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Diane D's Reviews

Discussion in 'Member Book Reviews/Journals/Blogs' started by Diane D., Oct 27, 2014.

  1. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    I'm a generalist and a book reviewer by profession - and this means I read many books in all genres. My favorites are young adult fiction, apocalyptic and hard science fiction, culinary history, memoirs ... but I delve into other genres, also - including business books. And one of the more exciting business books I've read lately is Dr. Betsy Kruger's Aesop's Keys to Profitable Marketing.

    Where other business books would approach marketing decisions with generalities, Aesop’s Keys provides specifics; right down to tables that predict how much a narrow focus will magnify profits. For example, one marketing decision is to develop distribution channels that consistently 'wow' customers in its target market.

    Each business insight is cemented by a business-oriented vignette paired with an actual Aesop tale. In one tale, a businessman asks Aesop to evaluate a promotion for his business and Aesop mocks him for being “his own trumpeter.”

    Now, if you read enough business books, you know that most of them cover the same information, often using similar approaches. And I'm not saying that Aesop is pure originality: all aspects have been covered elsewhere to some degree or another ... but presenting them under one cover in a format that consistently and effectively cements theory with real-world marketing decisions makes Aesop's Keys a powerful standout in a genre replete with overly complex or poorly thought-out works.

    The bottom line? Business leaders seeking profitable results through new, applied directions will find that Aesop’s Keys to Profitable Marketing provides an easy formula of success for virtually any business endeavor, from running a health clinic to selling product.
     
  2. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    Some books stand out at first reading, and some remain juicy and recommended months later. I was reviewing my list of 'recommended thrillers' and Miracle Man, first read in March of this year, remains a memorable, recommended read.

    To call Miracle Man a 'medical thriller' or a 'political story' would be to do it an injustice. Miracle Man is about miracles, motivations, ethics and morals, and the influence of special interests in the work of genius minds. It's about one 'super' boy's devotion to solving some of medicine's greatest mysteries against forces that would divert these great talents to something darker; and it's ultimately about the ability to withstand moral and ethical temptations against all odds. Readers are treated to a plot with many twists and turns: it holds intrigue, describes compulsions and diversions, shows how a genius battles dark forces within and outside of himself, and generally paints a powerful picture of a search for privacy, as much as meaning.

    ----And so a gripping novel of psychological tension becomes much more than your usual 'medical thriller', and is a pick for any who want high octane action and emotionally-charged reading right up to an unexpected, gripping conclusion.
     
  3. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    It must be 'thriller month', even though October's passed, because here comes Joseph Hirsch's Flash Blood.

    like my action vivid and my stories fast. One of the first things I noted about Flash Blood is its attention to detail, right down to the sights and smells of atmosphere that impart a 'you are there' feel to almost every page.

    Flash Blood is the story of what emerges when a man is pitted against the impossible.

    It represents a pivot point in Detective Arklow's life, plain and simple. As such, it will immerse readers in a world of good and bad choices, and it powers all these choices with a potent protagonist whose ultimate goals and reality prove subject to change without notice. Detective novel genre readers, take note: this is a far more complex scenario than your usual 'whodunnit' - and therefore, far more satisfying a read.
     
  4. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    In addition to my usual adult reads of thrillers, mysteries, some paranormal/romance and selected literary novels, I read a LOT of young adult titles. They tend to be less prone to violence and more thoughtful about coming to understand the world, as a whole.

    A.G. Russo's Our Wild and Precious Lives (LOVE the title!) is best described as a 'crossover' title, however, in that it will readily appeal to adults who don't share my affection for the YA genre.

    A novel set in 1960 Cold War Germany doesn't sound like an auspicious beginning for a young adult read; nor do the protagonists, who are teenage Army brats used to relying on one another for support and companionship. But an adult-sounding setting and circumstances is exactly what sets Our Wild and Precious Lives apart from other young adult reads and makes it a vivid and different story that will reach into adult circles even as it remains firmly rooted in the perceptions, experiences, and reactions of teenagers.

