Using a Wheel of Change model to promote self-discovery and positive change, the author proposes readers can develop a personal plan of improvement. “...moreUsing a Wheel of Change model to promote self-discovery and positive change, the author proposes readers can develop a personal plan of improvement. “Some things Change. Others never do. Knowing the difference between absolutes and ephemerals is matter of life and death.” Pg 37
At the heart, this handbook is an intellectual guide to survival of the species. Axiom five states: History is Neither Progressive or Linear, Nor can human survival be taken for granted. West says (pg 38) “Those who love life and take human survival to heart have passed the basics of how the world really works on to those with hears to hear. In contrast, others hoard this knowledge as if to prospect themselves at others’ expense. They deny or even ridicule it, keeping perceived enemies “in the dark” to prevent their success.”
Parts 1 and 2 of roughly fifty pages defines the need to change; from the individual change to positivity that affects the universe, “the one manageable unit is the one closest to home: yourself” as “Unity is accomplished through personal effort, one person at a time” because “global unity through world organizations” are unnatural. There is some basis for this thought, as anyone can see how diverse cultures all seek to establish a global platform based perceived success.
Part 3 describes dysfunctional paradigms, “being aware of current beliefs and recognizing that they’ve created a place you’d like to leave.” (pg 55) People create lifestyle choices to suit themselves at any given time, and West says these “distortions” have negative consequences for mental health which, spiraling outwardly, affect society.
Part 4 shows how West’s Wheel of Change model can be employed individually. Using examples, and a series of self-examining questions and answers, readers are shown how to fill out and develop a personal Wheel, which leads to accomplishing various goals to bring life into a healthy harmony.
Part 5, Make Yourself Whole, shows how the Wheel works, giving readers instructions and thought-provoking questions to work on.
Wrapping up in Part 6, West shares her story.
For those who like lots of charts and diagrams, clearly designed and reasonable axioms and corollaries, West’s Wheel of Change in the Positive Paradigm Handbook is an intriguing tool for self-examination. (less)
I’ve known about Derksen’s books for years, but this is the first of the series that I’ve read from this prolific author. Without using the actual wor...moreI’ve known about Derksen’s books for years, but this is the first of the series that I’ve read from this prolific author. Without using the actual words or graphic imagery, Derksen creates a sense of despair, and revolting depth of depravity. A young woman, now known as Christine, who witnessed cruelty as a child is being hunted again as she’s returned to her home and tries to deal with the past while forging a new future for herself. She works to locate missing and exploited children, along with her specially trained dog and her partner Jeremy, a detective who’d like to explore their relationship on a different level.
A couple of cases are going on at the same time in this story, all dealing with kidnapped and missing boys. The setting is Canada, and Derksen’s several characters have a say about their work and feelings. Christine Smith is feisty, trying to be strong and independent through her fears, and deeply caring about the tragic young victims she’s hired to find. Readers will be able to empathize with her and her passion.
Not for the faint of heart, Derksen has plumbed the depths of the essence of evil while letting the light of faith shine through as the true victor. (less)
There is so much more work involved in forgiveness than simply saying the words.
Acceptance is a part of forgiveness that involves empathy, but to trul...moreThere is so much more work involved in forgiveness than simply saying the words.
Acceptance is a part of forgiveness that involves empathy, but to truly understand you must experience and survive the experiences that necessitates the forgiveness. Abell shares this gift of forgiveness through an incredible journey that is both a loving tribute and a triumph of a gift to memory.
This short book packs a full trip from childhood through marriage and family to the time when the author is finally ready to attempt a journey of laying his father's ashes to rest in a "place the Sirens could not win." A huge part of forgiveness also involves recognizing and savoring the good times with the bad of a lifetime of abuse--in this case, alcoholism--which colored the author's world. Although offering understanding, love, and forgiveness to his father while still alive, Abell never gave up believing he could put his father's ghosts to rest. This book is that journey.
I applaud the author's beautiful, intelligent story of vulnerability and sacrifice. My Father's Keep is part memoir, part tribute, part caution to those of us who struggle to escape the effects of addiction. Abell says it well: love is action.
Two lost souls find more than love when they meet as teachers at a small school on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico.
Lynn Martin arrives at the beg...moreTwo lost souls find more than love when they meet as teachers at a small school on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico.
Lynn Martin arrives at the beginning of a school year as a long-term sub for the fifth grade teacher. She meets Greg Martin, in this third year of teaching sixth grade, and share a laugh and weather speculations about sharing a last name.
