Sunday, November 16, 2008

shelter me

by Juliette Fay

Ass kicking widow? Loving mother? Betrayed daughter? Vulnerable friend?


All of these and more. When this book came my way as an advance copy I expected it to be an interesting and light read. It is. It is that and so much more.

Janie is a thirty something mother of two small children who lost her husband in a freak accident.There are many ways to lose a loved one, but to lose a soulmate with no time to say good-bye has to rank as one of the most difficult.

I expected to find a story that was sad and depressing and maybe a little difficult to read. Sad was there,betrayal, vulnerability and fear were all there. And humor. There is lots of humor. Hard to believe I know, considering the basic story. But difficult, I was drawn into this story, and found myself caring about the characters immediately.

Janie is strong, hurt but strong. When she was young, she simply did not believe that she would be one of those women who found true love and a happy life. But she did. She found a man who was able to "Get" her. To understand where she was coming from and to support her, love her and be a wonderful father to their children, Dylan and Carly. Her life had become so much more than she expected. Then he was gone.

A fatal decision, a moment in time and he was gone.

Suddenly a single mom who felt broken, she was carrying on as best she could. She had a wonderful supportive family behind her. Cormac, her cousin and a variety of slightly nutty but caring relatives and friends. Counseling from her priest was at first just an annoyance, but became more, much to her surprise.

Life was not through with surprising her, or testing her.

This book will land on my KEEPER shelf with the books never to give away and to read again and again.

This will be another book I will recommend and in fact give as a gift to friends. I have said before that I love stories about strong women. Women who do not let the stumbles on lifes path get them down. I love Janie and her family and friends and I know you will too.

Friday, November 14, 2008

An Irish Country Christmas

by Patrick Taylor

I could not have been more pleasantly surprised. The characters in the novel are gentle, kind and good.
Barry Laverty, the associate doctor compliments the older more curmudgeonly Dr. Fingal O'Reilly. The story of the practice these two share in a small Irish town very simply warms the heart. As the story flows we hear about the path these men take to become who and where they are today, and what Mrs Kinkaid has to do with it all.

In an easy manner this story is from the home and office of these two gentle doctors, into the lives and homes of the people who count on them. Each family has its own story, and some of them are hard indeed. That it is the holidays makes these stories all the more compelling. It is impossible not to feel drawn to Donal and Susan a set of newlyweds with typical issues but a far from typical history. Similarly, Sonny and Maggie but they are anything but typical. Unusual in appearance they turn out to be angels in disguise.

Eileen who does factory work to keep family and home after her husband leaves them and never looks back. Her three little ones are expecting a visit from Father Christmas. Will it take a miracle for him to appear?

Enchanting and engrossing, this is a perfect read for this special time of year.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Not One Drop

by Riki Ott

A story that began on Friday March 24, 1989.

That is the day that the oil tanker Exxon Valdez spilled many millions of gallons of oil into the sound, and began one of the biggest corporate cover-ups and political shames in the history of this country. The day that a nightmare began.

This book tells the tale of this unwilling journey undertaken by the town of Cordova Alaska, by its families, small businesses and not least of all the wildlife of this microcosm of American Life. People like you and me who wanted nothing more than to work, to live and to seek happiness in their corner of the world.

The main characters of this story, Riki , Dan, Sam and Linden and their children put faces on the misery, on the loss, pain and fear. You will not find a just collection of data here. You will learn about the people who endured this tragedy and fought for years to bring life back to their home. Never giving up but always giving. Helping each other is truly a way of life in Cordova. That is one thing that has not changed.

It took five years for the "speedy trial" of Exxon to take it into the courts. A ruling finally came down and was of course appealed. It was February 2008 before Exxon's appeals reached the Supreme Court, and June of 2008 before they ruled. That a ruling reduced the amount of punitive damages to 10% of the original ruling.

There are fish in the sound these days, but it is not the same. I will never be the same. The herring have not rebounded, it may take many years for that. The people are another story. They have carried on. They have found their way through some very bad times. Life changing times. But most of them found a way to survive, to not give up.

This book is a reminder that what happened to the people of Alaska could happen to any of us during this time when the rights of the individual matter far less than those of the corporations. What was brought to the attention of the country and the world by what happened when the Exxon Valdez bled oil into the waters off Alaska, was only the beginning. The last chapters admonish us to step away from our televisions, climb out of our cocoons and get involved with our communities, our politics and our country as a means to save our own way of live and indeed, our republic.

Very timely, as this book comes to us at a time when our country is experiencing a surge of renewal. A time when our rights have suffered blow after blow, but we find ourselves ready to once again stand up and fight for ourselves and our country.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Another Mother's Life

by Rowan Coleman

This is a British novel. I tend to enjoy books these books because there is a subtle difference between them and the books written by Americans. In fact, that difference may be subtlety itself. I often find the stories to be more charming than those by Americans. The same reason I enjoy British films, I think?

In any case, this was a good story of two friends and a life circumstance ( read: man) that came between them. Most of the story of these two woman as youngsters, and then young women is told in flashbacks. The lives that they are living today, years after that final, crushing separation are compared. Such different paths they have traveled to bring them to the same crossroads.

When they are both young mothers, they are both taken aback when they meet at this crossroad of their lives.
It is the last thing either has ever expected to happen. Their children, daughters are becoming friends in much the same way that they did so many years ago.

This is the story of the possibility of renewing their friendship. Can it ever be as good as it once was?
It is a story of families, and frailties and the ability to trust.

Is it possible to go home again is a question we often come across, because it is really a question with no answer. Or perhaps a question with too many asnwers.

I read this in one afternoon, as I was drawn in and wanted to find out what happened to Catherine and Alison.
Many of us have had a good friend from childhood lost to time, or circumstance. That is what drew me in...

I am glad I read it and will pick up The Accidental Mother by the same author.

This was a good read that I will recommend to friends.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Heart In The Right Place

by Carolyn Jourdan

I hardly know where to begin. This is a beautiful story of a loving family and a very special community. It is a story of a woman who finds her truest self.

Carolyn Jourdan was a high profile attorney who worked on Capitol Hill. She drove a Mercedes, and had a high profile circle of friends. She knew all of the important people, and they knew her.

A family emergency sent her back to the hills of Tennessee, for a few days. It wasn't easy. She missed her place in DC from almost the first moment she was away. Her best friend was there. Her life and work were there. She was somebody there...or was she.

As the days and then weeks passed, far longer than she had expected or planned, Carolyn began to see things just a little differently. She had always wanted to help others, but had seen it more as a grand scheme. Helping many at one time. Making a difference . But is is more important to make a difference to many people at one time than it is to do so one by one. That was a conundrum she had trouble solving.

