Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Book with a View February 2010

Book Title: Dead Game
Author: Jennifer Chase
ISBN Number: 978-1-4327-5128-9
Publisher: OutskirtsPress.com
Genre and Target Market: thriller; fiction; criminal psychology
Publication Date: 2010
Book Length in Pages: 370
Reviewed by: Sarah Moore

As someone who is involved in the world of writing and publishing for a living, I am presented with dozens of books every month by authors whose names I did not know before their work was placed on my desk. In most instances, I enjoy the writer’s individual expression of talent and appreciate the great deal of time and effort that was required to share a story. While I am always pleased at having a new book to add to my collection, the relationship with the author normally does not extend much after my completion of the review. Occasionally, however, I am introduced to an author whose work I am compelled to share with friends and fellow book lovers. These exciting moments of discovery create one of best instances of personal satisfaction that I experience in my line of work. Jennifer Chase is one of those authors for whom I want to offer praises and publicity. With the release of her second novel, Dead Game, Chase has only solidified my opinion.

Dead Game brings the readers to the next episode in the life of Emily Stone, a protagonist who was introduced to all of us in Chase’s first book, Compulsion. Stone is a stealth vigilante who tracks down the rapists, murderers, and pedophiles that live among us and then anonymously collects the evidence needed to bring these criminals to justice. In Dead Game, Emily learns about a serial killer who also likes to work behind the protection of anonymity, but for very different reasons.

Author Jennifer Chase has decided to feature the world of online social networking for her new release, and the plot here does not involve rekindling a romance with a high school boyfriend through Facebook or sharing opinions about controversial political decisions on a MySpace blog. Instead, Chase creates a virtual world in which serial killers are able to connect and share their disturbing obsession with the torture and murder of others. One man in particular enters the radar of Emily Stone and her boyfriend and fellow investigator, Rick Lopez, when his penchant for violence reaches Lopez’s mentor. What unfolds over the next 370 pages, in both the virtual and physical worlds, will keep readers guessing and anxiously turning the pages to allow the story to unfold.

As she did with Compulsion, Jennifer Chase has created with Dead Game a novel that literally took my breath away on multiple occasions. She does a masterful job of revealing just enough details to keep you invested in the plot and characters without ever showing her hand too quickly. In several instances, I made assumptions concerning who was behind the savage kidnapping and murders of unsuspecting men and women only to have my instincts betrayed by a new piece of absolving evidence.

With her sophomore effort, author Jennifer Chase proves that she has real staying power in the world of thriller and mystery writing. Whether or not you have already met Emily Stone through Chase’s first novel, you will be able to become fully engrossed in the storyline of Dead Game. With a plotline that develops through the perspective of several characters to the authentic psychology of serial killers that Chase is able to provide from her own educational background to a heroine who is relatable in both her courage and her flaws, Dead Game is a novel that is not to be missed.

Voices of Sedona: A Spiritual Path to Serenity and Contentment
Author: Lewis Tagliaferre
ISBN: 0-595-39367-5
Publisher: iUniverse, 2006
Genre and Target Market: self-help; theology; spirituality
Book Length in Pages: 317
Reviewed by Sarah Moore for WITS

When Lewis Tagliaferre approached me to write a review for his book Voices of Sedona: A Spiritual Path to Serenity and Contentment, I was automatically intrigued by the tagline for the publication. Tagliaferre offers the invitation to “Feel Good Inside No Matter What Happens Outside,” and that entreaty could not have arrived in my life at a better time. After talking with the author on the phone and learning more about his journey, I became even more convinced that his work was finding its way to me for a reason. Since our initial conversations, I have twice requested more time to complete my evaluation. This delay is not due to a lack of interest in the material. Instead, the five lessons and the amazing details that accompany each principle inspired extended reflection and a desire to read certain segments time and again.

Lewis Tagliaferre shares the five principles of Theofatalism®, a philosophy that was shared with him during various trips to the beautiful part of Arizona that we all have seen captured in photographs. During each visit, the author received teachings from guides who were channeled into his subconscious through the spirit of Sedona M. Schnebly, the wife of the town’s founder and its namesake. I know that Sedona has long been known for its spiritual offerings, but I will admit to some skepticism upon hearing about the author’s claimed method for developing the principles he shares in his book. Five spirit teachers came to you at the behest of a woman who passed away a half-century earlier? However, as the material unfolded and the meaning behind each principle was explained, I became more and more convinced that Lewis Tagliaferre has an important message to share.

Voices of Sedona is beautifully written in a style that is captivating in both its emotion and logic. Tagliaferre, who began this journey of spiritual exploration following the untimely death of his wife from cancer, is a talented writer who carefully uses language to share his story without it ever becoming cumbersome or without direction. And, he finds wonderful ways to integrate relevant information from the worlds of religion, current events, history, and other fields of study in a way that makes the material engaging to as wide of an audience as possible. From the life of Mike Tyson to the distribution of wealth in our country to the proverbs offered in Buddhism, Tagliaferre ties together so many distinct points of reference into a comprehensive philosophy that makes sense for everyone.

