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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fiction Short Story Collection Review

American Cool
by Susan DiPlacido
ISBN-10: 0595448771
Review by Heather Froeschl

Life is about taking risks…if you don’t take risks you end up lonely and afraid of change, and what fun is that? Well, it is safe. In Susan DiPlacido’s latest book, “American Cool,” her characters are risk takers and they’re making life changes all over the place. This book is hot!

A collection of short stories, “American Cool” is not for the faint of heart who cringe at steamy love scenes or shudder at the prospect of taking a step over the line. This is a hot summer read that you will return to in the cold winter months to warm up with. More than a good read, the tales offer a good bit of edge. Take Marie, the main character in the story I, Candy. She’s a guy’s best friend, a hard worker, and she’s seemingly pretty plain looking. Then she makes some changes…gets her nose done, some inches added up top, and all of a sudden she’s getting free drinks at the bar. Is this what she wanted? Not exactly. But what she gets in the end is something she could have had all along. She made some changes, and made some realizations at the same time. In Bloodlines, young Paula becomes involved with some very iffy business. She’s always admired her Uncle Dean, right from the first time he laughed at her blatantly disobeying her parents by climbing up a tree. As the years go on, she ends up helping him keep track of his “sports records” and making collections in the middle of the night. She gives him an alibi when the cops show up one evening. She gives up her chance to get out of the life in order to stick around for the family. In the end, she takes family commitment to a place it shouldn’t go. She warns her father not to ask questions he doesn’t want the answers to. Coyote Blues has Rita all hot and bothered. She can’t make up her mind about what she wants in her life. She’s torn between the allure and gamble of Vegas and the tortuous affections of her man. She can’t exactly have both, and she can’t live without either of them. Witnessing her come to terms with her needs is a steamy read!

Combining tales of minor league baseball, mob family traditions, taking poker to a new level, Las Vegas, and a girls’ first time with a very uncool guy named Miguel, “American Cool” is a fine example of a short story collection. The writing is tight and fresh; the tales hot, raunchy, and entertaining, if not disturbing. It’s over the top and just the way I like a fast read. I always look forward to more of Susan DiPlacido’s work, so as always, I am anxious to read more. This book is for adults, and while I hate to claim being one, I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Non-Fiction Review

The 7 1/2 Habits of Highly Humorous People
by David M. Jacobson
ISBN-10: 1602640378
Review by Heather Froeschl

Life is funny if you let it be. Even when you feel like it shouldn’t be, deep down in your spirit there is humor waiting to giggle out into the world. David M. Jacobson reminds us to let the laughter loose in his book, “The 7 ½ Habits of Highly Humorous People.” It isn’t a joke book, but it is a delightful reminder to watch for the jokes in life, even, or maybe especially, the ones that are on you.

David has had his fair share of jokes played on him. Is he bitter? Not that I could tell. He emits happiness through the pages of his book. He shares joy and it’s contagious. Be warned that you will not be able to read this book without cracking a smile and likely will come away from it a better person. Of the 7 ½ habits you’ll learn about, I think the half habit is the most important and the best way to get started on changing your life. Simply, it is to change the way you think. Not a simple task! Turning the negative thought into a positive one is challenging, but the rewards are immeasurable. What finding the positive does for yourself is life changing, and the thoughts you share with others can have a profound influence on them. The other 7 habits are equally reflective and uplifting, from realizing that humor is a necessity to humorizing with humorgy (you’ll have to read the book to find out what that means!); the lessons within this book are not meant to simply help a class clown to develop his style but to show the world the power of laughter.

David uses his self proclaimed necessary self-effacing humor to open his world to the reader. It becomes very easy to understand how he needed to let out those giggles and how it changed his life. Throughout the book he throws in one liners and obtuse observations and this made me laugh out loud. It is a funny read, but also a wonderful life lesson guide. Would you go to a guru who sits atop a unicycle? Maybe you should. This book is well written and easily accepted as truth. It holds deep insights regarding inner spirit and higher powers, and interpretations of classic comedy. This is a mix you cannot miss! I only wish it were longer and my visit with David were not over.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Non-Fiction Review

Thinking Inside the LiteBlue Box
by Ronald Williams, Jr.
ISBN: 142417189X
Review by Heather Froeschl

Did you receive any mail today? Chances are, you sure did. How did it get to you? You might be surprised to learn the USPS is a business like any other. In Ronald Williams Jr.’s book, “Thinking Inside the LiteBlue Box,” you will see a side of the postal service that you might not have even considered. So what exactly is the LiteBlue? The heart of the matter: the people of the USPS.

