“Finding Ariadne” by Doris Kenney Marcotte

FindingAriadneFINDING ARIADNE

Doris Kenney Marcotte
Outskirts Press
ISBN 9781478781684
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (10/17)

“Finding Ariadne” by Doris Kenney Marcotte is a mesmerizing tale set in 1465 BC on the mythical island of Kaphtor.

Ariadne is the daughter of the Minoan Queen Pasiphae.  In this version, the peaceful, matriarchal Queen Pasiphae has no love for her daughter, especially after the loss of two beloved sons. She goes into a mental decline when her most favorite son dies, blaming the Athenian king for his death. To get punishment and revenge, Queen Pasiphae orders that the Athenians send fourteen children to be sacrificed every nine years. Ariadne abhors her mother’s vengeance, and believes it goes against everything the Kephti people believe in. To stop these children from being sacrificed in a labyrinth by the Minotaur, Ariadne teams up with Athenian Prince Theseus, a man with whom she has fallen deeply in love. Their path is a very difficult one and they have much to overcome to defeat the people who stand against them.

I love Greek Mythology. What made “Finding Ariadne” really stand out is that the author did a clever job of weaving a mix of Greek tales into one story. In this particular tale, she includes the story of the Minotaur, Icarus and Daedalus, just to name a few.  This tragedy was brought to life by the vivid scenery and creative dialogue added by Marcotte. I could not put this book down! I started reading during the daylight hours, and when my husband came home from work, he found me sitting in the dark still reading with a reading light. He noted that I had not appeared to move. What made it even worse, was that when I finally finished the last few pages, I felt bereft at having to say goodbye to this couple!

“Finding Ariadne” by Doris Kenney Marcotte is a must-read for fans of Greek Mythology. I highly recommend this as a selection for a reader’s group as well as it will stimulate lively discussion. Readers will also enjoy seeing these stories told from a matriarchal perspective.  This story awakened my interest in Greek Mythology. After I finished reading I explored the legends of the Greek characters mentioned in these pages. I am looking forward to reading more books by Doris Kenney Marcotte!

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“Eden” by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg

EdemEDEN

Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg
She Writes Press (2017)
ISBN 9781631521881
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (10/17)

“Eden” is the poignant and powerful debut novel by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg.

Prior to the Great Depression, Bunny and Sadie Meister built a summer beach home called Eden, in prestigious Long Harbor, Rhode Island. Throughout the years, generations have made Eden their summer retreat; it is a place of so many memories. Except for a great storm when Eden was badly damaged, Eden has provided a safe harbor for the multiple generations of Meisters. Eden has also harbored a lot of secrets for this family. Many of these secrets come to light as the family comes to gather for what appears to be the last time on a Fourth of July weekend. Bunny and Sadie’s daughter Becca, who also became the steward of the home, has to let the family know that after her husband’s death, she will no longer be able to afford to hang on to Eden. The events leading up to this meeting are quite dramatic.

“Eden” tells a compelling story. The author has a creative art for switching between generations in each chapter. To avoid confusion, she carefully notes which era each chapter is about. There is also a diagram of the family tree, in the front of the novel, which helped me stay on track with family members. I loved being able to look back into each generation of the family because it gave me a better understanding of how they evolved. Seeing into their past made their quirks more understandable. They also became very familiar to me, and I loved being able to follow them through the generations. Because of the depth of the story, I was able to feel like I was a part of it.  Even though all loose ends are carefully and artfully tied up, I still felt disappointed when the story ended. I am hopeful that the next generation of family members will continue to tell their story in second volume!

I highly recommend reading “Eden” by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg. It provided me with an interesting escape into another family’s drama. I wish I was able to read it while on vacation, so that I wouldn’t have had to put the book down so often! I also think it would be a great choice for a reader’s group. There is so much history and nostalgia in these pages, the story feels real!

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“Hair Loss: Options for Restoration & Reversal” by Gustavo J. Gomez, Ph.D.

HairLossHAIR LOSS: OPTIONS FOR RESTORATION & REVERSAL

Gustavo J. Gomez, Ph.D.
Halo Publishing (2017)
ISBN 9781612445410
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (10/17)

“Hair Loss: Options for Restoration & Reversal” by Gustavo J. Gomez, Ph.D., is one of the most informative, well researched books I have read about Alopecia. The author provides a general education about hair growth cycles with detailed diagrams and what happens when hair follicles do not regenerate.

Many individuals over the course of their life might experience hereditary hair loss, adverse reaction to various medical treatments, stress, chemicals such as hair color, and hair styles that involve tight hair pieces, weaves and ponytails. Other factors that impact hair loss include the environment of the individual, excessive exposure to stress, race and occupation.

