Category Archives: Books provided by publishers

Book Review: The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo

9780062390554The Art of Crash Landing 

By Melissa DeCarlo
ISBN: 9780062390554
Harper Paperbacks, 2015

“Twenty-seven minutes is, if anyone ever asks, exactly how long it takes to cram everything I own into six giant trash bags.” 
—opening sentence of The Art of Crash Landing

I defy you to read that opening sentence and not keep reading.

The title of this book gives hints about the story. Before we even begin to read we know that someone’s life is spiraling out of control, and we know that someone is going to share some insights about the experience. We guess that, one way or another, the person survives. A little banged up maybe, but still in one piece.

That person is Mattie, who is 30, pregnant and couch-surfing. Her mother combined just enough love with just enough alcoholic negligence to shape her into a person who is an absolute mess, but with a capacity for daring compassion.

From that first sentence I liked Mattie. I cheered for her when she made good decisions, and I completely understood when she messed up big-time. Her character appeals to the side of us that has made mistakes, but reassures the side of us that says, “Well, I made some mistakes, but at least I didn’t screw things up that badly.”

Mattie’s mother—who died of cancer—had cut off all contact with family, so Mattie is surprised to hear that her maternal grandmother has died and left her an inheritance. The answer to her problems? Perhaps, but not without some adventures and some mystery.

“But now, my hand turning this last doorknob, the feeling is strong enough to take my breath away. Even though I already know what I’m going to find.”  —Mattie in The Art of Crash Landing

What’s behind the door? I bet you want to know. 

It takes skill to write a heartbreaking story with humour, and DeCarlo strikes the right balance. Some chapters unfold with an inescapable sense of impending doom, but those chapters are balanced by others that unfold with irrepressible hope. DeCarlo creates well-rounded characters who are flawed, but endearingly so. The extra touches she brings to the story—guinea pigs and farting dogs—make it all the more charming.

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 I received the book from Harper Paperbacks for review purposes. 

I was not financially compensated for this post. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: The Road to Atlantis by Leo Brent Robillard

RoadAtlantisFNLwebThe Road to Atlantis 

by Leo Brent Robillard
ISBN: 9780888015556
Turnstone Press, 2015

“Resonating with the familiar” is the phrase that leaps to mind when I think of The Road to Atlantis. Leo Brent Robillard touches on so many places, events and experiences known to me, almost every page had me thinking, “Oh, I know what he’s talking about.”

Some of those places, events and experiences made me smile. I live in Ottawa, and I grew up in Eastern Ontario, so I know about Canterbury High School, Bon Echo, life in a government city, and the “university town on the shore of Lake Ontario.” He even referred to the Persian Gulf and the HMCS Terra Nova. My brother served on that ship during that time. Heartwarming.

Some of the places, events and experiences landed on ouchy places: female preoccupation with weight and body image, the effects of alcohol abuse on a family and the challenges of parenting teenagers. Thought-provoking.

And then there’s the loss of a child. Thank goodness that one is not familiar to me.

In Robillard’s novel, David and Anne start out on a road trip with their daughter, Nat, and young son, Matty. Along the way, a playful stop at the beach ends in tragedy. David, Anne and Matty must do the unthinkable and learn to live as a family of three, instead of four.

“. . . in a single day and night . . . the island of Atlantis . . . disappeared in the depths of the sea. For which reason, the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way . . .” —from Plato’s Account of Atlantis, translated by Benjamin Jowett

David and Anne find themselves in a metaphorical shoal of grief, guilt and blame mud. Poor Matty, too young to really remember his sister but living in the shadow of her death his whole life, bears the brunt of the inadequate tools David and Anne choose to try to deal with their pain: obsessive overprotection, infidelity, alcohol abuse and the bottling up of emotions.

Fathers—the good, the inflexible, the absent and the damaged—play a dominant role in the story. One of the most endearing scenes involves a carload of questionable fathers driving desperately through a snowstorm to arrive at the birth of a child.

I’m an admirer of Robillard’s work. I was once accused of “gushing” about his poetic literary style. To read a Robillard book is to curl up in a comfy chair with a cup of tea and feed your poetic soul. This novel is poetic in a starker way but, as always, his professionally lean prose deftly summarizes complex life circumstances and personalities.

“. . . the boy would never leave his own child. That took a cold mechanical precision. You had to be scalpel sharp with a selective memory. You had to be able to shut doors and never again test the handles.”

Robillard covers a lot of ground in a short book (192 pages). Concise, incisive and psyche-testing, The Road to Atlantis relates one family’s evolutionary journey from submersion to surface.

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 I received the book from Turnstone Press for review purposes. I was not financially compensated for this post.I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Book Review: God Wore Glasses by Thomas G. Papps

God Wore Glassegod-wore-glasses-tom-papps-300pxs: An Inspirational Account of One Man’s Brush with God

by Thomas G. Papps
ISBN: 978-0-9848162-3-1
Kallisti Publishing, 2013

“Is there a God? Is there an afterlife? Are there miracles?” “This is a book that will answer those three questions. More than that, it will answer them in the positive. Even more than that, it will offer proof that there is an afterlife, there is a God, and miracles do indeed happen.”