Building on his first book, “Deep Inside LiteBlue,” Williams looks at the big picture. What exactly is going on in this business of correspondence delivery? Many of the same issues that go on in nearly any other business. There are management issues, regarding unions and interpersonal problems. There are moral issues. There are safety troubles. There are personality, cultural, and attitude issues. If your local business office has these problems, so does the USPS. What can be done? Williams has numerous ideas, two books full! Chances are that his ideas will work for any business, not just the one he’s inside of.

In his every day guy tone, Williams proves that he’s not just any worker bee in the hive. He takes initiative and shows readers how to do the same, no matter where you work. His encouragement to make the changes you envision, you the every day worker in whatever job you do, is priceless. For every job there is room to improve work conditions. For every job there are several co-workers who will complain but never do a thing, to that one who speaks up and makes things better…or not. At the very least, they have tried. See what Ronald Williams, Jr. has done, and be inspired.

Non-Fiction Review

Deep Inside LiteBlue
by Ronald Williams, Jr.
ISBN-10: 1424128560
Review by Heather Froeschl

For every job there is room to improve work conditions. For every job there are several co-workers who will complain but never do a thing, to that one who speaks up and makes things better…or not. At the very least, they have tried. One of the most important jobs in America, in my mind anyway, is the United States Postal Service. In Ronald Williams, Jr.’s book, “Deep Inside LiteBlue,” he discusses the inside scene of the USPS, and the typical challenges that are dealt with. Many of these things are just as readily occurring in nearly any job you could think of. Williams’ experience is more relatable than you might imagine.

Have you ever wondered what that letter you stick a stamp on goes through before it reaches your mother’s hands some 300 miles away? The next time you complain about another first class stamp price hike, take a moment to consider the travel costs of your letter. What has to happen to ensure delivery? A whole lot of shaking in going on. “Deep Inside LiteBlue” explains the inner workings of the USPS: the technology, the people, the supervisors, the trays per minute processing, the mandatory holiday work. Then he goes into the progress he’s seen in overcoming problems along the way. He looks at morality building, lack of understanding of the system by supervisors, problems on the line, overtime, sick time, wasted time. Many of the situations he speaks of are happening in all kinds of business and there is the true purpose of this book…to enlighten the masses about efficiency in business practices.

So what exactly is the LiteBlue? The heart of the matter: the people of the USPS. Williams comes from a job which we all rely on. He is an interesting guy working an interesting and vital job. His book speaks in an every man voice, encouraging others to stand up for what is needed in the workplace.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fiction Review

To My Senses
by Alexandrea Weis
ISBN-10: 1419661116
Review by Heather Froeschl

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. It seems there is always a purpose if we seek it out. Alexandrea Weis’ novel, “To My Senses” reminded me of that. It also reminded me that we need to follow our heart’s desires. What more can you ask of a good read? Romance, lush New Orleans settings, intrigue, conspiracy, art…it’s a very fulfilling book.

Nicci Beauvoir isn’t really into the whole debutante life. She’s done that, grown up in it, and now she wants to settle into being a nurse. She’s completing her studies and will soon be ready to make a difference in the world. Her father would prefer she take over the family scrap metal business. But one evening, while attending a lawn party, she comes face to face with an inviting diversion. David Alexander is a struggling artist, obligatorily under the firm grasp of his benefactor, Sammy. There is something to be explored here.

Nicci is swept off her feet, slowly, through a day of fishing, a visit to a coffee shop, and a collapse on David’s couch, where he proceeds to capture her image on the canvas while she sleeps. He is passionate in his art, in life. He is just what Nicci needs in hers. There is trouble though. Nicci’s father’s business is in need of diversification. A plan is under way for a take over. Warnings are given and a possible saving grace is discovered. Somehow, David knows all about it.

Nicci turns to Dr. Michael Fagles, a “safe,” controlling man who only wants a wife to be exactly as he sees fit. He directs Nicci, and she allows him. Her passion is gone, for Michael has none to share. Will she be doomed to spend her life under the thumb of this loveless moron? Will she find herself again, and find the raw emotional life she needs to embrace her true goals?

