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, March 31, 2006

Biblical Story retold Review

David And Bath Sheba
by Aida Bode
ISBN-10: 1419606689
Review by Heather Froeschl

Take a story from the bible and make it so that people of today can really relate to it. This is what Aida Bode has done. "David and Bath Sheba" is based on the bible story of David, the shepherd boy, the one who faced Goliath, and became king. What readers take away from the story is a very personal thing.
David is the king and Uriah is one of his most able and trustworthy military leaders. While Uriah is away at war David looks down from his castle and sees the beautiful Bath-Sheba, Uriah's wife. Unable to resist her beauty he has her brought to him, and being the king, does what he will. It is soon discovered afterward that Bath-Sheba is with child from this adulterous union. What should they do? The law says that they should be put to death. Put the king to death? Unlikely.

David attempts to get Uriah back into bed with Bath-Sheba by calling back the military party for an update and "reward" for their good work, in hopes that the truth will never be known. Uriah though, is a man of honor and will not take pleasure in even the company of his wife when there is work to be done, other men in the trenches of combat. That plan foiled, David resorts to, what is in essence, murder. He sends Uriah into the depths of the battle. Will Uriah survive? What will happen to Bath-Sheba and her unborn child...the child of the king? Will the sins of the king be punished?

The text is well written, telling the story in rich detail and respectful tone. What the reader comes to understand is a matter of personal belief and opinion. "David and Bath Sheba" is an interesting tale and has been given a fresher voice.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Children's Picture Book Review

The No More Night Mares
by Dawn Van Zandt
ISBN-10: 0976176815
Review by Heather Froeschl

In honor of the once great herds of wild horses, the legend of Comet, Moonbeam and Lucky Stars – the night mares, is born. For all the magic and wonder that the herds instill in our hearts, the essence of the night mares shines down from the midnight sky granting wishes from the stars.

The beautifully illustrated, magical book, “The No More Night Mares,” is an inspiration – but more than that, it is a dream weaver, a mind-expanding myth, and a mystical tale of moral guidance and love. What child doesn’t dream of horses or wish upon a star?

Eclipse is the fastest and strongest stallion in his territory. He is the leader of his herd and is blessed by the protection of the night. He moves his herd of females and foals through the fog and darkness so that their greatest danger, man, does not detect them. Having been captured as a foal with his mother, Eclipse’s escape has made him very wise. One night though, even he is unaware of lurking danger.

A friendly rival, Golden Earth, races to warn Eclipse of an approaching herd of two-legged hunters. Dividing the herd, sending the slowest of his mares and the foals to safety with Golden Earth, Eclipse gathers his fastest mares to draw the humans away. What happens next is the stuff legends are made of. The mares become guiding lights forever more.

Creating a legend is not easy, but Wild Heart Ranch, with author Dawn Van Zandt and illustrator Kim McElroy have done so, inspiringly. Appealing to horse lovers of all ages, and anyone who gazes at the stars in wonder, “The No More Night Mares” is a book to be treasured.

True Story Collection Review

Angels Abound
by Zsuzsana Summer
ISBN-10: 1897217323
Review by Heather Froeschl

Do you know what happens every time a bell rings? Do you believe in angels? Chances are that you do, just a little. Zsuzsana Summer’s book “Angels Abound,” will undoubtedly persuade you to trust that belief. With 111 true stories of angel and spirit encounters, readers will feel blessed to witness this collection. (111 is said to be a sign that angels abound – pay attention to the messages from beyond!)

Zsuzsana starts the book with a reminder of who or what angels are and shares an experience of her own with heavenly beings. The stories themselves are written by her readers and cover a plethora of spiritual encounters. Some of the stories feel more like psychic connections with loved ones, while others are the very image of a spirit guardian encounter. All of the stories are touching proof positive of something miraculous happening.

This book is a gift to the world…it is a reminder to look around you and have an open mind, for some spiritual guidance may be waiting for you. I enjoyed every moment spent reading “Angels Abound” and I am sure I will go back to it again and again. A perfect present for everyone you love, and especially yourself, I highly recommend Zsuzsana Summer’s collection of miracles.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Non-Fiction Directory Review

Extra Work for Brain Surgeons: A Hollywood OS Directory
by Angela Bertolino
ISBN-10: 1893899241
Review by Heather Froeschl
Have you ever longed to walk through a scene on a set featuring your favorite soap stars? Have you wondered how you could be one of those people eating pasta in a restaurant scene behind the great actors like George Clooney or Will Smith? If you've been trying to break into the Extra world you absolutely have to have a copy of "Extra Work For Brain Surgeons." It is the extreme guide to Extra-hood. Honestly, I don't know where else you would look for this much helpful information.