That’s a lofty claim. Proof of God, an afterlife and miracles? Wow. 

What do you think of that? Do you eagerly look forward to reading yet another story of God’s glorious existence? Do you expect to read a touching story that you will be able to explain away as coincidence? Or do you think it’s a bunch of hokum?

Thomas G. Papps expects you to have one of those three reactions to his story of a brush with God, for that is how readers of his early drafts responded. He found that a large majority (90%) believed something religious happened, a smaller number of people (5%) believed the story to be a true account of a series of coincidences that create the illusion of a religious experience, and an equal number (5%) believed the book to be the work of a charlatan.

In his youth, Papps was an atheist and a critic of organized religion. When he experienced a series of uncanny events that could be described as mystical, he responded in the way an atheistic religious critic would: slowly and analytically.

Papps is a retired trial attorney, and he lays out the story of meeting a God who wore glasses and his subsequent analysis of the event as if he were presenting his case to a jury pool. His approach robs the story of some of its charm. In fact, it’s almost difficult to locate the specifics of the actual experience with God from within the nest of preamble, research and argument.

Papps’ experience of the divine took him from “an atheist to an agnostic to a probable believer.”  (He reserves some room for doubt because he is still “not prepared to believe in most tenets of any religion.”)

In his examination of the event, Papps discusses evolution, sociology and religion.  How you respond to his story will depend on how you respond to the arguments he puts forth. Personally, I didn’t agree with some of his interpretations of Jewish religious history, and while I enjoyed reading his insights into the evolution of angler fish and bombardier beetles, I don’t believe he can quite claim to have proof of the existence of God, the promise of an afterlife or the possibility of miracles—at least not proof that the skeptical 10% would buy into.

If you’re one of the 90% who don’t need proof anyway, you will enjoy a lovely story of a God who wore glasses, and you will find the analysis of the event enlightening. If you are an agnostic or atheist who has had a mystical experience that you can’t explain but can’t forget either, you will find Papps journey from skeptic to believer reassuring. If you think it’s a bunch of hokum, carry on and come back to this someday if you discover a chink in that armour.

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I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book from Kallista Publishing for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Book Review: The Secret Female Hormone

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book from Hay House for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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9781401943011The Secret Female Hormone: How Testosterone Replacement Can Change Your Life

by Kathy Maupin, M.D., Brett Newcomb, M.A., L.P.C.
ISBN 978-1-4019-4301-1
Hay House, 2014

Put a room full of menopausal and perimenopausal women together and ask them to raise their hands if they experience any of these symptoms: loss of libido, weight gain, insomnia, fatigue, depression, sore joints, dry eyes, migraines, or loss of stamina. After running through the full list, few women would sit without raised a hand.

Middle-aged women face these symptoms, and a confusing array of scientific evidence about what to do about it. Many women don’t want to mess around with nature, so they choose to ride out the sleepless nights, the fatigue, and the strain on their relationship due to their lack of interest in sex. Many women fear hormone replacement therapy (HRT) because of studies that suggested that HRT comes with medical risks. And testosterone? Many women would not even consider adding what they perceive to be a male hormone into their lives. They worry about side effects like facial hair, aggression and a lowered voice pitch.

Kathy Maupin and Brett Newcomb want to open the conversation about the “secret” female hormone. They say:

“Testosterone is not just important to women’s hormonal balance, it is essential.”

Maupin opens the book with her personal experience with Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome (TDS). After suffering the symptoms, and after futile searches in other areas for solutions to the problems, she found relief through bio-medical testosterone pellets. She then used the treatment on her patients and boasts a 95% success rate. Her patients enjoy increased energy, better sleep, loss of fat, improved memory, a re-activated sex drive, balanced mood, and less muscle and joint pain

Maupin and Newcomb don’t suggest that HRT is for everyone. They outline the roles that estrogen, progesterone and testosterone play in women’s lives and the risks and benefits of replacement therapies. They include charts with the symptoms, risks and benefits clearly laid out so readers and place check marks to determine if therapy is something they should consider. But Maupin and Newcomb don’t accept that women these days need to “tough it out” through menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms that are adversely affecting their lives.

“Women still experience the loss of testosterone at the same age they did 50,000 years ago.”

One of the results of our improved health care, sanitation and nutrition is that women’s life spans now extend beyond the time they can reproduce. Women used to die before or not long after they ceased to be able to procreate, so in centuries past women didn’t need testosterone in later life. Now they might. And if a person lives with a long-term testosterone deficiency, serious diseases can result, including chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, heart disease, memory loss, dementia.

This is an American publication, and I am Canadian. I don’t know what the regulations in this country are for testosterone. No matter which country you live in, hormone therapy starts with a conversation with your medical doctor. Maupin and Newcomb wrote this book to arm you with information you can take to your doctor to start that conversation.

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I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book from Hay House for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

 

Book Review: Quantum Jumps by Cynthia Sue Larson

Adobe Photoshop PDFQuantum Jumps: An Extraordinary Science of Happiness and Prosperity

by Cynthia Sue Larson
ISBN 9870971934955
RealityShifters®, 2013

More than 100 years ago, the experiments of  scientific greats like Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr and Erwin Schrödinger threw some traditionally accepted scientific laws into question. Quantum mechanics defied logic and boggled minds.