    Tom and Melly worry about adjusting to a strange foreign country and entering yet another new school, but they also face problems at home with an abusive, controlling war veteran father and his domination over their lives.

    The real strength of a good novel lies in its ability to view the world through others' eyes. As the siblings mature (and as events concurrently mature in Europe) readers receive insights not just on the young adult perspective, but (through a series of flashbacks) the forces that shaped their father's psyche and set the stage for the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    But the ultimate power of Our Wild and Precious Lives lies in the evolution of the army brat protagonists into passionate people influenced by their parents' decisions, but ultimately leading their own battles and undertaking their own life journeys, fueled by separate beliefs, passions, and family connections.
     
  5. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    Samuel Finlay's Breakfast with the Dirt Cult is military fiction - it's a genre I obviously haven't read enough of, because if his novel is any indicator, there are gems to be had, here. I read this back in April and it's still a standout.

    Breakfast with the Dirt Cult is a gritty, you-are-there account of Tom's life and is loosely based on the author's own experiences 'in country' nearly a decade ago. As such, the story has a realistic feel that many a story of wartime experience simply doesn't capture, from its opening in Montreal (where Tom is on military leave from training before deployment) to his relationship with the saucy Amy (who becomes his pen pal after he leaves.)

    From basic training to the front lines of Afghanistan, Breakfast with the Dirt Cult simply shines when it describes military experience; especially when foreign policy snafus are revealed. Encounters between military men range from humorous to dead serious; especially between the brass and those under them.

    How does one not merely survive, but thrive, under military service? And how does the daily specter of combat, death or worse become offset by changes in attitude?

    Don't expect any sugar-coating here: there's a lot of profanity, a lot of back-and-forth between protagonists that could sometimes become confusing, and a lot of unexpected fun (yes, fun!) woven into the process.

    Is Breakfast with the Dirt Cult an easy read? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Is it involving? Always. Is it linear and clear? Not always.

    Any reader seeking a multifaceted 'war story' of a soldier's struggle to 'live another day' despite it all will find Breakfast with the Dirt Cult ultimately (and at once) challenging and satisfying.
     
  6. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    Some reviews I'm adding here are from books read a while ago and some are brand-new. This fell into my hands and because I've read relatively little Southern fiction, I'm not as well versed in the genre - but I know what I like, and I know what I look for. First and foremost is a sense of Southern place and history - and Passing Through Perfect provides this sense. In fact, I could say that's its driving force.

    It's not the kind of novel that excels in pat answers, simple characters, and calm progressive events - and this is evident from the first paragraph, which opens with a punch and just keeps on emotionally slugging.

    Benjamin Church opens the story in 1958 with a heart-felt review of why he's dying. But it's not so much a physical death as a spiritual one: he's lost Delia, his love, and the story of this loss makes for a powerful saga in Passing Through Perfect, which goes back to 1946 Alabama where war is ending and Benjamin is returning home with little news of his family's situation.

    Be forewarned: this is Book Three of The Wyattsville series. I hadn't read the prior books, either - but also be advised that prior familiarity with the series is not necessary (though, it likely will be desired, after reading this continuation of the saga). This is Southern fiction writing at its best: spiritually infused, warm, and family-oriented - an atmosphere which permeates every chapter with descriptions firmly routed in family tradition and the South.

    Any interested in Southern atmosphere and family ties injected with a dose of spiritual reflection will find this a powerful, moving read.
     
  7. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    Ron Ames' Metal Horses is a 'novel of the 70s' - but I almost hesitate to use the world 'novel' because books get lost in this genre and it becomes a catch-all for just about anything.

    In this case, what looks to be a story of the 1970s and a young man infatuated with cars becomes a journey into America's social and political climate of the 70s - I liked that since I had anticipated a 'car culture book' and found much more.

    I lived through the 70s and remember its nuances well; but the culture depicted in Metal Horses made me think.

