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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Blog Tour Stop July 24, 2012: Book Review, Stress Pandemic by Paul Huljich

July 24, 2012

Today, this blog is hosting a stop (in the form of a review) on the blog tour for “Stress Pandemic” by Paul Huljich.


288 pages, Mwella Publishing
Release date:  July 1, 2012

Note:  I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher for purpose of review.

In today’s world, it seems we are constantly under attack from stress from multiple sources.  These stress points, allowed to continue unchecked; undermine our health in a variety of ways both mental and physical.  This book has outlined very specifically, a plan by which we can not only reduce the stress in our life, but overcome it entirely; thereby improving our health vastly and adding years to our lifespan.

The author, Paul Huljich, had reached what most of us would consider the pinnacle of success as a very well-to-do business owner.  What he failed to realize though, despite a tell tale sign here or there; was the dire toll that stress was taking on his health.  He eventually reached the point of a complete breakdown and was ultimately diagnosed with stress-induced bipolar disorder by numerous medical professionals.  This diagnosis carried with it a life-time sentence of multiple drugs and the prediction that he would have relapses from time to time throughout the years.  The story of how Paul overcame his devastating, stress-induced mental illness and proved the medical professionals wrong is nothing short of amazing. 

In this book Paul has outlined for all of us the nine specific steps he followed to eliminate stress from his life and to live a healthy life, both mentally and physically.  While most people hide their present or past mental illnesses because of the stigma attached to those conditions, Paul has come forward in an effort to help others and to prevent them from experiencing the illness and collapse that devastated his life.  This book is an integral tool and lesson that we can all use and learn from.  I highly recommend it to everyone.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book Review: Paula Takes a Risk, by Randi M. Sherman



128 pages
     Publisher: FriesenPress (January 30, 2012)
     Language: English
     ISBN-10: 1770971556
     ISBN-13: 978-1770971554

Paula Takes A Risk is an enjoyable and quick read.  At times hilarious and at times a tearjerker, this is a great book to take on the airplane with you or throw in your bag to take to the beach. It follows the boring and mundane existence of the not very adventurous or exciting Paula Tenenbaum.  Paula thought she had life under control.  She had a job she felt was secure and a boyfriend she thought might marry her.  But then the bottom fell out of Paula’s formerly stable world.  One inconspicuous day, she first lost her job; and then her boyfriend broke up with her.  This set Paula into a spiral of depression from which it seemed there was no escape.
Enter Larry—Paula’s sleazy, irresponsible and conniving neighbor.  Larry has a new “scheme” up his sleeve, and he figures he can use Paula to help him pull it off.  Although Paula is hesitant to get involved, she ends up getting caught up in Larry’s excitement and is drawn into Larry’s web.  After a period of time “living the high life” playing the part of a persona completely new and unfamiliar to her, Paula discovers that she really has become the character she has been portraying herself to be.  Through this experience, Paula has become much more self confident, flashy and, generally speaking, just a more exciting person to be around.

Just as Paula accepts Larry for the scumbag he really is, and gets ready to branch off on her own putting her new-found self confidence to better use; the inevitable happens, and their scheme is exposed and quickly unravels.  What will become of these two now?  Will Paula be able to find a new niche in life, on her own?  You won’t want to put down this book until you find out what is to happen to our loveable, completely fallible heroine.

Book Review: Cajun by Any Other Name: Recovering the Lost History of a Family - and a People, by Marie Rundquist

Book Review for: Cajun by Any Other Name: Recovering the Lost History of a Family- and a People;

by Marie Rundquist; 166 pages

    Publisher: Infinity Pub (February 17, 2012)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 074147042X
    ISBN-13: 978-0741470423

Cajun by Any Other Name is a fascinating and detailed account of how a DNA test turned the author’s perception of who she was upside down.  In so doing, it sent her on a quest to unearth the details of her heritage—who her ancestors were, where they lived and the journeys they had to undertake that set the course for their descendants and who they came to be.  This journey in search of her roots sent the author on several different trails, and covered thousands of miles.  Along the way, she immersed herself into the cultures of her heritage, trying to come to terms with the vastly important links in her genealogy that had become “lost”, albeit purposefully, in recent generations.

