Hank does in this amusing and uplifting story that focuses a philosophical light on life, faith, and our role in this world and the next.
Calling golf a solitary journey where man struggles against himself in communion with nature, Merullo says, "It soon became clear to me that golf, with its heartbreak and exultation, was a kind of metaphor for the spiritual adventure…that foolish-looking game, holds a secret within it, a mysterious series of life lessons."
With a touch of humor, Merullo shares with his reader some of the life lessons imbedded in this challenging, frustrating and, yes, glorious pastime.
006073678X, $7.99, 447 pages
Dubbed a "the thinking man's" thriller and sporting a high tech, eye-catching cover, "Improbable" features a brilliant mathematician and compulsive gambler who is also prone to crippling epileptic seizures. When David Caine agrees to test an experimental medicine to alleviate his condition, he discovers the drug has some unnerving side effects.
Not only does he have inexplicable visions of the past, present, and future, but Caine can now foresee the consequences of his own actions and the probability of various outcomes. Unable to keep his extraordinary powers a secret, Caine's life becomes a nightmare as others wish to use him and his special ability.
A fascinating blend of mathematical concepts and suspense, it is exceedingly likely that "Improbable" will capture the fancy of a wide range of readers - not just those who love unusual thrillers.
How To Be Pope
85 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
0811852210 $10.95 www.chroniclebooks.com
How To Be Pope: What To Do And Where To Go Once You're In The Vatican by Piers Marchant is a humorous approach to informing the reader of everything to do with being the Pope, and knowing the Vatican City. As a highly informative and instructional reference for the holy city and positioning, How To Be Pope is well written to cover every imaginable detail of being elected Pope, including the answers to questions like: who does my laundry?; can I keep a pet?; how do I make phone calls?; which hat do I wear when?; do I have a special wave? and many more interesting and fun facts. How To Be Pope is very highly recommended to all visitors of the Vatican City, as well as to those expecting to become elected as the next Pope.
Orthodox And Wesleyan Scriptural Understanding And Practice
S. T. Kimbrough
575 Scarsdale Rd, Crestwood, NY 10707
0881413011 $17.95 www.svspress.com
Orthodox And Wesleyan Scriptural Understanding And Practice, expertly edited by S. T. Kimbrough (Associate General Secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church) is an essential introductory collection of essays addressed to issues of scriptural authority and interpretation of the Orthodox and Wesleyan traditions. As an intricate and deep study of the four main sections: Orthodox Scriptural Understanding and Practice; Mutual Learning between Orthodox and Methodists; Wesleyan Scriptural Understanding and Practice; and Liturgy and Scriptural Interpretation, Orthodox And Wesleyan Scriptural Understanding And Practice is an scholarly and accessibly organized resource which is highly recommended to ecumenical students of Orthodox and Wesleyan theology, rituals, sacraments, and history.
The Limitations Of Scientific Truth
PO Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
0825422531 $14.99 www.amazon.com
The Limitations Of Scientific Truth: Why Science Can't Answer Life's Ultimate Questions by Nigel Brush (Assistant Professor of Geology at Ashland University in Ohio) is an in-depth study of the limitation of the physical sciences and their ultimate inability to answer particular question which only the revealed truths and fundamental faith of Christianity can address. As a highly informed analysis of theological and scientific contemporary conflicts, The Limitations Of Scientific Truth is an extensively researched and ably presented discussion of solidification for Christian beliefs not liable to be compromised by the progressive discoveries of the scientific method. The Limitations Of Scientific Truth is very highly recommended reading for students and practitioners of the Christian faith regardless of denominational affiliation.
Seven Angels For Seven Days
Augsburg Fortress Publishers
PO Box 59304, Minneapolis, MN 55459
1894860306 $16.99 www.afcanada.com
Seven Angels For Seven Days by Angelina Fast-Vlaar (a retired college instructor and mother of five) embodies the author's experience during an eventful and problematic camping trip through the Australian outback with her late husband, Peter.. Following Angelina and Peter through their endlessly engaging true-life adventure involving a near-death path and an overly difficult struggle with reality, Seven Angels For Seven Days brings readers swiftly into an experience in which God was the only one to turn too as the trip developed into hazards, loneliness, depression, and grief. Seven Angels For Seven Days is very highly recommended reading both as a biographical non-fiction readers and for its ultimately encouraging message regarding the divine grace of God.
Making Your Dreams Your Destiny
Castle Quay Books
c/o Augsburg Fortress Publishers
4001 Grantz Road, Suite E, Grove City, OH 43123-1891
1894860330 $17.99 www.afcanada.com
Making Your Dreams Your Destiny by author, speaker, and corporate communications consultant Judy Rushfeldt is an inspirational guide to releasing the restraints that so many woman have, preventing them from contentment, fulfillment, or true enhancement of life overall. Enhanced with Notes and concluding with "Peace with God", Making Your Dreams Your Destiny is nicely organized into the following twelve sections: The Message of the Boxes; Daring to Dream; Your Spiritual Birthright; The Nurtured Heart; The Restored Heart; Embracing Change; Unfolding Vision; Discerning Your Passions; Defining Mission, Vision and Goals; Dream Thieves; Conquering Fear; and Run to Win. Making Your Own Dreams Your Destiny is particularly commended for self-help, self-improvement supplemental reading lists.
The PAPA Prayer
5250 Virginia Way, Suite 110, Brentwood, TN 37027
TC Public Relations (publicity)
333 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 2116, Chicago, IL 60601
1591454247 $21.99 www.integritypublishers.com
The PAPA Prayer by Larry Crabb is an intriguing theological interpretation of the contemporary and traditional prayer. Presenting the reader with four significant guidelines, Present yourself to God without pretense, Attend to how you're thinking of God, Purge yourself of anything blocking your relationship with God, and Approach God as the "first thing" in your life, hence the PAPA, The PAPA Prayer diligently and tactfully guides its readers to an effective and subversive modern style of prayer. The PAPA Prayer is very highly recommended to all Christians searching for a more innovative and creative approach to practicing their faith and their prayers in the coming of a modern age.
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
TC Public Relations (publicity)
333 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 2116, Chicago, IL 60601
0801065658 $12.99 www.bakerbooks.com
No one does more damage to the message and image of Christianity than Christians themselves. Damage Control: How To Stop Making Jesus Look Bad by Dean Merrill offers an intriguing interpretation of societal perspectives which so frequently render Christ in poor view and how Christians might assist as His earthly ambassadors to improve His image and redeem His position with respect to the broader world. Introducing the reader to a remarkable understanding of what might be the cause of people's interpretive and illusive vision of Christ, Damage Control reminds its readers that each individual can validly make a difference in the minds of others and their often negative view. Damage Control is very strongly recommended to all Christians, regardless of their denominational affiliation, who witness the pains of noting the declining popularity of their faith and Savior, and wishing to help as much as possible to remedy that loss of stature and status through becoming a positive influence.
Stop Reading And Start Proclaiming
160 E. Virginia Street, #290, San Jose, CA 9511201
0893906301 $23.95 www.amazon.com
Stop Reading And Start Proclaiming by professional actor, director and management consultant Douglas Leal is an instructional compilation of basic strategies and techniques to be heard when expressing verbal proclamations and sermons to groups in private or public settings. with it's easy-to-follow format, Stop Reading And Start Proclaiming consist of an introduction and ten chapters devoted: Working on Storytelling; Working on Preparing the Text; Working on Voice; Working on Physicalization; Working on Intention; Working on Emotion; Working on Being Real; Working on Stage Fright and Other Annoyances; Putting It All Together; and Living the Word with Your Life. Stop Reading And Start Proclaiming is very highly recommended to all clergy and laity searching for an effective and "user friendly" workbook that will potentially make their speeches and oral presentations truly accomplished when proclaiming Scripture.
Meditations For The Grieving
Richard L. Morgan
616 Walnut Avenue, Scottdale, PA 15683-1999
0836193202 $9.99 1-800-759-4447 www.heraldpress.com
Sometime in the course of their life, everyone experiences the phenomena of grief for the loss of a loved one. In Meditations For The Grieving, Richard L. Morgan has compiled series of meditations, each of which is passed upon a passage of scripture, that will prove helpful, insightful, thoughtful, and accessible for anyone having to deal with the coming of death into their circle of family and friends. Ideal for dealing not only with the passing of a loved one, there are meditations to help in the days, weeks, and months that follow, and meditations to inspire the mourner into moving on into the rest of their lives. If you or someone you care for is grieving a loss, the Meditations For The Grieving can be of immeasurable comfort and help in such a time of sadness and change.
The Eleventh Commandment
G. Vaughn Smith
Thirsty Turtle Press
PO Box 402, Maggie Valley, NC 28751
0972903860 $24.95 www.thirstyturtlepress.com
The Eleventh Commandment: A Story of Success is the testimony of a man who suffered terrible loss and contemplated suicide, but chose instead to search for understanding of God. He read the New Testament of the Bible from cover to cover ten times over the next fourteen years, and discovered the dichotomy between organized Christianity versus the documented teachings of Jesus Christ. Now he presents what he has learned to the world at large. A passionate Christian who believes that strict adherence to Jesus Christ's teachings is sadly all too lacking in today's modern church; for example, the author points out that Jesus' saying "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery" implies that those who divorce and remarry are violating one of the ten commandments, yet most Protestant churches freely allow remarriage after divorce. The Eleventh commandment exhorts against how Christianity is misused to pursue personal and political agendas today - Jesus' teachings are not about electing people who will change the laws to force others to live as we demand, nor is it about accumulating wealth and living in personal comfort and complacency. Written with the intent to help bring enlightenment to both individual believers and organized religious institutions, The Eleventh Commandment is a passionate book about personal belief, individual actions of faith and charity, the transformation of turning over one's life to God, and how God is the one and only source to turn to for help in times of need.
Being Single in the Church Today
4775 Linglestown Road, Harrisburg, PA 17112
0819222070 $17.95 1-800-877-0012 www.morehousepublishing.com
Written by a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Being Single in the Church Today: Insights from History and Personal Stories recognizes that an increasingly greater portion of modern society and those attending church are single, and examines the implications for church society and ministry. Discussing the situations for churches in Britain, Ireland, Europe, and America, Being Single in the Church Today looks plainly at issues of sexuality, the difficulty of finding a suitable partner, the shortage of single Christian men that puts single Christian women at a distinct disadvantage, interviews with numerous Christian singles about their experiences and perspectives, and much more. Supported by a careful gathering of statistics, Being Single in the Church Today does not fall back on a preachy tone or closed-minded attitudes, but honestly and realistically approaches how the church can best adapt to help single people nurture their faith.
Norma Cook Everest
PO Box 801, 201 Eighth Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37202-0801
0687038014 $15.00 www.abingdonpress.com
In State Of Becoming: From Contention To Collaboration by Norma Cook Everist (Professor of Church Administration and Educational Ministry at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa) is a seminal and thoroughly "reader friendly" study on the issues and dealings of conflict within church. Informatively engaging readers from first page to last, In State Of Becoming deftly covers commonly controversial issues affecting the church and effective, practical, and tactics with which to avoid, ameliorate, or positively assist in resolving disputative issues for the betterment of the churches larger interests. In State Of Becoming is very highly recommended to the clergy and laity of the Christian congregation for the coordination and progression of the church through its many likely and inevitable controversies.
Willis M. Buhle
Eastern Pacific Nudibranchs
David W. Behrens & Alicia Hermosillo
4 Somerset Rise, Monterey, CA 93940
0930118367 $35.00 www.amazon.com
Knowledgeably co-authored by Nudibranch enthusiasts David W. Behrens and Alicia Hermosillo, Eastern Pacific Nudibranchs: A Guide To The Opisthobranches From Alaska To Central America is an informed and informative study of the intriguing world of underwater slugs. Introducing the reader to and intricate undersea life form, Eastern Pacific Nudibranchs covers in thorough detail the individualistic attributes of the many little creatures and species of Nudibranchs the authors have co-operatively discovered and extensively studied. Eastern Pacific Nudibranchs is very strongly recommended to all readers with an interest in underwater sea-life, as well as those studying the Pacific Coast ecosystems, as Eastern Pacific Nudibranchs contains countless details and up-close pictures of every given species of the peculiar little creatures.
Fishing Lure Collectibles
Dudley Murphy & Deanie Murphy
PO Box 3009, Paducah, KY 42002
1574324926 $29.95 www.amazon.com
Fishing Lure Collectibles: An Encyclopedia Of The Modern Era, 1940 To Present by Dudley and Deanie Murphy is an in-depth illustrated compendium showcasing the great variety of fishing lures which have been developed from 1940 to the present time. Featuring the many intricate details and specifics which characterizes each of the presented lures, Fishing Lure Collectibles introduces the reader to literally hundreds of lures along with such details as their name, date released, length, a color photograph, short notes, and a price value, Fishing Lure Collectibles really delves into an unknown analysis of the world of fishing lures and their historical background. From the Glitter Bug released in 1944 to the Redhorse Spearing Decoy in 2003, Fishing Lure Collectibles truly is the ultimate guide and encyclopedia of fishing lures since the year 1940, and is very strongly recommended to all collectors of lures, as well as general fishermen.
Scott E. Williams
Sports Publishing LLC
804 North Neil Street, Champaign, IL 61820
1596700211 $24.95 1-217-363-2072 www.sportspublishinglcc.com
Very highly recommended reading for all dedicated fans of professional wrestling, Hardcore History: The Extremely Unauthorized Story Of The ECW by journalist and sports enthusiast Scott E. Williams is an impressively informed and informative history Eastern Championship Wrestling in 1992 and Extreme Championship wrestling in 2001). Drawing from a wealth of original research based on interviews with wrestlers, fans, business partners and officials of the company in order to obtain an comprehensive understanding of the peculiar fall of the ECW company (including as to whether their rival WCW was behind it), Hardcore History is an uncompromising and revealing study of the rise and fall of the ECW.
Chaos And Harmony
Trinh Xuan Thuan
Templeton Foundation Press
300 Conshohocken State Road, Suite 550, West Conshohocken, PA 19428
1932031979 $22.95 www.templetonpress.org
Chaos And Harmony: Perspectives On Scientific Revolutions Of The Twentieth Century by Trinh Xuan Thaun (Professor of Astronomy at the University of Virginia since 1976) is an exploratory study and survey of the extraordinary advancements which modern science has made possible in the progression in understanding so many mysteries that engaged the minds and curiosity of so many scientists over recent decades. With the application of modern science, Chaos And Harmony inspects the philosophical and theological implications of astrological and astrophysical breakthroughs and past perceptions. Chaos And Harmony brilliantly explains in an elaborate format the intricacies and answers to many sought questions and misunderstandings, and is to be given high praise strong recommended for students of astrophysics, astrology, as well as readers with an interest in the theological or philosophical perspectives which the sciences may substantially counter and/or support.
Voices of the New Arab Public
Columbia University Press
61 West 62nd Street, New York, NY 10023-7015
0231134487 $24.50 1-800-944-8648 www.columbiaedu/cu/cup
Voices of the New Arab Public: Iraq, Al-Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today boldly reveals that the era of monolithic Arab opinion are over. Examining how Al-Jazeera and other satellite television stations have revolutionized Arab journalism and politics by breaking state control over information, Voices of the New Arab Public particularly focuses upon the Al-Jazeera era in context of the challenges facing modern Iraq. Political science professor Marc Lynch offers a fascinating study of the history, present day, and future of new voices flourishing in the middle east.
250 West 57th Street, #1321, New York, NY 10107
158648334X $27.50 1-877-782-1234 www.publicaffairsbooks.com
Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism is the eye-popping true story of how raucous and undisciplined American journalism once was. Feuds, partisanship, and outright lies often colored journalism of the era. Some founding fathers, such as Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and Sam Adams, were leading journalists, others, such as George Washington and John Adams, passionately disdained journalists; and Thomas Jefferson was a skillful manipulator of journalists. Infamous Scribblers is divided into three sections: "The Role of Authority", "The Approach of War", and "The Tumult of Peace", all tracing the contentious relationship between the founding fathers and journalism throughout the birth of America. Highly recommended for American history shelves, and an absolute "must-have" for public and college libraries.
John J. Bukowczyk, et al.
University Of Pittsburgh Press
2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB, Canada, T2N 1N4
0822942615 $34.95 www.uofcpress.com
A perfectly unified co-authorship of seminal scholarship by the team of John J. Bukowczyk (Professor of History and Director of the Canadian Studies Program at Wayne State University in Detroit), Nora Faires (Associate Professor of History and Women's Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo), David R. Smith (History Instructor and Academic Advisor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) and Randy Williams Widdis (Professor of Geography at the University of Regina) who have expertly collaborated to present an informed and informative history of the Great Lakes significance in America's modern trade in the Preamble Border: The Great Lakes Basin As Transnational Region, 1650-1990. A work of impeccable scholarship and painstaking research, Preamble Border is a seminal benchmark reference for the significant activity on the Great Lakes for trade between its most active years of 1650 and 1990. A work of impressive originality and very strongly recommended to any reader with an interest in the history of the Great Lakes region, Permeable Border provides an excellent documentation of the Great Lakes trading patterns and influences.
Michael J. Carson
Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Godel
W.W. Norton & Co.
ISBN: 0393051692, $22.95, 296 pp.
Even among literati, Kurt Godel is hardly a household name although in 1999 he was celebrated by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential scientists of the 20th century. Picking up where Douglas Hofstadter (Godel, Escher, Bach; Vintage Books, 1979) left off almost three decades ago, Rebecca Goldstein provides, in elegant prose, a highly readable, though sometimes necessarily abstruse, account of the great mathematician/logician's life and work.
Dr. Goldstein brings impressive credentials to this task. She received her PhD in the Philosophy of Science at Princeton; close enough to Godel's academic home at the Institute for Advanced Study, to have hobnobbed with him at faculty-grad student functions. A prize winner in her own right for her novels (e.g. The Mind-Body Problem, Random House, 1983; Properties of Light: A Novel of Love, Betrayal, and Quantum Physics, Houghton Mifflin, 2000), she is the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, sometimes referred to as the "genius award."
Goldstein follows Godel's life (1906-1978) from his precocious childhood, when he developed an "anxiety neurosis" that led to life-long paranoiac ideas of heart failure and poisoning; his doctoral student days in Vienna as a closet Platonist (ideas are realer than real) among dedicated Positivists (If you can't measure it don't bother me.); his flight from Hitler's demonic grasp in 1940; his close friendship with his colleague at the Institute for Advanced Study, Albert Einstein, who said he went to his office "just to have the privilege of walking home with Kurt Godel."
In this new age of polemics one might think that mathematics, or at least simple arithmetic, would be the last bastion of certitude. The mathematician's credo begins plainly enough: One plus one equals two - now and forever. Godel demonstrated that it was simply not possible to prove the consequences of this assertion or indeed any systematic assertions from within that system; there would always be one or more statements that might be true but beyond proof, hence the system's provability must be considered incomplete. The logic may be familiar to you as The Liar's Paradox: All Cretans are liars. I am a Cretan. It would follow then that since I am a Cretan, I am a liar. But, if I am a liar and I made the statement "All Cretans are liars." then the statement I made about all Cretans being liars must be false. However, if it is false and I am not a liar then the statement "All Cretans are liars." must be true, and on and on it goes, in what logician's refer to as a "strange loop." In 1930, Godel, in his typically understated manner, presented his "Incompleteness Proof" using a parallel symbolic system (Godel numbering) to a mostly distracted audience eager to get home. Not long after the revolutionary implications of Godel's proof became apparent and the dust still hasn't settled.
It seems sad, though I doubt the old man would have thought so; he died in an anorexic whisper of 65 pounds, refusing to eat, living instead on the ideas that immortalize him. His epitaph might have been:
But, every error is due to extraneous factors (such as emotion and education); reason itself does not err.
-Kurt Godel- (From the frontispiece of Incompleteness)
Incompleteness is well worth reading, even by literate math phobics who will find no formulas within. Rebecca Goldstein has done a masterful job of presenting complex principles of logic and the exotic life of the man that produced them. Readers might also want to read Palle Yourgrau's A World Without Time (Perseus Books, 2005) for more on the relationship between Godel and Einstein, particularly Godel's stunning insights into special relativity and the concept of time. For another angle, the contrast between the handling of Godel's mental illness and that of an indigent psychiatric patient, there is A.R. Cellura's The Genomic Environment and Niche-Experience (Cedar Springs Press, 2005).
A World Without Time: The Forgotten Legacy of Godel And Einstein
ISBN: 0465092934, $24.00, 210 pp.
It's about time.
Beyond the apocalyptic sense, we might be running out of time; not the 'time' handed down from a Homeric Cronos or from Ecclesiastes (For everything there is a season…) or Prufrockian events (There will be time, there will be time. To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet…).
Einstein's General Theory of Relativity (GTR) introduced a much more elemental, modern and counter-intuitive idea of 'time' that melded a constant (the speed of light) and a mass-curved geometry into spacetime, whose effect was, nevertheless, relative! In GTR, the temporal space from "here" to "there," from "now" to "then," massively complicated, shrinks and expands in the tangled warp. At least it did until Kurt Godel in his searing analysis added new, astonishing wrinkles befitting his place as a preeminent mathematician, erstwhile physicist and most celebrated logician since Aristotle.
