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Featured Book Reviews

 

A Time for Change

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Southern Winds A' Changing
by Elizabeth Carroll Foster
iUniverse

reviewed by Anita Lock

"She said our relationship be remarkable. A white woman and Afro-American woman living like sisters."

The year is 1932. Allise DeWitt is a well-educated white woman and the wife of a landowner. Maizee Colson is an woman and a sharecropper's daughter, living and working on DeWitt farm. The two women who seem to have nothing in common acuneducated Afro-American tually have more than one may expect. For starters, they are connected via Quent, Allise's husband, who rapes and gets Maizee pregnant—unbeknown at the time to a very expectant Allise. As a result, Allise and Maizee give birth to his boys who are roughly the same age. Maizee longs to be respected as an individual. ... (read more)

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Encouraging the Classics

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Classics: Why We Should Encourage Children to Read Them
by Fiza Pathan

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"Through this book, I in a very humble and modest way have tried to propagate my testimony about classics and what they can do for many."

Mumbai-born author and teacher Fiza Pathan believes fervently that reading classic books enhances imagination and improves language skills. She bases her theory on experience: At an early age, she read Bram Stoker's Dracula, inciting in her a love of good grammar and grand ideas. In her teaching, she observes that children who frequently surf the Internet or watch TV (even educational channels) tend merely to ingest... (read more)

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Who Really Killed Stella?

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Death of a Diva: From Berlin to Broadway
by Brigitte Goldstein
Pierredor Books

reviewed by Jacquelyn Gilchrist

"Each witness had a personal agenda, and each brought a skewed perspective to the story. Each had a multitude of sins and motives to sweep under the carpet woven of lies and distortions."

Grand in its scope and intricate in its design, this ambitious story attempts to bridge time and space—and accomplishes both quite nicely. Likewise, the author seamlessly melds the murder mystery and historical fiction genres, although the story reads much more like intertwined biographies of fictional characters and real-life individuals. ... (read more)

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Pyrrhus Continues

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A Pyrrhic Victory: Volume II, Destiny Unfolds
by Ian Crouch
Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co.

reviewed by John E. Roper

"Pantauchus was shocked with pain and fear. Seeing the man almost immobilized, Pyrrhus attacked again, transfixing Pantauchus's left leg."

For many people history is a boring subject, especially ancient history. Yet the problem usually lies not in the content but in the method of delivering it. History is rich with excitement, brimming over with tales of adventure, romance, tragedy, and triumph. But usually the best way to get this across to someone is not through a collection of facts and dates but by presenting it in a way that brings it back to life. Good historical fiction is frequently the best way to accomplish this, and the author proves in his latest volume on the life of Pyrrhus that he... (read more)

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A Job To Do

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South of Good
by Randall Reneau
Create Space

reviewed by Anita Lock

"In less than ten days, I'd gone from being a sworn law enforcement officer to a co-conspirator in a drug deal."

South of Good is a story about Hardin Steel, a sheriff who is constantly trying to nab drug dealers in a South Texas border county. When he attempts to capture the ringleader of a Mexican drug cartel, Steel is unaware of the compromises he will have to make to get the job done, as well as protect those who are near and dear to him. ... (read more)

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Songs of Freedom

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Women's Poems of Protest and Resistance: Honduras (2009-2014)
edited by Lety Elvir and Maria Roof
Casasola

reviewed by John E. Roper

"You watch bright stars fall
steeped in blood,
without blushing,
you feel no compassion
for those who open their fist
to beg for life."

The June 28, 2009, military takeover of the government of Honduras and the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya completely altered Honduran society. In the aftermath human rights abuses as well as the percentage of homicides per capita soared. Although powerless to adequately combat the new regime through force of arms, many Hondurans, especially women, refused to silently accept what was happening to their country. ... (read more)

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In Service of the Country

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Immigrant Soldier: The Story of the Ritchie Boys
by K. Lang-Slattery
Pacific Bookworks

reviewed by Peter M. Fitzpatrick

"The members of the prisoner of war interrogation teams were mostly, like Herman, refugees who had fled Europe because of Hitler..."

This work of historical fiction closely follows the story of Herman Lang's WWII experience. Lang witnesses the rise of anti-Jewish sentiment and laws as a young teenager in Germany, eventually gaining passage to England as he awaits a hard-won U.S. visa. He succeeds, but is carried forward into the tides of war. Enlisting shortly after learning of his A-1 draft status, the bombing of Pearl Harbor automatically extends the draft for the duration. Private Lang is summoned to report for a top secret assignment at "Camp Ritchie," the U.S. Military Intelligence... (read more)

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Modern Family

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Second Thoughts, Second Chances
by D.C. Moses
Xlibris

reviewed by Peter M. Fitzpatrick

"Viktor took another good long look at all the Clinton Street his eyes could take in. 'Where have all the immigrants gone?' he hummed to himself."

