The adage: "getting old is not for sissies" should be the subtitle for this book. Although Weil does so kindly and realistically t...more2.5 starts actually.
The adage: "getting old is not for sissies" should be the subtitle for this book. Although Weil does so kindly and realistically the truth of the matter is there is nothing we can do to completely stop aging. But we can live a healthy life, a balanced life, a contemplative life.
This book is an overview of one of my favorite health, diet and well being books by this Physician/new age science guru who mixes Eastern and Western medical advice. He debunks a lot of myths, tells you what he thinks and gives the reader a real life plan that one can work with. Although strict it feels like if you do your best to follow this advice you will be that much healthier
I would recommend you skip this book and move onto the one linked below for a comprehensive guide to logical holistic health that will optimize your anti aging plan:
Shellie’s quick take: Mainstream fiction with a separate storyline that is speculative in nature. This is...moreOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
Shellie’s quick take: Mainstream fiction with a separate storyline that is speculative in nature. This is a subtle page-turner that has a heartrending story juxtaposed with a narrative about a comic-book superhero called Comrade Cosmos.
Shellie’s description: When 18 year old Jeremy Soto’s single mother is murdered by a young male tourist during a solo vacation to Mexico, his grief is understandable, but as horrible as he feels he must pick up the pieces of his life. But it’s not just Jeremy who has to get past the violent death of his mother Melinda; there are others who are reeling from her loss - Melinda’s close circle of friends, mature characters who have life complications of their own. Then there is the murderer’s mother Anna who has the heartbreaking job of dealing with her son’s suicide as well. All of this culminates when Anna invites Jeremy and Melinda’s friends to her son’s funeral.
What gives this book an interesting twist is that the subjects addressed in the main story are contrasted with those of a popular comic-book series, which are covered in alternating chapters.
Shellie’s thoughts: This is an unusual book and it has a deep message. It examines the roles of chaos and order in the world, with the author questioning the effects of trauma and hardship on characters. In so doing she attempts to answer the question: what do we do with an impossible situation, one that we cannot fix or change? With that in mind Mending the Moon pulls in issues such as loss through death, divorce, and Alzheimer's, contrasted with friendship, responsibility, love, forgiveness, and moving through grief. This leaves a lot of room for emotional content in the book and the author uses the space very well.
It is highly recommended, with its well-developed characters and rare-to-see main female characters aged 60-years plus. I think it would be a good selection for a book group since there are many issues that can be discussed. It’s also a perfect read if you’re interested in superhero comics or character-driven emotional novels that pull you in and keep you reading. I read this book in a matter of days – a rarity for me. 4.25 stars.
**A note which may be a plus or a minus to some readers: there is a Christian element running through the novel. Several of the main characters are clergy and church services play a big role in many of the scenes. However, the subjects addressed in the book are universal and, as a person who is not religious, I would say that it is done well and didn’t put me off.(less)
I read this book for a class that I took at the Liberal Studies Program - Hutchins School at Sonoma State University in CA. It was a great class. It w...moreI read this book for a class that I took at the Liberal Studies Program - Hutchins School at Sonoma State University in CA. It was a great class. It was quite awhile ago, so my memory of the book has faded. I also can't remember the name of the class but it was something about consciousness and reality. The teacher was great. It is an easy read about an alternative reality/utopia where the members live in an egaltarian society. They live peacefully, work together and for the most part get along. Here is where the story gets interesting...how they socially handle a situation which is unacceptable to them. I see it as the author's way of letting the reader see a different way of dealing with human transgressions. I will say no more. If it is realistic, I don't thinks so. Sci-fi/fantasy all the way. I recommend this book for anyone interested in fantasy, questioning our social mores, or interested in alternative realities.(less)
A lovely hardbound book that is mostly art and a bit of written poetic philosophizing. It’s a rendition of...moreOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
A lovely hardbound book that is mostly art and a bit of written poetic philosophizing. It’s a rendition of a twelfth-century Sufi poem and is done in predominantly fall colors with a mix of ancient and modern styles.
About: A conference of birds is led on a quest by a poet who has turned into a hoopoe bird after a disturbing dream. Gathering them together, he wishes to know the reason for all the wrongs in the world and a way to change them. But to do so they must find the king – Simorgh.