As the book reaches its conclusion, the author encourages his readers to join together and teach the five principles he shares with others. Voices of Sedona is a reference book that is meant to be reviewed, discussed, and hopefully marked up with notes and underlining. Combined with the ongoing essays that are published on his blog, http://www.sedonavoices.blog.com/, Tagliaferre has developed a comprehensive work of study for those who are ready to learn. Acknowledging the idea that we are right where we are meant to be and embracing the role we were given to play in the universe, just two of the concepts that are revealed in this book, has quickly become an important act of ongoing practice for me. I strongly believe that other readers will find the same significance to the text as I have and I look forward to seeing how the philosophy shared in Voices of Sedona multiplies in its effect as the book’s audience continues to grow.

Book Title: Kim’s Confessions
Author: Wilson Awasu
ISBN Number: 978-1-4327-4463-2
Publisher: OutskirtsPress.com
Genre and Target: religion; Christianity; personal reflection
Publication Date: 2009
Book Length in Pages: 136
Book Review by: Sarah Moore

Have you ever been in the middle of a large group and wondered what the people around you were thinking? Maybe you were at a conference for work and tried to decide how many others were hoping that it was almost time for a lunch break. Perhaps you were attending a debate between two candidates running for the same local office and you hoped to catch the eyes of your neighbors to see if you get a read on their opinion concerning each politician. In his new release, Kim’s Confessions, author Wilson Awasu offers his readers this very opportunity—to get inside the mind of one woman who is witnessing the same event as many others. When his title character reluctantly attends a seminar at her church that causes her to question the depth of her faith, an insightful inner dialogue is the resulting product.

When we meet Kim, she is operating under the belief that her faith is beyond reproach. She is a ninth-generation Presbyterian and she is the choir director at the church that her family helped to found. She believes that these credentials speak for themselves and she uses these labels as an excuse not to think about her faith and personally test its strength. When a pastor is welcomed into her church to share a series called “Radical Growth,” Kim instinctively puts up her guard and warns her friends not to fall for the brainwashing schemes of this stranger. We soon learn, as does Kim, that her defensive posturing is simply a cover to mask her own doubts and insecurities.

Awasu creates in Kim a woman to whom many readers will be able to relate. She is accomplished in many ways and carries herself with confidence, but still holds onto a nagging sense of self-doubt that she does not want others to see. Whether connected to our faith, our profession, or our personal relationships, I know that most of us have an area of our lives that we do not want to question out of fear for the answer. As the book evolves and Kim comes to accept that she still has so much to learn and embrace, perhaps you will allow Awasu’s words to provoke some personal soul searching as well.

In many ways, Kim’s Confessions reads like a Bible study. Kim takes us through each concept that is being taught in the seminar and shares direct Scripture passages that are used by the pastor to emphasize his message. When a reader comes upon an element that he or she wishes to study more beyond the pages of Kim’s Confessions, as trust or loyalty, these Biblical reference points will provide further context. For those who are not Christian and may be apprehensive concerning the focus of the book, Kim’s Confessions still offers great insight into how any belief system is developed and strengthened in our minds and spirits.

Kim’s Confessions by Wilson Awasu is a well-written, concise book that serves as a guide to one life-changing weekend for its main character. The content is well-researched and the characters, from the church elders to the pastor to Kim herself, are believable in their positive attributes as well as their flaws. Mr. Awasu has done a nice job of putting a new spin on the popular idea of Biblical guidebooks by allowing a fictional character to host the thought process, and I believe this unique perspective will lend itself to future study topics if the author so chooses. If such publications are made available, I certainly will be one of their readers.

Beyond the Stars: Kataria
Kelly Beltz
BookSurge (2009)
ISBN 9781439222805
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

Even though she has most of her career working for the Space Island Group (SIG), Physicist Samantha Gerris has always managed to keep her feet on the ground. SIG has been developing a space resort for years. SIG is also secretly involved with working with aliens and studying alien technology. Samantha doesn’t discover this part until after she suffers a great loss. At this point, her children are now young adults who also become employed by SIG.

When Samantha discovers that her kids have decided to work off planet, she knows that she will desperately miss them, so she agrees to follow them up to the off-planet resort site. This is where the secrets begin to be revealed. An emergency situation lands Samantha on an alien space craft that is headed home, which happens to be across the universe. This turns out to be the trip of a lifetime for Samantha. On this ship, she learns about the alien technology, the alien’s culture, other aliens that are not so nice, and most important of all, she finds love again.

I loved reading “Beyond the Stars: Kataria.” The author, Kelly Beltz, has combined the perfect blend of science fiction, adventure, mystery and romance. The story is a pleasure to read. It is interesting to see how Beltz uses her imagination to create technology that actually seems like it could be plausible. She also takes you deep into the heart and soul of the main character. Through Samantha’s eyes we get to share her experiences, her fears, and her new love. The character has to transition through a variety of stages to be able to move on to a higher level of her self. In spite of the science-fiction elements, I found myself really being able to relate to this character. I highly recommend “Beyond the Stars: Kataria.” I also think that it would be a great selection for a reader’s group. I look forward to the next adventure in the series.

