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, December 20, 2007

Non-Fiction Review

Spirits in the Garden
by Joan Solomon
ISBN-10: 097861660X
Review by Heather Froeschl


If only we would take a moment to stop and not only smell but really see the roses, it may be revealed that the spirits of nature are beckoning to us to pay attention. Joan Solomon offers a spectacular look through her own eyes in her book, “Spirits in the Garden.” This award winning collection of photographs is a treasure and a promise to the planet.

Throughout time, cultures have embraced the spirits of nature, calling them fairies, gnomes, sprites and leprechauns and spreading tales of magic and mischief. Taking a closer look at our natural surroundings, evidence of familiar sights can be found, perhaps even proof of the myths. Solomon finds the faces of the Iris dragon, the Yarrow flying gargoyle, and the Wild Violet gnome. In untouched photographs, she points out what is waiting to be discovered. Sharing the homeopathic herbal properties of numerous plants, the author exposes her admiration and respect for nature’s gifts. From a stomach soothing dill tea to delicious violet jelly, readers will delight in several recipes for reconnecting with nature. And that is the whole point, this need to reach out and experience the joy of our natural world.

“Spirits in the Garden” is a reminder that all life is connected and if we open our eyes and our minds, we can find delight in the simplest, exquisite blossom. After pouring over the offerings in this book you will find yourself looking closer at your own garden, the trees in the park, the flowers on your desk, and you will be inspired. To my delight, a portion of all proceeds from the work of Joan Solomon is dedicated to environmental and animal concerns. Can it get any better than that?

Historical Fiction Review

Shades of Gray
by Jessica James
ISBN-10: 0979600006
Review by Heather Froeschl



There was a divide among the states, among brothers, families, and friends. There was a common ground, in honor. Jessica James’ book, “Shades of Gray,” is a novel about the Civil War in Virginia, but it is more about the honor and dedication, beliefs and convictions of both sides, than about the battles themselves.

Captain Hunter, a Confederate cavalry officer, is a fierce and worthy opponent to the Union. His determination and cunning is respected and feared. He’d never met an equal on the field, until a Union spy came face to face with him at a river crossing. Sinclair, with an imposing beast of a black horse, was a legend, escaping the grips of death again and again. These two foes would hunt each other, evade each other, and eventually, save each other’s lives. Sinclair holds more secrets than the future plans of the southern forces; Sinclair is a woman in scout’s disguise. Known only to her cousin’s husband, Colonel Jordan, she is sent on missions to deliver messages, bring back information, and try to stay alive. Her desire to fight for her beliefs leads her to much more; going up against the famed Hunter becomes a challenge she cannot stop herself from pursuing. What she ends up allowing herself to do is well beyond what is expected, or accepted in the days of the Civil War.

Capturing the reader’s attention from the start, Jessica James offers a different sort of historical fiction. While the conflicts and skirmishes are detailed and enthralling, the feeling within the soldier is what is so important here. The passion and depth of convictions is clear, respectfully portrayed on both sides, to a point. The plot is intricate with southern nuances, northern straightforwardness and the inner and outer battles of war. The humanity of feelings we cannot control is an outreach that will hit home. Life does go on, even in the middle of hell on earth.

Well written and expertly executed, this novel is sure to be embraced by readers of many genres. Surely, anyone interested in history, the War Between the States, or Virginia herself, will love it. Jessica James brings readers into the very minds of those who were there; you cannot leave this book unchanged in your understanding of the souls of the Civil War.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Fiction Review

Thursdays with Death
By Scott Knutson
ISBN-10: 1430318481
Review by Heather Froeschl


Loss is the key to finding. Without losing control, how do know you need to find it again? Without losing love, how do you know it is worth seeking out? In Scott Knutson’s book, “Thursdays with Death,” readers will take a spiritual journey unlike any other, and they may find an understanding about life that they hadn’t realized they were missing.

Looking for answers, as we all are, Lanny Stone invited a spiritual guide into his life. He was surprised to find that his teacher was Death. In a game of poker, he places a bet and come up in debt. Debts must be paid and Lanny signs a contract. Now, Lanny Stone has a standing appointment with The Grim Reaper, on Thursdays, at 9am. During these appointments it is learned that Death adores Krispy Kreme donuts, as well as other interesting things about past lives, present plans, and future opportunities. Other realities are now in view and Lanny is learning to be open to them. As far as spiritual lessons go, he is getting the Cliffs Notes version in a hurry. Surprisingly though, this doesn’t all seem like new material to him. He begins to understand life, and death, as well as his teacher, Death himself. It does come as a bit of a surprise, at least to the reader, when Lanny learns that there isn’t just one being known as Death. He wonders what The Grim Reaper is getting out of these visits, and this contract, besides all the donuts he can inhale. What could Death possibly want from Lanny Stone?

This entertaining, fast paced, deceivingly simple read is actually a lot deeper than you might first think. The humor involved (and dealing with death with humor is much better than dealing with it with sorrow) lightens the impact of spiritual lessons. The hope and promise of better things, the non-permanence of death, the lighter look at a sometimes terrifying icon, is a testament to the author’s spirituality. The writing style is modern and fun; the plot one that is fresh and deliciously twisted. I simply adored reading “Thursdays with Death” and hope to see more from this author soon.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Author Interview: John Reyer Afamasaga

Interview with author John Reyer Afamasaga regarding his Emotional Techno Fiction

etfiction: Emotional Techno Fiction was conceptualized by John Reyer Afamasaga in 2001, a novice free-eBook-author, who believed that he has to synthetically create his work, due to his lack of ability, experience and finesse as a writer.

A number of slants are presented by etfiction as to the relevance of its roots being steeped in music, rather than just literature.

He takes the word Techno, in two senses. First, in relating to the style and type of music DJs produced from sampling other peoples’ recordings. Second, relating its technical connotations, referencing the DJ and their approach to creating their music, because of their use of turntables and samplers in the place of instruments.

etfiction is a story telling technique, which takes its development and deployment method, in principle, from the way DJs create their dance tracks.

In 2007, the novice looks to attract the attention of publishing houses, in his aim to get the free online eBook publisher etfiction’s books into the most classic of editions – print.

Heather: Afamasaga, aside from the principles and theoretical stuff, what’s the practical application of DJing to writing books? If at all there are any?

Afamasaga: Simile, techno, technique. The rig, turntables, PC, Apple Mac, Laptop or media playing device is the pen. The record, disc, audio or digital file is the same as an authors’ ink. The mixed track is the idea. The feeling from the crowd makes emotion. The experience is often as surreal as fiction.

Heather: So this is your method of writing?

Afamasaga: It’s a development process. I am conscious of it when I write; its part of that security blanket we find in having created our own way of writing, because I used to get so much flak about the way I wrote. I decided no one can tell me that it’s wrong, clumsy or lousy, as it is my genre. Of course there are the universal groupings that all written communication come under, is it “rubbish” or is it “worth reading”?

I always say to myself before I sit down at the keyboard: “The ‘Impassioned’ DJ is about to perform his ‘Plausible’, yet still ‘Colorful’ set.”

Heather: Go on…

Afamasaga: Impassioned - etfiction relies on fuel; inspiration, the power of some passion. The writer, prior to beginning the writing process, must be at the point where they have no choice but to perform their task of putting into words, what they instinctively know and now wholeheartedly believe. This may produce questionable reason and even challengeable facts due to the stream of consciousness that runs through the writer and out onto their pages of words.

Plausible - etfiction must, over a long passage, provide a concept, complete so as to stimulate conversation, that is Intertextually self fulfilling in both fact, according to the narrator, and acceptable in sensibility to the reader, making etfiction plausible.

Colorful - Similar to a DJ’s output, a record which may include many different samples from many genres, eras and styles, etfiction is at mercy of whims, tangents, and exaggerations by the Author, or Narrator, which are permissible as deemed necessary under the heading, Impassioned.

Heather: Your slogan is “A narrative from a Pacific Islander who speaks through an illiterate in America.” Is this a derogatory remark against the US?

Afamasaga: No, it’s not. It’s actually much simpler than that; it’s a compliment to my lead character John Lazoo. He can’t read or write, but it takes Lazoo to put this whole show together.

Heather: John Lazoo was your first book, after reading the second, WIPE, and then Illicit Blade of Grass, I often got the feeling that your were almost rambling, angry, almost like voices you often refer to. Were you hearing these voices?

Afamasaga: Of course, as did the characters Lazoo, John Page, Metofeaz, Le Mac, Polina. Yeah, I’ve always heard voices.

Heather: Did you ever seek help?

Afamasaga: What for? Actually I did, but I was told I can’t be schizophrenic, or I wouldn’t be able to differentiate between the voices outside and inside of my head. Maybe depressed, delusional, imbalanced and a bit paranoid, but who isn’t, ah?

Heather: Lazoo, Metofeaz, Le Mac, and Afamasaga, are they real?

Afamasaga: Of course they’re real. Lazoo is the Id, Metofeaz is the Ego, Afamasaga is the Super-Ego.

Heather: And Jon Le Mac?