The author has done all of us a service in telling her story in such a compelling and well written way.  This book should serve as the catalyst to spark an interest in genealogy and personal heritage in all who read it.  It certainly had that effect on me!  If money were no object, I would participate in a DNA test to identify my heritage at the soonest opportunity.  The author heads just such an organization for those with suspected Cajun or Amerindian roots.  The results are certainly not always what those participating expect nor do they always match the family-approved genealogies passed from one generation to the next.  To me, that adds to the thrill of solving the mystery of just exactly what our heritage is and who our ancestors were.

Note:  I would like to thank the author, the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a copy of this book for review purposes.

Monday, July 16, 2012


By Elizabeth Leiknes

254 pages; Bancroft Press, Published June 1, 2012

The Understory by Elizabeth Leiknes is an ultimately uplifting tale that shows the power of endurance of the human soul, even under the most tragic circumstances.  The lives of Story Easton and a handful of other residents of Phoenix, Arizona unwind before our eyes; revealing intertwinings and connections of a complex nature between those we would otherwise consider strangers—much as the plants and animals of the rain forest are all interconnected to form a dense and complex, living, breathing ecosystem.  The rain forest does, indeed, feature prominently in this story.

Our heroine, Story Easton is a bit down and out and views herself as a failure at pretty much everything.  A domineering mother has quashed any self confidence ever mustered up by Story.  Through a series of seemingly unrelated circumstances, she meets some people who are about to change all that. These people, although never having met each other, are very much interconnected with each other; and now with Story is about to become a part of their lives, too.  They include a little boy, who has been crushed by a devastating loss and only Story has the key to set his life back on track.

It’s heartening to watch as Story realizes that for the first time, she just may succeed at something!  Not only that—she MUST succeed.  And in the process, she may just have found Mr. Right, as well.  Her path to a better perception of herself and those around her, is a heartwarming one for us to follow.   Story finds herself both a tool and a recipient of the power of healing.

This novel was a very enjoyable read and I found myself getting hooked on the story early on.  I heartily recommend The Understory to anyone looking for a good read and some motivation to carry forth!

Note:  I would like to thank both the publisher and Netgalley for providing a copy of The Understory to me for review purposes

Saturday, July 14, 2012

BLOG TOUR: TURQUOISE A Love Story; Book Review, July 14, 2012

July 14, 2012

Today this blog is hosting a stop (in the form of a review) on the Blog Tour for


By Ayshe Talay-Ongon

Paperback, 441 pages
Published February 2012 by Sid Harta Publishers
edition language

Note:  A copy of this novel was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley for purpose of review.

Turquoise:  A Love Story by Ayshe Talay-Ongon is a love story with a very cosmopolitan flair.  While the central focus is Turkey, the events in this novel take place in countries spanning the globe.  The story is set in the 1970’s and 1980’s; a very tumultuous time for relations between those from Turkey and Armenia resulting in acts of violence and bloodshed.  Our heroine, Yasmin, is a very confident, highly educated and independent person full of resilience to the difficult conditions and situations surrounding her; quite reminiscent of today’s “modern woman”.  She has grown up in Turkey, and lived in New York City as well.

Yasmin is prone to superfluous relationships and one night stands; in her never ending quest to find “Mr. Right”.  Through a chance encounter, she runs into a friend from school days and her husband.  She immediately feels as if she has met her soulmate; albeit an unattainable one who happens to be married to one of her best friends.  The three develop a very close relationship in which Yasmin spends much of her time with the couple and their young son.  The fact that they are Armenians poses no obstacle to their friendship, despite hate crimes and strife between the two nationalities at that point in time.  Yasmin and her friend never even gave those prejudices a thought back in their school days; nor do they now.

When her close friends move back to Australia for better employment opportunities; Yasmin has much soul searching to do.  Her flings grow ever more self destructive, in her attempts to forget the man her heart belongs to; who belongs to another. As her  parents and brother have moved back to the United States; her father being a Turkish diplomat; Yasmin decides to give California a try and see if she can find those ever elusive roots she is yearning to put down.  She becomes caught up in a desperate, yet futile search for a sense of fulfillment, of belonging while knowing all the while that it eludes her; that her soul mate is unattainable. 

She establishes a place for herself in California; and experiences triumphs and tragedies.  At last, she propels herself into a loveless marriage, for the sake of security.  In an attempt to fill the ever aching void within her; she adopts a baby girl from her home country of Turkey.  Life in California falls into a stable yet emotionally tormenting routine for Yasmine.  Her daughter becomes the focus of her life and they develop a very strong mother daughter bond; much like that which Yasmine and her own mother share.