I loved each and every one of the people I met in this book. There were tears in my eyes more than once. A story filled with compassion, love and faith that will have a firm place on my small self of books that are to be read again and again.

Sarah's Key

by Tatiana de Rosnay

This is the Story of Sarah, a little girl who even when terrified herself, looks to protect her little brother.
Sarah was taken away from her home, and then from her parents when French police gathered Jewish families, to send them to their deaths simply for who they were.

This is the story of neighbors betraying neighbors. People who closed their hearts to the people they had known for years, for the reward of some cash in hand and perhaps their own safety.

This is a story of love and compassion. Heros in every day life who took it upon themselves to save little children. Particularly one family who took one such child to their hearts and into their family.

Sarah's Key tells the story of Julia. A woman who comes into her own when she too, stands up for a child and saves a life. It reminds us how fragile life is, and how many ways our own lives are entangled with the lives of others. It begins in 1942 in France, and ends more than sixty years later . It is a story of horror and death, It is a story of love and life and joy.

I was invested in the characters from page one. By the time I closed this book, they were friends that I will miss, but will visit again. I will recommend this book to others, many others. This is a book that I will give as a gift, share with my children and friends.

Tatiana de Rosnay has a way with words that is rarely found these days. Mere words become a story well told, and told with a delicate touch. I look forward to whatever she offers us next, and thank her for this tale well told.

Marcello in the Real World

by Francisco Stork

I considered saying that this is a wonderful book about a young man with disabilities. But that wouldn't be quite correct. Marcello does indeed see the world differently, but would I call it a disability? Not for Marcello.

I thought about saying that this is a coming of age story. That is true, almost. Marcello does indeed find the strength within himself to see the world differently. In all of its ugliness and sad reality. So in this way, I guess he did go through a coming of age period, or at least began to find the strength he will need to make a place for himself.

This is the story of an extraordinary young man. A teenager who sees things differently, and thinks about what it is he sees. Really thinks. And finds understanding. He grows up in a family where he is embraced by his mother and sister for who he is, and who he can be. He is taught in an environment where there is no judgment, just unconditional acceptance. When the time comes for him to be tested, these all serve him well in finding his strength, his place in the world, his happiness and perhaps his love.

Marcello drew me in immediately. He and his family mattered to me. I so wanted him to be more than fiction, and I am sure that somewhere, he is. Marcello in the Real World is a wonderful book. I read it in one long session, because i couldn't make myself leave. I had to know how he faired. I couldn't step away before reaching the end of his story. But as with all good stories, there is no ending here. It is all about beginnings.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Enslaved by Ducks and Fowl Weather

By Bob Tarte

This was an entertaining read. Enslaved by Ducks is the first of two books telling the story of Bob Tarte, His wife and family of pets. The author tells of being a young man who was completely disinterested in the animal kingdom to someone who has learned the joys of life with pets after being dragged kicking and screaming into this knowledge by his wife Linda. Linda is a unique individual whose empathy with animals is legendary.

Their story is told by Bob himself in such a humorous and entertaining way that fifty pages into this book I had purchased the next one, Fowl Weather.

Bob Tarte's second book about his life with ducks, ( cats, parrots, bunnies and more) was just as compelling as the first. I enjoyed learning more about his wife Linda and his best friend Bob. This book was a little more about finding his way in in the world while in the throes of depression after losing his father and more members of his animal kingdom.
He appears more vulnerable and unsure, but never fails to have his life brightened and gilded by Linda and his pet family.

Those of us who have grappled with depression can find many ways to connect with his feelings, and the occasional feeling that his life was whirling out of control. He is more fortunate than some, with a good support system of family and friends.

Both of these books will make you laugh out loud, and shed a tear. I know that they did that for me.

I chose to review these two books together as I read them back to back, as the should be read I think. They are great stand alone reads but much better together. I am hoping for book three

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Walking Through Walls

by Philip Smith

I looked forward to this book after reading the description on Amazon. It sounded charming and
funny. I looked for it to be an entertaining read. I found myself at the end of the book and still not caring about any of the family members.

As it happens I am a believer in energy healing and many things mentioned here in the book. It seemed to me that more often than not such things were made to look ridiculous. The family was composed of the oft confused Philip, who grew up to be rather self centered and spoiled. His mom who tottered through her days on high heels with her head in the clouds, pretending to be someone she was not. Dad seemed to have most of the redeeming qualities although it was he who was most often made to look silly, and frankly, he often was.

Sometimes a book can be redeemed by its underlying tone. The tone of Walking Through Walls seemed a little whiney to me. I am sure that this family was in reality much nicer than this book made them seem. I dislike giving books a review that isn't positive, and so I try to find at least one positive thing about these reads.
With this book, I am sure that there are those who will find it more entertaining than I did. It was nowhere near as depressing or shocking as Running With Scissors. It just turned out to be much like the oft mentioned brown rice. Rather dull.

Monday, September 22, 2008


by Francine Prose

I'd allowed myself to drift into that hushed and watery border zone...

Is an example of the word pictures created by Francine Prose. This is a story of sadness and loss, grief and discovery. A story told in the voice of Nico, the sister left behind.

Nico's family struggles to survive the death of a beloved child. A whimsical, talented and loving girl just beginning to become a woman. The angst and the fear that it could have been prevented if only something were different, or someone had done or not done this or that.

To be honest, this is a story that has been told before, but rarely in such a compelling and beguiling way. I read Goldengrove in one sitting. I had to know how it ended for Nico. It is her story.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Beside A burning Sea

We will know that great lives have been lived and that our memories will forever bind us together.

So ends Beside a Burning Sea.

The writer is an excellent storyteller. I must admit that once I had this book in my hands, I was not expecting much. Between the choosing and the reality The description had lost its draw. I decided to carry on and have a look, and stepped into a story well worth reading.

Within a very few pages I realized that I already cared about the characters. Isabelle and Annie are sisters. Nurses serving on the hospital ship Benevolence, during WWII. They cared for Americans and Japanese alike. In fact it was a Japanese man who was in their care when the torpedo struck.

Atrocities have always been part of war. In this case a Japanese plane purposely torpedoed this hospital ship.
Within seconds water came to the waists of the sisters. That they could only try to save themselves was immediately clear to the Japanese patient, Akira.It was then that he became the caretaker and helped the sisters to leave the quickly sinking ship.

The Captain, husband to Isabelle, also managed to survive. He was on deck when the attack occurred and found himself in the water. He and only a few others survived, and all found themselves swimming for a nearby island.

