Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Stunning Characters, At Turns Hilarious, Raw and Heartbreaking

Author: Sam Moffie
Publisher: Xlibris

Sam Moffie has gifted readers with a really outstanding and unusual read. In great detail and marvelous characterization, he shares a wealth of imaginative and unique life stories of three fantastically eccentric characters. All three of these characters share the same therapist. This therapist has a great impact on all of them, in most unexpected ways.

The stories told by our characters range from hilarious, sweet, sentimental to horrifying and heartbreaking and every feeling in between. Seymour, Constance and Irving come from three different cities (Steubenville Ohio, Boardman Ohio and Brookline Massachusetts) and three extremely different family backgrounds and dynamics.

Totally original and somewhat complex, the tale takes readers to an ending in New York City. Moffie is a talented storyteller, and brings all the gifts of his craft to this wonderful work of fiction. I can't recommend it highly enough!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Suspenseful, Entertaining, Hard to Put Down

The Test
Author: Patricia Gussin
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing

When Paul Parnell died, he left behind a fortune in the billions, adult children by three different mothers, and a number of grandchildren and in-laws. Prior to his death, Paul realized that one of the regrets of his life was not being active and available in the lives of his children. His trusted lawyer is instructed to create an iron-clad will that requires his 6 surviving children to examine their lifestyles, morals, and values, and make decisions on what is important to each. The final disposition of family fortune will depend on the decisions made by the children over the next year.

The family dynamics are interesting and somewhat convulted here, much like they are in any family of step children, half siblings, etc. It's interesting to watch the interplay between the sons and daughters, and the way they view themselves and each other. The author uses recent political and international events to weave throughout the story, adding an additional level of realism. The novel chronicles the next year in the family, and marks numerous ups, downs, sadness and happy events.

In some cases, there is almost too much going on, and I found myself having to backtrack once or twice, just to check out familial relationships. In a novel with this many characters, plot twists and subplots, that's to be expected. Some of the twists the book used were easy to see coming, some were not. It definitely held my interest thoughout.

If you enjoy suspense and family intrigue, you will enjoy this book. I plan to read more of this author's work in the future.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Therapists: Add To Your Professional Reference Shelf

Essentials of Premarital Counseling: Creating Compatible Couples (New Horizons in Therapy)
Author: Sandra L. Ceren
Publisher: Loving Healing Press

We all know that a large percentage of American marriages end in divorce. These numbers are even higher for subsequent marriages. No one gets married planning to have it fail. However, many couples put more emphasis on planning the wedding than they do on planning the actual marriage. As a Therapist, you have a wonderful opportunity to assist couples in learning how to make the marriage work after the actual wedding ceremony and honeymoon end. Dr. Sandra Ceren has put together a remarkably easy to follow and understand counseling blueprint for couples considering marriage.

Real life case studies and examples will lead the therapist through a series of ten meetings and discussions with couples. Using her ideas and proven methods, the therapist can assist couples in finding areas of probable conflict, work through them, and emerge a stronger team after counseling sessions.

Dr. Ceren combines education and experence to assist couples in the "art of gracious compromise", lessons that would serve most of us in both our personal and professional relationships. The author writes frankly and honestly about the need to actually know a partner before marriage, and offers quizzes that can help your clients explore each other's personality, personal history and thought processes.

I found the entire book well written, excellently presented and very well organized. It's obvious Dr. Ceren has put much work into this guide. I firmly believe that any therapist hoping to include marital/premarital counseling in their practice should keep a copy of this book close will be referred to again and again.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Written In The Great Crime Noir Style of the 40's-An Excellent Read!

Author: Joe Wesley Rowland
Publisher: Outskirts Press

Written in that marvelous style of the 1940's crime drama noir, Timidity can stand on it's own with novels by the likes of Raymond Chandler, Doris Miles Disney, James McCain and Horace McCoy. Joe Wesley Rowland has allowed us to take a step back in time and enjoy a real "old style noir" murder.

Taking place in the late spring of 1945, a hardworking woman, Annette Mosconi, husband missing in action in the war and a son readying for college; is thrown into jail, falsely accused of murdering her boss, a small town attorney involved in a case that could blow the lid off a scandal involving the wealthiest family in town. A corrupt sheriff and a deputy with more testosterone than brains conspire with the wealthy family matriarch to be sure that some secrets stay undercover.

Annette can only count on her son, Rick to help her. But Rick has problems of his own. Suffering from what he calls the "heebie-jeebies" (now known to be social anxiety disorder), Rick has inner demons to fight and conquer to assist his mother in escaping her harrowing ordeal and clearing her name.