Palle Yourgrau, the Henry A. Wolfson Professor of Philosophy at Brandeis University has devoted a great deal of his academic career to understanding Godel and particularly what most of us take for granted – the concept of time – which Godel believed was the key issue of philosophy. In A World Without Time, Yourgrau continues the explication of Godel's insights into GTR that he explored earlier with his Godel Meets Einstein: Time Travel in the Godel Universe (Open Court Press, 1999).
Godel and Einstein were colleagues and close friends at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, NJ, where both had been given safe haven from the Nazi scourge of the 1930s. Together, they walked to and from their offices together talking philosophy, politics and especially relativity theory. As Yourgrau describes it, on one of these walks Godel pushed beyond Einstein's arbitrary conception of a relativistic universe. In GTR there could be a universe whose rotation on its axis would make time stand still.
Yourgrau provides fascinating detail about the lives of both men, describing their academic roots in mathematics, physics and philosophy with particular emphasis on the cross currents between Kantian and Leibnitzian traditions, Newtonian theory, the work of Russell and Whitehead, Wittgenstein and Hilbert, and the development of Positivism in the heady atmosphere of Viennese culture; their special relationship in Princeton; the elements in the development of Relativity Theory. But, Yourgrau's central emphasis is the exegesis of a Godelian Universe where time freezes, like winter's ice, into a place one might visit just as possibly as a trip you might take to Chicago, if you could go fast enough! In a rarely recognized subtlety, Godel's idea also challenges the bedrock of science – the concept of causality.
As Yourgrau points out, Godel preferred fairy tales (his favorite: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) to prosaic accounts of experience. But, a Godelian Universe that permits time travel, though obviously controversial, is not so easily dismissed (cf. physicist Julian Barbour's The End of Time, Oxford Univ. Press, 2000; philosopher Steven F. Savitt's Time's Arrows Today (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1995) and mathematician Amir Aczel's Entanglement, Four Walls Eight Windows, 2001).
Yourgrau's account does a superb job of bringing Einstein and Godel, 20th century titans, down to earthy, everyday circumstance. Particularly, there is Einstein's loosey-goosey lifestyle and the pathetic contrast between Godel's soaring intellectual achievements and lifelong paranoiac fears resulting in delusional, fatal self-starvation. (In this connection, see also A. R. Cellura's The Genomic Environment and Niche-Experience, Cedar Springs Press, 2005). Rebecca Goldstein's recently published Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Godel (W.W. Norton, 2005) is also well worth reading.
Some of us wonder what a world that can escape the pitfalls of continuing scientific advance will be like a thousand years from now – a world far beyond the flat earth of Homer and the Ptolemaic conceptions of earlier eras, or our own. Will it be a world without time?
A.R. Cellura, EdD, Reviewer
Picking Up the Pace
P O Box 357474, Gainesville, Florida 32635-7474
available from StarCrossed Productions
ISBN: 1933113413, $15.95, 212 pp.
Depressed over a recent breakup with her boyfriend, but elated over a job promotion, Angie Mitchell agrees to go to a party where she meets a singer who has just finished a stint in the Peace Corps. Finding herself attracted to Lauren has turned Angie's world upside down.
When her boss promotes her to the crime beat for the Tribune, Angie finds herself in way over her head but refuses to back down. Her current assignment becomes risky not only to the subjects of her articles but also to herself.
Angie loves her job as witnessed in the following scene where she and her boss Tom discuss their plans. "They started throwing out ideas, argued over how they would best be presented with maps, graphics, or photographs. Half an hour later, they had worked themselves into some sort of frenzy – as near physical arousal as anyone can get over a job" [p. 27]. LaFontaine shows their excitement by comparing "throwing out ideas" to "physical arousal." The goose bumps and flushed face in the next sentence only add to the enthusiasm. LaFontaine uses imagery to evoke the emotion she strives to portray. The reader gets the impression that Tom and Angie are having sex when they are actually just doing their jobs. Who wouldn't want a stimulating job like that?
Kimberly LaFontaine shows promise in her debut novel, Picking Up the Pace. It will be interesting to follow her career and watch her progress as she continues to strengthen her style and find her voice. The story is plausible, the plot well-thought out albeit a bit contrived at times, the characters are real and likeable, and the pace is up to speed. However, LaFontaine uses "the reporter," "the singer," "the brunette," and other descriptive terms instead of their given names too often, that it becomes bothersome. To compound the problem, there are instances where the point of view switches mid-scene, further taking the reader out of the story. For example, in this particular scene we are in Angie's head, "She didn't remember much after that last glass of wine. She would have to pump him [Jimmy] for information" [p.22]. Then in the very next paragraph, "He [Jimmy] showed up a few minutes later, a bag of groceries in his arm. He smirked at the sleeping reporter and quietly began preparing an early meal in the kitchen. He knew it would have to be bland" [p. 22]. Angie couldn't possibly know what Jimmy is thinking. There are authors who don't stick to the rules of POV, but they do it flawlessly. I didn't find that the case with Picking Up the Pace.
In another instance, the scene break is so abrupt the reader gets lost for a moment and loses the momentum. One minute you have Angie and Lauren on their way to a restaurant, which ends with Lauren teasing Angie, "I guess you'll just have to wait and see" [p. 91]. Then you turn the page and Angie is in the airport with her dad.
LaFontaine has left room for a sequel, to further explore and define Angie and Lauren's relationship amidst varying plots. There needs to be more characterization and less job description if the reader is going to connect with the characters. The plot captures and holds the reader's interest, and invests the reader in their outcome. With a little more sharpening of her craft, LaFontaine can correct the minor flaws of Picking Up the Pace and possibly emerge as a strong addition to the writers of lesbian fiction.
Picking Up the Pace is a fascinating look at the life of a reporter. Anyone who wants an intimate glimpse into a journalist's work will enjoy this first novel by Kimberly LaFontaine.
Under the Gun
Lori L. Lake
Renaissance Alliance Publishing
4700 Highway 365, Suite A, PMB 210, Port Arthur, TX 77642
available from StarCrossed Productions
ISBN: 1930928440, $22.95, 490 pp.
In the second gripping police drama in Lori L. Lake's Gun series, Under the Gun delightfully picks up where Gun Shy left off and sets the stage for the third novel, Have Gun We'll Travel. Once you make the acquaintance of Officer Desiree (Dez) Reilly and her partner and lover Rookie Officer Jaylynn (Jay) Savage, you won't be able to get enough of this dynamic duo. The two cops are as different as night and day in appearance and personality. Always the macho cop, Dez, affectionately referred to as "tall, dark, and dangerous," maintains a tough impenetrable shell and demeanor to hide her fears. "[Jaylynn] liked the fact that there was a defensive fortress around her taciturn partner, but that the tall cop had let her find the few chinks in the armor so that she had free access to come and go as she pleased" (p. 378). Dez contains her emotions until the breaking point, while Jay is not embarrassed or afraid to show her feelings. "It occurred to [Dez] that one major thing she liked about Jaylynn was how alive she was. She took on life with zest, whether she was investigating a crime, talking on the phone, eating something tasty, making love, or crying at a sad movie" (p. 271).
Under the Gun begins with Dez seemingly happy and hopelessly in love with Jay, the vivacious, light-haired bundle of energy, but at the same time, she is petrified of losing her, which is making her miserable. Jay is proving to be an excellent officer, but her impulsive streak has Dez worried, since Jay repeatedly ends up in harm's way. It's understandable that the introspective Dez, who withdraws and equates letting her guard down with being weak, is afraid of losing the one person who understands her, tolerates her moodiness, and who adds meaning, love, and joy to her life. Lake explores their evolving relationship with rich detail while Dez goes through the biggest transformation of all.
Dez is so adept at concealing her inner turmoil that even she is not aware she's doing it. Having suffered serious traumatic events in her life including the loss of her beloved father, also a police officer, and her partner and close friend Officer Ryan Michaelson, Dez snaps and ends up suspended with her only alternatives being to see psychiatrist Marie Montague, or be kicked off the force. Reluctantly, the skeptical secretive Dez works with Marie. Can Marie save Dez from self-destructing, and going to a very lonely and isolated place where she denies her heart's desire for fear of loss and rejection? Will the astute psychiatrist help Dez learn to bridge the gap in all of her severed relationships, including the ones with her mother Collette and her brother Patrick?
Can Marie help Dez believe Luella, Dez's landlady and chief nurturer, who tells her, "You can't hold onto someone so tight that you choke the life out of them" [p. 280]. Luella tries to convince Dez that loving and losing someone is painful, but avoiding love to avoid pain is not the answer. She also tells her surrogate daughter, "You are a strong person, Desiree Reilly, and you deserve to love and be loved. But you have to make a choice to take the chance" [p. 280].
Lori L. Lake's completely satisfying action/romance novel will engage a full range of emotions that will leave the reader wanting more. No stone is left unturned as all the loose ends are tied up. The psychological journey of the characters' growth and development, particularly Dez's, is just as intriguing as the crime drama, murder investigation, and police work. Every character, no matter how small their role, has a place and reason for being in the story. Lake does not rush through her narrative, but with the perfect pace, 490 pages go by in a blink.
I recommend Under the Gun for the strong characterization, loveable characters, and absorbing plot. Anyone who enjoys a realistic look at police procedurals, romance, and psychological drama, will love following the story of Dez and Jay. Lake paints a vivid picture that allows the reader to jump into the story and become a part of Dez's world. It is not surprising that the sequel, Have Gun We'll Travel, is a finalist for a Golden Crown Literary Society 2006 Goldie Award. Under the Gun is a page-turner; read it and you will see what I mean.
King Nicholas and the Copeman Empire
Random House UK
ISBN: 0091899206, $19.24, 274 pages
Twenty-five-year-old Nick Copeman's accomplishments were few and decidedly unimpressive before he became King. Unemployed and still living with his parents in the coastal town of Sheringham, Nick spent his days watching schlock TV--Zena: Warrior Princess, Battlestar Galactica--and playing Connect Four or grabbing meals with his friend John Painter at Roy Boy's Truck Stop. But all that changed when Nick and John paid 29 pounds apiece to legally change their names to, respectively, Henry Michael King Nicholas and The Right Reverand [sic] Baby Face Archbishop of Fantaberry. Having thus become royal, HM King Nicholas determined to look and act the part.
He details in King Nicholas and the Copeman Empire how he and Baby Face set about acquiring the trappings of their new stations--the crown, the vestments, the stationery and trailer-turned-royal residence--and the various adventures the two had after adopting their new personae. Most dramatic among these was the pair's successful infiltration of the Pride of Norfolk Awards, an annual black-tie event held in the Ramada Norwich Hotel, at which King Nicholas managed to get himself photographed for the local society pages. Not all of their schemes were as successful, or as above-board: the King and Archbishop also collected for charity, the money going mostly toward keeping them in snacks, and they sold a number of peerages over the internet for large sums of money. You won't be surprised to learn that the whole enterprise ended rather badly.
We are apparently to understand that the events described in King Nicholas are true, that Copeman and Baby Face really did engage in imaginative fundraising and generally make themselves unpopular in Sheringham with their stunts and affectations. Their prank is amusing--apart from the illegal and/or immoral among their undertakings--though not laugh-out-loud funny. The one joke of the book, that Copeman's something of an idiot who makes an ass of himself, often unwittingly, wears thin after a while. Still, the book is a nicely written and unusual read that will appeal to readers who like a good caper.
The Oxford Murders
ISBN: 1596921501, $23.00, 197 pages
A serial murderer with a mathematical bent is stalking Oxford in Guillermo Martínez's cerebral mystery The Oxford Murders. The crimes begin shortly after our narrator, an Argentinean student whose name we never learn, arrives in England to study at the Mathematical Institute on a year's scholarship. He soon meets Arthur Seldom, a celebrated logician whose latest book on logical series has attracted an unexpectedly wide readership. Seldom's chapter on serial murders, in particular, seems to have inspired the recent killings: with each murder the killer leaves behind a symbol--the first, a circle, appears in a note addressed to Seldom himself--as if he is challenging the mathematician to work out the logic of his series before he kills again.
The Oxford Murders is a smart, quiet book, with its focus on ideas rather than action, or indeed character: the book's principals are more than two-dimensional, but they are not fully fleshed out. While our narrator acclimates himself to life in England--acquiring a girlfriend and blending into Oxford life in general--he and Seldom discuss mathematical theory, the Pythagoreans, and of course the murders themselves. Martínez's writing (the book is translated into English from its original Spanish) is for the most part transparent, but one finds the occasional perfect turn of phrase: "The conductor tapped briefly on the music stand, pointed his baton at the lead violin and the solitary first line of the piece that opened the programme made its way tentatively in the silence, like a curl of smoke rising." Although the book's plot depends in part upon coincidence, its mystery is satisfying. Certainly it is unlikely that readers will figure out precisely whodunit before the book's end, although the clues are there to be found. The Oxford Murders is in fact intelligent and satisfying enough to merit a second read-through, so one can more fully appreciate how the author has hinted at the crimes' solution.
The Grail Conspiracy
Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore
ISBN: 0738707872, $14.95, 337 pages
In the deserts of Iraq, shortly before the U.S. invasion, Satellite News Network reporter Cotten Stone stumbles upon an archaeological dig, its crew scrambling to leave the site and get out of the country while there's still time. Cotten's brief encounter with the chief archaeologist of the dig, Dr. Gabriel Archer, sets in motion the dramatic series of events to follow--events foretold in the Book of Revelation that may culminate in nothing less than the Second Coming of Christ.
Given its subject matter, The Grail Conspiracy will undoubtedly be compared to Dan Brown's bestseller, perhaps even dismissed as a DaVinci Code knockoff. The books do tread some of the same ground--a secret organization, millennia old, a religious conspiracy--but the similarities between the books don't go very deep. It's fair to say, however, that readers who liked Brown's book should enjoy The Grail Conspiracy as well. It's a well-written page-turner, with a complex plot and fleshed-out, likeable characters. (The good and near-good guys in the book are more fully developed than their adversaries.) My one complaint is with the book's denouement: after stumbling about in ignorance for the better part of the story, the authors' protagonists--Cotten and her priest friend John Tyler--figure out the bad guys' rather complicated plans much too quickly, and the final conflict between the forces of good and evil in the book is not as dramatic as one would have hoped. Cotten and John, that is, get off a little easy. That said, I'd read another book by Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore in a heartbeat. And happily I'll be able to do just that. The Grail Conspiracy is the first in a series of Cotten Stone mysteries (I'd sooner have called them religious thrillers). The next installment in the series, The Last Secret, is due out in September of 2006.
If You Could See Me Now
ISBN: 1932961208, $23.95, 240 pages
One afternoon in the mid-1990's author Michael Mewshaw got a call he'd been half expecting for some thirty years: a woman in America--Mewshaw was living in London--had reason to believe that he was her biological father. The woman, Amy, was almost right: Mewshaw's name was in fact on Amy's birth certificate, and he'd been involved with her mother at the time of Amy's birth, while he was in college at the University of Maryland. But Mewshaw hadn't fathered the baby whose adoption he wound up being instrumental in arranging. Mewshaw's role in Amy's early life nevertheless left him feeling almost paternal toward her, and he wanted to help Amy reconnect with her birth mother.
In his memoir If You Could See Me Now Mewshaw chronicles his involvement in Amy's search for her biological parents, but his story is far from a straightforward account of his attempts to track down an old girlfriend. Amy's quest is rather the peg on which Mewshaw hangs an account of his life, or that part of it that bears on his relationship with Amy's mother. While detailing his efforts on Amy's behalf, Mewshaw writes about his fractured identity as a child, the result of his parents' divorce and his strained relationship with both father and father figure, and about his complicated history with the woman he calls "Adrienne Daly," his college sweetheart. Mewshaw's unpacking of that relationship, his attempts to uncover the truth behind Adrienne's pregnancy and behavior decades after the fact, make for a surprisingly compelling story that at times reads like a mystery.
Mewshaw does not identify Amy's mother by her real name in the book: as a public figure she would not welcome exposure as a former unwed mother. But he does provide a great many details about Adrienne that will send readers running to Google, most tantalizing among them that Amy's mother served as Undersecretary of State during the Reagan and Bush administrations. One wonders whether these same revelations won't send Adrienne running to her lawyers, as she will surely not be pleased with her presentation in the book. Adrienne is the clear villain of the piece, painted by Mewshaw as a calculating and disingenuous user of men, a woman lacking in maternal warmth, who valued--who continues to value--her own convenience over the life of her daughter. One can't help disliking her, even while bearing in mind that Mewshaw's account is necessarily a one-sided affair, and while wondering why he chose to reveal as much about Adrienne's real identity as he did. Is the book a form of retribution? If so, does that alter our response to it?
Though slow in its final chapter, If You Could See Me Now is an otherwise quick read. Tantalizing because of its near exposure of the misdeeds of the nearly famous, Mewshaw's book is interesting also as an example of how the small dramas of one's life, considered in hindsight, can make for good reading.
Baked to Death
ISBN: 0758204876, $22.00, 248 pages
In this fourth installment in Dean James' series of vampire coziesÝ, undead author-cum-amateur sleuth Simon Kirby-Jones goes positively medieval. Simon dons period costume to blend in with the "natives" after a historical reenactment society, the Gesta Angliae Antiquae, sets up camp in Simon's adopted hometown, the quaint English village of Snupperton-Mumsley. When the inevitable murder occurs--Simon is Snupperton-Mumsley's answer to Jessica Fletcher--our protagonist annoys the local constabulary once again by endeavoring to solve the crime himself. The GAA, it turns out, is riven by political rivalries. But is any of the men who would be elected king of this self-important little group power hungry enough to murder for the throne?
More interesting than the mystery in Dean James' latest are the developments in Simon's personal life. Tristan Lovelace, Simon's former advisor and lover and the vampire who brought Simon into the undead fold, arrives eager to win back our hero's affections. But will Simon succumb to Tristan's occasional charms, or will he save himself for local aristocrat Giles Blitherington, Simon's devoted personal assistant?
The Simon Kirby-Jones mysteries are not great literature. James' secondary characters tend to be two-dimensional, and the upper-crusty English cattiness many of them display can become cloying. But the mysteries are decent, and, more importantly, the concept of the books is charming. Though I would that modern-day medical advances hadn't defanged our hero--pills taken twice daily render him nearly human in his appetites--I very much like the idea of a genteel vampire taking a bite out of crime somewhere in the English countryside. James' cozies make for enjoyable light reading.
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312353723, $27.95, 384 pages
In Jeffrey Archer's latest novel art expert Anna Petrescu crosses swords with her monomaniacal boss Bryce Fenston, the chairman of Fenston Finance. Fenston, an avid collector of Impressionist paintings, uses his position in the bank to target clients with valuable art collections in order to lead them into bankruptcy and assume ownership of their assets. Fenston currently has his eye on Van Gogh's Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear, which is in the possession of his client Victoria Wentworth. Fenston will stop at nothing to get the painting: as a former henchman of Nicolae Ceasescu--during whose regime he operated under a different name--Fenston is comfortable with authorizing the swift and fatal application of force to achieve his ends. In her bid to stop Fenston from getting the Van Gogh, Anna winds up traveling the globe and attracting the attention of Fenston's hired assassin as well as the FBI.
False Impressions could have been a top-notch thriller, and it does have a decent storyline to offer readers. But unfortunately there is too much wrong with the book to give it high marks. The writing--particularly in the first third or so of the book--is often distractingly clunky and trite. Of the miasmic cloud that hung over New York after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, for example, Archer offers the following groan-inducing description:
"The dense cloud had dispersed, but like a disease it had spread to other parts of the body. For some reason, Anna had assumed when she woke it would have gone, but, like an unwelcome guest at a party, it would surely be the last to leave."
Archer's characters, too, are not fully fleshed out. Fenston in particular is given no redeeming qualities whatever. He is portrayed as being consumed solely by his desire to obtain the Van Gogh. The behavior of Archer's characters sometimes passes belief, as when Anna--who was in the North Tower when American Airlines Flight 11 hit the building but managed to escape to a friend's house--watched only a few minute of television coverage of the attacks before switching off the news for good. Did anyone in the United States show such little interest in the news that day, particularly a New Yorker who'd worked in the building and survived?
These aren't the book's only problems. At least one plot point--involving a mistake made in a forged piece of art work--is difficult to credit. More importantly, Anna's very involvement in the dangerous business of opposing Fenston is not adequately motivated. It's been said that a protagonist in a thriller ought to be faced with some imperative that compels him or her to go forward into dangers. For Anna there is no such imperative. She risks her life for a good, but not good enough, reason, a fact which is actually acknowledged in the book, but dismissed:
"Why didn't she just drive off? She didn't need to become involved or even consider taking such a risk. She then thought about Victoria and the role she had unwittingly played in her death. 'Get on with it, woman,' Anna said out loud."
That Anna goes to such lengths to combat Fenston without needing to is distracting.
Finally, it will perhaps be apparent by now that Archer wraps his story around the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The book is in fact broken into dated sections, beginning with September 10th and ending with September 26th. While there is nothing inherently wrong with incorporating the attacks into fiction, there should probably be a good reason to do so. But the inclusion of the attacks here is pointless, or close to it. They allow Anna to be presumed dead for a short period of time, though this could have been achieved by some other plot device and may not have been necessary at all. Once Anna escapes from the North Tower and the buildings collapse, moreover, the events of that day are virtually forgotten in the story. I don't understand why Archer bothered to fix his narrative onto such a historically important event if it was to serve no particular function in the story.