This group of people bonded and found a way to survive. The story takes place over a remarkable eighteen days. Days when life, death, and love would make an everlasting impression on the small group of survivors.
This is a story that will draw you in and characters who will sty with you for a long time.

Do not hesitate to take this one on. It is beautifully written, with a sensitivity that will have you searching for more books by this author.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Music Teacher

By Barbara Hall

This is a book that is rather hard for me to define. It is, most of all, a book about a woman that never really knew who she was. Even by age forty, Pearl was unable to define herself with any confidence. It seemed to me that she was moving purposelessly through life, waiting for someone else to tell her what her life's purpose was to be. This was perhaps due to the fact that she was allowed to drift through her childhood without the anchor of love and security that she craved.

An intuitive and empathetic woman, she taught music in a small music store. The other characters were mostly other musicians who put in some time working behind the counter of this small independent music shop. They were an idiosyncratic crew, brilliant like so many artists, and flawed like all people everywhere. Rather than developing any close friendships, they seemed to be at odds with each other, for the most part.

Pearl's interaction with the children that she taught was an important aspect of this novel . She came closest to feeling as if she could define herself when she was teaching. Without a doubt she was a caring teacher at times. Other times found her as much at odds with her students as she was with her colleagues.

The characters are compelling and rich. For this reason, it is well worth reading. The story itself is well told and a bonus.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

American Savior: A Novel of Divine Politics

by Roland Merullo

Jesus Christ for President of the United States. I expected this book to be entertaining, somewhat amusing, maybe Pratchett like. I was right. I was also wrong. This was a fascinating political satire that challenges our political system, the media and indeed our very culture.

It does this in a way that is certainly entertaining. At times it is amusing. But essentially, it is so much more. This book forces us to look more deeply into our beliefs, and the way we live and behave. It forces the reader to see that there are options and that perhaps more than options, possibilities.

What would the country be like if we chose kindness over cruelty. Generosity over greed. Truth over lies.
Compelling stuff. It had the effect of making me more dissatisfied than ever with the status quo. I miss more than ever, something that we never really had.

Read this book. It doesn't preach to you. It is a quick read, it won't strain your brain, it will make you smile. It is certainly an easy read. But when you close the cover after you have read the last word. You will feel better about yourself. You will know just a little bit more about love.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Necklace

by Cheryl Jarvis

This is not a literary work of art. It is a work of art all the same. Thirteen women whose lives were changed because of what began as a simple leap of faith and what might seem to be a frivolity.

Each woman has a chapter that describes who she was, and who she has become due to her commitment to be more. A commitment that began with the necklace and moved forward because of a strength it ingited within them. An unspoken agreement that came as part a parcel of the investment in a piece of fine jewelry.

As I read through each chapter I was filled more and more with admiration and hope born of this sisterhood. I felt my own part in it simply as a woman who has reached maturity and a certain contentment and wisdom . These women took what they had of that, shared it, and then they soared.

The women who owned Jewelia became more than friends, They became a force. A force for rising above, and for doing good. A force for taking small positive steps and making a big difference. This is a book that women of all ages need to read, share and read again.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Fire: A Novel.

by Katherine Neville

A sequel to the novel The Eight, The fire continues a saga involving a treasure of immeasurable worth.
A treasure that was handed down through the centuries. One that was protected at all cost.

I read The Eight only a week or two ago. I felt that it was a good story that was somewhat buried under far too many plot twists, details and historical figures. This was not a problem in the sequel.

This book not only allows us to catch up with the characters we had become involved with whole reading the Eight, but introduced more characters to the Game of protecting the treasure. Cat Velis has a daughter now, a young lady who is as spirited as her mother had once been, A daughter born to play the game.

We also find new and equally compelling characters whose family legacies were entwined with The Game. I found some of the methods of communication puzzling, and I do not use that word lightly. Both books were full of obscure references and many puzzles that only the author and presumably chess masters would be able to decipher. Often, I felt, to a point where they became distracting, and sometimes annoying. Nothing was ever clear cut or honest within these families. Nothing was ever as it seemed. Again, I felt it was just a little much. I do not know how any family could survive so much deceit, much less thrive within those constraining boundaries. Where even a childhood friend was not as what they seemed to be.

Having said all of that. The basic story was an interesting one. At first I thought that this book would be same story different characters, and that proved to not be so. There were original twists and turns here.

To me, one of the hallmarks of an excellent read is the question. Would you recommend this book.
For The Fire, as well as The Eight, I would have to say no. Even though my bookoholic friends are enthusiastic about many different genres.. I honestly cannot think of one who would be interested in devoting the hours that it takes to read these books. Despite the fact that it is, as I said, a good story, it required far to much time for too little payoff.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

First Daughter

By Eric Van Lusbader

As one president is about to leave office and inauguration day looms for the next man to take that office, the country is in turmoil. In a novel apparently meant to use the events following 9/11 and the inept leadership in place at that time in history, terrorism is of course, a theme.

The story is fraught with allusions to terrorism and the lame duck president seems to see a terrorist behind every bush. When reality proves that they are not there, his insistence simply trumps reality. Thus we are taken on a merry chase for terrorists, real and imagined. What is real is that the daughter of the president elect has been kidnapped. Whether or not she survives is made very clear in the first pages of this book. The rest is the convoluted tale of this kidnapping and its results.

The thread, no, rather the wide ribbon of religion that runs throughout this story often strikes a discordant not, cropping up in conversations and situations where rather than enhancing, it distracts. This was a promising story that for me failed to thrill but some mystery did indeed remain. Although the reader may believe that the ending would lead us in a certain direction, instead it was a good solid surprising end. Sadly, I found the finish to be the best of the book.

Friday, July 18, 2008


by Connie Willis

This is a gripping story. The characters are realistic and compelling. Willis manages to tell this story about NDE research, that has you longing for an answer, yet nearly consumed with compassion for her characters.

Joanne is working on researches NDEs from a scientific and psychological point of view. She is hampered by the intrusion of an author who is more interested in selling books and saying what he thinks people want to hear than in producing an honest report of what happens during these near death experiences. He leads patients on and implants ideas, thus contaminating the information Joanne is trying to garner.

The arrival on the scene of yet another NDE reasearcher would seem improbable in a single hospital setting, yet somehow Dr Wrights appearance is blended carefully enough into the storyline that it makes perfect sense. He is researching near death experiences from a physical cause point of view. Joanna teams up with Dr Wright and things start happening pretty cquickly.

