Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Book with a View January 2010

Kendra’s Pearl
Author: K. L. Lewis
ISBN: 978-0-595-53513-2
Publisher: iUniverse, 2009<
Genre and Target Market: fiction; family relationships; emotional abuse
Pages: 159
Reviewed by: Sarah Moore

For me, it is easy to enjoy a piece of literature if the story is well-written and the characters are believable. I have had a passion for reading ever since I was old enough to hold a book, so I enjoy the opportunity to get lost in the written word. However, most of these books lose my attention soon after I finish reading the last page. It was a great read and I will recommend the author to others, but I quickly move onto the next selection that interests me at the library or local bookstore. There are instances, though, in which the writing and the emotions of a novel are so powerful that they resonate with me long after I close the cover and place the book back on my shelf. Such is the case with the new release Kendra’s Pearl by author K. L. Lewis.

Kendra’s Pearl, the first work of fiction for Lewis, focuses on the life of a young girl who finds herself a primary target of her mother’s emotional and physical abuse. This tragic cycle begins when Kendra is only a preschooler and her father is killed in a motorcycle accident, and worsens as her mother enters relationships that are destructive and result in more children towards whom she throws her resentment. The novel follows Kendra through her entire childhood and into her independence as an adult, through which the readers will discover if she develops the strength and the life skills to create a life better than the one her mother had known.

K. L. Lewis uses language to create vivid, emotional scenes for her readers. There were multiple instances in which I actually felt a physical reaction to the rage and abuse that Kendra’s mother, Pearl, heaped upon her beautiful, young daughter. The cast of characters who create Kendra’s extended family try their best to offer support to Kendra and her siblings, but also struggle with their own dysfunctions and addictions that are revealed throughout the book. Lewis really captures the sense of chaos that dominates Kendra’s life. From her time as a young child and through the adolescent years during which every girl needs a sense of confidence and safety, Kendra rarely had a safe place to fall.

Whether or not the readers of Kendra’s Pearl grew up in a home with an abusive parent, I imagine that many of them will be able to relate to the book in some way. I know that I certainly have experience with being treated poorly by a person from whom I only desired love and attention, and that made Kendra’s story personal for me. K. L. Lewis’ writing is raw and brutal in its depiction of Kendra Haywood and her family, making it obvious that the author wanted to evoke a strong reaction from her readers. There is no sugarcoating within the pages of Kendra’s Pearl, and the result is both disturbing and captivating.

It did not take many pages of Kendra’s Pearl for me to become a fan of K. L. Lewis’ writing. She made me care about the characters in her novel, each of whom was skillfully developed to be a multidimensional personality. There were no “good” or “bad” people in Kendra’s Pearl, because their problems are much too complex for these simple descriptions. I was able to find reasons to criticize, as well as sympathize with, each one. I certainly hope that Ms. Lewis plans to continue with more published books, as her writing provides an important message about the human condition and the complexity of family.

Talking with Angels
Author: Richard & Denise Tuminello
ISBN: 978-1-4327-4431-1
Publisher: OutskirtsPress.com, 2009
Genre and Target Market: spirituality, New Age
Pages: 363
Reviewed by: Sarah Moore

As someone who works in the writing and publishing industry, I am asked to read dozens of books every month. More often than not, I can find some aspect of the book about which I am able to share some positive feedback. After all, these published manuscripts are the very personal creations of their authors and therefore offer unique connections to the human condition. I enjoy the opportunity I have in my field to discover the many different ways in which people express their emotions through the written word. However, it is unusual for a book to reach my desk at just the right moment in my life that its impact on me is greater than simply an appreciation for good literature. The new release Talking with Angels by Richard and Denise Tuminello is one such book. Recent events in my life have made me more open to new ideas, and Talking with Angels certainly is a work that has introduced me to concepts and practices that were wholly unfamiliar to me before.

This husband and wife team of writers offers up what is essentially their personal journal of spiritual discovery over the last several years. It begins with Rich detailing his first experience at The Monroe Institute in the beautiful mountains of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. This learning facility was created to promote the expansion of the human consciousness and the exploration of existence beyond the physical realm. Rich shares his impressions of the physical environment that surrounded him, an overview of what students at the Institute can expect on their first visit, and how his life was transformed by his time studying there.

