Monday, September 13, 2010

The Monster On Top Of The Bed - Review (Children's Book)

I don't get the chance to often read and review a children's book so when the opportunity came I was pretty excited. As a matter of fact, you can see by my history of book reviews on my personal site that I don't often add on many childrens books and the reason is simply because most don't warrant a true mention.

Most kids books I've reviewed, I can honestly say I'm less than thrilled with. Being a mother to 3, now grown, children I know what kids love. Reading was and is an integral part of parenting in my world. As I look forward to being a "grandma" some day I can't wait to pull out all those books we loved to read as a family and read to my grandchild but I also can't wait to share some of what will become our favorites either and I'm quite certain The Monster On Top of The Bed will become one of them!

My original beginnings with The Monster On Top of The Bed began with some editing work I did. The author contacted me and asked for a quick look-over on the book and to make some suggestions. Generally I just prepare myself for some less than meaty reading, small words tossed together with very little true meaning and most of the time some pretty unexciting pictures. I've even had kids books with NO pictures?! I'm an adult with a slightly higher attention span and I appreciate pictures! Kids LOVE great pictures to go with the story!!!!!! When I got this one I was so very pleasantly surprised! This not only has a real story line but something a little different and ends up being very educational! I would almost recommend it as a teaching book also, as it uses some very unusual techniques to show

As I read The Monster On Top Of The Bed from I was impressed. It is simply a wonderful story about a little girl, Suzy, (the monster) who scares Karrit (the one who's afraid of the "monster" on top of the bed), and how funny it can be when you don't realize that things aren't nearly as frightening in real life as you might "think" they are! The wonderful use of "play on words", such as the poor monster Karrit being afraid Suzy's going to eat HIM because he heard her say she loves to eat "Carrots" is just adorable and funny. It takes a subject that can be frightening to a little one and makes it comical and fun. In the end you'll be chuckling along with your little one about the silliness of Karrit and Suzy and I'm going to guess you're going to be asked over and over to read this story!

The artwork is quite good also. Unlike many books that toss a few pictures together without much thought, even the discussion section at the end of the book makes you realize there was a lot of time and effort put into each and every picture. For example one of the questions they ask is "Why does Karrit's nose change color?" and after you read the story you realize that wasn't a big deal in the book but the picture clearly shows Karrits nose in different colors! This question make you and your little one ponder "why" and come up with some of your own ideas! You'll go back and read it again and again to try to come up with some answers to the questions they ponder at the end for you to discuss! It's wonderful. You'll talk about friendships, worrying about things that maybe you shouldn't worry about, and so much more!

I highly recommend this wonderful and delightful story to you. If you have a little one to share it with... it's going to be well worth it to make a regular story you share! So click on the site and take a look. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how fun & adventurous monsters can really be! AND when you purchase the book in pdf format from the site, you get an e-book that can printed and shared with your kids, giving each their own copy to draw in, write in or even cut out and use the pictures to decorate their room! It's a wonderful way to bring a book to life! Remember when we used to get in TROUBLE for writing in our books!? Not anymore! This way they truly make the book their own & can reprint it often, keeping one "good copy" to read, while having a copy to make into their very own treasure!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Our Promised Land by Michael T. Darkow

A "Promised" Heartfelt Story
  review by: Beverly Pechin for Review The Book

My biggest problem with finding the words to "review" this book was that I didn't want to scare anyone off. I'm not sure if it's unfortunate or fortunate that words like "heart wrenching" and "intricate" quickly come to mind but there's no way around it, this book is both. The characters are so intense that you feel as though you must pay close attention to who they are and where they fit in; later to find that they simply fall into place and all connect at some point. The story line is so intense and deep that you cannot walk away from reading this book without questioning man's mindset and ease to hate.

The story begins in nearly what we would think of as mankind as "the beginning". A poor shepherd saves the life of a Prince, and so the story begins and carries on through the generations of lives of the Jews and later, those who live in Israel/ Palestine.

Many of us think we know and understand the trials and tribulations of those who have lived and died in the Middle East. Israelites and Palestinians have fought for what seems a lifetime of lifetimes for a land they feel is theirs, but in the end we rarely know or understand the beginnings or the people behind the battles. We see torment, death, hatred and so much more that overwhelms the true stories beneath the battles... until now.