Having been there (Los Angeles) and done that (paying way too high registration fees for not much return) Co-Founder and CEO Angela Bertolino decided it was time that there was a truly helpful guide for newbies to the extra set. Teaming up with Co-Founder Carla Lewis, Hollywood OS was born. Now, this annual directory is a must have for every walk on wannabe.

You'll find it all here...what exactly you can expect as an extra, why you'd want to be a member of SAG or AFTRA, how to get paid for extra-extra work, what vouchers are, what the new point system is going to be like, how to get your name and headshots out there, why you should register and how much you can expect to pay for registering with casting companies, and oh so much more. This is truly the "how-to" guide for actors and actresses wanting to do walk-ons. More than that though, it is a why-to, when-to, who-to go to book. And then there is the whole second half of the book that lists casting companies, what their fees are, what types they usually cast, how long they've been in business, what they won't tolerate from background actors, what they will allow, what they will do for you, and inside scoops. Looking for an agent? The book will give you pointers. Need help with your resume? Yep, that too. Don't know what a "meat axe" could be? How about a "wigwag?" Don't worry! The book even has a glossary of unusual acting terms.

I live on the east coast, I don't act and I've never had an interest in it. But this book could help even a person like me find work, if I moved to Hollywood. Yes, it is a regional guide, but I doubt there is a more comprehensive one out there! Not only that, but the book is entertaining. Written in an easy going, friendly voice, reminding readers not to skip certain sections and making even the mundane side of extra work interesting (filling out forms, taxes, and labor codes), "Background" actors will find the read not only imperative, but enjoyable.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Memoir/Relationship book Review

The Just Friends Syndrome: Memoirs of a shy guy's search for true love
by Johnny L Williams
ISBN-10: 059536618X
Review by Heather Froeschl

It's something we all fear, those words; "I just like you as a friend." The risks involved with love are well worth it, but still, deep down it is a scary thing to take the next step, take the girl's hand, write that boy a note asking the ultimate question, "Do you like me?" In Johnny L. Williams' "The Just Friends Syndrome," nine females are given the opportunity to be more than a friend, but only one takes the chance.

The book follows through adolescence to adulthood, one young man in search of love, satisfaction in life, and answering the call he has heard. Starting with his best friend's little sister, he reaches out in hopes of having a girlfriend. Through sports, the prom, college, and working as a linguist, he keeps one eye open for the possibility of love. Every one of eight girls eventually gives him the "just friends" talk. Eventually though, one woman seems to be more than just his friend.

The author classifies this book as fiction but admits that it is based on his own life story. I would call it more of a Fictionalized Christian Autobiography. This book isn't just about relationships, but rather includes the story of his school and career choices, his calling to the ministry and his mission to help a man in Mexico to translate the Bible into an as yet unwritten language, Mixtec. It is well written, with an intimate feel given the depth of emotions the author shares. It isn't often that the male perspective of feelings and vulnerability is so openly communicated. An interesting read; I enjoyed visiting the male psyche.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

YA Fiction Review

Reluctant Goddess: Kleopatra And the Stolen Throne
by Dharma Windham
ISBN-10: 0741430924
Review by Heather Froeschl

Young Kleopatra, the third youngest daughter of King Auletes Ptolemy, studies in the Great Library with Sosogines of Heliopolis, as well as in the Gymnasion, throwing lances and running, under the guidance of her loyal Sword-Bearer, Timoxenos. She is a well-rounded princess who learns to speak Egyptian in order to understand her father's people. One to help the poor and save the oppressed, she is destined for greatness.

Her training does her well when at age 15 she is forced to leave the palace in Alexandria as her father is forced from the throne. She is safely ensconced for a while, under the care of Memnes, the high priest of Heliopolis, as her father travels to Rome in hopes of raising an army. What evil has overthrown the King? None other than Kleopatra's sister, Berenike.