The second part of the book focuses on the chronological retelling of experiences that Rich and Denise have had in their sessions with Angels and other Star Beings. When readers encounter these entries, each of which is dated just as one would expect in a journal, they will feel as if they are being allowed into private, emotional moments. Rich and Denise even engage in a written dialogue with one another in many of the entries, comparing their experiences during sessions with the Angels. By exposing their raw emotions and the undeniable effect that opening up to this non-physical world has on them, the authors create a connection with each reader. I certainly could sense the joy and the fullness of life practically leaping from the page.

If presented with this book six months ago, I would have given it a skeptical glance and quickly dismissed any possibility that the material could have intelligent substance. Discussions about visiting a Café in the Astral Realm and the merging of souls is not comfortable territory for someone who has enjoyed the tangible, verifiable aspects of the physical world in which we live. However, the quality of the writing struck me right away and provoked a willingness to give the actual content a chance. Once I removed my existing hesitations, I allowed myself to develop an emotional connection while reading interesting, heartfelt material. While I still may not be able to relate to all of the ways in which Denise and Rich expanded their consciousness, the book did expose me to new possibilities in communication and create a desire in me to learn more.

Frankie, the Walk ‘N Roll Therapy Dog Visits Libby’s House
Author: Barbara Techel
Publisher: Joyful Paws (January 1, 2010)
ISBN: 0980005248
Reviewer: Yvonne Perry

Frankie, the Walk ‘N Roll Therapy Dog Visits Libby’s House by Barbara Gail Techel is about a dachshund named Frankie who is paralyzed in her hind quarters. She has been fitted for a doggie wheelchair (dog cart) that helps her get around. It also helps people identify with her—especially children and elderly folks who are managing life with a disability.

In the book, the author tells how Frankie became a certified therapy dog when friend recognized the gentle nature of the animal and how much she seemed to enjoy being around people and allowing them to pet her. Soon Barbara and Frankie started visiting a senior assisted living facility known as Libby’s House. There, she meets senior-aged residents who simply adore her.

Frankie tells her story from her own “doggie” point of view. I especially like this passage in the book:

As we stroll off the elevator, a man in a wheelchair comes rolling toward us.

“Oh, what do we have here?” He reaches down and strokes my fur. “You have wheels just like me, little pup. What happened?”

My mom told the kind man how I hurt my back and how my dog cart helps me walk. His eyes filled with tears. “That is so wonderful! How nice of you to come here to visit,” he says. “You just made my day!”

Mom lifts me onto Daniel’s lap. “You are so special, Frankie,” he says. I look up at him and notice his eyes are filling with tears. “I feel so sorry for her,” Daniel says sadly.

“You don’t need to feel sorry for Frankie,” Mom says. “Visiting you makes her very happy.”

“It does?” Daniel holds me close. “Frankie is perfect, unlike me. I am not perfect,” Daniel’s voice cracks.

“We think you are perfect just the way you are.” My mom reassures Daniel. I rest my head on his knee and raise my eyebrows. Daniel smiles and his whole face lights up.

It takes a lot of time, energy, love, and dedication to care for an animal that has special needs. Frankie’s owner (and the author of the Frankie stories), Barbara Techel, has to help Frankie move her bowels because she cannot feel when she needs to go. I admire this author. Not only does she happily meet Frankie’s needs, she allows Frankie to use her disability to bless others and teach the rest of us how to accept those who have a disability.

I highly recommend this book to children AND adults. We all need to have our heart strings tugged every now and then.

Cash in on the Obama $3 Trillion Spending Plan
Author: Ed Benjamin, Colonel, USAF (retired)
ISBN Number: 978-1-4327-4428-1
Publisher: OutskirtsPress.com, 2009
Genre and Target Market: government, business
Pages: 186
Reviewed by: Sarah Moore

I am not revealing any great secret by sharing that our country is struggling through difficult economic conditions. The unemployment rate has risen above ten percent for the first time in more than twenty-five years and home foreclosures continue to be a regular feature on the real estate market. When President Obama took office nearly a year ago, one way that he determined to improve the situation was through a stimulus package that was part of a $3 trillion budget. For many people, all of the activity in Washington, which also funnels down to the state and local governments, seems to be a bureaucratic endeavor removed from their everyday lives. However, a new book by Ed Benjamin explains how any one of us can make money from the spending decisions of our government.

