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, December 30, 2005

Historical Fiction Review

Lavina: The Saga of an African Princess
by Author Wright
ISBN-10: 1598860062
Review by Heather Froeschl

American history is not a pretty thing but it is something that needs to be looked at, again and again in order to gain understanding. Our economy was built on the backs of indentured servants and slaves, pounding them into the building blocks of our foundation. Slaves were ripped from their homes, families and lives and used for the labor to develop our new world. It isn't often that we are able to look back and learn the true story of such people. In Author O. Wright's novel "Lavina: The Saga of an African Princess" readers are invited to become enlightened of the truth of those harsh times and enticed to look into the eyes of those who were treated so inhumanely.

Lavina is an eighteen-year-old princess of the Bonga tribe of Guinea and is about to be inaugurated; Rabboni is a prince of the Zazunta tribe. The two love each other deeply and are about to tell their parents of their plans to wed when slave traders invade the marketplace where the tribes have come together. Hundreds are captured and brought aboard the slave ship while many more lay dying. Which is a better fate? Rabboni and Lavina are both aboard the ship and are headed to Virginia and a completely different life than what they were certain they were destined for. They pray to the Almighty Protector for help.

A plantation owner buys Rabboni and his treatment is harsh to say the least. Lavina is purchased by kind puritans and is treated like their daughter. Two very different outcomes but the result of their public treatment will eventually be the same. Prejudice, by the very people who needed the labor in the first place, runs rampant. Will the two soul mates ever find each other in the ever growing towns of Jamestown and Williamsburg? Will they ever be free to love each other as man and wife?

Told in the third person the story is relayed with respect, historical accuracy, and contempt for the wrongs that were committed. It reads well, though at times there is repetition of fact and plotline that isn't necessary. This minor detail does little to detract from a well written tale that will captivate readers and shed some light on the realities of our nation's history. The romantic side of the book will appeal to men and women alike while the historical feel will be of interest to every American, or should be. The book has a Christian slant that fits right into the times and explains how the Guinea belief of the Almighty Protector is converted to that of Jesus Christ.

I recommend "Lavina" to every reader, especially those who are studying American culture and history.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Fiction/Romance Review

My Everything
by Denise Skelton
ISBN-10: 0595360238
Review by Heather Froeschl

A female PI, a wealthy businessman, a slightly nuts-o ex girlfriend, and a vindictive cousin are the main characters in Denise Skelton's "My Everything." Benjamin Harrison is on a mission to save his sister's life by hiring Dee Meyers and Meyers Investigations to search out the half sister he has never known. In need of a bone marrow transplant, his sister has precious time to live. Dee takes a special interest in the case after getting to know Ben, and their working relationship teeters on becoming becomes something much more.

Hesitant to get involved, Dee is concerned over the way her friends have handled their own interracial relationships, and her job doesn't exactly show her the best side of humanity. Will Ben be able to win her over? He tries very hard! But other obstacles are in the way. Janet, Ben's ex, and Dee's cousin Terry want nothing less than to come in between Ben and Dee. One of them is willing to go to great lengths to achieve this goal; one of them is willing to kill.

This work of fiction is an interesting look at relationships, and also a glimpse into the real drama of private investigations. The story flows well and offers surprises here and there. A romance set in reality; I feel the book will be well received. The writing is flawless and captivating. This is not your typical PI novel, but something else entirely.

I enjoyed the read and savored the story. I trust readers will find it tantalizing.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Non-Fiction Review

Drifting Too Far from Shore
by Michael Spalding
ISBN-10: 0976827700
Review by Heather Froeschl

"Drifting Too Far From Shore" is a true story that reads like a wild ride of fiction. Michael Spalding shares his life story to date, and how he dealt with Attention Deficit Disorder before it was even a recognized condition. Growing up in the 50's and 60's proved to be a challenge that children today are blessed with escaping. If there had been treatments for Michael earlier, he might have led one very different life.

The stories he tells are fraught with great difficulties in school, a father who couldn't understand why his son couldn't comprehend, mischief galore and so much more. The days of his early adulthood were one blur of gallivanting trip after trip, bedroll partner after bedroll partner, and lack of direction or goal. Michael's stories of his adulthood to date are tales of continuing troubles with his father and their business, his wanderlust, temptations of alcohol, and his eventual return to school. It is a life story that is easily recognized as a struggle, but he also had a lot fun along the way.

The purpose here is to shed some light on the reality of ADD, as well as tell an interesting story. You will come to know how it feels to have it and also come to understand those who deal with it a little more. Mostly, readers with come to know Michael and will find him an irresistible character, who just happens to be real.

The book is written in first person and reads well. I enjoyed seeing the world through Michael's perspective and trust that other readers will find it a unique experience. I recommend "Drifting Too Far From Shore," but warn that it is not a book for young people due to its adult content.

Non-Fiction, Food Allergy Guide Review

Let's Eat Out!: Your Passport to Living Gluten And Allergy Free (Let's Eat Out!) (Let's Eat Out!)
ISBN-10: 0976484501
Review by Heather Froeschl

"Let's Eat Out!" will make you hungry and give you the power to protect yourself from food allergies at the same time. This series is an amazingly comprehensive guide that is sure to help thousands of people to feel more in control of their lives.

Addressing ten food allergens in seven international cuisines was a project that took years of research. The result is an allergy free passport, 496 page, full color book that includes 175+ menu items with descriptions, and preparation questions for you to ask to restaurant staff, and so much more that will give you the inspiration to once again go out to eat. There are snack ideas, beverage categories, quick reference guides and extensive detailed menus to learn about. Knowledge is power and so is asking the right questions. The authors give you the knowledge as well as the right questions to ask in order to protect yourself and/or your loved ones who have food allergies. The book even includes information on 50+ global airlines that offer special meals.

The main book is so easy to use with color coded tabs on the chapter pages, making it simple to open up to Indian Cuisine or American Steak and Seafood, among others. Each chapter offers an interesting overview of that culture's cooking habits, which I promise you will make your mouth water. The introduction and first couple of chapters are a step by step guide that will help those who are new to dealing with allergies as well as those who have lived with them for years. Written in layman's terms, you will not need your doctor sitting beside you in the restaurant in order to order!

In addition to the main book there are small passports available that are meant to be carried along in the pocket as you explore the world of dining out. Whether you are a world traveler or simply heading into town to sample some various cuisines, these smaller guides are for quick reference. Three of them focus on certain cuisines, while a fourth offers a multi-lingual phrase guide that is dedicated to communicating special dietary needs. This passport provides translations from English to French, German, Italian and Spanish.

The series is the first of its kind and promises to enrich the lives of many people. A well-written, professionally researched, gorgeous and sturdy book that is likely to become a common sight in many a restaurant and home.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Fiction Review

RED SEX , white drugs , Blue Rock n Roll
by Gerard Kuc
ISBN-10: 1411651812
review by Heather Froeschl

A writer searches for just the right inspiration to pen his novel but cannot find it anywhere. It isn't his apartment with broken air conditioning; it isn't the local diner where the local color's emit large odors as the homeless often do; and it certainly isn't in his daily work office where he processes people's bills and ducks for cover from the supervising shmoe. So where does one find their muse?
Greg winds up looking in NYC and a famous hotel known to inspire others, but only after he deals with his life...his lover Joan, her bi-sexual "friend" Kelly, his need to find a better apartment, and so on. He becomes trapped in a triangle of secret sex and can't seem to find a way out. Some wonder why he would want to.

Will Greg find what he's looking for? Will his novel be inspired by the sights of Manhattan or will he find his muse right in front of him?

Gerard Kuc's "RED SEX, white drugs, Blue Rock n Roll" uses an eclectic collection of slang from various counter cultures in America. The preface states that the book has no time frame but there are references to recent culture that remove the possibility of the story taking place in the culture of most of its slang. This adds to the interesting appeal of the novel. It is a colorful book that gives a glimpse of the male mind, the writer's mind (the character writer, not necessarily the author) and the societal mind of America. This is an accomplishment.

Due to the detailed sex scenes the tale is not meant for minors. This reader noticed a need for an editor's eye to scan the book but it wasn't anything major. I enjoyed the read and found it refreshing to see that an author has written what they wanted to and not restricted himself to what society might expect. Very well done!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mystery Review

Witness on the Quay
by Gini Anding
ISBN-10: 0595339670
Review by Heather Froeschl

I've never been to Paris but I feel as though I have after reading Gini Anding's "Witness on the Quay." This is no ordinary whodunit. The book is full of intrigue, romance, history, and raw human emotion; an entertaining read!

Amy Page is a middle-aged widow, authoring a cookbook and staying in Paris for a good length of time. She has rented a flat and is enchanted with Ile St-Louis. The mystery begins as she returns to her apartment and finds that a taxi driver has been murdered right outside her door. Jean-Michel Jolivet, an inspector with the French Police, asks her questions over a period of hours. This is the beginning of an interesting relationship and the unraveling of a mystery much bigger than the murder of one man.

As the case evolves it seems that Amy is much more involved than a simple witness, and even more than she ever realized. And as time goes on she and Jean-Michel become more involved than either of them intended. The plot thickens as the pages turn and readers will find they stay up late to find out what happens next.

Gini Anding has written an intriguing story with an ever-expanding plot. It is a delightful read, but even more than that it is a glimpse into Paris that many people will have dreamed of. I hope to see more from this author in the future but in the meantime I recommend "Witness on the Quay" to anyone who loves a good mystery.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Fiction Review

The Death of an Agent
by RM Secor
ISBN-10: 1420857983
Review by Heather Froeschl

Jim Deliviki is an agent on a mission to avenge his father's death. What he gets himself into is a lot more involved, as he becomes the pawn of several different double agents. Never knowing who is on his side or who is pretending to be for the moment, Jim is very much alone in a position against the terrorists of the world. What cause did his father die for? What is the purpose of Jim's involvement? This espionage novella has a twisting plot and action packed scenes.