    The Vietnam War drove rebellion into the hearts of the young and those who were threatened with the draft. It painted stark differences between right and wrong, moral and unethical behaviors, and it drove a wedge in the heart of the American public that some say remains unhealed today.

    Metal Horses doesn't seem like a coverage of such events since its opening chapters revolve around cars - but, ultimately, it's part of a wider legacy that Jason has inherited - and one which is America's bequest, as well.

    You can't put Metal Horses neatly in a box and its genre definition of 'novel' doesn't begin to do it justice: it brings America's past to live through the eyes of a young man looking to understand his heritage, and is a pick for any who want their novels fresh, vivid, and ripe with detail.

    Any 'novel' that makes me think about what I've already lived through is a recommendation, in my book!
     
  8. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    Bill Kroger's Fallon's Orphans is not your usual thriller, and not your usual story of terrorism. I read a LOT of novels, mysteries, and international thrillers and most are pretty one-dimensional productions. So I only bother writing about the stand-outs - of which, this is one.

    Murder, terrorism, unfair death: all these often beget thirsts for revenge; and so the cycle continues. Such is true with Fallon MacEwan, the hero of Fallon's Orphans, whose lover has been killed by Islamic terrorists; so when an Orthodox Christian group places the opportunity for revenge in his hands, he gladly enters into a hitherto-unknown world of battle and espionage.

    And that's just the opening act in a nonstop battle that centers around an inexperienced vigilante group's determination to bring justice to the world by tackling terrorist groups the government can't handle. Its members are all orphans - and that's both a literal and a figurative label; because the one shared attribute between them is their sense of loss and conviction that they're doing the right thing by crushing a dangerous enemy who kills innocents in the world.

    Most stories of terrorism and espionage don't take the time to properly build atmosphere. Most don't take into account the hearts and minds - not just the artillery and fighting power - of ordinary people. Not so Fallon's Orphans, which is meticulous in its attention to setting as well as plot, and to creating insights on how terrorism really works in worlds replete with poverty.

    Another 'plus': there's no traditional 'bad sect' here, as one might anticipate: just insights into what influences good and bad choices in the world.

    Fallon's Orphans provides the depth and attention to detail that's lacking in many modern stories of terrorism. It's action-packed, but its attention to motivation, logic, and larger concerns than killings makes it a standout among thriller genre reads - and highly recommended.
     
  9. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    Science fiction is one of the genres I love to read, and I look for humor in this genre - but, it's rare. A few months back I had the pleasure of reading Searchers of Ex-O-Da, and found it a rollicking fun read (NOT serious sci-fi, but a very fine entertaining story.)

    Be prepared for a hilarious comedy of errors that's worth pursuing despite any small copy glitches; for Searchers of Ex-O-dá is a comedy of errors and ironies, whether you're talking about plots to break away from alien prisons, muddled heritage and strange genes, or the odd habits of fearless leaders with a passion for speed and an inability to resist the possibilities offered by a spaceship's long corridor.

    Perhaps the strongest piece of Searchers of Ex-O-dá is its ability to imbibe even the most serious of plots with a zany sense of whimsy and humor that adds an element of unpredictability to the entire story line. Whether it's science fiction or fiction, real unpredictability and humor is surprisingly rare and a refreshing find.

    In the end the fates of human and alien worlds will become entwined in more ways than one. Without spilling beans, it should be noted that readers looking for a voice that's truly different will find it in only a few places: in Christopher Moore's successful tales and, now, in David D. Tracey's fast-paced story of Searchers who uncover more than they bargained for.
     
  10. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    I am always looking at art books; I go to exhibitions far less frequently. And it should be said that much of what I see being billed as 'art' these days looks like something I could produce with little effort - and I am NO artist!

    That's why Michelle Marder Kamhi's Who Says That’s Art? A Commonsense View of the Visual Arts struck such a chord with me: she pulls no punches in assessing the latest state of art and how it's defined.

