Quick Listing

  • Farhan Ansari, KNIFE ON SKIN AT 7:30
  • Christina A. Barber, SPIRITS OF GEORGIA’S SOUTHERN CRESCENT
  • Barri Bryan, A CORE CURRICULUM FOR CREATIVE WRITING
  • Larry K. Collins & Lorna Collins, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park
  • Bonnie Elaine Doss, THE BOOK: A PRIMER FOR SEEKERS OF HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS
  • Mike Farrell, JUST CALL ME MIKE: A Journey to Actor and Activist
  • Mike Farrell, OF MULE AND MAN
  • Jerramy Fine, SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME: TRUE ADVENTURES OF A WANNABE PRINCESS
  • Kristine K. Lowder, GUYS AND OTHER NEAR HUMANS
  • David M Pitchford and Siobhan M Pitchford, AFTER THE VOWS: POEMS BETWEEN LOVERS
  • Rev. Chris Reed, SHADOWS OF THOUGHT
  • Susan Salguero, THE GACHI: MY GYPSY FLAMENCO QUEST
  • Michaela Sefler, SEVEN STARS, MYSTICAL POETRY
  • Marci Shimoff with Carol Kline, HAPPY FOR NO REASON: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out
  • Laura Stone, I Give Seven Chicken: And Other Travel Experiences in China
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KNIFE ON SKIN AT 7:30

By Farhan Ansari

“Part travelogue, part fantasy-fiction ghost story” and “escapades of a globetrotting surgeon as he makes his way through the theatres of Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Australia.”  These are the very words on the back cover of “Knife on Skin at 7:30” and they perfectly describe Farhan Ansari’s story.

I will admit to being sceptically about “Knife on Skin at 7:30.”  I wasn’t sure how I would mix with what appeared to be an autobiography with a ghost story thrown in…why include a ghost?  Also, I just never know about a self-published book…there I’ve admitted I am leery of self-published books.

My family is a tad tired of me raving on and on about “Knife on Skin at 7:30.”

Yes, I consider Dr. Ansari’s book a must read.

I am fascinated with Dr. Ansari’s journey from the Army Medical School in Pakistan to earning his fellowship at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.  His travels to Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Australia captured my attention as he not only described the inner workings of each surgical hospital but also the atmosphere and culture of each country.

I am still sitting in disbelief over the description of cutting through the first layer of tissue paper in order to understand the delicateness needed in pediatric surgery.

I’m not even sure if Alice Aylward, the 300-year old ghost, is real or not.  This has to be fictional, right?  No one can travel back in time, right?  Yes, this fictional story blended in with the rest of Dr. Ansari’s tale.

“Knife on Skin at 7:30” is the real life phrase used by surgeons.  Surgery starts at 7:30 AM and continues till the day’s surgeries are done and sometimes beyond.  The great surgeons never stop learning and never stop teaching.

Dr. Ansari’s brief sharing of his life is a non-stop, captivating read.

SPIRITS OF GEORGIA’S SOUTHERN CRESCENT

By Christina A. Barber

There is no one better to search out ghosts with than Christina Barber.  And “Spirits of Georgia’s Southern Crescent” is a masterpiece.

Once again, Ms. Barber has scared the devil in me.  Never will I ignore a quick chill or a creaking door, nor will I look over my shoulder when home alone.  Okay, I’m home alone and want to look over my shoulder.  For the record, nothing was there…I think.

This is a non-fiction book about a subject some would call fiction.  Having had my own experience, years ago, I happen to believe in ghosts and visiting spirits.  Ms. Barber presents these narratives so that her reader can make up their own mind.  Some do sound a bit more ‘out there’ than others; however, each have some very quirky, unexplainable goings-on.

“Spirits of Georgia’s Southern Crescent” is not just a collection of local ghost stories.  Ms. Barber accompanies the narratives with the proven history and people who live and once lived at these locations.  She tells of her own experiences visiting these locales and provides information on how Paranormal Researchers work.

Again, everything to be believed or not believed is left to her reader(s).

“Spirits of Georgia’s Southern Crescent” works on many levels.  There are some great ghost stories.  This condensed book is full of history, super for any history buff.  The included pictures are as informative as they are inviting, I want to see these areas for myself.