First generation children of Polish immigrants to the U.S., Mitchell and Viktor Kipnis have reached retirement age. Mitchell’s declining health leads him from the West Coast, where he led a successful career in aeronautics, back home to Thompsonville to live with his cousin Viktor. Paul Kipnis, son of Mitchell, now in his thirties, is also there. Mitchell and Paul are soon introduced to Corrina, a vibrantly attractive adoptive daughter of Viktor's, now in her twenties. ... (read more)

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The Johns Saga Begins

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The Lion Trees, Part One: Unraveling
by Owen Thomas
OTF Literary

reviewed by Mihir Shah

"Love will not be banished, nor longing consumed; fates reserved for the heart and the will."

Owen Thomas’ Lion Trees: Part One: Unraveling can be anointed any number of superlatives to showcase its brilliance; highly addictive, spectacular, and mind blowing will have to suffice. Thomas is a wizard of fiction, and his novel a captivating gem that engulfs the reader from the beginning. Whether it's the reliability factor, exhilarating plot arcs, or the deep allegiances built with the characters, this novel is brought to life in the readers’ mind. Lion Trees is primarily written from the perspective of the Johns family: Hollis, the patriarch by any definition; Susan, the abiding housewife for four decades; David and Susan, siblings who are polar opposites, and yet, strangely similar in their misery. ... (read more)

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Journey of Self-Discovery

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OK2BG
by Jack Dunsmoor
Lulu Publishing

reviewed by Dylan Ward

"I knew I wanted to do something significant to help mankind, or perhaps I just wanted to save one life somehow, and maybe my own in the process."

In what begins as a humorous attempt to become involved in a mentor program, Jack Dunsmoor accidentally finds himself drawn into a complex system to help at-risk kids that tests both his emotional and physical strength. After a chance meeting with the shy, vulnerable fifteen year-old Andrew and later the young men, Tosh and Devin, Jack quickly faces harsh realities as he plunges into the convoluted maze of social workers and foster children. Plagued by strange and vivid dreams and nightmares in the lengthy attempt to realize his goal of finding Andrew and to help Tosh and Devin, Jack learns the difficult and unsettling truths of the foster system. ... (read more)

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A Thought-Provoking Reality

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A New Reality: Life Below the "E" State
by C.R. Boretsky
Trafford Publishing

reviewed by Mihir Shah

"Leave behind more than you started with. You will be rewarded in spirit by those you have helped in soul."

Originally published in 2004, C.R. Boretsky’s A New Reality: Life Below the “E” State is a compelling collection of discussions, theories, and evidence-based findings pertaining to society's most significant intricacies. The author demonstrates how, rather than viewing science and spirituality as separate entities, the two should be linked; ultimately, that is the only way to bring harmony to the earth. ... (read more)

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A New West Mystery

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Legend of War Creek
by Randall Reneau
CreateSpace

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"No human being can own what belongs to the spirit world."

Take a gold strike seemingly lost to history, unexplained disappearances, Army Officers, and Cheyenne Dog Soldiers, and you'd probably think you have a recipe for a tale of the old west. However, in Reneau’s Legend Of War Creek, all of the aforementioned are place settings for a tale of the new west, replete with satellite cell phones, helicopters, private planes, and high explosives. ... (read more)

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Reading the Classics

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Classics: How We Can Encourage Children to Read Them
by Fiza Pathan
CreateSpace

reviewed by Caroline Blaha-Black

"We are living in a dying culture where the reading of classics is not being encouraged by modern-day parents."

This book is a sequel to the previous volume in this series, the award-winning Classics: Why We Should Encourage Children to Read Them. In this installment, Pathan explores various techniques that can encourage children to read classic works of literature, and she makes it a fun task for the student instead of being a chore. ... (read more)

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Time in Hell

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The Prince: Lucifer's Origins
by J.M. Erickson

reviewed by Michael Radon

"Devin was clear of the rubble and had to make concerted efforts to avoid the still smoldering fires and beheaded bodies littering the campus."