Alexandrea Weis paints an artistic, character driven novel, set in pre-Katrina luscious New Orleans, and offers life lessons to readers along the way. The pages are filled with self examination, romance, intimacy, hints of connections to the crime worlds, and lavish parties. My favorite scenes involve delightful cottages that leave me aching to explore New Orleans. A fantastic book to curl up with and get lost in, Weis introduces readers to characters that will linger in the mind like a sultry summer night. I trust there will be more from this author in the future, and I look forward to that prospect.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Non-Fiction Computer Technology Review

The Minimum You Need to Know About Logic to work in IT
By Roland Hughes
ISBN 0-9770866-2-3
Review by Heather Froeschl

If you are an IT college student, you are likely being gypped. Logic is no longer taught and it really is something you need. According to Roland Hughes, in his book, “The Minimum You Need to Know About Logic to Work in IT,” “Logic is the fundamental tool of IT.”

This book has nothing to do with Leonard Nimoy and Spock’s form of Logic, but I’ll bet that character would have had knowledge of it! This is where you will be taught what you should still be getting from college professors. So, what’s it all about? Yes, there are the basics of flowcharting and pseudocode, and there are chapters on fundamental data types, searching and sorting, decision order (with multiple exercises to work on), and even more on linked lists, hash, and relational databases. And what happens during a major disaster? Surviving the Fire is a must read chapter.

Hughes’ familiar style permeates the book. His wit and humor make for interesting reading of what could be bone dry material. His decades of experience shine through, leaving readers thankful and wishing he were a college professor at their local university. If this is your first introduction to Roland Hughes, be sure to check out his other works, such as, “The Minimum You Need to Know to be an OpenVMS Application Developer,” and “The Minimum You Need to Know About Java on OpenVMS.” If you are going into the IT field, Roland Hughes should, and will, become a familiar name to you.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Non-Fiction Computer Programming Review

The Minimum You Need to Know About Java on OpenVMS
By Roland Hughes
ISBN 0-9770866-1-5
Review by Heather Froeschl

Stop right there. If you haven’t read Roland Hughes’ first book in this series, “The Minimum You Need to Know to be an OpenVMS Application Developer” you’ll need to do so. Think of it as the prerequisite of a college course. Now, you are ready for the second book, “The Minimum You Need to Know About Java on OpenVMS.” Why two books? Java wasn’t covered so thoroughly in the first. Believe me; you’ll be glad you have both.

The concept of this book is “how to convert your existing core business application to use Java, yet still preserve your investment in the most stable platform on earth.” In other words, Hughes shows programmers how to create all the tools you need to make Java a usable language on OpenVMS. Java is an object-oriented programming language somewhat similar to C and C++ but really very different. Hughes goes into great comparison. Java has classes, but has a unique class called an Array with no defined constructor. This means values can be stored anywhere and in no specific order. You’re going to learn to build the tools you need to build the tools you want. Pretty simple, right?

As in the first book, Hughes uses the same application to demonstrate each new tool, in this book, using Java with FMS and RDB. He shows how to develop a generic class that will be usable by Indexed Files, also how to use JNI to access RMS, FMS, system services, and operating system provided libraries. Programmers learn to create an infrastructure MMS Procedure and how to use the supporting classes the procedure creates. Hughes also shows how to access RDB via the JDBC driver, demonstrating the importance of SQL. An accompanying CD-ROM contains the Class source.

This isn’t just flat textbook reading though. Hughes uses humor and casual language to engage his readers. He comfortably refers to things like geek books and nerd attitude. He knows that this work is on the intense side of life. The information within the book is very professionally presented, with detailed analysis and explanations, troubleshooting and error experiencing tips, and exercise quizzes that test your knowledge. You have to know these things!

The final chapter examines the future of IT and the choices you make going into it. So you want to be a computer programmer huh? Are you sure? Don’t listen to your guidance counselor without reading this book (and the first) first. Triple digit hourly rates, six figure salaries…maybe not. Downsizing, layoffs, feast or famine? Maybe so. When looking for sage advice on IT, go to the guru, Roland Hughes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fiction Review

Unholy Penance
by Roberta Ideus
ISBN-10: 142417029X
Review by Heather Froeschl

What if vampires were real? How many unsolved deaths and missing person’s cases would be revealed as blood thirst? Roberta Ideus offers an interesting twist in her novel “Unholy Penance.” Nothing is ever as it seems, even to a detective and her Sheriff boss.

Kaci Robinson is starting her life over, back in a town she knew well, with family and friends around her. Having been betrayed by her husband, she realizes it was a necessary life lesson. When she is offered an investigative position by her former police academy classmate, synchronicity seems at play. She dives right into the work of trying to solve a series of mysterious murders around the lake. The victims are drained of blood, yet not a drop can be found at the crime scenes. There is no sign of struggle, or even approach. Kaci and David are at a loss, until a well known author of vampire books arrives, Evan Cain. He suggests that the killings are the work of a vampire.

