Friday, 19 August 2016

Topsy Turvy

When was the last time that you tried on your son's cricket cap or party hat?  Do you think that you are too old to do this or that it is nonsense?

Or have you carved out some time lately to sit down and watch a cartoon or funny movie with your toddler?

My aim is not to castigate anyone for not doing any of the above but
to highlight an essential element in the way we perceive our world - perspective.

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Even the tall, lanky character in the animated movie Ratatouille mentioned the importance of perspective when reviewing life in general.

If we do not take the time to see things from a different angle, we can end up jumping to the wrong conclusions. This is so true for the character Iris in the children's book by Helen Rose entitled The Upside of Iris. She has an eye defect that causes her to see the world upside down. I completed this review on 18 August 2016.  Here is my review:-

The Upside of Iris is a delightful children’s book showcasing the life of Iris who suffers from an eye defect better known as “upside-down-it is.”  According to author Helen Rose, Iris sees the world upside down.  As a result, Iris finds that she cannot climb stairs very well and avoids them like the plague.  Her sensitive nature enables her to appreciate other persons like her friend Charlie.  Charlie doesn’t speak much but he truly understands Iris’s dilemma and values her friendship.  As Ms. Rose stated, Charlie is a friend who “understands without words and accepts without questions.”  Unfortunately, Iris’s wicked twin step-sisters intervened and split up Iris and Charlie with bold faced lies.  Charlie was told that Iris had a new boyfriend and had moved on.  As fate would have it, this couple reunited later in life and their romance blossomed once again.

The Upside of Iris is a positive piece of fiction enveloping two persons with disabilities.  Author Helen Rose has tastefully merged several themes into this novel for young readers.  For example, she touched on the pervasive theme of good versus evil exemplified by the personalities of the main character and her siblings.  I love the fact that Ms. Rose placed emphasis on the reality that the heroine remained true to herself.  This is relevant in today’s world as stressful conditions can persuade some of us to switch our personalities like the clothes we wear which in turn can lead to further problems. The colorful illustrations as well as the font of the words help to make the book very appealing and encourage readers to keep turning the pages.  The positive romantic ending is also a plus. This really inspires us to look within and desire true love.  This is a lovely story and I encourage readers of all ages to indulge in this book.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Dangerous Device?!

Today's topic is considered a taboo one.  You don't normally hear women especially talking openly about what type of contraceptive they use or prefer.

However, I am going to be bold with this post.  Most women enjoy sexual activity. Indulging in sexual intercourse should be enjoyable and persons should also engage in a responsible manner i.e use some form of contraception.

This is vital especially if women do not want to become pregnant.  Many options are available including the IUD or intrauterine device.

Unfortunately, some women do not realize that the IUD can cause other health issues. Author Miriam Jameson was caught unawares by this phenomenon.

In her book entitled Surviving the IUD: The Genesis, Ms Jameson provided details of the ordeal she experienced by inserting an IUD.  Shouldn't there be a warning label attached to each unit sold to women just like the cigarette packets?

This memoir that I reviewed is very informative and is an eye opener for women who willingly accept contraceptive methods from various doctors and pharmacies.  I completed my analysis on 23 August 2014.  Here is my review:-

Surviving the IUD: The Genesis by author Miriam Jameson showcases her personal gynecological issues with an IUD. Ms. Jameson reveals the initial awful experience which took place in her doctor’s office. The insertion of the IUD device was so painful that Ms. Jameson passed out. She ended up having to depend on pain killers in order to get through the ordeal. This self-medication became a daily ritual for her as the pain refused to subside. She also had continuous spotting or bleeding. She went from doctor to doctor, trying to resolve the medical issues that seemed to be increasing. One doctor recommended a dermatologist; another doctor said that she should see a therapist and so on. Her frustration continued to rise. She even got a bald spot in her hair which pushed her over the edge emotionally. The end result was that she decided to remove the IUD and allow her body to heal itself. Her goal was to de-stress totally, think positively and move on with her life, supported by her husband and friends.