Wright and Joanna carefully compile a lot of information that seems to be going nowhere. Their team of volunteers begins to fall apart. Even though they are working with the same information, it looks like they are both being led in different directions.

This is an edge of the seat read for anyone who likes Willis, or is interested in NDE's. The ending is just that. I was completely unable to guess where it would all lead until the last page ended. And still, She leaves it to you to draw your own conclusions . I heartily recommend this book!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Lace Reader

by Brunonia Barry

Beginning this story is like leaning back into a soft feather bed on a winters night. I am breathless with anticipation as each page ends and I turn to the next. I want more, and I want it now. But also, I dread coming to the end.

I feel the breeze blowing my hair back from my face, and smell that northern sea. There is nothing like it. I watch the bricks of Salem passing under my feet. I am there.

Towner is the main character. Her story is no less compelling or real than those of the others in the book. Eva, May, even Ann one of the more renowned witches in town all have their own equally strong personalities and stories. Mostly, it is about the Whitney family, life in a small town, and the injuries we all suffer as we make our way through life. It is the story of life through the eyes of Sophya, who takes the the name Towner in a desperate attempt to distance herself from things she cannot bear to remember.

May lives on Yellow Dog Island, and her home is a sanctuary for abused women. Emma, her half sister lives there as well. They work the land for food, and they make lace. The Whitney family woman all read lace. It is a family gift, or curse depending on how each woman sees the lace.

Towner is living in California until a call from her brother draws her to her home in Salem. A home only minutes away by boat from Yellow Dog Island. Once she is again face to face with where she spent her childhood, she has to deal with family mysteries both current and in the past. Facing these mysteries, learning to accept the abilities she had to read people, and to see them after they have passed on is a fascinating and intriguing read. No less intriguing is the story of Towner's healing.

Like the most beautiful examples of lace itself, this story is woven, interwoven and no thread is left hanging free. It pulls them all together to create a work of art to be cherished. A piece to look at again and again merely because it exists.

The Resilient Child: Seven Essential Lessons for Your Child's Happiness and Success

by George S. Everly

The most important and compelling information this book provides, is what it calls the seven essential lessons that every person should learn. The lessons, which are each presented as a chapter in the book are:

1) The Value of Friends, Mentors, and the Support of Others
2) The Three Most Difficult Decisions
3) Teach Your Children to Take Responsibility for Their Actions
4) Making the Most Important Investment of a Lifetime: Invest in Your Health
5) Learn the Power of Optimism
6) The Importance of Faith
7) Follow a Moral Compass and Cultivate Integrity

In order to write this review, I was going to choose the one which I thought to be the most important. I found that I was unable to choose.

In a simple, clear and concise manner, this book explains to parents who feel that they are floundering without a manual to raise this little person, that very guide. In a non-judgmental way it suggests how to implement these lessons and make them a part of life.

This is going to be on my list of favorite things to give new parents. I will be sure to tell them that these are the instructions that should have been included at birth

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sea Born Women

by BJ Mountford
I wanted to like this book. I kept it on my shelf until I had a whole day to savor it. The blurbs and reviews were good enough to fuel my anticipation.

Sea Born Women was okay. I was interested in the story. It was fairly well told, and had a bit of everything from history, to mystery to ghosts. It was somewhat unrealistic in my opinion in the portrayal of how often an island such as the one portrayed was visited. The park department had enough employee, and it was those characters that rounded out the story. Each of them was in my opinion, more believable than Bert, the main character.

She had a completely superfluous daughter who was mentioned twice and needlessly. I do not understand what the pint was. But if my own mother was in harms way and neglected to get in touch with me I would be quite upset. But then again, Bert was rather busy fantasizing about the male Park Service employees and doing ridiculously stupid things like wandering around in the dark of night where a previous volunteer such as she died mysteriously.

Bert was a disappointment to me. She was over fifty, yet acted like a simpering juvenile when men were around. Then she did something so incredibly stupid, I kept hoping they would just let her lie in the bed she had made for herself! Sadly it was not to be. She was rescued and back in bed with one of her colleagues in short order.

Is it worth reading? If it comes your way, give it a read, but I would be surprised to find it on anyones favorite reads list.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Safety of Secrets

by Delaune Michel

This is a story about two young women who grew up together, both from dysfunctional families.
Patricia and Fiona met in first grade and became best friends. It was a friendship that endured throughout childhood, and even through both working in the dog eat dog world of acting. They were two little girls who learned to help each other through all of the bad times, and to share all of the good times.

But life often finds a way to come between the best of friends.

This is a story of how Patricia and Fiona find their way through life changing events, and what happens in their friendship in the end. This book is entertaining, the characters endearing and real. Some of us will find ourselves knowing just how the experiences described felt for us, others will wish they had a friend just like one of these women. And some will smile, knowing that they do.

I enjoyed this book. It is more than chic lit, it is a story for women about women. I would recommend it to a friend.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Doomsday Book

by Connie Willis

A historian by training, adventuress by nature. That describes Kivrin, the young woman whose dream is finally coming through as she is sent to study life in the year 1320. The middle ages is a time fraught with danger, especially for a woman alone. Kivrin shrugs this off as she prepares to be a part of something that she has dreamed of for years.

Nothing can go wrong. There are checks and cross checks and redundancies everywhere. The net has been used before and often. So often that Gilchrist, the arrogant, self serving unprepared and untrained man in temporary charge of the facility seems fine with foregoing some of the tests and checks.

Kivrin is all too willing to believe him, and to take the risk to live her dream. Nothing can go wrong.
She has made preparations down to the last detail of proper clothing, and language, She even made sure that her nails were worn and broken by volunteering at a local archeological dig before she leaves.

The archeological dig that was nearly the undoing of everyone for miles around.

Kivrin herself and Baldri the tech assisting at sending her to 1320 are both infected by a bacteria that has survived the tomb they helped to uncover.

Not only does Kiverin arrive at her destination infected, but something else has gone gravely wrong. People are dying in the time she left and the time where she is now living. Was it her? Did she bring this upon them?

I admit to an affinity for time travel stories. Who would not want to see what it was like when the Pyramids were being built? Who would turn down a chance to see a time before they were born, a simpler, happier time?

The characters in this story were realistic, complicated and human. People doing the best that they can to have the best that life can offer them. They lived and loved and worked together in communities 700 years apart, but not so different after all.

This is a story filled with dreams, with anguish and fear. But it is also a story of love and hope and strength. I was captivated by the characters and the tale. I couldn't put it down, until I finally learned how the story ended.

As Good As It Got

By Isabel Sharpe

I am sorry to say that I did not enjoy this book. I have passed it to my sister, who I believe will like it.