As I suggest above, False Impressions has a decent skeleton, but the book needed more work. Readers should look elsewhere for their next page-turner.
Debra Hamel, Reviewer
Erik J. Ekstrom
Suite 6E 2333 Government St., Victoria. B.C V8T 4P4 Canada
ISBN: 141207672-2, $22.50, 1-888-232-4444
The first part of this book had the feel of a Ray Bradbury horror tale. But something happened from the second portion of the book to its end that made it very uninteresting. I could not figure out what the author was trying to accomplish. The writer led off with a weird cover, interesting characters, a dark and sinister situation but it is not enough to carry the book all the way through. "The Storyteller" becomes a look at different cultures that does not seem to tie in with the beginning of the novel. I was very disappointed and have very little interest in the sequel,
Dorchester Publishing Co. Inc
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
ISBN: 084395678X, $6.99
I loved this author's first novel "Predators & Prayers." This time Carlo turns his attention to the vampire legacy. He has breathed new life into an old genre. The story moves along briskly to its final conclusion. Santos Dracol is a very interesting mysterious character who adds to this complicated plot. Carlo is an author who knows how to tell a good story.
Robert B. Parker
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 0399153233, $24.95
Here is another fine Spenser novel that is a little different from others in the series. This time out there is no banter between Spenser and Susan, and no Hawk as well. But this novel is a very fast paced read that is a very interesting mystery. Parker shows why he is one of the best in the field with this new tale.
10 East 53rd Street, New York NY 10022
ISBN: 0060598840, $7.50
I liked the renamed title better than the original and the characters who were interesting but the novel lacks the trademark of comedy the author is known for. I'm glad though we readers are getting a chance to see Evanovich's other novels that have been out of print for so long.
Mad River Road
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020
ISBN: 0743488024, $25.00, 1-800-456-6798
Fielding is back and better than ever. Her complex novel unfolds with generous doses of suspense like her other fine works. This plot is much more complicated. Fielding has a gift of holding the reader's interest and this novel is one of her best. I also liked that she explained how she came up with the title. You can't go wrong with a Joy Fielding. .
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
ISBN: 0060739959, $7.99
Amber Frey now tells all about Scott Peterson. What she shows is how devious and crafty he is. She reveals why she worked with the police to capture him for the murder of Lacy and his unborn child. We also get a clearer picture of Scott and how deceptive a person he really is. We only heard some of the details of this case. For the first time readers can get a first hand account of the story that shocked the world.
The Flaming Luau of Death
10 East 53rd Street, New York NY 10022
ISBN: 0060587318, $6.99
Event planner Madeline Bean has her hands full when she takes on a bachelorette party weekend to be held in Hawaii. She has the normal problems of pulling the event together but she also has dead bodies adding up. She gets wrapped up in some very funny situations as well as helping solve the case of the multiplying corpses. The novel is a witty fun excursion into the world of murder by a very talented writer. This is one that will have readers laughing out loud.
Bury the Lead
Warner Books Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020
ISBN: 0446612863, $6.99
Daniel Cummings, a reporter working on a story, is set up to look like he is a murderer. He hires attorney Andy Carpenter to represent him. Rosenfelt has written a great mystery with some fascinating characters that add to the story. The writing is witty and the author knows how to move this mystery legal tale along at a very rapid pace.
The Delilah Complex
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
ISBN: 0778322157, $6.99
Several men are killed and the evidence leads to The Scarlet Society a secret club of twelve powerful and sexually adventurous women. Dr. Morgan Snow, a sex therapist, at the Butterfield Institute and detective Noah Jordain work together to bring to justice the killer. The novel is a revealing look into sexual problems many men and women have, as well as being a very good suspense thriller. I look forward to the next Dr. Snow story.
Pentland Press Inc
5122 Blur Oak Circle, Raleigh, North Carolina 27612
ISBN: 1571973036, $19.95
Things are a bit warped in time in this very fine novel that is tie first of a trilogy. Though the settings are a bit strange the author handles them well with believable characters. The pacing is brisk to its ending that leads into a sequel. I look forward to reading the second in this cycle of time out of sync.
Robert B Parker
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 0425199576, $7.99
Marlene Rowley hires Spenser to follow her louse of a husband. In the course of his investigation Spenser finds there is another detective also shadowing Mrs. Rowley's husband. The story moves along with many interesting twists and turns with quick pacing that makes this a very good addition to the series.
Time Warner Book Group
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN: 0446695564, $12.95, 355 pages
Hiaasen writes novels filled with characters so extreme they could be found in a cartoon strip. His talent is to give those characters enough reality that you want them to exist. 'Skinny Dip' is a sequel of sorts. A Few of Hiaasen's favorite characters from his earlier books are brought back for another round of greed, murder and deceit.
A marine biologist Chaz Perrone, who doesn't know a thing about marine biology, throws his wife Joey off a cruise liner. She survives the plunge into the Atlantic and after swimming for hours finds a bale of Jamaican pot to cling to. She is found by a fishing ex-cop Mick Stanahan. Mick brings back the unconscious Joey to the small island he is living on. When she wakes, Joey wants revenge on Chaz and Mick decides to help her. The characters in this story range from a hired thug, who is covered from head to toe with hair, to a billionaire corporate farm owner and from a deadly, one-eyed, plastic shower cap wearing hermit, living in the glades, to Mick a man whose ex-wives include five waitresses and a TV producer.
'Skinny Dip' is a book for anyone who needs a laugh. The extreme characters and situations build to smooth and satisfying end. Hiaasen in an author everyone needs to read at least once. For anyone who has read his earlier books, 'Skinny Dip' will bring you up to date with the antics of your favorite characters. For people first exploring Hiaasen's world, 'Skinny Dip' is a great start.
Wilhelm Grimm, translator
Introduction by Maria Tatar
85 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
ISBN: 0811850463, $22.95, 142 pages
Readers have forgotten that most fairytales didn't start out as children's fairytales. They started out as adult stories. Grimm's tales came from oral folklore. These are the same type of stories you hear today when teens get together, 'Bloody Mary' or 'The Man With a Hook for a Hand.' Most oral folklore comes from the peasants, the people who looked at the rich and royalty with envy and those who understood the meaning of poor and starving.
The Grimms collected the folklore and re-wrote them for the audience they thought would buy the stories. They edited out much of the sex and violence in the first edition. By the third edition they re-did the stories with less sex and with a bit more violence. These stories come from the third edition.
The nineteen stories that make up this edition are a collection of well known tales with a few seldom heard. The stories themselves are of the same type of light macabre of today's urban legends. If you are interested in horror that will shake your soul, you will need to look elsewhere but these tales tell you more about the human animal and society throughout time than any history book. The stories fill some need in ourselves that is so great we have to recast the macabre into a child's bedtime story.
'Grimm's Grimmest' doesn't break new ground but it puts a face on the old that is worth viewing. It is light reading for those who want to explore the psyche of the human animal and how it has stayed the same over the last few hundred years. It is recommended for all readers interested in the subject.
S.A. Gorden, Reviewer
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
ISBN: 1411662644, $23.94 hc, $9.80 pbk., 248 pp.
Science fiction starts from some form of "what if?" proposition. "What if" faster-than-light travel could really be achieved? "What if" reincarnation was something other than a delusion of unteachables? "What if" fantasy creatures such as ghosts, spirits, angels, demons, gods, and the WB's "charmed" witches really existed? In Lucas Hyde's fantasy: "what if" the pseudoscience concept of hypnotism was more than a delusion practised by persons who, like Anton Mesmer, were sincere but deluded, and could be used in nefarious ways even Du Maurier's Svengali never imagined?
Like virtually all science fiction writers, Hyde is aware that religion is a science fiction concept. He has his hypnotist state, "Religion is for the unevolved," and, "Prayer is self-hypnosis," perhaps the most accurate descriptions yet of persons who need an imaginary playmate to tell them right from wrong. Yet he is able to look at the hypnotism myth and delude himself that hypnotism really exists. He gives every appearance of being unaware that his novel is indeed science fiction.
There is legitimate science fiction such as Star Trek, written by and for persons who know full well that such fantasy concepts as faster-than-light and teleportation are violations of the laws of physics. There is prostitute science fiction such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, deliberately scripted to delude the gullible that its fantasy concepts exist in the real world. And there is incompetent science fiction such as The Three Faces of Eve, written by gullible ignoramuses who have no awareness that the story they are telling endorses pseudoscientific delusions. Hypnosis is the third kind.
Lucas Hyde knows more about "hypnotism" than could be learned by watching an actor and a cast of amateur improvisers playing a hypnotist and volunteer "subjects" on stage at Brighton. He has clearly read some books on the subject. Unfortunately, they seem to have all been books by self-deluded believers. He is clearly ignorant - and that is a quite appropriate description of someone who would write a book endorsing the reality of a delusion - of They Call It Hypnosis, in which Robert Baker spells out irrefutable reasons for concluding that, "Hypnosis does not exist, has never existed in the past, and will not exist in the future."
As a storyteller, Hyde is best described as adequate. There are grammatical shortcomings in his book that are too frequent and too consistent to be mere typos. He several times omits an article from a position where there should be one in English but would not be in some other languages. The logical inference is that he has learned English as a second language - very adequately, for any purpose but writing a novel. But there is no excuse for his multiple foreshadowing of an "unspeakable thing" in the hypnotist's' past - and never explaining just what it was. That is worse than bad writing. It is literary fraud.
Anyone who wants to read a realistic novel about a hypnotist, by an author who does know that hypnotism does not exist, is referred to The Great Zubrick or The Last Hypnotist.
World Religions, True Beliefs, and New Age Spirituality
2021 Pine Lake Road, Ste 100, Lincoln NE 68512
ISBN: 059537770X, $26.95, 412 pp.
I have never taken a paleoanthropology course. Consequently, everything I know about paleoanthropology could be fitted into one small chapter. It would not occur to me to expand it into a 400-page book. Everything Xavier William knows about religions, beliefs, and new age mythology would fit in one small chapter - and he has expanded it into a 400-page book.
My initial reaction to William's chapters on Hinduism and Islam, areas in which I have no expertise, was that they were interesting, entertaining, and seemingly informative. But his chapters on the origin and evolution of Judaism and Christianity are so riddled with nonsensical speculation, errors of fact, and unmitigated incompetence, that I am forced to assume that his accounts of Hinduism and Islam are equally unreliable.
William writes, (p. 3), "If we were to have no fears or economic wants, there would be no religions." That is a conclusion I can unequivocally endorse. But it appears in the middle of an introductory segment that reiterates the fatuous doubletalk of Alvin Toffler, and endorses the masturbation fantasies of Sigmund Freud that even modern psychoquacks repudiate. While William obtains information from many legitimate sources, he has no ability to distinguish between those sources that are valid, those that can legitimately be consulted for statistics and nothing else, such as encyclopedias, and those that are plain nonsense. Nor can he separate reality from propaganda. He describes Mother Teresa as a saint - in the modern, positive sense - despite having read at least one of the biographies that expose her as a lying, thieving, tinpot Hitler who misappropriated funds donated to feed the hungry, leaving the money in the bank to accrue interest for the Catholic Church while the persons she pretended to be helping remained hungry.
In his evaluation of Jane Goodall's observations of cannibalism among chimpanzees, William offers the incredible conclusion that (p. 48), "Almost certainly, most intelligent animals have some sort of religious beliefs." And as if that were not sufficient evidence of undisciplined reasoning (to put it politely), he continues (ibid), "Archeologists have found signs of religious practices in sites as old as 65,000 years." Since the earliest goddess images with exaggerated vulvas started turning up only 30,000 years ago, I can only assume that William plucked the 65,000 years figure out of a very fallible memory.
The clearest example of William's sloppiness in quoting from (usually unspecified) sources is his quotation (p. 140) from my Dictionary of Contemporary Mythology (which he misnames). In quoting my definition of "Faith," he shows me giving two similar but non-identical definitions for Faith and Insanity, and then elaborates on the difference between them. In fact I defined the former and the latter in exactly the same words. If William could be so inaccurate in quoting what was presumaby open in front of him at the time of writing, can his paraphrasing of something he merely remembered have any credibility at all? And when he writes (p. 103), "According to Harwood, Muhammad was just a war-lord, with no religious pretensions whatsoever," he cites no source for those words. In fact they can only have been taken from my reviews of books by Ibn Warraq and Ram Swarup, in which I reported that one or both of those authors reached such a conclusion. As for his spelling of Friedrich Nietzsche as "Nietzhe," it is conceivable that he encountered the name in the Devanagari alphabet and transcribed it into Latin phonetically. But a more probable explanation is that the misspelling stemmed from the same sloppy scholarship shown in the rest of the book.
The physical construction of the book's content is ghastly. Technical errors that even a single proofreading would have eliminated permeate the work, along with inconsistencies in formatting that a grade-school teacher would deem unacceptable.
While William's book contains a few useful snippets among the disinformation (and how does a layman tell the difference?), it is so riddled with indefensible inaccuracies that I urge anyone who happens to come across it not to read it. World Religions gives other well-meaning amateurs a bad name. My best advice for Xavier William is: Don't give up your day job.
The Republican War on Science
387 Park Avenue, NY 10016
ISBN: 0465046754, $24.95, 351 pp.
I did not need Chris Mooney to tell me that George W. Bush is the greatest enemy of science since the Inquisition imprisoned Galileo and barbecued Giordano Bruno. I did not need him to tell me that Bush is a more dangerous enemy of the American people than Osama bin Laden. I did not need him to tell me that Bush is a greater threat to the survival of planet earth as a human habitat than Star Trek Enterprise's mythical Xindi. And I did not need him to tell me that Bush is the greatest enemy of the human race since Adolf Hitler. I take all of that as a given. What did surprise me is the number of Americans who have reached similar conclusions, or at least are willing to be told, as is evidenced by The Republican War on Science's position on the New York Times bestseller list.
George W. Bush is a liar whom even Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy did not equal. In a national TV address in 2001 that Mooney describes as "based on science fiction" (p. 4), Bush emulated McCarthy in pulling a statistic out of the air in order to pretend that sufficient embryonic stem cell lines existed to allow for adequate research, while simultaneously pandering to the theofascist puppeteers of the Christian Taliban who were pulling his strings by criminalizing virtually all such research. But while Bush is consistent in his support for scientific illiteracy, he is not consistent in his method of pursuing it.
A 2001 editorial in Scientific American compared Bush's Big Lie that there is an "incomplete state of scientific knowledge of the causes of, and solutions to, global climate change," with his attempt to revive Ronald Reagan's Star Wars masturbation fantasy: "In one case, the president invokes uncertainty; in the other he ignores it" (p. 21). And the theofascist appointees to Bush's Food and Drug Administration ignored a 23-4 recommendation from its scientific advisers when it refused to legalize over-the-counter sales of a "morning-after" pill. "Commentators denounced the decision as a transparent attempt to appease pro-life religious conservatives" (p. 23). So Bush is a prostitute as well as a liar. So what else is new?
Mooney traces the degeneration of the Republican Party from the purely political organization it had been from Abraham Lincoln to Dwight Eisenhower, into the Republicanazi Religion that started with Goldwater, was molded by Nixon and Gingrich, and finally emerged as the Fourth Reich of Texas Führer George W. Bush. In campaigning for the presidency in 1999, Bush advocated teaching creationism in public schools, a position that, in Mooney's view, "obliterates his claim to be a defender of science" (p. 9).
Mooney is an opponent of all extremists, left wing as well as right wing, and recognizes that opportunists on both sides have distorted truth to serve a personal agenda. Greenpeace labeled genetically modified foods as "Frankenfoods," even though the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences has declared that genetically engineered food is no more inherently dangerous than food created by selective breeding. And animal rights activists have argued that research on animals produces no better knowledge than computer modeling, a claim the editor-in-chief of Science labeled, "a remarkable piece of science fiction." Also, some proponents of stem cell research have hyped the likelihood of quick cures of diseases, knowing full well that such benefits are likely to be far down the road. "In fact in politicized fights involving science, it is rare to find liberals entirely innocent of abuses. But they are almost never as guilty as the Right" (p. 9). Since liberalism is middle of the road, I have a problem with persons who equate it with "left wing," a description better applied to socialism and anarchy. But there can be no disputing Mooney's point.
Mooney shows that business interests from tobacco to energy companies have hired researchers willing to reach predetermined conclusions, and that Republicans have deliberately appointed such prostitutes to offices of influence to create the illusion of objectivity. To undermine scientific warnings that had the potential to cause economic harm to atmosphere polluters, Newt Gingrich dismantled the Office of Technology Assessment, and appointed his own "favored experts to undermine the scientific mainstream on ozone depletion and global warming" (p. 50).
The Journal of the American Medical Association found that the odds of an article concluding that second-hand smoke is not harmful were "88.4 times higher" if its authors had tobacco-industry affiliations (p. 10). The tobacco pushers themselves recognize that their primary weapon for peddling their poison is the Big Lie. "Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the mind of the general public" (p. 67). And to this day, Republicanazis utilize that pretended doubt to torpedo laws designed to make the tobacco industry accountable for its mass murders.
A Harvard psychologist who listened to Ronald Reagan's science advisor John Marburger's blatantly antiscientific defence of pseudoscientific nonsense said, "I actually feel very sorry for Marburger, because I think he's probably enough of a scientist to realize that he's basically become a prostitute" (p. 230). And to appease his party's contributors who were polluting the atmosphere with sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from power plants and auto exhaust, Reagan declared in a speech that, "Mount St. Helens produces more sulfur dioxide pollution than human sources" (p. 41). Whoever gave Reagan that information should go back to kindergarten.
While Reagan and Bush were/are both morons with the legal defence of diminished responsibility, it is far more probable that Reagan believed his own lies than that Bush did so. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that, since the Koran endorses lying to achieve an otherwise unattainable objective while the Christian bible does not, Bush is a Christian fundamentalist rather that a Muslim fundamentalist. On the other hand, Bush's imaginary playmate is every bit as evil as Osama bin Laden's - as anyone who has read a bible with his brain in gear is fully aware.
It is a standard axiom: When you have no defence, attack. When producers of obesity-causing foods did not like a report by the World Health Organization that free sugar should be limited to ten percent of daily calories, and junk food addicts should eat less, the sugar industry "employed a politically powerful tactic: If you don't like the science, attack the scientists" (p. 123). It is no coincidence that planet-and people-polluters who resort to the Big Lie to suppress the findings of independent scientists are almost without exception huge contributors to the Republicanazi religion. And to pander to his string-pullers, "The Bush administration has alienated and spurned moderate Republicans … who wanted to take global warming seriously rather than hide behind distortions and evasions of reliable scientific consensus" (p. 259).
I consider capital punishment unspeakably evil, and view Republicanazi endorsement of such evil as proof that they are evolutionary throwbacks. But if Führer Bush and his entire Gestapo were to be strapped to gurneys with needles in their arms for their treason against the American people, the human race and planet earth, I might well conclude that the consequences of not taking such action would be a far greater evil.
Elijah's Cup: A Family's Journey into the Community and Culture of High-Functioning Autism
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
400 Market Street, Ste. 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
ISBN: 184310802X, $16.95, 235 pages
"Elijah's Cup" is the mesmerizing account of German scholar and author Valerie Paradiz's journey into the world of high-functioning autism. Her son Elijah, who seemed fairly normal at birth, begins to have inexplicable seizures as a toddler and subsequently exhibits significant behavioral delays. As the narrative develops, Paradiz begins to understand that Elijah is on the high-functioning end of autism, part of something called "Asperger's Syndrome."
Asperger's syndrome was not detected until the mid-20th century when Austrian psychiatrist Hans Asperger first wrote about the syndrome that bears his name. Characteristics generally associated with the syndrome include difficulty with socialization, a low frustration level, and a narrow range of intensely pursued interests (which usually includes a large amount of related memorized fact and a highly developed corresponding vocabulary). Although Asperger discovered the syndrome during WWII, his knowledge wasn't disseminated outside of his immediate circle for decades and the syndrome was virtually unknown until it became widely diagnosed in the 1990's.
As the knowledge of Asperger's Syndrome unfolds before her, Paradiz chronicles each step in her discovery and peppers the book with the results of her fascinating research. For example, while watching her son draw the same Looney Toons figures repeatedly, she discovers that pop artist Andy Warhol most likely was an "Aspie" (an affectionate nickname within the autistic community for someone possessing Asperger's Syndrome) and includes a whole chapter chronicling her supposition based on Warhol's biography. While watching her son's carefully practiced comedic routines, she is drawn to the biographical information of stand-up comic Andy Kaufman, whose personality traits were very Asperger-like. Her indefatigable research also uncovers the likelihood that Albert Einstein had the syndrome as well.
Paradiz also includes a plethora of information on autism researchers and their findings, including Leo Kanner (who first discovered autism), Hans Asperger, and Lorna Wing (an autism researcher of the post-Kanner generation) as they dovetail with her odyssey, but the book remains first and foremost a personal narrative. A devoted mother, Paradiz never falters for a moment, finding fellowship for herself and Elijah in the company of others on the autistic spectrum, and eventually opening a school for children with Asperger's syndrome.
