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.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Fiction Review

I Like Ice Cream In My Coffee, Part Five
by Diney DeRuy
ISBN-10: 1418412759
review by Heather Froeschl

In Part Five of a series of books, Diney DeRuy has crafted a story that stands alone and effectively makes the reader's hair stand on end. Dr. Nick Demmy is given the chance to get in on a privately funded, family run research institution. The study of the brain and specifically in Demmy's case, phenomenology, is the focus of intensive research done by the Young family. It is highly confidential work and Demmy is truly blessed to be allowed to join the team.

Demmy has only one patient...a woman in a coma, effectively brain dead, who is showing signs of activity in a portion of the brain as yet unexplored. It looks like psychic phenomena is coming into play. This is right up Demmy's alley and he quickly becomes involved in his research. But there is more going on in this facility than Demmy's one patient. Much more. The head of the family, Chief of Staff Young, has a greater plan. He intends to be the Chief of the medical community at large. His research goes so far as to create a living brain and to communicate with the spirit world through it.

In his efforts to become this all-knowing medical giant, Chief Young has raised his sons to follow his rule. They live and breathe their research, each Doctor having an expertise that supports the end goal. There is no life outside of the facility. Once a Doctor becomes involved he remains so, and once he passes through the security systems, there is no returning to normal life.

DeRuy has a chilling imagination. The plot is intriguing and twisted, full of plans crazy enough to be possible in today's medical research world. The fact that this is part five of a series only means that there are four other parts to explore, but certainly this book stands on its own as a good piece of fiction.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Non-Fiction/Self Help Review

by Virginia Bola
ISBN-10: 1410753174
Review by Heather Froeschl

Whether you are unemployed or unhappily working away, "The Wolf At The Door" may be your first step at taking meaningful strides towards positive change. Sometimes we need someone to take us by the hand and walk us through the baby steps that reap great benefits in life.

It all begins with getting our heads on straight. When we aren't happy in our work, very often we are not happy in our lives. We can change that though. We can always change things. Section one, on grieving job loss, depression, controlling anger, stress and change, I think, is the most important section in the book. It is a section we can all relate to, whether or not our jobs are pleasurable or not. It is a section about yourself and the first steps you need to take to be happy.

Section two is all about getting to know your working self, the person you need to find in order to find the perfect job for you. It will help you to hone in on the skills you have and focus on the positive. Section three is all about the job search and how to make it your own goal setting plan. Section four concentrates on the final lesson plans and going out there to get that job.

The book is a workbook, complete with forms to fill in, breaking down the work into baby steps that we can all handle and appreciate. It is a guide to follow and a hand to hold. It is inspiring and encouraging, like a good mentor. More than an unemployment survival manual, it is a planning guide for happiness in life. I recommend this title to anyone who is even slightly unhappy in their work. I am certain that anyone who reads it will come away having learned something.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Non-Fiction/Self Help Review

Zen Entrepreneurship: Walking the Path of the Career Warrior
by Rizwan Virk
ISBN-10: 1413434452
Review by Heather Froeschl

Are you aware of your `Warrior's Path?' Do you realize the lessons you are learning (your soul's development), and do you know what contribution you are here to make to the world (Your life's work)? Most of us catch glimpses of these things, clues from the spiritual world that we are on the right path, or not. Some of us know what path we are on, what we are there to do and what we are supposed to learn from it. But some of us have no clue and just walk along taking it as it comes.

How can you learn to understand the clues? How can you learn to focus on your true path? Sometimes it takes a teacher guiding us. And sometimes we learn that our life's purpose is to be the teacher. How does this relate to the business world? In "Zen Entrepreneurship," Rizwan Virk shares how he started a company when he was just 23 years old, and how he began his spiritual development, one goal feeding off the other.

Rizwan becomes the teacher in his publishing of this book. I suspect it is part of his life's purpose, sharing what he learned so that others may learn. I also suspect that he will gain more from this work than doing any other work in his life. Since we are speaking of a multi-million dollar business venture, that is saying a good deal.

Relaying his story of meeting with his teacher Ramaswami every month or so and sharing the lessons he learned, we are shown two paths. One deals with business lessons and successful entrepreneurship, and the other deals with spiritual awareness and growth. They both are one in the same though and prove that no matter what we think we are doing there is always a hidden lesson to be learned. One hand does wash the other but they both become clean.