The writing could be better. The first rule in writing fiction is to show and not tell, but most of this book is spelled out in telling form. Much more detail and sensory input is needed to tell a story in a captivating way. Numerous typos distracted me from trying to figure out where the author was leading the reader. The plot was sometimes fuzzy and unclear. I feel the book needs a bit of fleshing out and a good editor's guidance before it can become a sought after read.

RM Secor shows promise as an author, with a pulp fiction appeal.

Fiction Review

Ghost Of A Chance
by Eric Wilder
ISBN-10: 141375936X
review by Heather Froeschl

Buck McDivit digs dirt for a living. He's a P.I. who stumbles across the fact that he has an Aunt in Deception, Texas. Deception isn't just the name of the town; it's the feel of it. Things are not what they seem to the tourists and when you stay a few days longer than most, like Buck does, you're likely to uncover some very ugly truths.

Buck discovers his aunt just a little too late and comes to town to learn that she has died. The island, in the middle of Caddo Lake, where Aunt Emma's lodge and marina are, is about to be foreclosed upon and since her death is ruled a suicide her life insurance is not valid. Pearl, Aunt Emma's housekeeper and friend, and her husband Raymond, do not believe she would drown herself though, and what's even more suspicious is the fact that Emma's lawyer claims there was no will. This leaves the couple without the inheritance of the marina, and what's more, the deed to their own house and property on the island has disappeared from the records of the courthouse. Buck has a lot of digging to do if he's to find out what exactly is going on in Deception, and find a way to save the island.

What he digs up is a whole lot of trouble. Deception, Texas is run by the powers of a number of white-power, Klan bigots who seem to have denied the knowledge that the civil war is long over. What they've gotten away with, and what they plan to do is enough to turn your stomach even while remembering that this is a work of fiction. Will Buck be able to get to the truth before it is too late? What can he do once he finds it? And what does all of this have to do with the visiting spirit of a young girl on the island? Things are not what they seem, at all.

Eric Wilder is a gifted storyteller. I was drawn into the book from the first page and the plot led me through every chapter, turning pages to discover what would happen next. Everyone enjoys a good family secret revealing story and this one offers such with the twist of a ghost, despicable villains, down-home traditions, a bit of romance, mystery, and the exciting adventures of a stubborn P.I. I highly recommend this book as a ripping good read.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Children's Picture Book Review

The Life of Riley the Cat
by Julie Akerson Chicos
ISBN-10: 1412058589
Review by Heather Froeschl

Meet Riley, a curious kitty who goes in search of discovering what it means to be a cat. Does he have a purpose like so many of those other creatures that he meets? Time will tell and in the meantime young readers will come to learn a thing or two themselves.

Riley first meets Simon the crow, who isn’t very kind when he tells Riley that cats don't sound very important. This sets the plot in motion, and Riley comes to understand how spiders, bees, and beavers are all very useful creatures. When she meets a wise bat, named Bart, she learns the most important thing of all – that you have to look deep inside yourself to see what it is that you can do to make the world a better place.

Children will learn this lesson along with Riley but will also come to see that everyone is important in some way and that being different isn't a bad thing. Back home, Riley is reminded of the most important job of all – being part of a loving family.

I highly recommend this book to every child, everywhere! The text is well written, friendly and captivating, the characters are interesting, Riley is extremely lovable, and the illustrations are sweet and inviting. The messages of the book are appropriate and important for all children to learn. I would like to give a copy of this book to every child I know, and one to every child I don't know! Parents will be reading this book to their little ones time and time again, as it should be.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Fiction Review

Loop the Loop
by Dan Spencer
ISBN-10: 1411639936
Review by Heather Froeschl

The newest thing to hit the nation draws crowds of spectators anxious to marvel at the skies overhead. Airplanes take the stage and their pilots make names for themselves through daring stunts and death defying (for the most) acts. It is 1912 and aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss is stealing the thunder of the Wright Brothers. Or is he? Curtiss planes become much sought after. And the star of the expositions, stunt flyer Lincoln Beachey, outdoes himself with every new trick. When Herkimer Dawes witnesses a stunt show he becomes smitten with the prospect of flying.

Born into considerable wealth, Herkimer is unused to having to struggle for goals. He wants nothing to do with his family's soap making business though, and sets out to become a pilot. It turns out he has a natural talent and his flying is as graceful as that of a hawk. He eventually becomes second fiddle to his own inspiration, Lincoln Beachey.

Herkimer's life is quite the up and down ride. He becomes involved with an up and coming young actress, whose goals include the new flickers. Eloise is not quite what she seems, or at least Herkimer doesn't see her for what she is until it is too late. He travels with expositions where lesser pilots lose their lives in attempts to imitate the great Beachey. His family life is in uproars with his brother a major league baseball player, his sister somewhat timid, and his father working diligently to keep the business afloat.

Will Herk come to emulate his hero or will he continue down his own path with his talent at flying to soothing sounds of Brahms, demonstrating a perfection of flight?

Dan Spencer has a talent for immersing the reader into an earlier time. Opinions, attitudes, social customs and patterns of speech are all a bit different than what we witness in 2005. The feel of his novel, Loop the Loop, is enticing and interesting as one is transported back to the Progressive Era. It is exciting to witness the growth of airplanes, moving pictures, and baseball, as we know it. The story is a personable one, the characters real and humanly flawed. I very much enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone with an interest in aviation, or the early 1900's.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Historical Fiction Review

The i Tetralogy
by Mathias B. Freese
ISBN-10: 1587364042
Review by Heather Froeschl

Lest we "inmate" barely exists in a concentration camp, a "soldier" lives out his "duties," and the reader witnesses it all. "The i Tetralogy" is a powerful work. It is unforgettable, as it should be when existing as the reminder of those horrible, terrible, inhumane days of the Holocaust. We are reminded so that we will never forget, so that we can see exactly how far humans will go, so that, hopefully, we will never go there again.

Through the mind of i, readers are exposed to the barely living horror of the camp from the view of an "inmate." Here you will witness the zombie-like existence, the wish for the will to die, the endless misery. Read about the madness that crept around, waiting to take its next victim. Come to understand the death of the soul while the body hangs on.

Through the voice of Gunther, readers are forced to see the mind of the guard, the master, the giver of death if he feels generous. Read of his years in the camps, torturing the Jews whom he loathed. Try to understand, if you will, his inhumanity, his heartlessness, his cold and controlling power. And then witness his years living free in America, doing his best to torture the family he built around him as protection.

Through the life of the son of Gunther, examine what the holocaust did to the world, to all of humanity. Try to understand what humanity did to have allowed such an atrocious evil to occur. Read how the truth about a father splits the world of a family wide open only to lay festering in its juices.

This powerful book will likely turn your stomach, give you nightmares, and make you frown through its entirety. And this is good. What better reminder of this evil than to be stark naked about the details? For young adults, who have possibly only read cursory descriptions of the Holocaust, this book will be a slap in the face introduction. This book is not for those under 18. For those who have read moderately, or even extensively on the subject, it compares as one of the best examples. This is a work of fiction, but it is as if Mathias B. Freese channeled the text from those souls who lived it. An intense and powerful book.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Biography Review

If This Is Heaven, I Am Going to Be a Good Boy.: The Tommy Leonard Story
by Kathleen Cleary
ISBN-10: 0595356982
Review by Heather Froeschl

Biographies can be a hard sell in the book world. Typically, readers will pick up a book about Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan, Marilyn Monroe or Elvis, or some other such person, famous in name and career. "If This Is Heaven, I Am Going to Be a Good Boy" is about a regular guy, who just happens to be very well known. I'll bet that this biography is a hot seller even if only Tommy Leonard's friends and acquaintances buy it.

Honestly, I am not a runner and had never heard of Tommy nor even the race that he founded, The Falmouth Road Race. But I came away from reading about his life with a purr of contentment that there are still such giving and caring people out there. From his humble beginnings, through his struggle filled teens and into his adulthood, Tommy Leonard showed heart and strength. It is his generosity of self that surely endears him to everyone who meets him. His passion for running, and racing, and all of the camaraderie that accompanies those things, shows through his actions in garnering support for his fellows.

If everyone worked so hard at sharing their passions, as Tommy has with getting people to support running or even don a pair of running shoes themselves, the world would be a happier place. Also known as one of Boston's most personable bartenders, Tommy Leonard is a character to at least read about and smile if you can't meet him in person. For those who have, his biography is surely a joy and fitting tribute.

Kathleen Cleary has done a service in her writing of "If This is Heaven..." in that she shares the story of one of our hero's. Through extensive research and interviews she has gained the necessary facts to portray Tommy's life. It was undoubtedly through personal conversations with him and with those who know him that helped her to portray the heart of the man. Cleary tells a good story, and Leonard is the star character.

Memoir Review

Adios, Havana: A Memoir
by Andrew J. Rodriguez
ISBN-10: 1598000489
Review by Heather Froeschl

Every American should read the stories of those who have chosen to live here. Those who complain about life in a land of opportunity should consider what other options they have and be grateful. In a memoir of his leaving his beloved island behind in order to make a new life for his wife and himself, Andrew J. Rodriguez brings the reader to Cuba and offers a sense of the insecurity, the lack of privacy and the burning hope for change.

Rodriguez allows the reader to feel his emotions as he made the decision to leave Cuba, jumped through the outrageous hoops to be able to do so, and came face to face with the reality of starting over in the United States. What's more is that he shares the details of his parents' lives, and his in-laws' lives, and the story of his wife's 110-year-old grandfather. Through it all Rodriguez offers to readers the honest memories of his past, not holding back the intimate details of living.

I've always wanted to visit Cuba and through the pages of "Adios, Havana" I was able to do so. I witnessed the beauty of it and the culture that permeates Andrew's story. I also witnessed the deception of Castro and the result of his coming to power. I can only be grateful that I was born in America and mindful that others weren't. Rodriguez shares the details of his coming to America and the struggle to find his own American Dream. Through this portion of the book one is reminded that opportunities are out there and it is up to the person in need of them to find them.

