Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tales of Priut Almus

Author: Robert Belenky, PHD
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: (April 23, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1440131511

Book Description:
Thirteen-year-old Serogia was thrown out of his house by his drunken mother after his father died. Eleven-year-old Anya doesn't have many friends and is always sad; when she looks in the mirror she sees an ugly girl. Her ten-year-old sister Sashinka is shy, tough and fun loving. Their only living relative is their drunken father.

These are just three of the children who were living at Pruit Almus, a children's shelter in St. Petersburg, Russia, when author Robert Belenky began his visits in 1998. He returned many times during the next ten years. In Tales of Pruit Almus he presents his interviews with children and staff as he participates in this humane and innovative shelter unusual in that it focused on preparing children to create and live in a democracy.

Finally, we meet Almus' founding director, enigmatic man of the theater, Mikhail Markarievich, who provided the courageous vision.

The fifth in a series of books focusing on raising children whose lives have not been easy, Tales of Pruit Almus describes how this home has become a monument to the spirited and humane ways to raise children who are in need. Pruit Almus is a model of what may be possible for the United States in the realm of education and child care.

My Review:
This amazing book is well-written and gives tremendous insight into the plight of the "throw-away" children of Russia. The format for the book is a series of stories and observations describing the author's interactions with the children and staff of Pruit Almus. It is a reading experience that will not soon be forgotten.

(Thanks to the author for my review copy.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Aging With Grace

Author: Greg Liberman
Paperback: 158 pages
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (May 28, 2009)
ISBN-10: 143923681X

Book Description:
Grace, a middle aged housewife, is dissatisfied with her looks, her husband and her lifestyle. Grace is certain that she was meant to lead a more exciting life than the one she finds herself in. She finds the thrill she is looking for and more when she reconnects with a high school friend through a social networking website. Suddenly, Grace is hobnobbing with celebrities, wearing designer clothes, and being wooed by Victor, a mysterious Hollywood powerhouse. Soon, Grace is flying off to Malibu on a whim to hook up with Victor, all the while lying to her husband and her two daughters. Grace has no qualms about accepting all Victor has to offer: a fabulous beach house in Malibu with closets full of designer clothes, plastic surgery, a part in a movie as well as a lavish lifestyle. Does Grace finally get everything she always wanted and deserves or is there more to Victor than meets the eye? Find out in this exciting and fast-paced look at selfishness and desire.

My Review:
Grace was once a beautiful young woman. Where did the time and the beauty go? Why didn't she have the life she had dreamed of?

Grace, a middle-aged woman, is not unlike many women her age--a wrinkle here and a wrinkle there; a few kids; a boring life; time passing quickly. But when Grace reconnects with her old friend, her life begins to take on a life of its own.

This book follows self-centered Grace, through the twists and turns of what she believes is the life she has always dreamed of. Is it all it seems to be?

The book is well-written and a quick read.

(Thanks to the author for my review copy.)

The Impostor's Daughter

Author: Laurie Sandell
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (July 29, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0316033057

Laurie Sandell has written and illustrated an intriguing and fascinating book with a unique format. Even though it is illustrated like a comic-book, it deals with the serious issues of deceit, drug addiction, the discovery of deep family secrets, and the journey into finding one's true self.
The author decribes in detail how she idolized her larger-than-life father until she found evidence that he was living a life of lies and deception. What should she do with the information she has uncovered? How does she deal with who she is becoming? Does she find true love at last? How does she come to terms with family secrets?

This book is realistic, contemporary, youthful, and a fast read.

(Thank you to Hachette Book Group for my review copy.)

Understanding Other People:The Five Secrets to Human Behavior

Author: Beverly D. Flaxington
Paperback: 104 pages
Publisher: ATA Press (April 13, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0615272290

Book Description:
This book should not be missed by anyone who wants to improve the quality of their relationships! Leveraging decades of experience working with people in many different areas and experiences, Beverly Flaxington has found a way to explain to all of us what we simply don't learn naturally - how to understand and communicate with others more effectively. Readers will gain the insights they need to identify relationship missteps, and then apply easy-to-learn techniques to bring relationships to a more meaningful level in both personal and business settings.

My Review:
The author has written a "must read" book on understanding and getting along with other people. How many times are we frustrated with people we either live or work with? Now there's a concise book, with simple steps, telling us how we can live happily while managing our reactions.

Here are a few things it contains:

*Behavioral styles come between us
*What is my experience?
*You better appreciate what I've done for you
*Step outside yourself
*How to interact with and influence others
*Hey, stop yelling at me!

Everyone on planet earth should read this book. Then, perhaps, we can start living in a more peaceful world.
(Thank you to the author for my review copy.)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Naamah's Kiss

Author: Jacqueline Carey
Hardcover: 656 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (June 24, 2009)
ISBN-10: 044619803X

Brief Description:
"Moirin has a secret.... From childhood onward, she senses the presence of unfamiliar gods in her life--the bright lady and the man with a seedling cupped in his palm. Raised in the wilderness by her reclusive mother, Moirin learns only when she comes of age how illustrious, if mixed, her heritage is......"