Afamasaga: Jon Le Mac is everyman and his dog, that Lazoo refers to as MICE, he is actually, what bridges the divide between LMLA-ink and the markets. Everyone loves Le Mac and Le Mac loves everyone.

Heather: So Jon Le Mac is who I am interviewing?

Afamasaga: You’re interviewing me, which is when Lazoo and Afamasaga agree.

Heather: What happens when Lazoo and Afamasaga disagree?

Afamasaga: Then Metofeaz goes on a writing rampage, and Le Mac starts to carelessly mass market the work. Lazoo goes inside himself, Afamasaga vanishes and we just cross our fingers that Lazoo, or Afamasaga can save the day at the end of the carnival.

Heather: Your stuff is almost diary writing if you take out the settings and the character names.

Afamasaga: As is a lot of stuff by new authors or the stuff that one tends to feel most about, which causes them to first put pen to paper in a serial manner.

Heather: Are you worried about being considered brash as to suggest you have created a genre of your own?

Afamasaga: No one really knows or cares. If I get a job writing copy in a newspaper, I’d be happy. It was meant to be therapeutic, a career change, and a reinvention of myself.

Heather: You say that you lacked the ability, experience and finesse to write and this is the reason why you designed etfiction?

Afamasaga: The erection of the structure (etfiction) within which I felt safe and eventually comfortable that I could produce work was only part of the impetus required to achieve all that had to be found, sorted and presented. At this very time I was also going through huge emotional and personality changes, which I identified from having looked at Freud and then finally at Roberto Assagioli’s Psychosynthesis, an approach to psychology, which takes its origins from Psychoanalysis, but then announces that our growth requires spirituality to be distinctly acknowledged as a “hormonal vital” of our different layers to attain and sustain growth.

Heather: Hormonal Vital?

Afamasaga: It’s my little addition to the equation, showing my respect for Assagioli’s work. Freud was most definitely the pioneer who made the whole matter accessible, but for me and my religious upbringing, Roberto’s admission of the soul’s existence and its requirement of satisfaction in that Spirituality is fundamentally what really does set us aside from the linguistically confused animals. Oh, “Hormonal” in that, up till Roberto, the body of understanding was without soul, his addition was the regulator for me, and “vital” as to not clash with engrained Christianity, which I don’t really want to be seen selling, ok?

Furthermore, a part of Psychosynthesis that defines the changes from one person to another that I was going through – “Transmutation” was succinct; in my visualizing of what it was I had to do. In that the cross-fading of tracks by a DJ, was a perfect example of what had to be achieved in the smoothest possible way, while keeping the groove, so to speak. Firstly, I had to get beyond my past, so I could see where I was heading. Then I had to give a value to the person who I used to be, and not completely demonize that character, so I could call upon those experiences in a way which I use to darken my work, and then after recognizing the persona, I would have to change them, or move from one to the other. Yes, change into the person who I wished to be, but still have on call the experience of who I once was. Transmutation made this possible. In the end, instead of relying on the old persona as source of experience, the Mutation process I underwent left the mark I cannot forget, that being “change” (process), its dark lonely times is the emotive pool I dive into from time to time when I need to douse myself and intently the words, story and work in those darkening moods.

I also worked as DJ, for a while, in my younger days.

Other concepts I found complimentary to etfiction, were Astral Projection and its inducement through self hypnosis. And also, Active Sensoring: quieting the environment around you, from being inside the environment, from having actively listened to it, and then understanding it, and since you are actually a part of the environment now, you are not aware of its obliqueness anymore.

Heather: Is Psychosis a part of this seemingly eloborate act? According to Afamasaga it could have looked that way.

Afamasaga: There were times in my Transmutation where I was very disoriented, when I was disillousioned. Obviously the gouging of deep seated emotional systs, their excavation and airing, which was done quite violently in John Lazoo, could seem to be psychotic, but because the ID, and by now the EGO were pretty much in agreeance, of what we were up to, I knew we were of our own mind. But also, the Mutation I mentioned, personally for me, was a gouging; it’s not some teddy bear’s picnic, you know? A woman once told me that I was a brave man, not in a macho way, but in the way I face up to issues, deep, from when one was young.

Heather: Who was the woman?

Afamasaga: Lotte.

Heather: What’s the plan from here?

Afamasaga: Get a publishing contract, get married, and finish the ten books.

Heather: Sounds like a good plan.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fiction Review

WIPE
By John Reyer Afamasaga
ISBN: 978-0-9803486-1-3
Review by Heather Froeschl

We know how computer virus’ can enter our lives, sucking our information into cyberspace. What if that could happen literally? Pulling our very minds and personalities into a platform? This scary topic is the basis for John Reyer Afamasaga’s book, “WIPE.”

Two people are responsible for a video game that creates itself by drawing the ideas and inclinations through the controller the players hold in their hands. New levels are formed and the game grows as more people play. More people become part of the diversion. The largest gaming corporations are anxious to discover who has created this monster and the world looks on in anxiety and awe.

Meanwhile, a seven year old orphan girl in Russia dreams of a life full of love and devotion. Polina has a friend in Alexvale Rokov III, her penpal who lives in London. What do these two have to do with the game? Apparently a great deal more than anyone would suspect. One player, John Page, is given clues to how the online game works. Will he be the sole winner? Will he be the answer to young Polina’s prayers?

This novel is not for the easy reading set. It is challenging, sometimes confusing, if not downright chaotic. Perhaps the author did this on purpose, in the frenetic feel of online gaming and the scattered thoughts of young children in hectic circumstance. The characters become real, as if pulled from reality as in the plot. It is a wild ride based on a fantastical idea. Interesting and entertaining, stimulating, to say the least.

WIPE eBook download: http://www.etfiction.com/wipe/index.html
WIPE eBook review: http://www.etfiction.com/reviews/index

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Children's Book Review

The Day I Hit a Home Run at Great American Ball Park
by Paul Mullen
ISBN-10: 1933197293
Review by Heather Froeschl



The smack of the bat hitting the ball is a sound little leaguers and parents alike adore. Watching my boy play ball is one of my favorite things; seeing him reading is another. Paul Mullen’s “The Day I Hit a Home Run at Great American Ball Park” is a pretty pitch to aim for in both ballparks.

Michael “Fuji” Powers is coming into his own through a summer of baseball, the love of family, and the adventures of childhood. Getting his chance to prove himself on the field is what every ball player deserves and Michael gets his chance to shine. Neighborhood games and a first love, night fishing and selling candy bars are all part of the deal in what turns out to be a well rounded book that middle readers and adults will enjoy.

Michael endures the bully of the team, runs many laps to make amends for errors, and gets his shot at fame when the team’s second baseman gets drafted to another team. Playing at Great American Park was the dream; playing well becomes the goal.

This endearing tale of America’s favorite pastime, the importance of friends and family, and growing up just a little, is a great read. The plot runs smoothly and the story is fantastic. There was a bit of confusion in what year the tale takes place, only in reference to popular icons and the manner of speech of the characters. It is as if the author were capturing his own youth in print but putting it into a story of today. Overall, Paul Mullen has done an excellent job of offering an enticing read.

Non-Fiction Inspirational Review

All the Good in Sports
by Mike Sandrolini
ISBN-10: 0830744746
Review by Heather Froeschl



Sports personalities are so often revered for their physical accomplishments or else shunned for their moral faults. The world puts these people on a pedestal and expects them not to be human. Mike Sandrolini takes a closer look and finds something spectacular to cheer about in his offering, “All the Good in Sports: True Stories That go Beyond the Headlines.”

With twenty contemporary sports personalities, sportswriter Sandrolini goes behind the top scores and record breaking events to get personal with the special purpose of each of these stars. They are all quite human and reveal their humbling efforts to share their faith. Christian Hosoi, of skateboarding fame, shares his story of finding God in his jail cell. Mariano Rivera, Yankees’ 1999 World Series MVP, explains how he is grateful to God and how he enjoys gathering with young minor leaguers for Bible study. Mary Lou Retton, the famed gold medal winning gymnast, is now a motivational speaker and author and openly shares her dedication to being a Christian. Matt Hasselbeck, Ruth Riley, Payne Stewart, and Dave Downing, among others, also reveal their faith.

Clearly demonstrating that it’s not all about the multi millions, Wheaties boxes, and adoring fans, the athletes exhibited here are so much more. Author Mike Sandrolini presents a higher purpose than winning the game in his stories. Well presented and interesting to read, the collection is based on sports and faith. To any Christian sports enthusiast, this book is sure to be a huge inspiration.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Fiction Review

With A Gentleman's Heart
by Phillip J. Archer
ISBN-10: 1425962254
Review by Heather Froeschl



Does adult life begin at the turning of the clock on the twenty first birthday? We all know that it doesn’t…it could happen much before, or much later. In Phillip Archer’s novel, “With a Gentleman’s Heart” readers are given a glimpse into the making of a man and what I think is an atypical twenty year old.