With a style that is open and honest, Andrew's writing is smooth and easy to read. Like chatting with an old friend over coffee, it is easy to be caught up in the tale. Readers will care what happens to Andrew and his family and this personal story tells me so much more than I ever learned about Cuba in school. Here is a family legacy to be proud of.

The book is a must read, in my opinion, and one that you won't soon forget.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fiction Review

The Devil's Halo
by Chris Fox
ISBN-10: 0091794994
Review by Heather Froeschl

This action adventure spy story is a wild ride of a read. From the very beginning readers will be sucked into the story and held captive for however long it takes to accomplish the mission of devouring the entire book.

Terry Weston, a contract CIA agent, is not usually directly in harm's way. His typical assignments don't involve killing machine watchdog men, irrational Russian masterminds, pleading with the Secretary of Defense for do or die assistance, or global failure of the Global Positioning System's satellites. But this isn't your typical story and so Terry takes on an assignment, to retrieve a stolen movie file worth billions, and finds himself in much deeper trouble than he ever anticipated. What's more is that his wife, a power to admire in herself, and their six-year-old daughter, become deeply involved as well.

Nothing is what it seems in the spy world. You can't trust anyone but yourself, and possibly your spouse. This leaves Terry and his wife Maria in some tight spots, but also with the best possible partners they could ask for. Throughout the book their missions turn from one objective to the next, each more dangerous than the one before. Each chapter grows more intense and suspenseful. It basically comes down to the Weston's saving the best as they can.

Chris Fox's "The Devil's Halo" is a well-written web of fictional suspense, technological intrigue, and entertaining story with personable appeal. His characters, as highly specialized as they are, are downright human and likable. His plot is intricate and enticing, fast paced, and well executed. I don't normally read tales of technological intrigue nor those of spy infiltrated storylines, but I very much enjoyed this one. I highly recommend the read to anyone with an inkling of an interest in these things. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this book were made into a movie in the very near future.

The plot has some points that I will not discuss so as not to give them away, but I can say that the ideas presented here are right on target for today's adventure and "what if?" fans.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Religious Outreach Review

Know Peace Within
by L, David Harris
ISBN-10: 1597815489
Review by Heather Froeschl

"Know Peace Within - A Life in Transition" by L. David Harris, is likely the answer to the prayers of many Christians. Reaching out to the masses through this book, published by Xulon Press, Harris offers a hand up and a warm embrace.

Through anecdotes, interviews with pastors and quotes from the Bible, Harris touches on many challenges faced by Christians today. It is his intent to help readers through these challenges and in doing so, help them to a better relationship with God. He offers steps to be taken in building and rebuilding that relationship, a study of identity, and twelve Bible studies for peace among other chapters. He shares his personal stories and revelations with the intent to inspire readers to make a connection, see themselves, and make a change.

The writing in the book is personable, interesting and right on target. I was distracted by more than a handful of typos and misspellings and felt that the author could have done a better job in the mechanics of authorship. He seems to be filling a need with his work though and likely his readers will overlook these mistakes.

While I don't personally agree with the evangelistic content of the book, I can see that many Christians will feel otherwise and L. David Harris is doing what he is called to do. In that, the book is a success.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Christian Non-Fiction Review

Know Peace Within
by L, David Harris
ISBN-10: 1597815497
review by Heather Froeschl

"Know Peace Within - A Life in Transition" by L. David Harris, is likely the answer to the prayers of many Christians. Reaching out to the masses through this book, published by Xulon Press, Harris offers a hand up and a warm embrace.

Through anecdotes, interviews with pastors and quotes from the Bible, Harris touches on many challenges faced by Christians today. It is his intent to help readers through these challenges and in doing so, help them to a better relationship with God. He offers steps to be taken in building and rebuilding that relationship, a study of identity, and twelve Bible studies for peace among other chapters. He shares his personal stories and revelations with the intent to inspire readers to make a connection, see themselves, and make a change.

The writing in the book is personable, interesting and right on target. I was distracted by more than a handful of typos and misspellings and felt that the author could have done a better job in the mechanics of authorship. He seems to be filling a need with his work though and likely his readers will overlook these mistakes.

While I don't personally agree with the evangelistic content of the book, I can see that many Christians will feel otherwise and L. David Harris is doing what he is called to do. In that, the book is a success.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Astrology/Relationship guide Review

The Sun, Moon and Venus: A Simple Guide to Get What You Want Out of Your Man!
by Kimmie
ISBN-10: 159113725X
Review by Heather Froeschl

Opposites don't always attract, and sometimes even if they do attract, they tend to be incompatible. The old line, "what's your sign?" might have been right on after all. Kimberly Zapf helps readers figure out what it is that might be adding to relationship distress, in her book "The Sun, Moon and Venus."

Astrology has been a daunting subject for me. I am in no way a math fan and figuring out charts of the stars has always been something I hesitated doing. Kimmie Zapf takes the pain out of it and offers a simple ephemeris (star chart) for readers to use. The premise of the book is to have readers look at their relationships and base their interactions on the principles laid out under each sign. Most of us know what our sun sign is...the zodiac sign in which the sun was present in at the time of our births. But we also have a moon sign, and a venus sign, and these help determine our character traits.

Kimmie isn't here to convince anyone that our zodiac signs are what make us who we are, but read the book and you will see yourself, your spouse, and your peers, and come to understand them a little more. And that IS the point. Most Virgos tend to be perfectionists, myself included, and Kimmie points that out and gives the reader direction on how to deal with them (and all the other signs with their idiosyncrasies). Imagine an instruction book for relationships and you have "The Sun, Moon and Venus" in a nutshell. Can't figure out why your relationships end? Never understand why you and your sister just grate on each other's nerves? Want to know how your best friend's marriage is just so perfect? This book will help you to understand.

Geared at helping women to understand the men in their lives it can also be a help in the other relationships in our lives. I've taken the first step in truly understanding the significance of the stars, because Kimmie makes it so easy. I highly recommend this title to anyone who has ever even read their daily horoscope. I know you have! So take it a step further and just see if you can apply some of Kimmie's advice to your own life.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Historical Fiction Review

by Jarret Mock
ISBN-10: 0976298600
Review by Heather Froeschl

History comes to life in "Aeneas," a work of historical fiction, by young author Jarret Mock. Based on the twelve part epic "The Aeneid" by Virgil, Aeneas explores the tale from it's beginnings...Troy has fallen after almost ten years of attack. Mere scores of survivors set out to establish a new Troy.

Aeneas is a young Trojan warrior among those who flee for safety. His journey, fraught with many a battle, is a great one. Join him through adventures to Persia, Africa and the Mediterranean. Enjoy his wonder at the written language of the Phoenicians and their ability as sailors. Experience his reaction to the story of Princess Dido and her horrible uncle. See the human side of history through the eyes of a warrior.

Jarret Mock has penned a tale that will enlighten readers of history everywhere. It isn't all about battles and dates, statistics and the founding of new cities. History can be entrancing, captivating, and even romantic. Mock's style may be very different from Virgil's and Homer's, but his treatment of the subject is honorable and well done. Look for more from this author as he continues his own journeys.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Fiction Review

A Thanksgiving Miracle
by Wells Earl Draughon
ISBN-10: 0595366910
Review by Heather Froeschl

Ruth put her daughter up for adoption some 18 years ago. Living on her own after running away from home, Ruth found herself pregnant thanks to a night of naiveté and what she felt was obligatory sex. She was in no condition to raise a child, being only a child herself really. She named the baby Heather, and handed her over to be adopted. Ever since, she'd ached to know where her little girl was.

Hiring a private investigator was the first step. And he'd found her. Or at least, he'd found her adoptive family. Heather had recently run away. Once again, an 18-year-old girl was out on the road. Ruth just knew that Heather was going to end up exactly like she did...lost, confused, and pregnant. Feeling that she knew where Heather might have gone, Ruth sets out to rescue her daughter. Tracing the same path she'd taken as a runaway, Ruth revisits the highway exit ramps of Rte. 80 across Pennsylvania, facing the shadows of memories of her own experiences. The nights sleeping in the bushes on the hard ground, the days spent keeping ahead of the creeps and the cops. Will Ruth be able to catch up with Heather before it is too late? Is Heather truly following in her mother's footsteps along the highway and into hiding in New York City?

This trip and the memories trigger emotional reactions in Ruth that she cannot hide from her husband. Jack knows nothing of Heather and the truth will set him on a path of distrust, despair and mourning for what he thinks is his marriage lost. Ruth confides in her cleaning lady, a young girl of 18 herself, that she is desperate to find her runaway daughter before anything terrible happens to her. Kim has her own troubles, being pregnant and unmarried, and she and Ruth form a bond over their shared pain.

Do Thanksgiving miracles really happen? Will Ruth find her lost daughter, and if she does, will Heather hate her for giving her up? Will Kim keep her baby or will she make a different choice that may haunt her for life? Will Jack find a way to forgive Ruth for hiding such a huge part of her life, and is it possible for him to find his trust for her again? Will the private investigator track down Heather before her adoptive family does?

Wells Earl Draughon offers a "Thanksgiving Miracle" that will touch the hearts of readers everywhere. His writing is fresh and modern, yet the values he touches on are as traditional as turkey in November. Draughon's characters are deep and distraught, leading the reader to care for them, cry with them, and hope to celebrate the holiday with them. This is a thought provoking novel that will inspire the giving of thanks for things we often take for granted...a sense of self, love and support, and family. An excellent story to read at any time of the year, "Thanksgiving Miracle" is a well written look at life, pure and complicated.