Recently my thirteen-year-old granddaughter was diagnosed with autoimmune alopecia which resulted in a bald spot on her forehead approximately the size of a quarter. This occurs when the immune system attacks hair cells, and hair loss occurs. Research in pediatric alopecia relates it is not hereditary, nor is it painful.

Let’s face it all individuals want to feel secure in their physical appearance and when hair loss occurs our self-esteem takes a dive. Given we are now a society that expects immediate results, thousands of individuals will spend thousands of dollars on any gimmick they think will work.

In Chapter 2 the author discusses hair-loss classification history for males with very informative pictures of each classification from the 1950’s to 2000. He also provides the same information for women. One of the areas I found interesting is Ebling and Rook’s ethnicity pattern baldness. This classification is a five-stage classification but is rarely used as it is not detailed enough.

There are several options available to treat hair loss: hair transplants, Psoralen Plus Ultraviolet A radiation, and medications. Many readers will recognize the names Rogaine and Propecia. Most of the medications need to be used on a continuous basis over one’s life. Failure to do so will result in re-occurrence of hair loss.

The writing was somewhat technical at times, however, the average reader will gather enough information to get a basic understanding and knowledge of treatment options. It is important that individuals with alopecia consult a dermatologist to determine their pattern and treatment options, and to find out if their treatment is covered by their insurance.

“Hair Loss: Options for Restoration & Reversal” by Gustavo J. Gomez, Ph.D., was very informative, well researched and a benefit to all who have hair loss, and anyone who would like to know “why?”

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“The Bad Dream Notebook” by Linda Dahl

TheBadDreamNotebookTHE BAD DREAM NOTEBOOK

Linda Dahl
She Writes Press (2017)
ISBN 9781631522949
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (9/17)

“The Bad Dream Notebook” by Linda Dahl is a haunting, eye-opening novel about the absolute tragedy of addiction, the grief of loss, and the struggle to climb out of the depths of despair and hopelessness, toward a healthy, productive life.

Erica Mason has a seemingly perfect life–until everything falls apart. With the death of her husband and her teen-aged daughter’s escalating drug problem, every day is a challenge and she’d not sure how much more she can take. Though Erica has years in recovery from her own addiction, she is ill-prepared to help her daughter Mona. Her co-dependency, enabling, and utter blind-spot of anything having to do with Mona, could be the ultimate undoing of them both.

I found “The Bad Dream Notebook” to be a very engrossing read. It enraged, surprised, and filled me with both despair and hope on almost every page. Honestly, it is a hard story to stomach, as the author draws the reader into the dark world of addition with harrowing depictions inside the mind of the addict and those that love them.

I enjoyed the concept of each chapter beginning with a dream sequence. It set the tone for consistency and I’ve always been a fan of the journal entry approach. The dreams are dark and disturbing, and infuse a brief moment of disorientation– much like when you awaken suddenly from a dream that was so vivid, yet you can’t remember what happened to save your life!

The characters are as authentic as they are maddening. The actions of both Erica and Mona had me fuming many times, actually repeatedly throughout the book. I truly can’t say which one of them presented the most irritating and outrageous behavior: Mona’s attitude, treatment towards her mother, and the lengths she would go to in order to “score,” or Erica’s complete enmeshment with Mona and the things she did to enable her daughter’s actions. Aaarrgghh! Great writing!

I recommend “The Bad Dream Notebook” by Linda Dahl to anyone who has ever been through, or knows someone who has experienced the turmoil of addiction, as well as anyone with an interest in the topic. It is an insightful, honest, and compelling story that will at first break your heart, then deepen your compassion, and finally, restore hope.

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“Fractured: My Journey Back from Death and the Lessons I Learned Along the Way” by Elizabeth Antonucci

FracturedFRACTURED: MY JOURNEY BACK FROM DEATH AND THE LESSONS I LEARNED ALONG THE WAY

Elizabeth Antonucci
easp publications (2017)
ISBN 9780998910406
Reviewed by Kimberly Luyckx for Reader Views (09/17)

This is a story for anyone who has been afraid. It is a handbook for anyone who has been challenged by life’s difficulties. It is also a testament to bravery and acceptance. “Fractured” is Elizabeth Antonucci’s own story of discovery, rebirth and purpose.

It begins with a tragic accident involving Elizabeth and her four friends. Never expecting to fully recover, Elizabeth spends months in hospitals and rehab facilities coping with severe injuries and the image of a horrific experience that consumes her mentally. As she slowly makes her way back to health, her family, friends and her love of theater keep her supported. She discovers that the near death experience she had was a lot closer to the end than she first realized. As she tells the tale, she faces the truth of her connection with the friend who has been killed in the accident and her own reawakening. Elizabeth’s recuperation takes shape thanks to her attentive family and doctors. But true healing occurs when her new puppy and her spiritual healer redirect her time and energy toward concerns outside herself.