I thoroughly enjoyed this well written and suspenseful novel. On a personal note, I also have social anxiety disorder, so I was able to understand what Rick was dealing with on a more intimate level. Filled with suspense, well drawn characters and a well put together story line and plot, any fan of courtroom drama, murder mystery, crime drama noir, or just a good read can enjoy this story.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Motivating and Inspirational, Must Read!!!!

The Upside of Fear: How One Man Broke the Cycle of Prison, Poverty, and Addiction

Author: Weldon Long
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group

I am recommending this book to everyone I know! The author delivers a true tale that is heartbreaking, funny, motivational, and feel-good, all rolled into one book.

Growing up, Wally had a father that was distant, and while never really in big trouble, he was a classic underachiever and didn't really fit in well. He married young, and it was a dyfunctional relationship. Neither he or his wife were happy, and neither really knew what was wrong, or how to fix it. One night Wally is out driving around aimlessly (pretty much the way he had lived life up to this point), when he picks up a hitchhiker. Together, the two of them decide to rob a store, and life goes rapidly downhill from there. For the next 20 years, Wally's live is a mess, over half that time is spent in prison, when he is out of prison the time is spent committing crime, drinking, using drugs, and having a son that he rarely sees. With a ninth grade education, he finally realizes in prison that the only way to change things is for HIM to make a decision, change his life, and make it the way he wants it to be. He begins by reading every self-help, religious and motivational text he can get his hands on. The story from there is nothing less than an inspiration. There is truly something here for us all to learn.

Weldon (Wally) Long pulls no punches here, and doesn't try to pretty up the truth of his mistakes in any way. The story is harsh and brutal, and sometimes it's pretty tough to have any sympathy for him. Written with honesty and from the heart, it will make the toughest reader feel a tug on the heartstrings. Teaching himself to share his loving feeling for his son through letters to the boy, he shares a tender and moving part of himself; one he wasn't even aware existed.

If you know someone struggling with life, and feeling that they are just unlucky and ready to give up, buy this book for them. Regardless of your views on religion, whether you believe in God, miracles, or anything else; this book will touch your soul and help you see things differently. I have already loaned it out to a friend, and actually have several more folks in mind to lend it to next. In fact, I plan on buying a couple of copies, one to keep for myself and a few more to share with friends, family and others.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Go-To Book for Alternative/Complementary Health Therapies

A truly complete guide to complementary and alternative health therapies

UnBreak Your Health
Author: Alan E. Smith
Publisher: Loving Healing Press

During these trying economic times, more and more people are looking into complementary and alternative medicine to help them deal with stress related and other ailments, diseases and medical conditions. Besides the use of Western, or traditional medicine, there is a growing interest in the use of alternative therapies. Many people are intimidated by the wide variety of alternative/complementary medical processes and procedures that exist. There is a wealth of information available, not all of it is reliable, and people are unsure where to start researching, and question whether they should even try.

This book is probably the most useful reference I have seen in this large field of study. It's exhaustively researched, and contains information that ranges from A to Z on the spectrum of alternative medicine. It's written in an easy to understand style, and is set up in a very useful format. I especially appreciated the various comments garnered from people who have actually used these treatments, and their opinions and results. In addition to being a great overall reference, it's a great manual for people just beginning to look into these therapies. Additionally, there are available podcasts and interviews with leaders and researchers in this growing field of medicine.

If you have researched alternative and complementary medicine at all, you know that the field is crowded with books and publications, and knowing where to begin your research is daunting, to say the least. Often, traditional medical providers are less than helpful in this area, and the patient is left floundering on their own in trying to understand what is available to them. I think this book has a place on the reference shelves of anyone interested in better understanding this field, and would be invaluable to any beginner in starting their study of the field. In fact, I think this book can easily replace 5 or 6 other books on my shelves, a testimony to it's comprehensive coverage of alternative and complementary therapies. I discovered great information on age old practices, as well as information on brand new therapies that are not available elsewhere.

Any one interested in taking a more active role in the health and wellbeing of themselves and family members could greatly benefit from this comprehensive work. I applaud this author for a truly groundbreaking reference on an important subject for us all.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Good Book for Teens Regarding Sexual Identity Confusion


by Amber Lehman

Pub: Closet Case Press

isbn: 978-0-9795933-6-9

For some people, discovering their actual sexual identity is easy; they are heterosexual and always know that without questioning it; or they have always known they were homosexual. Times have changed, and I think it's probably easier in today's world to be gay or lesbian than in the old days. However, I would imagine that not knowing for sure one way or the other would still be pretty rough to deal with.