Friday, September 2, 2005

Non-Fiction/Memoir Review

31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park
by Larry K. & Lorna Collins
ISBN-10: 0595345840
Review by Heather Froeschl

What would you do if you were offered a chance to live in a different country for a few years, doing what you loved to do? Would you take a job that in effect immersed you into a completely different culture? Larry Collins did, and his wife did too. Universal Studios Japan was developed and built with the help of many people like Larry. The experience was rewarding and challenging and the couple offers their thoughts and reflections of the life changing time in their book, "31 Months in Japan."

Whether readers are interested in the building of theme parks or immersion into a different culture, the book is an intriguing read. From the very beginning, with Larry, a project engineer, learning the many momentary protocols of doing business in Japan (like the mandatory exchange of business cards with every meeting, the significance of where one sits in a conference room and the importance of signs of respect) to the bittersweet end, with Larry and Lorna saying goodbye to the dear friends they had made, the book offers a very personal look at the experience but also a detailed, inside look at the creation of a theme park.

There were many problems with the project, as is traditional, and many traditions the couple learned about while living in Japan. They had a head start on what to expect culturally, as they had hosted Japanese exchange students previously. I think perhaps though, that one can never be fully prepared for such differences in lifestyles. Barriers were bridged though. The Universal Park was completed and the Collins' returned home all the richer for the experience.

I liked the format of the book; somewhat alternating in chapters, with Lorna describing a good deal of the daily living challenges they encountered and Larry describing the challenges and rewards he found while working the project. But Lorna worked for Universal too, in Document Control and as general confessional, and she also describes her work obstacles and rewards. Larry relates his encounters of golf, surfing and the communal bath among other things. It is all interesting and well written. It almost feels like reading detailed letters from folks in the family gone to live abroad.

"31 Months in Japan" is a down to earth, friendly, travelogue/memoir/cultural exchange/inside glimpse at the makings of a theme park icon. You'll come to know the Collins', a little bit about the makings of your favorite Universal rides, a bit of Japanese culture and language, and even some of the nuances of chopsticks usage. This is a very well written and enjoyable book.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Self-Help Review

The Psychic in You: Understand and Harness Your Natural Psychic Power
by Jeffrey A. Wands
ISBN-10: 074346995X
Review by Heather Froeschl

All of us have psychic capabilities...all we have to do is develop them. Jeffrey A. Wands, one of the most successful and acclaimed psychics in the country, offers his story of developing his abilities and guidance for readers to develop their own. "The Psychic In You" is a down to earth account of otherworldly communications. It is a very readable and interesting book that will captivate and inspire.

By witnessing how Wands came to develop his skills, readers will learn to understand and harness their natural psychic powers. It all begins with recognizing the signs you may be overlooking, learning the language of spirits, and learning to believe what you are seeing, hearing, and even smelling. Wands offers help in the matters of being afraid of the dead, facing criticism, and cleansing yourself of negativity. He shares a meditation that helped him in his learning process and offers suggestions on developing your skills through analyzing your dreams, visualizing, practicing psychometry, and practicing contacting the dead. "Practice makes psychic!"

Throughout the book Wands tells his story in autobiographical form, through intriguing anecdotes in efforts to emphasize the points he is making to help the reader develop his or her psychic side. It is fascinating reading as the author shares his personal tales of meeting his spirit guides, knowing when things were going to happen, learning to keep quiet about his feelings and eventually coming into his own and truly opening up to the spirits.

Even if readers do not wish to develop their own abilities, "The Psychic in You" is a compelling read. If a reader is already honing their skills he or she will find comfort in seeing that this acclaimed medium has gone through many of the same struggles. I recommend this book to anyone even remotely interested in psychic abilities, and from the popularity of this topic in recent years; I suspect that this recommendation applies to a very large number of readers.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Fiction Review

Phase One After Zero
by Vladimir Chernozemsky
ISBN-10: 1932656030
Review by Heather Froeschl

What if Timothy McVeigh was never captured but went on to affect the security of the world in other devious ways? What if this homegrown terrorist went on to consider further plots after his attack on Oklahoma City? What would the world be like if 9/11 never happened?

In an alternate take on history, author Vladimir Chernozemsky takes on Timothy McVeigh, Osama Bin Laden, terrorist training camps, and the CIA. Giving McVeigh the fictional name of Greg MacPherson is just the beginning. Greg escapes after the bombing and finds his way to Canada through an underground web of cells, finds himself outcast even from Communists, meets a mentally unstable girl whom he feels a connection to, and ends up on a slow boat to Beruit after the Mob, whom he'd been working for, discovers who he is, exactly. And this is only from the first chapter! In Beruit, Greg meets Abdoulah Atta who eventually leads him to Osama Bin Laden, training camps and ultimately, to his fate.

Through it all Greg is slightly mental, drug addicted and remains his own one-man army. He realizes what devastation he has caused, and after much inner struggle he contemplates putting a stop to the plans that are being made for an attack on America. But before that can happen there is much action and drama to be had.

"Phase One After Zero" is a gripping, interesting tale right from the start. It is fascinating to read an alternate history that involves many of the characters, places and events that we all wish we'd never heard of. This is a masterful work of fiction that will leave readers thinking of how each moment in history affects the next. This is an exciting read; a well-written book.

Fiction Review

ISBN-10: 1420853015
Review by Heather Froeschl

Jack's life is about to completely change. He will turn his mundane, desk jockey existence into something he cannot even begin to imagine. And it all begins when he happens to meet himself in the cafeteria at work. Well he meets a portion of himself, a portion of his spirit really, named Grayson.

Jack learns that pieces of his soul are out there, somewhere, waiting to be found. He needs to reunite with them before it is too late. If he doesn't, he will never be complete. But there is something sinister out there too; another soul who became complete and became greedy for more. What more is there when you are already complete? The souls of others at your command.

Grayson sets out to help find more of Jack's counterparts and Jack sets out for his destiny. He travels until he finds it, and what he finds is a beautiful girl, a majestic and wild setting, and another part of his soul. But, the evil one is lurking and knows where to find him. Jack must be stopped if Malaos is to succeed. Which will come out on top? Evil? Or Jack? "What is life but a search for the acceptance of who we truly are?"

A.J. Gaudynski's first novel is full of adventure and fantasy. The plot is twisted and interesting, though at times puzzling. The "ghosts" of soul pieces become humanlike figures with needs for warmth and shelter, doing battle with each other and earth elements. I feel as though I am missing a deeper meaning to the representation of these characters, such as I cannot imagine. Likely it is just as it seems though. The human characters are believable and captivating, leading the reader through the tale. The beginning of the book is a bit slow, waiting for the action to begin and I was distracted by numerous instances of misspellings and the occasional lack of punctuation. All in all though, I feel it is a book of intriguing concept, and a worthwhile read.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Non-Fiction/Self Help Review

The Truth About Caffeine: How Companies That Promote It Deceive Us And What We Can Do About It
by Marina Kushner
Review by Heather Froeschl

That caffeine fix you have every morning is doing more to you than opening your eyes. But, you need to open those eyes a bit wider and face the reality of caffeine and coffee. Get ready, because it is a bitter dose indeed.

Marina Kushner tells "The Truth About Caffeine" and how companies that promote it deceive us. Explore the history of the coffee bean, right up to the current amount of garbage that is allowed to be slipped into the mix. Find out what coffee, regular and decaffeinated, is doing to your body. Look at the facts about caffeine. And, come to understand the epidemic of health impacts that are affecting millions of people.

Caffeine affects the central nervous system, is linked to heart disease and causes stomach problems. The idea that caffeine causes a multitude of cancers is still undecided but studies are showing the probability is high. Is it caffeine or the coffee bean that is the culprit? It could be either, or both. What about kids and the consumption of sodas? Even those un-colas contain caffeine. It is added as a supposed "flavor enhancer." Kushner explores all of these avenues and offers her findings to readers. What you read in her book is likely to change your life for the better.

Kicking the coffee habit is not easy. Many suffer effects of withdrawal. Caffeine is a drug, albeit a widely accepted one. Headaches, fatigue, and loss of concentration all wreak havoc on the quitter's attitude. But on the other hand, caffeine intoxication can occur with as little as 200 milligrams (that's just one Grande from a popular coffee chain, or four cans of Mountain Dew), and includes symptoms of heart palpitations, anxiety, increased blood pressure, and more. What to do?

First, be informed. Food manufacturers are not required to list the exact amount of caffeine in their products, schools gain monetary incentives to promote and sell soda to their students and staff, caffeine is put into foods that you are consuming when you least suspect it. Read "The Truth About Caffeine" and become a savvy consumer. Take control of your intake and you will undoubtedly feel a good deal better.

The book reads easily with the exception of technical medical jargon in the foreword by Navleen Kaur, M.D. It is a straight forward offering of information to help readers make better decisions. This information is not about to become headline news - too many dollars depend upon the daily consumption of coffee and caffeine laced products. Products that are as habitual as nicotine yet as accepted as peanut butter sandwiches. My only complaint was the lack of discussion of kids drinking chocolate milk and the availability of caffeine free soft drinks. Everything else is in there! If this book doesn't convince you to better your life by just saying no to a "cup o' joe" I don't know what will.

"The Truth About Caffeine" is a must read.

Fiction Review

by R. L. Roach
ISBN-10: 0533149673
Review by Heather Froeschl

Bob Hoaglund is a court reporter on a fishing vacation in Bend, Oregon. What he reels in is a lot bigger than the catch of the day. The first episode of tension begins when he finds what appears to be the lower leg portion of a man inside of a boot that is placed in a seemingly ritualistic display. Perhaps he was meant to see it, perhaps not. As he runs to call the police from his cell phone he is shot at with an arrow that comes very close to his head. His phone is gone and his tires slashed, thus leaving him to frantically flag down an oncoming car. Fate answers his call, as Susan Woodson is the driver. This chance meeting is the beginning of something much more than a ride to a phone.