"Elijah's Cup" is a must-read for anyone interested in exploring the fascinating world of high-functioning autism.
The Body Shape Solution to Weight Loss and Wellness: The Apples and Pears Approach to Losing Weight, Living Longers, and Feeling Healthier
Marie Savard, M.D., with Carol Svec.
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN: 0743497147, $14.00, 375 pages
"All fat is not created equal." That small phrase is the thesis of Dr. Savard's insightful new book, "The Body Shape Solution to Weight Loss and Wellness." In summary, women who tend to gain weight around their middle and have a high waist-hip ratio (WHR) are considered "apples." Those whose waists are significantly smaller than their hips have a low WHR and are considered "pears." These two groups have extremely different health issues simply because fat behaves very differently depending where it is found in the body. Aside from being unsightly in certain clothing (and this reviewer knows of what she speaks), excess fat does relatively little harm and can actually be healthfully beneficial when found solely in the thighs and hips.
Extra fat around the middle, however, provides "apples" with some serious health concerns because "apple" fat, according to Dr. Savard, is "metabolically active" in a way that "pear" fat is not. In short, "apples" have medical propensities similar to those of men (who are generally apple-shaped), and, like their male counterparts, apple-shaped women who are even slightly overweight are especially prone to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain cancers. The good news is that apple fat is fairly easy to loose (at least it's the first to go in the weight loss process) and something as simple as brisk, consistent walking can help melt it away.
Lest I've given the impression that "pears" can skip Dr. Savard's book, the chapters on menopause reveal that women with a pear shape are often prone to apple-type weight gain during menopause, which makes the all warnings for "apples" universally requisite. "Pears" also have a higher propensity to develop osteoporosis and varicose veins than do "apples"and they also experience more severe menopausal symptoms. Because of society's perception of female beauty, "pears" rather than "apples" are also very prone to eating disorders.
Dr. Savard provides sensible diet and exercise tips for both groups as well as advice on everything from body-shape appropriate birth control to hormone therapy. Her detailed postulations, solidly backed by previous studies, current research and her own private practice, are presented in very knowledgeable yet understandable terms and her empathetic tone throughout makes this insightful book a very enjoyable read.
Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined
edited by Andrea J. Buchanan & Amy Hudock
Avalon Publishing Group, Inc.
1400 65th Street, Suite 250, Emeryville, CA 94608
ISBN: 1580051588, $14.95, 269 pages
Online "Literary Mama" is not exactly your mother's parenting magazine. The writing in this "edgy" journal is often, according to its mission statement, "too long, too complex, too ambiguous, too deep, too raw, too irreverent, too ironic, [or] too body-conscious" to be included in the average parenting journal.
"Literary Mama" is not, however, simply a collection of edgy, how-to parenting articles. Rather, it is a high-quality literary celebration (including poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction) of the varied aspects of motherhood. The editors, Andrea J. Buchanan and Amy Hudock, began "Literary Mama" in 2003 in order to fill a void: that of serious literary writing on all things maternal. They wanted to prove that writers who wrote about mothering were not only able to produce beautiful babies but beautiful, intelligent, literary writing on the subject.
The new print anthology, "Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined" - a brilliant case in point - is a "best of" collection from the online journal, which showcases both its "edginess" and superior literary quality. The first of the book's seven sections, "Creative Acts," describes attempts (successful and otherwise) to combine the writing life with motherhood. There are two subsequent chapters on gender-specific mothering ("Mothers Raising Women" and "Mothers Raising Men") followed by a segment entitled "Sex, Fertility, and the Body," which is obviously the "edgiest" chapter. The longest section and the one I found the most moving is called, "Mothers, Fathers, Parents," which concerns itself with the dovetailing of parenting past and present. The final two sections titled "Surviving Illness and Loss" and "Healing the Past to Live in the Present" contains literature which focuses on everything from miscarriage to empty nest syndrome.
Although there is sometimes a tinge of "we are smart women, we are cutting-edge mothers" in the pieces (which may be put-offing to some readers), there is such a wide range of mothering-inspired emotions in the collection that most parents who enjoy well-crafted literature will find this an engrossing read. "Literary Mama" is a significant achievement that I hope will be one of many subsequent serious literary treatments on the life-altering subject of motherhood.
Inherit the Tide
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd. #515, Parker, CO 80134
ISBN: 1598001523, $14.95, 208 pp.
Absolutely wonderful! Beautifully written, sensitive and touching.
Little ten-year-old Hecky learns of his Native American heritage through his Grandma's stories while he is slowly recuperating from an accident. They sit by the warm stove while she spins her tales of Arctic adventure, the sea, romance, and the pioneers of early lumber-town Seattle.
I want to give you an idea of Ken Boire's writing style and gift which I can only do by quoting excerpts. I like to include excerpts in my reviews because we all have different tastes and must decide for ourselves what we like and what we do not, what we think is good writing and what is not. Once in a blue moon we might be favored to come across something quite exceptional. After you have read the excerpts below, I hope you too will agree that his writing is something quite special, as is the author's spirit.
First excerpt–page 4:
She ruffled the pillow behind me and placed a cup of hot cocoa in front of me and combed her fingers through my hair again. I didn't hurt inside anymore. "Grandson, I will tell you how you have the spirit of the wind and tide, and why you are strong like the sea. Your history is rich with adventure and triumph but also has brushes with ne'er-do-wells, criminals, and outright failures. This story starts one hundred years ago, far away, to the north of here in the high Arctic near the top of the world. It has adventure, love, and hate. Listen carefully, for this is your story and someday you must tell it to another generation, too." She leaned back in her chair, close to my side now, with shoes off and stocking feet extended past mine toward the cook stove, and began her story in her warm, low voice, a cello.
Second excerpt–pages 198-199, the Grandma speaking of her parents:
"My parents were deeply in love with each other and shared a glowing mutual respect. When Val died, my mother could hardly bear up under the pain. They had been best friends, like one person, and when he died, some of her died, too. She never recovered from it.
"The winter following his death, she took a trip by herself to the Arctic. Perhaps she was looking for his spirit there, for inside she was still a native and they have a different way of thinking about the dead. She made the trip up north by steamer in the late summer, and when she got there the coming of winter was in the air. She stayed on, and found someone to take her to a village in the direction of the place where she had lived as a child. She wrote to me that she would sit for hours outside and watch the northern lights and listen to the wind bringing in the winter. When the long winter night came and the sea had frozen over, she said goodbye to everyone and left a letter behind for me. She wandered alone out on the sea ice. She never came back.
"In that letter she wrote the poems I recited to you earlier. I have read the letter so many times I have it in my memory. She also wrote, 'You are born of the wind and the tide. You are the result of a man so strong and loyal I cannot bear to be without him. He is part of me, and soon he and I shall be together again. Your life will go on as it must, for you have great things to bring to this world. Among them must be the legacy to all that follow us, that they too are creatures of the wind and the tide, and within them they have the strength of the ocean.'"
Ken Boire, a Native American, claims that he was born facing the wind on the icy shores of the Bering Sea. He lives in Beaverton, Oregon, and is a consulting economist specializing in natural resource issues. Inherit the Tide is his debut novel and his next book is titled In the Company of Fishers.
The Famous Fakes
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Denver, CO, USA
ISBN: 1598000497, $10.95, 170 pp.
The funniest book I have read since Kurt Vonnegut's Hocus Pocus. I couldn't stop laughing, even when I wasn't reading.
A subtitle for this book might be Oliver Hardy, Stan Laurel, Charlie Chaplin and Mae West in Bed-busting Slap Shtick or Olympic Endurance Champion Paul Stanley's search for love, self and his favorite 1981 Playboy centerfold.
In the Author's Note he states that he did not censor the recollections of these creative, highly individualistic, professional celebrity impersonators, and that he tried to be true to the spirit of the Famous Fakes–their bravery, openness, exuberance, humor, and lies. He clearly states that this tell-all biography is intended for adult readers only. "If this were a CD, it'd say PARENTAL ADVISORY, EXPLICIT CONTENT, which would capture some of the rock'n roll outlaw attitude of our heros."
Allow me to quote from the back cover–a succinct synopsis of the essence of this story:
"Celebrity impersonators. Do they really love to do it, or do they really do it for love?
Meet the Famous Fakes – known publicly as Stan, Oliver, and Charlie (and privately as Paul, Jean, and Steve). They're three self-proclaimed "studs" (and world-proclaimed "losers") in a three-man theatrical company.
Desperate for a break, they're ready to do just about anything to take their particular "boys' club" on the road. But to let a woman join them? On stage, yet?! That's only asking for trouble . . . isn't it?
A "backstage pass" that even gets you into their beds, The Famous Fakes is a wild, sexy comic novel for adults. Read it, and find out why, before you can "be yourself", you might just have to "do" everyone else!"
Paul Stanley (Stan Laurel) was the writer in the group with some serious sex issues–little success with women and a fixation on large breasts–possibly the result of being nursed by his mother until the age of eight. After a romp with Caitlin, an older woman who thought he was a male prostitute provided for her birthday, he begins to think he's a total failure at relationships, and I quote:
"Guess he'd had this coming. Yes, his entire life had been misspent. An emphasis on fucking, not friendship, sex, not soul, cock, not career. And so the inevitable: life without love. To Paul, the real tragedy of life was the shortness of an orgasm (Perhaps this being his idea of tragedy explained everything)."
When Karla Krawchuk joined the group as Mae West and the Famous Fakes had a violent falling out in front of the audience on opening night of the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, where they were to present I Ordered Custard Pie, Now Let Me Have It, the results were skyrocketing. The review from W.A. Dykk, who had trashed them previously, read:
"This is the single greatest thing I have ever seen in the theatre. A violent, vulgar, hilarious, interactive explosion of rage, despair and sexual nihilism. Pie reflects the decay of pop culture and the lack of any truly original ideas in all modern art, manifest in its main characters, those most pathetic of creatures, Professional Celebrity Impersonators. The cast is uniformly venomous and brilliantly real. Pie suggests that the only way out of our current cultural ennui is to rip up and tear down our current idiotic obsessions with celebrity, Hollywood-type sex, fame, and nostalgia. To go completely, foul-mouthed and foaming-mouthed mad in order to be sane. To be real. By trashing celebrity-hood and thus rejoicing in our own speech and our own sexual pleasure, in short, by not being afraid of what other people might think, we have a shot at real happiness. This is powerful stuff. This is the New Famous Fakes. Pie is no trifle."
"People who followed their career tend to agree that the real legacy of the Famous Fakes is this: You can do anything you want. You can go to the moon. You can score the winning goal in the Stanley Cup playoffs. You can star in a full-length feature film. You can make love to a beautiful woman. You can marry that woman. People have. People do. The thing is, the moon won't come to your house. The Stanley Cup won't wish you a happy birthday . . . ."
"But isn't it odd, that to simply make love, and to have someone make love to you, from the first erection to the last eruption, is the so-called "dirtiest" thing we hear and yet it's also the most wonderful thing we feel! When you're making love, you know for certain what's right! Taking a chance, letting yourself go . . . ."
It is my opinion that The Famous Fakes is one of many books which will come our way with unique insights to help break down and through our fears and hang-ups about sexuality, loving, and the joy of life–to help us laugh and not take it all so seriously.
J.D. Guinness lives with his wife and daughter in Winnipeg, Canada. He is a multi-talented writer, director, producer, and as you can see from the excerpts I've quoted, he is an accomplished professional writer. The Famous Fakes is his first book, and I say, well-done and thanks for the good time!
Do I recommend this book to a mature audience? As Stan would say, "I cer-tain-ly do."
2012 Year of the Apocalypse
The Destruction and Resurrection of Earth
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Denver, CO, USA
ISBN: 1598002023, $16.95, 124 pp.
Edward Arnold presents, in a very compact manner, documentation and research for you to consider in forming your own opinions regarding the subject matter which includes: alien visitations and abduction; the Dropa Stones–a Chinese alien-human encounter; crop circles; the Greys–an alien life form; the Nordics–humanoids almost identical to humans; intergalactic travel–in bending time, you reduce the distance light must travel; the birth of man–evolutionists vs creationists; Penal Colony Earth–a possible answer for our predilection for war; religious myths--gods and goddesses–since the beginning of man; who and what was Jesus; Tammuz, the Son of God, 2,000 years BC; and finally, historical and astronomical support for why this book was written . . . 2012 Year of the Apocalypse.
From the historical perspective, allow me to quote: "The Mayans began counting time as of August 31, 3114 B.C., more than 5,000 years ago. . . . Mayan mathematicians could project their calendar millions of years into the past and into the future; time had no beginning, no end. Their projection of events that they foresaw has all but been realized, from world wars and the development of weapons that could destroy the world to Mother Nature's fury of cataclysmic events. They predicted the eruption of Mount St. Helens more that 1,500 years before it happened, and they got it exact–right down to the years, month, and day.
Long ago, they put a large check mark on the calendar, a pointer is aimed at what they called the "End Date." . . . It is so significant that the calendar just comes to an abrupt stop–it ends on the date December 21, 2012."
From the astronomical perspective, allow me to paraphrase: Our Milky Way Galaxy is 100,000 light years across and all the stars and planets spiral around the Galactic Center. It takes our solar system 250 million years traveling at a speed of 500,000 miles per hour to circle the center. Our solar system finds its way into the center of the Milky Way every 26,000 years, then moves back out.
"We began approaching the outer edges of the "eye" in 2004 and at sunrise on December 21, 2012, for the first time in 26,000 years, our little solar system, our sun and ten planets and all of our moons will once again enter the center rift of the Milky Way. . . . The result could be a cleansing of earth and the destruction of everything that dwells upon it."
The author writes: "Some of the Mayan elders believed that after the destruction is over and 2013 arrives, we will enter into a whole new age and into a whole new cycle. So, do not fret, the end-date of 2012 does not signal the end of time and the destruction of the world; more so, it means the beginning of a new stage in the development of human consciousness."
This book will certainly hold your attention, light up some brain cells, and possibly inspire you to move to higher ground. It got me thinking about what I might want to be doing during the next six years, and I was delighted to find the answer to be . . . just what I'm doing. I would not want to survive such worldwide destruction, as I know I could not withhold food and water from other people. On the positive side, it would be an amazing experience. I may end up in my energy-efficient, passive solar home at 7,000 feet above sea level with ocean-front property, and have lots of time to decide . . . what kind of boat to buy.
The strength of Mr. Arnold's convictions comes through clearly: the importance of using your imagination and questioning everything. The book 2012 Year of the Apocalypse is a well- written, informative book to challenge you to think for yourself. It's a keeper in my library of first editions and lucky me, it's signed.
The Larsky Gang
Stefan S. Mosley
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Denver, CO, USA
ISBN: 1932672516, $12.95, 246 pp.
Robert Caldwell was a loving father and husband whose life was destroyed in a flash of fate. He saw his family shot to pieces when he was apprehended on a bogus charge of drug trafficking. Federal Judge Andrew Larsky, Attorney Larry Flanagan, Chip Rheinfeld, and George Ramsey were the four men responsible for his years of hell in San Quentin State Prison where he was raped nightly. The sentence was twenty-five years, but he saved the life of guard Jim McAuliffe and reentered society after serving nineteen.
After all those years of humiliation and degradation, he was initially at a loss after being released (I would be too and personally would not have survived nineteen years of nightly rape). He got on a bus for San Francisco, and the driver, Jack Malinek, (the only juror at his trial who believed in his innocence) befriended him (not knowing who he was at the time).
When Judge Larsky read of Caldwell's release, he called a meeting at his home. It was Larry Flanagan's recommendation that they eliminate Caldwell. Larsky's housekeeper overheard the plan and informed the authorities who created a fake video death scene to convince the gang he was dead.
Caldwell was placed under a tight witness protection program in which he underwent facial surgery and was given a new identity, while at the same time multiple international agencies built a tight, drug-trafficking case against the gang. During his recovery from facial surgery, he met Katherine, an FBI agent nurse with whom he developed an intimate relationship.
Quoting from the book's webpage: "Soon after, the events erupt in a massive international operation covering Asia, South America, Afghanistan, Europe and the United States; involving faith, judicial misconduct, international terrorism, politics, intrigues and narcotics trafficking that bring in their wake unprecedented riots and disorder to the United States and culminated in the "9/ll" events and what may have been the real cause behind the immense tragedy.
Despite his initial resolve, Caldwell reluctantly succumbs to the chain of events that have taken over his life, and is dumbfounded how those who did him wrong perish one by one, and how fate rushes him to his full vindication and a reward he never dreamed of, without him moving a finger!"
Stefan Mosley has an unusually distinct style of writing, and his story propelled me right along. I have to admit that I was impressed with his knowledge of national and international organizations, multiple languages and cultures. If I were to offer constructive criticism, I would suggest . . . you don't need all those exclamation marks and make the intimate . . . a little more intimate and not so "sweet."
You won't be disappointed if you're looking for a different style of writing . . . different from the genre mill. As it states on the back cover: "THE LARSKY GANG is a compelling blend of facts and fiction packaged into a moving story about an innocent man and the perils of the modern-day life."
Through his writing, one thinks they might catch a glimpse of Stefan Mosley–a sensitive, caring man. The Larsky Gang is the author's debut as a published writer. Kudos to you, Stefan S. Mosley.
I Saw Heaven Opened
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Denver, CO, USA
ISBN: 1598000454, $29.95, 199 pp.
Allow me to quote from the book's webpage: "What happens before birth? What happens at death? What is the meaning of existence in this world of violence and suffering. What is the meaning of Christ: His death and resurrection? What do the events of our lives tell us? What is our future? How does freewill operate on this physical plane. How do we know we are on the right path?
This novel, rooted in truth and fact, details the life of Andrew as he searches to find the answers to these questions. His quest leads him in spirit to encounter an entity named Uraeus who helps him understand and accept the muddle and riddle of existence without platitude."
Andrew's search is related in a manner similar to Carlos Castaneda's The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge and Dan Millman's The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. If you find such books inspirational in your own personal search, you may want to add I Saw Heaven Opened to your collection. It certainly addresses contemporary problems in our society. The story carried me right along, although sometimes I felt like I'd stepped into The Sound of Music.
The author writes: "Since age 14, I have sought to experience God. My journey has been one of rebellion, personal failure, and now a wonderful period of growth as I move into my middle sixties." He forewarns the reader that the depiction of events in Andrew's life are realistic, and the language can be raw and shocking at times.
This is good writing–as well it should be–for David Andrew has a M.A. in English and a strong background in biblical studies. His vocabulary is colorful, challenging, and I love going to the dictionary to learn a new word.
Trans-Light Element - The Open Door
Michael Irvin Bosley
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Denver, CO, USA
ISBN: 1598002309, $10.95, 154 pp.
This science fiction story is about the Reuel family–their daily lives, beliefs, problems, and challenges. Dr. Gamiel Reuel, a scientist, and his son, Ben–following in his footsteps–make a significant discovery which changes their lives immediately and will change the world, ultimately. This is the first book in a series about the Trans-Light-Element (TLE), a new element.
As I'm not an avid science fiction reader, I have to admit that some of the technical jargon at times was beyond me. However, I did understand that three fields–the electromagnetic, the gravitational, and the nuclear–had come together in critical mass ratios which caused an accident. I was hooked by page 10 when I read:
""You see, Ben, it's a matter of mass. Time is a function of the gravitational field of our planet. I suspect it is even more a function of our Sun's gravitational field; but my point is this. Time is not a constant. It changes rates and fluctuates depending upon our relationship to gravity fields around us. To those of us in earth's gravity field, no rate changes can be monitored because we all change together. Gravity is a function of mass."
To readers who avoid fiction because they think it's trivial and of no value, I say. . . you don't know how to read or what you're missing. Although this book is primarily about an accidental discovery, and the subsequent danger to Dr. Reuel's family, allow me to quote from the heart of the story:
Ben let out his breath and said, "Here we go again. So, what is our plan?"
"Ben, we are going to give ourselves a little buffer time. We have reached a time in our nation's history when the political climate that faces us is quiet sophisticated and corrupt. Under the law, we still enjoy freedoms and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution; however, where power and money are concerned–individuals have opportunity to abuse both. In many cases, by the time the courts have a change to react to redress grievances, irreversible damage is done. It was not the intention of our founding fathers that ordinary citizens should wait around to become victims of abuse. We are agents of liberty with the right to act to avoid and prevent such abuse. In situations like this, there are two kinds of people, victims or victors. People develop a habit of being one or the other."
Ben nodded his understanding. He had noticed how some people seem to thrive on waving their 'I am a poor victim flag.'
Gamiel continued, "The Constitution continues to serve us well; but there never was a time in the history of our nation when power did not threaten to steal our freedoms. It has been a continuous struggle. Many brave Americans have sacrificed their lives to bear this precious gift to the next generation. Freedom is not free, and we must always carefully balance our enjoyment with a willingness to do what is necessary to preserve the Constitution–even in the face of personal disaster."
Ben nodded as they both continued working.
Gamiel continued talking. He was on a roll. "I took an oath in the Navy to do just that–defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. When I left the military to become a civilian, I was released from that legal obligation; but now I have a higher obligation–as a citizen, in the spirit of the intent of our Fore-Fathers, to do all I can to preserve individual freedom and dignity weighed against the demands of the body politic.""
