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.

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.