This novel deals with a group of teenage friends. When a new girl moves into town and joins the group, the dynamics seems to change a bit. As a teenager, alliances change, petty jealousies come and go, and there seems to be a minor drama going on constantly. In this work, the author introduces us to a group of teens with more than just the minor drama; it's major stuff here. Some of the characters are well drawn, and you feel invested in their life and the goings-on. Some of the characters seem to drift, and it''s much harder to care what actually happens to them. For a first time novel, that's somewhat to be expected; hopefully in future works the author will paint her characters more fully.

There is a lot of sex here, and some graphic depiction. In other instances, it's so glossed over that you are unaware of whether anything actually went on or not. There is actually no real parental involvement anywhere, which I also felt was less than realistic. No one ever seems to have an actual parent giving rules, punishments, etc. Granted, lots of kids today don't have proper supervision; but it bothers me that there is no parental involvement here at all. I think that might have made the story seem more real, and easier for today's teens to identify with. There were some older brothers that seemed in charge of the family dynamics, but that doesn't really ring that true to life.

I'm definitely not a prude, and have no problem with sex when it furthers the plot or seems right for the situation in the story; but some of it is so gratuitious that it isn't really moving the story along and seems to be added just for sex sake. That being said, I do think the story will appeal to teenagers, but it should be older teens, as the author suggests, not younger teens.

I found the story line interesting, and I think that there are many good points here. For teens unsure of the sexual route they are taking, it would probably make them feel better to read about kids with the same issues. I am happy to see that the author made mention more than once of safe sex. That message can't be put forward often enough, in my opinion.

I finished reading this two days ago, and wanted to give myself time to digest and think through the story before reviewing it. There are many redeeming features to the story; but I think too much is left unsaid and unexamined. Life is not full of pat answers to problems, and the book sort of stops at a point that seemed unrealistic. I may be looking at this from the wrong perspective; I am coming at this from the other end of the spectrum, a person 30 some years past the teen years, and with more life experience I tend to view things much differently now than a teenager would; perhaps they would not be disappointed in where the story ends at all.

In all, I do think the author has a bright writing future ahead of her, and would look forward to reading her future work.
Tags: age, coming, confusion, identity, of, sexual, teens

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Ground Breaking Work, But Not For Beginners

Humanizing Madness: Psychiatry and the Cognitive Neurosciences

Author: Niall McLaren M.D.
Publisher: Future Psychiatry Press

There seem to be as many schools of thought on psychiatry as there are individuals in the practice of psychiatry. This excellent work by Niall McLaren M.D. takes a comprehensive and concise look at the major theories of the practice of psychiatry.

The book is well done, set up in a very easy to follow format. Each theory is explained in detail, and the author offers his opinion on the flaws and fallacies of each. It's obvious that much research and study has gone into each review, as well as into the problem areas and better working models. Will everyone agree with every opinion delivered by McLaren? Of course not. However, the review and research does lead to a rethinking of each theory; and many excellent and thought-provoking statements are made. I was particularly interested in the way the author viewed the theory regarding panic and anxiety attacks. It offered me an interesting perspective I had never considered before, and one that actually makes a lot of sense and is practical. I have suffered from panic and anxiety attacks personally for many years, and found much to ponder in his ideas and views.

This is not a book for beginners in psychology/psychiatry/neuroscience. I believe that to really understand and appreciate the depth of work that went into this publication, a reader would need a somewhat more intense understanding than just the basics of the science. I would recommend it to anyone with a working background in the field, and believe that they would find it as thought-provoking as I have.

It will definitely remain on my shelves as a future reference. I fully expect that at some point it will be recognized as a groundbreaking work in the field.

Regain Control of Your Life: Step by Step Guide

Regaining Control: When Love Becomes a Prison (New Horizons in Therapy Series, 4)
Author: Tami Brady
Publisher: Loving Healing Press

Independence means different things to different people. Tami Brady, the Author of Regaining Control: When Love Becomes A Prison, has written an excellent book that speaks to all women, regardless of their personal situation and views on independence.

It's a sad fact of life that many women will live at least part of their lives in poverty, or at the very least, have a tough time making ends meet, often while attempting to raise their children without a spouse or helpmate. Oftentimes through no fault of their own, they will be left in less than ideal circumstances. Reading this book and following the steps and guidelines can help you move beyond your current circumstances.