First, let me disclose the fact that I have not read the other books in this series, which puts me at a terrible disadvantage. When I began to read this book, I was immediately confused by Moirin’s complicated heritage, her lifestyle, and the history of her people. I felt as if I was reading a foreign language.

I will say, though, the author has a unique writing style and great creativity. Even though I wish I had more background from reading her earlier books, I did appreciate her interesting characters and imaginative story-line.

My advice, to anyone who is just becoming familiar with the series, is to start with the first book and continue forward from there. Although, this one could be called an interesting read, I feel it is best to start fresh from the very start. It will certainly be less confusing and much more enjoyable in the long-run.

(Thank you to Hachette Book Group for my review copy.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

DUCHESS OF DEATH, The Unauthorized Biography of Agatha Christie

Author: Richard Hack
Hardcover: 284 pages
Publisher: Phoenix Books (July 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1597776203

Product Description
"Although she is the most popular novelist in history, with over two billion books sold worldwide, Agatha Christie lived a life shrouded in secrecy and fueled by curiosity. Nearly as notorious for her aversion to the press as she was for her 80 books and collections of short stories, Christie made no secret of her need for privacy. Utilizing over 5,000 previously unpublished letters, notes, and documents, award-winning biographer Richard Hack allows Christie to write again, 33 years after her death.

DUCHESS OF DEATH is her story, as full of romance, travel, wealth, and scandal as any mystery Christie ever crafted.There have been numerous biographies of the Queen of Crime, all of which claim to be definitive. However, DUCHESS OF DEATH is the first to draw from such an enormous number of previously unpublished correspondence and notes, effectively establishing it as the most authoritative, penetrating look at the personal and literary life of Christie."

My Review:
Not only was Agatha Christie a prolific mystery writer, but she also created mystery as she lived her own life. Mystery seemed to follow her. In any case, her name is synonymous with suspense.

Richard Hack has created in Duchess Of Death, a work that will delight Agatha Christie fans. He gives the reader an extraordinary glimpse into the mysterious life of an extraordinarily gifted legend.
(Thanks to Library Thing for my review copy)

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Talking Baby: Simple Techniques To Encourage Your Baby To Speak Sooner

Authors: Jeremy & Karina Sweet
Paperback: 64 pages
Publisher: Jema Alka Worldwide Publishing (May 12, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0615243827

Becoming a parent isn't easy and babies don't come with instruction manuals. From birth on, we are faced with a thousand questions about childcare and development.

Example: It sometimes becomes a great worry to parents when their baby seems to be slow at picking up the simple words we use everyday. Much of the time one doesn't know where to turn for advice.

Now we have a concise and intelligent book we can turn to for help when we need it. Jeremy and Karina Sweet have written a wonderful guide which gives techniques that encourage our babies to learn to speak sooner.

Some of my favorite chapters are:
-A Happy Home
-Praise Pays
-Got Book?
-TV Good?
-Prop It Up

If you are a parent or grandparent looking for help, you will certainly want to buy this excellent easy-to-read book which will, no doubt, jump-start your child's vocabulary.

Ageing Well, A Guide to Rejuvenation and Longevity

Author: Dr. George Cromack, D.C., F.I.A.M.A
Paperback: 150 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press (April 3, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1432733656

"There is a reason why more and more people today are turning off to traditional healthcare and turning on to alternative therapies and natural medicines-and it's not just because they're more affordable.

Ageing Well not only explores the latest health practices but takes you on a journey that examines the most beneficial ways you can make your body healthy and strong.

In Ageing Well, you'll learn about:
-Chiropractic techniques and how they should be done
-The effects of the foods we eat
-The invaluable benefits of Super-foods, antioxidants, probiotics, and enzymes
-The techniques of ridding your body of inner and outer toxins
-The types of exercises that will have you up and moving - and feeling great again"

I am amazed at the wealth of health information covered in just 150 pages. The reader will learn about diet, the correct pillows for sleeping, lumbar supports, inversion slings, traction units, gallbladder cleanse, fasting, strength training, and much, much more.
This is an important resource for good health.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Across The Pond

Across The Pond
Author: Storyheart
Paperback: 120 pages
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation; 1st edition (September 25, 2008)
ISBN-10: 1436371767

"Finding himself packed off to friends in the USA, fifteen-year-old English-born Fred Squire is not happy.....

Then he meets Brittany."

After reading several adult mysteries this spring and summer, I was ready for some light reading. Across The Pond is just that--teenage romance, adventure, and a happy ending. There's nothing better than young love, is there?

Not only was this a nice story that I would recommend to my children, but I was fascinated with all the language differences, too. For instance, a word that has a certain meaning to we Americans may have a completely different meaning to the British. I must say I got some giggles from those examples.

This book is fun, romantic, and a quick read. I recommend it to young and old alike--anyone who is looking for a fresh, unforgettable story.... especially, as summer reading.
(Thank you to the author for my review copy.)