Scoffing at first, there seems no other logical explanation, if vampires can be seen as logical. There is something about Cain that draws Kaci to him. She becomes rather involved in a way that can only be attributed to fate. There is a bigger story here. Cain is not revealing all that there is to know. Will the killing stop? Will penance be done for five hundred years of murder? Is it punishment to kill a vampire, or a blessing?

Ideus suggests things about vampires that you may not have thought of before. This interesting twist will keep readers guessing. The work is nicely plotted, with fantasy, romance, and crime, all rolled up into one. You just might leave this book believing in the unknown…or at least thinking about it. Well done!

Interview with author/editor Zsuzsana Summer

Heather Froeschl interviews author and editor of “Angels Abound,” Zsuzsana Summer.

Zsuzsana Summer has worked professionally in the metaphysical field since the early 1990s, and along with spiritual mentoring and coaching, psychic readings and new age information sharing, she has written and published many articles and columns. Her long-running inspirational columns AngelVoice and Tarotscope have been in syndication since 1999. Zsuzsana’s book, The Now Age: Demystifying Spirituality, the New Age and the Metaphysical was released in early 2004, and her illustrated children’s book, My Angel ABCs, was published in December 2004.

Zsuzsana lives in Whitby, Ontario, along with her life partner, 2 cats and a big, shaggy dog. She offers personal psychic and spirit readings as well as coaching for personal empowerment and spiritual growth in the New Age. Her books, readings and contact information are available here.

A synopsis of “Angels Abound: 111 True Stories of Angel and Spirit Encounters”:
Angels are everywhere, and whether they appear with feathered wings and brilliant gowns, as a reassuring voice that carries you through a dark night, or even an unexpected helping hand in a moment of crisis or despair - once you have had an angel encounter you will never be the same.

Reports show recent Gallup polls that state 72% of Americans as believing in angels, while the number is even higher for Christians at 83%. Angels and guiding spirits are an important part of almost every major world religion and of most non-traditional belief systems. New Age thought joyously embraces and celebrates angelic beings and spirit guides.

Angels, ghosts, spirits and spooks - they are everywhere: in movies, TV series and documentaries, magazines and books. Whether you have ever had your own encounter with the other side or whether you are just a believer in the world of spirits, you will enjoy this amazing collection of 111 angel and spirit encounters. These are true stories sent in by my readers and they prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that angels come in all forms, shapes, and sizes, and exist on all dimensions - the earth plane included.

Some of these stories are awe-inspiring and heart-wrenching, others are bittersweet, many are joyful, and some are simply small, but all are very precious reminders that we are not alone in this vast universe.

Heather: What prompted you to publish Angels Abound?

Through the reach of my metaphysical website, and my long running internationally syndicated column AngelVoice, I came to amass a collection of amazing angelic and spirit encounter stories from my readers that I felt needed to be shared for the inspiration of others. There was NO way I could keep all these wonderful and inspirational stories to myself.

Heather: How did you get started writing about the metaphysical? Did you have a compelling initial experience?

Writing has always been a natural way for me to share my thoughts and musings and I've been writing professionally in different genres and venues for many years. Shortly after my website was developed in 1999, I began writing my syndicated AngelVoice and Tarotscope columns, as well as articles about spirituality and metaphysics. My first metaphysical book was "The Now Age: Demystifying Spirituality, the New Age and the Metaphysical" published in 2004. I can't point to any one particular experience that prompted me to write; although I did have several wonderful spiritual experiences that are detailed in that book. Rather, having traveled a wonderful yet often confusing road in my own personal spiritual journey, I wanted to share that with others in a straight-talking and down to earth, sometimes even humorous way, and thereby present some guideposts for others who are searching for answers on what lies beyond.

Heather: How did you collect the stories that are in the book?

The stories in Angels Abound are a selection from hundreds of letters written to me by readers of my column and visitors to my website. It was a long process to obtain explicit permissions to republish some of these stories and to compile and edit them, but it was also a joy to correspond personally with the contributors who were more than willing to help inspire others with their own experiences.

Heather: Do you know of your own personal spirit guides?

I have had visions of angels on a few occasions, and several ghostly encounters too. I have also experienced amazing synchronicities throughout the many years I have been on a spiritual path. I have also recently had some amazing signs from the spirit world, in particular from a beloved uncle who crossed over a few years ago and reached out to me specifically in response to a plea I made to him. I am still in awe of the way his message came through and although I often wish for much more regular and immediate contact with the spirit world, I have most definitely been assured that 'they' do hear us and do reach out when they can. (To read this story, click here.)