As you can surmise from the quoted excerpts above, Michael Bosley is an accomplished writer who has something to say and says it well. His POD published book has been attractively designed and produced. This book will appeal to science fiction readers and those looking for a continuing, suspenseful mystery.
Shades of Truth
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Denver, CO, USA
ISBN: 1598000934, $12.95, 246 pp.
If you were to mix a spunky female detective into a police procedural, add a little romantic tension, and finish it with a twist, you might have Shades of Truth. The author hooks you solid from the start, and I quote from the opening:
"Warren stared at the pistol–a small one, all things considered. Damn, why hadn't he seen it coming? It was a stubby piece that hadn't made so much as a bulge in Johan's briefcase. Hell, he hadn't even blinked when he reached in and pulled it out.
"Now, Jonah," he said in a surprisingly steady voice as he clutched the edge of the massive black walnut desk to keep his hands from trembling. "There's no call for this.""
Of course, there's nothing new about mystery genre–you have a bad guy who is pursued by a good guy or gal, as this case may be. But what is new and unique and the challenge for the writer is the telling–those unexpected twists and turns that keep you turning the page. Charlie Hudson's plot is solid, her characters come alive, the setting is real, and her style is smooth and colorful. She's clearly an accomplished writer. Allow me to quote from the book's webpage:
"Finding a corrupt, manipulative politician beneath a charming exterior is nothing unusual. Unraveling the connection to a twenty year old suicide and linking him to a string of present day bodies is another matter. Police Detective Bev Henderson of Verde Key, Florida doesn't care that rising star State Senator Warren Randall belongs to a wealthy and powerful family. What she does care about is a missing woman, a dead accountant and people who think they can paint the truth in shades other than black and white."
This is her third novel, and other books by the author include Orchids in the Snow, Shades of Murder, and The Parent's Guide to Business Travel. You can find out more about Charlie Hudson at http://charliehudson.net.
Origin in Death
J. D. Robb/Nora Roberts
G.P. Putnam's Sons
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY, 10014
ISBN: 039915289X, $24.95, 339 pp.
In July 1995 J.D. Robb, aka Nora Roberts, published her first "in death" book, Naked in Death. Since then she has written twenty-two novels and two novellas in this continuing series about Lieutenant Eve Dallas, a futuristic NYPD homicide detective; Roarke, her gorgeous, wealthy husband, and Eve's crime-fighting team. These novels are quintessential police procedural mysteries, with a twist of humor, pyschodrama, sex and sensitivity.
Prior to reading this entire series, I had a fear of reading books about the terrible things people do to each other, how we use our wonderful imagination to create pain and terror. I actually used this series to confront my fears and to get past them, for within this series you will find every possible, imaginable form of evil.
Each novel certainly can stand alone; however, I read the series in chronological order, which I highly recommend for maximum enjoyment. You will quickly grow to know and love all her characters–Peabody, her partner; McNab, Peabody's tall, skinny loveman; Mavis, her radically-clad, extroverted, singer friend; Summerset, Roarke's majordomo and thorn in Eve's side–to name a few.
After reading this series, I can now read anything gruesome or frightening–stalking, dismemberment, blood everywhere, revenge, torture, whatever\pard f1 –and find it prosaic compared to these novels. Now, back to Origin In Death.
It is year 2059 in New York City and someone has murdered reconstructive and cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Wilfred Icove. The victim was found in his office with one clean stab wound to his heart and no evidence of a struggle. The case turns bizarre when Wilfred's son dies in the same manner. In both cases they seem to have trusted their killer. Eve's instincts tell her that the father and son had a hidden dark secret and that the motive for the murders . . . had its origin in death.
J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts's writing is consistently excellent. She is a consummate artist in any genre–romance, mystery, thrillers, fantasy, science fiction–you name it, she can write it. Since her first book, Irish Thoroughbred, published in 1981, she has written over 300 novels. You won't be disappointed.
The Binding of Isaac
Authors OnLine Ltd
40 Castle StreetHertford SG14 1HR, England
ISBN: 0755210123, $14.95, 247 pp.
There are a number of books with the title The Binding of Isaac or the Akedah, a primary symbol in Jewish thought, tradition, culture, and liturgy–the story of God's command to Abraham that he sacrifice his first-born son, Isaac, to Him as a burnt offering. The paradox being . . . if cherished, why sacrificed, and if sacrificed, in what way cherished?
This book, The Binding of Isaac, is a contemporary novel which takes place in England. The pivotal character Abraham is an orthodox Jew who has lost his faith after his son, Isaac, who suffered brain damage at birth, is sentenced to prison for the rape and attempted murder of his step-sister. Peter, a Nigerian barrister, and the son of Josiah, an African vicar, represents the boy in an appeal and falls in love with Rosie, Isaac's younger sister. The fathers, Josiah and Abraham, one a devout Christian and the other an orthodox Jew, both at variance with fundamentalism, establish a unique friendship.
I felt many things as I read this book: tones of Fiddler on the Roof to, strangely, Cinderella with poor Isaac as Cinderfella. Isaac' s step-mother, -sister, and -brother were truly the source of Isaac's hellish life. I particularly liked how the author wrote from a first-person perspective for each character and how he handled the sexuality throughout, the acceptable and unacceptable, in a contemporary erotic manner, very tastefully done.
Now, I'm going to include two excerpts to illustrate Michael Shocket's style and give you a feel for the heart of his story as spoken by Abraham. The first excerpt is from pages 14-15:
The new Abraham can no longer accept the divinity to whom he prayed so devotedly for most of his life. As a matter of fact, these days I find the sight of my former colleagues swaying in unison whispering, shouting . . . all this now seems ludicrous, and, as for the words they mouth . . . well, most of them, as far as I am concerned, are unacceptable.
For instance, at the holiest time of the year, on the Day of Atonement, we ask who may die of this, of that . . . but affirm our faith that piety and prayer will avert "the evil decree." Well, my friend, in the face of actual events, if you believe that, you can believe anything.
As for this omnipotent being before whom we kneel and abase ourselves in supplication . . . what sort of power have we created? To my mind God – whose name we dare not mention, so we call him hashem, "the name" – is a being who must divert himself creating wonderful creatures and then playing cruel games with them. He give the hare sensitive large ears to become aware of danger, and the ability to run away from his attacker at great speed. Then he endows the huge cat with even greater speed and cunning. I suppose the God of our bible watches the chase with the same enjoyment as you probably watch a game of football. But here the contest ends for the hare in either survival or a gruesome death. So does the fate of this hunted creature – of us all – depend ultimately on no more than a whim . . . that when my son, Isaac was born . . . when life was breathed into his soul for his entire span on earth . . . he should be cursed with irreparable brain damage? . . .
I've come to the conclusion that the main cause of the blackest pages in history can be attributed to that misguided faith which urges man to suppress all moral feeling–to commit atrocities in the name of "obedience", whether it is to a human or supposedly divine command.
In this second excerpt, Abraham is having a conversation with his friend Nathan Adler, principal of the Jewish boarding school for children with learning disabilities where Abraham teaches–pages 158-159:
"So you do believe in a Creator."
"No! I can't! This is where I remain confused. The traditional concept of all religions is the existence of a super being capable of creation and control over the destiny of man. Would you say, Nathan that God created man in His image?He reflects a moment, then rather hesitantly nods his head."Well, I'd say the opposite: that it was man who created God in his."
"Well, what kind of a deity does that give us? Would you agree that the bible presents a being of supreme power?"
"But how is that power exercised? In the light of known history I'd consider it vindictive, unjust, unsympathetic, cruel . . . Need I go on? Do I have to give you – a Jew – examples? To be honest, my friend, what kind of God has man created–in his own terrible image?" . . .
"So – if I retain my belief that I have a soul – that the known universe is not all there is – that beyond human understanding there is a supernatural dimension – I must look elsewhere than in the bible for an explanation – knowing however that no human being limited with five senses could find it! It's beyond us. As far as mankind is concerned there is no ultimate truth."
This story has historical depth and religious honesty. Besides Abraham's loss of faith, it addresses the problems and pleasures of sexuality; the pain from religious, racial and social prejudice; the negative attitudes towards people with learning disabilities; and, on the positive side, three bitter-sweet, interwoven love stories–life in the real world, you might say. If you're an intelligent reader who wants something more than the popular books off the formula genre mill, I promise . . . you will not be disappointed.
Dr. Michael Shocket is a retired lecturer living in Hertfordshire. He is a member of the Council for Christians and Jews and states that his religious views are reflected in the pivotal character of Abraham. This is his first novel, and it is an excellent read. Dr. Shocket has written several text books published by the Cambridge University, poems in various magazines, and his autobiography, Know Me Tomorrow.
One People One Language
Authors OnLine Ltd
40 Castle Street, Hertford SG14 1HR, England
ISBN: 0755201736, $17.95, 284 pp.
Quoting from the back cover of this book:
"The two great hoaxes of today:
1. All human life began only in Africa
2. Language and agriculture were developed in the Middle East
This book shatters both."
What is this book about?
Rangi Ranganth's theory, which briefly stated is:
Around Circa 200,000,000 years ago, three tectonic plates of the super landmass Antarctic split from the mother plate and started drifting carrying common elements. The largest of them drifted to the northwest and is now Africa. A smaller plated drifted northeast and is Australia. The smallest plate, in the shape of a triangle, drifted directly north towards Asia and is now India. When it crashed into Asia, it created the greatest mountain range in the world–the Himalayas, along with the Hindu Kush in northern India, the Caucasus in southern Russia, and the Alps in Europe.
Prior to the crash, Earth had a temperate climate with warm winds and spun clockwise creating western wind movement. There were no large mountains in Asia and Europe at this time. Much of the northern hemisphere was covered in ice. At the southern fringe of this ice was Siberia–a land of forest. Much of Arabia was under water. Earth was home to large reptiles called dinosaurs, which could exist only in warm climates.
After the crash, the tall Himalayas blocked the moisture-laden clouds and northeast India developed into a rainforest wherein life began–from the lemurs and bush babies to human beings. The giant dinosaurs living in north India, China and Europe perished due to the change in tlineclimate. Ramapithecus and Sivapithecus, great apes, roamed in the land of India 15,000,000 year ago.
Apes, Neanderthals, and Cro-Magnons traveled from India to Central Asia, Persia, Arabia and parts of Europe. Around 50,000 years fully developed people of Indian origin trickled into Persia, Arabia, Central Asia, ancient Anatolia, and the Pyrenees mountains in western Europe. Around 8000 B.C. a small group of Caucasians from the southeastern section of the Caucasus mountain range settled at the eastern shore of a fresh water lake in Southern Russia. A small river fed into the lake and the lake fed into the Mediterranean Sea.
It was around 5550 B.C. when the northern glacier melt caused The Great Flood–the greatest diaspora in human history. Within days, the lake had become a major sea and ocean levels rose 600 feet. The people fled in all directions and from these people developed thousands of tribes over time with different cultures and languages--mistakenly construed to be different races. When in truth, they are all one people.
Who is Rangi Ranganath?
He was born in India where he acquired a Bachelor's degree in engineering. He came to the United States in 1963 and acquired a Master's degree in engineering from Columbia University. He specializes in energy and energy conservation and is a self-employed energy consultant in New York. He has traveled to Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, and Venezuela, and is currently a citizen in the US living in Uniondale, New York.
How does he substantiate his hypothesis?
The heart and soul of this book is his in-depth study and presentation of the evolution of languages starting with the Tamil of India and including Sanskrit, Basque, Russian, Greek, Arabic, German, Italian, English, Finnish, Latin, Spanish, Persian, Urdo, Polish, Turkish, French, Irish, Armenian, Hindi, Hebrew, Japanese, Gaelic, Estonian, Lithuanian--how all these language evolved from one language.
Who would be interested in reading this book?
All cultural and physical anthropologists, anyone interested in the evolution of man and his cultures, students of linguistics, lovers of language. His theory, as presented in the book, would be clear to the average reader. However, his presentation of the evolution of language is really for serious students. I have a degree in anthropology and have studied linguistics myself, as it is a significant tool used in studying the movement, cultures, and history of man.
One People One Language–an appropriate title for this book.
Congratulations, Rangi. One certainly can appreciate the amount of hard work and dedication it took to put this book together. I wish you much success!
Breastfeeding: The Essential Guide
TIPS (Trotters Independent Publishing Services Ltd)
1 Mennock Lane, Troon KA10 7HQ
ISBN: 0954838106, $12.95, 100 pp.
Sharon Trotter's goal was to write a book about breastfeeding which was easy to read, inexpensive, and small enough to carry anywhere. She wanted it to answer all your questions, which I believe it does . . . plus more. She is enthusiastic about the subject, and this definitely comes through in her writing.
Sharon is a midwife, mother, breastfeeding consultant and neonatal skincare specialist. She is also an RN RM BSc and founder and director of TIPS Ltd. She trained as a general nurse at the Dorset School of Nursing in 1979, and moved to London in 1983 to complete the midwifery training at Queen Charlottes Maternity Hospital. In 1984 she moved to Scotland where she and her family now live on the west coast. She has been involved with the education and support of breastfeeding mothers for well over 20 years.
This little compact book is well organized and easy to follow. She starts with the history of breastfeeding and then explains all the benefits for the baby and for the mother. Next she goes into the preparation and process and finally covers problems and their treatments. The book is filled with references, resources, helpful websites, and suggested further reading.
She hopes that her enthusiasm will rub off and give you confidence to succeed. She wants you to enjoy the experience. She understands that 'real life' means juggling work, home, other children, partners, and that it can be exhausting. She states that once you've established breastfeeding, there is no better stress-buster around. The natural 'high' that occurs with every feed is available on tap whenever you and your baby need it.
Sharon's book went on sale at www.amazon.co.uk in November 2004 and soon entered the top 10 bestselling titles out of 424 books on breastfeeding, where it has remained. It now has eight 5-star ratings and received an excellent review in the August 2005 issue of Journal of Human Lactation.
I found this book to be everything that Sharon Trotter had hoped to achieve and highly recommend it.
The Legend of Juggin Joe
Lulu Press. Morrisonville, NC
ISBN: 1411625889, $10.25, 124 pp.
Are you a fan of Mark Twain? Do you enjoy reading books written in the vernacular of different cultures or regional areas? If you do, you just might want to try this little book.
The story is about Joe, the 10th child of Doc and Isabel Jeckel's 11 children, who all live in the Heldeberg Mountains around Westerlo, upstate New York. Joe was thought to be a bit touched until his talent to make beautiful music with his jug 'Isabel' surfaced when he was sixteen years old. Joe and Florentine Sheppard fell in love at an early age, but Parson Sheppard, her father, forbade them to have any contact. I don't want to tell you the whole story but I do need to include some of the excerpts which had tears runnin' down by cheeks for the last half hour of the book ('course, I'm a hard-core romantic, so take that for whatever it's worth) and to illustrate what the author calls 'country-speak' dialogue, the hooker for those so inclined.
Parson said, "Fer a long time, muh heart wuz hardened 'gainst yah Joe, an' I done muh best tah keep yah an' Florentine parted. I could see the feelins yeh two young'uns had wellin up inside. Quite honestly Joe, finding' yah an' Florentine tahgether after yer sister Sarah's weddin, well, it done caught me off'n muh guard, an' scairt me at the same time." Lookin over tah Florentine, he said, "Muh reaction wuz tah pertect her the best I thought tah do. I suppose I thought if'n I could jes' keep yah apart long 'nuff, yer feelins would change fer one 'nother, an' thins would be alright. . . Now, I cain't use that pertection as an excuse–Lord knows yer maw an' pap done raised yah right," he said as he looked over tah Joe's folks.
"I know that Florentine an' yah didn'a do nuthin wrong Joe, but I come down hard on yah–too awful hard, lookin back on it, 'specially as a man who preaches the Good Word tah all these folks ever Sunday.". . .
"Fer years I come between yah both, an' took away yer happiness, an' lessened that ah yer families an' friends." Lookin at both ah them, the Parson said, "I wronged yah Joe, an' I wronged yah Florentine. I'm sorry, an' I'll never let muh ire come between yah 'gain. I'm makin muh change, here an' now, if'n yah'll allow it." Lookin tah each ah 'em, he offered, "I'd like tah have yer forgiveness Joe, an' Florentine, an' Doc an' Isabel, if yah can find it in yer hearts after how I treated yah."
After he said his piece, the Parson stood there quiet. The whole ah the congregation wuz stunned an' silent, theys minds reelin' with what they jes' heard. The Parson done opened up an' bared his heart an' soul fer ever last one ah us tah behold, an' the effect wuz overwhelmin'. Jaws wuz a hangin on 'bout ever livin body in the place. By now, I managed tah look on over tah where Florentine wuz a settin, an' could see she wuz a weepin in silence. Up ahead ah me, Isabel had 'er head leanin on Doc's shoulder, an' I could see she wuz shudderin as well.
An' then, Joe stood up from his spot, an' come on out intah the main aisle. He took a couple ah steps toward the Alter where the Parson wuz standin, an' put out his hands.
I'm 'fraid if'n yuh want tah know what Joe said, yah'll just have tah put out $10.25 to buy the dang book.
The cover by Jonathan Fesmire is particularly attractive and unique. I love the cute frog hangin' out of Joe's back pocket on the back cover. There are little drawings throughout the book which add to the humor, and it's very clear that this book was a true labor of love, with much attention to detail.
Joseph Yakel provides us with some autobiographical information about himself. He did grow up in the Heldeberg Mountains, is a retired Federal Army Chief Warrant Officer, and has written two books about genealogy, and numerous articles of electronic technology, military history and leadership. The Legend of Juggin Joe is his first "situational humor" book, and if it's at all autobiographical . . . well, then I say, "Bless your sweet soul, Joe."
by Catherine Padmore
Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 1865089524, $21.95 AU, 312 pages
Sibyl's Cave is a novel which works on a number of levels. At its simplest, it is the story of Billie, a sixty year old artist living on Dangar island, a "rocky peak" in the Hawkesbury River. The novel opens in the present tense of 1990, with Billie living an introspective and quiet life. She shares her sanctuary with Stan, a fellow painter of similar age, who inhabits a fibro shed behind her house, and Troy, an eighteen year old boy who cooks for her in exchange for his room. At this most basic of levels, Sibyl's journey is a gentle one, where she works through the demons of her past to come to some kind of reconciliation with the present. Each chapter alternates between Sibyl in the present, and the young girl/teen she left behind, first Cibelle, Queenie, and Bella, moving from Campania in the 1930s to Norfolk, London in the postwar 40s, and back to Campania. Since the novel begins in the 1990s, all of the chapters which pre-date that function as a flashback--Billie's mental delving into the people and places of her past which appear before her Proustlike, conjured by the madeleines of her journals, a visit from her niece, and the sensual impact of the island world which surrounds her:
the exercise book, with thumbprints in the margins and tides of spilt ink, takes Billie to another room, where two young girls complete their homework by gaslight at either ends of a polished kitchen table. One has red hair, the other's is curly and black, but with a red forelock.(67)
Billie's world provides us with an insight into the development of an artist, from the inchoate longings that spark the creative process, to the output which results.
The swirling leaves draw a memory of her dream to the surface, and Billie shivers. She loves the process, like the slow surfacing of an idea for a painting. It begins with knowledge of a presence -- nothing substantial, but a glimpse, a hint that something is coming. She feels it in her gut, and in the sudden awareness of her heartbeat. It calls her body to attention. She pretends to ignore the presence, concentrates on something else, afraid that her conscious inquiry will abort its growth. She has learnt to wait and see. Slowly, the dream unfolds, shifting from the knowledge of a memory to the memory itself, as immediate as if she had just opened her eyes. (56)
There is also the historic and psychological elements which underline this story. Although rooted in the personal point of view of Billie/Cibelle/Queenie/Bella, Sibyl's Cave provides a broad spectrum account of the impact of World War Two on a child whose parents are forcibly removed from her. The impact of her stepfather's enthusiastic anti-fascist remarks while in a Naples cafe and the subsequent violence of her parents departure are felt as waves which move across time, reverberating in the present tense even as they become past. The reader feels the lack of closure and absence along with Cibelle as she strains towards the "Papa" whose love shielded her from her mother's rejections.
The rift in Cibelle's life increases as her real father brings her back to a cold and sterile home during wartime England, changing her name, and anchoring her as a misfit on the outside of society. She is repeatedly punished for her gifts and scorned for her inability to 'fit in' at home and in school, but her sensual awareness and attachments are further strengthened by her pain, providing her with the artistic awareness which becomes the source of her greatest pleasure, even as she struggles in her lowest moments.
