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, January 26, 2006

Memoir,Religious Mythology Review

The Dharma Videos Of Lust And Bust: A Novel of Religious Mysteries
by Anoop Chandola
ISBN-10: 1419611445
Review by Heather Froeschl

Where does our mythology, religion, and belief system end and where does culture, social custom and individualism begin? Is there any distinction really? In the novel "The Dharma Videos of Lust and Bust" author Anoop Chandola, PhD, explores this notion and allows readers to take what they will from the wisdom he shares.

A Sociolinguistic professor and Hindu priest, Dr. Chaube, upon retirement as a professor in America, is given a package of video tapes from the people he has assisted over the years in various ceremonies. Each tape shows the ceremony and evokes the professor's memory of the personal interaction. His help goes beyond performing the specific ceremony and includes helping the participants to fully understand the meaning of it and what it represents in life. The narrative memory then becomes a lesson in mythology and religious belief instruction, complete with tales of old. It is a rich lesson, and each video, each chapter of the book, becomes an interesting contemplation of how our beliefs, customs, and social interactions shape who we are, as well as how they affect the characters in the book.

At times the professor encourages the people he is helping to turn away from certain beliefs and customs, inspiring them to think for themselves with the benefit of knowing the background of tradition, thus reinventing it. It is an honor to the old ways with respect to conventional thought. There are discussions of recent and current politics, attitudes towards women, human rights and much more. All are presented in such an enlightening way that the book could really be used in social study aspects. The professor also gives continuing lessons in linguistics, which is very interesting indeed.

I found the book refreshing in its exploration of Indian mythology and tradition and also in the social influence these things have on us. The political message in the last part of the book, that "no war is holy," is one that I agree with and feel must be highlighted as one of the greatest wisdoms in the novel. There is so much more to say about this book but I feel that giving it my highest recommendation will have to be sufficient.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Mystery Review

Witness at the Bridge
by Gini Anding
ISBN-10: 0595366465
Review by Heather Froeschl

Return to Paris where mystery seems to surround Amy Page, a middle aged American enjoying an extended stay on the Ile Saint-Louis. In the middle of the night the phone brings the news to Amy and her lover, Inspector Jean-Michel Jolivet, that a man has been found, murdered. The victim is someone whom Amy knows from back in the states, and someone whom she just had lunch with in Paris. She seems to have been the last person to see him alive, save for his murderer.
The plot thickens, as Amy's story is unraveled. She had accompanied the man on a shopping spree that would rival one of Paris Hilton's. Jewels, expensive perfumes, and high-end lingerie were acquired, lunch consumed and then a hasty departure on Amy's account, due to an oncoming storm. Every detail is meticulously reported to Jean-Michel's office in hopes of discovering any clues to the man's death. The focus is shifted then, as Amy's flat is broken into, she is nearly raped, and she shoots the perpetrators in self-defense. What could one event have to do with the other? What could any of this have to do with a new designer drug that is showing up on both sides of the pond?

Even more plot twists develop as Jean-Michel and Amy try to sort things through, including their romantic relationship. Things have progressed and emotions run strong and deep. So why won't Amy consent to moving in with him? That in itself is a mystery that both parties contemplate throughout the book.

Gini Anding's writing is a delicious mix of mystery, romance and traditional whodunit. Woven into the tale are background details of history and tidbits of interest about Ile Saint-Louis. Readers will feel as though they have visited in person. While it is enjoyable to read this second Amy Page/Jean-Michel Jolivet tale, it is by no means a prerequisite to have read the first. The novels stand on their own as works of fiction, but readers are lucky to have both books available.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Non-Fiction/Self Help Review

24/7 or Dead: A Handbook for Families with a Loved One in the Hospital
by Jari Holland Buck
ISBN-10: 142085982X
Review by Heather Froeschl

When your loved one is in the hospital you want to be able to trust that things will be okay, you want to be able to focus on simply loving the person, holding their hand and being supportive. Unfortunately, while we need to do that, we need to do so much more. Becoming an advocate for your loved one is now so vitally important. Jari Holland Buck’s book should be required reading for every American.