Written in an upbeat, easy to understand style, Regaining Control helps lead you through the questions you need to ask yourself to plan for your future well-being. Touching on many types of problems, personality issues and lifestyle situations, the author shows that change is possible, and lays out in great detail how to succeed to meet your needs. Any reader will find the checklists, questionnaires and forms to be useful. The book will help you find what's truly important to you, and guide you through the process of setting goals and breaking them down, turning them into steps that are easier to reach, and less overwhelming than looking at the big picture without a gameplan.

My daughter works with abused women in an emergency shelter. When she saw this book, she was excited and impressed to have access to an easily understood, easy to follow manual that she could recommend to her clients. That speaks volumes, in my opionion, about the usefullness of this book.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Great Resource for Survivors of Sexual Abuse-at any age

101 Tips For Survivors of Sexual Abuse: A Pocket Book of Wisdom

Author: Amy Barth
Publisher: Loving Healing Press

This is a great book for any survivor of sex abuse, of nearly any age. Written in a very easy to understand format, it is simple and straightforward. The main point is made over and over again.....IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT! This little gem of a book reminds survivors over and over, and that's a needed reminder, as most abuse survivors do tend to blame themselves.

The book doesn't cover any new ground in the fight against sexual abuse; but it's purpose is really to assist survivors, not give professionals more knowledge. I have worked with sexual abuse survivors in the past; and all these topics will prove helpful and help with the healing process. Reminding people that there are good days and bad days is essential. It's not like having an illness or disease; it never totally goes away. But working through it can make recovery possible.

If you have a loved one or friend that is dealing with abuse, they will find this book helpful. Read it yourself, and you will gain insight into helping those you love deal with what can be a devasting incident.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Well Written, Engaging, Enjoyable-Water Landing

Water Landing
Author: Jonathan Slusher
Publisher: Cow Chip Press

Pretty often, the day to day grind of lfe gets in the way of really living it. Unfulfilled dreams, relationships, life-long goals etc., can often take a backseat to the day to day. Usually, we need a real wake-up call to become aware of this.

In this novel, our main character, Lukas Kettle, is doing just that. He wants to write, but is working a lab job to make ends meet. His last relationship was several years ago; he still hasn't moved on. In fact, he still sees her everyday at work. He reconnects with a childhood friend, Sara, and they seem headed to a real relationship. Only one problem, Sara is suffering from cancer, and has a few months left to live. Jonathan Slusher, the author of Water Landing, uses a really interesting technique of story telling. Going back in time, he recounts the relationship with Sara, and lets us in on the daydreams and hopes that Lukas pins on this relationship. Near the end of her life, Sara cuts herself off from Lukas, leaving him without closure on the relationship, with only his fantasies of making it work left to him.

Lukas travels back to his hometown for Sara's funeral, and to hook up with some old highschool buddies. In the process, he reviews his life and where circumstances have gotten him thus far.

Told with excellent insight and tenderness, Jonathan Slusher has written a novel that stays with the reader after finishing it. You'll examine your life, and possibly look at things from a different slant after reading. You come to care about Lukas, and mourn Sara's passing with him. I could not put this book down, I found it captivating, well written and satisfying. I look forward to more work by this very promising author.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Day of Vindication: Thought Provoking, Frightening

Day of Vindication

Author: James Rupe
Publisher: MidLand

Regardless of your religious or political leanings, I think everyone in America is aware of the potential of another terrorist attack, or perhaps the end of the world as we know it. One has only to read newspapers, online news or watch the evening news on tv to see that this is a real threat to today's world.

Day of Vindication is a chilling story, and one that should give pause and concern to us all. Imagine: A major US City in Texas suffers a massive explosion, numbering millions of deaths and crippling the local law enforcement system. For some time, the rest of us would be unsure just what happened. Newscoverage would be everywhere, but basically telling us nothing new, hour by hour. Then, as confirmed reports come in, we realize it is the worst possible scenerio; nuclear attack. The search is on to find out who is responsible, and if worse is planned.

The story centers on two elite counterterrorism agents, Cassandra “Army” Armendorfer and her partner Raphael Guerra, lead government specialists on a hectic chase. The search for the bombs and terrorists travels far beyond our country's borders. Could the entire world teeter on the brink of annihilation?

This is definitely a well written, well thought out nail biter! The author seems to have done his research homework thoroughly. I don't want to give away too much of the story': suffice to say that it is nothing less than frightening and sobering.