The Daily Better

      The Daily Better ISBN: 9781628656992 Authors place Press, copyright and written by Henry Edwards.

In the Preface, the author explains that, although having been raised with all of the amenities available to a child born in this period in the United States, he acquired an obsession “with America’s hypocrisy and the “evils” of capitalism” with a “rotten Core of America – materialistic, militaristic, superficial, overweight…bloated both physically and metaphorically. I also started believing that all of humanity was doomed for decline and fall.” He moved into alcohol and drug abuse and “high school partying moved into an addiction.” Therapy turned things around and he began looking not only at America but also the rest of the world. With voracious reading he began to learn that humanity actually had progressed in fantastic proportions with the passage of time. “Pestilence, War, Famine and Death – the Four Horsemen of the Biblical Apocalypse – are all in retreat. I end up noting that there is a world-wide epidemic of anxiety, depression and suicide. The causes are many and complex, but I propose an additional cause: pessimism.” He expresses hope that by presenting here a full year’s 365 days of Reasons for Optimism others may gain a similar degree of overall optimism. An introduction provides a discussion of how a meeting with one of today’s more pessimistically inclined individuals might proceed and then the substance of the book begins with the list by date of occurrence and/or date of birth of the person responsible for the activity discussed. The first is a brief description of The Montreal Protocol of 1989 that set forth global agreement that stopped the use of chemicals contributing to ozone depletion. Another local/international/global beneficial action that benefits a particular part, or all, of mankind then is set forth in similar manner and the list continues for a complete 365 days. After each individual presentation, there is an accompanying “Thought for Today”.

An enormous number of highly varied actions, people, dates and global areas are presented to offer reasons for optimism. The dates range from antiquity and even before, to present day. The objects – TV, Web, Telephone, sonar, space, quantum theory and more. Coverage ranges through women’s rights, sexual freedom, racial relations, medical advances, and various aspects of children’s well-being, the poor, disabled, health issues and more. Individuals of note include Albert Schweitzer, Ford, Benz (Mercedes Benz), Andrew Carnegie, Jesse Owens, Walter Reed, Washington Roebling (Brooklyn Bridge), Jane Austin, Thomas Edison, Martin Luther King, Jr. and others. Places – Antarctica, various places in England, Africa, America, Apollo Theater in Harlem, Canary Islands, others.

Discussion: Turned off by the pessimism constantly encountered, the author has provided a monumental amount of ‘evidence’ to offer corroboration for his desire to create a basis for world-wide optimism. From this reviewer’s perspective, he has offered excellent material. Regrettably also from this reader’s perspective, the format; i.e. fitting occurrences into a 365 day pattern, although quite unique, results in inclusion of numerous repetitious episodes of the same basic material. The effect is a little ponderous that, at least for this reader, seems to result in an undesirable detraction from the main theme. Additionally, inclusion of his statement with respect to wars being less frequent and less costly in lives will be open to lengthy contemplation as will his comment with respect to Dr. Benjamin Spock’s teachings – a legacy the basic psychology of which along with its manner of application are particularly controversial in the minds of many today.

Conclusion: A bright light offered especially to Americans in this chaotic period of political struggle and questionable Department of Justice activity.

4* 5* Much needed optimism offered; -1 presentation as described.

Into the Woods

Into the Woods, a 16th century mystery novel assumed published copyright and written by Josh Soule.

