Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Few Good Reads

An intriguing book about Muslims waiting for the imam of prophesy - one who will arise to defeat their detractors and all non-believers. May remind readers of  Christians waiting for the second-coming of Christ. Fascinating reading.

Was she a serial killer or a misunderstood noblewoman only punishing maidservants for their transgressions? A new spin on the true tale of 16th Century Hungarian Countess Erzebet Bathory (Elizabeth Bathory). Never convicted of any crimes, the woman who became known to history as the "female dracula," for her supposed blood bathing/drinking is characterized in Rebecca Johns new novel as a misunderstood woman who tells her own side of the story for a change. It is a worthy effort that will  leave the reader as intrigued as she is appalled by Bathory's beliefs and actions. It will also leave the reader unable to put down this book. 

A  twist on Shakespeare and his writing of the "Tempest." Actually, the story of a young girl forced into life as servant, and how her journey to Jamestown with an irritating mistress is interrupted by a storm that leaves the ship and it's passengers stranded on a deserted island in the Bahamas during the reign of James I.

How the castaways remake themselves into a society, how they learn to survive and thrive (or not) and how "Miranda" befriends the ship's historian who has his own secrets is the heart of the story that provides not only a wealth of history about ELizabeth I and her reign, but also about Shakespeare and fellow playwrights , nautical history and the colonization of Jamestown in the New World, and the persecution of Catholics during the reign of Elizabeth.

How the young servant girl and the ship's historian find common ground in shared secrets and become friends is a wonderful storyline in itself, but the the threads of this novel that weave together history and fiction provide the reader with  satisfying entertainment throughout the novel. Miranda is an intriguing character and her growth from scared and shy young girl to confident and able chef and woman is a delight to experience. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Estate Planning For People WIth A Chronic Condition Or Disability

The book, Estate Planning for People With A Chronic Condition or Disability may not be as tempting as the latest thriller or spy novel, but if you are one of millions Americans facing daily life with a chronic or disabling disease, thoughts about the future and planning for it are important for emotional as well as medical and legal reasons. If you have strong feelings about your health care options and end of life care and realize a time may come when you can no longer express your feelings to your loved ones, this book can help you make those preparations with its step by step basics for planning your estate which includes health care proxies, “living wills,” HIPAA requirements, trusts, wills and power of attorney. Now is the time to legally document your wishes so your loved ones have your thoughts in a binding document to guide their decision-making during difficult times. It is a gift to them as well as a choice about your own life.

The book breaks little new ground but it does an excellent job of gathering resources into one volume and using clear, precise language to help readers through this sometimes “difficult to think about,” journey as they make end of life decisions about healthcare, finances and other resources. While the author, Martin Shenkman takes great care to advise readers to consult an attorney, forms are included that can be used if resources are limited. This book is a great starting point when faced with a chronic or disabling condition within the family and legal issues that may occur such as the need for power of attorney, or access to medical records, etc.

An excellent resource and a book that may be especially helpful to people with Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, or Alzheimer’s Disease since some specific examples are cited but a great resource for other chronic/disabling diseases conditions too. As someone with MS I was glad to have a chance to review this book and learn more about estate planning options.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's Not All In Your Head: Anxiety Depression, Mood Swings and Multiple Sclerosis

Ask anyone with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) what frustrates her and the answer may  be the unpredictability of the disease, the waxing and waning of symptoms, the stress this brings to her life and the loss of control over planning for the future.  Dr. Patricia Farrell really “gets” MS and describes MS patients as being faced with the “possible dilemma of being lost in your own life…the not-knowing aspect that increases any physical and mental stress you may feel.” 

Farrell’s book is a how-to guide that begins with an introduction to MS and the disease process. Most MS patients have read about the physical impact of the disease, but, may not be as familiar with other aspects of MS such as depression, cognition and anxiety and why these symptoms happen to so many MS patients (it is not all in your head).

You’ll learn that about 25 recent studies show an association between stress and 
MS – a fascinating chapter called “The Mind Body Connection.” It is worth buying the book just to read this chapter – but keep reading because Farrell doesn’t just give facts, she also provides a great “how to help yourself,” manage cognitive challenges including memory issues, depression, and live a better life with MS. She shares patient stories as well as strategies for daily living, and each chapter has a list for more reading. She also has a resource list in the appendix.

For anyone with MS it’s a great place to start understanding the emotional side of the disease, but more importantly it provides strategies that can normalize life for the patient and family. Well written by Dr. Farrell it is one I will recommend to others with MS.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Sweet Reads for A Saturday!"

Sweet revenge--- the joy of getting even and laughing all the way to the bank!

Sweet words that will make Mom, Dad and the little one giggle..

Sweet and yummy treats --- and all the butter your tummy and heart can hold!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Emperor's Tomb

If there is one lesson to be learned from the Chinese culture it is that things are not what they seem and a polite countenance and soft words can mask a country in major turmoil and upheaval beneath a placid surface. The frozen faced terra cotta warriors of China's First Emperor Qui Shi are just part of the adventure in this rollicking, suspenseful and history laden book by author Steve Berry. This story centers on an age old mystery with world wide implications - are the Chinese hiding a secret that may be within the walls of the  off-limits tomb of the Emperor - a secret that could profoundly change what the world believes about oil? Hmmmmm. Ever wonder why one of the most fascinating sites in all of archeology was never revealed - akin to finding Cleopatra's resting place intact and never opening it. Just what is the reason? Berry spins another late night reading story that will keep you riveted. 