I found it to be to simple, too predictable and utterly boring. By the time Martha was introduced, I was disgusted that these women felt too weak and needy to carry on without a man in their lives. The idea of a camp for these women to attend in order to recover from the amputation of their man was almost too much to take.

I am honestly sorry that I cannot give this a good review. I could not finish it fast enough.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Between Here and April

Deborah Copaken Kogan

This was an extraordinary book in so many ways. The main character is Elizabeth, a young mother who stepped away from a successful career as a journalist to raise her young daughters.

The story begins when Elizabeth suddenly recalls an event from her childhood. When they were six years old, Elizabeth's friend April vanishes from her life. No one ever really discussed what had happened to April, or what had become of her. Only after research from that time brought to light that April had died. She and her sister were killed in a murder suicide by their mother. There are threads of post partum depression in Aprils story, and a mother who was without diagnosis or help, as it was not a recognized condition at that time.

This information comes to light when Elizabeth's daughters are the same ages as April and her sister. Although in the beginning one might think this is a story about April it is far more about Elizabeth. She is a young woman who has lost confidence in her marriage and her decisions. Her self esteem and self worth are in seriously short supply.

It is a story of how Elizabeth finds her way.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

New Stories From The South 2008

Edited by ZZ Packer

For those who are lovers of the short story, or those who enjoy tales from the not so innocent south, this will be a good read.

The Bridge of Sighs takes us into the heartbreaking, gut wrenching world of Cattle Killers who visit "humane " death on steers raised to die.

The Ease of Living is about a desperate mothers attempt to keep her son from being affected by death, by sending him away. Providing distance between him and the death of two boys. Can we ever get far enough away from death?

The Candidate is the story of a single mother distracted, if only for a moment from her own small life.

Child of God and the ugly world of St Jude's. But is it truly ugly? Cannot some beauty be found in the darkest of dark places?

And there is more, so much more. Eighteen Stories filled with characters that we all have known or heard about. All told with the scent of magnolias in the background, and the tangible heat of a deep summer night.

If you have not been a reader of short stories, this is a good place to start. The stories are so rich and powerful that you take away all that you usually find in a longer read. There is something for you here.

Tomato Girl

By Jayne Pupek

I found this to be a well written story with characters who are both compelling and interesting. It takes place in simpler times, but was there ever such a thing? Ellie Sanders has had to grow up too fast. She lives in a world with a mother whose madness makes it impossible for her to care for Ellie as she should. Her father does the best he can, but it is not enough. Particularly when the tomato girl comes into his life and Ellie's.

Ellie takes care of herself. She sees things through a child's eyes, but with a vision distorted by fear and pain. Those eyes have seen more than any young girls eyes should see. Birth, death , betrayal , abandonment and murder are not small things, Yet Ellie sees or endures the knowledge of them all.

There are "angels" in Ellie's life, as in each of ours. Will they be in time to save her? Is there hope for Ellie in the end?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Holistic Health Guide

Natural Care for the Whole Dog

by Dr Doug Knueven

Most of us who have dogs in our lives consider them part of the family. We all know how it feels to not know how to help them when they hurt. We have all been in a position where we just don't know where to turn. Even the simple questions can sometimes be difficult to answer.We are fortunate to live in a time when science has made great strides in dealing with health issues for not only ourselves, but our pets as well. We also have the benefit of the ancient wisdom of eastern medicine. With all of these opportunities why just take advantage of one or the other? Dr Doug helps to find the answers. He uses his experience with both Eastern and Conventional medicine to explain how a balanced body, mind and spirit is important not only to ourselves but to our canine companions as well. This is not only an informative read, but an entertaining one.

Are you questioning the need for vaccines? Do you wonder if you should use a flea treatment for your dog? Does acupuncture really work? What about those herbal remedies? Chiropractic for my dog? Do you just not know the best way to ensure that your dog is getting the best possible care? Does massage really help my dog? What is homeopathy anyway?

This book shows a typical pet lover how to care for their dogs in the healthiest and most compassionate and helpful ways. You will never regret having this book on your shelf, or in your hands when your little friends need you most.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Under The Stone Paw

By Theresa Crater

Myth, magic, prophecy, metaphysics, adventure, romance and majestic vistas described with poetic accuracy, barely begin to describe what you find within these pages. From the first page until the last, I was captivated by the story, the history and the drama.

From Anne Le Clair, the first member of the renowned clan we meet, up through ancestry of her line, we meet strong, gifted and powerful women and men who willingly serve the family legacy. They serve all of their lives and by giving their lives if that is what they are called to do. They, along with five other families hold, literally within their hands, the keys to universal mysteries and life as we know it.

Each character introduced is part of an intricate design centuries in the making. We journey with them to Egypt, and walk the paths of the ancients, and find magic beyond our wildest dreams. As the story unfolds, we find treachery, betrayal and murder, but also, love and hope. There is as much history here as there is fiction. This is a book for the seekers among us, and also for those who just like a well told story with compelling characters and an ending that brings the many lines of the story together. It also leaves the reader wanting more of the same.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

No One Heard Her Scream

This was a wonderful read. Suspense, and romance is possible in one story, and you will get it here. The characters are not only believable but compelling. Becca, a homicide detective has a sister who has gone missing. This tragedy in has affected her career and every aspect of her life.

When an opportunity arises for her to investigate a case regarding remains found in her own hometown, she puts every effort into resolving another family’s tragic loss. In doing so, she begins to find her own strength and is able to confront and accept her own vulnerability.

A book is only as good as its ending, in my opinion. This book has an amazing ending. All of the loose ends are tied up. All situations are resolved. This is a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat, and involved in every chapter. The ending is an even bigger payoff.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Journey To Pain Relief

by Phyllis Berger

Anyone who has ever endured pain for a length of time will understands how important it is to find relief.All too often, stretches ,heat, icing, and medications fall short. Many have learned to search farther afield for help and relief.
This book presents case studies, explanations of the reason for the pain, and a wonderful variety of treatments. The depth of understanding by this author is incredible. She offers options for treatment of everything from skin hunger, ( a very real condition resulting from the absence of touch) to neuralgia. Treatments are suggested relevant to the conditions discussed. .
Since many of us are using alternative treatments more and more often, this book is an invaluable resource . Treatments we have heard about but may not be familiar with, such as laser treatments, acupuncture, TENS machines and more are explained in simple easy to understand. The mind body connection is addressed and the importance of emotional well being for good health is presented with suggestions on how to achieve this physical harmony. Laughter, meditation and prayer should not be discounted, as they can be very helpful in conquering pain and achieving the relief and ability to cope with pain that many of us seek.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Off the Deep End

by W. Hodding Carter

This is a story of a man who somehow never managed to grow into his own life.