When Bob finally has the attention of a forest ranger they return to the scene only to find it swept clean. Deciphering the layout of what he knew he had seen, Bob takes it upon himself to hunt for more of the same displays. He finds them, and his life is in danger, so too, the life of Susan. Lieutenant Santorini of the local sheriff's office begins investigating the death of his best friend and what evolves into serial murders. Bob and Susan hold some clues to these cases but in fear for their lives they leave town for a while. Will they return to help save the lives of future victims? Will they become suspects themselves? Or victims?

This first novel by R.L. Roach is full of suspense and intrigue, mystery, and a splash of romance. The plot runs well enough, though a sub plot involving seismic activity beneath nearby Mt. Bachelor seems out of place and unnecessary. It could be an analogy for the turmoil that is in Bob's life, or for the almost uncontrollable beast that is the killer. But it doesn't speak clearly enough for this reader to appreciate a connection. I would have rather spent more time discovering why the killer does the things he does. That part of the mystery is never solved.

The characterization is well done and believable, though one has to wonder why Bob and Susan do not go to the authorities right from the beginning. Overall the writing is fine, though it does progress for the better toward the second half of the book. The first half holds numerous incidences where the author jumps from first to third person, sometimes within the same paragraph. This is quite distracting and bothersome.

"Seismic" is a decent read by a first time author. The negative aspects are outweighed by an interesting story with a handful of suspenseful moments.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Non-Fiction/Spiritual Review

Upanishads for the Modern World
by G.K. Pillai
ISBN-10: 8179923479
Review by Heather Froeschl

If I could study with Dr. G.K. Pillai the matters of the Universal Energy, the soul, and the wisdoms of the ages, I would do so in a heartbeat. The next best thing was reading his book "Upanishads for the Modern World," and I will likely read it over many times. As a reader I am always open to what authors can teach me; in this case, the teacher has authored a book that will change your life if you are open to it. Dr. Pillai shares the wisdom of the Upanishads, sacred Hindu texts that are thousands of years old, with the modern world, hoping to address the spiritual needs of the 21st century. I believe he has made great strides toward this goal.

In a highly intellectual, yet very down to earth manner, Dr. Pillai has written his book in a dialogue format with a fictional young American man, Mike. In this manner he is able to reiterate what is explored in each chapter in clear terms so that the reader is certain to understand. Mike asks the questions that we the reader would ask if Dr. Pillai were sitting beside us.

There is much to discuss, and Dr. Pillai will guide you through it all. From the death of the mortal body to the most recent theories and studies of the brain and its abilities, from the existence of the Supreme Self or Brahman to the scientific Big Bang and the energy behind it, from the latest scientific ideas to the most effective spiritual solutions, Dr. Pillai will guide "Mike" and the reader to understanding.

Here is an answer to a question many are can I find spiritualism while trusting the science that speaks to me? How can I avoid the dogma that is given to me when I question? How can I find modern wisdom? The answer begins with the 3000 year old Upanishads and with the help of a modern guide who recognizes those same scientific truths, you can find meaningful answers to your questions.

I very much enjoyed this book and will very surely go back to it time and time again. It was challenging, invigorating, enlightening and satisfying. I highly recommend it.

Monday, August 8, 2005

Fiction Review

Out of Innocence
by Dan Skelton
ISBN-10: 1413772730
Review by Heather Froeschl

Dan Skelton's, "Out of Innocence" will stay within your mind for a very long time. With raw power and imagery Skelton drags the reader in and doesn't let go until the bittersweet end.

Ten-year-old Chris Curry and his siblings have to deal with more horror and grim circumstance than any child ever should. Their mother, Audie Curry, is a pathetic excuse for a person and could hardly be called anyone's mother save for the fact that she bore the children, each to a different father. With every new man in her life comes a new set of rules for existence, none of them what anyone could call a normal childhood. With every new man also comes a new "home" for a while, and then a new time of leaving that home until eventually the five of them end up living in the car more than any place else. What happens in between is a nomadic scramble to stay alive. Day by day, minute by minute, meal by meal.

Through it all Chris is the voice of reason; he is an old soul likely sent to take care of this bunch of younger ones. One night, he takes the ultimate step in saving them all. Things change drastically, yet for the better, after that, at least for some of them. New people enter their lives and for some it means a new lease on life, while others fall willingly through the cracks.

Dan Skelton takes the lives of four children and their mama and exposes every dirty little secret. Here is where he weaves magic in his words. The lowest depths of humanity are seen through his characters, and also, the very basics of strength, and love. Some moments will rip readers raw, cut to the bone, and leave you wanting to cry. Others will make you laugh out loud, read faster with excitement, and finally close the book with closure and a sense of having learned something about the human existence, like it or not.

This book is a must read, but for adults only. It will touch you and you may just never be the same.

Monday, August 1, 2005

Non-Fiction Review

Power Politics: Primeval, Medieval, and Constant Evil
by Leonard Smith
ISBN-10: 0595338054
Review by Heather Froeschl

"Power Politics: Primeval, Medieval, and Constant Evil" is a thesis that takes on and discusses the major three: Sex, Religion and Politics. Leonard Smith examines the forces of good and evil, extensively researches the points that he makes and narrates the essay throughout with his own ideas and style.

Politics, from the beginning of time to the present day, have been wrought with many influences, from sex to power, immediate result to ultimate goals, good and evil. Smith examines instances of political struggle, religious conflicts and happenings, and sexual origins, preferences, "immorality", and roles. From the topics of the first sin of Satan, to the End Time, Leonard Smith offers commentary and a unique perspective, offering bits and pieces of data to back up his thoughts.

This thesis reads much like editorial commentary found in newspapers, but with a bit more depth and a good deal more in length. Smith takes a point in time and explores it, giving reference to his researched information and adding his own thoughts and conclusions. Being that the basis of the book is good vs. evil Smith should find countless readers who will enjoy the exploration of his points. He offers a lengthy bibliography and also a list of related websites for further study.

I didn't personally enjoy the book, as my views are vastly different than the authors, and the reading was not as engaging as other books I've read on the subjects, but I do admire the amount of research that went into it. It is an interesting read that will likely inspire those who enjoy it to further pursue the topics in other tomes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Fiction Review

Indiscreetly Yours
by Frank King
ISBN-10: 1597811572
Review by Heather Froeschl

Lisa Miley is seventeen years old, a junior in high school and has the same desires as most teens. She wants to have friends, be happy and enjoy life. Lisa goes to church every Sunday and listens intently to her pastor's words. But it is only recently that she truly understands them and relates them to her life.

Lisa develops a relationship with a senior, a boy who takes her to the prom and encourages her to dance. After the prom things go wrong and Lisa finds herself in a place she is sure she doesn't want to be. She discusses things with her mother and her friend, and then with the boy himself, and for a while things seem to be okay again.

Lisa pays more attention to her spiritual upbringing and finds answers there that she had overlooked before. Temptation is a powerful thing though and Lisa finds herself once more being led to do things she isn't sure she is ready for. Will she find the power to help herself?

This work of Christian Fiction is a look at an age-old temptation, and typical reaction to it. Unfortunately it takes a near disaster for the character to learn a lesson. The story is relevant to today's youth as much as it was to three generations ago. I did feel though that the plot did not run as smoothly as it could have. I also had trouble with the reality of teens speaking in the manner that Lisa spoke to her friends and the boy involved. Conversations did not have a natural flow and included too much detail to be just conversation. It felt as though the author were trying too hard to make a point or share information through the mouth's of his characters. The feel of the words came across as what an adult would hope a teen would say, and not what would truly be said in today's day and age.

The point of the book seems to be an outreach to youth. I think though that just as Lisa's parents hoped to shield her from a hard lesson the author may be disappointed in the fact that the reader's of the book will likely have to learn their own lessons the old fashioned way, and not through what they read in a work of fiction. It is a valiant effort though and the book is one that likely many Christian teens will be able to relate to.

Mystery Review

Death Comes Too Soon: A Bridget O'Hern Mystery
by Patricia Harrington
ISBN-10: 1413777082
Review by Heather Froeschl

Bridget O'Hern is a non-profit management consultant, enticed by her friend Bev Tilton, to investigate some odd goings on at an art league. Donor funds can be a slippery thing. It may not sound like an exciting investigation but Bridget is good at what she does and she could use some time at the beach. Though the time she ends up spending there isn't quite what she had in mind. Staying at Beverly's Bed and Breakfast, Bridget and her dog Narvik find they are in for more excitement than they'd intended. Seaview, Oregon is a very small town, where everyone knows everyone else's business. It doesn't take long for the purpose of Bridget's visit to become common knowledge.

The situation she is there to look into becomes second string when someone falls to a tragic death during an art league fundraiser at a cliff-side beach. Now Bridget wants to know why anyone would resort to murder and is determined to find out who did it. The police chief isn't too happy that she is sticking her nose into his investigation, but since her business with the art league deals with the same people he is looking into over the death, he reluctantly listens to her findings. People talk in small towns and sometimes they can talk so much that every secret is revealed.

Patricia Harrington is an excellent mystery writer. This story flows so well from character to character, sub plot to main story that the reader will feel right in the middle of an intriguing whodunit. Clues are dropped in just the right spot, in precisely the right manner, and the reader will likely come to the same conclusion as the characters, at the perfect moment. Nothing is left out and so readers will not feel cheated out of the mystery resolution. The characters are full of life and even love, from the smallest of creatures such as a rescued cat, to the largest, like the police chief and Bridget herself.

I very much enjoyed "Death Comes Too Soon," the second Bridget O'Hern Mystery. Watch for more from this author, as you will soon become hooked on her style, characters and attention to detail.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Christian Fiction Review

The Journey
by Arnita C. Wright
ISBN-10: 1597813265
Review by Heather Froeschl

In "The Journey" Arnita Wright leads readers through the lives of a family and shares what she believes is a heavenly message. The story revolves around two women and eventually leads to a scroll and a command from on high to spread the word.

Janice begins this journey with a heart attack and is hospitalized. There her daughter, Karen, having rushed to be by her side, had an accident in the parking lot and ends up being admitted for a slight concussion. The two lapse into comas, confounding doctors and worrying their family. But these comas are caused by God and the purpose is to take Janice to heaven and allow her to watch as Karen is reminded of the awesome Christian God she has begun to lose faith in.