As Kleopatra escapes from hiding place to hiding place, her sister's army searching for her, she develops her skills and is blessed by the Gods and Goddesses with talents and powers beyond her imagining. With Timoxenos ever by her side, she faces daimons, evils and days of war. As an initiate in Hermetic Magic, Kleopatra learns that the great evil in Egypt is not just her sister but also the Lord of Chaos, Seth-Typhon. Will the great Phoenix, Hermes, and Wedjoyet be able to help her? Even they realize that only the Goddess of Ten Thousand Names can save Egypt.

In an epic tale of Gods and Goddesses, Kings and Princesses, author Dharma Windham has created a novel of excitement, romance, magic, and morals. It is an in-depth look at Egypt and royalty wrapped up in an entrancing story of heroism, justice and bravery. The characters come to life complete with natural urges, rude behaviors, human flaws and deep desires. The plot twists and expands like an ever-changing force of war.

Not your usual work of fiction in these days and I was truly satisfied reading the tale of the "Reluctant Goddess."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Humor Review

Sobering Inebriation
by Louis Dvoretzky
ISBN-10: 0976689014
Review by Heather Froeschl

Being intentionally "punny" is a talent that takes years to fine tune. Louis Dvoretzky has done it. In his new book "Sobering Inebriation," he offers a second look at random nonsense. Each page is like visiting a wacky uncle who is never at a loss for something to say. There's one in every family and now you can get the feel of those visits in book form.

The author touches on every topic imaginable, from bird flu to the fine print in insurance policies, and from gurus to the president. Nothing is sacred in his attempts at humor, plays on words, and attacks on good taste. It is a hysterical book - not historical, and no it isn't running away screaming down the street. (This is the way you start to think after spending some time with the book!)

This isn't a sit down to read for hours book. I daresay one might take leave of their senses if it were so. I did it so that I could offer my opinion here and my opinion is this: taken in small doses, like those visits with your wacky uncle, "Sobering Inebriation" is an entertaining read. It would make a wonderful "throne" companion, and the perfect choice for some light reading while cooking. One might even wish to purchase an extra copy to give as an un-birthday gift to that special someone.

I am delighted to recommend this book to anyone wishing to delve into "cleverisms, stupidisms, and whizdums." It's pure fun in that oh-my-gosh-I-can't-believe-I-laughed-at-that way.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Fiction Review

Think Back to Tomorrow
by David Truskoff
ISBN-10: 1401079733
Review by Heather Froeschl

It is 2002 and Hank Lesko is in the hospital awaiting surgery in the morning. His wife prompts him to remember when they'd met some 50 years previous. He takes the time to think back on his youth, his football days, his boot camp time, his Navy gig, his first love, and meeting his lifetime partner. This look back is a history lesson come alive for the reader, and is a tender story of life in America.

Hank was a genius and Hank was a football player. His first love was immeasurable in a time when war made men and women of teens, overnight. The Navy proved a rite of passage like no other and turned out men changed forever. Hank made lifelong friends and faced life-altering events with the steadfastness of a man twice his age. He loved passionately, and accepted fate fiercely.

The story follows a young man coming of age, finding love, discovering himself, and finding love again. It is a classic American tale, well written and richly described. David Truskoff offers a glimpse at the pain and passion of becoming a man during the 1940's. It was a time when life choices were made for the youth who would put their lives on the line and there was little they could do about it. No one could control their feelings though, and "Think Back to Tomorrow" certainly proves that.

Readers will laugh and cry with the characters in this book; they will get lost in a world that is all too real and true. Well done!

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Fiction/Sci Fi Review

Chromosome 8
by Peter Holt
ISBN-10: 1596871539
review by Heather Froeschl

It all started with a fish trying to escape the circle of life...evolution. Some scoff, and some say that man is still evolving. Just where will this evolution take us? Perhaps where we do not hope to go. Peter Holt has penned a novel so daring as to examine the possibilities. "Chromosome 8" is by far the best book I have read in a very long time.

Biologist Marcus Oden and geologist Nick Kondos are the entire staff of the Ocean Sciences Institute, a small, grant-run entity that frequents the Pacific performing various sea science missions. It's a living, but it also enables Marcus to continue his search for the wife he lost to these waters. Her tiny sailboat usurped by the vast ocean. An alarming number of vessels have been lost in this far corner of the South Pacific, and in learning of their demise Marcus will also stumble upon things he cannot fathom.