Eventually the stress of  living a lie starts to take its toll on Yasmine and her soul mate, whose marriage is none too happy, either.  Truth has to be faced and life-changing decisions must be made.

This book has the feel of a “reality tv soap opera” both in conversation and detail, but that should appeal to today’s audience, I believe.


Monday, June 11, 2012



304 pages; Atria Books

Release date:  July 3, 2012

NOTE:   A copy of this novel was provided to me by the publisher for the purpose of review through Netgalley.

If you’re looking for just the right book to hit the beach with this summer or to relax with while lounging by the pool, Imperfect Bliss by Susan Fales-Hill, is a good choice.

It’s a quick, fun read that will have many of us reflecting fondly on our own dysfunctional family life.

Our heroine, Bliss, finds herself at life’s crossroads; trying to come to terms with her failed marriage and always on the lookout for “Mr. Right”.  She is working hard to complete her higher education in hopes of gaining a means to move back out on her own; away from her parents’ home and all the dysfunctionality she and her small daughter are surrounded with there.  Bliss is determined that her daughter, Bella, will not grow up believing in the “happily ever after” fantasy world that she and her sisters were lured into by their mother. Things are quickly turning into a circus on the homefront, as her sister lands the starring role in a reality tv series entitled “The Virgin”. This is nearly more than the highly intellectual Bliss can bear and goes against every principle that she believes in.

This mixed race family has all it can handle with four girls vying for their perfectionist mother’s approval; a mother who was raised in Jamaica under a dreadful cloud of prejudice and denied approval and so many other things because of the color of her skin and wants so much more for her daughters. She is striving to marry off each of her girls to someone who makes Prince Charming pale in comparison.  Bliss has failed her mother in every way possible.  Distanced from her mom, she has developed a special bond with her father, a quiet man from England, who tends to hide behind his paper and let his wife take center stage.

The story is well written and the characters have been brought to life for us masterfully by the author. This book stands out as one of those “summer finds” that makes a very pleasant and enjoyable read.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Tale of Vigilante Justice in Michigan's Upper Peninsula


This tale has a Wild West appeal harking back to a time when law and order did not prevail.  It takes place in the far reaches of northern Michigan--in a rugged and remote logging community.  It is easy to find yourself transported back into time while reading this book.  Each chapter is told from the point of view of one of a handful of the main characters which helps to give the story a multi-dimensional feel.  The dark side of man's nature rears its ugly head in this story in more ways than one.  Not only does it highlight mankind's raw and violent emotions; but also his proclivity to destroy the natural environment around him and blight the Earth wherever he goes.  Purportedly based loosely on a true incident, this is an engaging and worthwhile read.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In Memoriam Whitney Houston; Thank You Governor Christie

Governor Christie is to be commended for standing by his decision. I do believe in honor and respect for our servicemen. They are heroes. But nowhere does the law state that they, or law enforcement, are the only people deserving of honor. Whitney Houston left a legacy to the music world of invaluable worth. She had what was most likely one of, if not the very best, voices of the last century. She overcame the blatant racism that is so unfortunately prevalent in our society, to make her mark in a very big way on the music world. She filled our lives with extremely beautiful music, that will live on forever. Yes, she lost her voice and her way. But that cannot erase the legacy that she had created and that will live on, as some of the most beautiful music of our time. It was a tragedy for her and her family; and one that so many entertainers of all races have suffered from: Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Freddie Prinze, Karen Carpenter, Heath Ledger, Amy Winehouse--I believe the list goes on and on. I do completely respect our servicemen. My family has been filled with servicemen since the Revolutionary War, and before that most likely; most recently being my father serving in the South Seas in World War II. But I don't see how honoring someone who has left behind a musical legacy such as Whitney, dishonors a serviceman. Our society has raised us to believe that war is all but inevitable and we must uphold our honor and patriotism by fighting. I'm not going to debate any of that; but I believe powerful, uplifting and beautiful music such as Whitney's "Greatest Love of All" could help us bridge gaps between ideologies and other factors that cause us to fight. I know the world has to change before such a day can ever come; but when that day comes, I'll take singing over fighting anytime. Thank you Governor Christie, for standing up for what you, and I, believe in. Thank you Whitney Houston, for the lasting gift you gave to the music world with a voice that few can ever compare to. Rest in peace.