Heather: What is the difference between a spirit guide, an angel, and a ghost?

Technically, there are major differences between angels, spirit guides and the spirits of deceased loved ones or other deceased beings. Angels are beings of light, created by God to be His emissaries between Heaven and Earth. In fact, the word `angel' comes from the Greek 'aggelos' meaning 'messenger' - and signifies that an angel is a link between humans and God. The traditional Archangels and all our named angels and guardian angels belong to this realm.

Angels of the biblical hierarchies have never experienced life on the earth plane and they live in and experience only pure and unconditional love. They do, however, understand human emotions and difficulties, and exist to protect, guide and uplift us by illuminating our existence and showing us divine grace and presence.

Spirit Guides generally have lived at least once but usually many incarnations in earthly form and as such, are well qualified to understand the human condition. In between their earthly lifetimes, and after they have completed their cycles of reincarnation, they have worked on developing their spiritual vibrations and have chosen to re-visit us in our human existence to guide and assist us. Spirit Guides usually appear to us in human form, and whether they appear as a contemporary figure, such as a tweed jacketed, pipe-smoking Brit, as an ancient, eccentric personage such as a Hopi Shaman, or an Egyptian god or goddess, or any personage from a distant but spiritual culture, the messages a true spirit guide imparts are consistently compassionate and wise.

Angelic encounters, full of spiritual guidance, comfort and protection can also come from the spirits of our deceased loved ones and relatives. While we cannot accurately gauge the level of spiritual wisdom these souls have gained, we at least know that they have experienced both the human and the spiritual realms, and these spirits, while their spiritual evolution may or may not have reached that of a spiritual master or highest vibration spirit, do appear to us to show their love and to reassure us of their continued existence and their caring connection with us.

But for those who have had visits from deceased loved ones, for those who have seen winged beings of light and for those who have met their spirit guides in vision quests, dictionary definitions are of little importance. The feelings of love, of protection and of transcendent compassion are gifts for a lifetime and proof positive of love and life beyond the physical plane.

Heather: I’ve had my own experiences, and realize that everyone’s are slightly different, but how do spirits manifest to you?

I always know I am being guided by spirit when I feel a buzzing in my eardrum. This happens most often when I am doing a psychic reading for someone, or I am otherwise trying to tune in to the other side. I have also had very strong experiences with synchronicity, many of which I believe were specifically arranged for me by spirit. I have also experienced unusual smells as well as very strange happenings around the house, which I know were spirit visitors. Last but not least, I have many amazing orb photographs, most of them taken in response to my crazy cat madly chasing invisible entities around the house, and these photos I am convinced are actual spirit orbs.

Heather: Do you see signs all the time? What about number signs, like 111 or 444. What do they mean to you?

Yes, I most definitely see signs regularly. There are many interpretations and 'dictionaries' for repeated numbers, and Doreen Virtue has a compilation of various number combinations in her book, Healing With the Angels. While I refer to that resource occasionally, I basically just go by the symbolism associated with each number. If I see a series of 4's, for example, I would know I am being 'nudged' to pay attention to what is going on for me in the realm of the physical, material world. 9's would indicate conclusions and so on. Number combinations to me are cosmic winks, so even if the particular sequence isn't giving me a clear message, just the fact that I am seeing a pattern in repeated numbers is a sign to me that 'someone' is trying to get my attention and that 'something' is going on.

Heather: How did you hook up with Coscom Entertainment?

I was fortunate to meet A.P., the owner of Coscom Entertainment, in an online writing and publishing group and when he read my manuscript, he took Angels Abound on for Coscom's catalogue.

Heather: Tell me more about your book The Now Age.

The Now Age is intended to help people rediscover their true selves and their true paths by looking at the best of today's spiritual scenery, sprinkled with many of my own spiritual pratfalls and discoveries, and described with plenty of smiles. I wrote The Now Age to help others wishing to integrate new age spiritual development into everyday living. Embracing the magic and the empowerment of today's spirituality is simple and natural and can enhance every aspect of one's life. From angels and affirmations to tarot, meditation, Wicca and wellness, it's all fun and it's a totally mix and match proposition. All you need is an open mind and heart to find a spiritual path that enhances your life, so I wanted to share what I learned along the way and help others discover their own potential.

Heather: Do you have any other projects in the works?