The book opens with Chapter Zero where a “beast, no longer interested at clawing its way through the door to devour the family dwelling inside, but rather the townsmen who had just fired his musket… it did not slink through the trees… The beast was no longer afraid, no longer timid; it no longer would hide from the people of this town. The monster would not stop until it had its fill of death…A deep rumble escaped the beast’s throat as it skulked its way down the dirt path toward the town square.” A prologue follows that apparently begins recounting events that preceded this occurrence by three months; i.e. March 3, 1590. The reader is introduced to John who has left Paris where he had been studying art, to return to Carn, a small town on a trade route that is home to farmers and tradesmen. He has no family, was raised by Michael, the town priest who also was responsible for Thomas and Henry who were in similar circumstances. They were inseparable as children and often played close to and occasionally ‘on a dare’ entered the huge forest that began at the town’s edge. Their ‘acts of bravery’ occasioned by the rumors of its being inhabited by a creature that supposedly could change from human to beast. As the friends are reunited upon John’s return, more information is provided about them. Henry is married with small children and seemingly possessed of some lung problem; Thomas is a very large man, a hunter as well as owner of a farm on the outskirts of the village and a real ‘loner’; John again lives in the church with Michael, is the intellectual of the threesome and often approached by town residents for help. As time progresses, reports of cattle being killed in a horribly destructive manner surface and the three friends decide they must investigate for the safety of the town. Thomas and Henry are constantly at odds on the method to be followed and John acts as arbiter. On one attempt they are attacked by a rabid bear and manage to kill it without being infected. However, John is brutally mauled with broken ribs and more, but does recover. The town celebrates the heroes and believes all is well and life activities continue normally until sometime later another attack occurs. The tale’s description of the time and activities leading to this and the subsequent events comprise the remainder of the story.

Discussion: This book’s most unusual and especially intriguing dedication provides a compelling basis for post-reading thought. It is to “every pastor, priest, or any other religious leader – no matter where you live or what title you go by it is a very challenging task to care for the masses as your own family – the severity and complication of this cannot be fully compared to the symbolism in this book. The physical, spiritual, and emotional toll you have taken upon yourself cannot go unnoticed. Thank you.” The tale itself explores the existence of a mental attitude to protect another individual from some feature/condition/action. Frequently such activity may appear to be helpful, but conversely it may provide grossly detrimental results. In accord with the author’s expressed beliefs, the tale examines this attitude. With respect to the mechanics of presentation, the story itself projects the period and its physical and mental patterns moderately well. The characters, although not as well ‘fleshed-out’ as they could be, are adequate. *SPOILER ALERT*! Their movement within individual scenes occasionally leave gaps that require the reader to fill, or ignore, and for the pragmatist, some of John’s post bear activity is most difficult to accept as are occasional activities of others.

3* 5* Post-read thought stimulant; -2 spoiler alert re: presentation, at end of discussion.

Skeletons

   SKELETONS ISBN: 978317(incomplete) Xlibris publishing, copyright and written by Bryce Wellington Rhymer.

Sub-titled “Poetry of Human Nature”, this little book consists of a large collection of poems exploring individual thoughts and emotions as one wanders through life. Characteristically, as with thoughts themselves, the subjects presented do not follow any particular pathway. They range through “A Retiree’s View, A Sad Reality, Alone, Poetic Insight, Wrong Doing” and a host of others. They explore subjects of love, why one may enjoy writing poetry, relationships, “who’s in charge of you”, how continued disregard of basic discipline will cause the downfall of any institution and numerous other thoughts every individual considers, even if not more than occasionally.

Discussion: The reader will discover that the interesting contents of this little book have been quite well provided in the description employed for its introduction to the prospective reader. Exactly as described, it is a simplistically written tale of human behavior and how such individuals realistically think. A recounting, in a rhythmic poetic pattern, the often immense depths and flow of emotions, feelings and thoughts we all harbor but do not express. Thus, they simply add a little more to the already heavy psychological luggage many individuals carry through life as “Skeletons in your closet.”

4* Quite fascinating assembly of thoughts/emotions shared by all.

Cache, Cache

Caché, Caché ISBN: 9781948046930 Telemachus Press copyright and written by Peggy A, Edelheit.