As with previous readings of Ms. Barber’s work, I felt as if she was personally telling me the stories and not me just reading them.  Her voice is clear.

What areas do we visit next, Ms. Barber?  I’ll be waiting.

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A CORE CURRICULUM FOR CREATIVE WRITING
By Barri Bryan

Creative writing, any writing, is different for each and every writer and we will find methods and ideology that fit us.

This review is difficult to write, as I did not connect with the presentation.  Self-help is something very personal.

I will say that I can see how Ms. Bryan’s presentation may fit with some writers.  I base this on conversations I have been party to with other writers.

I would like to share with you part of Ms. Bryan’s experience.  She is a published author.  She has written short stories and published over twenty novels.  She holds teacher certification in six teaching fields and has taught high school English.

Ms. Bryan does not come without experience or knowledge in her subject.

She strives to help writers via the idea that “learning to write well is not about reading, reciting and remembering; it is about comprehension, perception, and recognition.”

I wish I could offer more; however, a review is one person’s opinion and I cannot say whether Ms. Bryan’s method works or not.  I can only offer you the opportunity to know about her and her book.

Ms. Bryan, thank you for taking the time to share your experience and learning.

31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park

by Larry K. Collins & Lorna Collins

The Story

One day in the summer of 1998, Lorna Collins stepped off a train into a sea of black heads and realized she was foreign and in Japan to stay. She and her husband, Larry, had relocated to build Universal Studios Japan® in Osaka. 31 Months in Japan: the Building of a Theme Park is their account of that experience.

While in Japan, they encountered the wonders and frustrations of the culture as well as the challenges of conducting business following foreign formal rituals. As Southern Californians, Japanese customs seemed awkward at first, but eventually they established effective working relationships and personal ones as well.

If you enjoy foreign cultures, are curious about the behind-the-scenes workings in the entertainment industry, are interested in the nuances of doing business with the Japanese or simply enjoy reading a well-told and engaging story, 31 Months in Japan is for you.

My Review:

The best part of trips away from home are writing letters back home. Larry and Lorna (after spending this much time with them, it feels weird to say Mr. and Mrs. Collins) have done just that with their book, this reads as letters home...to friends. At the end I was smiling tears. Too many times I've read accounts of visits to other countries and the culture and people are missing...dare I say disrespected, overly compared to North America life and what's better and what's not.

Larry and Lorna, they share with open arms and open hearts. Everything is a new adventure, a learning, a welcome. There is an embracing which pulls you along with their journey. This was the smile at the end. The tears came from the connection made to people and learning some are no longer with us. You would think it would be easier to connect to a real person versus a fictional character, no. I've noticed people tend to read over strangers in non-fiction or bios, they're not as important as the individual(s) you picked up the book to read about in the first place. Not here.

Have you ever wondered about the work behind making a theme park? I'll be honest, I never have. Never gave a thought beyond the behind scenes of the shows at the parks. Never thought of plant placement. Pavement types...hardiness. Or placement of toilets...and here in another country, the different types of toilets.

I'll never look at another theme park the same again. I'll appreciate it much more.

Something more came from reading "31 Months in Japan..." though. Being a team.

Whether your team is made up your spouse, family, friends, co-workers, those from a different culture...becoming a team is always possible.

I'm sad to say "31 Months in Japan..." is the first true life recount which has hit my heart. Thank you, Lorna and Larry.

Yes, I know Lorna via Facebook. We've "liked" and made comments on posts. I've learned of her Japanese "family" and the worries over the years...The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011. I share this because lately I've read more and more on how reviews written between people who know each other can't be "true" reviews. Well, that's hogwash. That insinuates a lack of trust and integrity on both author and reviewer. Our connection came about because of "31 Months in Japan..."

Thank you Lorna and Larry for "31 Months in Japan..." and introducing me to everyone and everything behind, within, and beyond a theme park. And for the cyber connection of the world made both small and large by the Internet.

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THE BOOK: A PRIMER FOR SEEKERS OF HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS

By Bonnie Elaine Doss

Each of us have our own path to follow, finding that path makes life interesting and, at times, confusing.

Ms. Doss’ book “The Book: A Primer For Seekers Of Higher Consciousness” tries to help the reader discover his/her doorway to his/her greater self.  Your guides are Aureole and Avatar.