Surviving the IUD: The Genesis reveals a phenomenon that can happen to any female. Firstly, an IUD is a foreign object. Some women don’t have problems with them. Clearly some women have experienced the opposite. The use of open ended questions in the chapters is effective because they help the reader to feel the emotional trauma that the main character feels. Author Miriam Jameson was very descriptive in relating the saga which unfolded. This gives a realistic feel to the story. I appreciate the huge lettering of the subheadings. This conveys the swelling of emotional distress that the author felt. The language used was simple and easy to understand. I love the fact that the author was very revealing when she was expressing her feelings. This tactic is useful because any reader can identify with her ordeal and heed any relevant advice given. Surviving the IUD: The Genesis is a personal account of a traumatic episode. I recommend the book especially to all female readers. These readers might encounter a similar fate with regards to birth control devices or medication.

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Friday, 6 May 2016

M is For Mothers

Most women who bear healthy children eagerly look forward to raising them to the best of their ability. However, every mother is not a dedicated parent.

Parenting is a major responsibility. When they are babies, you have to get up and nurse/feed them when you are tired; you have to learn to differentiate which cry means "my pamper is wet" or "I have air, please use colic medication" even when you are frustrated.

When they are toddlers, you can't wait for them to walk so that you don't have to lift them up everywhere you go! I distinctly remember when a colleague asked me if I was lifting weights or working out because my arms were showing muscular definition. I laughed and told him that it was just from lifting my son - no gym attendance whatsoever!

Experience and education really helps new mothers to become more comfortable with this new chapter in their lives.  Author Laurie WJN also recommends certain techniques to employ when coaching children.  In her book Fearless & Feminine: Raising Confident Daughters readers can find helpful ideas to pass on to their charges.

I completed my review of this novel on 23 August 2014.  I found it to be very informative. Here is my review:-

Fearless and Feminine: Raising Confident Daughters is a practical book specifically dedicated to parents who have daughters. Author Laurie WJN relates how she raised her two daughters and shares her actual experiences throughout the years. She delves into little anecdotes, for example, when the entire family partakes of a bowl of candy as their traditional fun activity during the holiday season. She goes on to stress the importance of doing activities as a family unit and making sure that you treat each child as a unique individual without making comparisons. Instilling discipline is another piece of advice offered by author Laurie WJN. You have to be firm and not spoil your children by giving them the latest video games, cell phones and other gadgets. It is also important that you teach them responsibility by allowing them to purchase items they desire using their allowances or pocket money. In essence, the book enforces the best ways in which to bring up your daughters as well-rounded, confident citizens.

Fearless and Feminine: Raising Confident Daughters is a very informative book. It highlights some of the techniques utilized by the author to help her children gain maximum self-confidence. I love the fact that author Laurie WJN kept the chapters short and sweet. This encourages the reader to follow the storyline with ease and read at a faster pace. I appreciate the sharing of intimate family details. This tactic is clever because it indicates that the author is truthful about her experiences and readers will readily relate to the ideas being offered. The use of subheadings is effective because it identifies the actual subject matter that is being highlighted. I believe that the basic information being shared can be geared towards boys as well. The advice is relevant and practical therefore, in my opinion, it does not have gender specific boundaries. The language used is colloquial and very easy to understand. I recommend this book to all readers, especially those who are in the process of raising children.

Reviewed for Readers' Favorite by Valerie Rouse

I dedicate this post to all mothers out there and hopefully inspire them to become better and informed parents on this Mothers' Day weekend.


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Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Who Do You Love?

Stacy Adams
Falling in love is a feeling that cannot be described.  Most persons who are captivated by their partners would tell you that they desire to be in the other person's presence most of the time or that they constantly crave their company at parties or other social events.

What happens after a red hot romance wanes? Do you still dream about that person? Do you regret that the two of you split up and you both tried to move on with different partners?

The main character Eric in the book entitled Lost Love was probably asking himself these same questions. An old flame of his tried to make contact. He too tried to reach out to her as he was unsure of her motive for contacting him. Did he do the right thing?