As the story opens, Sarah just has been confronted with her husband of twenty years, David’s demise. Sarah, had been a young woman fearful of being hurt emotionally, who had shied away from any extended relationship with men except for one. Blake, a young MD with whom she had established a close relationship in which each seemingly reveled in a companionable, brother-sister type association of just being with and sharing each other and their thoughts. Admittedly upon rare occasions, a romantic thought might open in her mind, but afraid of the possibility of in some manner spoiling the enjoyable association, it quickly was exterminated. Blake, worked in older and established physician David’s research laboratory and introduced the two upon an occasion when they met. David, although 20 years older than Sarah, was handsome, physically fit and enjoyed daring motorcycle trips as well as other often similar activities. The attraction was almost instantaneous and they married shortly thereafter without her even offering a hint to Blake with whom she normally discussed everything. Shortly after this marriage and although never previously demonstrating sustained interest in any woman, Blake married Jennifer, a lovely young photographer who was in rapidly rising demand because of her expertise. Blake and Sarah’s close platonic relationship continued with no apparent disruption and with apparent complete acceptance as such by their respective spouses and the two families continued an enjoyable relationship. As time progressed, each made great advances in their endeavors. Demands for David’s lectures and consultations soared worldwide; Sarah’s books were tremendously successful; Jenifer’s photographic skills called for extensive travel; Blake, with a surprising ability to draw and paint and the constant urging of Sarah, switched from medicine and became an artist renowned for his work that demonstrated incredible sensitivity. Regrettably, Jennifer passed away after a few years and Sarah aided his gradual acceptance. Now, she was in a similar position but even worse because of thoughts generated from David’s parting words and action. Just before dying, David had given Sarah a key and told her that his death now would release them both. Of course Sarah was shocked. Not only was she experiencing extreme inability to deal with his death, but also was deeply concerned and drawn to the mystery. Her widely ranging thoughts went immediately to David’s recurring periods of withdrawal. They were brief and their pleasant way of life would quickly return. But then, she remembered that he had insisted that she go to Florida alone to clean out and close down their condominium there. Her many thoughts and struggles are laid bare for the reader to follow as she debates whether to move forward and attempt to solve the mystery or just ignore it and attempt to find closure without additional stress.

Discussion:  This book’s author, already successful in her Samantha Jamison Mysteries, appears to have progressed further in her maturation as a thoughtful author. She has quite poignantly pictured the plight of a character faced with the death of a loved one with whom she has shared the vicissitudes of life for many years. The multiple thoughts and processes through which such an individual would progress demonstrate a remarkable understanding. She also has added additional levels to her plots. There is the obviously disturbing one of mystery that in itself would generate many conflicting thoughts and questions. But even more appealingly, this is a person who has carried a repressed fear of rejection that constantly would shade many, if not most of her life’s activities. Would she be able to face this long-held fear and perhaps conquer it?

In summary, this volume is a mystery in more than the usual sense and in some ways a departure, or perhaps an interesting extension to the theme of the author’s already successful novels. It depends not only on finding the object that the key will open, but additionally on attempting to discover if she ever will be able to discover in her introspective meanderings the cause for her psychologically directed misunderstanding and/or simple avoidance of the many ‘signs’ and thoughts which had been apparent but ignored through the years.

5* Mystery/romance; interesting author’s growth to another level.

Cold but Not Forgotten

Cold but Not Forgotten ISBN: 9781509226504 Wild Rose Press copyright and written by RJ Waters.

The book opens with an excerpt where Lieutenant Carlson the protagonist and story teller, informs the reader that he, and his two buddies, Gary Horton and Joseph Malone are the 3 who conduct criminal investigations for all of Elko County, a section of Nevada the size of Maryland have gone to the range for their required shooting requirement. They arrive and Native Indian Joseph checking the sky for weather sees two vultures circling. He, followed by the others, runs up the berm and discover a body lying about seventy-five yards away. It belongs to Diane Morrissey, the wife of a local Dentist. It appears that she “died today because her cell phone failed.” She had been crawling toward the area of help and had succumbed just shortly before their arrival. She was covered in blood but there were no discernable injuries. From this grisly introduction the reader is led into, and through, a rather thoroughly convoluted and complicated plot. Diane, enormously well liked, was married to a man who unfortunately constantly was attracted to other women and additionally had an active on-going affair with his office manager. Numerous other actions by the man also pointed strongly toward his guilt as he was moving his practice to Las Vegas. However, numerous additional characters gradually become involved in the expanding mystery. There is a physician who specializes in dispensing supplements especially for marathon devotees. A lonely, elderly, somewhat recently widowed neighbor whom Diane befriends; her friend/rival marathoner, wife of another dentist who has partnered with Diane’s husband in buying out, and moving to, the La Vegas practice; plus a little known live-in friend of the Dentist’s office manager. Other characters offer their own interesting bits, especially Joseph, Carlson’s investigating officer who is a Native American Indian with tribal Shamanism blood and an owl that provides him with insights into cases in which he is involved. He, in turn, introduces Carlson to one of the tribe’s elders which introduces a sub-plot. Another sub-plot sets up discovery of missing facts that offer data for the main mystery and are a fascinating twist of their own. Also included are allusions to an earlier case of Carlson’s in which he had been involved in another position in another state.

