Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Book with a View June 2010

Lost Angel Walkabout: One Traveler’s Tales
Author: Linda Ballou
ISBN: 978-1449971526
Reviewed by Barbara Milbourn, an editor and writer in Nashville, Tennessee affiliated with Writers in the Sky

In roughly twenty short stories, travel writer Linda Ballou takes us with her up active volcanoes in Costa Rica, down hundred-mile rivers in the Yukon Territory, over combination jumps and oxers in Ireland, beneath the Sea of Cortez, and along unforgettable jaunts through deserts, woods, peaks, and valleys in both hemispheres. Her tales span years of traveling—sometimes alone, occasionally with her mother or life partner, and often with others in search of soft adventure. Brimming with action, intelligence, regional history, funny mishaps or tight squeezes, each story is set against a backdrop of nature’s jaw-dropping beauty. Ballou aims to share her world view, and through her Eco-alerts make the reader care more deeply about our vanishing resources and places of wild beauty.

Living in greater Los Angeles among millions of other lost angels keeping pace in a hurried world, Linda Ballou makes no bones about her need to seek equilibrium, solitude, and salvation in the sublimity of nature. Forget thousand-thread count sheets at luxury hotels or shopping for the latest bling. Like the great figures liberally noted in her pieces—Robert Frost, Jack London, John Steinbeck, John Muir—Ballou prefers the great outdoors and is intimately acquainted with it. She is a naturalist, a thoughtful traveler, one caring toward the environment and sensitive to local populations both near and far. And, she is a meticulous researcher.

Lost Angel Walkabout is richly detailed and poetic. It gifts the reader with the depth of observation in the clear and careful naming of the world around us—places, peoples, plants, birds, mountain ranges, animals, and sea creatures. More satisfying than naming is storytelling the authentic connection made with the inhabitants of land, sea, and sky; ravens and great spirits, fin whales the size of city buses, or Native Americans forced to flee their land. Because the author has connected deeply, so does the reader. Something is gathered from every place visited, and it seems impossible not to connect with our own highest and best self through Ballou’s experiences—not to mention wanting to get up and go there.

Linda Ballou keeps good company too and includes interviews with renowned travel writer Tim Cahill and endurance rider Lari Shea. Like her travel writing hero Tim Cahill, Ballou sees humor in many of the predicaments she stumbles into, or out of, or overboard after.

Don’t be surprised to find her on the back of a galloping horse yelling “Yee Haw!” and let out a yell yourself.

Title: 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home
Author: Tisha Morris
Turner Publishing Company
ISBN: 978-1-59652-567-2
Price: $9.99
184 pages
Reviewed by Randall Hawk

Having practiced the art of feng shui for many years, I was naturally inquisitive when I came across 27 Things To Feng Shui Your Home .

This ancient eastern art of energy transformation has become very popular in modern western society. Combining science and the mystical, feng shui is used to clear clutter and change the energy of a space. Author Tisha Morris, a certified life coach, energy healer, and feng shui consultant, has simplified this art form so anyone can use it to transform their home, office, work area, and rejuvenate their life.

Tisha briefly and simply describes how feng shui can be used to transmute energy in your living space. She takes you on a path throughout your home and explains ways to change the flow of energy by de-cluttering, cleaning, painting, rearranging furniture, ridding yourself of unused items, personalizing, and creating sacred space.

I was especially helped by the sixth thing Tisha mentioned: Get rid of “just-in-case” items. She made it clear that keeping items just in case you need them later is the same as saying you believe you will have a negative situation in which you will need to use the items. It’s about trust, but it’s also about the Law of Attraction. Tisha explains the destructive power of having a negative intention. Holding on to unneeded items just in case you may need them is like saying to the universe, “Send me a situation in which I can use this item.”

27 Things To Feng Shui Your Home is a handy, well-designed book you will want to keep around for years. Practicing this art is a fun and creative way to energize your life and home. You won’t know how much though until you try it. As a result of being inspired by this book, I’m planning to design a sacred space designated for meditation and other spiritual practices. I’ve already rearranged the furniture in the living room. Don’t worry that you will feel overwhelmed when you begin the process of decluttering. The author gives an easy four-step plan to take action in phases. The basics are to remove clutter, change things, clean the space, and then add feng shui elements. Easy enough!

Tisha states, “Your home should feel good to you and be a place where you love to be. As you love your home, you will love yourself.” I agree. Any time I have made positive changes, cleared the clutter, or shifted energy in my home, I have found that it uplifts my spirit and mind, giving me the ability to think more clearly and work more effectively.