Sergeant Marcia Devin is a career soldier with a sudden crisis of faith. Seeing the monarchy she defends committing human rights violations during an operation and refusing to participate has her demoted and disenfranchised. At the same time, Prince Victor Venture IX is set to begin preparing for ruling a system of his own, leaving the scholarly planet of Pax that he loves behind. With no interest in leaving, he is forced to make a change he does not want to. The paths of these two intersect with Devin to guard the prince and escort him from Pax... (read more)

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Modern Poems

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Chicken Soup for Betty Boop: A Book of Funky Poems
by Tom Clements
Hit 'Em Up Publishing

reviewed by John E. Roper

"Some poetry is hard to fathom
Other poetry just serves
To scratch an itch
This poetry right here
Has universal meaning
To the extent this universe
Is just another niche"

Poetry is a quirky beast. Sometimes it roars, waking us from our comfortable beds of complacency and causing us to tremble at the terrors it recalls. Sometimes it whimpers, seeking empathy as it recounts old heartaches and poignant losses. At its worst it slumbers, resting limply on the page as an example of the poet's self-indulgence. But regardless of theme or style, it always reveals if only briefly the soul of its creator. ... (read more)

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Real Climate Change

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Climate Change, Land Use and Monetary Policy: The New Trifecta
by Geraldine Perry
Wasteland Press

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"Fears over climate change have set into warp speed motion a mushrooming pileup of confusing and conflicting public policies, corporate goals and individual choices that rarely if ever deal head-on with land use as a major factor in climate change, much less address in any meaningful way the increasingly urgent environmental, economic, political and moral questions concerning land use."

In this fact-filled guide for those perplexed by the current global argument about climate change, Geraldine Perry, a Certified Natural Health Consultant with a Masters Degree in Education, examines varying facets of the on-going debate, first noting that most climate change believers stress CO2 as the major villain, which has resulted in a "singular focus on reduction of C02 emissions." Perry points out that other elements such as nitrogen also have an effect and that land usage... (read more)

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Reincarnation Explained

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Our Quantum World and Reincarnation
by Milton E. Brener
Xlibris

reviewed by Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, LMSW

"If some find the notion of reincarnation strange, be assured that the subject of quantum physics is even stranger."

We are exposed to issues of reincarnation and how quantum physics may explain reincarnation in this 133 page book which includes a bibliography, notes, and an index. Part I of the book explores an introduction of reincarnation and twelve cases of reincarnation, as well as chapters on statistics, physical indications of reincarnation (such as birthmarks), and 'junk' DNA and epigenesis. ... (read more)

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Love and Second Chances

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Hiatus
by Belangela G. Tarazona
CreateSpace

reviewed by Dylan Ward

"Michael wants to tell him so many things. He wants Frank to know that if he has a say on how to live his future, it would be together with him. Michael wants him to know that he is so sorry for not being strong enough to fight for them back in the seventies. That he can't change the past, and that's why he doesn't want to let this happen with his future."

Belangela Tarazona's tender tale opens with Michael who has a surprising, but brief reunion with Frank, a man with whom Michael shares very fond and intimate memories. Michael's wife, Nadja, clearly sees through their awkward attempt to hide what might be the true nature of their relationship. ... (read more)

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Finding Self

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Status Quo
by Henry Mosquera
Oddity Media

reviewed by Mihir Shah

"We make all these plans, but in the end, the only plan that matters is Life's."

Status Quo highlights Lemat's struggle to achieve success while pursuing his passion of writing. Lemat embodies the millions of individuals who find themselves in a profession they dread as their creative fire slowly withers. Stuck in a web design job that he abhors, the negative energy seeps into his home life until Lemat decides to slit his own wrists and end it all. For him, the attempt to end his life is only the beginning of a roller coaster where he reaches the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. ... (read more)

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Meaning and Substance

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Paradise Drive
by Rebecca Foust
Press 53

reviewed by Mihir Shah

"The world was not as she'd been taught
laundry one neatly sorts
into blacks and whites;
it is gray with children."

Rebecca Foust's Paradise Drive is a bold, yet enriching examination and exploration of one's morality, particularly in the rapidly evolving society of the 21st century. Through Pilgrim, the central figure in many of the poems, the collection of sonnets flows like a narrative that ends up proposing one penetrating question: is despair, whether rich or poor, ubiquitous and unyielding? ... (read more)

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What Born of Tragedy

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When Dreams Touch
by Rosemary Hanrahan
SDP Publishing

reviewed by John E. Roper

"The flaming figure stumbled about and toppled to the street not five feet from Kate's window. For the second time that day, Kate found herself staring into eyes that were both terrified and doomed."