Cotton Malone, an American bookseller living and working in Copenhagen is back in another adventure as he battles to discover secrets from the past that will have implications impacting the political balance as well as the worldwide economy. Along with a fascinating assortment of new characters, favorites (or at least familiar ones) lend a hand including Casseioppeia Vitt and Malone's former boss Stephanie Nelle from the Magellen Billet, a secretive U.S. government organization that cannot seem to let him stay retired.

This book is one of my  best picks for the year - it will keep you entertained  and fascinate you with historical details and provide you with insights into China.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Critical Care

After I read this book I felt like Oliver Twist - I wanted "more." More information about Teresa Brown's cancer patients, more about her decision to change careers from teaching college English to become an oncology R.N. and more about the emotional and physical impact of daily life on a cancer unit's nursing team.

Brown's stories span the comical to the heart wrenching with a bit of hospital politics thrown in as well as  her own experiences as a patient negotiating the emergency department when she hurt her knee. Her writing is crisp,  readable and was a great pick by "Reader's Digest Magazine," for the June 2010 book excerpt.

If you like medical memoirs, life and death snippets and nurse stories than this is the perfect book for you. If you like details, in depth knowledge about patients, their diseases their feelings, emotions and family situations then this is not your book. If you want to know more about the author's career change, well you won't get many details about that either.

Still, you cannot beat the writing and it will leave you wanting more.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Two Non-Fiction Choices

Two Non-Fiction Picks...

If making a difference is important to you but you don't know where or how to begin then this is the book for you. THE LIFE YOU CAN SAVE is an easy read with a simple, concise message and a fail proof plan - now if everyone would follow suit... 

What happens when a young Mormon girl is abducted into slavery by a band of Yavapai Indians then sold to another tribe where she is adopted as daughter into a family of Mohaves'? The Blue Tattoo is a beautifully crafted history of Olive Oatman a real life 1850's  teen who lived a story that she would eventually tell on the lecture circuit following her ransom back to "civilized" society. 

Oatman carried physical marks of her time with the Mohave's, chin tattoos that the Indians used for identification purposes - so in the afterlife they could find loved ones. She was the first known tattooed white woman in US history and as such an oddity for the rest of her life.  A fascinating story with glimpses of a time and place that few non - native Americans ever experienced. So well written that you will find it hard to put the book down. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Non-Fiction Picks for the Week

Both of these books offer food for thought ---- author, nurse, humanitarian and school builder Greg Mortenson is back with more stories on using education as a tool for peace and understanding in STONES INTO SCHOOLS. His simple message and good works will open your check book as well your heart when you read  the words of his continuing story. This tale  has been written by many helping hands from across the country who believe in his vision. (Be sure and also buy the children's versions of his books and don't forget to take a minute and send in a check to make educational opportunities a reality.  I still cherish a postcard I have from his organization with a young girl wearing a headscarf reading the Dr. Seuss classic  IF I RAN THE CIRCUS. The  Central Asia Society is a top ten any day and Mortenson's books always make my favorite's list.)  An upbeat book, an inspiring message and an author you can feel good about supporting. It's worth reading and a great book to share with a friend.

Waste, Uncovering the Global Food Scandal,   uses dumpster diving as a starting point for explaining what happens to left-over foods from our grocery stores. While it is based in the UK the author makes the effort to include information on US chains (yes, even Kroger and Walmart get mentions), as he traces the often sad story of unsold food. It is at times sickening, sometimes depressing but ALWAYS informative. And you thought you knew about expiration dates?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Two historical fiction books to read

Family life in 13th century Europe comes to life in this beautifully written book by author Michelle Cameron. Jewish customs, tradition, and daily routines are shared along with the daily tribulation of life in a world filled with suspicion over heresy and an increasingly intolerant Catholic church. You'll appreciate the title character and her life's journey from cherished daughter through her marriage and then motherhood. Based on Cameron's own relative it is a fascinating look at a time period that is often shrouded more in myth than in history. Great read.

Edward Rutherfurd's saga of New York from the Dutch founding of New Amsterdam on the site of an Indian fishing village, through  9/11. It may begin with Dutch but the book spends time sharing the story of the British during the Revolutionary War of American Independence as well as the upstart American patriots, it proceeds through through the Civil War and the slavery issue to the industrial revolution, the influx of immigrants, New York's constantly changing population, Tammany Hall politics, and an ebb and flow that shows how repetitive history can be  and how patterns are there for students to see if they just happen to pay attention!
The tragedy of 9/11 and the evolving stories of families in their daily struggle to find hope, happiness , love and success in New York are just part of Rutherfurd's latest sweeping tale of a city that never sleeps and a place that has become famous for bright lights, Broadway and plenty of characters many of whom you will find between the pages of this tome. As with any book of this nature the complaint is that you want more information about some of the characters (both real and imagined) but unless volumes are added it would be impossible for the author to do this - the book is big enough as is - unless you put it on your KINDLE!)