Karen is shown, through time travel and angel power, moments of her mother's life in which God's intervention and the power of prayer saved her many times over. She bears witness to moments when prayer saved her father's life as well, and eventually, even her own. Through it all Karen is guided by angels who are able to intervene in the goings on, while Karen of course, cannot. Will she learn from all of these glimpses into the past? Will she become a messenger for God?

Everything comes under attack in this book. This is one all-inclusive piece of propaganda. Readers are shown that good Christian children who pray and are prayed for will be protected from child molesters. We are told that teachers who instill children to have open minds by exploring other cultures are into evil doings. The author even states that a war against religion, Christianity specifically, began in the 1950's and everything people did that was outside of Christianity was in fact against it. (It couldn't be that all American's right to freedom of religion, all religion, not just Christianity, was being protected?)

In "The Journey," demons, like Discouragement, Disillusion and Lust are unlocked and invited into lives through books, games and television shows. Yoga and meditation are also invitations for evil to enter into lives and homes. Abortion is touched on in a self righteous way and stillbirth is explained as a blessing. But those who pray and are prayed for, to the Christian God, are protected, insinuating that those who aren't Christian are not protected. Arnita Wright seems to have an opinion on everything and her work of fiction "creatively altered (of) her own personal journey" reeks of just another attempt at "salvation" and conversion of non-Christians.

Clearly this isn't just a work of fiction but is a slap in the face to non-christian readers, with a pretty face promising to pray for them.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

History Review

Others: Third-Party Politics From the Nation's Founding to the Rise and Fall of the Greenback-Labor Party
by Darcy G. Richardson
ISBN-10: 0595663974
review by Heather Froeschl

Third party politics wreak havoc in the two party system of America. It has been proven. Yet time and time again, a third party springs up out of the desires of the people. Some go strong and some fizzle out from the very beginning. The desire for change is a looming giant in the United States, and always has been. For the history of third party politics one only need to look to Darcy Richardson's "Others: Third-Party Politics from the Nation's Founding to The Rise and Fall of The Greenback-Labor Party." It's a long title and a long book but it is quite thorough and a highly recommended read for anyone who is intrigued by or even mildly irritated by third parties.

Beginning with the views of our founding fathers, Richardson covers the history of American politics, including: Free Democrats, southern rights and Native Americans, the emergence of the know-nothing party, the liberal Republican movement: reformers versus politicians, the prohibition and anti-monopoly parties in 1884, and so much more. This epic history lesson is extensively detailed and seemingly all-inclusive. However, Darcy Richardson writes like a man entranced with his favorite plaything. His book reads like the work of one who is in love with his topic. Thus, the reader is also entranced and finds the reading captivating.

The book can be read in bits and pieces; the reader choosing their favorite of the bygone parties and moments in history, or it can be read in whole in study of the American way. Whether for the home enthusiast or a college library, this holding will be greatly admired. The first in a four volume series, "Others" is a thoroughly researched piece of work that sets the bar for Richardson's future books. Expect good things from Richardson and you won't be disappointed.

As a reviewer I am not the biggest fan of reading lengthy history books, but "Others" was a compelling, enlightening and entertaining read.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Non-Fiction Review

Rebirth of a Realist
by David Truskoff
ISBN-10: 1413438873
Review by Heather Froeschl

Can America learn from its past mistakes? How about those in the very recent past? Is it possible that we could learn something from the past words of our leaders? In a time when a lot of Americans feel that all we hear is lip service from our currents leaders, maybe we are due to listen more carefully to the past.

"Rebirth of a Realist" offers the words and wisdom of Henry Wallace and Franklin D. Roosevelt. It offers a relevant look at the Preamble of the Progressive Party Platform from 1948, which could very easily be applied to today's world. But, will we listen?

Author David Truskoff takes us back in the beginning of the book via his journal of 1947. A veteran of the war, happy to be back home but unsure of what his life would be, he hitchhiked across the country to discover himself. His rediscovery of that journal triggers memories of that time, up to the present day as memories have a way of progressing. During the recollection of those he also shares moments of politics and world affairs and brings to life the quotes of those he wishes us to pay heed to.

A work of non-fiction, "Rebirth of a Realist" reads much like a political editorial commentary. It isn't for everyone's tastes, but everyone should hear its message. We cannot sit blindly by when there is much to be done. Younger folks should read it as a means of discovering some truth about America's history through the last century, truths you may not hear about in history class. Those of the "greatest generation" will likely find points within the book to agree upon and nod over as well as others that won't be quite as they recalled.

Truskoff speaks his mind. He is a realist. He offers voices from the past so that we just might listen.

Politics Review

Rebirth of a Realist
by David Truskoff
ISBN-10: 1413438873
Review by Heather Froeschl

Can America learn from its past mistakes? How about those in the very recent past? Is it possible that we could learn something from the past words of our leaders? In a time when a lot of Americans feel that all we hear is lip service from our currents leaders, maybe we are due to listen more carefully to the past.

"Rebirth of a Realist" offers the words and wisdom of Henry Wallace and Franklin D. Roosevelt. It offers a relevant look at the Preamble of the Progressive Party Platform from 1948, which could very easily be applied to todayÆs world. But, will we listen?

Author David Truskoff takes us back in the beginning of the book via his journal of 1947. A veteran of the war, happy to be back home but unsure of what his life would be, he hitchhiked across the country to discover himself. His rediscovery of that journal triggers memories of that time, up to the present day as memories have a way of progressing. During the recollection of those he also shares moments of politics and world affairs and brings to life the quotes of those he wishes us to pay heed to.

A work of non-fiction, "Rebirth of a Realist" reads much like a political editorial commentary. It isn't for everyone's tastes, but everyone should hear its message. We cannot sit blindly by when there is much to be done. Younger folks should read it as a means of discovering some truth about America's history through the last century, truths you may not hear about in history class. Those of the "greatest generation" will likely find points within the book to agree upon and nod over as well as others that won't be quite as they recalled.

Truskoff speaks his mind. He is a realist. He offers voices from the past so that we just might listen.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Fiction Review

Ecumenical Death
by David Truskoff
ISBN-10: 1413484751
Review by Heather Froeschl

Ecumenical, literally defined: pertaining to movement for universal Christian unity. When a small town has an Ecumenical Council, one could assume that there would be discord when it comes to any other religion. What David Truskoff's "Ecumenical Death" is about though is discord in the way of one group of the community opposed to another group with a splattering of racism thrown in. It is about small town politics, unhappy marriages, public issues and control over the town.

Not unlike just about any official meeting in Small Town, America, there are differences of opinion, people trying to control others and others trying to maintain control of what they've worked so hard for. The cast of characters is too large to focus on any one storyline, but the main plot revolves around a plot of land that lies adjacent to the elementary school and the desire by some to create affordable housing there. This becomes a huge issue to the neighborhood, the Ecumenical Council (who is running the show) and the businessmen who run the show from behind the scenes.

Truskoff immerses the reader into a chaotic town that just might leave you happy that you don't live there, but afraid to look into what really goes on in your own home place. The characters are realistic enough to lead you through the stories of their affairs, business dealings and idiosyncrasies. In the beginning it is somewhat difficult to follow all that is going on, all of the sub plots that contribute to the whole. This adds to the realistic feeling of never knowing who your neighbors are.

I was a bit bothered by more than a few typos and misspellings, as Truskoff's bio is only that he is the author of seven acclaimed books. I expected better. However, the purpose here is to rate the book overall and considering the art of immersion for the reader I give the book a nod of positive review.

History Review

50 Battles: 5,000 Years of Conflict
by Jay Kimmel
ISBN-10: 0942893050
Review by Heather Froeschl

Covering 5,000 years of conflict is not an easy task. Doing so without coming off as a textbook is monumental. Jay Kimmel has met that goal. "50 Battles" is an interesting guide through history, beginning with The Scorpion King in 3050 B.C.E and ending with the Iraq War in 2003. Throughout the pages readers will be experience what really went on during those battles and not political propaganda that can sometimes be found in books about war.

Kimmel offers concise details to historians, military enthusiasts and general readers alike. Each battle is described in a short chapter, from one to four pages in length and includes such information as explanation of the conflict to begin with, important moments of progression and mistakes, details of battle style, moments of historical significance and the influence on the area after the war. I was most impressed by Kimmel's ability to write the text as fact, yet in a tone that draws the reader in and captures interest. I am no historian, nor military fan and I found the collection most interesting.

I was especially drawn to the battles that involved the ancient Celts and those of the Native Americans. "50 Battles" is ideal for students to have as an initial resource. The amount of research that went into the book is abundantly clear and I respect Kimmel highly for the undertaking and subsequent result. Let everyone who reads the book learn from our mistakes - meaning that I hope that we will learn to avoid war when at all possible.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Fiction Review

Down By Two
by H. G. Field
ISBN-10: 1420805894
review by Heather Froeschl

John Van Bruyk is a young man with a passion for basketball, and movies. He dreams of being the next Larry Bird and is known by his teammates to take on the roles of his star athlete heroes when on the court. He might reenact a play he'd seen on the NBA and just as likely would provide running commentary from the bench or bleachers, imagining the players were the big stars he admired. But there is more to Van Bruyk than B ball. Besides being able to hold a conversation about the cinema like a 40 year old, he has a nose for uncovering acts of injustice...things that affect his community, his school, and his bank president dad.

John Van Bruyk befriends Jimmy D'Annunzio, a goalie for the nearly outlawed local hockey team. When Jimmy knocks the stuffing out of an opposing player one game, the school board has a fit. Jimmy's dad is the hockey coach and Jimmy could get a scholarship û he's that good. But things look bad for the prospect of hockey. Things look even worse when John shares his theory of kickbacks, collusion and conspiracy between the bank, an ice rink and the school board.