Lynn is taking a break from wealthy and privileged students where’s been teaching at an exclusive school in Houston, Texas, while Greg is taking a break from life in general and faith in particular after losing a special friend and later both of his parents. Right from the start sparks fly and romance is in the air and Lynn and Greg start to share their lives in this little community. Lynn isn’t afraid to live out her fairly new faith, while Greg, much to her dismay, is reluctant to discuss his issues. When they realize it’s only one obstacle to sharing more than love, Greg makes excuses and starts backing away.
Although Lynn has come from a life of privilege, that’s not what defines her character. It takes a frightening accident for Greg to realize that a life without her isn’t something he looks forward to.
Both of them are good teachers, and I enjoyed reading the lessons and interactions in this special part of the country. Cogan doesn’t hide the beauty or the troubles the people face, nor does she try to reach deeper into reservation life than in order to tell this story of two people who meet there, realize they can’t run from their problems, and are better when they listen to God together and help each other become the people He calls them to be. Told from both Lynn and Greg’s viewpoints sometimes without breaks, Cogan’s lovely sweet romance is a natural, nicely-told story to relax with and spend a few hours on a virtual visit to the southwest US. (less)
Cleaning out the family closet is risky at best, heartbreaking at worst. All her life, Ann Olson barely contained her curiosity about her parentage af...moreCleaning out the family closet is risky at best, heartbreaking at worst. All her life, Ann Olson barely contained her curiosity about her parentage after a disgruntled relative broke the news that Ann and her sister were adopted. Elise is content being the daughter of the only parents she knew, but Ann can’t let it go. After her father’s death, and now in her early fifties, divorced, and armed with an old letter, Ann sets off on a thinly-disguised sabbatical assignment studying family history’s effect on family relationships. First on the list is her own family, her father’s cousins.
Bragstad’s novel is a charming, genteelly-paced novel set in rural Wisconsin, with all the typical flavor of “up north.” Her characters never quite go over the top and their lives are all-too-true to life. Frank and Betty, Ann’s hosts, are eager to help Ann unravel the mystery of her and her sister’s parentage. Ann’s chief suspect, the letter-writer Emmett, is an old man now, an incongruous mystery of assumed poverty and dementia. As Ann works through the cast of family characters who might be the birth father, she meets a helpful and compassionate gentleman, John Bennett, who soon becomes more than a friend.
Picking through clues, packets of letters and the detritus of a lifetime in Emmett’s house is a peek through over fifty years of mistakes, lies, and secrets; angst, the gruesomeness and horrors of World War II. Ann must also sort out her own feelings and those of her siblings as the real story comes to light. Ulterior motives, family secrets and grumblings give Ann plenty to consider about her heritage and family relationships.
Filled with both charming conversation and introspection, quotes like “…truth lays bare what is or was; but it can’t fix everything” stays with the reader.
Told in third person solely from Ann’s view, The Comfort of Shadows is part voyeurism, part revelation. Lovingly told, engaging. (less)
Every parent's fears are realized in Evans's latest story in the Spiralling Trilogy.
Teen gal pals Tabbie and Stephanie have been joined at the hip in...moreEvery parent's fears are realized in Evans's latest story in the Spiralling Trilogy.
Teen gal pals Tabbie and Stephanie have been joined at the hip in friendship until Stephanie's family moves north. Stephanie is miserable and makes sure her friends know it. Tabbie misses her friend, and cooks up a plot to get Stephanie back down to the big city. Meanwhile, Tabbie's other friend Janet is also losing a battle with her own personal demons, and to top it off, once Stephanie does come to stay and go to school with Tabbie, nothing works out.
Evans has done an excellent job getting in the heads of her teen characters—the angst, joy, naiveté; that time between dependency and young womanhood is brought to life with all the emotion and peer pressure and longings. There are some clues to the girls' problems, and Evans shows readers how easy it is to miss or choose to overlook those troubles. Tabbie was very fortunate to have good role models for parents, which I appreciated as a reader.
Spiralling out of the Shadow is book two, but also stands well alone. Tabbie narrates in first person; the writing is lovely, and readers will enjoy an impromptu visit to Australia. Well done. I think early teens and their parents will find a lot to think about and talk over from this series. Part of the proceeds go towards Soul Centre, a group providing programs for girls and women who have experienced life upheavals. (less)
Breslin’s debut novel is a masterful tale of sacrifice during the depths of the age of despair near the end of World War II.