The book is written as a story of interest. It shows the progress and growth of a business and a man. It is an interesting read that can be taken as lightly as a success story or it can be taken as a primer in your own development, complete with lessons and assignments that include watching some classic movies that prove a point or bring home a sentiment. It is a book that will likely be referred to time and time again.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is thinking of starting a business and also to people who have an interest in developing their spiritual side. You will come away with insight to yourself, guidance in learning your own particular lessons, and knowledge that you may not be able to acquire anywhere else save the mountaintops of the Himalayas. Rizwan has answered his call to share the knowledge; he has brought the wisdom of the man on the mountain right into your own hands. All you have to do to begin is read the book.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Short Story Collection Review

Afterlife and Other Stories
by Ed Krizek
ISBN-10: 1413440029
Review by Heather Froeschl

Ed Krizek offers an interesting collection of short stories. Written over a period of fifteen years, the topics cover a vast array of human emotions. From accepting the death of a loved one, to dealing with messages of impending doom from telemarketers, Krizek demonstrates that no topic is sacred when it comes to a work of fiction.

The author shows promise in descriptive writing. Typos and punctuation errors can be overlooked when experiencing the joy of being lost in a good story. Generally, collections of short stories relate to one another in a very obvious way. Krizek's assortment doesn't, but the basic theme of life's emotions runs throughout the book.

College romances, life changes, meeting goals, getting mugged, aliens running motels, winning the lottery...all of these tales are told and more. They are stories most people can relate to in one way or another, whether you laugh or cry over them is up to you.

A quick, yet sometimes deep read is waiting...

Children's Book Review

Cammie: A Girl for All Seasons
by Elizabeth A. McMahan
ISBN-10: 158500913X
Review by Heather Froeschl

Colorfully depicting a year in the life of a country girl growing up in the 1930's, Cammie: A Girl For All Seasons is a delightful read for all ages. There is something special about growing up on a farm and reading about 10 year old Cammie's adventures is something special in itself.

Follow Cammie through a year of ups and downs, trials and triumphs, smiles and sighs. Her life is full of lessons including being mindful of chicken hawks, bullies dressed as hobos and the dangers of hay forks. There are joyful stories of babysitting moments, adventures in the woods, and bug zoo success. Lessons are shared in making friends with roosters, being a friend to those in need and having a friendly day spent with a city cousin.

The bond of family is clearly demonstrated through out the book and seemingly simple country values are shared and exhibited. Parents will enjoy the positive role model that Cammie is and readers ages 9 and up will love the stories of a simpler time and place and a girl that they can relate to.

The author is gifted in descriptive writing and brings the world of a southern rural community to life. Look for more from Elizabeth A. McMahan in the future.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Fiction Review

by Barbara Anna Marjanovic
ISBN-10: 0595659543
Review by Heather Froeschl

Donna marries into the mob, but she has no idea. It could be that Matthew's family is just overprotective of him. It could be that Matthew is just an investment hound, dealing with stocks and bonds. It could be, but it isn't. Donna finds herself in a marriage fraught with all night drug parties in her home, intrusive aunts who criticize her every move and worse - in the company of a man who is not at all what he seems.

One night Matthew tells her what seems to be everything. He is part of the Mafia, a huge part, and the FBI is on to them. In fact, he tells her, he is helping the FBI. Life seems to change, and love is rekindled. Until...during a weekend trip to their cabin, Donna is almost killed. The FBI swoops in to save her and puts her into a sort of witness protection program. To the world, she is dead. To the FBI, she has become a Pawn. Donna is to gather evidence against her widower husband. But is this legit? Could it be that this branch of the FBI isn't what it seems either? Will life ever be normal again?

Barbara Anna Marjanovic has written an interesting tale. There are inconsistencies though, and at times it seems that the story was written backwards, with important details filled in at the last minute. There are numerous typos and errors that would have been easily caught by an editor. Overlooking these things may be difficult. However, the premise is intriguing and may be enough to carry some readers through to the end.

Suspense Review

Retired: A Suspense Novel
by Bill Vann
ISBN-10: 0972964207
Review by Heather Froeschl

When a man retires, there are times when his wife wishes he would find something to do outside of the house. Something, anything, except, I suppose, go jump in an almost frozen lake. Harry Jones, after 35 years as a bookkeeper for an automobile dealership, hits it big with some stock in Chrysler and retires. It doesn't take long though for the doldrums to set in and a need arises in Harry to get out of the house.

He finds an empty office to rent, and fools himself into thinking he is occupying himself with stock plans. His imaginary clients leave him to drink his peppermint schnapps and he is content to be out of his wife, Alice's, hair. Until one day he finds a note addressed to him, and he becomes wrapped up in a very interesting, if not deadly, investigation.

Not being an investigator, Harry wonders why this woman insists that he take her case. He wonders too, why he is doing it. As he finds himself in a small fishing boat in Lake Michigan, he wonders. As he gets off a plane and heads to Naples, Florida, he wonders. And when he finds himself almost at the mercy of two attack Dobermans, he really wonders.

Besides Harry, there is another retired man in this story who finds himself with nothing to do. Fate has a way of knocking though and he soon finds himself in an investigation to beat his entire career as a cop. Tom Morgan is searching for some answers. What he finds is a plot so warped and twisted that it could only be categorized as "As per usual", as he is known to say.