As they travel a long and arduous distance, the birds come to realize that each of them is but a tiny piece of an immense and larger whole. Flying through the daunting terrain (valleys of tribulations and mazes) to reach their goal, most will not survive the trip. But those that do will receive a gift - a realization that what they are seeking from their quest can be found inside each of them.
Thoughts: Read several times over, allowing the art and poetry to settle, this book gets better with each subsequent read. It’s deep message is told metaphorically, visually, and simply, with a spiritual twist that transcends religion. A tale which moves us to know we are all on a journey to one place, a trip which many may not entirely understand.
It has only a small amount of writing but mostly images that appear to be tempera paint and carved block print on beautiful thick colored paper (I would love to see the author’s originals). The images are done in warm earth tones except for the culmination of the story where Peter Sis uses cool and vivid colors to give the crescendo a significant visual meaning. Importantly the art work feels both ancient and modern giving the impression that it is an old story told in a new way.
A relevant rendition that is just as meaningful today as it was a thousand years ago. I can see this book sitting on an office or home table, or in front of a comfortable chair or sofa, since it is a relaxing read. This is a terrific holiday gift for a special person, professional, or family. I give this book a 4 star rating. I loved it and will read it again.(less)
Look past the cover to find a down-to-earth, mildly spiritual (Catholic), yet contemporary look into the l...moreOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
Look past the cover to find a down-to-earth, mildly spiritual (Catholic), yet contemporary look into the life a commitment-phobic middle aged male nurse. When he finds himself “home” for the first time in 20 years he is forced to decide what is truly important to him. With strong threads containing mental illness and disabilities, internal and external conflicts, sweet humor and more - it’s one of my favorite “uplifting” reads of the past year.
About: Sean is a nurse who has spent most of his adult life in areas of the planet where there are more people than resources. Places where people are grateful for what little help a medical professional can give them even if it’s only a little more time to live. Sean has chosen this hard yet satisfying life because he is running from internal demons - a fear that he has inherited a nasty form of dementia called Huntington's disease. Sean doesn’t want to know if he has the disease, refuses to be tested for it, and has “a plan” once the symptoms begin to appear.
When he receives a letter from his sister while still working in Africa, she directly states she needs him to return to take on his share of their family responsibilities. So he does, but not entirely based upon the letter. It appears the fates have conspired to bring him back home since he’s completely burned out and his back is aching so badly - so back to Boston it is.
Needless to say things are not the most functional with his family. There are A LOT of complications. His aunt (the family Matriarch) is loosing her memory, his sister deserves some of the freedom he’s enjoyed over the years (she too may have the disease) and she is resentful. But the most significant “complication” is his pre-teen nephew, who is in a precarious transitional period, and in desperate need of support. And then there’s the dog.
Thoughts: This was a rewarding and slightly funny read with its real-life aspects that takes the tone from sweet to unsentimental. There are the shocking parts about nursing in a third world country, and dealing with the devastation of dementia, abandonment, alcohol abuse, and childhood psychological disorders. This book is a real mix of true-to-life problems with complex emotions and entanglements associated with them. But they are handled seriously and with a soft touch by the author.
The story has a mild element containing Catholicism. Appropriately so, since the main character - Sean’s da/dad - is from Ireland. And since the characters are of Irish decent there is also a fun part where several of the characters take a trip to Ireland. This may intrigue many readers and I enjoyed it quite a lot.
But I think the best part of this story are the characters. They are complex, well developed and mostly likeable; even the prickly ones, giving a literary feel to the novel. It’s being marketed as women’s fiction (look at the cover), but it’s more than that. I can say that men may enjoy this novel too if they can get beyond its cover’s femininity, and its obvious design for attracting women. Publishers have to sell books and women buy the most.