    Michelle Marder Kamhi is a scholar and art critic, and her expertise lies in her ability to get directly to the point. The point provided here is an assessment of what qualifies a piece to be deemed 'fine art'; and in this, Kamhi's scrutiny is unerring.

    Who Says That’s Art? A Commonsense View of the Visual Arts deals with the radical transformation of visual art since the early 20th century. The exact nature of these changes, and their overall negative effect, is documented in chapters that excel in specifics: references, analysis, and critical insights on what does or does not deserve to be called 'art'.

    Readers will find these insights supported by subjective perspectives as well as by thorough scholarship. Kamhi's enthusiasm for visual art often meets with disappointment at museum and gallery offerings.

    Kamhi does not argue that 'real art' is dead: only that a greater measure of critical discretion needs to be applied to identifying it. And here's where she shines, providing non-specialists with a scholarly yet accessible account that not only explains how to distinguish genuine art, but also promises to enhance its appreciation whenever such gems are to be found!

    Kamhi’s scrutiny is unerring. . . . providing non-specialists with a scholarly yet accessible account that not only explains how to distinguish genuine art but also promises to enhance its appreciation.
     
  11. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    Sometimes a book 'sticks' with you many months (or years) after reading: the good ones do, at least. I read Philippa Rees's
    Involution-An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God earlier this year, and it's an ongoing recommendation for something different and entirely outside the box.

    At a quick glance, Involution-An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God seems like a scientific or spiritual read, and possibly a dry one, at that. But those too ready to judge a book by its title may be in for a surprise, here: for Involution is in actuality a poetic-based exploration of the Western thinking process, and is more focused on the process of Mankind's incremental rediscovery than scientific or spiritual analysis.

    It's neither poetry nor science, spiritual reader nor philosophical investigation - but it incorporates elements of each. Nor is it 'fish nor fowl' - which makes its intended audience and placement a bit ambiguous. How do you tell an audience mired in one discipline that there's value to be had (and elements of that discipline) in a book that crosses genres? Therein lies the presentation challenge; for it'd be a shame for the reader of science, spirituality, philosophy or history to miss the unexpected treats embedded in Involution.

    So what, exactly, is 'involution'? It's defined here as the basic idea that the progress of science in fact reflects its ability to recover memory, or involution. Strictly speaking, 'involution' happens when something turns in upon itself; but in this case it's more than a geometric or mathematical expression, more than a medical description, and more than the path the soul takes to become more self-realized. Here it's described as the impetus to the evolutionary process, key to understanding the idea of scientific investigation and progression.

    Here you will find it all: poetic cantos, scientific footnotes, discussions of ideals of liberty, Renaissance history, the psychology of love and reunion…all provided in a unique format with a distinctive perspective; perfect for multidisciplinary, college-level readers who want a scholarly yet evocative presentation of the concept and workings of involution through its increasingly unifying stages. This broad-brush journey through the history of Western culture offers an alternative vision of Man’s powers and his destiny; a return to Eden, now as co-Creator, conscious of the unity of all creation.
     
  12. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    Young adult and fantasy are genres I love to read: they're quicker readers with less angst and over-complexity than most adult pursuits, and when done right, they reach into adult circles, as well.

    T.W. Fendley's The Labyrinth of Time is one such recent, recommended read.

    Teen Jade is spending spring break with her grandmother in Peru: not exactly her idea of a great time, until she hooks up with a museum director's son and discovers they share telepathic abilities that allow them access to a past world. Summer just got a whole lot more interesting - but wait, there's more!

    The message they uncover from an ancient Earth leads them on an unexpected journey through the Labyrinth of Time in search of a mysterious red crystal that could change the world. Jade's mission is to rescue and restore the Firestone before it's too late.

    All this is narrated in the first person, which allows readers to absorb, from a personal perspective, the events which transpire; from Jade's revelations about her grandmother's spiritual beliefs and their unusual origins in heritage and circumstance to her own newfound task to bring enlightenment into the world before the second Light returns to correct the growing imbalance between Earth and the heavens.