We live in a world that embraces divisiveness. We separate ourselves by race, language, and culture. We allow education and wealth to create barriers between us. We pull religion or atheism around us like a full-body shield so no one from another belief system can touch us. We take political sides that polarize us and then demonize those who disagree with our views. And yet, ironically, for all our divisions... (read more)

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Making the Best of It

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The Divorce Guide: Overcoming the Eight Fears of the Divorce Process and Preserving Joy
by Gerian Rose
Balboa Press

reviewed by Donna Ford

"Solutions to every problem have already been given and my innermost heart will show me the way."

Gerian Rose has experienced the eight major divorce fears mentioned in her book, including financial loss, children's stress and changes in routine. Having conquered them one at a time, she offers practical and spiritual solutions to retain joy and avoid mistakes of serious consequence. For example, loneliness seems a small fear until experienced after years of family life. The author especially missed having someone with whom to share the day's details, joys, and frustrations alike. She recommends several methods to keep from isolating oneself. ... (read more)

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Laughing Through Tears

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Montpelier Tomorrow
by Marylee MacDonald
All Things That Matter Press

reviewed by Anita Lock

"You can't really free yourself from love though, nor from the surprise that middle-age doesn't mean you have more time for yourself."

Fifty-three-year old Colleen Gallagher has gone through her fair share of personal loss. Not only widowed at a young age, she was also left to care for her young family while pregnant with her third child. Now a few years after caring for and then finally losing her ailing mother, Colleen plans to run interference for her daughter Sandy and family since Sandy is close to expecting her second child. But on the day of her arrival, Colleen learns the horrible truth that her son-in-law Tony has been diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and is told that he has ... (read more)

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Finding Truth

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Wild Raspberries
by Connie Chappell
Black Rose Writing

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"The past isn't going to change. It's the future you can change."

Wild Raspberries is an emotional crepe chocked full of tart sensitivities and served in heaping portions with mandatory second and third helpings. If your appetite is whetted by familial psychodramas with occasional comic relief, you're likely to be attracted to this tasty dish. For the creamy center of the novel, Chappell has cooked up an intriguing premise. Suppose there were to be not just a sleepover, but a weeklong ladies-only lockdown with a grief counselor, a recently widowed young woman, her mother-in-law, and the paramour of the mother-in-law's somewhat... (read more)

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Reincarnation Imagined

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Escaping the Wheel
by Eric Artisan
CreateSpace

reviewed by Anita Lock

"It will change the lives of everyone involved... Now and into the future. For all eternity."

Ex-convict Josh Rostam finds shelter as a therapist at an addiction treatment center. Although he is immensely successful in helping patients overcome drugs via spiritual hypnosis (to achieve past-life regression), Josh has a bigger "therapy" project in mind: to take revenge on those who targeted and wrongfully accused him of murder. Following an unusual three-stage plan, Josh places his victims in solitary confinement, feeds them nutritious food laced with LSD... (read more)

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A Literary Mashup

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Dina's Lost Tribe
by Brigitte Goldstein
iUniverse

reviewed by John E. Roper

"Her dark eyes gleamed with the fire of a true believer in a cause—maybe a little with thee fanaticism of someone filled with a crusading spirit for justice, it crossed my mind."

Any serious student of history understands that researching the past is sometimes like taking a tour through a chamber of horrors. From the alleged blinding of 99 out of every 100 Bulgarian soldiers carried out by Byzantine Emperor Basil II in the aftermath of the Battle of Kleidion to the horrific impaling of tens of thousands by Vlad III of Wallachia, the ruler who inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula, man's inhumanity to man is well documented. Often these atrocities are based on religion tied to a specific ethnicity, as the Holocaust which resulted in the deaths of millions of Jew ... (read more)

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A Path Through Cancer

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Our Journey with Prostate Cancer
by Judith Anne Desjardins LCSW, BCD, MSWAC
Spirit House Publishing

reviewed by Carol Davala

"Winning the battle against cancer is not for the faint of heart. You must develop the heart, spirit, and stamina of a warrior."

As first oncology social worker at Santa Monica's St. John's Hospital, Judith Anne Desjardins had an inside look at cancer and the effects it had on patients, families, and medical staff. With God's grace, Desjardins found guidance to help individuals with their emotional issues in coming to terms with their disease. From private practice, to work as a holistic psychotherapist, Desjardins treated the bodies, minds, and spirits of her clients and stressed the importance of empowerment. ... (read more)

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Evergreen Poet

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We Deserve The Gods We Ask For
by Seth Brady Tucker
Gival Press

reviewed by Mihir Shah

"and then you think about what
you are and what you wanted to be,
and then you begin to look at the choices
you made."