Jari has been there and done that and you will thank her for telling her story so that you can learn from it. She is a non-medical person, a regular, every day woman, whose advocacy for her husband Bill more than likely, nearly absolutely, saved his life. He was in four different hospitals over the course of nearly nine months. She was by his side 24/7. Because of her witness and attention to every detail of his treatment she was able to advocate for what was best for him, at numerous moments of dire need. Bill nearly died, several times. If Jari hadn’t been there, he likely wouldn’t be here today.

What did she do and how did she do it? Jari shares her story but also offers advice to readers in the position of being a loved one’s advocate. From the very first moments of hospitalization, to dealing with the hospital’s policies on patient files, rooming in, permissions for treatment etc., to Power of Attorney, Living Wills, Patient Rights and most important, taking care of yourself, Jari offers guidance in every step and instance. Each chapter is detailed and covers the topic in a no-nonsense, been there-done that sort of way. Readers will have an understanding of Jari and Bill’s experience but will also learn a great deal and have applicable steps to take in being an advocate themselves.

24/7 or Dead is straightforward, well written and easy to understand. It is a learning tool in layman’s terms. Gentle and open for those in grave need and morale boosting support for those ready to take action. I trust that all who read it become the latter.

I only wish I’d had this book to guide me in earlier needs. Patients and their loved ones do not have to sit placidly and silently obey what the mighty doctor has to say. This isn’t an attack on doctors, nurses or hospitals but it is a call to become a partner with those medical professionals. Through this partnership we can all help our loved ones and avoid unnecessary mistakes. Don’t wait until you need this book to read it. In any medical circumstance, dire or routine, you are best to be aware of what you can do to be an advocate, for yourself, and for your loved ones.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Romance/Fiction Review

Island Fury
by Patria D. Pettingell
ISBN-10: 1413765459
Review by Heather Froeschl

The islands are more than a vacation spot for Cornelia Thornton; she has taken on the role of the wife of a sugar cane plantation overseer. With this come a plantation house, housekeeper, horses, and all too much time on her hands. Cornelia defies her new husband and explores the island on her own. He fears danger; she seeks out the camaraderie of people and the chance to make a difference in the world.

Assisting the local doctor, Cornelia comes to learn a good deal about the families of the sugar cane workers. She makes a dear friend at the library in town and soon discovers there is a lot going on in paradise...the island's Democratic government was taken over five years previous and the current situation is anything but a tranquil island setting. The mysterious feel of the land takes over Cornelia's senses as she one day wanders too far on horseback and is taken by force to visit with the owner of a nearby coffee bean plantation. Why do thoughts of this compelling man haunt her dreams? Will Cornelia's fragile marriage survive her unhappiness and rebellion?

In a story that is so much more than a simple romance, Patria Diaz Pettingell captures the reader's attention and holds it hostage until the very last page. Full of mystery, rebellion, desire, and a political coup, "Island Fury" offers a read that is well rounded and downright page turning. Her characters are full of life, her settings rich with nature and island appeal.

I recommend this book to anyone wishing to take an island hopping adventure, at least in the mind.

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Memoir Review

Lake Journal
by Thomas Schlueter
ISBN-10: 1413489729
Review by Heather Froeschl

Having been touched by a cabin on a lake myself, Tom Schlueter's "Lake Journal" brought back that feeling of escape, if only in my mind. Even if you haven't spent time in a real cabin yourself this book of essays will bring you there, or close to it.

Schlueter's Wisconsin cabin was built by his grandfather, and his essays explore every aspect of it. His memories of family times and alone times fill this journal with reminiscences that are very much a part of Americana. The lessons his grandfather passed on are just as valuable, if not more so, than the cabin itself. With wonder at nature, finding a respect and awe for the forest, through sad times and happy moments of reflection, Schlueter shares his little piece of heaven on earth.

From summer days spent fishing and paddling about in the lake to winter visits that brought the challenge of traversing the frozen waters and taking hours to warm the cabin up enough to sit down without freezing, every season is admired. The escape from daily life is what a cabin on a lake is usually about, but Schlueter helps readers to understand that it is not just an escape but a reconnection with what is truly, nature, and self.

The book is a delightful read, an escape in itself, and should find its way into the hands of every cabin-goer, perhaps into every cabin to be enjoyed by generations to come.