The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between

The Light, The Dark and Ember Between
Author: J.W. Nicklaus
Paperback: 196 pages
Publisher: American Book Publishing Group (May 14, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1589825055

Cover Description:
"This book is a collection of uplifting images that delve into the reflections of the human condition. These stories will cause you to think, laugh, and even cry at the beauty of emotional memories. You will smile at the thought of love lost and found again in "Paper Doll." You will think about your life's choices in "10:18." You will cry tears of joy while reading about the hidden gift in "Winter Rose." This is a must-have collection of thought-provoking reflections perfect for your bedside or the beach."

If you are a fan of inspirational short stories, this is the book for you. You will smile a little; perhaps cry a little; and find joy in the pages of this small book with a deep emotional impact.
A few of the fifteen stories are:
*The Run
*Paper Doll
*Winter Rose
*In The Name of Love
....and others which you are sure to enjoy.
(Thank you to the author for my review copy.)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sassy by Gloria Mallette

Author: Gloria Mallette
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Gemini Press; 1st edition (May 22, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0967878934

Myra Barrett lie dying--stabbed over and over by the man she was secretly dating and who she had fallen in love with. Her best friend, Carrie, lay dead nearby.

Why? Why was this happening? She had so much to live for--her career; her child. Thoughts raced through her head as life drained from her; her killer still standing over her helpless body. He would soon shower, and dress in fresh clothes, in her own apartment before attending another important date with someone very special.

Four hours later, Sassy Davenport, a popular romance novelist, is having a book signing party. The line is long. This had been a good night for selling her latest novel. Norris Yoshito, is the next customer to ask for her autograph. As their eyes meet, they are instantly drawn to each other. He wants to meet her afterward, and a romantic relationship develops.

As multiple murders unfold in this unforgettable novel, the reader is held spellbound from the opening paragraph. Will the murderer be caught before it's too late for Sassy?

This is a thriller that I couldn't put down...I read it within 24 hours! For mystery lovers, this is a "must read."
(Thank you to the author for my review copy.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fire At Midnight

Fire at Midnight
Author: Lisa Marie Wilkinson
350 pages
Publisher: Medallion Press (March 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1933836547

The year is 1703. Rachael Penrose has been imprisoned in the "Bedlam" insane asylum in London, where the conditions are deplorable. Her uncle, Victor, plans to dispose of her and her little brother so that he can inherit the family fortune.

With the help of a friend, Rachael manages to escape the mental hospital and sets out to find her brother before it is too late. Shortly thereafter, she meets Sebastian Falconer, a dashingly handsome, French privateer and smuggler. Masquerading as a friend, Sebastian offers Rachael his home as a refuse from danger, but in reality he is setting a trap for this woman he believes to be his mortal enemy. An intense, romantic love/hate relationship builds almost immediately between these two determined, and strong-spirited main characters.

Fire at Midnight has all the right ingredients: treachery, sexual tension, maniacal plotting, intensely passionate love scenes, and a clever story-line. Ms. Wilkinson has spun a tale of mystery that will keep the reader holding their breath from the first page to the last sentence.

(Thanks to the author for my review copy.)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Italian for Beginners: A Review

Italian for Beginners
Author: Kristin Harmel
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: 5 Spot (August 13, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446538302

Cat Connelly is a thirty-four-year-old Manhattan accountant who has always lived a responsible life. She has lived on the safe side, even taking care of her younger sister and father when her mother left the family. But Cat starts to question her life choices while attending her sister's wedding.

When wedding guests ask her about finding the right man and walking down the isle, and when she hears quiet gossip, within earshot, she becomes embarrassed and frustrated. Where is the justice for someone who has, seemingly, done all the right things, but still hasn't found the life she rightfully deserves? She tries to leave the wedding party, but runs into a mysterious man who takes her breath away. Is he single or married, which turns into a major issue.

Cat, feeling confused, and low in spirit, returns to work, where a friend encourages her to take a much needed month's vacation to visit her former boyfriend in Italy. Cat talks to her father, who tells her it is a good idea for her to get away for awhile. She now has to choose between her perceived responsibility at home or a chance at happiness.

Arriving in Italy, Cat finds herself on a virtual "Roman Holiday" as her life becomes very similar to Audrey Hepburn's character in the movie by that name. Although, she finds romance, disappointment, betrayal, and love, she also must face some serious old ghosts that have haunted her in her earlier life. Does she have the courage to live as a stranger in Rome? Will she conquer her demons? Will she find her true self? Will she find the love of her life? These are questions that make the book a pure pleasure to read.
I give this a perfect 5 stars*****
(Kristin Harmel is also the author of The Art of French Kissing)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My Baby

This doesn't have much to do with books, but............

Daughter Becka came for dinner with Jim and I last evening and while she was here she took this picture of my sweet, little Riley. Becka was with me when I bought Riley as a puppy and she's always been very close with him. He just goes wild when she comes to visit. In this photo, he's looking up at her. Can't you see the love in his little eyes?