A Coin for a Dream

Coin for a Dream published, copyright and written by Mae Adams.

This volume presents a series of short stories, the first fifteen of them told to the author in her early childhood growing up in Korea. They are simple tales, the significance of some perhaps even a little unusual for the uninitiated to absorb. Included are tales of egg ghosts, water ghosts, angels of death, servants of the underworld, a 9-tailed dragon shape-shifter and its nemesis, a 3-legged dog, also of the monstrous part lion, sheep and unicorn haechi with scales, feathers and horns who actually seek justice by punishing the wicked. Other tales, some provided a little later, detail the legends and folktales along with historical explanations of Korean beginnings, religions and practices. Included are tales of how shamans, these mediums between this and the spirit world are created, fascinating explanations of the differences among the Chinese, Japanese and Korean Dragons, discussions of their zodiac, and more. All of these later features gradually and ultimately fade into and join material of a bio- and autobiographical nature.

Discussion: This is the second book by the author of “Precious Silver Chopsticks” which I had reviewed approximately a year ago and stated “This autobiography/memoir is written by an eighty-four-year-old Korean woman of considerable intelligence, fortitude and an amazing ability to survive and prosper” and concluded: “Certainly a relieving catharsis for the author and a book of considerable interest for a diverse reading public.” Because I had witnessed the conditions and people of  Korea during the U.S. involvement, my conclusion with respect to this second book retains my admiration for the author and personally find considerable material she has provided to be quite interesting. But regrettably and in all honesty, I must narrow the scope of those for whom I believe this book will have appeal. There is much redundancy in her presentation and repetition within the body of the work as well as a considerable amount from her first book. Thus, I strongly recommend this book to readers who are interested in learning more about other people, their history, cultures, religions, activities, habits, individual beliefs, and their personal abilities to adapt and especially as depicted here, to survive. For readers with these interests, the subject matter most assuredly requires a 5*. The rating unfortunately must be reduced by 2 because of matters that judicious editing would have removed, plus the most regrettable fact its level of interest for others than those mentioned; i.e. general readership, probably would not be extensive.

3* 5* story regrettably reduced by 2 as explained in the discussion.

SLAM DUNK

SLAM DUNK The true Story of Basketball’s First Olympic Gold Medal Team assumed published, copyright and written by Beth Fortenberry,

The book’s format is a bit unusual in that directly upon opening it, the reader is presented with a note from Carter DeHaven, producer of ‘Hoosiers’, stating “Soon to be a major motion picture”; then the book title/author pages; a picture of Joe Fortenberry, the Slam Dunk originator, finishing such a shot in the 1936 Olympics; a dedication page; Table of Contents; Praise of Slam Dunk by DeHaven; acknowledgements; and ultimately a prologue followed with 32 chapters and abundant reference material. The narrative describes and follows the life of James Naismith, the husky young Canadian-American graduate theologian, who invented the game while attempting to devise a game to keep athletes fit while in the employ of Dr. Luther Gulick who was charged with preparing teachers-in-training so they could be instructors and coaches in the Y.M.C.A.’s throughout the world. From this simple beginning in the late 1800’s the story unfolds the early beginnings of this game, the people who played and developed it, and how it was brought into the 1936 Olympics. Here, the group that included some prominent Jewish team members, along with the thrilling field athletics’ black Jesse Owens, walked off with their respective golds to effectively destroy Adolf Hitler’s desire to demonstrate to the world the supremacy of the Aryan race.

Discussion: The author has provided a gold mine for readers interested in the historical background of sports. Not only has she disclosed little known facts about the origin of basketball and details of the players involved in these early endeavors – Fortenberry, “Tex” Gibbons, ball hawk Francis Johnson, Sam Balter, the first of the Jews on the Olympic team and others, but has included largely unknown or often overlooked features of prominent people associated with the Olympics and other sports; e.g. coach Jimmy Needles, Phog Allen, Gene Johnson, the mercurial Olympic politician Avery Brundage, Maude Sherman Naismith organizer of the first women’s basketball team as well as earlier having devised the first usable football helmet noted by Amos Alonzo Stagg (the legendary football player/coach long association with the Y.M.C.A.). The descriptions of Hitler and Goebbels activities and that of the German people of the era are most appropriately portrayed. In all, this is an interesting book and must read for sports aficionados.