Damon is a dedicated hard worker. He has two jobs to keep him busy and he has two roommates, one of which is a fun loving drinking buddy and the other is an ex-girlfriend close companion who there may still be feelings with. The lives of these friends revolve around work, college, and exploring the possibilities. When Damon’s twenty first birthday approaches he is against the typical celebratory plans and chooses to take a road trip by himself instead. Where he ends up and with whom, could possibly change his life. Was it the birthday that did it or the circumstances, or was he already a gentleman at heart? The past is brought into the present and it all comes crashing in together on the beach of South Carolina.

The novel is rich with life and displays a strong character in Damon. The style is a little formal for me, demanding a bit more attention than I am used to giving to reading fiction, but one does become used to it. The plot builds slowly, creating the atmosphere of young adulthood. Phillip Archer’s work here is interesting!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Fiction Review

Stingy Jack
by R. Scott Taylor
ISBN-10: 1601452691
Review by Heather Froeschl




Give the devil his due; he is a temptation. Luring souls into sin is his game, the prize being the souls to claim. In “Stingy Jack” by R. Scott Taylor, two souls may be about to escape the clutches of Old Scratch. One has been roaming the earth for centuries, the other may be about to do the same.

Adam is a thief. Quitting school and entering the college of hard knocks and real life, he began pilfering, swiping, stealing and surviving. He was tutored by Nicky, a greater thief and more sophisticated gentleman, who may be more than it would seem. There is a last big escapade in the works, one which could retire the pair if they aren’t too greedy. Plans are being made and this job might bring in millions. Adam becomes distracted though, first by a beautiful woman and then by a lurking shadow. It may be that the shadow is trying to make amends for his own sinful past, and he introduces himself as Jack.

Jack tells tales of Celtic lore, but really they are his own life story. He tricked the devil once or twice and bears the weight of his burdens. Adam listens intently, sharing hours and drinks at bars around Boston. Jack’s life was not an easy one but he made it worse by being a thief. He pilfered, swiped, stole, and survived for quite a while. He stole the heart of young Colleen and left her on her own. His dealings with the devil haunt him still. Will he be of assistance to Adam or is he just a lonely soul in search of spirits? Will Adam find his heart and then leave her to her own life as Jack had done? When making deals with Satan it might be hard to think straight.

This novel is a fast and fun read. There seems to be a fascination with people who cheat the system and the devil himself. Readers will get hooked by Adam and then again by Jack. The plot flows well, visiting Vegas, Boston, and old Ireland. Jack’s tales are my favorite, with the twisting in of mythology. An interesting novel; I enjoyed it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fiction Review

The Totality of All Being, Volume 1: Lucifer's Experiment
By Jane Joyce
ISBN-10: 0741441756
Review by Heather Froeschl


Free will…is it what makes us human? How did we come to have this choice to guide our lives? In “Lucifer’s Experiment” by Jane Joyce, it was the archangel Lucifer that gave us free will, in an experiment of earthly proportions. But Lucifer is not who most think he is. Is the trial a success? Or is it time for the earth to be resurfaced once again?

Incarnated as a young girl named Cameron, the archangel Lucifer conducts his experiment. Can the humans of earth ascend and heal the damage that they have done? The people of earth put out negative energy that affects the souls of other entities throughout the universe. The angelic beings gather to decide whether or not it is time to cancel the experiment and wipe clean the surface of the earth. Perhaps another flood or maybe a nuclear disaster would do the job but Lucifer appeals to the One Source and the beings of it to give earth a little more time. Incarnated as Cameron, the work begins to help humans become enlightened. Seeming miracles are performed and a plan is set into motion.

Can the healing of earth begin with a creation of a satellite planet named Lunar? Two scientists are part of the plan, set forth before they were even born, to create an atmosphere on the moon and develop living plantlife that can withstand the harsh environment. This will hopefully create a harmony with the earth that will begin to heal the negativity in the universe. But will the humans of earth embrace such a plan? Cameron begins to be seen as first an anti-Christ and then as a Messiah herself. This love is the seed that was needed. Will it continue to grow and flourish? And will it be enough to balance with another presence that is spreading over the earth as well?

Jane Joyce offers a voice of wisdom with messages of intellect, love and hope. In this fictional tale that could be seen as science fiction, fantasy, and even religious or zen, there is a message of enlightenment and universal acceptance. “The Totality of All Being” is the beginning of the title but it is also the underlying message of the book. This isn’t just an enjoyable read but one that will leave you thinking of possibilities you may have only dreamed about. I enjoyed connecting with some passages that have been thoughts of my own and being happily surprised that I was not alone in my thinking. I anticipate the release of any further writings of Jane Joyce. Weaving poetry and philosophy into an exciting work of fiction is an art form that this author is practicing, much to the delight of this reviewer.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Self Help/Inspirational Review

Eastern Wisdom for Your Soul
by Richard A. Singer
ISBN-10: 0979790808
Review by Heather Froeschl



Buddha said, “Although I showed you the means of liberation, you must know it depends on you alone.” Surely these must be the thoughts of author Richard A. Singer, Jr. regarding his latest work, Eastern Wisdom for Your Soul. Singer has done it again, offering guidance, and reminding us all that enlightenment is found within.

Through 111 meditations, inspired by quotations from eastern teachers, Singer shares with the reader his understanding of the wisdom imparted. Each meditation pairs with a real life application – a how-to for you to put the principle into action. These are shared under 11 core sections, such as Our True Nature, Unity, Compassion, and Enlightenment. A few of my favorites are: Change - your greatest ally in your personal journey. “It is possible that you may be moving rather quickly, but not truly going anywhere.” Unity/Oneness – “No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive,” said Gandhi. And Anger and Resentment – Buddha said, “Some people are like big children, harming others without even seeing it. Staying angry with these fools is like being mad at fire because it burns.”

Singer is not trying to preach a religion. His sharing of the eastern philosophies, such as found in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, is an offering of ancient wisdom that each reader will interpret differently and in the way they are personally meant to. His use of quotes is a tool to bring home the thought behind it and have the reader connect to the principle. We all have thoughts on being mindful, change, truth, death, and simplicity. This book is an outreach to help readers to find their own truth, leave their ego behind, and be in the now.

In a twelfth chapter, Richard shares 111 thought provoking quotes so that you can continue to meditate in the fashion the book introduces to you. A final chapter outlines the popular 12 steps of recovery, but in eastern terms. We are all recovering from the thought processes that society has instilled in us. If we follow the ancient thoughts of eastern wisdom, we may just find ourselves within ourselves, and that’s a good place to be.

This easy to read and understand book is a breath of fresh air. It is a reminder of what is truly important. Singer may not wish to be the guru on the mountaintop but he is a fellow traveler and a guide, found on the beaches of the Cayman Islands. Thank the universe for his trail markings, like Eastern Wisdom for Your Soul.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fiction Review

John Lazoo
by John Reyer Afamasaga
ISBN 978-0-9803486-0-6
Review by Heather Froeschl

When we re-create ourselves, are we more like actors in a play than we imagine? Or are we who we really are supposed to be? It is difficult to say which of our selves is the real us. In "John Lazoo," by John Reyer Afamasaga, readers will see the process of evolution within one man.

James Elton, born into the world with hardly a chance to survive, becomes a man by the age of seven when he works for his daily bread. His young mother does whatever she can to get by, living in a cottage on a farm owned by the man who will change her son's life. She reads James her own poetry as they sleep in the same bed, and she smells of her own homemade soap. At age nine, James enters a whole other world of incarceration, one which he will never truly escape. His soul becomes jailed and he learns to do what he must to survive.

Leaving the physical jails, James makes his way to NYC where he was born in a shelter before his mother ran for the fresh start of clean air. The city holds many dangers and opportunities for a young man who has no skills, no identification and cannot read. He begins to reinvent himself. What he becomes, his mother surely would not like. The devil is in the details of this tale and the deeds done are a form of hell on earth. James, now John, falls in love and hopes that it will save him. In the end, he may need to save her too.

This work is masterfully poetic. It reads much like a work of art, and leaves the reader to decipher the resulting impressions. Confusing at times, chaotic, yet carefully scripted, it is a highly interesting read.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Religious Thesis Review

The Curs-ed Net
By Byron LeBeau and Richard Stout
ISBN-10: 1604771496
Review by Heather Froeschl



Often, when the mention of UFO’s is made, eyebrows are raised and the skepticism rises. Often, when mention of demons is made, the same thing occurs. In “The Curs-ed Net” by Byron LeBeau and Richard Stout, readers will come to understand the authors’ intentions to share their thoughts on both eyebrow raising issues and contemplate what the two have to do with one another.

The foundation of the thesis is the Ethiopian Book of Enoch and some of the writings of the Old Testament and deals with the Fallen Angels and their intentions to catch humans up in their own cursed net. And so the authors warn readers to watch for demons disguised as aliens, abductions and hybrid production, mythology of the stars, worship of the heavenly bodies, and the messages spread by mediums. It is a lot to take in! There are many observations, speculations and contemplations to consider here. The authors mention many other books that relate to their particular points so that in effect, readers could feasibly have much homework to do in this particular course of study.