    To call The Labyrinth of Time a 'young adult read' may be accurate - but to limit its audience to such would be a shame. Many an adult will find Jade's feisty personality and perseverance in the face of much adversity just the ticket for a rainy day, and will realize that Jade's evolution embraces all the facets of a life well lived: spiritual concerns, a touch of romance, family connections, and struggles with outside forces beyond one's control.

    Readers with a touch of New Age spiritual inclination will especially find that the story reaches out and touches them, and while Christian-based readers may struggle with some of the concepts, ultimately it's a thought-provoking, enlightening, and entertaining read all in one package, tailored for teens but holding the ability to reach through time, space and age groups for much wider audience. The Labyrinth of Time keeps its eye firmly on the bigger pictures of life - and that's what makes it a stand out.
     
  13. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    I read a good deal of Christian and spirituality books, but rarely do I recommend them. The occasional exception pops across my desk - and
    John Turnbull, J. D.'s The Historical Jesus, My Gnostic God and Me is one of them.

    It's collaborative nonfiction in the loosest sense of the term, in that the Holy Spirit led John Turnbull to write this book (basically a survey of Jesus' history within and outside Biblical reference). Any Christian reader or historian with an interest in Bible-based historical record will find it a well-researched consideration worthy of attention.

    Scholars and Bible students should anticipate chapters supporting these contentions; presenting Biblical references that dispute other scholarly contentions about specific religious groups, that help readers "logically question" the ideas of 'experts', and that offer many eye-opening statements with supportive evidence.

    Those who would obey without thinking, who would accept any historical contention without question, and who would be fooled by dogma and ritual with no need to question authority, should look elsewhere.


    John Turnbull, J. D.'s The Historical Jesus is as much about cultivating and fine-tuning the questioning and examination process as it is about re-creating a different version of Jesus than is commonly portrayed… and here is where his analysis shines.

    Chapter after chapter summarizes history using not only Biblical background, but references outside the Bible, spiced by the author's own insights and (more importantly) keys to how he arrived at his conclusions.

    Although The Historical Jesus is accessible to lay readers, it is by no means a 'light read'. Quotes are numerous, the cultural, social and historical events surrounding Jesus are accompanied by numerous in-depth references, and any who anticipate a light or quick read should look elsewhere.

    This is serious scholarship at its best: often-radical contentions thoroughly supported by a combination of source materials, Biblical reference, and personal insight.

    So if it's a scholarly, in-depth analysis that is sought, filled with passionate attention to historical detail and spiced with the author's own conclusions - all supported by referenced materials in an extensive bibliography broken down by 'Gnosticism', 'The New Testament', and more - then consider The Historical Jesus a treasure trove of research that offers more than a plateful of food for thought. In actuality it's an entire supper, rich in specific details and well-supported content and highly recommended for any interested in the life and purposes of Jesus.
     
  14. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    I read Rebecca Richmond's MY GUIDE: OVERCOME INSOMNIA back in May - my husband regularly suffers from it, and we've read a LOT of similar-sounding books - but this one offered a different approach, and one which went a long way in addressing his lifelong sleep issues.

    Sure, the science of sleep is the same and the advice on bedtime routines, diet and exercise can also be found elsewhere. And you're not looking at original research, either. What you are seeing is a talent for drawing disparate studies and approaches together under one cover, focusing on the 'secondary factors' that cause insomnia and providing a complete program addressing its underlying causes, symptoms, and how to combat sleeplessness on a nightly basis by changing lifestyle and emotional influences.

    Chapters pair insights on techniques with supportive anecdotes that focus on holistic assessments of what influences different levels of sleep and how to create an environment that tips the balance towards sleep. These connections between emotional states of mind and sleep are essential to understanding the origins of insomnia, and include specific tips on busting worries and using meditation and visualization techniques to achieve optimum sleep routines.

    From time management and flexibility to creating better self-esteem, My Guide: Overcome Insomnia includes considerations most books on the topic typically omit. It goes beyond theory to offer concrete routines readers can easily use to change belief systems and circumvent the habit of insomnia.