Just a few mild complaints - The Shortest Way Home is another one of those reads where there is a light romantic element which was slightly too “mushy” for me, and also several of the sex scenes left me with a misplaced guffaw (not my favorite reaction for a “romantic interlude”). However, it was an engrossing and entertaining read. I devoured it in a few days and give it a 4-star rating. (less)
Mini Synopsis: Bruce and Andrea Leininger married in the late 90s. This was his second marriage and her first - he a well paid top ex...moreActually 4.5 stars
Mini Synopsis: Bruce and Andrea Leininger married in the late 90s. This was his second marriage and her first - he a well paid top executive and she an ex ballet dancer. Soon after being married the couple gave birth to a healthy little boy. Everything was normal until James, their son, started having unusual and violent nightmares. In addition he displayed unexplainable knowledge of a technical nature regarding WWII air planes. To add to the family’s distress, Bruce’s personal belief system was at odds with the idea that his son could be a reincarnated soul. This is the story of a skeptic (Bruce) and his wife and their in-depth search for the truth. As the Leiningers find evidence that their little boy is experiencing the terrors of a man who was killed during an air attack on Japan during WWII, questions arise which invariably change the way they think about life and what they believe to be the meaning of death. My Thoughts: This books was wonderful. I even enjoyed the historical parts, although I disliked history in high school and college and for the most part still do. Amazingly, because of the Leniningers’ process and their in depth research, they begin to connect with a number of surviving and aging veterans and their family members, and they find it difficult to ignore the information connecting their son with the pilot’s death. As the veterans' connection with James and what is understood to be his previous life evolves, and the evidence keeps emerging it becomes difficult to disbelieve. I like to think of myself as rational and not prone to support things that are unexplainable. However, as the facts are brought to light, and experiences are remembered, the story becomes heartbreaking, undeniable, and ultimately redemptive. It was very close to the end that I cried which is very rare for me. (less)
John’s quick take:Sawyer can always be relied upon to write imaginative and thoughtful SF, and th...moreOriginal review by John posted at Layers of Thought.
John’s quick take:Sawyer can always be relied upon to write imaginative and thoughtful SF, and this is another winner. A creative take on the “evolutionist versus creationist” debate.
John’s description: In Sawyer’s book, man’s first meeting with intelligent extra-terrestrials aliens is not quite the way most people have envisioned it. An alien spacecraft sets down outside the Royal Ontario Museum and the spider-like alien asks to be introduced to a senior paleontologist. The alien, named Hollus, has absolutely no interest in meeting world leaders or politicians; instead Hollus wants to find out about Earth’s ancient history and fossil records.
Tom Jericho is the main paleontologist at the museum, and he and Hollus swap stories about how life developed and evolved on their planets. While it is no surprise to Hollus, Jericho is totally stunned to learn that their planets suffered cataclysmic events and mass extinctions at precisely the same times in their ancient histories. Hollus has already visited other planets and found the same pattern. Clearly this cannot be coincidental, and the alien goes on to say that is just one of many scientific facts which together prove the existence of God.
Jericho has spent much of his professional life fighting against creationist nonsense and is a hard-core believer in evolution theory. He is also irreligious and a total non-believer in God and consequently refuses to accept the conclusions that Hollus and other alien races have come to. Much of the book is taken up with discussions on scientific data, the science of evolution, exobiology and philosophy, but this is also a very human story (pun intended) as Jericho has one particularly powerful personal reason to refute God’s existence.
John’s thoughts: This is an exceptionally clever story and tremendously thought-provoking. While a work of fiction it is also full of interesting facts and discussions about how life might have evolved - and it lays bare some real weaknesses and “leaps of faith” in current scientific thinking and evolution theory. It’s not that Sawyer is debunking evolution, but in this book he is effectively saying that evolution might have needed quite a bit of help along the way for life to have developed the way that it has.
And so we have discussions about the possible existence of God – not necessarily in a religious sense but in the sense of there being an all-powerful creator who had a hand in creating an environment and circumstances in which life could develop and evolve. Fascinating.
What is also great about the book is that Sawyer develops some complex and believable characters, including the alien Hollus. You do actually care about them and what happens to them. The story does also have more than its fair share of humor.
I’d thoroughly recommend this book to any science fiction fans or to anyone who is interested in exploring some of the scientific debates surrounding the evolution of life - this might be a novel, but it is a darned good read on the subject. Overall I’d rate it 4 stars. Why not even more? I really like Sawyer’s books but I do find that he has a tendency to over-reach in the conclusions to his stories – he makes the endings so immense that they don’t quite feel right; and he’s done it again here. Also, the two creationist/fundamentalist thugs are a bit weak and I don’t mean regarding their beliefs (which are obviously nuts), but rather they’re just rather thin characters and not very believable. I’m being picky though; great book. (less)
This is a historical fiction novel with a theme revolving around faith and domestic violence.