On the deepest level, Padmore creates a much subtler and more complex text as she strengthens Billie's character with a strong mythological undercurrent. Billie is, of course, the true Sibyl, mirrored by a wrinkled woman who gives her grappa in the Cumaean Sibyl's cave, and part of her journey is the stitching together of her past and future together with the leaves ("ephemera") she hordes. Like the mythological Sibyl, Billie's name and appearance changes, and she grapples with the tender and deadly draw of addiction, her own sexuality and sensuality (the distinction in this story is very clear), and the punishment and rewards of her gifts and exile. In some sense, Billie is a kind of heroic every woman--a female Ulysses--questing for meaning in her painful life. The future she uncovers is her own, and her journey towards self-realisation is deeply satisfying for the reader as it comes full circle in a kind of watery birth where she gathers in the past, uniting her different identities. At this deeper level, the mirrored chapters are not flashbacks at all, but simply different perspectives on the present, as Billie comes to a sense of understanding that nothing is lost: the apex of her journey. Characters' names and the roles they play in Billie's life reflect the mythological undercurrent. There is Billie's mother Afrodite, her niece Lorelei, and Didóne, as well as the old Sibyl who appears to Billie on several occasions.
Despite the continual introspection which drives the narrative forward, Billie's Cave is a fast read, propelled as much by historical thrust, and the need to discover the secrets which underpin Billie's background, as by the mental journey which Billie takes. The writing is taut and rich, never slowed by its beautiful and delicate metaphors which are as finely focused as poetry. The reader is forced to see the world through Billie's artistic vision, from the Terracotta tiles of her childhood porch which "looked like ridged shells she sometimes found on the beach (9), to the "stick-insect thin" prostitute junkie wandering around Vaucluse; the smell of olives, fried rabbit, or the lemony astringency of a gum leaf; the texture of charcoals in the hand; the heated sound of a cicada chorus in the morning; the damp longing of sexual awakening; or the peeling shoulders of sunburned skin. This is a story which immerses the reader in the sensuality of the places and people of Billie's world. At times, the past runs by so quickly that it seems rushed, especially Queenie's time in London as she develops her addiction, and to a lesser extent, the development of the relationship between Elissa and Sibylle or Elissa's downfall. The writing remains powerful at all times, but there simply doesn't seem time for the intensity needed in those sections to develop fully.
Nevertheless, this is a beautiful novel, full of insight and emotion. It is ambitious in the scope of its settings and the universality of its themes, managing to balance deep themes and rich imagery with lightheartedness, a fast pace, and easy reading experience. The deft handling of both the micro perspective of Billie's world, and the macro perspective of the 'hero's journey' that Billie takes works on every level.
Weinberg on Writing
Gerald M. Weinberg
Dorset House Publishing Co
ISBN: 093263365X, $30.95, 196 pages
On page 102 of Weinberg on Writing Gerald Weinberg states that "The Feldstone Method starts with gathering, not with organizing." This is, in a nutshell, what makes the concepts in this book different from most other books on writing. The Feldstone Method is based on a large overarching metaphor--that gathering material for books is like gathering stones for a wall and that you need to gather enough solid stones before you can begin constructing the wall. This becomes a kind of chicken and egg argument which may hinge on semantics rather than the actual writing process, where the distinction between gathering and crafting is probably less stringent than in wall building. So what is a feldstone, and more precisely, what is the Feldstone Method for writing? At its most simple level, the Feldstone Method is merely a way of serendipitously researching. Using the metaphor of a fieldstone wall, the Feldstone Method involves firstly, gathering ideas, quotations, notions, and bits of information from anywhere you can find them, and then organising them into a structure.
Weinberg uses lots of examples primarily from his own life, but also from the work of his students and well known authors like Ruskin or Edgar Allen Poe and this is therefore an entertaining book which provides insight into the way other writers work. The book begins by explaining how to gather feldstones--primarily by having a journal, note cards or tape recorder at the ready for ideas whenever they occur, and by keeping your senses open. Weinberg suggests other ways of finding stones, such as making use of quotations or concepts from other books while avoiding plagarism, and some tools to assist with the gathering process. The tools section is pretty basic, and suggests such things as a computer, note cards, a nice pen, improving your typing skills, and making use of the Internet--which most writers would be well and truly familiar with, but nevertheless, there are some useful ideas on how to uncover sparks in unexpected places.
Other chapters look at how to stimulate your memory to yield up stones and how to discard stones so that they aren't lost. Only once you gather enough stones does Weinberg recommend that you begin trying to build a wall. This is the tricky part, as Weinberg admits that the process of turning stones into a wall is mostly subconscious and not really one which can be taught. He does recommend some organising tools to assist with the process, and provides an organising principle, complete with acronym, to assist the process. The sections on outlining, organising, shaping, and filling cracks are all well written and full of useful ideas, and the metaphor is adhered to consistently throughout the book, but the very notion of randomly but actively collecting stones as an activity which precedes organisation seems problematic. Without some concept of what you are writing about, it's hard to know what ideas you need to gather. Just collecting interesting ideas and quotes that spark your imagination is probably not a bad way to supplement other writing projects, or to break block, or to come up with a coherent concept to begin writing, but it seems odd to simply gather for the sake of it without first knowing where the ideas or "stones" will go. If, as Weinberg strongly suggests in the first chapter, you only write about what you care about, and you've clarified what you care about, then perhaps you will already have some kind of overarching organising principle in operation. Otherwise the process of collection becomes a random one, and while serendipity might mean that your stone yields some kind of spark which drives you towards creating a finished piece of writing, it is very possible that without a formal process for synthesising and dissemination, your stone collection will remain a useless distraction (or rubble pile, to continue the metaphor).
Which isn't to say that research isn't critical, or that it can't be a useful process even before you know what you're writing about, but surely there is more to writing than solely researching or gathering ideas. There is also crafting, and creating your own feldstones. Fortunately the last chapter of the book does provide a very good, annotated bibliography, which will help the reader find books to assist with the key aspects of writing, including things like creating character, plot, obtaining a publisher and crafting a long work like a novel. Feldstones are certainly a source of inspiration, and it seems to me that this is what the "Feldstone Method" is all about--finding material to inspire and support your work, but inspiration is probably the smallest part of any writing project. The rest is all about hard work: synthesis, invention, development, and sweat, no matter how much you like what you're writing about. At some point the gathering stops and the actual writing begins, and it's a lot more than simply putting collected stones together. Nevertheless, this is a fun, interesting book which takes a perspective which is unusual and stimulating. It may be an absolutely perfect way for some writers to work, but even if you are the sort of writer who requires a framework first, Weinberg on Writing will still yield its own valuable "stones".
Magdalena Ball, Reviewer
Descending from Duty
J. Ryan Fenzel
P.O. Box 630, Hartland, MI 48430
ISBN: 0977168808, $12.95, 302 pages
What would you do if you had a suspicion that no one believed; one that, if you followed it, could get you in serious trouble with your boss? But if your suspicions were correct, might save someone's life?
And what if you had an employer that just didn't believe they were in danger? Of if they did, didn't want to admit it? And what if your job was to protect that person at all costs, but you were no longer sure that you could do your duty when the moment came? And what if that someone was a beloved former President of the U.S.?
These are the dilemmas that face beautiful and brilliant FBI Special Agent Rebbeca Matthis and loyal Secret Service agent Dylan Reese as they try keep the Ex President safe and the State of Michigan secure.
Reese still has nightmares from the day, six years prior, when he stopped a bullet intended for the president. He has a recurring dream where he sees the bullet spinning towards him, can feel it grazing his temple… Almost killed then, he has lost, not his edge, but a bit of his confidence. And he wonders if that makes him less capable of protecting McCallum.
Matthis, sent out to F.B.I. Resident Agency office in Grand Haven by an annoyed Special Agent in Charge in retribution for a job well done, is assigned to the case of a missing WWII submarine, the USS Silversides. A decommissioned WWII sub; an exhibit at the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum in Muskegon, Michigan has just been stolen. Who could have stolen it? Why? She has her suspicions as to why, and a sudden insight has her racing to Mackinaw Island, attempting to stop the Governor's Flotilla (before it launches).
Her suspicions are confirmed when two ships, one carrying high ranking politicians and a possible Presidential candidate, the other the news media, are torpedoed during the Flotilla. Some of the politicians killed were in the cabinet of former President McCallum. Why were they killed? Who could be behind this?
Connecting due to their mutual suspicions, (and on more than one level), Reese and Matthis have to find a way to protect Former President Warren McCallum from a conspiracy that only they believe; one that reaches back to a covert event that occurred during his presidency. An event that turned a once honorable soldier into McCallum's implacable enemy.
Set in Michigan, full of familiar names and places, Fenzel has written an absorbing, edge of your seat thriller that you will want to devour in one sitting. This writer hopes that this will not be the last time we see these two characters.
The Worst Hard Time : The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
Houghton Mifflin Co.
222 Berkeley Street, Boston MA 02116
www.hmco.com (617) 351-5000
ISBN: 061834697X, $28.00, 340 pages
Most people today don't remember "The Great Dust Bowl" because those that lived then are either quite elderly or have passed on. This book was personally gripping to this writer because my mother, now deceased, lived through it and told me of the years of blowing dirt, of crop failures and farm stock that died due to "dust pneumonia". Egan uses the voices of those who lived through this horrible time to tell the story of what it was really like to wrestle with the wind, fight with the blowing dirt, and try to eke out a living from soil that was no longer there.
The people that settled the High Plains were true pioneers. Lured by false advertising that showed settled towns and government grants of 160 acres; they came by the thousands, only to find stakes in a flat grassy ground delineating plots. No water, no shelter, no food. The buffalo had been decimated by either cowboys, sportsmen shooting from trains or by government men, and water was scarce. Those that came had a hard scrabble existence from the start, but in true pioneer spirit they built their "soddies" (sod houses) until the time that they could build a proper house. They brought their faith, strength and stamina. And being farmer, they plowed up the buffalo-grass-covered land and sowed. And plowed and sowed until much of the land was fields of wheat. But to do this, they needed money, and they borrowed and borrowed..
For a golden few years, the rains came and the crops were plentiful, allowing the pioneers to build wooden houses, and towns to grow up with general stores, banks and schools. But then, in 1929, the banks failed, taking the farmer's savings with them. But the people of the high plains were tough, although a few left, many of them stayed. But now that the price of wheat was depressed, or previous plots had gone fallow, farmers plowed and planted more acres of wheat to make up the difference. This cycle recurred as things continued to get worse, until only a very few acres were left unbroken.
1930 was the year of bank failures. 1931 was a dry year, the first of eight years of drought, with intermittent rains and strong hailstorms that damaged crops. The "suitcase" farmers, those that followed the railroad, and just wanted a quick profit, gave up and left, leaving stripped and empty fields. Others left because they couldn't pay the mortgages on their farms. Many farmers were just getting by, getting just enough from the government to hang on. In 1932, it was hot and dry and the ever present wind was harsh. It was too dry to plant, and the wind started to peel the land away, whirling the dirt far overhead. On January 21, 1932, the first of the dusters occurred. A cloud ten thousand feet high appeared outside of Amarillo, Texas, and the sky went dark. People didn't know what it was and called it a "black blizzard". The duster moved through Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas and dumped a layer of dust over everything, dust that blinded those caught outside; dust that filtered inside of every building and home. And this was just the first. The dusters continued, year after year. These were years of little rain, incredible heat, and harsh winds that carried sand and dirt that cut like razors. The heat and drought shriveled what crops managed to come up. The dust got into the eyes of livestock, causing blindness, and into their lungs and stomachs, causing death from "dust pneumonia". And not only livestock, but of people too. Hospitals were full of folks with this new form of illness that started as dust in the eyes and an ache in the stomach.
The dusters got more frequent from year to year, 14 in 1932, 38 in 1933, and culminated in the worst one on April 14, 1935. Later known as "Black Sunday", this duster was huge, starting in the Dakotas and covering more than five states, it caused extensive damage. By now, the dusters had gained national attention, and the pictures that the Associated Press sent back to Washington took effect. In 1933, Roosevelt had come to office, and immediately passed the Emergency Banking act to shore up banks, and then the Emergency Farm Mortgage Act for refinancing mortgages to help farmers facing foreclosure. His New Deal legislation strove to shore up the failing farms, feed the starving and allow people to live with a little dignity by providing work. Others in his administration tried to find out the cause of the dusters, and how to prevent them from ever occurring again.
This book follows six families and their communities through these horrible years that would test them like no other time in their lives. Egan chronicles how they strove against the wind, heat, dust and crop failures and lets them tell vivid tales of endurance and unbelievable courage in the face of some of the worst conditions of the last century.
Maria E. Schieda
The Poetry Of Ana Maria Fagundo
Associated University Press
2010 Eastpark Boulevard, Cranbury, NJ 08512
0838755984 $38.50 www.bucknell.edu
Expertly compiled, edited, and introduced by Candelas Gala, The Poetry Of Ana Maria Fagundo: A Bilingual Anthology is a seminal collection of the eclectic and intelligent poetic writings of Ana Maria Fagundo. Granting the reader the most inspirational, philosophical, conceptual, and engaging poetry from her timely and lyrical work, The Poetry Of Ana Maria Fagundo is a superb introduction of her unique and recognizable style. The Adventure Is With One's Self: The adventure is with one's self,/with the ages in stone that struggle/to be sea or sky,/vulnerable earth where being/has left its stamp of life/saying that it sang pain,/laughed discouragement,/slept dreams,/created time/and that nothing it did,/nothing it will go on doing/has a beginning or an end point/nor route to traverse.//Everything is this song, Chanel,/of erect pyramid/so it can try to tell us something/fill our hollows with warmth/evoke the warm light of permanence.//We convoke it in the event it might become/the comforting fire of poem.
In the Middle Distance
2402 University Avenue, Suite 203, Saint Paul, MN 55114
1555974392 $14.00 1-651-641-0077 www.graywolfpress.org
Princeton University teacher Linda Gregg's sixth poetry collection, In the Middle Distance is an anthology of brief, free-verse creations brimming with passion, desire, and spiritual questions. The shining grace of the poems, which are grounded firmly in an understanding of classical literature and art even as they reach out to modern-day concerns, distinguishes this captivating collection. "The Other Excitement": If I go back into memory it's not / because I like it, but because / that's where the hard things are. / Nothing that gets excited. Almost / ripe and the beauty of things / in the middle distance. / Going down the mountain.
University of Pittsburh Press
Eureka Building, 5th floor, 3400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260
0822959208 $14.00 www.pitt.edu
Astoria is an outstanding compilation of engaging and lyrical poetic rhetoric from the inspirational and conceptual works of Malena Morling (Professor of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina, Willmington). With a lyrically enraptured wordsmithing, Morling presents her most insightful, artistic, and sensuously flowing poetry yet. Traveling: Like streetlights/still lit/past dawn,/the dead/stare at us/from the framed/photographs.//You may say otherwise,/but there they are,/still here/traveling/continuously/backwards/without a sound/further and further/into the past.
Howard Publishing Company
3117 North 7th Street, West Monroe, LA 71291-2227
1582294755 $13.99 1-800-858-4109 www.howardpublishingdealer.com
Chaz Corzine asked a very special question to numerous men and women. The question was "What words of wisdom and inspiration would you pass on to a new baby?". The answers they gave are collected and presented in Dear Baby: A Very Special Welcome To Life! This compendium of advice, counsel, and encouragement is an ideal babyshower gift and welcome reading for any expectant parent. "Live Your life, little one. Live it fully and fearlessly. Laugh often and cry when you must. And know that you are His." Kathy Lee Gifford.
Broadman & Holman Publishers
127 Ninth Avenue North, MSN 143, Nashville, TN 37234
0805440305 $14.99 www.lifeway.com
Upgrade:10 Secrets To The Best Education For Your Child by Kevin Swanson (Executive Director of Christian Home Educators of Colorado) is a "parent friendly" study of the definitive modern education process of home-schooling. Informing its readers of the many intricacies and understandings of the home-schooling process which Swanson has come through years of experience and expertise to knowledgeably grasp, Upgrade offers an invaluable and instructive reference which focuses on the preeminence of character development, one-on-one instruction, the nurturing of individuality, and establishing a fundamentally competent knowledge of the basics. Upgrade is very strongly recommended reading, particularly for parents of homeschooled children for its uncompromisingly useful information.
Alex J. Packer
Free Spirit Publishing
217 Fifth Avenue North, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1299
1575421984 $15.95 www.freespirit.com
Wise Highs: How To Thrill, Chill, And Get Away From It All Without Alcohol Or Other Drugs by Alex J. Packer (President and CEO of FCD Educational Services, Inc.) is a thoroughly "reader accessible" and invaluable reference for practical, fun, innovative, and healthy explorations into living a life free of alcohol or other mind altering drugs. Introducing the reader to over 150 creative, legal, playful, and insightful "highs", Wise Highs acts as an educational and informative compendium for teens with everything from tips for breathing highs, to exercise highs, help with physical pains, and a collection of Zen and Zen-oriented information. Wise Highs is very strongly recommended to all teens, and their parents who are searching for a positive, knowledgeable guide to a good time.
Mind The Light, Katie
Mary Loise Clifford & J. Candace Clifford
35 East Rosemont Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22301
0963641271 $12.95 www.amazon.com
Mind The Light, Katie: The History Of Thirty-Three Female Lighthouse Keepers by Mary Louise Clifford and J. Candace Clifford is an informative and intrinsically interesting collection of the stories and lives of thirty-three of the one-hundred and fourteen officially appointed female lighthouse keepers between the years 1830 and 1947. Engaging the reader with inspirational stories from Kate Walker and her faithful service to th Robbins Reef Lighthouse, to Josephine Freeman at Blackstone Island Light Station in Maryland, Mind The Light, Katie is enhanced with period photographs and in-depth biographies of each of its featured women. Mind The Light, Katie is very highly recommended for Women's Studies and American History reference collections in general, and the supplemental reading lists of lighthouse enthusiasts in particular!
Women In Utah History
Patricia Lyn Scott & Linda Thatcher
Utah State University Press
78 Old Marin Hill, Logan, UT 84322-7800
0874216257 $19.95 1-800-239-9974 www.usu.edu/usupress
A project of the Utah Women's History Association and co-edited by Patricia Lyn Scott (Records Section Analysis Manager, Utah State Archives) and Linda Thatcher (Historic Collections Coordinator, Utah State Historical Society), Women In Utah History: Paradigm Or Paradox? is a compilation of impressive contributions reflecting seminal, groundbreaking scholarship of the highest order. Included are Polygamous and Monogamous Mormon Women: A Comparison (Jessie L. Embry and Lois Kelley); Innovation and Accommodation: The Legal Status of Women in Territorial Utah, 1850-1896 (Lisa Madsen Pearson and Carol Cornwall Madsen); Conflict and Contributions: Women in Churches, 1847-1920 (John Sillito); Ethnic Women, 1900-1940 (Helen Z. Papanikolas); The Professionalization of Farm Women, 1890-1940 (Cynthia Sturgis); Gainfully Employed Women, 1896-1950 (Miriam B. Murphy); From Schoolmarm to State Superintendent: The Changing Role of Women in Education, 1847- 2004 (Mary Clark and Patricia Lyn Scott (Scholarship, Service, and Sisterhood: Women's Clubs and Associations, 1877-1977 (Jill Mulvay Derr); Women of Letters: A Unique Literary Tradition (Gary Topping); Women in the Arts: Evolving Roles and Diverse Expressions (Martha Sonntage Bradley-Evans); Women in Politics: Power in the Public Sphere (Kathryn L. MacKay); and Women's Life Cycles 1850-1940 (Jessie L. Embry). An invaluable contribution to Women's Studies and American History reference collections and supplemental reading lists, Women In Utah History would well serve as a template for similar scholarly compilations with respect to the diverse contributions of women in the history of other states and regions of the country.
PO Box 645910, Pullman, WA 99164
0874222834 $18.95 www.wsupress.wsu.edu
Compellingly authored by anthropologist and academician Kathy-Lee Galvin, Forbidden Red: Widowhood In Urban Nepal, is an extensively researched investigative study of the plight of widows and their struggle to survive in the historical and modern constrictions of Nepali society. Delving deeply into the lives and struggles of widows in a culture which has societal predilection towards rejecting, disowning, or ostracizing or otherwise discriminating against these women, Forbidden Red informs its readers of the painstaking process of living beyond the death of a husband as illustrated through interviews from women of varying castes, religions, ages, and residential choices. Forbidden Red is very highly recommended reading, especially for students of anthropology, Nepali culture, gender based sociological issues of third-world and South Asian cultures.
The DNA Of Healing
Hampton Roads Publishing Company
1125 Stoney Ridge Road, Charlottesville, VA 22902
157174469X $14.95 www.hrpub.com
The DNA Of Healing: A Five Step Process For Total Wellness And Abundance by Margaret Ruby (founder of PossibilitiesDNA, a school that teaches cutting-edge vibrational healing techniques) is an conceptual and innovative five-step process for dealing with inherited traumas and negative patterns that basically amount to "rebooting" our DNA with positive patterns and thereby improving our health, relationships, and lifestyle choices. Ruby presents readers with an invaluable grasp on the most effective, helpful, intuitive forms of self-healing empowerment for the betterment health and wellness. The DNA Of Healing is unique and confidently recommended to all readers searching for an easy-to-use guide to a self-empowerment in the healing process.