While the work of Darkow is one of fiction, there is no question that it is based on many facts and uncovering of families involved throughout the years in this part of the world. From the story of a war torn Germany and it's flight of Jews back to their "homeland" to the almost recognizably similar fight seen from the other side of the battle, the Palestinians, against the Jews. What set me aback the most was the very distinct likeness that these two groups of people seemed to battle, yet never realize the similarities of their ethnicity intertwine only to find hatred.

The hardest part of the book is the amount of characters who vary from place to place, time to time, family to family & generation to generation. At first it may seem overwhelming, but once you realize you should just read and they will fall into place it all settles into your mind and comes together like pieces of an intricate puzzle. I don't say this to put off any would-be readers, but instead to enlighten them not to be put off by the quick introduction to many names and faces, sometimes overwhelming you but in the end all just falling into place. Any good author has the ability to do this with a group of characters yet few are able. Darkow's talent to easily pull each and every character into place is recognized by any reader to be not only a "must" in such an intricate story but a talent not to be overlooked.

What hit me the hardest with this book is the ironic twist of stories, intertwining literally exact stories of being treated like animals instead of humans yet each forgetting their own mistreatment as they mistreat others almost in the same way. The lack of humanity, the true grit of hatred overcoming any remote inkling of human kindness makes you not only ache deep within for what has gone on and continues to go on in this region of the world but question mankind himself and how they can sometimes be so quick to forget.

This story hits hard. It rings of so much truth you have to remind yourself that it's a work of fiction. It hits so hard that you realize we, as humans, may have be able to love without hatred interfering in our hearts. Simply put, Darkow has managed to bring a piece of the world that so many of us thought we understood or knew and put us into the reality that we haven't a clue what our own hearts can do or become. The best part? Perhaps in the end some of us can become what we are meant to be, "human", instead of what we have become. Perhaps there is a hope, even for a part of the world that seems to have always functioned with hatred surrounding it.

On a 5 Star Scale.... OUR PROMISED LAND rates at 4 1/2 Stars!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dragon House by John Shors - An Amazing Story!

It is rare when an author can bring tears to your eyes within the first few pages of a book, but once again John Shors has the ability to do so with ease in his newest novel Dragon House. This amazingly poignant novel brings to life a world most of us will never know, that of the lives of the people of Vietnam.

How rare it is to find an author so capable of bringing a world of diverse characters to life in one's mind so easily, yet Shors does so with such ease that you don't even realize how intimate you have become with each of the characters until you close the book shut. The story is one of absolute beauty and somehow you find that beauty in a country that normally would most likely be considered ugly. The beauty of the country comes out with each of the characters themselves, from those native to the country to those who are strangers brought there by different and often unknown missions.

I personally found the depth of the characters unremarkable. You get to know each of the characters as if you have had the opportunity to creep into their inner-person, often finding things you would never assume to find. Sahn, the former soldier turned police officer, so crast and angry yet so full of love for his country that he cannot help but allow those he sees as intruders do their job in helping the children of the country he loves so much. You start off disliking the man, hating his anger and end up realizing why his anger is so deep and how it's truly just a facade to protect his own well-being. The children in the story will steal your heart, from the sickly Tam to the lost souls of Mai and Mahn. Your heart is stolen by the children as much as it does the main characters & adults of the story itself; leaving you aching for each of their souls. The main characters are delightful. Sweet Thien, filled with such love, kindness and tenderness that she brings such attributes out in even the least likely characters in the book. Thien sees the beauty most overlook in her country and knows how to bring that beauty into the eyes of those she is with. Noah, angry with what life has handed him tries to find answers in so many different places, including the bottom of a bottle, only to find them in the most unassuming of places. He overcomes anger, pain and hurt by finding his inner soul he has lost as he takes on a project that becomes his reason for living. He is truly determined & even in the highest of pain he cannot be stopped now that he has a purpose. Iris, unsure why she's there until her heart is shown the "real" Vietnam by Thien, hopes to pursue the dreams of the man she still isn't sure about, her own father. Often frightened of the unknown ways of this strange country she aspires to bring a huge project to life that her father had begun but died before he could finish. So many obstacles in the way but such need and determination make it something she knows she must accomplish. These 3 main characters alone will touch your heart. The children and people of this land will touch your heart even deeper. The book truly is as strong as it's characters.

Once again, another absolutely excellent & profound piece of work written by John Shors! It is honestly "yet another" of the beautiful masterpieces he seems to be able to put together for his readers. If you're in need of a vacation to a land you would normally never get a chance to visit, this may just be your ticket. Filled with an amazing, touching storyline and unbelievably real & deep characters you won't walk away disappointed. 5 Stars PLUS!


Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Sitting Swing by Irene Watson - A book review

The Sitting Swing
Finding Wisdom to Know the Difference

by Irene Watson

Reviewed by Beverly Pechin for Review The Book

Sits Upon Your Heart

The Sitting Swing's cover leads one to believe in the freedom of the swing, the feeling of light hearted flight & carefree sunny days. Those are my first thoughts as I look at the cover, but as I slowly delve into the meat and potatoes of the book itself I realize that a swing can portray so much more to someone else. This is her story. This is her way to relinquish the heavy burdens put upon her from childhood and she does a wonderful job of bringing life back into the idea of swinging freely to her readers. As you begin the journey with her you move from the absolute depths of a childhood prison to the breaking out moment of Irene Watson's life at Avalon.

The book begins with a brief encounter with a place called Avalon. While some may know of the place, I feel safe to guess that the average person is clueless what this place is or anything about; self included. Avalon is a "recovery" place, not meant just for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts but for truly anyone in the world, as we all face addictions of some type. The book takes a break from the 28 days at Avalon to delve into the childhood of the author and never before in my life have I read anything that will so quickly make you take a step back and wonder how anyone could raise a child like this and feel it's "normal", yet the more you read and ache with this child the more you realize that the parents truly think what they are doing is "best" for the child. It's an amazing story of how a mother literally captured the childhood of her daughter and never let her grow. To be honest I was at a loss for words for the review because the only thing I could keep saying after reading the book was "wow". I literally had to take a day to let it all sink in and think about it, in order to figure out how to accurately give this book justice with my words because only one word is truly applicable and that word is "wow".

This is a book that would serve well for so many reasons. It's obviously a book that would serve a purpose to anyone in the psychology industry or to anyone who has dealt with any type of addiction or abuse in their life in any way, shape or form. But above the obvious surface of psychological purpose, this book honestly brings one to a point of stepping back and asking a lot of questions about life itself. You start to realize, as it's pointed out at Avalon, that everyone has an addiction; the only difference is that not everyone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, there is so much more in this world that can truly hinder your ability to live life to the fullest and simply accept the things that hold you down.

I won't explain the idea of the "the sitting swing" itself but suffice it to say that when you think of a child and a swing you will never look at it the same way again. Swings are meant to breathe life and happiness into a simple, innocent child and not to hold that child prisoner. Irene Watson has brought an amazing story and an amazing recovery to her readers. It's a must read for anyone human because we all need to learn how to never be captured on our own sitting swing in life. Five star material and honestly a book that I'd recommend to anyone and everyone. This one will stay in my permanent library for sure!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Multiple Sclerosis - The Many Faces of The Disease

Multiple Sclerosis - The Many Faces of The Disease

by Kathy Reed

Reviewed by Beverly Pechin for Review The Book

As someone who has Multiple Sclerosis (MS), I knew that this book would be something that I would either love or hate. I tend to be very harsh on anything that comes out discussing this disease, simply because I have it and know the facts. While no 2 people with MS are the same, we do share many similar symptoms. All too often the first words you read in any book on MS is "MS doesn't kill people" and while this may be true to some degree, it angers me because it's like saying "that Mac truck didn't kill him when it hit him"... technically it didn't, but the results OF that hit were what killed him and often the symptoms of MS are what take someone down. That doesn't mean we have a death sentence, I'm proof of that, but don't dismiss the disease with such nonchalant comments. Of course that's my opinion, but I'll stand by it! So, when Reed's book didn't start out with this big introduction of how MS isn't a death sentence, I was impressed on that fact alone!

Multiple Sclerosis - The Many Faces of the Disease
is really a wonderful book to keep handy for anyone who has MS, especially when someone comes into your life and is clueless what MS is really about. While I personally didn't find it helpful for my own use, simply because I've had the disease for so long, I would have LOVED having it available to me at the time of my diagnosis. I wish I had known about it or had it available when I was diagnosed in 1995! For this reason alone, I highly recommend the book to anyone newly diagnosed with the disease or with anyone who's recently come into the life of someone with MS. You need to know the truth, the facts and the stories behind the faces of MS and Reed provides just this opportunity!