Called to help in the rescue of a small submersible, Marcus and Nick find themselves in a throwback violent culture of Polynesian warriors who are led by the Yale schooled Paramount Chief Pelemodo. This Chief has made great strides to return to the traditional gods and culture of the island, complete with cannibalism. He wants nothing to do with the white men and their ways. Also on the island is Dr. Gastro Nister, a combination Dr. Frankenstien and Einstein whose greatest flaw was loving his daughter too much to let her die. His intervention, a change in her DNA, could be the downfall of human kind as we know it. Katya is every bit as brilliant as her father but fans the flames of an even deeper-seated protect and expand her genes at all costs.

The book is akin to "Lord of the Flies," and "Jurassic Park." It is so compelling as to entice the reader to keep turning pages well into the night. I dare say some would call in sick to work to continue reading. The characters are expertly drawn, the setting exquisite (like a Venus Fly Trap), the descriptive writing very well done, but it is the idea of it that is so captivating and the science explained well enough to be believable. "Chromosome 8" is a page turning, nail biter that will leave the reader wondering "what if?" I highly recommend the book to readers of all genres - you will not be disappointed.

Monday, March 6, 2006

Fiction Review

The Songs of Galileo: Book 1: Voice of God
by M. T. Jones
ISBN-10: 1598001949
Review by Heather Froeschl

In these days of religious and cultural intolerance the world might benefit from some guidance. What is the answer to world peace? Angel Waters is about to tell us. Angel is the lead singer in a contemporary Christian band and he is going to spread the word. But it isn't what you might think. Angel's message is about tolerance for other religions, doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, banishing prejudices and loving one another. The band he is with isn't all that thrilled, and they become downright irrational when Angel reveals that God communicates with him - making him God's newest messenger.
Angel is brought up in a fundamentalist Christian foster home. He has no clue what other religions offer and is not even allowed to listen to rock music. But when his high school music teacher sees in him a raw talent for singing, he discovers a whole new world. Creating a garage band is the first step, being recruited by a bigger band and going on tour is the second. Along the way, Angel finds peace of mind in Tae Kwon Do, love in his high school sweetheart, and a maturity beyond his years. But when God starts communicating with him, instilling knowledge and messages He wants revealed, things get a little wild for Angel. Will he be able to continue to reach the masses through his songs?

The religious Right do not want to hear that God is speaking to a teenaged boy...especially one of mixed race. Fundamentalists go crazy with accusations and even his own band thinks he is schizophrenic instead of blessed. Is the world ready to learn that traditional beliefs are mostly wrong? Are we ready to listen to the latest messages from God?

Author M.T. Jones offers a novel idea...tolerance for differences. Spoken through the mouth of Angel Waters, there are some wonderful points made in this book. Of course not everyone will think they are wonderful and some readers will react the same way that some of the minor characters in the book do. In today's crazy world, words of guidance in the way of tolerance are just what we all need. Sheryl Crow, with her new song "Letters to God," seems to think so too. "Voice of God," Book 1 in The Songs of Galileo trilogy is a strong message in fictional form. Well written and full of plot and passion, it is sure to become a hit. This could easily become a movie - although a controversial one. Personally, I would love to see it. I look forward to the next installments of Angel's life.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Children's Book Review

Dark Tales of the Tower
by Donna G. Munch
ISBN-10: 1932196714
Review by Heather Froeschl

Twelve-year-old Chloe Pippin has a little problem holding her temper. When she gets into a scuffle at school her lesson in anger management begins with suspension, embarrassment and two weeks of after school classes. Is this enough to teach Chloe to count to ten when angry? When Chloe's parents decide to send her and brother Luke to visit with their Uncle Wills in England for three weeks, the lessons are almost forgotten.

With a local boy as guide to the behind-the-tourist scene, Chloe and Luke learn about the darker side of London Tower. They hear the ghost stories and the gruesome tales of beheadings at every turn. Mischief finds them and there are a few times when Chloe forgets her anger management. One time in particular lands her in a precarious position. Will it take a visit from some spirits to help her truly learn her lesson?

Donna Munch has written an interesting tale for middle readers. Learning about some of London's history is fascinating, and her settings are full of historic facts. Readers will enjoy the King's English as Uncle Wills acclimates the children to a culture different from America. The plot was a little slow in some instances and I would have liked to see the storyline revolve more around Chloe's issues and more ghostly encounters. However it is a fun read and truly gives the feel of being in jolly old England.