Logically laid out and described, the text is not light reading. It is a well thought out and presented thesis and superbly written as such. However, it isn’t an engaging dialogue or particularly captivating entertaining read, at least not to me. Eyebrows may be raised higher than the usual UFO subject brings about. You might not agree with what the authors have to say but word of mouth should move this title along very nicely with whispers of what has become a large part of popular culture.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Personal Growth/Inspirational review

Through the Veil
by Jerry M. and Richela A. Chapman
ISBN-10: 1432704141
Review by Heather Froeschl



Twin souls, reincarnation, sacred relationship, metaphysics…these are all terms that are prevalent in Jerry and Richela Chapman’s book, “Through the Veil.” It tells the story of how their souls came to be, how they grew, and how they united and grew all the more. It is a book that demonstrates the trials and tribulations, the joys and happiness that is the spiritual journey called life.

This is not about a mythical, wondrous experience of Hollywood soul mates. There is no angelic music playing in the background as two star crossed lovers kiss and live happily ever after. However, this book IS about the plan our souls are on, the guidance we receive, the work it takes to create our life situations and to learn from them, and about the sacred relationship that two people ultimately reach. Sacred relationship is not about religion, but rather it is about the joining of two souls who are bridged to the divine through the self. The over spirits of the two rejoice through the lessons learned and experienced and the end results.

Throughout the book, starting in the 40’s and continuing to the turning of the century, readers are given tidbits of written history to set the stage. Through school days and drug haze, troubled relationships and finally finding each other, then finding each other again through the ups and downs of their relationship, we witness the birthing of two spirits, or rather, the rebirthing as each lesson is learned. What readers take away from this book is sure to be individually varied, as it should be.

The writing is much like a memoir but told as a story. It exudes personal experience and emotion, but also power and compassion. There were times when I felt it moved a little slowly but other moments that were page turners; as a result, it has a decent balance of pace. Like life. I very much enjoyed it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Author Interview: CG Walters



A mystical journey through different dimensions, it was my recent pleasure to review a book titled, “Sacred Vow” by CG Walters. I felt drawn to find out more about the author. What follows is a brief biography and then my conversation. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

“I was born and raised on a farm in the middle of NC. While I have always enjoyed stories and been drawn to the mystical, I spent a lot of years without managing the focus to bring the two interests together in any meaningful way. So what happened? Well . . . sooner or later the Powers That Be call a person to stand for the reason they came.

“Personal lore is a dubious drink, for the flavor changes each time you bring it to your lips. Given enough aging--from my own experience--the product is more fiction than fact--but what fact is not ripe for becoming fiction?--I find that if I scrutinize any moment's ramble of my past, the story often breaks down into a mix of dreams I've had, past conversation, and maybe something I read or heard. A person might say that something such as daydream is not real, and certainly not biographical. I would have to disagree. How can one come to an understanding of the tangible without the ethereal?--Personal myth.

“In dream, I found myself looking next door, up at the 2nd story sleeping porch of an older home on a tree-lined Southern street. There I saw a circle of nine basinets. In each basinet rested a white swan, head tucked down. After taking a moment to consider my location and situation, I returned my attention to the porch to find the swans had become nine brightly dressed old women wearing wide-brimmed Sunday sun hats (my muses, of course), standing side by side, smiling down on me and gaily talking among themselves.

“Dream is fever to the conscious mind, inducing illusion. Illusion? Or, enlightenment? They are one, except by perspective.”

Heather: “‘Sacred Vow’ is about parallel realities coming together to heal a rift in the Collective Consciousness.” But it is also about soulmates, meditation, astral projection, and living life, is it not?

CG: It is all those things, Heather. Ian and Katerina, the main characters are soulmates, but unaware of each other as the story begins—because they live in different dimensions, parallel universes, and their love has not yet manifested in either of their primary worlds.

Ian, who lives in our world, has long followed his intuition as a guide in his life but has never taken time to really understand why it leads him where it does. He is also a long time meditator and has come to realize many ways to find his center, that internal place of his spiritual sanctuary. In this place where “the mind does not know that it cannot not know,” he follows his heart connection into another world to this woman who he has never met but is so instantly familiar.

Heather: The book is fiction, but do you believe these things to be possibilities?

CG: What we see in Sacred Vow is a truth to me. My writings have almost always presented themselves as fiction. I do not see fiction as non-truth, but rather as something more like an extended mantra…a means to comfortably invite the reader (or writer) into opening up and allowing their personal truth to present itself through the story—a living, ever-progressing truth, perfectly fitted to the need of the reader at that time. This is the nature of a myth or a spirit story.

Heather: Do you feel that anyone could train themselves to travel in soul form or do you believe it takes a “sisterhood” and sacred vow to make it possible?

CG: As we believe, so it becomes. Each person’s need is personal and whatever that need, it is perfect. If one feels best pursuing the path in the structure of an order, there is a reason and it should be listened to. I tend to do best most often with a more personally customized path. The path will open to you whatever way you come to it, as long as you come in the manner that is true to yourself and to your request to enter the path.

On the how—focusing mostly on the ‘train yourself’ method since I imagine that I am more familiar with this—there have always been many methods to assist in such travel. I think “travel beyond the generally accepted confines of this reality” is one of those things that we do not so much need to “learn” something new. To make it possible, we need to release the learning that we have already accepted—the learning that has told us that we cannot travel this way, that we alone occupy this space that we imagine our physical world to inhabit.

We are interconnected and interact with many beings of many worlds, but our conscious minds most often filter the experience out because our learning has defined what we perceive as “noise.” We have wrongly learned that “real” experience should present itself in only certain ways.

The best training I know for expanding the possibilities of our experience is spending more time at our “center.” This can come from any activity that makes your more connected with your higher self.

Heather: Was your first goal, in writing this book, to write a work of fiction, or did you have a higher purpose?

CG: For over 20 years I have written as a spiritual practice. Whenever it seemed I could not or would not learn my next lesson otherwise, it would come to me as a story. All I had to do was follow along with an open mind, heart and spirit…like remembering, actually ‘living’ the story. For all that time, I learned my lesson and then I hid the resulting story away. I must admit that I was afraid to bring the works out, but knew that a time would come when I would be expected to follow through with what should come after the writing.

One of my lessons, an unpublished work called “Strike a Chord of Silence,” included a little instruction: “Sometimes the truth comes before the strength to live it.”

I have known all along that at about this time in my life I would have to bring my writing out. In fact, I was warming up to the task with some short stories when “Sacred Vow” first introduced itself to me. I was surprised that this new work would force its way out first, but have come to realize that this sequence is necessary because our own world is in much the same crisis as that of Ian’s and Katerina’s world—a rift in the Collective Consciousness. People are dissociating one from another, from the world they live in, from other life forms, and from the impact of their very thoughts on reality.

Heather: I love your example of the teacher becoming the student and the student becoming the teacher. Have you personally undergone this change and been able to recognize it?

CG: Yes I have, Heather. I have always sought a traditional teacher to provide me with truth, teach me knowledge—that rarefied being, flawless and wise. Many times those efforts have brought me back to the realization that in all instruction—especially subtle mysteries like wisdom and the spirit—the student/teacher relationship is not linear, but more amorphous. One moment you are comfortable in the role of a student and then you are scared to death to realize that the roles have reversed, and then back to being student, and then reversed again.

What I have found is that in such things, a true teacher does not impart wisdom or learning, but draws forth the student’s own wisdom. The act of who is drawing forth, and not any defined role, shows us who is teacher and who is student at that moment.

Heather: What was your most enjoyable part of the writing process? Outlining, conceptualizing, research, actually writing?

CG: As my muses have always been kind to me, Heather, I would say that actually rough drafting a story is my favorite. When it is time for me to write, I am drawn to spiritual consideration—an opening image of reality that does not match what I have assumed before.

I sit in my little 3 foot by 5 foot room and I relax, much like meditation, definitely coming to my spiritual center. At some point, if I am lucky, I get to that place where my conscious mind no longer knows that it cannot know the magic that unfolds before it…so mind, heart and spirit follow.

“Sacred Vow” was rough drafted in two months. Three weeks of that two months was spent writing 10-12 hrs a day, seven days a week. It was like a very intense, deep meditation. For the impact on my body, mind, and spirit—I was living that story. Whenever I would come into the house, my wife said I radiated with a glow.

Heather: Will we be seeing more works of fiction from you?

CG: There are at least three thematic sequels, including the one I was writing when “Sacred Vow” decided it should come first. Each of these books focus on one facet of the multidimensional nature of our loves, our relationships. There are another half a dozen other books around the house in various states of development, and the endless scraps of base outlines starting with “Book Idea: Consider this.” These don’t even take into consideration whatever lessons along the way that my muses may decide it is time for.

Thanks CG! It is a true pleasure to know you.