As a youth he had a dream of swimming in the Olympics, but his father did not support the idea.
Giving up his pursuit of Olympic fame and joining the Peace Corps did not give him the satisfaction or the notoriety that he craved.

Year followed excruciating year, college, marriage and children. Still he swam, but never seemed to derive any pleasure from the activity. At the age of forty one, his dream revived and he once again began to train to be an Olympic swimmer.

Maybe it helps if the reader is a middle aged man. As I turned page after page searching for a reason to continue reading, I became more angry with this man. He had a somewhat stable and successful career, but could have achieved so much more if he could focus on reality and be a man with a family who loves to swim. Even a man who enjoys competing.

To me, he comes off as a selfish, self centered individual who ignores the responsibility he took on when he became a husband and father. He leaves his wife with an unfair share of responsibility for finances and family, while he jumps into various bodies of water and paddles his way to nowhere. A soggy Peter Pan, no more.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Dinner Diaries

by Betsy Block

A real family, a real dilemma. How to eat in a healthy way, and still enjoy food. And what is healthy eating anyway? Who to listen to?

Betsy Block's enchanting family and endlessly witty presentation made every page an adventure!

Not only does she tell the story of her family's journey to good health, but she honestly admits to her own foibles and stumbles along the way. Every chapter made me laugh. Confounded by the picky eaters, and her family's, and secretly her own, love of fried foods she struggles to find the perfect groove for her family.

But, besides entertaining you, this book will educate you. You will learn about additives that go into our food supply and how what we eat makes its precarious way to our tables. Sometimes you will feel it is way too much information, but it is information we all need.

I not only recommend this book, but it will become one of the books I give to friends with families.. and those without.

Playing With the Grown-ups: A Novel

By Sophie Dahl

This was really an interesting read. The children, Sam, Violet and Kitty are innocent and filled with joy during the days they live in Hay with Bestmama and Bestpapa, their grandparents. The household also includes two aunts, a nanny, and their mother, Marina.

Sadly their innocence comes to a sad and abrupt end When their mother makes some poor choices. It is clear from the beginning that Marina is not blessed with an iota of common sense, and her love for her children seems more an act than a fact. It is Nora, the nanny who provides them with stability and nurturing.

After becoming involved with a cult, Marina chooses to live her life according to Swami-ji, and to do exactly as he says is right for herself and her daughters. This begins with uprooting them from the loving family and haven like home they have always known and taking them far away.

This is really Kitty's story, but of course a child's story is always built on the family she is born to. We see Kitty going from innocent child, to harsh and confused adolescent, and finally to an adult, living her own life.

The story is good, enchanting and funny in places. Sad and dark in places, as well. It seemed to be a bit disjointed. There was a lack of flow between the chapters showing the past and those showing the present. And to me, its the ending that tells the tale. A good story, which this is, deserves a good ending.
I feel this was not the case here, that the ending was rather abrupt and did not live up to the rest of the story.

I would certainly recommend this to others, but as a good book, not an excellent one.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Women, Work, and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working Girlfriend!

By Rosalind Joffee

This is a book meant to encourage women who suffer from autoimmune disease, and help them navigate through the labyrinth of the workplace. It does this in a variety of helpful ways.This is an anecdotal offering, which I usually enjoy. Seeing how real people face a problem and deal with it can be very educational and uplifting, as well as encouraging. The stories included in this book are all of these. I began reading with great curiosity and hope that certain friends of mine would find the information helpful, and I am certain that some will.

In addition to suggesting ways that woman can work around their illnesses and continue in the workplace, if that is what they choose to do, it seems to push women in that direction, rather than just encouraging them to make their own choice. I was startled by what was said about young women who decide to choose their families over a career while their children are young. To work or not to work is a very individual decision, It is one based on any number of factors, which included family dynamics and child rearing preferences.

To not work is sometimes a difficult and painful decision. There were times that I felt the book was prejudiced in the direction of women belonging in the work for no matter what. I feel that it is difficult enough to choose to leave a career if it is what is best for your children and that choice should be applauded, not discouraged. At the very least it should be respected. I felt the same way about the slant given to those who may choose not to continue working, due to their illnesses.

The title does indeed lead one to expect that working is encouraged within the pages of the book, but I do feel that more respect should have been shown to those who choose to do otherwise.

Aside from that I feel that some women will find this a very helpful resource. It did seem as if this book was directed more at those who work in careers rather than day to day jobs where many more women in the workplace are found. The women who allowed their stories and solutions to be used should be applauded for their generosity of spirit.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


by William Valtos

Mary Magdalene as a biblical and historical figure has been much maligned over the years.

In this book, Valtos uses his unique approach to story telling to bring out many of the controversies and historical findings to create a rich and compelling story of the Magdalene.

An infant is found on the steps of a convent in Spain, and is brought up within the order. She is cared for primarily by a single nun. A woman who became her surrogate mother, her playmate, her teacher and in the end, one who introduces her to her true legacy. At the age of eighteen, the girl known as Sister Mariamme begins to behave in a peculiar manner.She argues with those in authority, including priests who are offering Mass. She disputes the Gospels, and even tries to remove any crucifix that enters her sight.Most peculiar of all, She claims that she is Mary, the Magdalene. The Church sends in a Jesuit psychiatrist, at first believing that she is suffering from mental illness. Then things change, and Vatican itself becomes involved in what can only be described as a cover up.

People die.

Theophanos Niikonos, ( who first appeared in the book The Authenticator) becomes involved in this case when La Magdalena as she is now called by many, discreetly hands over a document and requests that he deliver it for her. She does this when she encounters him during a visit to a cathedral.

The story that unfolds is one that uses science and religion to prove ( or disprove) the truth about reincarnation. Many legitimate studies on the subject are quoted. The science behind DNA testing and carbon-14 dating are used to explore the possibilities. The history and the dedication of the Templar's in regards to the Sangreal are addressed.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Dorothy On The Rocks

by Barbara Suter

This is a story about Maggie Barlow. At first, Maggie seems to be a self centered and immature woman heading into middle age drinking too much, smoking to much and having promiscuous sex.

Maggie is an entertainer who makes a living doing voice overs and commercials at times. Most often she pays her bills by participating in a children's theater group. The group is made up of down on their luck actors who seem to have outlived their dreams, but not their pain. But as I continued to read, I realized that they had stories. They were survivors. They had lived through loss and hardship, and lived to tell about it, and their stories are worth hearing.

