Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Salt & Light; The Complete Jesus by Jonathan Geoffrey Dean

Book Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

An extraordinary deep dive into the life of an extraordinary man, Jonathan Geoffrey Dean’s Salt & Light; The Complete Jesus presents a masterful guide for inquiring minds to the definitive life and ministry of Jesus. The first edition to his two-book series, this book offers an intelligently posed wealth of knowledge, garnered from many years of research and fueled by the layman author’s ignited curiosity.

As a whole, the book was written in search of the entire true scope of Jesus’ life and works, particularly as an earnest way of seeking to answer three simple questions, 1. Who was Jesus? 2. What did he do? 3. What did he say? However, instead of focusing on the religious elements, author Jonathan Geoffrey Dean leaves his faith out of his search, choosing to focus primarily on the academic aspects, which works out very well throughout the book.

Albeit while there is no simple answer to discovering the complete life of Jesus, however, the level of work ethic, thorough research, comparative analysis, and discernment employed by author Dean raises the bar for other books of this nature to meet.

Moreover, as thorough, as it is well-written, this work provides a masterful reading venture that is part historical dissertation, populated with literate reaches into obscured aspects of biblical texts, such as the Gospels, and Acts, which contain elements of the true history of Jesus.
Moreover, the information contained in this book is catalytic in the way that it does well to offer definitive, perception-altering data when it comes to the life of Jesus, often bruising long-standing myths and alternate religious-based concepts previously known, concerning the life of Jesus. Meanwhile also included are instances of contact with those around him used to establish a credible timeline of his life and ministry.

The Red Hat Society: Fun and Friendship After 50 by Sue Ellen Cooper

Book Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

The author of this book, Sue Ellen Cooper is the founder and Queen Mother of The Red Hat Society. When Sue had a friend who was about to turn 50 years old, she would give them a red hat. This soon became her signature gift. When she and her friends went out for tea, they would wear a red hat and something purple. At the beginning of the book, it gives a “Warning” – “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple, with a red hat which doesn’t go…” It was here that the first chapter of the Red Hat Society was born. Can you believe that now there are over three hundred thousand Red Hatters across the USA and Canada and even around the world?

Losing My Faculties: A Teacher’s Story by Brendan Halpin

Book Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

This book is about Brendan Halpin’s experiences of being a high school teacher. It follows him through teaching jobs in an economically depressed white ethnic town, a middle-class suburb, a last-chance prevention program in the inner city and an ambitious college-prep urban charter school.

Halpin describes his first test as a student teacher where he states he failed miserably. He turned around to write something on the board and someone threw a piece of chalk. He turned around and said, “you know…that is not cool”. The class giggled. Halpin states that he knew he lost them right at that moment. From then on it was open season when Halpin turned his back – spitballs, chalk and basketballs were thrown. To make matters worse, the school had no kind of detention. You had to deal with this type of thing on your own.

Maximise Your Child’s Performance: A Concise Guide to Unlocking their Potential by Jennie Segar

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Maximise Your Child’s Performance: A Concise Guide to Unlocking their Potential is a marvelous book of information. Jennie Segar discusses ways to make a difference in children’s development and benefit them academically, professionally, and socially. The book is an invaluable resource not only for parents but also for anyone involved in the caregiving role of children. Segar is well-qualified in the book’s subject matter, as she has years of experience as a parent and in different jobs working with children.

The book is divided into ten chapters with sub-headings and the corresponding page numbers, making it easy for readers to explore chapters that focus on issues of interest. The introduction is a wonderful overview of the specific topics discussed in the book. Readers will gain helpful insight into many topics important to a child’s healthy growth and development. Segar shares meaningful experiences from her own life, offering readers a personal perspective on everything the book addresses.

Some of the discussed topics pertain to positive and constructive approaches to guiding children’s behavior and how playing games can help build cognitive skills. The author also includes the advantageous effects of exercise and healthy eating on a child’s physical and mental development, the educational benefits of learning to play an instrument, the importance of shared reading from an early age, the value of a family-owned pet, and the impact of technology on children.

Black, White, and Gray All Over: A Black Man’s Odyssey in Life and Law Enforcement Frederick Douglass Reynolds

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

If you are looking for an exploratory journey into the many dimensions of gray, look no further than “Black, White, and Gray All Over:  A Black Man’s Odyssey in Life and Law Enforcement” by Frederick Douglass Reynolds. The author goes beyond the dichotomy of good and evil – from within an individual, institution, or community – to investigate this precarious and uncomfortable in-between state.

