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.