Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Destiny's Team: A Story About Love Choices and Eternity - Thomas A. Glessner

If you're looking for an uplifting, soul-searching, "real" people story...then look no further.

"Destiny's Team" by Thomas A. Glessner (published by Anomalos Publishing) takes you into the day-to-day, seemingly innocent, college-age behavior, which as we all know, can have consequences for which none of us can fathom until they swarm back at the most inopportune time; at least inopportune to us.

Jason O'Connor and Bobby Childs are football heroes at Washington State University and are faced with the temptations any sports hero is faced with...girls, ambition and sex. Little did they know that their actions would come to a head 10 years later, two weeks before they were to lead the Seattle Seahawks against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the SuperBowl.

This is more than a football story. I am not a football fan. I can't even carry on the endless debate from the Canadian side that our 3-down style of football is real football. No, hockey is my sport.

But, this story isn't about football. It's about a team of human beings and two particular human-beings, who are forced to deal with their earlier decisions and, in so doing, find their answers to life not in ambition, girls and sex...but in God.

As I said, if you want a true-to-life example of where our human nature can take us and what a relationship with God can do to that life...then you will want to read this book. If you're searching for answers to life's questions and your questions about God, this book will address those as well. If you already know God and just want a refreshing story from all the sex, murder and mayhem you find in mass market books, this book is for you.

Darlene Oakley
Freelance Editor & Suspense Fiction Writer
Sunpiper Book Review

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

In Search of Mr. Wonderful, The Journey From Myth To Madness - Monica Bouvier

Monica Bouvier spins an emotional tale of one woman's search to find her very own Mr. Wonderful and live happily just like the fairy-tales, the type of love that conquers all and lives forever. Reality doesn't seem to want to help out, only get in the way.

Syvanna Lee tries to find her Mr. Wonderful but ends up coming up empty-handed. After each Mr. Somebody, a new piece is revealed to the complexity that is Syvanna. In order to gain the great love she so desires, perhaps she should do the ultimate thing, learn to love herself first.

If you wish to read a book that will leave you stunned and on an emotional rollercoaster, I highly recommend this novel. At one point it had me shocked and almost near tears. Heartbreak, self-destruction, and discovery are around every corner in this book of transformation. Surprising enough, this is a memoir and a novel. One can only speculate on what is truth and what is fiction, but either way, you cannot walk away from this book without feeling something.

Each page is filled with the inner struggles on Syvanna as she goes from a desperate search for true love to thinking that Prince Charming non-existing and all the bumps in the road along the way. We all have our own demons to face; perhaps our own journeys to self-discovery can start by walking a mile in Syvanna's shoes.

Jessica Koster
The Sunpiper Book Review

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Cradling My Heart: God's Comfort in Affliction by Cindy Zompetti

Cindy Zompetti's Cradling My Heart: God's comfort in affliction tells the story of a series of debilitating emotional losses that left the author confused, grief-stricken, and slipping into a depression that other people might not have survived without professional help or hospitalization. Instead, Ms. Zompetti relied upon her deep knowledge of biblical Scriptures, which she repeated as she sought strength to carry on through each day, and also put pen to paper to write about her pain. Some days, nothing appeared on her paper; on others, she wrote only a brief word or two, sometimes making little sense, or more lengthy thoughts described her despair.

Never giving up, she began to see the role God played in the process she was undergoing, cradling her heart while allowing her to care for herself in a positive, productive way, a way that brought her out of the darkness caused by losing close relationships and suffering through menopause and back into the light, with new relationships – including a deeper appreciation of God.
This fine book provides inspiration and guidance on how to cope with the emotions and pain of depression to readers struggling with grief and loss even if they are not Christians in the strictest sense of the word. In Cindy Zompetti's case, the depression appears to have been clinical in nature; but, without the aid of medical experts and medications, she managed to work through the issues that had brought on her "affliction." Readers can only admire her ability to call upon her inner strength, which, on a conscious level seemed to be eluding her but was really the underlying impetus that caused her to persevere despite the pain and the confusion that she felt.