I have read, still read, many self-guiding materials as well as discovered what works and does not work for me.  By no means do I have all the answers nor do I the knowledge to guide others.  Again, I know what has worked for me, what has clicked inside me and helped me find my path.

“The Book: A Primer For Seekers Of Higher Consciousness” does not work for me.  I cannot say it doesn’t work for others.  I can, comfortably, say that I found the presentation style a little jumbled.  I would have preferred a more visually and comprehensive break between sections, groupings to allow the information to be absorbed.

As it is, we don’t mix.

JUST CALL ME MIKE: A Journey to Actor and Activist

By Mike Farrell

Yes, that Mike Farrell, the actor from M*A*S*H.

I will admit I accepted this review request because both my father and husband were and are fans of the show M*A*S*H.  Myself, well, I was always more a fan of Mr. Farrell’s other works and that of his wife, Shelley Fabares.

I am in awe of Mr. Farrell.  If you are like me, when watching actors and actresses, you know that feeling of judging who they are during a 3-minute interview.  Whether you would like them in ‘real’ life.  After reading “Just Call Me, Mike” Mr. Farrell is someone whose opinion and thoughts, I now value.

His story isn’t Hollywood thrilling.  He doesn’t gossip or belittle or backstabs anyone.  There are no photos.

What Mr. Farrell gives, he gives openly and honestly.  He doesn’t judge his parents or anyone.  He accepts and, I believe, strives to understand the humanity in those in his life and more importantly that, which is inside him.

“Just Call Me, Mike” is an autobiography.  Mr. Farrell is sharing his growing years with us.  He takes us through his career and gives us glimpses of the shows he was a part of, a behind the scenes peek.

He has shared his family with us, and the world as seen through his eyes.  He never demands we share his view.

He is just, Mike.

I was a bit overwhelmed with those quoted, those who offered their thoughts and praise for “Just Call Me, Mike.”  Who am I to differ with Alan Alda, Sidney Poitier, Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, IV, Harry Belafonte, Warren Beatty, Loretta Swit, and Rosalynn Carter to name just a few.  Let alone the introduction by Martin Sheen.

I do not differ in my thoughts and praise for Mr. Farrell’s book.  While this is simply the story of his life, it is masterfully told.

Mr. Farrell you have touched me deeply.  Thank you.

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OF MULE AND MAN
By Mike Farrell

A book tour of a thousand or so words starts with one letter and one hybrid Prius car named Mule.

A book tour is a writer’s marketing tool.  It is where the author will journey to as many bookstores, fairs, and, if lucky, radio and television in order to bring attention to their book.  They want, need, your attention and hopefully have you buy their book.  It works.  I can’t remember how many times I’ve learned about a favourite author’s newest release because I’ve see them on someone’s show.  I’ve stumbled into bookstores when the author has been right there, talking and signing their book.  It is thrilling.  There is something special about connecting with the person whose work you’re about to read.

“Of Mule and Man” is Mr. Farrell’s book tour diary.  His travels throughout the USA are humorous and thought provoking.  Even though it is his voice, his story, Mr. Farrell puts the spotlight on those he meets at each stop and the country he loves.  He shares his opinion on his Country’s political state (just prior to the election of President Obama), I know some will not agree; however, Mr. Farrell’s honesty and passion are qualities that draw me, and probably others, to him and what he has to say.  He stands up for his beliefs and for those with no voice.

Although this is Mr. Farrell’s journey, he shares paper space with those groups he believes in.  Reading “Of Mule and Man” brought giggles and serious contemplation.  While I agree, quite a bit actually, with Mr. Farrell, I don’t always completely agree either.  I appreciate his strength of conviction.

For me, Mike Farrell was the actor in M*A*S*H and Providence…and most exciting he’s married to one of my favourite actresses, Shelley Fabares.  Now, he’s still the actor and husband of Shelley Fabares; however, I see him for his humanness, the unintentional teacher and for that…Thank you, Mr. Farrell.

SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME: TRUE ADVENTURES OF A WANNABE PRINCESS
By Jerramy Fine

What young girl hasn’t dreamt about marrying a Prince?  What young girl actually sets out do so, even so far as plan her entire life to accomplish it?