Interested readers can read the first three chapters of “Sacred Vow” online at http://sacredvow.dragonsbeard.com or they can get a free PDF of the three chapters by sending a request to kathmandau at dragonsbeard.com

They can also keep up with CG’s spiritual musings until the next book, in his blog called “Into the Mist” at www.cgwalters.com

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Author Interview with M.J. Rose


Having recently reviewed a book that I just didn’t want to put down, I sought out an interview with the author, M.J. Rose (it wasn't enough to have her guest blog on my http://spiritualvisitations.blogspot.com site!). The following is from M.J.’s webpage, www.MJRose.com, and nicely sums up “The Reincarnationist” experience,

“Writing a suspense novel is very much like uncovering gardens that have been hidden and secreted away. The secrets in my newest novel, THE REINCARNATIONIST, revolve around a subject that has deep significance for many people --- reincarnation. My fascination with this topic began when I was a child and it's a book that I’ve been working on for more than nine years.

“In my research I discovered I was in good company: Believers in Reincarnation throughout history include Carl Jung, Rudyard Kipling, Einstein, Ben Franklin, Napoleon, Mark Twain, General George Patton, Louisa May Alcott, Tolstoy, Henry Ford, Goethe, the Baal Shem Tov, Nietzsche, Gandhi, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Schweitzer, Walt Whitman, Wordsworth, Levi ibn Habib (the Ralbah), Rumi, Thoreau, Socrates, Jesus Christ in the Gnostic Gospels, Voltaire, Josephus, Balzac, Gauguin, Pythagoras, Kabbalists, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians.

“I've learned that there currently are over 26 million people who are believers in reincarnation --- and I've created a blog as a hub for "reincarnationists" (http://www.reincarnationist.org/wordpress/ ) where you can find news related to reincarnation, read reviews of books on the subject, and discover links to other blogs and websites on reincarnation and related intriguing topics.

“I love reading page turners that give you something to think about, something that resonates and matters. I hope that’s what this novel does for you.”

It absolutely does. And now, here is part of my conversation with M.J.:

Heather: “The Reincarnationist” is quite an in-depth look at reincarnation, yet tells a story that is absolutely compelling. You have honored both goals as a writer, but which was more important to you in this case?

MJR: The story first, but I was committed to the research and presenting the subject fairly. Thanks for the comment, though.

Heather: I’ve been a longtime student of reincarnation but my research pales in comparison to what you must have done for the writing of "The Reincarnationist." I suspect you found it an enjoyable subject to explore?

MJR: Fascinating. But I’ve really been studying it for a long time. In one way or another since I was a child.

Heather: Can you tell me what your favorite source was?

MJR: I’ve read over 60 books on the subject and offer a whole bibliography in the back of the novel. But “The Phoenix Fire Mystery” is a great source book. It’s chronological and contains writings through time on the subject.

Heather: My feeling is that reincarnation is more of an obsession than a passing interest with you. Is this so? And now that the book is done, is it still something that niggles your brain a great deal?

MJR: It used to be an obsession but writing the book solved that. I’m writing a series of books on this subject so it has become more or less integrated into my thinking.

Heather: Are there souls in your life whom you feel you have had past lives with?

MJR: Yes, absolutely. I first became aware of that in my twenties and that first awareness is one of the inspirations for this book.

Heather: Have you spoken with them about this idea and do you think that people should if the other person is not a believer in it?

MJR: I have with some people and not with others and I only would seriously discuss it with someone I knew very well. If you chose to discuss it with a non believer - you need to be prepared for the other person to scoff and call you silly – if you don’t mind that – then by all means.

Heather: Have you felt a deep connection to a place, timeframe, object, or culture that leads you to believe you were involved with it in some past life?

MJR: Yes, several. France is one. Paris specifically but I’m not sure when. Egypt in the time of the pharos. I believe I was a lowly slave. And up around Salem, Mass. In fact I’m going up there in a few weeks to explore.

Heather: Have you personally undergone a past life regression?

MJR: Yes, over a period of six months I worked with a Reincarnationist. It started out as research. Writers have great excuses to do anything and everything.

Heather: The church plays an interesting role in “The Reincarnationist.” Do you feel this view is what might really happen, has happened, or does happen?

MJR: The role the church played in ancient Rome was exactly what happened. That was all based on history. The church was afraid of reincarnation theory. And to this day they are against it.

Heather: Have you had any negative feedback in this regard?

MJR: A few people have tried to engage me in very serious theological conversation… I smile politely and explain I’m a novelist not a theologian.

Heather: The archaeological subject matter in the book is fascinating. Is this another special interest of yours?

MJR: I have been interested in it since I was a kid. One of the many occupations I had on my short list of what I wanted to become.

Heather: This book seems to be quite different from your other work. What is next for M.J. Rose?

MJR:It’s the next book in the series that began with “The Reincarnationist.” It’s called “The Memorist.”

Heather: Thank you MJ for taking a few minutes to chat. I’ll look forward to your next release!

Want to know more about M.J. Rose?
http://www.mjrose.com
http://www.authorbuzz.com
http://mjroseblog.typepad.com/buzz_balls_hype/

Friday, October 5, 2007

Military Memoir Review

Iraq in My Eye: Memoirs of a Navy SEAL
By Chuck Bravedy
ISBN: 1-4241-7689-1
Review by Heather Froeschl



Every day since the war in Iraq began, Americans are shown what the media is allowed to share about the statistics, the causes, the costs, the plans and the hopeful outcome. But do we really know what is going on; do we understand what the war is like? Chuck Bravedy shares his understandings from a veteran’s point of view in “Iraq in My Eye: Memoirs of a Navy SEAL.”

Who knows better what the war is like than someone who has been deep in the thick of it? To understand this military action, one might sit back and let the media tell you what to believe, or you might take a look at one man’s personal experiences. Bravedy starts the book with descriptions of his Navy SEAL training and what it takes to make it through this endurance test of the highest form. SEALs get respect, no doubt. And then begins his assignment in Iraq. Trained for nighttime covert operations, Team 3 was forced into the daylight and in plain sight for the insurgents to recognize; they were vulnerable. Quickly adapting to the surroundings and demands placed upon them, the team began flushing out insurgents and detaining them to gather information. The daily reports we see on IEDs is nothing compared to what is going on. The understanding Bravedy shows of reasons behind the placement of these devices is one most American’s could not have. The drive for making money to survive is great. Most Americans would also be clueless to the fact that detained insurgents are paid for their time to compensate for “wrongful detainment.” Most are set free rather than face any judge, only to be watched yet again by our servicemen for suspicious behavior. It is a vicious cycle. Bravedy goes deeper into the mindset of the terrorist and what instigates and propagates their behaviors. From this understanding he has formed his opinions of how we should be progressing and what America’s role should be.

From the heart of a Navy SEAL, we can begin to see the whole picture. Many might not agree with Bravedy’s ideas and political stance but it is an option to have understanding of the subject at hand. A short memoir of a portion of one man’s life as well as political commentary, “Iraq in My Eye: Memoirs of a Navy SEAL” will leave readers thinking.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Children's Poetry Review

A Cat Named Fat
by Marie Gebel
ISBN-10: 1420871463
Review by Heather Froeschl



Fed up with morbid nursery rhymes, Marie Gebel tickled her tongue with new poetry for the youngest of people and published it. “A Cat Named Fat” is a delightful book to read aloud to a child, complete with colorful artwork and memorable thoughts.

Kids love rhythm and rhyme yet new poetry for very young children is sometimes hard to come by. Marie Gebel offers such delights as A Cat Named Fat about a feline who grows into his name, and Jack and the Mirror in which young Jack plays and waves to his friend inside…a game almost all babies play. Her poems are based on things a young child knows about, like love, Santa Claus, birthdays, and butterflies, Mom, and the magical moon. These happy poems are sure to make a child laugh and smile. An early exposure to poetry may infect a child’s life, for life, and such a chance is one we all must take.

Simple and sweet, this collection is one that will likely be read over and over again. Even the youngest of listeners will be enticed by the beat of the spoken words and the vivid illustrations. In time, adults will be listening to the same poems being read back to them by kids who have developed a love for verse…all thanks to “A Cat Named Fat” and Marie Gebel of course.

Poetry Review

Ordinary Poems for Extraordinary People
by Marie Gebel
ISBN-10: 059541897X
Review by Heather Froeschl




In verse, through which to speak her mind, Marie Gebel writes to everyone. Her collection of poetry, titled, “Ordinary Poems for Extraordinary People” is said, in her own words, to be for those who are kind, insightful, offbeat, and compassionate. Here you will see yourself and people you know, detailed in poetic style.

I know several teens that would love this book and relate to many of its poems, from Fashion Plate, the very first poem in the book, about being an individual rather than taking on assigned style, to Used to Be, which ruminates with memories of younger days. Yet readers of all ages will adore the works like, Pieces, where a person recognizes the various aspects of being human, and My Mind, in which the most valuable thing to cherish is the mind and not the possessions.

Poetry is often full of deep meanings and open wounds, and this collection has its share. Marie’s subtitle for the book is “An Undressing of the Soul.” It can be argued that it is also a mirror for the soul, since readers will be sure to see themselves within the words. The works are easy to read and understand, but what’s more is that they are easy to feel. The sense of emotions that come through is precisely why I enjoy reading poetry. “Ordinary Poems for Extraordinary People” is a delight.