Reed has some particular cases she talks about, discusses the disease itself in the most basic of ways and gives some pretty comprehensible descriptions of what MS is and how it can act. The book is small, concise and covers just about every aspect you can imagine about MS from what the disease is to what some people can do to keep the disease under control. It's honest and not at all frightening to the reader, which is a huge plus with this disease. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who wants to explain the disease to someone in their life (children, spouse, family, new romantic partner, co-workers) that could really use some enlightenment on what MS is and how it works. Keep a copy in your library if you have MS or better yet, if you know someone who has MS that may need the help in explaining this confusing disease and all it presents to their life to someone they care about.

Kudos Ms. Reed in a book that was well thought out, well written and simple yet concise!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My Dirty Little Secrets - The Tony Mandarich Story: A Book Review

My Dirty Little Secrets
Steroids, Alcohol & God
The Tony Mandarich Story

By Tony Mandarich, as told to Sharon Shaw Elrod
Available at Amazon.Com

One Man, Two Souls
Review by Beverly Pechin for Review The Book

As a sports fan I recall the days of Tony Mandarich's entry into the NFL & all the hoopla about his entry into the draft. While I am and shall always remain a Steelers fan, I didn't pay a lot of attention to names outside of my own little world of Pittsburgh per say, but I do recall the draft and excitement with Mandarich. I also recall the Sports Illustrated issue that professed Mandarich as "The Incredible Bulk". This man had a brief moment in my world where even I, myself, was in awe. He fell off my radar quickly though and I never really thought about what had happened to him in between. I'm not even sure if he HAD been on my radar I would have truly known his true story until now, and Mandarich not only opened up heart and soul but told it with grit, truth and a lot of harsh reality.

We've all seen and read the tell all books of former stars & players that quickly scream out big names of all those who even touched their lives during their days of "usage". Most are pretty much the same, "I made it big.. I did drugs.. I fell... I'm doing a tell all book and tossing out big names of those I did the drugs with, in hopes to sell tons of books!". Mandarich does none of that. He's open, honest, takes full blame and doesn't point fingers. Not once do you read another stars name in a way that Mandarich points fingers and "narcs" out anyone to gain fame and sell his book. I have a lot of respect for anyone that approaches such a book in this way and can only say Kudos to Tony Mandarich. You are, in every aspect of the word, a gentleman.

The story itself isn't pretty. It's blunt, it's ugly and it's truthful. It's addiction. It's also enlightening, both for those of us whom have never experienced such horrid events in our life and I'm certain, to many who are currently in the same boat as Tony had been. It's the story of one man who, somehow, found another soul and another chance at life.

Probably one of my favorite parts of the book has nothing to do with the sports aspect itself, it has to do with when Tony was first beginning his road to recovery and finds his "Soul Guide". The depth, the absolute bizarreness of the entire event leaves one speechless and knowing that something like this simply cannot be made up but only told from an actual heartfelt experience. My second favorite part is the little "dig" he gets in on former 2007 Chargers defensive back, Rodney Harrison. It's one of the few times that a name is even mentioned per say but the small appreciation you know he got with the sarcastic words "Way to go Rodney" simply made me smile.

The book is written with an easy flow that provids for quick and easy reading. It's profound in so many ways, yet not so deep you get lost in the words. It's enlightening and most of all it's soul searching style leaves you cheering for this man who began his journey in the world of sports completely wrong, only to find the right path by a miracle of miracles and realize what life is truly all about. A man who literally lost his soul, only to find it again and learn to nurture and appreciate it fully.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Wizard Sleeping On A Watermelon - Children's Book Review

An Amazing Piece of Literature to Teach Your Child the world from A to Z
Review by Beverly Pechin

A Wizard Sleeping On A Watermelon and other wondrous sights
by Mary Pansini La Haye
with Illustrations by Anita Miles

ISBN 13: 978-1-933449-56-2

Published by Nightengale Press

Price: $18.95 US

Buy this book from Amazon

This amusing children's book is a Mom's Choice Awards winner and justifiably so! Without question it is one of the most amazingly illustrated children's books I've ever come across in my many years of motherhood and/or reading! Using a fun and adventurous approach to introduce each letter of the alphabet to your child, the illustrations add a comical and magical element to the entire experience! The hard part won't be whether to buy this book to share with youngsters, but how many to purchase when you see the wonderful illustrations and think "Wow, these would make awesome wall art in my child's room!".

