Back on Track

New reviews coming soon! I'll be importing my work from the past two years, but in the meantime,
I'm reclaiming my small place on the web.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Non-fiction review

The Major Forces Driving Humanity
By Steven Zecola
ISBN-10: 0977950913
Review by Heather Froeschl

The keyword in society these days is “change.” We want change in our economy, environment, employment and our future. Figuring out how to create positive change requires looking at the changes and complacency of the past. Steve Zecola provides his completed research on a number of topics and presents it in his latest book, “The Major Forces Driving Humanity.”

Four parts of the book break it up into “Progress up to the Late 1700’s,” “The Late 1700’s to the Present,” “Future Directions,” and “Bringing the Major Forces into Harmony.” In layman’s terms, he shows us the progress of humanity from the beginning of man’s reasoning, religion, and governing to the present, where we feel so desperate for change for the better. Where did we go wrong? What did we do right? What patterns can we avoid or alter?

Sociology classes would eat this book up; students of sociology in everyday form will enjoy the pondering and exploration. Society should pay heed to these lessons learned. The writing is full of advice and research, opinion and teachings. Steve’s voice is full of concern and care. His readers will find a message here regardless of whether the entire book is embraced or not.

What are the major forces driving societal change? What has been allowed to flourish by our very lack of understanding? Zecola explains and offers a comprehensive plan.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Spiritual Fiction Review

By Clifford Lane Mark
ISBN: 978-0-595-46219-3
Review by Heather Froeschl

If you knew we were on the verge of a shift of consciousness, what would you do? Would you be a part of it? Would you hide from the change? Deny it? Notice it? Forever, there have been wise ones, enlightened ones who have told us that we could do as they do, be as they are. We have been lost in the process and sometimes lost sight of the goal.

The character Thomas Walls was drawn to do something in preparation for an event so monumental it would change the course of humanity for the next two thousand years. As synchronicity works, the people that needed to be planners for the event came together. They were given clues that had been presented by a guru, so that they would be sure of the ones who would come to teach. The souls of the masters reborn to show us the way didn’t really need to have clues foretell of their coming though. They were known when the time came.

The planning of the gathering at a sacred spot all fell into place over months of work. Would it have occurred regardless? The planners learned much along the way and shared of themselves. In this sharing the reader also learns to let go of beliefs, look for their own path to enlightenment and embrace what becomes. The pinnacle of the book, the event itself, is much anticipated.

The writing is well executed and the story purposeful. The beginning is a bit slow but the momentum of the plot builds like the path up the sacred mesa. It is well worth the exercise. A book with a different kind of vision, “Ecumensus” is full of hope, promising a new age of enlightenment that I sincerely wish to be non-fiction.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fiction Anthology Review

Sin: A Deadly Anthology
ISBN-10: 0974793469
Review by Heather Froeschl

Sin: behavior that goes against the moral and religious norms. Sin: the topic of a captivating anthology. Like being drawn to watch a tragedy in progress, readers will be enticed to turn the pages, witnessing horrific moments of sin. From some of Chicago’s popular fiction authors, “Sin, A Deadly Anthology,” is gripping.

What could force a person to commit a sin? Love? Hate? Revenge? Insanity? When does an action become a sin? At the moment the idea hits the person? When they admit that it was wrong? Is sin in the eye of the beholder? Readers will have to decide for themselves as each story unfolds.

Sex, murder, and greed are all obvious sins, but when the circumstances are impossible, things can be seen in another light. Nothing is simply obvious. A story about a flood and a loving husband choked me with tears. Another that involved a demon had me pondering the legends I’ve grown up with. A tale of buried family memories inspired questions of what we are told in our youth and what we trust as adults. Each contribution to the book has a different feel but an underlying theme of encouraging contemplation on what is understood to be sin.

The writing is all tight and solid. Each author putting his or her own spin and finishing touches on the anthology. It is an intriguing read. Dare you be seen holding a book titled: Sin? It is well worth any stares you might receive.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Suspense Review

By Deborah Cannon
Review by Heather Froeschl

Archaeologist Jake Lalonde searches for the origins of the icon of the mythical raven, as depicted in an ancient carving off the coast of British Columbia. Haunting his dreams, his search finds him is so far from what is expected that it leaves him breathless and nearly distracted enough to forget a deadly threat to his and Angeline’s lives. Deborah Cannon brings legends into a new light in “Ravenstone,” the third in a series but also a stand alone novel.

Menacing messages appear on Angeline’s phone and the threat is all too real though some suspect she is imagining it. A past nemesis has returned to Angeline and Jake’s world. Once safely (not really) locked away, insanely rich Radisson again haunts their minds and hunts control over their souls. When Jake’s daughter’s presence is revealed and then threatened, action must be taken. But Angeline is already on her way to Lyell Island, and Jake is unsure of where they stand as a couple.

Danger is hidden along with the elusive answers to Jake’s questions. What seems innocent flirtation at first leads to deadly dancing with a past he had forgotten and a present situation he hadn’t been very aware of.

The writing is engaging and immerses the reader into the contrasting but beautiful locales of the coast of British Columbia and the coast of Lyell Island, a Polynesian paradise.

Digging into the habits and mindsets of archaeologists is interesting to witness, while the troublesome romance adds a delightful human interest quality to the tale. Danger, love, life, the past of characters and the subjects they study, and the possible futures of all involved wrap up into a well rounded story. Add the mystical quality of legends and you’ve got a memorable book. Not surprising coming from Deborah Cannon.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Memoir Book Review

Switched at Birth
By Frederick J. George
ISBN-10: 0615145027
Review by Heather Froeschl

A memoir with a twist, “Switched at Birth: My Life in Someone Else's World” by Frederick J. George examines the coincidences of life. Placed in the wrong bassinet in the hospital, Frederick didn’t confirm the switch until he was 57, and the parents he had grown up with were already passed on; his birth mother the only parent left to embrace in this deeply moving time.