Friendship bonds and the two young men find themselves helping each other out. When John takes on a job assisting in an archeological dig, an exploration into historic significance on a local piece of land, he uncovers more than he should. Being the friend that he is, he enlists Jimmy to create and execute a plan to uncover the truthàto his dad, to the historical society, to the media and to the police.

"Down by Two" is an enjoyable fast-paced read of young men coming into their own selves. The book holds scenes of raw basketball excitement as well as budding romantic thoughts. It is an insight into the minds of adolescents, jocks, and the relationship between boys and their families. The plot was well developed and reads smoothly. My only complaint is the common presence of punctuation errors. Easily fixed, and easily overlooked by the reader. I trust that high school males will enjoy the book while the girls may want to read it to see what makes guys tick. "Down by Two" is a well-done piece of work.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Children's Book Review

The Seropia Crystal
by T. W. Olzinski
ISBN-10: 1420847228
Review by Heather Froeschl

Riley is twelve years old and her summer is not going as planned. Her family has gone to live at her grandmother's house for the entire summer so her father can de-stress. Her grandmother died when Riley was just a baby and the house has remained empty for all of those years. The furniture is all covered with sheets when they arrive and everything else is covered with dust. Riley's little brother finds a mouse he wants to keep as a pet, while Riley finds a mysterious wooden box hidden under the armoire in her room. In the box is a beautiful crystal necklace and a notebook filled with her grandmother's handwriting. This find will occupy her time for most of her visit.

Riley is a photographer and enjoys taking shots around the country property. Woods surround the home and in those woods live a group of animals who aren't quite what they seem. Riley has been chosen to help them in a way she could never have imagined. With the help of the crystal necklace she will make a discovery that will alter the course of things for those around her.

T.W. Olzinski has written a captivating tale for readers aged nine and up. Here is a story with mystery and excitement, fantasy and real life situations, positive morals and role models, and simple enjoyment. Riley is a very likable character that many young girls will relate to. "The Seropia Crystal" promises a sweet summer vacation read whether it is devoured during summer school break or during the course of the year.

Friday, July 8, 2005

Fiction Review

Bare Bones
by Kate St. Amour
ISBN-10: 141374866X
Review by Heather Froeschl

Cass Mollusso and her young son Frankie are about to start a new life in Worthington, Virginia. After losing her husband in an accident, Cass has been living on auto-pilot for awhile, taking her boy along for the ride. This small town seems to be a good rest stop, when the bed and breakfast Cass chooses happens to be the location for a meeting of folks trying to start an Interfaith Council. Cass is a Dianic Witch and knows the value of groups that promote interfaith respect.

At the meeting she finds two kindred spirits and instantly bonds with them. This is a good sign. What happens next though proves that not only is Cass meant to be in Worthington, but that she is desperately needed there. A sniper begins his evil rampage and the plot begins to get deep into the murky waters of Small Town, America. As a nurse, Cass saves the life of the town's mayor, while stealing the heart of the local sheriff.

Cass is a healer and a psychic besides being schooled in the old religion and the spirit of a young woman contacts her, desperate for help. There is a killer lurking, biding his time. Will Cass be able to convince the local law enforcement that she can be of help? Will she be able to get through to them before it is too late? Becoming deeply involved, while inadvertently finding home, adds to her desperation to put things right.

Kate St. Amour is a gifted storyteller. "Bare Bones" will captivate readers from the very beginning and have them turning pages through the night. The plot flows smoothly through the build up of tension, over crescendos of resolutions, and back up again. Readers will feel Cass' emotions and desires and root for her to make herself happy. Through it all there is an earthy groundedness that permeates the tale, a soul touching (and often steamy) romance, and a satisfying sense of justice. Look for more from Kate St. Amour as she promises to be an intriguing author that will entertain and inspire.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Fiction Review

The Teleportation of an American Teenager: A Novel for All Ages
by Andrew J. Rodriguez
ISBN-10: 1932672796
Review by Heather Froeschl

What would you do if you were given a quest to travel through time? As a soul traveler in "The Teleportation of an American Teenager" young Ivan will spend time as a completely different person, in effect, becoming a completely different person in his own life. Will what he learns of humanity change the course of history, or that of the future? Is this what his quest was intended to be?

It all began with the Druids and the place of ancient speculation, Stonehenge. George, Ivan's eventual grandfather, is drawn to the mystical setting, awaiting word from his ancestors. The Celts paid attention to the past and this is truly the very essence of what would later become the quest, and ultimately, Ivan's life's purpose. George is indeed visited by a Goddess who bears a message to him. Surviving the famine, George makes his way with his young son Finn to a new life in America. They are fulfilling their destinies.

Ivan will spirit travel (the author calls this teleportation) and spend time in historic places. Thus telling a story within a story, all for the purpose of completing his quest. The tale is wonderfully woven and intricately detailed. This epic adventure is sure to please everyone who reads it. At once paranormal for the method of time travel, adventurous for the situations Ivan finds himself, and romantic for obvious reasons, the book is an outstanding mixture of appeal to many readers. Self touted as a "novel for all ages," the novel is also a book for all tastes.

The author has done a wonderful job immersing the reader in historic settings, introducing deep characters and completing a full plot. A handful of typos did little to distract me from the enjoyment of the read. I am hopeful that Andrew J. Rodriguez is hard at work on additional stories and that we will soon be hearing from this author again in the near future.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Fiction Review

Monkey 99
by Michael Doyle Amspaugh
ISBN-10: 1932672915
Review by Heather Froeschl

Evolution has never stopped progressing. The results in humans are now within the mind rather than obvious physical manifestations. What will happen though when more and more people come to realize that their mindful abilities make them superior to your average human being? In "Monkey 99" Michael Doyle Amspaugh offers a theory of widespread psychic knowledge and a story in which someone with great abilities attempts to control those who come into their own.

In the beginning we are led to believe that the people at the Institute are trying to prevent evil from taking over those who have abilities. Unfortunately, not everyone has this goal in mind. Sometimes the evil is within.

The focus group of characters includes those who are teachers and those who have been recruited into the institute based on their powers. They are invited in an abductive way, but nonetheless become willing participants in their training. Of course they would, for the alternative is to be frozen until a later date.

The plot of the book is at once futuristic yet current and is a twist of almost believable science fiction and fiction in the psychic/paranormal realm. It is an adventure story within the mind and full of action and intrigue. The book will get the reader thinking of the possibilities all the while giving an entertaining read.

I was impressed with the plot twists and the depth of characters. On the other hand I was distracted by numerous typos (though my inner editor always is.) "Monkey 99" is a good read with very minor flaws that are far outweighed by its positives.

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Non-Fiction Review

Debt Dilemma
by Taffy Wilkins Wagner
ISBN-10: 0976742101
Review by Heather Froeschl

Author Taffy Wilkins Wagner shares her story of debt, dilemma and overcoming it all. From her humble beginnings to her military career, then to her life as a civilian, Taffy tells all when it comes to her financial woes and experiences. Can you learn from her mistakes? Probably!

Career choices have a lot to do with debt or sucess and Taffy willingly shares what she learned on that front. Marriage can be a stepping stone to debt or it can be a partnership in being financially sound. It all comes down to the choices you make as a couple. Taffy outlines the steps she and her husband took to be debt free.

Through all of their ups and downs Taffy and her husband kept their faith. This side of the book lends itself well to Christians and is an inspirational tale.

Included in the book are sample budgets for families of two and four, that suggest that readers can get out of debt if they follow them.

This little book is packed with good advice, helpful suggestions and lists of credit guidance.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Historical Fiction Review

The Spear of Lepanto
by Leon J. Radomile
ISBN-10: 0967532930
Review by Heather Froeschl

In 1570 the world is in turmoil. Europe is on the verge of being invaded by Ottoman Turks. Pope Pius V must do something to create a united Christian front. He is given a message, from the dying hand of Nostradamus. The key is to secure a holy relic, the famed Spear of Longinus. The spear was used by the Roman Centurian to pierce the side of Jesus as he hung on the cross and has become a treasured artifact, coveted for its power in battle.

Pope Pius commissions Leonardo Radolowick to secure the relic, on the word of Nostradamus that it will serve to conquer the "infidel". Radolowick partners with a young Spaniard, Miguel de Cervantes, and they make their way on an innovative ship that was built from long lost plans of Leonardo da Vinci himself. Thus begins an epic adventure where the two will meet with turmoil, comrades, and come face to face with their own souls. What will become of it all? Will the battles be won? Will the relic leave its holding in the Ottoman Empire? Is the Pope acting upon divine guidance or is he a religious extremist who has gone astray?

"The Spear of Lepanto" is an interesting and enthralling glimpse at historic events. The book is full of old world adventure but also touches on timeless romance and heroism. An epic in the works, this Book One: The Papal Prize is deep in character and plot. Some readers may be overwhelmed by the character list, of which the author has included a guide for, encompassing the first ten pages of the book. Others may be troubled or intrigued by the religious conflict. The book will be of particular interest to history lovers and those who enjoy epic adventures.

If "The Spear of Lepanto" is a sign of things to come, then Leon J. Radomile is an author to watch.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Poetry Review

Covered By Blood
by Linda Kleinman
ISBN-10: 159467423X
Review by Heather Froeschl

"Covered By Blood" is a book of poetry that reaches out to its readers like an offered hand. With words of purpose, Linda Kleinman shares her thoughts on Christianity and Jesus. Readers will witness moments of humility, prayer and hope.

A short book of 104 pages, 73 poems, "Covered By Blood" is a testament to Christian belief. I am not sure exactly whom the book is intended for as the closing thoughts imply it is for the unconverted, a hope to turn the reader toward Christianity. Many of the poems are clearly written with this intent. However, quite a few of the poems are geared toward those who are in the process of converting others. Either way, it is an outreach.