Highly surpassing expectations of a soft cover book, the magical wonders from A to Z appear before your eyes in a high classed style that boasts art work expected of a hard cover, high priced piece of literature. From Lobsters to Monkeys, Shrimp to Zebras you will snicker and laugh as you teach your young one the entire alphabet with a hint of comedic adventure and a touch of absolutely amazing artwork. This is a book that should grace your family's bookshelves for many years, leaving a tradition to carry on from generation to generation.

I'm looking forward to seeing the next adventures of Mary Pansini La Haye and wondering how she could ever top this wonderful way to teach young ones their letters, from A to Z.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Queen City: The Marquette Trilogy: Book Two

A book review by Beverly Pechin for Review The Book

Oddly enough, while this book is book 2 of a trilogy, I could easily see someone who hasn't even read book 1 delve without regret into book 2! While I'd highly recommend reading book 1, simply because the trilogy itself unwinds so beautifully with book 2, you can easily scoop up in the middle of this trilogy and enjoy it to it's fullest extent! So don't despair if you haven't had the chance to grab book 1, you can go back and you WILL once you read "The Queen City"!

The author, Tyler R Tichelaar, has a way of bringing characters to life that is unbelievable. My favorite parts of the book are when characters from Book 1 wind through the dabblings of the characters in Book 2, but it's not a necessity to know these characters completely and intimately before hand. The characters that come to life are amazingly realistic & deep. Watching the world unfold before your eyes, through the characters of this amazing trilogy, is simply breath taking. It's a first hand glance from a perspective we, as people living in today's modern world, would otherwise never have a chance to take and it's an amazing one!

You see how the world changes around these people, realizing how much had evolved in such a short length of time in life as you read the stories of each of the characters. You will find yourself once again cheering for those you love, crying with those who have entered your heart and becoming bitterly angry at those whom we all seem to know are simply mean and angry characters that are all too realistic to life!

There are so many little stories going on throughout the book that you simply cannot get bored with the reading! If you have never read a trilogy in your life, NOW is the time to do so. It's not only a lesson on how a well written "trilogy" unfolds, but a lesson in history, life and humanity! Honestly, you cannot find a better historical fiction to read that brings the real world to life so well! Kudos to Tyler Tichelaar for an amazing book and an amazing series!

F.N.G. - Everybody's Gunning for the New Guy

Review by Beverly Pechin for Reader Views

F.N.G. is one of those books that you're expecting one thing and are handed an entirely different, more intriguing, more intense experience. I've always been intrigued with the Vietnam War itself and sort of have a standard of expectation when it comes to books regarding the experience. Most are raw and somewhat intense in the sense that they bring an inner, personal experience to the surface; allowing the author to break free of the many reigns they've held for so many years. F.N.G. is raw, real and amazing but it's simply put, not typical of those autobiographies you seem to find regarding the war or the bland "news" viewpoints that many put out there.

The author, Donald Bodey, is a Vietnam Vet himself but his writings aren't typically "autobiographic", yet completely experience based & real. Bodey has a way of taking an experience that many of us today are clueless about and bringing it full face into a realistic view. Using a metaphoric writing style, he brings the reality of war & the experiences between men into today's world with comparisons of "real world" and "real people" circumstances.

Bodey grabs his audience immediately with an encounter between a man and his grandson that makes you wonder how or what this man is doing. Having experienced war himself, Grandfather & Vietnam Vet, Gabriel sees his grandson being pulled into the same direction as he's signed to go into the armed forces to serve in Iraq. As he takes his grandson out for a "hunting trip" he has a brief talk with God before he shoots his grandson, Seth, making readers wonder what this man is thinking. As the story unfolds and Gabriel's experiences in life and war unfold, you begin to realize and even sympathize with the man's reasoning. While I had a hard time thinking in terms of "why you would shoot someone you love", as I began to read the life and times of Gabriel himself I began to understand the entire idea of wanting to be sure someone you love with all your heart doesn't have to experience the same horrors and life changing experiences you, yourself, have experienced & may go to any lengths to keep them from having to do so.

Intense & hearty, the storyline is beefed up with the deep camaraderie and experiences Bodey portrays in his novel. Bringing war to the real world isn't as easy as it may seem and making one's heart ache with the characters is a talent that some simply do not have;Bodey not only has this talent but shares it well in his novel, F.N.G., with his readers. If you're looking for a book filled with an intense accounting of the Vietnam War and those involved, this book is one that should top your list of "must reads".