This novel written by author Sherrie Sushko is filled with suspense.  I did this review on 17 August 2014. Read my analysis below:-

Lost Love is a delightful suspense novel based on an old friendship between Eric Dunns and his former schoolmate Larissa. Eric recently became engaged to his girlfriend Abby. He began receiving disturbing phone calls in the early hours of the morning. He was in a bar with one of his friends and he swore that he saw Larissa there. Eric even found it uncanny when his friend Scott mentioned to him that he was also thinking about Larissa. Eric’s mother contacted Eric and told him that she had a letter for him. It was a letter from Larissa. Eric knew that he had to find Larissa because his instinct told him that she might be in trouble. He began to search for any leads to her whereabouts, using the postmark on the envelope. Eventually, he made contact with one of Larissa’s former employers. This led him to Larissa and her boyfriend Ned’s house. Ned was drunk and disoriented, saying that Larissa was trying to break into the house. But was she, and where is Larissa now?

Lost Love is a very interesting and fast paced story. I could not put the book down. Sherrie Sushko’s wicked writer’s web really drew me in! I sympathized with the main character throughout the book and shared all of the emotional turmoil that he was experiencing. Sherrie Sushko did an excellent job in developing the plot. I love the fact that the author formatted the novel using short chapters. This encourages the reader to read more quickly and become more addicted to the storyline. Utilizing one-sentence paragraphs at the end of most chapters was a clever tactic. This helps to promote the aura of suspense in the book. The language in the story is colloquial and the average reader can understand the plot. I appreciate the cliff-hanger at the end of the story. It was totally unexpected and exposes the creative genius of the author. The theme of lost love versus present love was thoroughly explored. This makes you wonder about your own personal relationships. You might ask yourself if you have made the right decisions in life in terms of choosing a life partner or ending a relationship. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Lost Love and I recommend it to all readers who love suspense novels.


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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Take Me To Rich City

Dotti NZ

 Who doesn't want to be rich?  I am sure that most of us wish at some point and time that we could pick the winning lottery numbers and live the carefree life?

Who needs to worry about utility bills and car payments when you now have a few thousand dollars to splurge?

Imagine that one day you wake up and discover that your entire world has changed. You have gone from struggling to make ends meet to being the recipient of funds for college and extra cash!

According to author Scott Czechlewski in his book entitled Family Harmony, this good fortune was thrust upon the heroine Amelia Harmony. This rags to riches story reminds us that each family might have skeletons in the closet.  In this instance, an illegitimate child is the skeleton in the well to do Lashley family. I completed this review on 13 August 2014. I gave it 4 stars. My review is as follows:-

Reviewed for Readers' Favorite by Valerie Rouse

Family Harmony is a suspense novel surrounding Amelia Harmony and her relationship with Ellis Lashley. Amelia and Ellis are from different corners of the town of Myler. Ellis is related to the well-to-do Lashley family whereas Amelia’s parents are poor and are barely making ends meet. Ellis is an only child who is extremely intelligent. Amelia was assigned to babysit Ellis at times and they became each other’s confidante. Before his sudden and suspicious death, Garner Lashley summoned Amelia to his study and gave her a key. Amelia realized that the key belonged to a safety deposit box. To her bewilderment, she discovered that Garner had left her four cheques for enrollment in university as well as lots of cash. He had also left a case containing a peacock-shaped hairpin, along with two photos. Further inspection led to the discovery that Garner and her grandmother were romantically involved. To boot, Amelia was shocked when she found out that her own mother was Garner’s child. In addition, Ellis was not the biological child of Chelie Lashley and Chelie Lashley was not even a person of honour. Other shocking revelations were manifested as well. In the end, Amelia learned the truth about her biological parentage.

Family Harmony is an interesting novel about family secrets. The story is very introspective. The influence of the main character induces the reader to focus on his own family history and wonder what secrets are hidden in the proverbial family closet. I love the emphasis author Scott Czechlewski placed on the interpersonal relationships in the book. This actually sets the stage for the startling revelations in the storyline. The language is informal and is quite easy to understand. I love the descriptive approach used by the author. This tactic gives the story a realistic and comfortable feel. The use of contrast concerning the rich vs poor element was very effective. This theme was very prominent. The southern setting blends well with the storyline. In essence, it makes you wonder whether you would treat others with an air of disdain or equality if you were rich and famous. I love the ironic twist at the end of the story concerning the fates of the families. I almost punched my fist in the air when I read this part of the story! The other pervasive theme of good overcoming evil was very entertaining as well. Kudos to author Scott Czechlewski for a job well done. This book is an awesome read.
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Friday, 29 April 2016

Searching Dot Comma

Have you ever wondered why your car stalled in heavy traffic this morning? Plus you had to endure all kinds of frustrated stares and insults from road rage commuters?