Poetry Review

Mockingbird Come Home: A Book of Poetry
by Stephen B. Wiley
ISBN: 0-9766251-1-3
Review by Heather Froeschl


“Poetry cannot be made of words alone.” How very true, and being a poet, Stephen B. Wiley offers so much more than words in his wonderful collection, “Mockingbird Come Home.” The pages here are filled with memories and moments, emotions, settings, and paintings artistically created with words.

“Mockingbird Come Home” is what poetry is meant to be. Depicting a moment in time, a place in the heart, he writes of “Where We Live” and “Who We Are,” the two sections of the book. The “where” is about places I know personally, not that it matters, for the settings described in Vermont, Florida, and New Jersey are easily seen with the imagination, helped along with Wiley’s words. From a low-water Lake Champlain to the colorful vibrancy of Key West, the memories of places he shares are more personal than postcards. The “who” is even more endearing, with tales told so eloquently of gnarled and vein mapped hands, the grandparent naps before dinner, and the poet who becomes the poem.

Reading the verses of Stephen B. Wiley is a joy to be compared with spending a day in an art gallery. The admirer will see different aspects of each work of art, perhaps what the artist/poet intended, but maybe something else entirely. The joy is in the discovery. “Mockingbird Come Home” is a poetic delight of excellent work.

Spiritual Fiction Review

Sacred Vow
by C.G. Walters
ISBN-10: 0977427145
Review by Heather Froeschl



Can the wind of a butterfly’s wing effect climate on the other side of the world? Can the love of two souls heal a great wrong in the universe? C.G. Walters’ novel “Sacred Vow,” offers compelling thought to consider, and a page turning delight to cherish.

Ian Sarin enjoys his cup of tea but lately the ritual of it brings other delights. Visions of a woman play out in his perception, beckoning further visitation. Everything in the room must be just so, with teapot, caned chair, and Ian in place. He cannot hear her speak, but can see her mouthing words, sharing her life. Is this just a vision or is it something else? His reality soon becomes less important than the alternate one that he visits. Ian’s health becomes affected and soon he needs help. While visiting an old friend in the mountains, he is introduced to Djalma, an interesting man whose presence comes into play in a large way. He will interact in Ian’s life in ways he couldn’t have imagined. The visions of Katerina become more intense and play out like episodes of a movie he has seen before. The question so important… why are the visits happening? The answer awaits on a scrap of paper that Ian had tucked away, a remnant of a dream, years before. He was chosen for this…but what exactly is this?

Reincarnation, collective consciousness, and life purpose all play large roles in this book. It is a deeply thoughtful and provocative tale that I could not put down. I so enjoyed the read that I simultaneously couldn’t wait to get to the last page but also dreaded it ending. The author evokes a great understanding of these topics and the mysteries of the universe, yet shares his perceptions in a wonderfully easy to comprehend tone. Readers will come away wonder-filled and satisfied to have read “Sacred Vow.”

Monday, October 1, 2007

Self Help Non-Fiction Review

Put Your Big Girl Panties On and Deal With It…
by Roz Van Meter
ISBN-10: 1402208820
Review by Heather Froeschl



Have you ever had a girlfriend who just got you and could make you see that you were overreacting but would also make you feel completely at ease with your idiosyncrasies? Aren’t they the best? Roz Van Meter offers her psychologically qualified yet girlfriend-friendly advice in her book, “Put Your Big Girl Panties On and Deal With It…” and it’s just like having that special girlfriend by your side or a life coach with a fantastic sense of humor on speed dial.

It’s a no-nonsense guide to getting what you want, but it’s also a little book of inspiration to getting what you need. Roz shares her own stories to relay some messages and also those of people she knows. It’s the latest thoughts on self help psychology, marriage, relationship and sex therapy, and life coaching, but it is done in such a light hearted and easy going tone that you don’t realize you’re getting a bigger message until it has already sunk in. The book is made light and fun by the analogy of knickers in every form and relating them to what you want in life. For instance, figuratively (or literally) putting on those practical, comfortable, business like panties to get a goal attained, or sliding into that risqué g-string when the lights go down in the city for some fun. Humor aside, the book offers advice on everything from how to say no and mean it to how to say yes and feel free enough to enjoy it. It explores ways in which you can reconnect with your inner child and nourish her and also take control and know when to get that kid out from behind the driver’s wheel. This book is about organizing your life, one drawer at a time, learning to laugh at yourself, being a friend, and charging head on into passion for life.

Roz Van Meter is a psychotherapist, but she writes like that best friend who spells it all out for you in a fun and endearing way. Buy a copy of “Put Your Big Girl Panties On and Deal With It…” for yourself, one for your husband (who just might learn a thing about the female persuasion), and one for every close girlfriend you have. You’ll be looking at yourself and your underwear drawer in a whole new light.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Thriller Fiction Review

The Reincarnationist
by M.J. Rose
ISBN-10: 0778324206
Review by Heather Froeschl



Ancient secrets are uncovered and little by little the truth is revealed. If you have ever had a moment of wonder about reincarnation, about seeming to instantly know someone you’ve just met, I give you my highest recommendation for M.J. Rose’s book, “The Reincarnationist.” It will call to you to read its pages until you’ve frantically gotten to the last.

Josh Ryder survives a bomb’s explosion only to become haunted by flashes of someone else’s life. These flashes hit him as vividly as memories but seduce him with a desperate need for knowledge, a need to know just who lived these memories. After exhausting every medical approach to his turmoil, Josh discovers the Phoenix Foundation – a research facility that scientifically documents cases of past life experiences in children. Josh becomes an understudy and soon understands that the flashes he goes through are experiences from his own past lives. Desperate to understand the feelings of despair and urgency he feels regarding those in his previous lives, he ends up in Rome, at the heart of his memories’ settings. There he meets Professor Gabriella Chase who has just made a remarkable archaeological discovery – the tomb of a Vestal Virgin, buried alive in approximately the year 390 A.D. So how does Josh know that the tomb is the resting place of a woman named Sabina, and that she was put to death for breaking her vow of celibacy? His sense of urgency to understand grows stronger and more intense with every clue he uncovers. There is something much greater at risk than his sanity though. In her death, Sabina held tight to a treasure that is said to unlock the mysteries of reincarnation, and it was stolen. Ironically, the cost of the treasure is valued in human lives.

“The Reincarnationist” is superbly written. It is fresh and compelling, creative and intellectual. This novel is a delightful mix of psychological thriller, suspense, and paranormal, and the writing is mesmerizing in its own right. With a plot that flows around the world and through a millennium of time, the excitement doesn’t stop until the book is reluctantly closed and completed. With sophistication and class, M.J. Rose offers a novel to be remembered.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Author Interview with Ann Marie Zakos

An interview with Ann Marie Zakos, author of “First Class Ticket”… “an irreverent look at a week in the life of a college student, Madison, along with two of her classmates, as they learn about life through a philosophy class. A medley of teaching tales divided into 13 chapters, it explores the nine truths of life…”

Heather: How did you develop these nine truths in the book?

Ann Marie: I developed these truths from my own personal life experiences. I took experiences that I encountered in my daily life from interacting with co-workers, friends, and family. I realized these truths to be self-evident and that they apply to us all universally.

Heather: Are you a student of philosophy?

Ann Marie: Although I took a couple philosophy classes in college, I didn't enjoy them and found them unfulfilling. Therefore, I created my own philosophies from my perceptions of the world and incorporated them into this book.

Heather: Did you take a special philosophy course in college?

Ann Marie: I took two philosophy courses in college that I didn't like very much. I'm not sure if it was my state of mind at the time, or the lack of passion about the subject from the professors. But I intuitively knew that philosophy should be fun and rewarding and that the younger generation should be influenced and inspired by it. So I guess the lack of inspiration I felt from my professors about the subject made me want to inspire others about philosophy.

Heather: What prompted you to write a book about spiritual development?

Ann Marie: I feel that our culture is materially rich, yet spiritually poor, and I wanted to inspire others to look at what really matters in life and realize that the only real measure of wealth is our own character.

Heather: Are you a supporter of the idea that we are in an age of information?

Ann Marie: I strongly believe that our culture is shifting from the material age into the age of information. This is relevant with the great technological advancements that have been made in the last twenty years, as well as the "Green" movement that is taking place. I like to think that I am part of the "metrospiritual" movement.

Heather: I love the quotes at the beginning of the chapters. What gave you that idea? Are you a collector of quotes like many authors are?

Ann Marie: I love quotes because when thought about, they have the ability to touch us and awaken us deep inside.

Heather: Are there more tales of college students in the works?

Ann Marie: I am following up “First Class Ticket” with the sequel called “The Inn Between.” It's the second philosophy assignment for Brian, Diana and Madison where they are assigned the task of going on a scavenger hunt through an old hotel near their college campus.

Heather: Do you think that there is a lack of interesting, engaging, enlightening reading material for young adults? I hope you know that this book certainly fills that bill.