THE SID SERIES ~A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children
Author: Yvonne Perry
Published by: Write On! 2009
ISBN: 9780982572207
Reviewed by Penny Ehrenkranz
The Sid Series is a collection of twelve short stories for children written by author, Yvonne Perry. The model for Sid is Yvonne’s own grandson, Sidney. These are his stories and span about 5 years of Sid’s life. Yvonne, Von-Von in the stories, is the one who helps Sid by answering his questions. Each of the stories was written to help parents and children deal with issues children encounter in their lives.

“A Ghost in My Closet” is about communicating with angels. Sid sees something in his closet. Upon inspection, he thinks he sees something alive. It seems friendly, but was it? Von-Von comes at Sidney’s call. Read the story with your child to see what Von-Von tells Sid about his mysterious visitor.

“A Powerful Potion” is about the power of imagination. In this tale, Sid’s puppy, Blue Girl hurts her leg. Using his imagination, Sid brews up a magic potion of weeds and water. Read this magical tale to see what magic Sidney works.

“A Stormy Adventure” helps children face their fear of storms. Sid and Von-Von go on a kayaking adventure. Sid learns about manatees and their babies. He sees many different types of water birds, but then the sky gets dark. The group wants to see dolphins and they press on. There is a flash of lightning. Sidney learns about being on the water during a lightning storm and how to be safe. With Von-Von’s guidance he learns to face his fears.

“Always Be Honest” shares Sid’s story of learning to tell the truth. Sid takes his bat and ball outside to play. He accidentally breaks Von-Von’s glass gazing globe. He’s afraid Von-Von will be angry so he tries to fix the globe. Instead, he cuts his finger. When Von-Von finds out what happened, Sidney learns a lesson in honesty.

“Ask Your Body” helps children understand about their body’s needs. It’s time for lunch, but Sid isn’t hungry. Von-Von wants him to eat vegetables, but Sid wants cookies. What will his body tell him? When it’s time for bed, Sid wants one more movie, but his body is tired. What will happen when Von-Von compromises by reading Sid a story?

“Making Room for Brother” is about dealing with changes in the family. When Sid is 8 years old, his mom announces there will be a new baby. His family includes Sid in all the preparations. He goes to the doctor with Mom and learns he will have a brother. He gets to choose which room will be his and helps paint his new room. He even gets to take a class to help him be a big brother.

“My Friend’s Skin” tells a tale of accepting and appreciating diversity. Sidney goes to the beach with Von-Von. He has to put on sunscreen so he doesn’t burn. He doesn’t want to because he wants to be brown like his friend, Bree. Von-Von explains why Bree’s skin is a different color and why Sidney will never be brown like his friend. Sidney hears a mom call her child in Spanish and Von-Von explains about how interesting differences can be. When he meets a Japanese girl in the water, he learns more about languages and differences. Finally, Sid sees a woman wearing a sari. Von-Von explains about variety and how important it is.

“Old Things and New” teaches children about recycling. Sid helps Von-Von clean up trash and they take the glass and newspapers to the recycling center. A garage sale helps Sid to learn more about using recycled items both by buying other people’s and selling his own. He even learns about organ transplants and this unique form of “recycling.”

“Puppy Love” deals with the death of a pet. Von-Von and Ran-Ran’s old dog dies. Sidney helps bury the dog and learns about losing a beloved pet. Soon Von-Von and Sidney find a puppy. They try to find his owners, but when no one claims him, they decide to keep him.

“Sid’s Fairy” is a tale intended to help children learn about inner guidance. Sid and Von-Von sit in the garden in the early evening. Von-Von tells Sid if he’s quiet the fairies will come. When he relaxes and closes his eyes, he learns about meditation. As he opens his eyes, he sees twinkling colors and hears a small voice singing a silly song. Here Sid learns to listen to the tiny voice in his mind and to feel love inside of him.

“The Pirates Treasure” is about finding the treasure within. At the beach, Sid and Von-Von pretend to look for buried treasure, but all they find is sand. When the sun shines through a gazebo and leaves the shadow of an “x” on Sid’s shirt, Von-Von tells Sid the treasure is inside of him. What is the treasure? Read and find out.

“You Can Be!” The last story in this collection is about understanding destiny and making choices. Sidney goes to Von-Von and Ran-Ran’s farm for a visit. While he’s there, he gets to try many new things such as making cookies with farm-fresh ingredients, drawing pictures of Ran-Ran, planting seeds in the garden, and helping care for an injured pet. Each thing Sid does, Von-Von tells him how it relates to something he could be when he grows up.

This is a book delightfully illustrated by both Ms. Perry and others. It is a book your young reader could read by himself or you could read to your younger children. It is a collection of stories which beg to be discussed. Pick up your copy at http://thesidseries.com/.

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