Did you ever ponder why you are the one who gets hauled over the coals for being late for work on Wednesday when you were early all the other days in the week?

Did you ever question God as to why your child would be sick on the very day you have an important exam?  On top of that, you forgot to take the text book along with you to the doctor's office and you are berating yourself. You are saying "Oh dear, I could be reading some notes whilst I am here. I hope I pass this exam."

Well, this last scenario did happen to me whilst I was studying. My son was just over 3 months old. As you know, life is not straight forward and trials and tribulation will occur from time to time. I believe that once you have faith in God that things will work out in your best interest,you can breathe a little easier.

Author Matupit Darius is a pastor and at one point he questioned God when he lost his daughter in a horrific bus accident. A native of Papua New Guinea, Pastor Darius wrote this memoir.  It is called Groping for God.  I completed my review of this novel on 9 August 2014.  Here is my review:-

Groping for God is a personal, heart-wrenching story about Pastor Matupit Darius from Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. Pastor Darius lost his daughter Martina in a tragic bus accident. Pastor Darius was forced to escort Martina’s body to the hospital. All the while, he was in a state of deep shock. He couldn’t believe that a few minutes ago, he and Martina were laughing, enjoying themselves. Suddenly, their bus was tumbling down a ravine, killing his only daughter. According to author Darius, he (Darius) was so accustomed to extending support to his church members in their time of need. He felt out of sorts now that he was on the receiving end. He was accepting telephone calls and condolence greetings from friends and even strangers. Pastor Darius had to struggle emotionally to maintain a sense of equilibrium. He was angry with God for taking Martina, yet he knew and believed in God’s promise that He would not allow His people to bear burdens that they could not handle. He realized that he had to immerse himself in God’s word, especially the book of Job, in order to be at peace.

Groping for God is a short novel outlining the grieving process experienced by Pastor Darius. The language is simple and colloquial. It is easy to understand. The book is written in the first person. This tactic essentially allows the reader to become fully immersed in the story. I love the inclusion of the photos. This enhances the dramatic effect of the tragic circumstances. The reader is inclined to empathize with the author and feel his pain. Author Darius utilizes bold blue sub-headings which are very effective because they assist in formatting the story. They also keep the reader in tune with the thought patterns of the main character. I also appreciate the various short questions interspersed in the book. This allows the reader to identify with the main character and experience the changing states of raw emotion. The use of contrast is clever. The story begins on a somber note yet, at the end, author Darius relates that his faith in God encourages him to put things in perspective. He can see that God is still in control, despite his loss. In essence, he found the silver lining under his dark clouds. I recommend this book to all readers who are going through trying times and need spiritual upliftment.

 Reviewed for Readers' Favorite by Valerie Rouse

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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Say What?!

We need to speak up sometimes.  I know that as children we are taught that we must speak only when we are spoken to.

However, as we get older, we should recognize that this age old instruction does not apply to all situations.

Take for instance the recent cases in Barbados where minors are being found dead with telling signs of abuse on their bodies. Who are the culprits? When will real justice be achieved for the grieving parents?

Who has the nerve or gall to speak out? The true perpetrators will be only be caught when caring community members decide to discard this foolish rule of keeping silent.
Kobo Inc. Well, author Cindy Vine wrote a book based on a similar incident of child neglect. This book is entitled Hush Baby.  I wrote the review of this interesting novel on 6 August 2014. I gave it 4 stars.  Here is my review:-