5* Interesting for all; a must read for sports enthusiasts.

How to Live to be 100

How to Live to be 100 ISBN: 9781943386543 Leaders Press copyright written by Elizabeth Lopez.

The book consists of a Forward, Preface and The Magic of Nicoya culture and personality as they are intertwined in a discussion as to how their life activities contribute to their longevity. This is followed by portraits and discussions with seven of these individuals about their lives and with a 95-year-old whose father just passed away at 110. Comments by a school teacher who has had a long and lasting acquaintance with these people follows and then comments by the author’s primary associate in the project. A number of local recipes are provided in detail along with a personal questioner with respect to the reader’s possibilities of reaching this advanced age, and thirty references are added.

Discussion: The book contains considerable redundancy. However, it is the most interesting result of the author’s request to be included as part of the group provided by Blue Zones LLC, Inc. to investigate whether this remote peninsula of Costa Rica qualified as a Blue Zone containing a larger than ‘normal’ number of centenarians (Presently listed are Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, CA; Ikaria, Greece; areas of Japan.) As a native of the peninsula and an American University EdD in psychology, the author’s stimulation to make the request is obvious and her findings indeed interesting. They appear to be much in accord with findings in the other Blue Zones listed with respect to living a healthy life style that includes an obvious genetic factor, physical, biological and personal traits and a life style consisting of low neuroticism, high extroversion, openness, agreeableness, competence, self-discipline, ability to ‘take care of one’s self’ and pride in being able to do so. Some qualities perhaps somewhat more specific to this population that she describes as the “World’s Happiest Centenarians” is their love of nature, music and dancing and strong belief in God.

Conclusion: An interesting, but perhaps somewhat surprisingly unsophisticated approach by a native who has obtained advanced psychological training and resides in the United States, to this subject of growing interest to a larger number of people. Of probably particular appeal is the inclusion of a personal quiz for the reader to take and evaluate his/her own chances of reaching that level – one that seems increasingly today to be elevated to ‘holy grail’ status.

3* 4* results & quiz to discern the reader’s possible attainment; -1 as described.

Breaking Free

Breaking Free, ISBN: 9789493056145 Amsterdam Publishers. Good to Go, Part 1 copyright and written by Jeffrey Vonk.

The author has provided a quite unusual travelogue that begins in Switzerland and ends in an Afterword that brings this native of Holland to Chicago, IL on an impulsive decision. Between these points of ‘advanced civilization’, his journey takes him through parts of Russia, China, Tibet, Nepal, India, African Gambia, Jordan, Syria and Kurdistan. Perhaps even more intriguingly most of his journey was conducted singly on a Chinese built motorcycle, on foot and even horseback with occasional local bus and invited rides on trucks, vans and unusual personal transportation. His sleeping accommodations were at the least expensive hotels and/or hostels, personal homes and frequently ‘hopefully acceptable’ shelters in abandoned buildings or even the open air where he could pitch a shelter, or perhaps not. Conditions encountered for the most part were extensively primitive. Quantities of food and water frequently were low and even dangerously missing for periods of time. Quantities available were purchased if possible, or provided for one reason or another by many kind people he encountered.

Discussion: This is a fascinating tale of travel largely in some of the most poorly developed areas of the world undertaken by a young man who is intrigued by different cultures and thrives on living a totally different way of life. His story is descriptively presented and a reader can only marvel at the fact that his survival itself is quite remarkable.

5* Travel tale for those interested in other, often primitive cultures.