About Thirsty: The setting is the late 1800’s. Klara is a young Croatian woman whom meets her would be husband on the front door step or her father’s home. At once the two are linked. A chemistry of sorts, which is much deeper than it seems.
Driven by their intense attraction, and as a way to leave her abusive father’s home and the care of her many sisters and brothers (her mother is dead), Klara returns to America with her new husband to a town called Thirsty.
Thirsty is your typical factory centered town of the period. It is a place rife with racism, extreme social class distinctions, as well as smoke and greasy ash from the local foundry. This factory is the city’s economic engine providing a glimpse into the era; a time when hungry workers were essentially treated as a commodity and where their lives were as expendable as animals and very often lost.
As the story progresses we see Klara’s perspective, feel her strength, and hear her voice through her complex emotions as her life continues. As she becomes settled into the community and her life stumbles on, she realizes more and more, that her husband is very much like her father.
My Thoughts: This historical fiction is at once heartbreaking yet lyrical. It looks at a person’s beliefs and patterns which are exchanged from generation to generation. In this case it is based on domestic violence and from my understanding is called “the cycle of abuse”. It is exemplified by the main character who watches as her mother is beaten by her father, and she in turn, by default chooses a man who is also of this nature. So this cycle continues - sadly passing onto her daughter as well.
I enjoyed this little book. It is descriptive of this time and has a touch of the magical; several spectacular natural events, one of which is pictured on the cover (butterflies being my favorite). The author also has a sweet and easy to read writing style almost like poetry.
However, being a mostly secular person, I did have a tough time dealing with a complete page detailing “God’s Will”, where every other phrase contains the words “God’s Will”. I see where this may appeal to those whom are passionate about their faith. My biggest problem with this, however, is that an abused women cannot wait on the “Will of God” to intervene. Those whom are being abused need to take the steps necessary to walk away from their abusers.
It is my hope that this is what the author intended, as a jumping place for a discussion around this scary and life threatening issue. To facilitate women into taking the life saving steps that are needed, beyond their religious beliefs. Other than my above concerns, I enjoyed this book.
*It is also important to note that the book contains graphic violence and that there is also strong sexual scenes running through its pages.*(less)
This is a short book that I read in two sittings. What is really nice about this book is that the author has included her own story about her "paranor...moreThis is a short book that I read in two sittings. What is really nice about this book is that the author has included her own story about her "paranormal experiences" in the first part of the book, which is very brave (just think about the title - "out of the closet"). Kudos to Toby!
In the second part of the book she includes an organized list of different kinds of experiences which she defines, as well as a list of books the reader can further use to find out more about these phenomena. What is very respectable is that in a section about hearing voices she gives the recommendation to find a qualified medical professional, in case the experience may be a mental illness.
I could tell that she's more comfortable giving readers information than telling her own story, which is understandable as she is a trained and experienced educator. It is also comforting to read about her experiences knowing that they have happened to someone who is logical, educated, and professionally established.
There is some interesting stuff included in this book. I would recommend it for anyone experiencing a paranormal event and wanting to find out more; also for writers/authors who may want to expand their own creative repertoire within the genres of paranormal or the speculative. (less)
A picture book that helps explain the meaning and interpretation of God through different religions. It has been put into poem form and has lovely ill...moreA picture book that helps explain the meaning and interpretation of God through different religions. It has been put into poem form and has lovely illustrations.
Especially chosen for a multicultural classroom where everyone does not necessarily share the same religious belief systems. It was a personal favorite from a teaching project in 1992.
A decent book about achieving enlightenment through meditation.... there are so many wonderful books out there that have said the same thing. It just...moreA decent book about achieving enlightenment through meditation.... there are so many wonderful books out there that have said the same thing. It just felt like a repeat.(less)
Not a great book, and not a smart thing to do. NYT article link on what's happening around this author in AZ right now - 10/09 http://www.nytimes.com/2...more
Not a great book, and not a smart thing to do. NYT article link on what's happening around this author in AZ right now - 10/09 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/us/... From reading the book this is not the first time he's "bottomed out".(less)
A book of great poems selected from the author about the subject of finding one's life purpose. He writes about each of the poems and assists the read...moreA book of great poems selected from the author about the subject of finding one's life purpose. He writes about each of the poems and assists the reader in understanding their meaning in a "Zen like" fashion. (less)