Ann Marie: That is exactly what influenced me to write this book. I feel that young adults are bombarded by the media with the wrong messages. There is too much emphasis on MTV, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and not enough emphasis on the things that truly matter. I feel that they need to be inspired by positive, enlightening and life-altering books that can shape them into becoming better people.

Heather: Have you been writing fiction long?

Ann Marie: I've been writing fiction for the past six years and I intend to continue writing for the rest of my life. It's my passion!

Heather: Please give us a brief bio and share anything else that you wish to.

Ann Marie: I recently gave a book speaking event at Transitions Bookplace in Chicago (a store that I love) and many of the people in the audience kept asking me, "You're so young, how do you know about these truths, how do you understand so much?" My response to them was that when I first starting writing the book, I had no outline, I just had the basic story plot in mind. I started with a blank computer screen and everyday for hours I would get quiet and I would just listen. Miraculously, the words starting to take shape on the page. I truly felt that my entire experience of writing the book was from a divine source. A higher form of energy was helping me write, and I was just the vessel that it came through.

“First Class Ticket” is available on Amazon.com and on AnnMarieZakos.com

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Non-Fiction Historical Collection Review

Franklin County True Stories: Letters and Recipes from the Grapevine
by Edith McGhee Sigmon and Beverly Merritt
Review by Heather Froeschl

Sadly, the days of family history being passed down from generation to generation are being lost. Gathering what you can of your grandparent’s stories is always a good idea. The newspapers don’t report everything that goes on and even if they did, the stories that pertain to your personal family might not be known to you. Discovering what has gone on in your community might be a considerable and exciting treat, and I encourage everyone to talk to their neighbors and elder residents to see what might be known. For Franklin County residents, two thoughtful authors have put down some of the verbal history for us. “Franklin County True Stories: Letters and Recipes from the Grapevine,” by Edith McGhee Sigmon and Beverly Merritt is a delightful step back in time.

Reminiscent of tales told to children at grandma’s knee or over hot tea at the kitchen table, this little book is full of this and that and some other things too. It’s an eclectic collection shared with delight and disparage of Franklin County’s history. From rumors of witchcraft to the biggest feud in this area (involving a State Senator as killer no less!), and from moonshine to squirrel stew, this collection is certainly colorful. Ghost tales, murder mysteries, and family memories are accompanied by descriptions of long forgotten cemeteries, letters sent home from the front of the Civil War, and interesting tidbits from the county courthouse records. My favorite was a collection of old sayings and their meanings and the descriptions of preserving foods back in the day.

Reading this book made me realize that there is an abundance of history right under our noses, literally, right under our feet, and going by the wayside. I had no idea that George Washington had been out to Franklin County, and I find it extremely interesting to learn that officially, “If you are well bred, you will not gulp your soup so audibly that you can be heard across the room, nor sop up the sauce in your plate with bits of bread.” Darn!

While there are typos and (true to source) misspellings to be found in this book, one can overlook them with admiration at the charm it exudes. The authors have done a fantastic job of compiling a bit of history to share before it is long forgotten. I would be remiss to not mention Beverly Merritt’s other publication, “Civil War Records of Franklin County, Virginia 1861-1865.” This is a compilation of articles regarding the Civil War and its affects on Franklin County, including newspaper clippings, the National Park Service records, letters sent home to family, battle dates and battlefield names, and the extensive list of records of the individual soldiers and sailors from Franklin County. Interestingly enough, an article about the dedication of the Confederate Monument at Rocky Mount (which recently was destroyed in a vehicle accident) is also included. This examination of 1861-1865, which was a monumental time in America, is a fine tribute to those who were so deeply affected. Both books are available for purchase from the authors: $25, includes postage, mail check to Edith Sigmon, 11625 Franklin Street, Ferrum, Va 24088. Beverly’s Civil War collection - $45, includes postage, mail check to Beverly Merritt, 675 Carver Lee Road, Ferrum, Va 24088. For questions on both books, email at beverlym@swva.net.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fiction Review

Irreparable Damages
by Karlene Heinkel
ISBN-10: 0595443222
Review by Heather Froeschl



Reunions with the past don’t always bring fond memories. What we do with our reminiscences can sometimes be a matter of life and death, happiness and sorrow. In Karlene Heinkel’s novel, “Irreparable Damages,” the past and the present commingle with the ease of memory replayed.

Michael Stanford is on top of the world one minute…wealthy, a partner is his own business, a loving member of a large family, and recently engaged, yet moments later his world comes crashing down as his fiancé reveals that she’s pregnant. Why should this be so shocking? The next day finds him murdered in cold blood on his office floor. With so much going for him how could this happen? The family, and the town, is devastated. Charlie Whitman is a little too close to the case. As sheriff, he has only been back in his home town for a number of years after escaping it in the military and FBI. Michael wasn’t exactly his best friend back in high school but they were in the same circles and Charlie knew things that only one of the guys would know. Investigating this murder would bring back all of those memories, and the feelings that ran rampant with them.

What would Michael’s business partner, in the small town of Hillcrest, have to do with a Vegas-connected casino owner? Why would Michael’s fiancée remain living in his home after his death…with her ex-husband for company? What does Shelley Bowden, a girl both Michael and Charlie had feelings for back in the day, have to do with the whole tragedy? These things all bubble to the surface as the truth is revealed. Will Charlie lay the past to rest? Will justice be delivered?

The book is full of characters you will recognize in life. There are many different personalities to contend with that it all seems very real. The plot is rich with a past that is spelled out right in front of you, and a future that is not revealed until the very end. This guessing game is what many mystery readers love. I enjoyed the book and trying to work out the case along with Charlie. “Irreparable Damages” is a reminder that there is always so much more than meets the eye in everybody’s story.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Philosophical Fiction Review

First Class Ticket
by Ann Marie Zakos
ISBN-10: 0976452332
Review by Heather Froeschl



There are no coincidences. We come face to face with life lessons every day and can grow from them if only we choose to. Ann Marie Zakos reminds us of this in her fantastic work of fiction, “First Class Ticket.” Philosophy should be this fun and enlightening for all of us!

Madison is upset when she learns that she has to squeeze a philosophy class into her busy college schedule. What’s worse is that it ends up being an early morning class and she doesn’t know anyone else who is taking it. The teacher is somewhat mysterious and on the first day he gives an assignment to learn nine truths within a week. These truths are printed on cards in an envelope, but are written in a way that is not truly understandable until a guide helps them to figure it out. The trick is that the students can’t seek out their guides; the guides must come to them. The kids are grouped into experience partners and as luck would have it (no such thing…) Madison is grouped with two partners instead of one. Brian is a lighthearted happy young man, while Diana is somewhat his opposite. Together the three must uncover what these truths could possibly mean to them. Along the way, a remarkable thing occurs – friendship of the deepest kind.

The truths will affect these three friends in life changing ways and the process of discovering them is somewhat miraculous from their point of view. Strangers come up to them and engage in philosophical conversations, guiding them toward understanding. What’s more is that you as the reader will come to these understandings too. Like Madison, you might learn to draw energy and give it back to those around you, change your perspective from negative to positive, and develop your inner strength through thought and meditation. Like Diana, you might learn to trust your instincts. And like Brian, you might learn that you are already on the right path.

This story is much like a fable, where characters learn a lesson and teach it to us as well. But it is some much more as a delightful work of fiction and is rich with many messages of growth. The cast is lovable and endearing, making you wish you could be at that campus and taking that class. The writing is tight and well executed. The descriptive imagery is nicely done and evokes the feel of the campus quad, freshly cut grass, sandy beach, and an energetic college baseball game. This book is for readers of all ages, from high school to grandparents, for we all could do to learn a thing or two and reading for enjoyment knows no age. I highly recommend “First Class Ticket,” for, “adventure lights the path to spiritual development.”

Monday, September 17, 2007

Non-Fiction Review

The Way from Science to Soul
by Casey Blood PH.D.
ISBN: 978-0-9797888-8-8
Review by Heather Froeschl

Using quantum physics to illuminate the spiritual journey? The author does just this in the book, “The Way from Science to Soul: Integrating Physics, the Brain, and the Spiritual Journey,” by Casey Blood, PH.D. But, why would you do such a thing? Why mix science and soul, quantum mechanics with spirituality? Dr. Casey Blood is a Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University, so if he wants to do this, I suppose he is qualified to. I'm not a scientist, so what do I know? A little something about spirituality at least.

Physics is the study of the physical universe, and one wouldn’t expect to learn about the spiritual side of life, or the nonphysical universe when reading about it. However, Dr. Blood begins our education on this matter with an in-depth coverage of physics and quantum mechanics, the brain (including the synapse), and how these all pull together so that we can either see the spiritual side, or choose not to. The point of it is that there are several versions of reality to perceive while we choose to only see one; the existence of the soul can not be disproved, nor proven by science. So how does the nonphysical soul interact with the physical world? The soul can perceive the physical brain and through this, perceive the world. But, the physical world is not the only plane to be aware of. The soul can exist on many planes, the physical, the angelic plane, which is closest to the source of all, and the “jinn” plane, which is where our souls can communicate with other souls. Dr. Blood explains that our soul’s journey is much longer than that of our earthly existence, and that we have time to spend on each plane.

