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.

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.