The characters come to te...moreBreslin’s debut novel is a masterful tale of sacrifice during the depths of the age of despair near the end of World War II.
The characters come to terms with truth and lies, reality, choice, and monsters within and without as they struggle to survive in the moment and in the future. Rich in detail, readers who appreciate fiction of the era will be entranced. Readers who are perfunctory in fact will want to know that the author created a fictional best-case scenario out of tragedy.
Hadassah was raised by a loving uncle after being orphaned. When Hitler attempts to create his blond-haired, blue-eyed master race and exterminate everyone else, particularly Jewish people, Uncle Morty creates a false identity for Hadassah. Through an accident of paperwork, the young woman is still sent to a death camp but miraculously escapes murder at the hands of a newly-appointed German commandant whose conscience is hanging by a thread.
Together with commandant’s strange collection of a mute housekeeper and one-eared little houseboy they become a family of misfits who must rely on each other for survival in the midst of brutality.
Romance was a necessary part of the genre, and while lovely, it was less natural than the time span allowed for my taste, as well as the faith elements of Jews and Christians. Nevertheless, I loved the characters and their story told from multiple viewpoints left me breathless with anticipation on many moments. I applaud the excellent vocabulary. Those who love historical, suspenseful inspirational fiction will find much to love about For Such A Time. Kudos to the author.
Caution: there are portrayals of graphic cruelty and murder of characters of all ages. (less)
An early review copy lets me recommend this fun mystery shortly before its release. Watch for it! Or read the first book while you're waiting.
I came i...moreAn early review copy lets me recommend this fun mystery shortly before its release. Watch for it! Or read the first book while you're waiting.
I came in on this second book in a series. Although there were a number of references to the first case, I never felt as though I had to know what had happened earlier in order to enjoy this story. Ava is in the process of being evicted from her rental cabin due to a property sale by the owner, her grandfather’s best her friend. Her very helpful former fiancé, whom she’d left at the altar, helps her move boxes into her fudge shop’s back room where she intends to live for the time being; meanwhile, her former husband and his dog are doing all they can to woo her back, her best friend is involved with a shady operator who put together a fudge festival during tourist season in Door County, Wisconsin and films the whole thing for a potential reality TV show. The celebrity candy makers selected to compete against Ava are doing their best to make Kitchen Nightmares look tame, and the lead judge—Ava’s landlord, a property owner with a lot of secrets—is inconveniently deceased. Murder or suicide? Oh, and the sheriff also thinks Ava is a pain, when he’s not trying to make a pass.
There’s certainly a lot going on this summer in Fisher’s Harbor, so it’s a good thing Ava can count on her family and employee, a young man with slight Asperger’s, to run the shop while she goes sleuthing, breaking and entering, stumbling across bodies, and taking people—and herself—to the nearest hospital. Hot Fudge Frameup is a whirlwind read with all the quaintness of an ethnic community of stubborn Belgians, romance with all the wrong people, an octogenarian marital toss-up, and a dog named Lucky Harbor that might make non-dog lovers, if not find him adorable, at least have a few giggles. Ava’s number of suitors got a little over the top for me, but otherwise, I enjoyed unwinding all the clues and aptly positioned red herrings to the end of the story.
Told in Ava’s first person voice throughout, likeable characters and fun subplots make Hot Fudge Frameup a fun virtual visit to a place I know and enjoy. The fudge-making background is intriguing. I would also consider reading the first book, as well as sequels. This book makes a great addition to Penguin’s cozy mystery line. (less)
I was eager to read and review Bernhardt’s new cozy from my publisher, MuseItUp. The Ginseng Conspiracy is set in the fictional town in Wisconsin near...moreI was eager to read and review Bernhardt’s new cozy from my publisher, MuseItUp. The Ginseng Conspiracy is set in the fictional town in Wisconsin near where I set my own—I think I recognized a couple of characters, too. Big Smile.
Unlike the typical cozy, Bernhardt’s story unravels much like Columbo. The crime of murder appears after the stage was set, readers know who dun it, and we follow the amateur sleuth as she and her sidekicks dig up clues. We want to scream “duck” or “don’t go there!” as conspirators lurk around every corner. The bad guys have a few scenes of their own, and there’s something else going on with our sleuth’s marriage that is part sideline and part red herring. The author did leave a surprise suspect which kept me turning pages in a hurry.