Reviewed by Valerie Rouse for Reader's Favorite

Hush Baby by author C. Vine is a gripping tale surrounding Kyle Rushton and his sour relationship with his live-in girlfriend Marlene. They have a son, Max, who is three years old. Max means the world to Kyle. Unfortunately, Kyle’s see-saw relationship with Marlene was taking a toll on him and Kyle made the difficult decision to leave Marlene and Max and move in with his sister Sylvie. Kyle was forced to seek out a lawyer after Marlene blocked him from picking up Max from daycare. Things rapidly escalated with social services becoming involved as well. After establishing a proper visitation schedule to have access to Max, Kyle received a phone call that Max was seriously ill. On rushing to the hospital, he found out that Max had ingested rat poison. Unfortunately, Max died. Kyle became very depressed; however, he had emotional support from Sylvie and close friends. He later discovered that Marlene had given birth to two other children who also died mysteriously. Further digging led to the discovery of more secrets about Marlene’s upbringing and school life.

Hush Baby is an interesting read about personal relationships. Author C. Vine did an excellent job developing the plot. The story began at a slow pace, however, it quickened in the latter half of the novel. I love the unexpected twists that were included in the story. In my opinion, the story literally took on a different feel and transformed into a suspense thriller. This tactic is very cleverly orchestrated by author C. Vine. It propels the reader to become more engrossed in the plot. I did not want to put down the book! The language is simple and easy to understand. What was refreshing was that the novel was written from the viewpoint of a male as opposed to a female. Normally, most stories outlining relationship woes are slanted in the favour of females. This welcome diversion from the norm speaks well for equality of the sexes. I loved the descriptive passages in the novel. I applaud author C. Vine for keeping her readers on their toes, wondering how the story would finally end. The staccato formatting of the final chapter was a good move. It suggests that the reader should accept unpredictability in the plot. I recommend this book to all readers who love suspense.

When will we wake up?

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Monday, 25 April 2016

Oh Lord, Help Me Out!

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Suppose you came home from work and found your front door wide open. What would you do? Panic right?

What about if you arrived at the airport from a relaxing vacation, go to the atm machine and find that you don't have a cent on your account? How will you pay the attendant to move your car from the car park when it is midnight?

Or lets say that your bank account got hacked and you find that you don't have any money to pay the bills that the postman keeps dropping off? When you go to the bank, they tell you it is going to take 3 months for them to rectify the problem and pay day is soo far away?

Well, the last scenario actually happened to me a few years ago. I absolutely felt like pulling my hair out / selling my locks!  Situations like these can make you panic and catch stress and worry incessantly, etc. What if there is no one to assist you in your time of need?

 However author Ugochukwu Uche has a solution for those persons who do have panic attacks.  He is a firm believer that you can wave goodbye to panic attacks.  His book entitled How To End Your Panic Attacks gives descriptive details about this reaction to stressful situations.

I completed this review on 8th March 2014. Here is my review:

How to End Your Panic Attacks is a comprehensive study outlining the actual description of a panic attack and the accompanying symptoms experienced by persons susceptible to these attacks. Author Ugo Uche also reveals the differences between panic attacks and other mental disorders like post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and stage fright, for example. In addition, a concise synopsis of the structure of the brain is included. Emphasis is placed on the amygdala, which is referred to as the emotional hub of the brain. This important gland also controls the amount of fear that humans experience. A group of nerve endings connected to the amygdala can be analyzed to determine the amount of anxiety a person is feeling. The thicker the nerve fibers, the less anxious the individual will be. The latter part of the book thoroughly explains practical ways to conquer panic attacks without medication, using visualization and mindfulness.

How to End Your Panic Attacks is very informative and practical for the average reader. I find the examples outlined to be very useful. I love the descriptive analogy about the lobster being placed in the hot or cold water. This drives home the point that individuals can ultimately lessen their panic attacks by controlling their response to their environment. The language of the study is colloquial and quite easy to follow. I applaud author Ugo Uche for utilizing simple language to describe the clinical nature of panic attacks. This helps to convey the theme that panic attacks can be cured without visiting a psychiatrist for weeks on end. I believe that some illustrations could have been inserted in the section on strategies. This would have made this portion of the book more appealing and promote faster absorption of the material. I love the scenarios used throughout the book to convey pertinent points. I recommend this book to all readers, especially those suffering from stress and anxiety.

Reviewed for Readers Favorite by Valerie Rouse

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