The Modern Amazons
Dominique Mainon & James Ursini
c/o Hal Leonard Corporation
19 West 21st Street, Suite 201, New York, NY 10010
0879103272 $24.95 1-800-637-2852 www.halleonard.com
Co-authored and compiled by Hollywood film experts Dominique Mainon and James Ursini, The Modern Amazons: Warrior Women On-Screen is a profusely illustrated compendium of the actresses and the roles they played as fighters, warriors, and combatants in the past fifty years of filmmaking. Ranging from iconic image of Raquel Welch in the prehistoric adventure fantasy "One Million Years BC"; to Pam Grier as the first African-American woman in such films as "Coffy", "Foxy Brown", and "Sheba, Baby"; to Lucy Lawless' six-season portrayal of "Xena: Warrior Princess"; to Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in two "Tomb Raider" movies; to Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in the sci-fi "Alien" adventures, to the women who have played vampire slayers, superheroes (and villains), as well as assorted television, cartoon, comics, and video game fighter characters in the various movie action/adventure genres. The Modern Amazons is a welcome and enthusiastically recommended addition to personal, film school, and community library Film Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.
Dead Men Don't Leave Tips: Adventures X Africa
P.O. Box 791613, Paia, Hawaii 96779
ISBN: 0977053644 pbk, $16.95
ISBN: 0977053652 hc, $26.95, 280 pages
Dead Men Don't Leave Tips is the thrilling, captivating true tale of a honeymooned couple who quit their job, sell their home and cars, and leave everything behind to achieve a dream: cross Africa on a seven-month, 10,000-mile journey from Morocco to Cape Town.
Join professional travellers Wilson and Cheryl as they bargain with villagers, struggle with incompetent guides and government officials, pass sleepless nights in deplorable accommodations, cross the Sahara amidst sand storms and blistering heat, meet gorillas and Pygmies face to face, and climb Mount Kilimanjaro, reminding us all along that simple things such as a nice meal, a shower and getting cash can become the ultimate luxuries.
The tale is poignant with ironic humor and human drama. Each chapter begins with a witty, profound African proverb, and in the middle section the author includes interesting B&W photographs to complement his account and give a clearer picture of Africa's sights and sounds.
What's striking about Wilson's books (he's also the author of the IPPY Award winner Yak Butter Blues) is that his journeys are not only physical but highly spiritual as well. His are journeys of body and soul in every sense of the word. The author writes with honesty and a sharp eye for detail, making this an invaluable amalgam of information for readers of adventure travel or anybody who is considering "do-it-yourself" safaris or simply visiting Africa. Interlaced with this honesty and detail are Wilson's beautiful prose, obvious passion for adventure and a deep inquisitiveness about other cultures, making this book a pleasure to read. Having already reviewed Wilson's previous work, this reviewer is already looking forward to his next. Highly recommended.
Camille Claudel: A Novel
Alma H. Bond
ISBN: 1424116708, $19.95, 244 pages
(This review originally appeared on TCM Reviews.)
In this her latest novel, psychoanalyst-turned-author Alma H. Bond offers the reader a beautiful, yet highly disturbing portrait of Camille Claudel, the gifted French sculptress from the late 1800's who was mistress to famous sculptor Auguste Rodin.
The story is told in first person through the eyes of Camille herself as she writes her own story while confined to an asylum, where she tragically spent the last thirty years of her life.
In lovely detail Camille pens her life from her early childhood to her very last days, giving a grim glimpse of her love/hate relationship with her mother, her love, edging on incest, to her younger brother, her struggle with the male-dominated artistic establishments of the time, and her turbulent, obsessive, destructive affair with Rodin, who was a married man.
The tale is addictive and totally engrossing. Bond brings to life the dark workings of Camille's genius mind, from her deepest obsessions to her paranoia. Camille comes across as an arrogant, selfish, ambitious yet complex and tragically frail figure of her times, when women artists were nothing more than "anomalies." Most remarkable is the gradual change in Camille's mind as she becomes more and more unstable. Flawlessly crafted and beautifully written, Camille Claudel: A Novel comes highly recommended from this reviewer.
Dinner for Two
Echelon Press Publishing
9735 County Meadows Lane I-D, Laurel, MD 20723
ISBN: 1590804368, $12.99
Entertaining Read …….. Highly Recommended 5 stars
The narrative opens as Gene Haynes puts the finishing touches on the cake he will deliver for a murder mystery dinner. Gene is pleased that the cake is basically black and white. His color blindness does black and white with little problem. It is other colors that pose a bit of difficulty for him. Chef Haynes is struggling to establish a cafe and catering business. His specialty is romantic Dinners for Two. Across town Misty Jones, teacher, floral artist, former Peace Corps worker faces her own determination to begin a business and gain independence for herself. When Misty gives Gene a rubber check to pay for her not so romantic dinner; the pair find themselves combining talents which soon begin to grow both the catering and designing businesses. Misty comes to the cafe to work as a 'server' until the bad check is paid off. Soon she brings some of her floral arrangement to offer for sale at the restaurant. Gene is not sure he like that plan, but he does go along with it. . Gene's first major catering job with hundreds of patrons rather than two, ends in a near disaster. That disaster propels Gene and Misty into danger, near death and physical injury to both. The tale rollicks on to a satisfying conclusion.
'Dinner for Two' is a delightfully enjoyable read. The quixotic repartee between Author Evans' characters add a sense of delightful fun to the work. Evans has taken two most improbable characters, tossed them together, woven a tale of lighthearted romance, mystery and mystery to perfection. Dialog is peppery, filled with angst and easily believable.
The feelings of uncertainty and lack of self confidence exhibited by each of the main characters is easily believable. Gene struggles with his color blindness and his family's lack of marital stability; his mom has just entered marriage five, perhaps it is six, his siblings are divorced and engaged in relationships. Misty grapples with feelings of incertitude with respect to her burgeoning sense of fondness for Gene as well as her doubtfulness regarding what Gene's feelings for her might be. The pair tiptoe all around their true feelings as shown with an adept use of italics to indicate thought as they settle into a comfortable routine catering and providing floral arrangements. The characters Lorna and Dave are less developed, however, I found them interesting and engaging. The character Raymond appears as a typical self centered rich kid who has a hard time understanding that long friendship does not mean carte blanche to do as one pleases.
'Dinner for Two' is a fun read. I particularly enjoyed the affable bantering carried on between the main characters and between the main characters and their friends. The trials and tribulations of the pair, lack of working capital, sexual tension a near disaster due to chicanery on the part of another person, threat of lawsuit and police activity, all move the tale forward to the predictable and satisfying conclusion.
Californians will enjoy reading and identifying Sacramento and adjacent Sierra Nevada locales. Descriptions of the foothill hiking areas is especially realistic.
Writer Evans, a Registered Nurse with many years dealing with youngsters who have CVD Color Vision Deficiency presents an excellent portrayal of a man who is secure in his skill and masculinity even as he remembers years of ridicule and distrust thrust upon him in the school setting. As Gene comes to grips with understanding that CVD need not be a stop to those who honestly admire and respect him; the reader is guided into a better understanding of what is needed to not only empathize but to really understand life as lived by others. (My husband also is color blind …. )
Conflict abounds. The problems created by a dishonest vendor are believable, his short sighted determination to hide his involvement in a serious incident sad to say is also believable. I have known more than one young, 'jump on my horse and ride' type over the years.
Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend especially if you like a touch of romance with your mystery.
Shawn P. Cormier
Pine View Press
42 Central Street Southbridge, MA 01550
ISBN: 0974015113, $12.95
Entertaining Read …….. Recommended …. 4 stars
The narrative opens as a terrified old man races over roots and stones. Pursuing him are those determined to wrest the map he carries from him. Behind the aged man is a hulking shadow accompanied by twenty men clothed in black and wearing metal masks over their faces. The old man is not just an aged human, he is a Nomadin who has taken a human form. A Prophesied Child, magical beings, a witch, a Swan and a terrifying Nephalim all figure in the unfolding tale. Treachery, runes, life, death, more than one sword and a prophesy fulfilled will be revealed before the tale is finished. The tale ends with farewells, hope and the beginning of a journey.
Once again writer Cormier captures the essential quality of the genre to produce one more zestful, fast paced text. As with Cormier's first work 'Nomadin', 'Nidemon' is certain to enchant readers of fantasy; kids and adults alike. Personalities we encountered in the first book reappear in the second as the reader is carried into the anecdote from the opening lines. Reader involvement is retained in this gripping page-turner through the exercise of well-drawn scenarios, kid friendly conversation, innovative and appealing characters who engage in plausible jocularity as they encounter the predicaments of each day.
'Nidemon' is filled with potent motivations, deception, and abundant twists and turns to fascinate the most perspicacious reader. Readers are treated to lavishly portrayed milieu, peppery dialogue, fiduciary circumstances and characters to have affection for and those to despise.
On the pages of 'Nidemon' the reader is offered a well written account in which novelist Cormier deftly sets down a remarkably masterminded narrative occupied with bewitching perplexity, plenteous discord and unfamiliar civilization. Characters continue to be advanced and fleshed out as Cormier moves forward his absorbing and galvanizing series.
'Nidemon' is a must read for all who take pleasure from a razor sharp, comfortably read anecdote set down in an obvious skillful writing technique.
Excellent pick for a long summer afternoon spent reading and lazing away the day in the shade. 'Nidemon' is must have for the home pleasure library, school and home school reading list and personal reading list.
Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend, trust number 3 in the series is soon to arrive.
Gold River Canyon
PO Box 2399, Bangor ME 04402
ISBN: 1591134250, $14.95
Entertaining Read …….. Recommended … 5 stars
The chronicle begins at the Territorial Prison, Yuma, Arizona. The year is 1878 and ex-marshal Jake Golden is planning retirement in California with his wife Cecelia. Demented butcher Bart Zachary, a near seven foot giant has just escaped from the prison and is bent on vengeance against Jake and anyone else close to the old lawman, or who had a hand in Zachary's incarceration. A hoped for fishing trip, am alarming premonition, a vexing card game and a drink with an old friend all reckon in the yarn. The ordeal begins with a peculiar man shouting and driving a wagon up and down the canyon. Sage Brush has arrived to reveal that Bart Zachary broke out of prison over two weeks ago. When Jake finds Sage brutally annihilated a short time later Jake is over come with anguish. Before long his grief become total fury. A posse, Apache on the move and a missing child propel the recital along. The abandoned Santa Anna Copper Mine appears to hold the key to the mystery surrounding how to stop the maniacal murderer.
'Gold River Canyon' is an extraordinary and riveting glimpse at the old West. Novelist Kostro has constructed a white knuckle page turner of a tale filled with complicity, historical milieu, and well developed characters. That Kostro has done his preparation for writing is manifest. Kostro's depiction of 1870s Arizona, the Apache people and their legends, and chronicled actuality is irreproachable.
Once again writer Kostra has created a thrilling melee filled work in his 'Gold River Canyon'. Characters are boisterous, plausible, and satisfactory. Piquant, creditable colloquy is occupied with stimulating jocularity, prickle filled with an unquestionable 'folks talking to one another' attribute. The ribbing badinage carried out between Cecelia and her tired, aging husband is comparable to that taking place regularly between spouses/companions/friends far and wide. And that common folksiness is much of what makes this work so refreshing. The reader is caught up immediately both in the narrative and in the lives of the characters themselves. Reader interest is held fast from the opening lines right down to the last paragraphs. Prickly dialogue, perilous story line and paradoxical players generously illustrated, this describes 'Gold River Canyon' completely.
'Gold River Canyon' has a place on the pleasure reading shelf in the home and school library. While written for the grown-up reader 'Gold River Canyon' will likewise be relished by competent readers from upper middle grades into high school.
'Gold River Canyon' is a great book for lazing away a warm summer day spent in the swing reading on the porch. This is NOT the book to read on a drear and stormy night when you are home alone. Happy to recommend.
I do not keep all the books I receive for review, Ed Kostro's 'Gold River Canyon' is an edition I will be keeping.
Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.
The Rite of Passage
Six Gallery Press
PO BOX 90145 Pittsburgh, PA 15224 USA
ISBN: 097460335X, $13.99
Interesting read ........ Recommended ...... 5 stars
Writer Poet McCullough offers the reader a meandering poem beginning with "Translations from the writings of Iyouhesheit Weyoutheyme." McCullough provides insight into life: at any moment of the day there is life.
Our emotions are explored before the writer leads the reader into a glimpse into the life most of us share: "Born of a lineage of emigrants…" and McCullough guides us along a journey our ancestors chose.
"Religion" is investigated before McCullough steers our thinking to the present: "I add to my generation, but remain within my own life." Turning to new sentiments McCullough shows the reader how The planet where we live transforms. I especially enjoyed the refrain dealing with Conversation of weather. A conflict of values is presented in lines meant to be read, and then read again. While the notion that each Season is made for another. The lines delving into I: I of creatures, I of spirit, I of person I of myself, I of communities and farms and … give the reader a peek into ourselves in ways we may not have thought to explore before. Predilection that Time has no emotion or that people while the same are all different at the same time is not an easy concept to grasp. Land, millions of acres is presented along with the poet's thoughts dealing with Personal commitment and inherent trust. A Love of being alive and simple pleasures of a day round out the work. "If" leads the reader into considering many thought provoking tenets. If there were no written words…
The Rite of Passage extends to the reader a touching, momentary view into one man's introspection as he investigates an abundance that life has to offer. Most of us never reach so deep within ourselves to bring forward what may be the foremost of what make us human. Writer/Poet McCullough adroitly captures matchless and bittersweet significance in this ardently written, thought provoking work. The measure and accustomed language used by the writer bestows magnificent cadence to the reading. Unassuming but puissant in significance and sentiment presented in an uncomplicated style; The Rite of Passage is enhanced by extension, showcasing a sequence of stirring reflections. The free verse format is excellent here and effect space for the reader to participate in the emotions stirred by the poet's muse. Charming verse with sweeping appeal. I like the fervent explicitness of this distinctively expressed, refreshing write. The flow is as the current running over a well worn riverbed in this eminent rhetoric.
A stimulating read offered by a talented writer/poet; The Rite of Passage is a reflective, perspicacious work with many messages imbedded in it. Happy to recommend.
An Energy of Vision
P.O. Box 151 Frederick, MD 21705
ISBN: 1413767443, $19.95, (301) 695-1707
Enjoyable Read …….. Recommended … 4 stars
An 'Energy of Vision' is a work of haiku verse offered by writer McCullough. Unlike many poetry books 'An Energy of Vision' begins as an untitled thought 'Art imitates life; no idea is greater than the being of it' and sweeps on from subject to subject, notion to notion over the next 140+ pages. Stanza after stanza flows across the sheet as the poet sets down his thinking and thoughts. Buddha, Allah, God are all declaimed. Cycles of nature, space, stars and the purpose of life are set down alongside words telling of pillars of sunlight, the spirit of life and a stone. Expressions to describe Numbers, Masters, Ideas and Planets influence the reader toward reading of people who share thoughts, the role of humans and mystic voices. The minstrel considers a Mozambique tale, women who control the world, and Aquarius pi before turning his attention a country without religion, spider web shadows and an advance token from a jitney bus. A million raindrops, the battle of ancient clouds and celebration in the forest lead into discussion the flow and ebb of human tides. Air Force one, a cemetery stone and the stages of life are each discussed. The bard finishes up with 'an idea never ends even when forgotten; a system of thoughts.
Lyrist McCullough illustrates his sylvan propensity on the pages of this appealing work. 'Energy of Vision' showcases McCullough's excitement for life. Unpretentious refrains filled with intensity, acuity and reflection are included in this atypical presentation technique. Devotees of rhythm and style will definitely be excited as they find themselves resting repeatedly to appreciate a line or a longer portion before going on to the next inviting section. Poet McCullough exhibits an uncommon propensity for taking the prosaic consequences of existence and turning them into an enticing work. Filled with refined, penetrating, words to enthrall, and animate are offered as McCullough views the journal of life to produce a composition of charming work. Passion, mortality, knowledge; all are declared to the core of the reader in a most easy-going and measurable manner.
I found the stanzas lying within the pages 'Energy of Vision' intriguing in their form. Phrases flow unimpeded; thoughts ebb and wane as the poet addresses theme after theme. Topics that seemingly do not fit together do so very well under the talented pen of writer McCullough. 'Energy of Vision' offers the reader a far-reaching diversity of elan, subject and feelings to fit any reader want or need. I enjoyed the wide variety of thesis from the heartfelt to thoughtful, tribute to merry. There is truly something for everyone, and something for every occasion included in the work. Verse compositions are grouped by subjects, address each and then course onto the next without hesitation. That poet McCullough loves and understands words, their emanation and significance is manifest. 'Energy of Vision' is an banner addition to the home pleasure reading shelf, the school library as requisite reading for upper grade and high school students as well as for the home school schedule to be used for acquainting young people to absorbing, meritorious poetry presented in unique manner.
'Energy of Vision' is a volume designed to be read and then brought out often for re reading again and again. I especially like the author's methodology of the work seemingly to stream unimpeded from page to page; from beginning to end.
Premium edition for a long winter afternoon or a quick stanza or two while waiting for an appointment.
Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.
Bob the Dragon Slayer
Harry E. Gilleland, Jr.
3131 RDU Center Dr STE 210, Morrisville, NC, 27560
ISBN: 1411633156, $9.98
Entertaining Read …….. Recommended … 4 stars
The adventure begins long ago in a place far away when orphaned, supposed, peasant boy Bob sets off to locate a fearsome dragon terrorizing a village. Bob had been roaming about, doing odd jobs and hoping for handouts. As Bob crawled forward intent upon his quest to see the dragon albeit from a safe distance a voice sounded. "I can grant you power to slay to slay the dragon …" Thus Bob and Stephen, a new graduate of wizard school AND perhaps cousin of Merlin of yore, who appears only to Bob and when no one else is about, begin an adventure. Before long Bob and Stephen find themselves slaying fiery dragons, searching for damsels in distress, outfitting Bob in armor, rescuing Lady Katharine, and embroiled in a battle. Castles, an evil king, lawyers, fair ladies, lofty knights and a reneged reward all help to propel the narrative forward to an agreeable conclusion. And even lawyers step in to assure that Bob is given his just and promised reward. Damsels in Distress who refuse Bob's help because he is not an official knight are a bit of set back for Bob. On the other hand, a sword named Bruce, talking Ravens and trusty mount Spot and advice about how to go about killing dragons figure prominently as Bob and his exploits become well know throughout the land. Bob sets out to not only gain fame as the slayer of dragons, but to also lobby for the righteous treatment of the poor and downtrodden. A ring Bob has carried in his pocket will prove to be a surprise to the evil king ruling the land with an iron fist.
If you enjoy insouciant and indubitably engaging, then 'Bob the Dragon Slayer' is the book for you. Author Gilleland had composed a zany yarn filled with all the usual suspects for the telling of an old-time legend type narrative : there are an orphan boy on a quest, fiery dragons, a meddlesome wizard, cavalier knights, fair ladies, evil kings, civil strife, true love and a true friendship . The writer's handling of Bob's maturation as the lad attains an understanding of the challenges facing him is excellent. As an added bonus is Bob's reliance as he learns to depend on and draw strength from his friends, Willie and Kate. Playful raillery scattered throughout the story adds to the flavor. There's just enough humor to make 'Bob the Dragon Slayer' a pleasure to read, but not so much as to overpower the underlying virtue issues of devotion, integrity, brotherhood, and obligation.
The narrative of 'Bob the Dragon Slayer' is an uncomplicated telling of inevitability, hope, and devotion. Writer Gilleland does not try to encumber the anecdote with unnecessary details or peculiarities. Neither does Gilleland make the yarn pretend to be more than it is; a short and focused theme of right will prevail by centering on Bob much of the time. The story flows, the reader remains focused and doesn't get distracted.
Audacity, renown, duplicity: This frolicsome anecdote is just plain fun to read. Composed with drollery and witticism, 'Bob the Dragon Slayer' will entrance readers venerable and adolescent alike. Sprinkled with whimsical colloquy and delightfully goofy characters 'Bob the Dragon Slayer' is sure to tickle the fancy of those searching for a good, fun read.
Not for everyone; some sexual innuendo causes the book to not be suitable for younger middle grade readers. I found the sexual references especially unnerving since the book opens with a grandfather gathering the 'youngins' to tell them a tale and then find him babbling about things best left to another time and place.
Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend. Good book for an afternoon read.
Molly Martin, Reviewer
Like A Rolling Stone
250 West 57th Street, #1321, New York, NY 10107
158648382X $14.00 1-877-782-1234 www.publicaffairsbooks.com
Like A Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads is a history of pinpoint focus upon the history of one of the greatest popular music singles ever made: "Like A Rolling Stone" by the legendary Bob Dylan. Like A Rolling Stone includes a partial biography of Dylan's life, of course, but the central theme is the song itself, the history of its creation, recording and distribution, how it brought together different traditions of American music and speech, and forever changed perspectives on music as a whole and pop culture music in particular. Like A Rolling Stone offers a glimpse into the history of rock and roll through the impact of a quintessential and forever unforgettable song. Highly recommended especially for fans of Dylan's music.
Alice Goldfarb Marquis
c/o Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
0878467017 $35.00 1-800-338-2665 www.mfa-publications.org
Award-winning journalist and historian Alice Marquis presents Art Czar: The Rise and Fall of Clement Greenberg, a balanced biography of the man who was arguably the most influential American art critic of the twentieth century. Drawn from unpublished and previously unavailable documents, interviews, and archives, Art Czar portrays the tangled elements of Greenberg's life, including his relationship with family, friends, lovers, and rivals. Art Czar also reveals how Greenberg's tastes and gift for rhetoric spoke to the American art scene from 1940 to the 1980s. A painstakingly accurate evaluation of the nuances of Greenberg's lasting influence as surely as it is a chronicle of the events of his life.