This memoir is not a comfortable read. It is a daring tale that bravely exposes the inner workings of an individual. The book goes even further, piecing together a puzzle of the many faces of humanity painted in blood and gore, but also acceptance, kindness, and love.

Frederick Douglass Reynolds took a circular approach to his life story, starting from his childhood and closing with his golden age, and this embracing fleeting decades of the life of a community. The opening pages provide a closely intimate look into the upbringing of the main protagonist inviting the readers to observe his family life and the community in which he grew up.

Mystery at the Blue Sea Cottage: A True Story of Murder in San Diego’s Jazz Age by James Stewart

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Reaching back in time to the roaring 20’s in southern California, author James Stewart’s debut work, Mystery at the Blue Sea Cottage, offers a compelling view of the intricacies of an unsolved homicide, the murder of young and beautiful, interpretive dancer, Fritzie Mann.

Based on years of research, this true-crime narrative poses an adept tracing of the history of this once sensationalized murder mystery brought forth through a multi-faceted lens which explores not only the murder but journalistic behaviors, the investigative processes during that era, and a Hollywood sex scandal connection as well as exploring the culture of the time.

Piquing the curiosity from the outset, this work of true crime immediately draws the attention into the fascinating backstory of Fritzie who, for the most part, was a seemingly sensible but “modern” woman in her early twenties who worked to help with her sick sister’s medical bills by dancing. However, to her family, there was an air of mystery in her life when it came to her romantic associations, relationships or dating.

The Bubble by Joseph Patenaude (Author) Mauro Lirussi (Illustrator)

Reviewed by Teri Takle

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to experience the freedom of complete weightlessness and to float on gentle wind currents? Unfortunately, to experience total relaxation as if you were a bubble can only be imagined if you were a bubble. The Bubble is that story.

Blowing bubbles is a delight for people of all ages. It is hypnotic to follow their paths as they maneuver through the air. This thought captured Joseph Patenaude’s thoughts as he observed his children blowing bubbles and developed those memories into a children’s book, The Bubble.

The Bubble is a read-aloud book for children aged two to eight. The basic setting is a coastal environment, so it is an excellent opportunity to enrich different types of places people live.

Lush illustrations match each text word perfectly, emphasizing the environmental settings such as autumn leaves, new springtime life, mountainous regions, stormy seas, colorful marine life, forests, lakes, and fields.

For example, as a storm approaches, the reader experiences the sheer fear of being a bubble encaptured inside its surroundings, being pushed by the wind, crashing into waves, and even hiding in the water. This picturesque perspective is an illustration of the story.

Weeping Goes Unheard: Sacred Tears for Indigenous Victims of Racial Genocide by Lucia Mann

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Weeping Goes Unheard” no longer as more and more voices speak up through a variety of channels. Lucia Mann contributes to this unveiling of a hidden (or as she argues, a covered) past of Canada by voicing those who have passed away, gone missing, or are still among us.

The author heavily relies on her journalistic investigation skill to document centuries of injustice against the First Nations of today’s Canada. However, she takes the uncovered data and weaves it into a compelling narrative. In my view, the book is a written embodiment of a documentary film with a series of reconstructions of events.

Lucia Mann has proven time and time again with her previously published novels that she is a highly visual writer. Therefore, reading “Weeping Goes Unheard” is not that much unlike watching a documentary. What is more, she is equally a soulful writer, passionately driven by helping and voicing underprivileged communities of all races. This passion clearly transpires throughout the text.

The task set by the author was far from an easy one, as in front of her lay a long history of injustice that seeps into present days. In the book, different aspects of this monstrous manifestation are tackled, like forced deportations, residential schools, institutionalized abuse (mainly from figures of authority who should offer protection), and serial killers to mention just a few.

An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence by Barry Spivack and Patricia Saunders

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence” is not your casual mid-afternoon read. It is a thought-provoking and in-depth presentation of a still-controversial topic, Transcendental Meditation (TM). The authors, Barry Spivack MA and Patricia Saunders Ph.D. have created a monumental piece by critically analyzing decades worth of scientific research on the social effects of the practice. After a careful evaluation of evidence, the authors conclude that there is indeed an antidote to violence.