Bill Vann has written a fast paced suspense story that will find you turning pages. You'll never look at a retired gentleman in the same light. Bill shares an insider's knowledge of auto dealerships and a wealth of knowledge of the human psyche. "Retired" is one of the best books I have read lately.

Sunday, May 9, 2004

Non-Fiction/Self Help Review

Break Free From Burnout in 30 Days! Secrets of a Burnout Survivor
by Mary Lewis
ISBN-10: 0971423709
Review by Heather Froeschl

Exhausted? Frazzled? Can't stand to add even one more thing to your to-do list? You'll want to add following the advice of Mary me. In "Break FREE from Burnout in 30 Days!" she takes your hand and leads you through a month of life changing, stress relieving tasks that are simple and positive. You will walk away from this book with a better outlook on life.

In the beginning, there were the top ten signs of burnout. If you recognize these things in your life, Mary can help you. Then, taking it one step at a time, one day at a time for a month, you will let go of those top ten signs and be free once more. Steps like not listening to your inner critic, saying no more often, scratching out your to-do list (except for finishing the book!), changing your attitude, changing your peers if need be, stop gossiping and start receiving what you deserve. It's all simple really, and it's all good.

Mary shares her own burnout stories and lets you know that she understands. It happens. But she also challenges you to stop it from happening. You can stop the cycle and you can take your life back. The first step is picking up the book, the second is reading it, one day at a time.

Saturday, May 8, 2004

Humor Review

Boofalo: A Funny Book
by Richard S. Greene
ISBN-10: 0595312632
Review by Heather Froeschl

Clearly a man's fantasy, "Boofalo!" is entertaining in an offbeat, odd sort of way. A very odd sort. The book encompasses everything from space and time travel to evading the cops in good old O-hi-o. One man takes on the world, on another planet, and seems to have it all under control in a chaotic, frantic, kind of way. He fares better there, with all manner of beasts attacking him, then he does in his home town of Cleveland where he runs naked through the streets only to rummage through garbage for golf pants and break into his own apartment.

Dan Slam is a star. He has his own show, on the planet Ovula, where the Princess Vangi and her people follow Dan's every boring move, through images captured in his life of marathon television watching, chip eating, toilet using, paper pushing work days and pathetic attempts at love. Vangi decides he is the one who will save her planet from Draegon and she sends the bus to get him. The bus, an "alternity" travel machine, is driven by none other than the unemployed King of the land, and boasts a marquee that promises Ecstasy, Romance, Action and Thrills.

With each ride, Dan does experience those things, conquers strange beasts, makes friends with other beasts, has marathon sex adventures, saves the day, nearly dies and in fact meets death face to face, becomes the hero and signs autographs. Again, this is clearly a man's fantasy read.

The author's use of puns is over the top, and if you like this sort of thing you will have plenty of laughs. The formatting is unique in that nearly every thought, action and image begins a new paragraph, many of which are only a word or two long. This creates a jumpy, scattered feel to the read, almost as though you are reading the mind of the characters rather than reading the narrative. It is almost as though the entire book were written as poetry, but without the rhythm and rhyme.

"Boofalo!" is a book that is in a genre all its own, though I am not sure what that genre is. The author shows promise in his descriptiveness and creativity and I am sure his readers will wonder what he will come up with next.

Saturday, May 1, 2004

Non-Fiction Review

The Book of Love: Awaken Your Passion to be Your Higher Self
by Karen Bentley
ISBN-10: 0966696735
Review by Heather Froeschl

If I could look beyond this book's Christian slant I might agree with some of what other reviewers are saying about it. In truth, the subtitle should be "Awaken your passion to be your Higher Christ - Self." If you can overlook that and other references to God (assuming this is the Christian God since we already see the Christ influence) the messages in the book could be enlightening. I doubt that the author intentionally left out the other religions in the world, for if it were so it would imply that only those of Christ mind could find enlightenment.

The basic ideas of this book are that there are four obstacles to love: The illusion of a special relationship (soulmates, relationship love, parental love), Anger, Guilt, and a lack of awareness. But love does not refer to what you think of in everyday life, for that kind of love, we are told, is simply our ego. It is fairy tale and selfish. Karen Bentley might call me unenlightened but I don't agree with this concept.

According to Bentley, there are six spiritual tools you need to have to change your life: A strategy of Holiness, Forgiveness, Gratitude, The holy instant of peace, Communing with your higher self, and Praying. She goes on to explore and explain these tools in depth in a very easy to read tone, using anecdotes and numerous quotes from "A Course in Miracles." Again, the text is full of Christian influence and doesn't need to be so, in my opinion. Enlightenment is available to every soul.

The writing is well done, the tone is uplifting (though at times condemning of your humanness) and the basic premise of connecting with your higher self is positive. I can see Christians everywhere wanting a copy of "The Book of Love." For what it is, the book is an appropriate, useful tool; it just isn't for everyone.