    Its very specific, step-by-step tips also set My Guide: Overcome Insomnia apart from competitors that offer theory and only a few approaches to actually curing insomnia. Here, it's all part of the 'bigger picture' which strives for overall better emotional health as a strategy for ultimately busting the habits and effects of insomnia.
     
  15. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    I read a number of Rebecca Richmond's books earlier this year and am just getting around to posting them now. My Guide: How to Write a Novel comes from Richmond's work with co-author Claire Pickering, and as an aspiring author myself I was pleased to find a guide that covered more than just 'how to write' or 'how to market your book'.

    My Guide: How to Write a Novel is the first place a writer should turn to uncover the basics of not just writing a novel, but publishing it. In a nutshell: yes, what you get here, under one cover, is information covered elsewhere … but in expensive seminars that will far exceed the price of this primer, making My Guide a bargain in comparison. So if you want to write a novel but have no idea where to begin … begin here.

    First, a caveat: for all its accessibility and lively manner, My Guide: How to Write a Novel is no light treatment of its subject: it packs in eleven chapters, includes a bibliography and an index, and assumes its reader is passionate about the idea of writing, publishing and marketing a novel. So don't expect a 'quick and dirty' overview: chapters move logically and quickly to cover the nuts and bolts, offering specifics and details novel writers must know to see their book in print and develop a readership.

    One of the best features of My Guide: How to Write a Novel: its ability to link the writing process to exercises reinforcing basic grammar, punctuation, plot development, characterization, and beyond. This all sounds dry, but it's not: producing a novel that captivates readers is all about providing sequences of events that are alluring and readable; and if grammar is poor, punctuation is off, or action lacking, one's novel will (ultimately) fail.

    What is presented here is a logical system of sequential events that need to take place to produce a successful result - but it's a system couched in creative, inspirational choices rather than dry rote learning.

    And by focusing on novel production rather than general writing, Rebecca Richmond and Claire Pickering are able to be specific about the novel's particular elements of (and requirements for) success.

    You won't get as much depth and instruction from anything other than a seminar, which not only costs much more than this book, but often packs too much material into a limited time frame.
     
  16. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    I recently finished a nutrition book - and that's not a genre I regularly read; but this one seemed more practical than most - less 'faddish' - and I wasn't disappointed.

    It's Not the Cans! The Best Nutrient Balance for a Stronger and Healthier You provides what no canned production will: an in-depth survey assessing how nutrients actually work in the body to promote better health, and a specification of exactly which nutrients work to improve different conditions.

    It's not a diet plan in the conventional sense in that its broader purpose is to help readers not only identify nutrient deficiencies that often go undiagnosed, but where nutrients may be found, whether they be in pills or in foods. It also includes the dangers of having excessive amounts of a particular nutrient in a diet: as with all good health plans, the focus is more on restoring balance than overload.

    Generally nutrients are covered in school and easily forgotten about by non-athletic, average adults who go to work and come home to lead a life where good health may be taken for granted until something goes wrong; but, in fact, attention to nutrients and understanding of their function and acquisition should be a life-long process.

    One would expect that such an in-depth coverage would come from someone already working in the health or culinary profession; but Bryant G. Lusk worked in aviation technology for nearly thirty years, and nutrition was the last topic on his mind for a book - until sudden but relatively small medical issues (racing heart and foot cramps at night) prompted him to consult a physician who found 'nothing wrong' and dismissed him.

    Plagued by increasing symptoms, Lusk undertook his own investigation - and his perseverance revealed a lack of potassium and magnesium in his diet. Despite physician tests that said everything was nominal, Lusk undertook his own program - and healed himself.


    Thus began an intensive study of nutrients, backed by an expertise in performing extensive research and analysis (albeit on aviation systems). As he introduced nutrient-rich foods back into his diet, many of his underlying health concerns (obesity, asthma) began to vanish as well.