Cash in on the Obama $3 Trillion Spending Plan is written by a man whose expertise on the subject is undeniable. Ed Benjamin, a retired Air Force Colonel, spent years involved in weapons system procurement for the military and since then has used this knowledge to help clients win over $12 billion in contracts. Whether or not you agree with the policies of President Obama, Benjamin shows you why there is no reason that you cannot benefit from the administration’s decisions.

This book is designed for everyone, from the experienced entrepreneur who is ready to extend his business into the public sector to the person who has never before considered proposing an idea to the government. Benjamin covers every aspect of the proposal process, from explaining how the government buys goods and services and what the basic qualifications are for being a part of this business to how to read a solicitation and write a proposal that gives you the best chance for success. The book even includes a great section listing helpful resources for every state. Once the readers take even a quick look through the contents of Cash in on the Obama $3 Trillion Spending Plan, I believe they will be convinced that dealing with the government is not such an intimidating prospect after all.

Even though Ed Benjamin is clearly an expert in his field, he does not forget to include the most basic of concepts. The table of contents delineates every paragraph and the topic it features. In fact, the book is written much like a proposal—a proposal that encourages readers to get involved! Website links are shared through the book so that readers are able to retrieve more details about specific programs. There is not a single page in the book that does not help its readers towards their final goal.

Cash in on the Obama $3 Trillion Spending Plan probably is not a book that you will curl up with for a lazy afternoon at the beach. It’s not even meant to read from beginning to end. Instead, it is a manual that was created to get marked, creased, and well-worn as its owner takes the steps necessary to earn his or her piece of the $3 trillion pie. Ed Benjamin has written an accessible and content-rich tool that is based in experience and an obvious ability to teach. If you are ready to learn a new way to create your own success, get a copy of Cash in on the Obama $3 Trillion Spending Plan today!

Blood Betrayal
Author: Mike Thompson
ISBN: 978-1-4327-4802-9
Publisher: OutskirtsPress.com, 2009
Genre and Target Market: suspense; fiction
Pages: 277
Reviewed by: Sarah Moore

There are certain elements that, for me, create an especially compelling piece of dramatic fiction. If the book features episodes of violence or fear that are just as powerful for their psychological effect as they are for the acts themselves, I’m going to be drawn to the story. I have a great appreciation for writing that really explores what is occurring in a person’s mind, no matter how twisted. When this complicated sense of terror is found within the context of family relationships, the plot becomes even more captivating. First-time author Mike Thompson captures both of these features with his gripping new release Blood Betrayal

Blood Betrayaldetails the story of Dimitri Magnussen, a veteran who is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following seven years in the Special Forces, and the murder spree that he embarks upon while on a family hunting trip with his brother and son. As the story unfolds through the eyes of his brother Wolf, the progression of Dimtri’s violent rage and his terrifying crimes makes him into a character with seemingly no conscience or hesitation to spill blood. However, revelations that are left unknown to the reader until the closing chapters of the book will complicate the situation and, at least for this reader, create an uncomfortable sense of ambiguity.

Mike Thompson does a wonderful job of using language to create a dark and suspenseful environment. As I turned each page of Blood Betrayal I began to sense each dark corner and mysterious noise that existed in the comfort of my home. Even when the mood is a frightening one, I love getting lost in a book that transplants me into every emotion and experience in the story. From the terror that Wolf feels when he does not know who or what is stalking him in the mountains to the climatic moments during which Dmitri becomes the hunted and shocking family secrets are revealed, Thompson makes sure that every word contributes to the growing suspense.

I believe the impact of Blood Betrayal was multiplied for me by the current events that we see on the news every evening. The record number of PTSD cases stemming from the military conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq has made many Americans more aware of this frightening reality. It is apparent that Thompson uses his own experience as a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and as a Close Quarters Combat instructor to develop the characters in this book and that makes their personalities even more riveting. While the character of Dmitri Magnussen is certainly an extreme case, I know that shedding light on this emotional topic will continue to be important for years to come.

With Blood Betrayal, Mike Thompson has crafted a novel that will attract fans of suspense and those who appreciate the successful efforts of the author to bring his own expertise into a fictional format. The plot is unique and undoubtedly will have the readers guessing until the very last page, with a conclusion that warranted an audible gasp from me as I sat alone in my living room. On the back cover of his book, Thompson shares that Blood Betrayal is just the first release in the Wolf Magnussen series and I look forward to discovering what Thompson has in store for us next.

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