Meet Jerramy Fine.  Not only does Ms. Fine dream of marrying Prince Peter Phillips, the Queen’s oldest grandson, she wonders if she’s in the wrong family.  How can the offspring of two free-spirited hippies have such a strong desire for the upper classes of British Royalty?  A switch at birth is the only answer.

SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess is a hilarious personal story.  It is also a lesson on following your dreams to fruition and beyond.

Ms. Fine explains how she fell in love, at age 6, with Peter Phillips and decided he was the man she was marrying.  From this young age into her twenties, Ms. Fine’s life was geared to living and working in London.  She succeeded.

No, she did not marry Peter Phillips and whether she ever actually met him I’ll leave for you to discover.  What Ms. Fine did discover is something we all could do with remembering—family.

The difficulty of reviewing non-fiction is twofold (1) verifying facts…not needed here as this is a personal story, and (2) it is someone’s personal story.  It’s not up to me to comment on Ms. Fine’s life or her telling of it.  With fiction I can offer my opinion on whether an author succeeding in telling an idea or how I mixed/enjoyed or not any story.

With non-fiction—someone’s life story—I can only offer my emotional connection.  Reading SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME I felt I was spending the weekend talking with a long time friend.  Ms. Fine’s writing is never condescending or hurtful or self-depreciative.  She’s honest when laughing at herself and you’ll laugh with her.

I started SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME with laughter and a lot of head shaking.  I closed its cover with a smile.

Thank you, Ms. Fine for sharing.

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GUYS AND OTHER NEAR HUMANS

By Kristine K. Lowder

The male of the species really are different.  Or…I think I’m glad to have a daughter. Or…why do they (children) not come with manuals?

Please, really you must, enter Ms. Lowder’s world.  She lives with the Big Guy and 4 little guys…and she’s still sane.

“Guys and Other Near Humans” is Ms. Lowder’s insanely humourous look at life with her guys.  I’m not really sure how many ‘guys’ will get these quirky normal chronicles; however, every woman who has ever shared time with a ‘guy’ will.  Heck, the ‘guys will get it…they’ll just think it’s something the other ‘guys’ do, not them.

I really can’t quote any specific moment that would justly describe the very reason you must read this book.  If I did, well I would just be rewriting Ms. Lowder’s book here.

Stop reading and just go order your copy of “Guys and Other Near Humans.”  Yes, go now!

AFTER THE VOWS: POEMS BETWEEN LOVERS

By David M Pitchford and Siobhan M Pitchford

Glimpse into one couple’s life.

It is very hard to review a poem, let alone a book of poetry.  Each poem is unique to both its writer and its reader.  When we write a   piece of prose we are feeling something inside that needs expressing, and express it we do with what we know.  When reading prose we feel it with the moment we are in or with a memory relived, each reading will be different.

It also takes time for a book of poetry to seep into one’s mind, time which isn’t always available for a reviewer.  This may explain why I lost the rhythm to “After the Vows.”  Whereas this book started as poetic letters answering each other, for me, it became more description paragraph thoughts than prose.

Poetry is a very personal read and subject to each individual’s mood.  I may not have mixed with the words of this couple, but that does not mean their thoughts will not be shared with others.

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SHADOWS OF THOUGHT

By Rev. Chris Reed

Inspirational Christian Poetry.

Reviewing poetry is far harder than any non-fiction material.  Why?  Each of us has our own rhythm and it is this internal harmony that either mixes or doesn’t with any piece of poetry/prose.  Poetry is the one media that, in my opinion, is subject to one’s emotional being at the time of reading.

What does a poem have to have in order to reach me?  I do not require rhyme.  I do not even require a locked in rhythm.  I can connect with clear-cut words as easily as I can with misty masked meanings.

How did I connect with “Shadows of Thought”?  Mixed.  At times Rev. Reed’s thoughts were too Christian for my comfort; at times his words struck a shared feeling; at times I saw Rev. Reed for the innocent child we have all been; at all times these words were the sharing of one being’s life to another.

“Shadows of Thought” is a gift of one person’s and his family’s thoughts.  Feelings all families have known.

Rev. Reed has achieved what any poet should – words to make a person think, feel, react.

THE GACHI: MY GYPSY FLAMENCO QUEST
By Susan Salguero

A personal passage to self.