One of the strengths of this book is the author's honest and uncomplicated writing style, which enhances her ability to talk to her readers as if we are in the same room. She shares her pain and her experience in very human terms and offers hope in a gentle, subtle way – by example rather than by producing a step-by-step manual for self-healing. This, for me, is the true strength of this book: Ms. Zompetti's sharing by example. We can all find inspiration and hope from this excellent book. Perhaps in the future, Ms. Zompetti will grace us with another inspirational work.

Reviewed by Lise Hull
The Sunpiper Book Review

Spirits in the Garden - Joan Solomon


If there was one word that could summarize this book, that would be it.

I appreciate a book of vivid colors and creative imagery on what we are missing in the world around us. I appreciate being challenged to not pass by these everyday things and dismiss them as ordinary. There is just so much more to them than we ever thought possible.

Joan Solomon has put together a book that does just that.

"...we are encouraged to see life from a fresh perspective." (Page 28)

Joan Solomon certainly does that. Through fascinating photos taken at just the precise moment to capture the "faces" or "spirits" of the garden, Solomon carries us through a garden and provides that "fresh perspective". Through her photos and descriptions Solomon demonstrates very vividly Thomas Moore's quote (page 33) "Entering a garden is like passing through a mystical gate. Things are not the same on the other side."

Not only does she present a fresh perspective on how to perceive the buds and flowers in the everyday garden, she also presents facts about each plant she has photographed. She explains how some have medicinal purposes and the variety of ways they can be prepared to heal or to nourish. And, then--very much to my delight--Solomon provides recipes, remedies and preparation methods for each of the plants in her book.

Enjoy this book. Be fascinated! And watch for the small wonders in the world around you!

Darlene Oakley
The Sunpiper Book Review

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Identity Factor - James Houston Turner

With the steep decline of unrealistic spy novels, chronicles of CIA and FBI agents taking down the masterminds of terrorism have filled bookstore shelves. Authors such as Robert Ludlum, Vince Flynn, David Baldacci and Brad Thor have become household names and have quickly replaced Ian Fleming and his creation of James Bond. Well guys, it’s time to make room for one more, and his name is Turner: James Houston Turner.

As if he combined the religious ramifications of Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code and the realism of terrorist attacks from Brad Thor’s The First Commandment, James Houston Turner has created a masterpiece in The Identity Factor. The story is based around an archeological artifact that could prove Israel’s uncontested ownership of Palestine…confirmed by Ishmael himself. Because of the tensions of the West Bank, the authentication of the artifact would, no doubt, lead the nations into World War III. This unleashes both friends and foes, including mastermind terrorist, Abu Nazer.

In a twist, un-chartered in many political spy thrillers, a lone female CIA Agent/Analyst ZoĆ« Gustaves allows nothing to stand in her way to hunt down the infamous terrorist, Abu Nazer. Disobeying almost every command given to her by her superiors, the only thing that saves her…career is that she always gets results. The question is, “are the results always good?” Turner takes excellent care of Gustaves by showing her weaknesses while at the same time showing her courage to trudge bravely through her insecurities.

Houston introduces many multi-faceted characters, such as Jackson Teague, the arrogant Deputy CIA Director, which is Gustaves’ boss; Rutherford Tyler, the mysterious yet world renowned journalist with friends from Vice Presidents to Middle Eastern businessmen; Youssef Zakkara, extremely wealthy Egyptian businessman and owner of the artifact in question; Sharifa al Rashid, personal assistant to Mr. Zakkara and deceptive love interest of Rutherford Tyler and many other characters making their appearances to assist in completing the intricate puzzle of the espionage that lurks within the pages. As the characters work with each other while simultaneously working against each other, no one can be trusted and no one seems to be who they say they are.

A thrill ride from the opening page, Turner explores the fast pace of terrorist investigation, split second decisions and unpopular choices being made to uncover the truth and stop the brewing chaos stemming from the existence of the priceless, religious artifact. Just as the cover says, “Seeking answers can be deadly when everyone has secrets.”