    No miracles are promised, so readers looking for quick fixes are advised to turn elsewhere. This is a serious nutrition book that requires the attention of readers interested in absorbing its wealth of information on how nutrients actually work and what methods achieve balance.

    It's Not the Cans packs two punches: understanding the role of nutrients in health, and understanding where they come from and how to restore balance with a nutrient-rich program. It IS that simple - and something health readers tired of weighty tomes, impossible promises, or quick-and-dirty diet plans will welcome as a refreshing breeze of lasting practicality and information in a genre overloaded with unproven 'miracles' and fads.
     
  17. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    My husband manages chronic pain all the time; so even though this subject isn't on my everyday reading list (thrillers, mystery, sci-fi), I pick up any book I can about chronic pain, hoping for more keys to success.

    My Guide: Manage Chronic Pain isn't designed to replace a doctor's advice. It's intended to supplement that advice with specific strategies that worked for author Rebecca Richmond, who suffered some seven years of constant pain and who employed the devices herein to achieve not just pain reduction, but a return to an active and busy lifestyle.

    Any who have suffered from lasting pain know what an achievement this is, lending credibility to the book's varied approaches and its promise that these different pain management strategies will actually work together to significantly change a sufferer's life.

    And if this sounds miraculous, keep in mind that Rebecca Richmond is not talking 'cure', but 'management'. There IS a difference.

    Chapters focus on this process by building a management profile of strategies that include meditation and other mind-body techniques. Right off the bat, Rebecca Richmond advises readers that the process is intended for the open-minded reader (and, having gone through any traditional management process, you'd think any struggling with chronic pain would harbor this willingness to try anything for relief).


    The program is presented in a step-by-step series of chapters that build upon one another, creating stepping stones of techniques and explanations of the physical and mental challenges of chronic pain.

    My Guide: Manage Chronic Pain points out that there is no single pathway to effective chronic pain management. Together, all these tools work - as Rebecca Richmond has proved with her own life experience. Individually, they are simply pieces and small tools contributing to the larger picture.

    And that's why My Guide: Manage Chronic Pain needs to be read and absorbed in its entirety. From living 'in the moment' and recognizing physical (and mental) signs of well-being and symptoms of stress to fostering life-enhancing relationships and tackling fear, all the tools are here for lasting, positive change. More importantly, as Rebecca Richmond demonstrates through her own life adjustments, they work. All that's required is a willingness to foster flexibility, try new things, and use the many approaches contained in My Guide: Manage Chronic Pain, a workbook of hope and positive results.
     
  18. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    My neighbor has fibro and she struggles with it mightily. As a former workaholic, it hit her hard - so having watched her struggles and listened to her search for options, I was particularly interested in the program presented here.

    My Guide: Manage Fibromyalgia/CFS is both an autobiography of the author's struggles with fibromyalgia and an overview of the condition, and is a recommended guide for any who suspect they might have fibromyalgia.

    Now, most books on the subject adopt a medical focus; identifying symptoms, discussing the condition, and offering a few keys to its management. In contrast, My Guide: Manage Fibromyalgia/CFS offers a LOT of keys to its management after introductory insights on its medical progression, making this book a 'must' for any who would take a more active role in successfully handling fibromyalgia's challenges.

    Chapters focus on recovery and managing everyday life, and offer a range of techniques the author found successful in her own life. These vary from meditation and visualization routines to nutrition, linking diet and mental health to fibro's progression and offering hands-on hope for readers who have struggled (with few results) with traditional medicine.

    Each discussion is cemented by the author's own experience, and each offers a combination of medical overview and specific answers on why a management approach or technique works.

    As a starting point for understanding fibro and its control, My Guide: Manage Fibromyalgia/CFS should be at the top of any self-help program and is recommended for any who want to manage (and, ultimately, recover from) its debilitating effects.
     
  19. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    Susan Wingate's The Deer Effect is just the kind of mystery I love: 'more than a mystery', it includes psychological depth (in this case, insights on the grief process) and a plot that leads an unwitting novice investigator into another world (in more than one way).