What the Fire Ignited

What the FIRE Ignited, ISBN: 9781642250275, Advantage Media Group, a motivational e-book Copyright and written by Shay Eskew,

This is the true story of a man whose remarkable journey began when as an eight-year-old child an accident caused him to be enveloped in flames that burned 65 % of his body. Thus as a child, he was forced either to die or find the mental toughness, grit and tenacity of purpose to survive the excruciating pain of an almost endless succession of treatments for this life threatening accident that even during the ensuing years has requiring more surgeries and therapy and other setbacks too numerous to mention. He not only has survived but has become a successful businessman, married to a beautiful and understanding woman with whom he has five children he simply adores and has reached incredible heights in several sports (after having been informed he never again would be able to participate). Perhaps the most astonishing of the physical feats he has accomplished is repeatedly finishing high in IRONMAN competitions as well as never having failed to complete any and all such competitions he has entered. (For the uninitiated such competitions consist of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, followed immediately by a 26.2 mile marathon.) His survival and actual ability to attain these highs combined with his simultaneous ability to carve out a most enjoyable and successful life he attributes to discoveries actually forced upon him. Out of necessity he was able “to train his brain to believe when faced with a death situation, he will survive so the brain automatically starts focusing on survival techniques and a solution.” Similarly “you can block out all distractions in life that deter you from achieving your goals.” He admonishes people – “Don’t subscribe to the victim mentality. Life is not fair and bad things happen to good people. Once you accept it, life is pretty simple. When something bad happens, know that someone has been through something worse and not only survived, but thrived.” That “Obstacles are opportunities in disguise” and “Our greatest disappointments in life are preparing us for our greatest blessings. We just have to keep the faith and continue doing what we know will make us successful, even if we’re not seeing immediate results.” It is necessary to have “Faith in God and the belief that success doesn’t happen overnight.” The story contains many more observations with respect to his life including humorous incidents resulting from adjustments he has made as well as poignant incidents and ruminations.

Discussion: This utterly engrossing true story proceeds to offer a massive amount of material that every person, in any position in life, physically compromised or not, can find helpful, if not literally ‘life saving’ in many ways.

5* A book EVERYONE can profit by reading.

 

First Survivor

First Survivor, an e-book published, copyright and written by Mark Unger.

The book is sub-titled “The Impossible Childhood Cancer Breakthrough”. The presentation follows with the author’s “true story of our unique journey. All proceeds from this book will go to the Carrot Seed Foundation where they will be used to fund neuroblastoma trials and support the children and families who are stricken by this disease..” There follows an account of this closely knit, loving family and how they reacted to learning that their 3-year old son had neuroblastoma. At the time of his acquisition this malignancy provided practically zero survival rate. The story then follows how they managed to cope with the tragedy – the need for constant care largely provided by assistance from the child’s mother both while in the cancer treatment centers and the periods at home. Simultaneous the attempts by the father to keep his only slightly older brother who was the stricken child’s constant companion from feeling unloved and ‘left out’, And all of this while attempting to maintain some business activity. At the same time these intelligent individuals were themselves delving into treatment plans available throughout much of the world, suggesting possible changes to the sympathetic, cooperative and receptive physicians who themselves were completely involved in attempting to move treatment for these unfortunate children toward a better prognosis. And perhaps most importantly is the part played by the child patient who at this early age was immensely corporative acting with a maturity far beyond his age through Cat-Scans, extremely painful bone biopsies, horrendous surgical procedures and repeated bouts of chemotherapy. Fortunately, the combined efforts of all of the principals finally delivered a live individual free of this devastating disease.

Discussion: The author has set forth an extremely detailed account of the day to day activity of the child, various doctors, his wife, the child’s emotionally close brother and his hours of researching neuroblastoma. It is a book that is a must read for any parents who have a child suffering from the same malignancy, as well as offering a template for family activity when even similar devastating disease strikes one of their small children. For those parents newly encountering this devastating condition the author has included 13 pages of glossary, 10 pages of Medical Background which are further explanations and 21 pages of a concise list of the child’s survival activity

Summary: . A truly remarkable depiction of growth of a protocol that has led to a remarkable survival rate for suffers of a malignant tumor once with an almost zero survival rate.

5* Remarkable child’s battle with a zero survival rate cancer.