Ginseng Conspiracy is a longer mystery, filled with yummy food and lots of descriptions. Mostly told in first person from Kay, the sleuth’s, point of view, the reader will occasionally wander into other character’s perspectives. Kay’s friends are a blast, and the mythical town of Sudbury Falls is a great place to visit. Fun for those who like meatier cozies. Looking forward to more of Kay and her buddies to come! Recipes? Please! (less)
Parallel life, double life, fantasy, wishful thinking, dreams or is he just plain nuts? Attorney Ken Cartwright doesn’t know exactly what happens when...moreParallel life, double life, fantasy, wishful thinking, dreams or is he just plain nuts? Attorney Ken Cartwright doesn’t know exactly what happens when he finally closes his eyes at night. All he knows is that he’s desperate for something in both lives he experiences; something he’s missing; something that will plug the hole that’s leaking all the happiness away.
This lengthy novel featuring a tricky legal case, espionage, plenty of thrills and car chases…something for everyone. A little romance, a little danger…whoo! Especially for those weapons geeks, you’ll enjoy the author’s nitty gritty attention to details.
Filled with intriguing characters, from Ken and his sometimes family, to a special woman who makes the family-less Ken’s heart open up and beat faster, to the old man who fears he’s made a dreadful mistake and needs help, there’s definitely a storyline for all readers.
Told from multiple viewpoints, even the bad guys, readers will jump right into and out of the lives of the principal players. I’m not sold on the definition of angel in Smith’s story, but it is fiction, and I can live with that. Flashback is ultimately a story of finding faith and family, and learning who to trust. Nicely done. (less)
Delightful Debut! Sometimes, even disasters are those course corrections we all need to get us back on the path of our destinies.
Opening with a two-pr...moreDelightful Debut! Sometimes, even disasters are those course corrections we all need to get us back on the path of our destinies.
Opening with a two-pronged prologue, Klumpers tantalizes the reader with the story of a pocket watch at the center of devastating events. How it comes to our heroine, Claudia, is gradually revealed throughout the book.
The back cover copy says it very well—if you have to be stuck in the dead of winter in northern Wisconsin, may you find a village like the charming one created by the author. Sure it has its issues, colorful characters including a mass murderer and a registered sex offender, an antique blind town pastor, and a Justice of the Peace/dog catcher named Ezra whom everyone loves. When Claudia is unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend, she's close enough to her destination, Barley, to hitch a ride. Barley may hold the secret to the mysterious family heirloom and its rightful owner—if only she can figure out who that is, before another body shows up.
Claudia immediately instills an innocent vulnerability and trust to the customers at Blossom’s diner, and everyone offers helpful advice, from where to stay and how to get there and a character reference from said Justice of the Peace. The colorful family who runs the bed and breakfast open in the “off” season is a quirky, loveable set of characters who jump right into matchmaking schemes that leave the reader chuckling. A dinner date, an attempted murder, an actual murder, and boyfriend, create a funky olio of delicious reading.
Mayhem, absolutely delightful settings, a vocabulary for the intelligent adult reader (thank you!), and some very sweet romance make this novel a very clever read. Kudos! Told by Claudia, the twists will keep you turning pages. Recommended for those who like clean, smart reads. (less)
John Faubion’s debut novel speaks to the heart of relationships, of the depths of marriage and the reality of what betrayal and unfaithfulness looks l...moreJohn Faubion’s debut novel speaks to the heart of relationships, of the depths of marriage and the reality of what betrayal and unfaithfulness looks like to people of faith.
Not something we might expect from a former missionary unless we knew that missionary turned software developer.
You just knew a book like Friend Me had to come sooner or later in today’s social media world. Virtual reality, while around for a while, melds dangerously with physical reality in this story. When loneliness and disappointment lead Rachel Douglas to experiment with a new website to re-create a lost friendship with a virtual online avatar, neither she nor her husband realize they are being played. Rachel’s husband, Scott, is curious about his wife’s activities, and checks out the site. Stress at work may be part of the blame, but giving in to temptation and a lack of respect and trust in the people around him—a heart of sin—is what leads him to create a virtual playmate. What is unfaithfulness? Faubion explores the issue in this book that’s sure to generate a lot of good discussion.
Told from three viewpoints, the two protagonists, Scott and Rachel, and the antagonist who’s the programmer, the reader is never in the dark about the depths to which each of them has fallen. Their deepest desires, their faults and their faith are all exposed as they strive for what they want.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that most married couples reach a point from time to time of feeling stale or even betrayed; of not wanting to share burdens, of keeping secrets and lying to each other. This story shows what that’s like, and the hard work and discipline it takes to decide to practice marriage even when we may not always feel like it. Honestly Scott and Rachel were not always likeable and seemed to be graced by all good things, but that’s the way of grace. They learned, they grew, they forgave and were forgiven.