Tanana and Chandalar
Craig Mishler and William E. Simeone, editors
University of Alaska Press
PO Box 756240, 104 Eielson Building, Salcha Street, Fairbanks, AK 99775-6240
1889963771 $45.00 1-888-252-6657 www.uaf.edu/uapress
Tanana and Chandalar: The Alaska Field Journals of Robert A. McKennan presents the original field journals of expert Alaskan ethnographer Robert A. McKennan (1903-1982) who spent the years between 1929 and 1933 in remote Native American villages and documented Interior Athabaskan life. Annotated by anthropology experts Craig Mishler and William Simeone, and supplemented with contextual material and two introductory chapters, Tanana and Chandalar is a highly readable insight into McKennan's struggles to survive in the Alaskan wilderness, the personal frustration he experienced as an anthropologist, the field methods he used, and the difficulties that challenged him while conducting research. Part methodical manual, part personal insight, part scientific journal and entirely fascinating, Tanana and Chandalar is highly recommended especially for anthropology students, teachers and practitioners.
Doctor Franklin's Medicine
University of Pennsylvania Press
3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4112
081223913X $39.95 1-800-537-5487 www.upenn.edu/pennpress
Psychology professor Stanley Finger extends his repertoire of books on the history of medicine with Doctor Franklin's Medicine, an intriguing look at founding father Benjamin Franklin's contributions to the field of medicine. In his life, Franklin founded the first major civilian hospital and medical school in the American colonies, studied the effectiveness of smallpox inoculation, invented bifocals and the "long-arm" to make life easier for the aged and afflicted, and became a proponent of improved preventive care, bedside medicine, and personal hygiene. Perhaps most fascinating is his personal battle to debunk the eighteenth-century medical fad of mesmerism. A handful of black-and-white illustrations intersperse this sober, thoroughly researched and singularly amazing account of a truly accomplished man who pushed forward medical innovations and improvements, with beneficial repercussions to this day.
John Paul Jones: America's First Sea Warrior
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
1591141028 $29.95 1-800-233-8764 www.navalinstitute.org
Rear Admiral Joseph F. Callo, USNR (Ret.) presents John Paul Jones: America's First Sea Warrior, a biography that eschews both the blind idolization of past accounts and the inaccurately deconstructionist present accounts of Jones' amazing life. Scrutinizing both the well-known aspects of Jones' life, such as his stunning military victories and his tireless advocacy of naval power, and lesser-known aspects such as his relationship with civilian leaders like Benjamin Franklin, which in turn set precedents for a fledgling nation's concept of civilian control of the military. A glossary and an index round out this even-handed and meticulously accurate examination of Jones' life and legacy.
The Last Waltz of the Band
PO Box 190, Hillsdale, NY 12529
1576470938 $32.00 1-518-325-6100 www.pendragonpress.com
The Last Waltz of the Band is an in-depth study of Martin Scorsese's documentary film "The Last Waltz" (1978), which captured the final public performance of The Band, which had been a successful rock group for 15 years. In its careful and thorough analysis, including a scene-by- scene examination of the documentary, an introduction to the basic process of documentary filmmaking, and a host of reflective views upon everything from band break-ups to the interplay of American culture and rock-'n'-roll, The Last Waltz of the Band is particularly recommended for anyone studying "The Last Waltz", and through it, the history of rock in North America.
The London Hanged
180 Varick Street, 10th floor, New York, NY 10014-4606
1859845762 $18.00 1-800-233-4830 www.versobooks.com
First published in 2003, and now available in a very affordable paperback edition, The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century is a close study of capital punishment in eighteenth-century London and the implications that can be drawn from it as relevant to issues of the modern day. History professor Peter Linebaugh reveals that the era's gallows in London was more than simply a place for punishing wrongdoers; it was a means of keeping the poor population of London in line even though the rich imposed new forms of private property and criminalized formerly customary rights. All working-class men and women of that time and place had reason to fear being hanged, postulates Linebaugh, supporting his theories about the use of public hanging as a weapon of the ruling class with extensive evidence and historical cases. A "must-read" scrutiny of capital punishment and its misuse.
Faulkner Novels 1926-1929
The Library of America
14 East 60th Street, New York, NY 10022
1931082898 $40.00 www.loa.org
Faulkner Novels 1926-1929 is The Library of America's exquisite hardcover collection of four of William Faulkner's classic literary works: "Soldier's Pay", "Mosquitoes", "Flags in the Dust", and "The Sound and the Fury". Like all volumes in this publisher's authoritative texts of literary classics, Faulkner Novels 1926-1929 is a compact hardbound volume with a ribbon for easy bookmarking sewn into the spine. A chronology and sections of notes on the text as well as Faulkner's life round out this definitive "must-have" edition, ideal for public and college libraries as well as private reading shelves.
Laurie Hovell McMillin
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
0299216845 $24.95 1-800-621-2736 www.wisc.edu/wisconsinpress
Part memoir, part local history, Buried Indians: Digging Up the Past in a Midwestern Town tells about a struggle in the Trempealeau, Wisconsin hometown of author Laurie McMillin (associate professor of rhetoric, composition and religion) to determine whether the platform mounds atop Trempealeau Mountain constituted authentic Indian mounds. A sensitive and balanced accounting that examines opposing views between the dominant Euro-American culture and Native American culture, Buried Indians makes every effort to accurately portray not only the conflict of political agendas but also offer clear insight into what the platform mounds truly represented to different individuals. A highly recommended insight into cultural relations, regional history, and the lessons that can be drawn for future American government-Native American relations.
Arguments For Stillness
321 Jackson Street, Willimatic, CT 06226
1931896267 $13.95 www.curbstone.org
Arguments for Stillness is an anthology of free-verse poems that range in composition from vulgar curse words to pop culture, slices of everyday life, ancient history, and nods to allegorical references from classic literature and drama. An enthusiastically written collection, brimming with energy and the vivacious need for expression. "Smoking Is Not an Activity": He is a banished man for a time / Because he his wife hates cigarettes. // He tries to understand this as he sits / In the hallway's smoky exile feeling / Like Trotsky without an agenda.
Alchemy and Kabbalah
Gershom Scholem, author; Klaus Ottmann, translator
Spring Publications, Inc.
Continuum International Publishing Group (dist.)
28 Front Street, Putnam, CT 06260
0882145665 $20.00 www. springpublications.com
Skillfully translated from the original German by Klaus Ottmann, Alchemy and Kabbalah is a classic text on alchemy by a leading scholar of Jewish mysticism, now available in English for the first time. Chapters delve into minute detail, critically examining transformations of the Jewish Kabbalah into "Christianized forms", from its rosicrucian mysticisms to long-forgotten alchemical roots hidden deep within the Kabbalah. A serious-minded, in-depth metaphysical scrutiny, especially recommended for college-level students of Judaic theology.
The Wall on 7th Street
ISBN: 0738707155, $7.95, 256 pp.
Toby Maxwell's 13 year-old world is crumbling around him. No teenager is prepared for the word 'divorce' but now Toby, his Mom and sister Beth have moved into a sad and lonely neighborhood run by bullies. The Strafers have control of the street and the huge warehouse wall that dominates the landscape. Strafer art consists of monsters, war, murder and mayhem and intimidates the people of 7th Street.
Toby's only friend is Moe the homeless man, who is the bravest man on the street. He and Toby plot to overturn the Strafers' power in a rather unconventional way.
The Wall on 7th Street is chocked full of entertaining, colorful characters who interact in a most interesting way. Educational, enlightening and inspiring the story will capture the interest and the hearts of young readers. The cover art portrays the wall beautifully.
Author Diane Martineau is a retired art teacher living in upper New York State in what was once Iroquois Land. Her interest in the Iroquois culture shines through in this novel as well as her experience with paint and art. As a retired teacher, she understands the psyche of young people and her writing appeals to their interests and problems.
Pick up a copy today and tremble, cry and cheer with the people of 7th Street. Highly recommended by Shirley Roe, Allbooks Reviews. The Wall on 7th Street may be purchased directly from the publisher or Amazon.com.
The i Tetralogy
Mathias B. Freese
Hats Off Pub
ISBN: 1587364042, $26.95, 365 pp.
History forgotten is history repeated-Enlightening yet frightening, The I Tetralogy will haunt you like no other book.
Author, Mathias Freese is not only a brilliant literary genius; he has an uncanny ability to explore the depths of madness like no other. Set in the German camps during WW II, prisoners and guards alike live a surreal existence never before experienced. Gunther, Karl, Gertrud and the other cruel and sadistic guards take great pleasure in sucking the very essence from the Jews in the prison camp as they slowly exterminate them. The prisoners learn to become non-existent or die. The four separate stories give different points of view by characters each believing their truth is the only truth; first the prisoner then the guard, each one living their own personal hell. We read how an older Gunther yearns for the days in the camp. Readers look at Gunther the parent, through the eyes of his son who feels remorse, guilt and horror at his father's acts.
The i Tetralogy is an in depth look at the mind of the Holocaust victims, both prisoner and prison guard that takes the reader beyond any boundaries previous presented. Readers are embroiled in the thought processes of man slowly going mad in often frightening clarity. The author seems to reach out and tenaciously grasp the reader's emotions by the heart, causing intense empathy with the characters.
This book would be an excellent textbook for both history and psychology majors. Educators would find it a profound and in depth study of the workings of the human psyche as well as sociological influences on human behavior. It is also an excellent historical fiction that readers will not forget. Highly Recommended by Shirley Roe, Allbooks Reviews.
Shirley Roe, Reviewer
Writing the Novel
Writer's Digest Books
an imprint of F & W Publications
4700 East Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45236
ISBN: 0898792088, $14.99, 197 pages
I chose Writing the Novel because I am working on my second novel and I wanted to learn about what this experienced writer had to say about technique and craft. Told from the first person, Lawrence Block, relates his experience, and gives helpful strategies about developing plot ideas, characters, as well as the benefit of loose outlines. The book is intended for those who want to write a novel and Lawrence Block has the experience. With over thirty published novels, some of them made into film and some of them with awards, like the Edgar Allan Poe award, I feel he has the qualifications. I plan to keep the book as a reference next to my desk.
The First Five Pages
Simon & Schuster
A Fireside Book by Simon & Schuster
Rockefeller Center, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
Noah Lukeman is a top New York book agent who represents some of the best in the field. I am working on my second novel and I wanted to know what he had to say about writing. I found the book a bit of an reality check. Agents, readers, editors-- they will only really give you the first five pages of your manuscript to hook them. Who cares if your fourteenth chapter is dynamite! If you don't have an incredible first few pages, your manuscript won't get read that far. I learned a lot from this book and plan to keep this book as a reference book by my writing desk. This book is for anyone serious about novel writing.
A. D. Tarbox, Reviewer
Like A Drop In The Ocean
New City Press
202 Cardinal Road, Hyde Park, NY 12538
1565482387 $14.95 www.newcitypress.com
Like A Drop In The Ocean: 99 Sayings is an inspirational collection of sayings and truths from Mother Teresa. Instilling awe and hope in the lives of so many, Mother Teresa's impact upon the world will endlessly ripple across it surface for many years to come and Like A Drop In The Ocean provides readers with an accurate and intimate feel for the encouraging and moving idol. Like A Drop In The Ocean is very strongly recommended as both an inspiring compendium and an exceptional gift for anyone troubled, confused, joyous, or content. "AIDS is not a punishment from God. When we get sick, we do not acquire any fault. One of our own sisters got AIDS from an infected syringe. She died slowly. We are not to express judgments." Mother Teresa
My Life With The Saints
Loyola University Press
DeChant Hughes & Associates (publicity)
3441 North Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60657
0829420010 $22.95 1-800-621-1008 www.loyolabooks.org
My Life With The Saints by Jesuit priest and associate editor of the national Catholic weekly magazine "America" James Martin is an engaging autobiographical documentation of his personal life experiences from an indifferent Catholic childhood, to the education he received at the Wharton School of Business, and a Jesuit priest's seemingly standard business career in Manhattan. Tactfully introducing the readers to what truly made his life remarkable, My Life With The Saints tells the stories of Martin's associates, friends, mentors, and partners -- otherwise known as the saints of the Catholic Church. With this candid telling of a fulfilled and contented man's life, My Life With The Saints is very highly recommended especially for readers interested lives of Christian spirituality and dedication.
A Church That Can And Cannot Change
John T. Noonan, Jr.
The University of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
0268036047 $18.00 www.undpress.nd.edu
A Church That Can And Cannot Change: The Development Of Catholic Moral Teaching by John T. Noonan, Jr. (Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, California) is a scholarly and innovative modern approach to the teachings of Catholic fundamentals within the context of the modern church. Offering the reader a comprehensive introduction of the teachings of the church as they pertain to issues of freedom and conscience, lending for a profit, and the condition of slavery, A Church That Can And Cannot Change offers a detailed and specific analysis of the particulars in the ideals and progressive evolution of the Catholic Church. A Church That Can And Cannot Change is very highly recommended reading for seminary students, the clergy, the laity, interested in Catholic theology, ideals of moral, developmental, and ethical teachings.
Ave Maria Press
PO Box 428, Notre Dame, IN 46556
1594710686 $10.95 www.avemariapress.com
Very highly recommended reading, especially for seminary and theology students, Sabbath Presence: Appreciating The Gifts Of Each Day by Kathleen Casey is an informative and "reader friendly" approach to understanding the Sabbath Day and how it may best be integrated into the everyday daily lives of Catholic laity and clergy. A complete and practical guide, Sabbath Presence provides thought provoking documentation in the course of deftly addresses the intricacies of life and the most effective and constructive ways to work meditations and personal time into busy contemporary schedules. Sabbath Presence is a superbly written and basically informative read for all practicing and work-obligated Catholics seeking to find an instructive mapping to aide in making the most of their personal-time while enhancing adherence to their spiritual and religious obligations.
Helen Alford et. al.
University of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
0268020272 $35.00 www.undpress.nd.edu
Rediscovering Abundance: Interdisciplinary Essays On Wealth, Income, And Their Distribution In The Catholic Social Tradition, knowledgeably co-edited by Helen Alford (Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Pontifical University of S. Thomas, Rome), Charles M. A. Clark (Professor of Economics, Tobin College of Business and Senior Fellow, Vincentian Center for Church and Society at St. John's University, New York), S. A. Cortright (Professor of Philosophy and of the Integral Curriculum of Liberal Arts at St. Mary's College of California), and Michael J. Naughton (Director of the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota) is an in-depth collection of many knowledgeable writers concern and understanding of the ideological and practical implications which the Catholic social thought contributes to society. As an informed and informative introduction to the social economics, business thought, and organizational management which so many follow as a result of Catholic thought and mentality's effect as being a significant part of society, Rediscovering Abundance is a remarkable compendium of useful, conceptual, and practical information. Rediscovering Abundance is very strongly recommended to all readers of economic, political, societal, and catholic scriptures for its informational and educational content.
Fears And Fascinations
Thomas F. Haddox
Fordham University Press
University Box L, Belmont Avenue, Bronx, New York 10458
0823225216 $65.00 www.fordham.edu
Fears And Fascinations: Representing Catholicism In The American South by Thomas F. Haddox (Assistant Professor of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville) is an in-depth analysis of the literary intentions of many diverse writers from the American South in understanding and contrast to the Catholic Church's ideals and influence of the many renowned writers. Fears And Fascinations is an unique and exclusive perspective take on the Catholic relationship to the southern product of progressive and influential writings and is very highly recommended to all readers intrigued by the Southern-American culture and its media and literary shaping, as well as students of American historical literature.
Rhetoric And Reality In Early Christianities
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
75 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON, Canada, N2L 3C5
0889204624 $59.95 www.press.wlu.ca
Rhetoric And Reality In Early Christianities deftly edited by Willi Braun (Associate Professor of Religion and the Director of the Interdisciplinary Program of Religious Studies at the University of Alberta, Edmonton) is an outstanding understanding of the influences which Christianity induced upon its early development. Inclusive of essays from many highly esteemed and honored figures in Christian studies, Rhetoric And Reality In Early Christianities is an exclusive study of the many manipulative and often polemical strategies used by Christian followers and leaders to gain favor and followers for the young and often disputatious religion. Very strongly recommended to all students of Christian History and Religious Studies, Rhetoric And Reality In Early Christianities is a seminal work of considerable scholarship.
Christian Teachings On The Practice Of Prayer
New Seeds Books/Shambhala Publications
Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
1590302990 $15.95 www.newseeds-books.com
Deftly edited by Lorraine Kisly (editor of the journal "Parabola" and who has studied the texts of the great religious traditions for the past quarter century), Christian Teachings On The Practice Of Prayer: From The Early Church To The Present, is an impressively thoughtful and thought-provoking collection of writings and scripts drawn from many significant figures with their insightful perspectives on the meditations and prayer of the Christian religion as reflected in its rituals and practices. Offering a wealth of excerpts and quotes from prestigious and recognized individuals and scriptures from years dating deeply into church history, Christian Teachings On The Practice Of Prayer may be remarkably recognized as an exclusive study of some of the most influential teachings of the Christian faith. Christian Teachings On The Practice Of Prayer is very highly recommended to all Christians wishing for a greater understanding of their faith in practice. Also highly commended are Lorraine Kisly's early works: "Ordinary Graces" and "The Prayer of Fire: Experiencing the Lord's Prayer".
The Problem With Evangelical Theology
Ben Witherington III
Baylor University Press
PO Box 97363, Waco, TX 76798
1932792422 $29.95 www.baylorpress.com
The Problem With Evangelical Theology: Testing The Exegetical Foundations Of Calvinism, Dispensationalism, And Wesleyanism by Ben Witherington (Professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary) is an informative study of the traditions, practices, and writings of the evangelist church. With great depth and scholarly insight, Witherington covers many spectra of the faith with analysis on sin, God's sovereignty, prophesy, grace and the Holy Spirit. The Problem With Evangelical Theology is highly recommended to all students of the Evangelical Christian faith for its inevitably informational content, as well as to readers of general religious information or reference books.
Archetypes For Spiritual Direction
977 Macarthur Blvd, Mahwah, NJ 07430
0809143585 $19.95 www.paulistpress.com
Bruce Tallman creates a mastery of the spiritual and psychological aide for coping with the difficulties of discontentment in Archetypes For Spiritual Direction: Discovering The Heroes Within. Archetypes For Spiritual Direction acts as the ultimate guide to discovering the proper spiritual path and mentality in heroic pertinence for every reader as it states both the perspective of how to maintain reality within the acceptance of a heroic and anti-heroic archetypes and how they help or block spiritual growth. Archetypes For Spiritual Direction is sure to enlighten its readers of their ultimate path.
Mary: The Church At The Source
Hans Urs von Balthasar & Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
PO Box 1339 Fort Collins, CO 80522
158617018X $15.95 www.ignatiuspress.com
Ably translated by Adrian Walker from the writings of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), Mary: The Church At The Source is a modern documentation of the Church's perspective of Marian doctrine, enlightening the contours of ecclesial faith. Mary: The Church At The Source allows the reader to delve deeper into the depths of the Christian faith and what truths to their views of Mary as the co-operative mother of Church in the souls of its believers, and the embodiment of the Church itself. A highly recommended read, Mary: The Church At The Source is the perfect book for students of Marion theology be they clergy or laymen.
Listening In A Loud World
Robert C Shippey, Jr.
Mercer University Press
1400 Coleman Avenue, Macon, GA 31207
0865549516 $18.00 www.mupress.com
Listening In A Loud World by Robert C. Shippey (Shorter College, Rome, Georgia) is an exceptionally well written exploration of the value in listening to God. Enlightening the reader on what role they play as a reflection of God in their lives and in the world, and just how they might improve their mentality by utilizing their more perceptive ear, Listening In A Loud World accessibly examines how far awareness may bring an individual, and is therefore quite highly recommended for both non-specialist general readers and dedicated students of the Christian faith.
Papal Legislation On Sacred Music
Robert F. Hayburn
Roman Catholic Books
PO Box 255, Harrison, NY 10528
1929291787 $69.75 www.booksforcatholics.com
Papal Legislation On Sacred Music by Robert F. Hayburn (organist, teacher, composer, parish priest, music historian, and former director of muse to the archdiocese of San Francisco and faculty member of the Catholic University of America) is a 619-page compendium covering ecclesiastical influences on the music of the Roman Catholic church from 95 A.D. to 1977 A.D. Superbly organized and a work of impeccable scholarship, Papal Legislation On Sacred Music begins with chapters on the earlier Popes, John XXII and "Docta Sanctorum Patrum", the Council of Trent, and the Medicean Edition of the Chant Books, to church and religious music of the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries, the Ratisbon and Solesmes editions of the Chant Books, the reforms of Pius X, the Vatican Edition of the Chant Books, the "Motu Proprio" of November 22, 1903, and the final chapter "Conclusions". Enhanced with seven appendices, an extensive bibliography, and a comprehensive index, Papal Legislation On Sacred Music is a core addition to church, seminary, and academic library Music History reference collections.
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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