This universal antidote is accessible to all and completely free. While this might sound like oversimplifying a vastly complex and far reaching issue, that is not necessarily so. While researchers have linked group meditation to measurable growth in social welfare (under different forms), they do not consider the TM effect the sole cause of these measures. Rather, they view it as part of a complex web of forces which govern the world and life as we know it, yet, often fall beyond our regular conscious grasp.

To those less familiar with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his teachings, there is ample opportunity to acquaint yourself throughout the pages of the book. Barry Spivack and Patricia Saunders take a peek behind appearances and explore the science behind this elusive phenomenon. They gradually walk the reader through different scientific experiments and statistical analyses of growing complexity to answer a set of questions and consequently ask new ones.

By bringing to the forefront a series of socio-psychological experiments that offer perceivable proof of decrease in violence and increase of social welfare, “An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence” aims to attract the attention of both individuals and governments to this feasible antidote. Organized groups have ventured into volatile war zones to bring outer peace through their inner tranquility. And they seemingly succeeded time and time again.

The authors discuss in-depth the implication of paradigms in the history of ideas, mainly paradigm shifts. Discoveries and systems of thought that did not conform to the mainstream view of the time were often first ostracized before being accepted as groundbreaking leaps. The historical contextualization outlined by the authors acts as a possible explanation of why the TM continues to be met with resistance by so many. It simply does not comply with our modern Occidental view on reality and the self.

An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence” is somewhat similar to a meta-analysis, in that it collects a vast body of academic literature and analyzes the data and results presented. However, it is far from being a sterile statistical account, as it is deeply infused with the passion of the authors. Although starting from different fields (Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and Music respectively), both Barry Spivack’s and Patricia Saunders’ life journeys merge in the blossoming universe of Transcendental Meditation.

The Living Room: A Lung Cancer Community of Courage by Bonnie Addario with Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

“It’s not treatable,” one doctor said told Bonnie Addario in 2004.

As you’ll learn in THE LIVING ROOM: A Lung Cancer Community of Courage, though, the book’s author Bonnie Addario is not one to give up. Diagnosed with stage 3B lung cancer at age 55 in 2004, the hard-charging Addario, a genuine force of nature, took on the disease with the moxie and resolve of an underdog boxer facing down the champion in the center of the ring.

The upset she ultimately scored is wondrously chronicled in THE LIVING ROOM, along with the stories of twenty other survivors of advanced stage lung cancer. I plunged into this book figuring it must be more fiction than fact. After all, other than the occasional miracle, no one ever beats lung cancer, right?

Wrong.

As we learn in THE LIVING ROOM, lung cancer has very much become a survivable and manageable disease—not always, but often enough to provide hope where none existed just a few short years ago. But that’s not the only surprise the book offers and not all of them are nearly as positive. Did you know more non-smokers get lung cancer than smokers? How about the fact that many of those non-smokers are under the age of thirty?

Neither did I. THE LIVING ROOM, named after a decade-plus in-person (and now virtual as well) support group Addario started, is a myth-buster of the highest order in that respect. And that’s mostly a good thing, as we get to know the survivors profiled as if they were long-lost friends.

Like Gina Hollenbeck, a not yet forty-year-old and the non-smoking mother of two boys, who looked the picture of health when she walked into the ER holding her X-rays under her arm and had to convince the doctors that something was seriously wrong with her. Or Matt Hiznay, a lifelong nonsmoker was only twenty-four when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Early treatment saved his life. Then there’s Juanita Segura, a 51-year-old healthy eater and active in a training regimen known as CrossFit. The first doctor diagnosed her with asthma and prescribed an inhaler. Then the wheezing turned into a horrible cough. The next doctor had to deliver the news that she had lung cancer.

“Dude,’ she told him, “I don’t even smoke.”

The positive nature of those profiled is truly mind-boggling, making this is the perfect book for someone living with cancer of any kind, not just lung, as well as those close to them—in other words, just about everyone. THE LIVING ROOM is a seminal triumph of storytelling that tugs at our heartstrings even as it brings a smile to our lips with its overriding message of hope over despair and triumph over tragedy. When it comes to books that matter and bear long-lasting relevance accessible to tens of millions, this one is off the charts.