Seth Brady Tucker, author of Elixir Press award-winning poetry, Mormon Boy, returns with a bang in We Deserve the Gods We Ask For, recipient of the Gival Press Poetry Award. Tucker's experience as a paratrooper with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division seeps seamlessly into his fearless and witty writing style; his command of poetry is unquestionably superior and evident by his use of literary devices, particularly imagery, similes, metaphors, and enjambments. ... (read more)

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The Figurehead Lives

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Figurehead: Book 1 - Rise of a Legend
by Rock Lambert
CreateSpace

reviewed by John E. Roper

"He took off his hat and removed his mask. He watched Merle's eyes fill with horror and fear as he looked down upon him. Jackal then looked up at his crew and nodded."

Sailing in the 21st century is a relatively safe pastime. Yes, there is danger anytime one thrusts out from shore on a craft that is powered by wind, waves, and current, but modern designs, state-of-the-art technology, solid safety procedures, and an active Coast Guard have reduced the risks of such a venture considerably over time. Those who braved the seas in the 17th century did so with a much greater risk factor, especially during an era where piracy was a very real threat. The author vividly recreates those days in his entertaining and suspenseful tale of a passion that endures beyond the grave. ... (read more)

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Understanding the Chakras

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The Seven Wisdoms of Life: A Journey Into the Chakras
by Shai Tubali
MSI Press

reviewed by Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, LMSW

"The main function of the chakra system is to translate spiritual energy into physical energy for the sake of physical and psychological wellbeing."

A valuable read regarding the subtle layers of consciousness, this writing explores each of the seven chakras and ways of growing and healing throughout life. In 191 pages, the book is divided into two parts; the first part includes an introduction and the definition of the chakra system and how it functions. ... (read more)

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A Life that Matters

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It Only Hurts When I Can't Run: One Girl's Story
by Gewanda J. Parker
MSI Press

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"I remember seeing my mother with tears running down her cheeks, crack pipe in hand. I refused to leave the room, and the shame of her child watching her use drugs added to her shame."

Oma (the author’s name for the little girl she once was) wanted to love her mother Binta, a woman who could be generous, creative, and kind at times—but at other times, driven by her addiction, Binta's eyes became "narrowed and watery, displaying a look of meanness." From an early age, Oma tried to hide, then to run away, from the addictive patterns of the one person she should have been able to trust. The enraged, addicted Binta beat her with hands, a belt, even a belt buckle (the same belt used as part of the paraphernalia of her mother's heroin habit). ... (read more)

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Embracing the Change

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Divorced! Survival Techniques for Singles Over Forty
by Joanna Romer
MSI Press

reviewed by Jacquelyn Gilchrist

"As soon as we can change our identity from, 'I've been abandoned,' to, 'I'm starting over,' we will feel a whole lot better."

During divorce proceedings, it's not uncommon to experience a sense of isolation. Although it's common knowledge that about half of all marriages end in divorce, it can feel to the divorcee as though nobody could truly understand what that person is going through. Romer's book isn't a guide to divorce proceedings; rather, it's a pocket companion that provides comfort and words of wisdom to help divorcees navigate the beginnings of their new lives. ... (read more)

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Information You Need

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No Bull Information
by Dr. John Gamble
Morgan James

reviewed by Anita Lock

"The goal of NBI is not just getting our facts right but also understanding their context, how unusual they are, and how they fit in."

"Characterized by the gathering and almost instantaneous transmission of vast amounts of information" (dictionary.com), the Information Age is undoubtedly a vast and convoluted collection of data. Consumers are oftentimes so inundated with information that it is difficult to sift out fact from fallacy. No Bull Information—as its subtitle accurately puts it—is "a humorous, practical guide to help Americans adapt to the Information Age." ... (read more)

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First Chapter Reviews


First Chapter Review archive

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Mary Lou's Brew
by Jennifer Craig
Friesen Press

The Dean of the Academy of Sophists has a problem. Her department is about to be run off campus—literally. The proposed new site seems nice enough, albeit built on a former graveyard, but it forms a sort of exile across town from the main campus. ... (read more)

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Big Nana and Joey
by Joey Tormino
cartoons by Bryan Bradley & Joey Tormino
Amazon Digital

In order to really get a grasp on a "slice of life" story, one has to be able to visualize everything about the scenery and the characters that populate it. Young Joey begins to set the stage for us immediately with the larger than life Big Nana, whose wish for the wiry Joey is to become a plump, rotund opera singer. ... (read more)

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