Discussion: The author has given the reader an interestingly involved mystery with credible action and an array of activities that routinely could be included in the overall work days of a police officer in the position depicted. And, it specifically describes such activity being performed by one of these individuals who portrays the best qualities of such an officer and very nicely emphasizes the tremendous strain imposed upon such individuals’ loving wives. Thus, one has a story of multiple crime investigations that includes, as so often is needed, a bit of luck, the usual homicidal, often psychologically disturbed characters’ but additionally some ‘nice’ people not that frequently found in police investigative tales.

5* Recommended, well-written mystery for readers who enjoy a less jaded police tale.

From Stressed to Centered

From STRESSED to CENTERED ISBN 9780990835400 Sea Hill Press copyright and written by Dana A. Gionta, PhD. And Dan Guerra, PSY.D.

Sub-titled “A practical Guide to a Healthier and Happier You” this book opens with individual dedications; combined and individual acknowledgements; an introduction; contents that provide 19 chapters; Appendix A: Our Approach to Stress Management and Self-Care; Appendix B: Your Individual Action Plan; also pertinent References. The chapters, in order, discuss and explain Stress; its Indicators; the Holmes-Rahe Social Adjustment Scale; their Guerra-Gionta Stress Inventory; Striving, Surviving, and Thriving with Stress. Next the reader is introduced to other chapters slightly differently directed: Neurophysiology of Stress; the three basic components; methods to begin managing stress; suggestions with respect to practicing such management; succeeding in your endeavors. Then follows a group explaining what is entailed in Self-Care; suggestions on how to create your individual ‘toolkit’; when to use the kit you have devised. Next are presented a discussion of Boundaries and You; Assertive Communication; Quality of our Relationships; Obstacles to Good Self-Care; Putting this activity into your life; and finally, how best to integrate Self-management and Self-Care. Appendices A and B and References complete the book except that after references there are further words of advice from the authors’ planned sequel that is set to offer advice with respect to “Stress and Self-Care in the Workplace” in which “… we will discuss the unique stressors that typically occur within the workplace …” and how to handle these factors. This short directive in turn, is followed by a list of “Key Contributors to Workplace Stress”, and other short discussions on “Impact of Workplace Stress on Employees and Organizations” and “Can Your Company Really Afford to Ignore This?”

Discussion: The authors have presented an examination and discussion of stress and how to deal with it in a quite simplistically detailed manner. For example, Breath or breathing control practice suggestions – offered as Practice #1 listed in eleven specific steps; Practice #2 presents fourteen steps. Body – (Progressive Muscle Relaxation or PMR) explains muscle tensing-releasing activity. Here, several steps are discussed with each muscular group, e.g. the group involving the eyebrows and eyes: “Inhale deeply… and squeeze your eyes shut so that no light can get in. Squeeze them as you inhale and hold your breath. Notice the tension. With a conscious decision, release the breath now and let the eyes relax into a normal closed position. Take a moment to notice the relaxation in the head and upper part of the face. Next, bring your attention to the nose.” Then on to the teeth, lips, etc. The discussion widens to include next “Thoughts Practice” – “Thought-stopping/thought-replacement” and “mindfulness” or mindfulness meditation”. The student is admonished to “Chart your Progress”. Detailed suggestions extend further to The Worried Mind and beyond with their Stress Management strategies, the frequency and time elements of practice sessions, the need to list the benefits realized as well as listing obstacles to indulging in your practice systems such as attitudes and beliefs all are set forth. They also strongly advise a list of “things you’d like to adopt”, establishing your life’s priorities, listing your good and bad self-care practices and they provide a 30 question quiz to ask yourself about your practice system and present answers with respect to the interpretation pf the sum of your answers.

5* For readers who enjoy a simplistically presented discussion with extensive, explicit instructions.