I don't have any books in the works at the moment, but my latest project is an online workshop series called Anam Cara Soul Garden. Through each series of guided e-seminars, members explore a wide variety of metaphysical teachings facilitated by experts (called Guest Guides). Each module of Anam Cara Soul Garden runs for 3 months and offers 2 week sessions on topics such as healing, magick, developing your psychic senses and working with angels. Please drop by more information.

Thanks so much, Heather!

Heather: It’s my pleasure Zsuzsana. I am ever grateful that our paths have crossed.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Non-Fiction Computer Technology Review

“The Minimum You Need to know to be an OpenVMS Application Developer”
By Roland Hughes
ISBN-10: 0977086607
Review by Heather Froeschl

Do you want to be an OpenVMS Application Developer? If you don’t know what that is, then you probably don’t need this book, but if you do, you’ve found the seemingly most comprehensive and readable guide to doing so. Roland Hughes’ offering, “The Minimum You Need to know to be an OpenVMS Application Developer” is an abundance of information that you cannot afford to be without.

Here’s some background: “OpenVMS (Open Virtual Memory System) is a high-end computer server operating system. As a multi-user, multiprocessing virtual memory-based operating system (OS), it is designed for use in time-sharing, batch processing, real time, and transaction processing. It offers high system availability through clustering and distributes the system over many machines.” In other words, you need to know this!

This isn’t a beginner’s guide, to be sure. However, those in the IT industry will be thankful to Hughes as he describes uses of: the MMS and CMS tools from the widely used DECSET OpenVMS software development toolkit CDD FMS the RDB and MySQL databases. He describes other tools found in OpenVMS application development such as VMSMAIL, and PHONE. The book works readers through and around a single application which is developed in each of DEC BASIC, FORTRAN, COBOL, C and C++ using a variety of tools. On the accompanying CD, full source code is provided.

Hughes’ language is easy to understand. He doesn’t speak over the heads of the readers, nor talk down, and his tome is not the dry textbook form you may be used to. He uses humor and easy going guidance, making this likely one of the most readable IT guides out there.

Drawing on his vast experience and knowledge, Hughes rewards himself and the reader with a final chapter on the IT field. His guidance here is not so technical but rather personal when deciding where a developer wishes to work. His attention to company restrooms is something I did not expect to read about but is likely very valuable information. If you want to be an OpenVMS Application Developer, this is the book you need.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Fiction Review

My Friend Sam
By Charles A. Reap Jr.
ISBN-10: 0595442625
Review by Heather Froeschl

I think, sometimes, we try to find ourselves in our friends. We seek out that which we know we are lacking, and instead of looking within, we accidentally look to others. Or maybe that’s what friends are for…helping us to find ourselves. In Charles A. Reap Jr.’s latest book, “My Friend Sam,” we see one man who seems to endure every whim of his friend. Will he find himself along the way?

Harold’s “friend” Sam is pretty rough around the edges. He’s a twice divorced bachelor who lives by himself and does what he pleases. Every so often he’ll call Harold to come on over. This may occur in the middle of the night, in the pouring rain. Since Harold lives right next door, he’ll trek over in the mud, and then be reprimanded for allowing his slicker to puddle on the wood floor. When Sam gets it in mind to tackle a project, like damming up a spring to make a pond, or building a five car garage to house his refurbishing projects, he picks up the phone and tells Harold to come over and help. He doesn’t ask, he demands. Now why would someone put up with such a “Friendship?” It’s hard to tell but an interesting read trying to find out.

Through the years Harold has lost his father, then lost his big brother surrogate “dad.” Sam sort of filled in and became an authority figure, someone to call his best friend. Over time, he got used to Sam’s gruffness, his lengthy explanations of various trivia and facts, and his demanding demeanor. The story is about Sam’s moving in next door, the trials and tribulations of Sam’s projects, and a friendship that is enduring and co-dependant. Throw in Harold’s wife Bobbie, Sam’s internet relationship with Clemmy, and the local preservation society and you’ve got some belly laughing moments.

Told from Harold’s viewpoint, the author allows us to see into the mind of a hammock loving male. We also see a bit of the working of Sam’s mind too. The book makes you wonder what is going on in all the neighborhoods out there, with two houses separated by a stretch of overgrown grass, a hammock in one yard and a two rockers on the front porch of the other. Reap offers a glimpse into everyday America, with all of its relationships, mundane tasks, and unfinished projects. Does Harold find out who he is through his friendship with Sam? I’m not going to tell. “My Friend Sam” is an entertaining read.