Maggie herself is recovering from a staggering loss. She has been thrown off the track of her life when she loses her great friend and partner, and is struggling to regain some balance.

She finds love, and recognizes that she has friends, good friends. She even has a fairy god-queen. All of whom ultimately help her begin to grow into her life.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Year of Fog

by Michelle Richmond

Abby Mason walks along a beach with Emma. The daughter of her fiance. A child she already loves. Following along behind the little Emma, she stops and looks away for just seconds. When she looks up again the girl is gone.

Abby searches frantically, and calls the police. It is left up to her to call Jake, Emma's father, and let him know what has happened. That call is the beginning of a journey that will tale Abby deep into the depths of her own heart and soul, and a great distance away to another country, where she believes that she will find the girl.

The story journals the days and weeks from the first moment Abby realizes Emma is missing, through the weeks and months where her thoughts are with the child, and during which she attempts to hold her relationship with Jake together. Can any relationship survive such a tragedy?

This is a mystery, it is a love story, and compelling story of faith and growth of the human spirit.

There is a period about three quarters of the way through, where the story lags a bit, but stick with it, for an emotional and intriguing ending.

I recommend it .

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pandora's Daughter

by Iris Johansen

This is a good book. I had no idea that the author was primarily a romance writer when I found and bought this book. I enjoyed every page of it, then went looking for a sequel.

The main characters are Megan Blaire and Neal Grady. They are joined by an intriguing cast of characters, Renata, Harley, Phillip and others.

The story begins when Megan is fifteen years old, and experiencing the trauma of dealing with "voices" in her head. Her mother, in what seems to be an awkward attempt to protect her, advises her to ignore them. Very early on Sarah, Megans mother is murdered.

The book moves ahead to when Megan is an adult, a doctor. She has not thought about those voices in a long while. But events occur to force her to not only face them, but to accept what they are and that she is one of many who deal with special abilities.

Neal becomes her protector, or more accurately reveals that he has been her protector for many years. That too, is something she has to accept. Things begin moving quickly, and lives are at stake, and lives are lost. Megan meets others like herself, with extraordinary abilities and she comes into her own.

This is an interesting and compelling story. I honestly couldn't walk away until I came to the end. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a fast paced and unique read

Friday, March 14, 2008

Gossip of the Starlings

by Nina de Gramont

This is definitely a book for the younger female reader. The main characters are prep schoolers.
I was hoping to like this book more. There is a lot of sneaking around and boarding school antics. There are horses, drugs and sex. It seems rather formulaic, as if it were made to order for the young teenager.

Skye, is a senators daughter, Catherine is the one with the horses and blue ribbons. Susannah is Catherine's sometimes overshadowed best friend. They party, they use coke and pot, and they suffer the usual teenage angst. Then things become sticky, when a jealous lover uses information he has to create legal issues for the senators daughter, and chaos ensues.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Here If You Need Me : A True Story

by Kate Braestrup

This book was not quite what I expected. Knowing that Kate Braestrup was a minister, I still expected the book to be about Kate and her life as a single mother with an extraordinary career as minister to the Game Wardens in Maine. And so it was, more or less.

The book is chock full of bible references and quotations. Too full in my opinion. While the book is written in a charming and easy going way, and Kate and her family and friends are portrayed in what you know is a real and even amusing way, the Bible references become intrusive.

I wanted more of Kate! I kept hoping that th next chapter would have more about her experiences in the Maine woods and as a single mom. Clearly she is an amazing and down to earth woman. Obviously her job leads her into difficult and fascinating situation. She uses a self deprecating approach to describing herself in situations that is often endearing.

All too often, what I found was more of the Bible. What I missed in purchasing this book was what became all too obvious in the end, the title is a double entendre. What I took as She would be there if needed by the wardens, and her family was true, but I believe that it also means that God is there for all of us.

Finally, the ending came to quickly. I felt that I was swooped from the middle of her story, to her current life all too quickly. It felt almost as if she woke one morning feeling as if she had done enough writing and and basically wrote that they all live happily ever after.

I am not anti-religion at all, I am just a reader who is somewhat disappointed in a book that I had looked forward to reading.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Dreamers of the Day

By Mary Doria Russell

Lawrence of Arabia, Winston Churchill, Gertrude Bell, World War I The Depression, and Agnes Shanklin and her constant companion, Rosie the dachshund . All of this and more are to be found inside the pages of Mary Doria Russell's latest offering.

Agnes is a forty year old, somewhat dowdy and reserved school teacher. She has become cowed by an overbearing mother. It seems at first that circumstances conspire to keep Agnes in her little niche in a little town in Ohio. Then the influenza epidemic carries off her family and Agnes inherits a tidy sum of money.

This inheritance causes her to take a look at her life, and make some changes, beginning with her wardrobe. She goes to the city, has what amounts to a makeover, and then finds herself making plans for a trip to Egypt. With her little dog Rosie as her constant companion, she begins the journey that is to define her for the rest of her life.

Astonishingly, she finds herself befriended by T.E. Lawrence, Winston Churchill, Gertrude Bell, and other somewhat less significant figures, including a German spy. She takes the spy, Karl Weilbacher as a lover A very daring and exciting choice for a woman of that day .

But every trip has an ending and the ending most often brings the journeyer home, and so Agnes arrive back in Ohio, with money to spare an choices to make. She lived life to its fullest every day during the Roaring Twenties. Good investments allow her to live the high life until Thursday, October 24 1929. She lost all of her money in the stock market crash that was the beginning of The Great Depression.

Still, she survives, as does Rosie, who lived a happy and full life.

This all brings us to and ending that is somewhat surprising, but a perfect finale to a story that seems to be filled with improbabilities, if not impossibilities. I am a Russell fan, and have been since I read her first novel some years ago. In true Russell style I was intrigued, amazed, fascinated and skeptical during my journey through the pages of this historical novel.

My advice? Never turn away from a book by this author.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Authenticator

By William M Valtos

A breathtaking journey into the afterlife and back again. For those of us who are curious about near death experiences, and those of us who have had them this is an amazing story.

Theos who is a rather down on his luck, well educated young man has found himself working for a professor whose life work is to prove the existence of an afterlife. Theos himself is somewhat doubtful about the whole business, but his loyalty to the professor as well as his need to earn a living keep him going.

When his investigation leads him to the bedside of a beautiful woman who had been reported to have a remarkable NDE, he finds himself drawn into her story, and to her. Giving into her pleas that her rescue her from her current situation has them both running for their lives.