More than 100 years later, our minds still boggle. We’re having some difficulty accepting the possibilities of our Quantum Age, because we resist believing in anything in the absence of hard proof. In Quantum Jumps, Cynthia Sue Larson presents a “radical new paradigm—that we exist in a holographic multiverse in which we can literally jump from one parallel universe to another.” I have no doubt many will find it hard to believe.

Quantum jumping is the process by which a person envisions some desired result or state of being that is different from the existing situation—and by clearly observing that possibility and supplying sufficient energy, makes a leap into that alternative reality.” 

(Are you thinking of Scott Bakula in Quantum Leap right now?)

The idea isn’t new, and we find similar themes in the words of Napoleon Hill, Charles Haanel, and Jesus. (“Ask and it will be given to you.” Matthew 7:7) More and more experimental results support the possibilities. Larson includes examples of experiments with drug placebos, weight loss, goal achievement and empathy.

Larson outlines three quantum jumping steps:

  1. Attain a relaxed, detached and peaceful altered state.
  2. Feel energized about your visualized positive outcome.
  3. Take positive action in keeping with your new reality.

We make “quantum” jumps every day. When we get out of bed and eat our favourite breakfast, for example, we unconsciously complete all three steps; we’re just so used to doing it, we don’t give it much conscious thought. If it is so easy for us to manifest our breakfast, why not greater things, then?

Larson recommends a meditation practice in which we envision ourselves as connected to, and part of, an eternal infinite. The practice might help you lose weight, find a romantic partner, change jobs, ease depression or locate lost objects.

I’m grateful to Einstein, Bohr, Planck and others for inviting us into the Quantum Age. I’m encouraged by the ideas Larson presents in her book, even though some of them still felt a little “out there” for my comfort zone. I won’t discount them, though. After all, poor old Galileo had no way to prove to the masses that earth revolved around the sun, not the other way around, and he was vilified for his “out there” theory. He died being dead right.

Who am I to question the possibilities?

“Everything in the universe is within you.
Ask all from yourself.” —Rumi

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I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book from RealityShifters® for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

 

Book Review: One Mind by Larry Dossey

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book from Hay House for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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8348_c1.gifOne Mind: How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters

by Larry Dossey, M.D.
ISBN 9781401943820
Hay House Inc., 2013

Thousands of starlings move as one in breathtaking murmurations. Individual termites work as one colony to construct elaborate nests with complex tunnels and chambers. Queen Elizabeth’s dogs at Sandringham bark like crazy when they “know” she is coming, but while she is still half a mile away, out of sight. These enthralling, fantastic, eerie occurrences pique our curiosities and stretch our minds.

“It’s also the sort of thing that makes skeptics scurry toward ‘coincidence’ with the desperation of drowning men clutching at straws.” —Larry Dossey in One Mind

What’s going on here? How do we live with these real events not yet explained by real science? 

Larry Dossey would have us relax and enjoy them. He quotes Wes Nisker: “Just imagine how good it would feel if we all got together once in a while in large public gatherings and admitted that we don’t know why we are alive, that nobody knows for sure if there’s a higher being who created us, and that nobody really knows what the hell’s going on here.”

His book, One Mind, is written as a series of short vignettes about collective consciousness. The structure means readers can pick up the book, read a short piece, and then put it down to enjoy again later on the next coffee break. He writes about twins who share pain across time and space, near-death experiences, and the specialized, inexplicable skills of savants. He refers to Marc Barasch, founder and CEO of Green World Campaign, who coined the term collaboratory, for “a field of knowing that is greater than that of any group member and greater than the sum of a group’s members.” In a collaboratory: “Solutions to problems surface that we did not anticipate. We become more imaginative, inventive, inspired, productive, resourceful, and innovative”

In the past, scientists tended to shun experiments involving non-physical elements. These days, more and more scientists choose to explore One Mind topics. The entanglement and non-locality uncovered through the study of quantum mechanics pried open some doubtful scientific minds and loaned some legitimacy to One Mind study. When someone like Erwin Schrödinger said, “Mind is by its very nature a singulaire tantum. I should say: the overall number of minds is just one,” other scientists paid attention.

Mounting evidence shows that something is going on, even though we can’t explain it fully—yet. The events Dossey writes about might make us take the Golden Rule more seriously. We must do more than do unto others as you would have them do unto you. He says, “Be kind to others, because in some sense they are you.”

“To become whole all parts must be left behind, for a whole is not the sum of its parts but a different state entirely.” —Joseph Chilton Pearce, cited in One Mind

I don’t know which audience for this book is more important: People who see themselves as part of One Mind, or those who dismiss it as hogwash. Those who see their individual mind is part of a greater consciousness can find reassurance in the many stories Dossey shares of One Mind events. Those who doubt it might learn to relax a little and settle into the wonder of it all.

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I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book from Hay House for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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Just for fun, relax and enjoy a murmuration of starlings here:

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