An intriguing side note to the novel is Faubion’s inspiration. The concept for virtual friend creation came to him as business idea. You’ll want to read why he decided not to follow through. Readers of contemporary inspirational suspense will be fascinated with Friend Me, especially those who are curious about behind-the-scenes software development (not in-depth), and the possibilities of a frightening new computer reality that can so easily manipulate users with false perceptions and advertising. (less)
Snow on the Tulips draws the reader into the deprivation, stress and terror of everyday life under Nazi occupation. Even good people with good intenti...moreSnow on the Tulips draws the reader into the deprivation, stress and terror of everyday life under Nazi occupation. Even good people with good intentions are fearful of doing more than the bare minimum of good works; those serving the resistance are afraid but willing to sacrifice themselves to help those who cannot help themselves. When the two sides meet, the clash means uncomfortable compromise or ultimate sacrifice.
Told through the eyes of Cornelia, her sister Anki, and Gerrit, the love interest, the story unfolds toward the end of WWII in occupied Netherlands. Cornelia barely had a chance to experience adult life when she was widowed; Anki married a man of uncompromising faith which rendered him untrustworthy to those who broke the law; Gerrit’s recklessness was borne of betrayal and helplessness to protect a family member. Each has internal demons to fight, besides the enemy’s destruction of the life they knew before the war. Forgiveness is at best difficult, but it’s a joy to watch Cornelia overcome her prejudices and grow into a woman who is capable of living the life to which she’s called.
What I loved most about this story is that it comes from family history. Tolsma draws upon stories from her relatives, from the cousin whose husband went to war the day after the wedding, to the man who survived a group execution, to the copious interviews and dedicated details, Snow on the Tulips is historical dramatic romance of high caliber. (less)
Rosita Valdez will make a great serial character. Gentle character lessons and reader involvement help take this young reader story above the usual ex...moreRosita Valdez will make a great serial character. Gentle character lessons and reader involvement help take this young reader story above the usual expectations.
The eight-year-old heroine lives on a Pacific Island plantation with her extended family in a house with a past. Rosita and her friends love to swim, and when Rosita meets a shy sea turtle, the reader is left to guess whether the little girl's imagination has run away with her or not.
Although the main character is eight, the length of the chapter book and vocabulary is geared more toward middle elementary readership.(less)
Revealing and Insightful into new marriage and courage
Tim and Debbie Bishop are brave. They asked me to read and review Two Are Better, and I agreed,...moreRevealing and Insightful into new marriage and courage
Tim and Debbie Bishop are brave. They asked me to read and review Two Are Better, and I agreed, not realizing what an adventure I’d been given. My first shock was learning that the Bishops were my age when they undertook first-time marriage, followed by a cross-country bike trip for a honeymoon. My second shock was thinking, I wonder if I passed them, because some of the same roads they traveled out west were the same ones my husband and I took from the safety of our car, about the same time. We pass cyclists and shake our heads.
This book is not simply a travelogue, but a reflection on undertaking a life-transforming journey at what most people consider middle age. Changing one’s entire lifestyle by marriage is one thing, but then to go on a trip for which they both declared they were unprepared immediately thereafter is an interesting throw-you-in-the-deep-end method of learning to swim. The Bishops were honest about the trip and their feelings, and the events, throughout the trip.
Maps with the stops accompany the narrative, most of which is written by Tim, with paragraphs inserted in a different color by Debbie. My husband is a teacher, and I kept thinking while reading, he’d never, ever, allow himself to get home only hours before starting a new school year. He’s a different kind of teacher, though. I read the account also from a perspective of being married for more than half my life. It takes special people to be brave and blissfully ignorant to attempt a trip like this. I loved the photographs and accounts of crossing our country, what they learned about each other and themselves, as they traveled. While Tim’s style of writing occasionally waxes eloquently, a few quotes stuck out: “A delicate balancing act of making progress on multiple fronts was an instructional tutorial on married life.” “Most fears have some basis in reality, but we usually give them too much power….Everyone has the opportunity to come face to face with discovery.” And from Debbie, “Later, I came to realize that life as I had known it was gone forever....Although change may be more difficult [as we age], that doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t happen. When we stop changing, we stop growing.”
This is a great book for couples at any stage of their relationship, whether or not you’re planning an adventure. The Bishops are also working on a tutorial book about bicycle touring. (less)