As a book of poetry, its merits are not high. The poems are not altogether fluid or rhythmic and where rhyme is intended it is not always found. A handful of typos and misspellings added to my discontent when reading the book. The illustrations throughout the book were a nice addition though the feel of them is sketchy. The cover art is somewhat disturbing though that may have been the objective.

I feel the author's intentions were high and the effort was fine, but the end result is not a highly graded book.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Children's Book Review

Magic for Hire
by Alex Greene
ISBN-10: 1591136490
Review by Heather Froeschl

13-year-old Dix Claudel cannot be what his father expects him to be. His father, the King's top Commanding Gaurdsman, has no idea that Dix dreams of being one of the King's Magicians instead. The problem is, Dix doesn't do too well on the Royal Magician's Test. Neither do any of the group of youth he takes his test with. Each of them was able to manage only one portion of the exam, giving them, in combination, the abilities to begin study. Individually they will need to start over and wait until next year to take the test again.

With not much else to do, the group bands together in order to freelance magic for hire and learn from each other along the way. Minor jobs here and there, from truth serums to controlling weather to save a farmer's crops, and a development of partnership, begin a name for themselves, and soon some bigger jobs come their way. The adventure truly begins when they take on a quest that proves dangerous and nearly deadly. This quest though, could save the kingdom and challenge them all in deeper ways than the exam ever could.

"Magic for Hire" is a fantasy adventure full of mystical wonder and youthful interests. Readers aged 8 and up will enjoy the camaraderie and suspense of this tale and will likely be clamoring for more of the same. Alex Greene has passed his test with his first book and I hope he intends to produce more of the same.

An adventure filled with magical creatures, responsible youth, mysterious forests and caves, and a quest for the brave of heart promises an exciting read.

Saturday, May 7, 2005

Non-Fiction Language Guide

A Year In the Life of an ESL (English Second Language) Student: Idioms and Vocabulary You Can't Live Without
by Edward J. Francis
ISBN-10: 1412020034
Review by Heather Froeschl

For anyone who is an English Second Language (ESL) student, the most challenging aspects of the language are idioms, slang and vernacular. It can be very difficult to follow what people are saying and to make sense of it all. ESL instructors are there to help but they cannot always be present to explain things. You likely wouldn't want to go to the movies or hang out with your friends with your teacher by your side. Edward J. Francis has created an excellent study guide just for the idioms and vocabulary that an ESL student can't live without.

Whether for use in the classroom as an additional tool for teachers or as a personal aid for anyone whose second language is English, "A Year in the Life of an ESL Student" is sure to be a welcome help. With hundreds of vocabulary words and idioms to work with, readers will find that their understanding of English has improved upon completing this study guide.

Using a storyline to show the words in context, Francis allows readers to experience what is being talked about rather than just read about it. Andre, a student from Switzerland, spends a year studying English in North America. His experiences center around typical young adult life, including trips to the mall, movies and a bar. Days spent in class, on the road for a weekend trip and picking up a friend at the airport give example to every day life. During all of these short story experiences Andre encounters idioms and slang. Reading these in context is a perfect way for ESL students to learn about them.

Each chapter includes a story scene, a list of definitions, seven exercises including matching terms, fill in the blanks, crossword puzzles, word searches, and more, comprehension questions to think about and answer, discussion questions to work on with a partner and a section to put your new knowledge to the test. After the sixteen chapters the author gives an extensive list of website resources that relate to each chapter, the answer key to the entire book, and finally, a glossary that lists every one of the hundreds of idioms in the book.

This is a thorough guide that is sure to be a hit. It will make learning English a bit more fun and "hands on". Edward Francis is an ESL professional with over 15 years of teaching experience. He has created a tool that will enhance the lives of many people and those that surround them.

Monday, May 2, 2005

Fiction Review

by Jim Meirose
ISBN-10: 1412040191
Review by Heather Froeschl

Walter and Lucas make a disturbing discovery in a nearby field after hearing an explosion and seeing the resulting fire begin. A plane had some misfortune, apparently exploding, spilling some of its contents and then crashing to the ground. What fell out of the sky was not just debris, but a sealed coffin complete with occupant, being shipped from one funeral home to another. Annie, a little girl that lived not too far away, also witnessed the falling plane. She would have an encounter with the lady in the coffin too, and it would change her life though she had no idea of how or why. The body in the coffin, Claire, has its own point of view.

Walter and Lucas open the box and discover Claire, finding that she is dead but eerily fresh. They decide to take her home, hoping for some kind of reward. After a few weeks Claire is still fresh as a daisy and the brothers decide to sell her to a freak show/fair that is passing through. Meanwhile, Annie discovers a cache of dirty magazines in her family's basement and the reader finds that Father is just a bit off base, perhaps even obsessed with a certain sort of woman. He lusts after an image and ignores his willing wife. And readers are also given the unique perspective of the dead woman's take on, buses, being the star of the freak show. These chapters and parts of others are written in an almost poetic manner, with incomplete sentences creating a feel for details rather than spelling them out in context.

"Claire" is a somewhat disturbing tale of chance happenings, circumstance, and the desperate needs of people. It is a short book that might leave some wondering what the heck they've just read. Entertaining in its own way this book addresses some real life dilemmas - poverty, family commitment, and secret desires. Jim Meirose has written a strange book. I can accept the unusual and respect the desire to stand out in a crowd, but I cannot overlook spelling, typographical, and punctuation errors. There is not a quotation mark to be found in this book, leaving the reader to struggle through character conversations.

For all of its faults "Claire" is still a morbidly interesting story. I wouldn't be at all surprised if sometime down the road an independent film is made in its image. Though I don't think I'd personally want to see it.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Non-Fiction Review

Book Marketing from A - Z
by Francine Silverman
ISBN-10: 0741424312
Review by Heather Froeschl

Any author who even hopes to make it in the publishing world today is going to have to market their wares. It doesn't matter if you self-publish, go subsidy, POD or with a traditional house, you are going to have to sell your book. The writing is the easiest part; getting people to buy your book is where the real work begins. There are many guides to help you in this endeavor but "Book Marketing from A-Z" is one of the most comprehensive books I have found.

More than 300 authors share what has and hasn't worked for them. Aside from having a top-notch agent to help you, getting the skinny from been-there-done-that authors is the next best thing. Silverman addresses nearly every topic you could imagine when it comes to marketing books. From A - Advertising to Z - Zero Promotion and everything in between, you will hear the down and dirty on book tours, getting into brick and mortar stores, postcards and bookmarks, newsletters, webpages, radio spots and so much more.

Authors willingly share their horror stories and their successes. Learn from their mistakes and progress. If you don't come away from this book with some new ideas for promoting your work then you need to reread it. You will likely do so anyway as Silverman's book will become a trusted guide to keep in your resource library. This easy to navigate, hard to put down book will undoubtedly help thousands of authors to create a bigger and better plan for themselves.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Children's Picture Book Review

My Angel ABCs
by Zsuzsana Summer
ISBN-10: 1933037466
Review by Heather Froeschl

This delightful children's title is really so much more than your typical ABC book. Surround your children with love and support by introducing them to the angels that are watching over all of us. This precious book will quickly become a cuddle up and read to me favorite.

From A - the Angel of Art who inspires and celebrates creativity, all the way to Z - The Angel of Zzzzzzz's who watches over you as you sleep, each letter of the alphabet is represented by an angel with special meaning and talent. Children will thrill in the knowledge that angels watch them as they show caring, stand for justice, and demonstrate love for their family. It is a soothing thought to think of angels helping us to smile, laugh and forget our sorrows.

"My Angel ABCs" is a special book that will insight morals in children in a gentle and subtle manner. It is a book that calms the mind and soothes the soul while opening the imagination to the presence of spiritual beings that watch over us. For young readers and for reading along with parents and grandparents, at bedtime or just quiet time, it is safe to say that Zsuzsana Summer and illustrator Lauren Dingus have a created something truly special. I highly recommend this book to every one who loves a child.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Science Fiction Review

The Sentient Advantage
by Chris Pugmire
ISBN-10: 1595261400
review by Heather Froeschl

Having grown up watching the original Star Trek shows I have a soft spot for light science fiction. Chris Pugmire's "The Sentient Advantage" offers a light speed ride full of action, romance, humor and telekinetic ability. It is a fun read that will keep you turning pages in between looking up at the sky in wonder at what it really out there.

Kayla meets Jaros in an ordinary sort of way when she rents him a room in her house. Save for the way in which Jaros enters the story to start with, by falling from the sky and landing in the ocean, the strangeness begins as he runs to her aid in the night as she screams from nightmares that haunt her. But he runs to her before she starts screaming and the nightmares turn out to be foreshadowing of a very real danger. Stranger still is the uncanny pull toward each other, almost as if they were destined to be together.

But Jaros has no memory of his life and it turns out he isn't supposed to. When the two escape from the Gronch after blowing up Kayla's house and then find themselves facing down the enemy while floating in space, Jaros expresses his feelings. Not long after that they both awake inside of another ship. They've been rescued and are right where they need to be, for the time being. Jaros takes a memory unblocker pill and remembers who he is. Meanwhile Kayla is given lessons in telepathy and telekinesis.

From there the story gets active with the threat of intergalactic war and the picture becomes clearer as Kayla is told about the colony of Alceron. It seems that many of the Earth's UFO sightings and abductions were likely due to this colonization and the desire to build an army of humanoids with telekinetic powers. All in the process of protecting the planet of course, from the Gronch. Will the war be a huge loss for Alceron and Prince Jaros? Will Kayla discover why she is so drawn to this man? Will the Earth be in danger as our evolution in technology and telepathic abilities develop?

Chris Pugmire has written a delicious bit of entertaining Sci Fi. One can't help but compare it positively to the wit and delight of watching classic Start Trek and rooting for one's favorite characters. The use of technology is at a perfect level. Who doesn't like a good house computer that will clean, turn down lights and cook, albeit badly? The mixture of adventure, action, fun, romance, mystery and intrigue all roll up into a very good read.