Have you ever watched Flamenco dancing; the passion, the strength, the mystery?  If so, maybe you were mesmerized like I was.  There is something very emotional and old soul about this dance.  It pulls you in with the pounding feet, captivating hand dances, and air of secrets known and never shared.

There is a quiet wildness, freedom, to Flamenco.

Susan Salguero went to Seville Spain to find Flamenco.  “The Gachi: My Gypsy Flamenco Quest” is her story.

It is difficult to review a life story because no one should ever judge another’s choices.  And, yet, here I am trying to convince you to read Ms. Salguero’s story.

Why should you read her journey through Flamenco?

If you are mesmerized by Flamenco…read “The Gachi.”

If you are drawn to personal discovery…read “The Gachi.”

If you are curious about those you think live life free, natural, and outside the box…read “The Gachi.”

If you are interested in or think you know who Gypsies are…read “The Gachi.”

Ms. Salguero writes with a haunting voice filled with need and innocence.  I am still lost within her pages.

“The Gachi: My Gypsy Flamenco Quest” is part of one woman’s life that leaves me breathless.

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SEVEN STARS, MYSTICAL POETRY

By Michaela Sefler

Ratings are easy markers for a person’s humble opinions on any subject.  Web pages even have ratings to ask if that page was helpful.  I use ratings to help balance what material really grabbed me to that material which I am not strongly attached to.  I read ratings the same way, but always make my own call.

There is always an exception.  “Seven Stars” is my exception.  I could not connect with any of the poems as I did not understand or feel anything for any of them.  I can’t very well give someone’s work a rated opinion when I have no bond with it.  No, my personal experience and knowledge does not work here either.

What I can offer is, that according to the publisher’s website, Ms. Sefler’s poems were inspired by ancient Qabbala.

Qabbala is an esoteric theosophy based on the Hebrew scriptures around the 7thth centuries.  It is of rabbinical origin. and 18

For a more detailed description of “Seven Stars” please visit: http://fairpoint.net/~icpchad/bookssevenstars.htm

HAPPY FOR NO REASON: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out

By Marci Shimoff with Carol Kline

Common reminders on how to let go and just be Happy.

Ms. Marci Schimoff is one of the coauthors of the “Chicken Soup for the Women's Soul” books.  She has gathered thoughts, ideas, working exercises, and stories from those people who are “Happy For No Reason.”

You know the people I'm referring to, those who are always happy and content not matter what is going on around them.  The ones who are always seeing the cup half-full and not half-empty.  The ones you want to smack or end up wasting your energy trying to be instead of just being you.  “Happy For No Reason” is a guide to finding your own path to your own happiness.

I've read quite a few self-help books, some of which are mentioned in Ms. Shimoff's book, and I'm satisfied that “Happy For No Reason” contains valid information that is straightforward and understandable for everyone.

What I found is that most self-help books offer the same idea on how to find happiness, how to discover what makes you happy.  In “Happy For No Reason” Ms. Shimoff takes on the challenge of finding how to just be happy...not matter what you do or where you are.  This isn't to say that you will not have down periods or that you will be walking around with goofy grins all the time.  The ideas inside, along with the exercises, will hopefully enable you to find contentment throughout your life no matter what is happening around you.

“Happy For No Reason” is a book I would gladly recommend to friends.

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I Give Seven Chicken: And Other Travel Experiences in China

Laura Stone

Culture shock at its funniest.

I’ve never read a travel memoir.  Now that I have, I’ve been spoiled by Ms. Stone’s honesty and openness.  At the very beginning of her book Ms. Stone warns us that if we insist on 100% political correctness her book isn’t for us.  However, after reading her tales I’m not sure she had anything to worry about.

Ms. Stone writes straight from the hip of uncertainty.  What would your reaction be finding a toilet you had to squat over instead of sitting on?  How freaked out would you be if the train’s toilet deposited your…well, deposit…right onto the tracks whizzing by?  Are you ready for the new meaning of “not far now”?  Or how about a massage with your dinner?

This is Ms Stone’s story of her trip, in 2001, to China.  She is honest about the culture shock and intimate differences between her world (USA) and China.  She allows herself and us to laugh over her fumbles and challenges.  She brings the beauty and reality of everyday China to us, so that we may realize the strengths and uniqueness in us all.

I laughed out loud and felt at home in “I Give Seven Chicken” you just might, too.