James Houston Turner is a great political thriller author and I look forward to the books that follow.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Eden's Way - Beverly Money Luke

Some marriages slowly fade away while others end with a firestorm. Misty Barnes witnesses the firestorm one beautiful day when her neighbor blows up his home - with his wife still inside. For reasons Misty herself doesn't understand, she begins to question her own marriage and the life that she and her husband have built together.

She and her husband, Day, have the perfect "image". They are pillars of their community; they attend church regularly, and Day even serves as a church deacon. They have good jobs, a beautiful home, and all the trappings of a successful suburban couple. But the thoughts that haunt Misty as she looks at the rubble across her perfectly manicured lawn concern what lies beneath the surface. If everything is so right, why does it FEEL so wrong? And if her marriage is all that it should be, why is her husband never at home?

Misty devises a plan, but her plan doesn't have the happy ending she expected, nor is it without its share of unintended consequences. As Misty journeys down a lonely and confusing path, she must face her life without the "whitewash". She must look at the truth about her marriage and her husband. She must find strength within herself to survive.

*Eden's Way* takes a no-holds-barred look at Christian marriage and examines the reasons that so many "picture perfect" marriages (from the outside, at least) fall apart. It is by turns heart-warming and gut-wrenching. And consistently, it causes the reader to ask questions about the life and relationships within that life. Difficult to put down, this is a work of fiction that is also a "must read" for any Christian facing an unexpected divorce or relationship crisis. As she endeavors to explain what Christian marriage should be - and where so many go wrong - Beverly Money Luke speaks to the head, and to the heart. And Misty's story gives hope for a new tomorrow!

Alesha Gee
The Sunpiper Book Review

Monday, September 03, 2007

The OOBE File - Harry Highstreet

Harry Highstreet, the author of this book, is an accomplished writer. He has written for newspapers, radio and television. He is not new to the forum you are about to experience. A short quote from the book to follow will give you a taste of his perception…

"…you are not one of those that lack imagination. The simple words "what if" will automatically cause you to ponder. Mental images will suddenly appear, forcing you to contemplate the answers to "what if"?"

While Mr. Highstreet was researching subject material for a short story, he discovered the United States Government had been studying the same subject for years. The subject was Astral Projection. This coincidence led the author to further reading, gathering of information and ongoing research on this subject. He wondered if Astral Projection had been perfected and had it already been used by the military? As a result of all of this research and the questions he pondered, a new novel emerged "The OOBE FILE"

"The OOBE File" (OOBE meaning Out Of Body Experience) is the first book in a trilogy by Harry Highstreet. It is filled with intrigue, suspense, military espionage and a twist of how it all comes together on the astral plane. The author keeps you interested by detail orientated descriptions of each scene as it plays out, leaving you wondering what will happen next…

In this fictional account of Hubert Wright, an unassuming U.S. Army Private finds he has a gift of Astral Projection and can control his own out of body experiences. However, he suddenly learns that he is not alone in having such a "gift". He is then plunged into a world of military espionage that quickly turns into a cat and mouse game between an elusive strange man, several high ranking officials and innocent civilians who are entangled in a scheme to obtain hidden files that hold the secrets to untold power and control of global influences.

U.S. Army Private First class Hubert "Bert" Wright can't find his body!? While he was enjoying a little jaunt on the Astral Plane someone stole his body! He knows he would be in deep trouble if someone found him "sleeping" on watch, but how would he explain to his superiors that he was not even in his body at the time they found him?! Wait a minute; if someone already found his body then he was in worse trouble than he thought! He finally does find his body in a detention cell. He was right about being in big trouble! He realizes he must come up with an explanation to tell his superiors that they will believe. Shockingly, the truth is the only thing they do believe!

This is just the beginning of a strange and dangerous mission for Bert as he takes us along with him on a journey filled with military secret agents, plots against world governments and the use of "Out Of Body Experiences". While trying to follow orders, take care of his earthly form and save a new found friend that has been kidnapped, he must catch an elusive and clever man that will stop at nothing to obtain hidden documents that hold the key to ultimate power and worldly political and social control.