    With a title like The Deer Effect, somehow the reader anticipates a story about hunting - but this couldn't be further from the truth. And billed with the catch-all 'novel' phrase, it's uncertain (from either title or cover) what to expect - which is, plain and simple, NOT a hunting saga or 'Deliverance' type of tale, but a story of murder and grief.

    The protagonist finds his dead wife's body next to the carcass of a fawn, and the rest of the story assumes 'whodunnit' proportions as Rod embarks on a quest to find her killer and uncover the truth.

    Death is the draw here; but unlike many a murder mystery, it isn't the end-all focus but an introduction that involves a wide cast of characters in an investigation that leads to some unexpected conclusions.

    It doesn't follow the usual course of a murder mystery because there's heavy emphasis on grief, the process of recovery, and a nefarious spirit's involvement in matters (yes, there's even a ghost…)

    It doesn't follow the usual progression of events that would lead into a psychological novel about grieving because there's an element of mystery surrounding the death, which requires close investigation from different angles until, at last, an unexpected truth comes out.

    And The Deer Effect doesn't provide the predictability of a story that uses a singular literary device to achieve its purposes: the fact that the protagonist becomes unwittingly involved in a search for justice while simultaneously fielding messages from his dead wife makes it a contrast in not only realities, but perception.

    The only 'constants' in such an exploration lie in setting and place: readers footpad through psychological woods that hold more than a touch of emotional insight in them.

    Forget about hunting, deer, and woods survival. Enter a world where grief serves as the catalyst for change and where death opens the door to other worlds.

    Such is the world of Rod and those around him - all changed by Hannah's death, each looking for answers, and all wound up a satisfying story that is haunting until its final resolution.
     
  20. Diane D.

    Diane D. Member

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    Science fiction and fantasy have been dear to my heart and my early heroes of the genre are Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and other big names. Clarke introduced me to 'water worlds' with his Dolphin Island and since then I've read sporadic 'water world' sci-fi, but Brian Burt's
    Aquarius Rising: In the Tears of God goes down as a favorite.

    What awaits in Aquarius Rising: In the Tears of God is actually Book 1 of a projected trilogy - so be forewarned. The setting is the future, when global warming has resulted in the strangest of human adaptations: human-dolphin hybrids ('Aquarians') who built reef cities when human cities drowned under the world's rising waters.

    This world is facing a new threat from an enemy with an invisible destructive weapon who leaves no survivors and no apparent purpose for his bloodbath. Only the half-human, half-Aquarian Ocypode the Atavism knows why this is happening - and only he and his companions have any hopes of stopping it.


    In a world where adaptation has saved some semblance of humanity, is another major shift required to return humanity to its roots? One scientist thinks so - and he'll do anything to thwart the virus that mutated humanity and changed the world.

    Sci-fi and thriller readers can anticipate gripping action set against the backdrop of a world that isn't quite done changing, quasi-humans that aren't quite ready to give up their last vestiges of humanity, and Aquarian survivors who struggle to keep their new world alive.

    Without a sense of purpose, realism, and believability, the entire premise could fail, lost in a sea of description that neither compels nor involves. Aquarius Rising gives close attention to detail, and this is one of its strengths; one that marries the mystery and struggle with insights on how genetic manipulation has created a strange new world, revealing facets of this world.

    There are surprisingly few sci-fi novels that delve into possible water worlds of the future, in comparison to those that journey into outer space. Arthur C. Clarke and a handful of others come to mind - but even though Dolphin Island comes close, Aquarius Rising is a beast of another color. Its greater attention to building characters, exploring the motivations of a destructive mind and scientists who have 'saved' humanity by mutating it, and providing a thriller genre overlay that keeps readers involved and guessing actually places it a cut above Dolphin Island and its classic waterworld contemporaries.

    Readers who enjoy a hefty dose of psychological drama in their science fiction stories will be the best audience for Aquarius Rising, which creates a believable, absorbing world spiced by the motivations and madness of all its characters.
     

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