Dr. Blood describes spiritual practices which help us to remember that we are a nonphysical soul that has a physical body. These practices include meditation, yoga, focus on breathing, using retreats and finding teachers to help us. These practices though, are not the end goal. Our personality and contribution to society is important too. Dr. Blood states that we need to develop certain qualities like insight, compassion, friendship and wisdom and gives guidance on how to do so.

I was a little worried when I was asked to review this book. However, Dr. Blood takes a very complex topic and relates it to the average reader in a carefully chosen tone of support. The interest in spirituality is growing in leaps and bounds so that this connection to quantum physics will surely have a target audience, but, is still something of interest to the masses. The book is not an easy read, but it is worthwhile to wrap your physical mind around it for a time. Your spiritual mind will thank you.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Interview with Author Debbie Robins

Interview of Debbie Robins, author of "Where Peace Lives"
by Heather Froeschl



Debbie Robins spent over 20 years in the entertainment industry. She was the president of Roland Joffe’s Warner Brothers company, Lightmotive, a producing partner with director John McTiernan and Donna Dubrow, a producing partner with Penny Marshall, and a vice president at Disney. After achieving success in the entertainment industry and working with some of the top stars, Deb realized a call to action to help strengthen our Peace “muscle,” and to make it our most dominant, global trait. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of “Where Peace Lives” will go to City Hearts, a non-profit dedicated to healing the effects of violence and discrimination through the inclusion of Art in the inner city classrooms (www.cityhearts.org) and to Earth Rights Institute, which is dedicated to securing a culture of peace and justice throughout the world.

Heather: Thanks so much for taking time for an interview. I so enjoyed “Where Peace Lives,” and hope to be of some help in spreading the word about it.

Debbie: I appreciate your support beyond words, Heather. Peace is calling and we are answering the prayer. There is more war/hatred on our precious planet than ever before. It is my passion and purpose now to help children and grownups alike, myself included, strengthen their peace muscle.

Heather: “Where Peace Lives” is as much for adults as it is for the younger reader.
How did you come up with the idea to write such a far reaching children’s book?
Was “The Little Prince” something you read as a child?

Debbie: “The Little Prince” was not only a book I read as a child but a story I have treasured as an adult. The creative, magical, seemingly non-sensical style in which Saint Ex addresses a universal theme – gratitude for what you have rather than a focus on what you don’t have- is, for me, sheer brilliance. Because of that I’m sure it will come as no surprise to your readers that my second favorite book is “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”! I slept with “The Little Prince” on my nightstand for three years.

Heather: What prompted the idea of having the Angel, Peace, locked in a box?

Debbie: That’s a great question. And you are the first to ask it. Peace being trapped in a box is really my metaphor for our present day reality. Globally, we say we want peace, yet we are actually creating more of it. The book was, in part, my journey to discover what the gap is between our intentions and our reality. What I discovered is that we have peace imprisoned in the wrong box. We treat peace as an ideal, a hope, a prayer, when in fact it is a discipline, a muscle, a choice, a skill, a skill set. And until we choose to make peace a part of our global educational curriculum it is unlikely we will have more of it.

Heather: Have you heard back from children, or their parents, that they understand the imagery and symbolism?

Debbie: The response from children and adults alike has been humbling. I have over 250 letters kids have written me, ages 8 to 18, telling me that the book has changed their lives. They also include their promises for peace. I have also had the experience of being a volunteer peace teacher in the Los Angeles public and charter school system. What I can share with you is that our children are viscerally aware of the heightened level of violence on this planet. They want to make a difference but they’re not sure what it is they can do. "Where Peace Lives" seems to be answering that prayer.

Heather: Have you done a good deal of study on the wise people your six central characters are based upon (Martin Luther King, Jr., Siddhartha, Ghandi, Jesus, Moses, and Muhammad)?

Debbie: Yes, I have read a lot about the peacemakers celebrated in the book but am, by no means, a historian or expert.

Heather: Why put the story in parable form? Why not in “real” circumstances with “real” people characters instead of animals?

Debbie: There were many reasons I put the book in parable form, primarily its natural ability to speak to all ages. Since peace is a choice, at every age, this was very important to me. The use of the animals was because animals tend to open our heart charka even more. And peace, as I’m sure you have experienced, lives in the heart.

Heather: What was your greatest challenge in writing the story?

Debbie: The greatest challenge for me, although I love every part of the process of writing, is getting a first draft done. It is that gigantic leap of faith and demands tremendous trust and perseverance.

Heather: Are there more books in the works that readers can look forward to?

Debbie: Thank you for asking. Yes, your readers should expect two more books in 2008. “Where Happiness Lives” and “Where Peace Lives; The First Challenge”.

Heather: Do you have other goals to work toward that involve this same peaceful theme?

Debbie: I feel that all my creative expressions, be it my consulting practice, film producing or writing are all, at their core, about peace. I work with clients and companies to create more peaceful and aligned environments from which to generate their success. I write movies about love, the home to peace. And my books of course, hopefully speak for themselves.

Heather: What has been the most interesting response you have gotten from readers? Does it seem that the message is being received?

Debbie: The interesting experience has been the enormity of the positive reaction to the book from children and adults alike. The book is touching the same chord; it is acting as a universal call to action to remember that peace is a choice, at every age, and we can make a difference. Also, the buying patterns have been in multiples. Few people purchase just one copy of “Where Peace Lives”. Instead, they buy books for themselves, their children, friends, colleagues, mothers, fathers, nieces, nephews, favorite teachers, non-profits, at risk youth centers, libraries, etc. Peace is back by popular demand!

Heather: And thankfully so! Thanks so very much Debbie, for visiting with me, but more for writing "Where Peace Lives."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Biblical Study Review

Ruth of Moab: Triumph of a Daughter’s Love
by Author Wright
ISBN 978-1-6024747-03
Review by Heather Froeschl

What might have really happened in the lives of those in the Old Testament? Can we ever know the stories that weren’t told? We can speculate. “Ruth of Moab: Triumph of a Daughter’s Love” by Author O. Wright is a novel of speculation told with an outpouring of admiration.

What happened to the family of Elimelech after his emigration to Moab, as told in the Old Testament? In Wright’s novel, Naomi, Elimelech’s wife, is grief stricken at the death of her husband. She seeks comfort and understanding. Her two sons grow and eventually marry women of Moab. She begins to teach them about her God. When, tragically, both sons die as well, Naomi feels that she must return to Bethlehem. Her daughter in law, Ruth, refuses to be left behind. Out of dedication and love for her Mother in law, Ruth accepts the possible consequences and hardships they will face. It is in Bethlehem that Ruth shows how gentle and kind her heart is, and is recognized for it. Naomi’s prayers are answered.

This depiction of events is heart touching. The language is reminiscent of biblical times and offers an added enticement to imagine things happening in this way. Wright is a gifted author who immerses his readers into the given situation. A touching and compelling read.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Children's Book Review

The Candy Shop War
by Brandon Mull
ISBN-10: 159038783X
Review by Heather Froeschl


Never take candy from a stranger! Brandon Mull, New York Times bestselling author of “Fablehaven,” likes to use the messages we all hear as kids, like, “Drink your milk,” and this traditional warning to stay away from strangers bearing sweets. The similarities to anything you’ve heard before stop there. “The Candy Shop War” is something completely new and different, and I might add, something fantastic and full of action.

Brandon Mull has created a whole new world where special candy can make kids float, shoot electric shocks from their fingers, and even enter the land of wonder through the looking glass…but it isn’t anything wonderful in there! Nate is new to the neighborhood, having just moved in, and the friends he makes in the first days will become the truest sort he can hope for. They will come to rely on each other in ways they never could have imagined. The kids start doing after school chores for the owner of a new candy shop in return for special treats. Here’s where that warning comes in to never take candy from people you don’t know. The chores turn into assignments, which turn out to be quite dangerous and progressively wrong. The temptation might seem sweet but Nate and his friend Trevor decide to hang in there for other reasons. There is a mystery to be solved, and it turns out that there is a rival candy seller who has an interest in what is discovered. A great legend comes into play, and while talking dogs and horses are very cool, what is going on is becoming terribly bad. It’s up to Nate and his friends to put a stop to it, if they aren’t eaten by giant black widow spiders, or turned to bones and dust first.

This middle grade reader is fantastically full of adventure and fun of a completely different sort. While there is magic and wonder involved, it isn’t like anything published in recent history. The underlying messages are well thought out, while the characters steal the show. Kids aged 8-12 will see themselves as Nate figures out what to do to save the day, and even as he bounces from rooftop to rooftop. Who wouldn’t love to give their teacher fudge in order to make her forget about assigning homework? The writing is, as always, a pleasure to partake of. Brandon Mull is a gifted author who knows how to reach out to his readers even when giving them those important reminders to drink milk and not take candy from strangers. I will anxiously await even more published work from this author, and Shadow Mountain.