Book Title: Forever With You
Author: Ivzi Cipuri
ISBN: 978-1-4327-4257-7
Publisher: Outskirts Press Inc., 2010
Reviewer Byline: Vonnie Faroqui for WITS

When I first received the book, Forever With You, by author Ivzi Cipuri, I was struck silent by the faded photograph on its cover. I have been haunted by that lovely face; the way her eyes shy away from the camera’s lens, as if hiding the soul within, forever denying the reader’s gaze and foreshadowing the author’s torment. Lovingly dedicated, “To my unforgettable beloved wife Aije . . .” this volume of poetry is an autobiographical journey of love, life, and loss. Through it, the author seeks to immortalize his beloved wife and to share their story with the reader . The book is divided into three sections or moods of poetry. In the beginning, Ivzi offers the reader beauty and hope as he and his bride enter into a new life through marriage. His poetry describes glimpses of life well lived, of health and happiness. Then, the poems take a turn down darker paths, into clouds of fear, illness, battles waged, and ultimately death. The author completes his offerings by opening his chest, and in words, he gifts the reader with grasping, choking, ugly, angry anguish, and grief.

“You beauty, you ugly, I hate you all!
You give me pain, I cry, I toll;
You pinch my soul, you break my heart,
I want to throw, to crash you apart . . .”

I cannot tell whether it is the story of a woman’s courage, and love’s fight for life . . . or instead, if it is the story of a man’s love and anguish revealed in the poetry that I find more compelling.

This book is haunting in its humanity. The verse is rough, but true to the voice of the author and in its aching realism, more potently real than prettier words or a more skillful pen could convey. Forever With You effectively sings the song of life and courage; its melody revealing depths of love and painful loss more poignantly because it is roughly sung.

I recommend this book for readers who have suffered loss due to illness or for those and their families who are fighting to recover health. An excellent example of the healing power and transformative impact words and art can have on the grieving process and a ringing testament to a love and fidelity that knows no barriers, not even death.

Frozen in Time: Murder at the Bottom of the World
Theodore Jerome Cohen
AuthorHouse (2010)
ISBN 9781452002705
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

Theodore Cohen goes back to a time in his life to create a fictional story based on his own real-life experiences during the Austral summer of 1961 -1962. He was part of a Chilean Antarctic expedition with a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin doing a gravity survey. The work was down on the North Antarctic Peninsula.

Cohen carefully builds a plot which includes natural dangers of weather and environment, criminal activity, greed, and murder. Cohen uses actual events which occurred during the period 1958 through 1965. Real people from his life, fictional characters, and fictional agencies and organizations are all a part of the carefully developed plot. Cohen incorporates the Great Chilean Earthquake of May 22, 1960 and the theft of valuable assets from the bank’s safe deposit boxes valued at millions of dollars to build suspense that leads to an unexpected surprise ending.

The following is typical of Cohen’s amazing descriptions: “ a world of ice, enveloping, looming over, and dominating the landscape . . . melting, cracking, separating, inching inexorably toward the sea, calving in thunderous convulsions that send thousands of tons of ice and snow pouring down from great heights . . . ”
The University of Wisconsin team had a threefold objective. Grant mapped large portions of the area and collected a variety of rocks and fossils that he needed in defense of his doctoral theses in Cretaceous sedimentation. David similarly was collecting rock samples needed for his doctoral work. Ted was working to establish a new gravity network in the Chilean Antarctica.

The book is thoroughly researched, fully documented, and highly informative. Ham radio operators will appreciate the detailed descriptions of strategies involved in communicating worldwide with Ham radio and other high frequency communications. Avid Chess fans will enjoy the reference to highly complicated chess moves and mention of various well-known Chess Tournaments. Frequent references to Catholic tradition and rites will be of interest to practicing Catholics.

I appreciated the use of the Spanish language when appropriate in the dialog with the easy reference to the English translation. I was enthralled with Cohen’s account of the Chinstrap penguins (a rookery of over 100,000.) Cohen’s own pictures, other photos, maps and illustrations add a stunning visual dimension to the narrative.

Cohen writes with depth, authenticity, and meaning as he draws from his own experiences. He adeptly expresses the feelings, emotions, and psyche of his characters. It became difficult to pinpoint where biographical writing ended and fiction began.

“Frozen in Time” is compelling reading combining the elements of conflict, suspense, intrigue, entertainment, and enlightenment. I highly recommended it.

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