His father had always been suspicious, even accusing Frederick’s mother of having had an affair. He always looked a little different than his siblings in family photos, and had slightly different interests, but Fred had tried to fit in. Fate also tried, making efforts to step in, crossing the paths of both boys and their families over the years. Fred’s brother was even friends with the switched boy, Jim. Ironic is the word that comes to mind, almost unbelievable is the tale.

Fred shares the histories of both of his families and how he came to understand them. He opens up, telling readers of his relationship with his birth mother, as it began so much later than it possibly should have.

The writing is reminiscent of the passed down family legend, purely memoir. An interesting book about a twist of fate.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Poetry Review

A Spell Too Far
by Celticscribe
ISBN-10: 0595499937
Review by Heather Froeschl

Blow away life’s troubles like the down of a dandelion and fall under the enchantment of poetry. “A Spell Too Far” by Colleen Avelli and Peter Crossland is a collection not to be missed. With a mystical flair, these two poets entwine their works like the twisting strands of a Celtic knot, creating enticing images to share with their readers.

Mythical creatures inhabit strange places, lords stand in defense, while turning the page brings love in emergence, or love at death’s door. The beautiful reside here, but so does the terrible. With a balance of both there is equilibrium of sensations, and what more could a poetry collection offer? The simple side of life, with precious moments of normalcy, is examined with poetic eye and we look on as it takes flight on gossamer wing. A pirate tale, a broken heart, precious things waiting under the bed, these are topics of this work, admired. My favorites are “The Page of Hearts” in which love is found in many chambers, like a house of mirrors, reflecting the multitude of amore found in a life, and “Broken Glass” in which a soul is shattered by a love turned despair.

These authors reach into the hearts and imaginations of their readers and breathe life into the words. The talent here is twofold, lucky for us. This well rounded offering promises moments of contemplation, exciting adventure, and mystical musings. “A Spell Too Far” is an enchantment to wish for.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Author Interview

It is my pleasure to interview Dat Phan, author of “The Changing River: A Meditative Fiction.” My review of this title can be seen here. This work of fiction depicts one man’s journey of life as he overcomes alcoholism, lives in poverty with purpose, and faces tigers to survive.

Dat Phan is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin where he received a bachelor’s degree in science. Ordained as a Zen monk at Plum Village headed by Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, he left the order after four years of practice. He now resides in France (Haute-Loire) with his wife and daughter, where he teaches English. He enjoys roaming in nature, and is passionate about playing music and basketball.

Feel free to visit and drop the author a line.
Heather: A traditional question here: Are any of the characters based upon yourself?

Dat: As any author draws from his life experiences to bring authenticity to his characters, I see myself a lot in Mr. Dubois and Rice Boy. But just as in a dream where we think that the people in it are outside of us, in reality, they are only aspects of ourselves, each character is a portrait and reflection of my own self.

Heather: This is very insightful and not something every author would readily admit. Thank you!
Heather: Have you faced your tigers?

Dat: My Chinese astrological sign is actually a tiger. I guess, if tigers represent fear, then I have seen its face and smelled its odor. The other week, I was driving on the highway in France near Lyon and a rock went straight into my windshield. It pierced a hole right through it like a bullet. Bits of glasses were everywhere on the driver and passenger seat. Some actually got into my eye. At that moment, panic arose. I became blind. But it's strange how fear can quickly transform into courage when there is a little calm and clarity. I kept the steering wheel straight and guided the car into the emergency lane. That day, I had an appointment with death, the great tiger that awaits us all. I was really close, but I guess it wasn't my time yet. Just after, I had this feeling of reverence that overwhelmed my heart. There was this deep appreciation for the most simple things. The more we touch our deepest fear, I think the more we'll appreciate our time on earth.

Heather: What a scary and intense gift you were given!
Heather: Will there be other books that follow Rice Boy and his family or Mr. Lee and his family?

Dat: I'm in the middle of writing "An Autobiography of a Hermit." It's the story of the wise man in the tree and what he did before he was on it. I really liked writing this one because it helped me look at my monastic path in another light. I kind of based the story on a dear monk that was a teacher, a big brother, and a true friend of mine. He has now passed away, but his spirit lives on with me each day.

Heather: It sounds like it will be wonderful to read.
Heather: Are you a student of meditation? Zen practices?

Dat: I have practiced both in the Tantric yoga and Zen tradition; about 10 years of formal training. But now, I just consider myself a student of life. I think any form of meditation should eventually free us from the form itself, like using a match to burn a fire, then the fire ultimately consumed the match. Some of us burn the fire but still hold on to the match.

Heather: I deeply agree.
Heather: Have you other books in the works? Others published?

Dat: I have one that I am writing with another author called "Chronicles of the Wanderer." It's a story of some persons traveling but you don't know how many or who. Most of the passages I wrote are in France and all the different towns and cities. I wanted to write and show how each one is so different, and also touch on different topics that relate to living life with all its surprises and learning to accept death. The other author explores other themes based in the US and also in a Buddhist monastery. This will hopefully be published next year by Linh Son Literature, books written for the "spiritually inclined and unconditioned mind."

Heather: I’ll be watching for it!
Heather: Have you been writing long?

Dat: I've been writing for about four years now, so I am still learning the ropes.

Heather: The ropes change course, so we are all in the same position.
Heather: What is the greatest message you wish readers to gain from The Changing River?

Dat: That meditation, freedom, and love is accessible for anyone. It isn't a sacred thing chosen for the few, but it is the foundation for being a compassionate human being capable of looking beyond the form as one day, one moment we would have to let go of everything that we know, might as well try do it now and see what happens!