He finds in himself a strength he never imagined that he possessed. From one seemingly impossible situation to another, he finds himself falling hard for this enigma of a woman. He seeks help from people from his own past, people he never thought to see again but, her life, Laura's life stood to be lost in a horrifying manner.

They fled, they hid, and they grew closer Using all of his past experiences to solve the mystery of how Laura had first come to lose her life. And how she returned to tell about what lies beyond. He used all of his investigative skills, until finally it becomes clear.

Finally, it has all come down to him. It is up to Theos to find a way to authenticate his beloved Professor DeBray's many years of work. He is the only one that can prove that beyond the research, beyond the investigation, and even beyond death lies a magnificent truth.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Widows of Eden: A Novel

early reviewers copy

This is not a book that can be summed up in a single descriptive sentence.

Christian fiction? Sort of, it certainly has its share of religious references, but it is never preachy.
Chic lit? Sort of, I see more women reading this one than I do men.
Charming? absolutely!
Witty? Its that ,too.
A mystery? You will find more than one mystery between these pages.

Wilma is down home good ol' gal funny, The characters from Loretta, to Clare to Clem and Buford are all trite and improbable, unless you have ever lived in a very small town. Not everyone is big city savvy and chic.

There really are quilting circles, ladies clubs, ad friends who have each others back. Just like in this book. Perhaps Vern Moores and widows in RV's who can read minds and obliquely promise miracles and fortell the future are less common, but mores the pity.

This is a simple story. Rich with improbability but that is its charm. I recommend it even if this is not your usual fare. You just might be surprised.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur… by Daoud Hari

Simple words and a country torn apart from within. Who would ever believe that they would combine to weave a story of such huge dimensions. Of a people who though torn from their homes, some tortured or killed by their own countrymen hold love within themselves for their brothers.

Like so many others I have heard some stories and seem pictures of Darfur. I knew that I had no idea of the truth of what is happening in that corner of the world. Daoud Hari uses the stories of individual or of families to bring us the true depth of the horror that occurs there every day.

This young man felt compelled to bring this story to the world in any way that he was able. First by being a translator and guide to reporters from other nations. Reporters that he counted on to bring their accounts to people that he counted on to help.

The help did come, but all too often it was and is only the help given by organizations and individuals, not governments. The story is being told in whispers, when it should be shouted from the rooftops. It is the not being acknowledged by those with the power to bring the suffering to an end.

Hari is continuing his journey, his quest, in the hope that his people will be able to return to the life and families that they so cherish.

This is most of all a story filled with hope, and optimism. We all have something to learn here. (

The Journal of Curious Letters (Book One of The 13th Reality Series)… by James Dashner

The longer you stay with this story, the better it gets.
I admit that there were some parts that I believe could be changed, but they are parts that I am looking at as an adult, a mom in fact.

Letting go of that and reading it as a child might, just accepting the story, made all the difference.

I like Tick.. I like his dad and his friends. This is an entertaining read. I will probably not be a phenomenon, but it is a book that kids will read, and that alone is a positive, in my opinion.

The story is filled with improbabilities, but good ones. I am always concerned about magic being allowed to simply die in our world. Books like this one help to keep it alive . That too, is a good thing. I like the fact that the main character is a bit nerdy, not one of the "in" crowd. I like the way that he was allowed to grow in his own eyes, which is where it matters the most. I like the fact that he likes and trusts his family, that sends a good message.

I agree with some others that some characters could be fleshed out a bit more, but then, that could happen as the story continues. Something had to be saved for book two. And again, we are judging as adults, not youngsters.

This is a decent read for an adult who is reading a kids book, and I think a really good read for kids. I look forward to the next one.

The Yoga Zoo Adventure: Animal Poses and Games for Little Kids (SmartFun Activity Books)… by Helen Purperhart

This book had me from the very beginning...

" 1. Feeling the Sun:

*The sun has risen, and the sunbeams shine through the window onto your face

*lie on your back with your arms by our sides

*feel the warmth of the sunbeams on your body

* feel the sun warming your face, your chest, your tummy, your arms, your hands, your legs and your feet."

It begins like a guided meditation... a fun guided meditation for little ones.

It moves on to stretches, waking your fingers, shaking to wake your body, and playing at simple activities such as tooth brushing.

This is using techniques similar to what I see used by our OT's and PT's every day and putting them into a fun and entertaining context.

I work with special needs children in the pre-school level, ages three to five. This book has so much that will be beneficial to them. Much of what is in this book can be used with even the lower functioning children in our classes.

Typical pre-schoolers will be challenged to use their imaginations and to play together. So many of the poses and postures are those used by the children in their play during the day. To take them a step farther will be simple and fun for everyone. It is like bringing some of the fun of a visit to the zoo into your living room, classroom or your own backyard.

I was surprised and pleased to find a section on Animal Fables. Not only the can the children learn to move and stretch their bodies and their imaginations, but they will be learning from these wonderful stories as well. Turtles, Starfish, Lions and Owls and so much more.

One of the best things about this book is the way it not only encourages parents to spend time with their children, but gives them ideas and information on how to make it more fun.

This is going to be a very well used book in our classroom.

Stand By Me: A Holistic Handbook for Animals, Their People, and the Lives They Share Together… by Douglas E. Knueven

This is a book that was written with the Cayce readings in mind. It is book for those who love their animals and want to understand them more completely. It has a completely holistic view of how animals fit into our lives. Written simply, and beautifully, it is like having a conversation with the author who is clearly an animal lover as well as an animal healer.

Have you found her : a memoir by Janice Erlbaum

I hardly know where to begin. I have been holding my breath through the entire last half of the book. I am not sure if I was holding it for Janice, or for Sam.

This is the most emotionally provoking book I have read in a very long time. It reads like a novel, but it is all too real. Each page is filled with compassion, yearning and vulnerability. The author is brutally honest about herself and her feelings, her motives.

To say that I could not put this book down is an understatement. Even now, when I have come to the end of the book, I know that it is not a true ending. How can it be? I think I will always wonder what has become of Sam. Will she always be hovering on the edges of the lives of women who cared enough to bring her into their lives, and truly care for and about her? How many more will there be?

I have been angry with Sam, and felt compassion for her. I have mentally raged at Janice, and wondered why she could not see! And I have understood how she could be drawn in. Most of us want to do good things. We want to be helpful. I feel so much a part of what happened here, due to the remarkable storytelling abilities of this author. Before the end of the day I will have ordered her previous book, Girlbomb from Amazon.

I urge everyone to read this book, in order to be reassured that there are still more good people than bad surrounding us. There is love and selflessness., kindness and generosity. There is hope for us, due to the kinsness of strangers.