This book is extremely detail oriented. The author has a gift of transporting you into the story itself. I found myself asking questions about things I never knew I needed answers to. It is an easy and interesting read; therefore I recommend it as an excellent novel for advanced adolescent readers as well as the adult fiction reader. I look forward to the sequel "The Wind Dies at Dusk" and the third book in this trilogy, "Mystery of the Third Realm".

Lisa Pratt
The Sunpiper Book Review

Friday, August 31, 2007

Life Moxie! Ambition on a Mission: 9 Strategies for Taking Life by the Horns

Do you feel stuck emotionally, that your dreams are unfulfilled, that you are wandering aimlessly from day to day, that your job, your personal life, your relationships are not at all what you want for yourself? The answer, according to author Ann Tardy, founder of LifeMoxie! Enterprises, is to create a life of "moxie."

Moxie is a quality we can recapture, if we follow the nine-step strategy Tardy reveals in her fine book, Life Moxie! Ambition on a Mission: 9 Strategies for Taking Life by the Horns. Using examples taken from her own life and career experiences, as well as those of associates, clients and celebrities, Tardy has developed a sensible and usable guide to identifying and realizing one's dreams, turning passions into achievable goals, and seizing the day – each day – to we make the most of our lives.

What is moxie? It's that feeling of invincibility, spontaneity and "I can do anything" that we all had as children not yet tainted by disappointment, fear and questions about our own competence. It's that feeling of passion, excitement and optimism which may have infused our lives but became lost in the quest for personal or financial security. Tardy says, "It is the determination and courage to move forward in the face of all that life throws your way. It is operating from a strength of purpose; following from your heart and soul, not your circumstances; and facing difficulty with courage and grit."

Tardy introduces readers to the nine, practical and easy to understand, strategies that, when implemented together, will help create a life filled with moxie, instill confidence, reignite our passions, and accomplish our individual "beat-the-alarm-clock" goals. Among the strategies, Tardy suggests that we celebrate our successes, whether they are large or small, oust the "naysayers" from our lives, seek out "yaysayers" who support us, asking directly for what we need, and, perhaps scariest of all, to go for what we want without first planning it to death.

This book came to me at the right time in my life. I have been struggling with some issues, not quite sure which direction to head. While I am not seeking a new career, I am stuck in a rut that I need and want to pull out of. I had forgotten that the best things in mylife were achieved with moxie, through leaping without a plan and making decisions based on my heart rather than killing them with my head.

I highly recommend Life Moxie!

Lise Hull
Sunpiper Book Review

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Pocket Prayers - 36 Praises & Graces for All Faiths

June Cotner has introduced a wonderful blessing!

Just recently, my pastor spoke about giving "your first and best to God." Included in this were the first words and thoughts of our day. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm not my most pleasant in the morning. Because of that, I needed a little help. Thankfully, I received a complimentary "Pocket Prayers" from Ms. June Cotner.

In "Pocket Prayers", Ms. Cotner has collected 36 prayers (some poetry, some sayings) and printed one on each card. They are great for coffee tables (for others to inquire), as well as gifts and for myself, my first thought of the day. I leave my pocket prayers on the side of my bed and as I get up in the morning, I shuffle the deck and pull one. The words give me focus for the day and a chance to praise God as my first act of the morning.

Being a Christian, I use the words on each card as Christian inspiration, however, the poetry Ms. Cotner has chosen for "Pocket Prayers" is not Christian scripture. Instead, the words of expression can be utilized in any belief system the reader may hold. The messages are about positive progression and the chrysalises of the human spirit struggling to emerge itself from the storms of life. In the tumultuous world in which we live, the words of encouragement are refreshing and fulfilling.

I highly urge you to order a deck for yourself. Furthermore, as I judge the extraordinary expressions Ms. Cotner chose to portray in "Pocket Prayers", I plan to order some of her other books, but this time on my own dime!