Part One of “Fractured” tells the story of Elizabeth’s accident and her road to recovery. While it is reflective and even inspiring at times, the scenario falls flat when it becomes merely an account of events, specifically when details of the accident are relayed. However, there are many examples of rich narrative detail, especially when she describes her unconscious dream state. Here the author evokes an ethereal, almost heavenly quality that makes for an interesting read.

While I believe that many will benefit and be inspired by Elizabeth’s story, this is a young person’s perspective that may not connect well with older readers. Having said that, Elizabeth exhibits insights and wisdom beyond her years. A good example of this is when she describes her return to college for a play, “I wasn’t really present…something wasn’t allowing me to be fully grounded and in my body, probably a defense mechanism to prevent too many emotions from coming back.”

Part Two, in my opinion, is when things really get engaging. It is my favorite part of the book and can definitely stand alone as its own piece of work. In it, Elizabeth provides information on “Lessons Learned” where she shares her thoughts and observations after the accident. In one account, she reveals her negative body image and how it leads to her obsession with dieting. This circumstance is documented and explained so that the reader can truly understand the tragedy involved with an eating disorder. Like her accident, she is devoted to healing this condition. She transfers her negative talk into positive talk and looks to the joyful things in life by vowing to establish a “happiness diet.” These are all ways of coping that parents hope to provide for their own children who suffer with this affliction. Having young daughters myself, I was attentive to the author’s perspective.

Elizabeth follows suit with other difficulties she has faced: dumbing down to fit in, date rape, controlling boyfriends and the pitfalls of social media. As Elizabeth struggles with finding her voice and standing up for herself, I can relate as a woman and a mother. This is definitely a book that I will be passing on to my daughters. If you or someone you know has already experienced some of these issues, it is a reference that can provide support and assurance that you are not the only one. If you are currently struggling with these problems, then it will be a wake-up call. And, for all others, it’s a pre-warning and a preparation for future situations. Either way, Elizabeth is a lovely writer who describes well life’s stumbling blocks.

“Fractured: My Journey Back from Death and the Lessons I Learned Along the Way,” is not only a story of a girl who survives a terrible accident, but a narrative of purpose and deep reflection on a young life. Elizabeth Antonucci is a courageous woman who has the tenacity and drive to continue on the path for which she feels she is destined. Told with wisdom and vigor, her book recounts ten years of consideration on a traumatic life experience that changed her for the better. As the author herself explains it, “I had to rebuild the person I knew I wanted to be.”

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“My Family, My Friends, My Life” by Isabell von der Waldesruh

MyFamilyMyFriendsMyLifeMY FAMILY, MY FRIENDS, MY LIFE – THESE LIFTED ME UP ALONG THE WAY

Isabell von der Waldesruh
Outskirts Press (2017)
ISBN 9781478788683
Reviewed by Kimberly Luyckx for Reader Views (09/17)

“My Family, My Friends, My Life,” traces Rita Lulay Malsch’s 72-year journey from 1944 to the present day. The author, Isabell von der Waldesruh, opens the story in post-war Germany with Rita’s family, who is struggling with their father’s untimely demise. Many of the details center around the rural German town of Heppenheim, a village that has existed since the Middle Ages.

The memoir relates stories about Rita’s mother, three older sisters and her extended family members. Throughout the narrative, there are passages that tell of Rita’s chronic seizure disorder and the strategies she uses to cope with this issue. And how, despite her illness, she garners the time and energy to assist others through her own work. As her home life begins to disintegrate, she meets a man who will take her far from the customs, language and people she knows. Yet, her dedication to her Catholic faith and the family she generates in the United States keeps her rooted. Through Rita’s eyes, the reader can experience her joys and sorrows as she is spirited down a most difficult pathway. In the face of it all she remains resolute and determined. Her own poetry sums it up well: “Looking back at my life, from where I stand now, I see the Lord’s footprints, beside me in a row.”

The author’s writing conveys a memoir quality in that it provides short descriptions from Rita’s early childhood to her present day existence. The composition, told by Rita, is like that of a child reciting information at “show & tell.” You can almost hear the subject’s German accent in the short sentence constructions. This does lend the tale an authentic quality since you truly feel as if Rita herself is reading to you. However, the story has little framework. It consists of paragraphs of sporadic subjects which tell of observations and occurrences. But there is little association between paragraphs. Some of the sections are labeled by historical events that have no direct relationship to the content (although they do provide the reader with a concrete timeline). Since no significant thread of action takes place, the sense of connection is lost. The construct of this biography is assembled in “snippets” of memories rather than a storyline. It reminds me of a scrapbook filled with assorted photos, recipes, song lyrics and travel logs.

Despite the jarring change in subject matter throughout the biography, there are consistent themes and details that draw you back now and then. These often revolve around Rita’s health issues, her religious training, and the records of family births, deaths and transitions. Not to mention, the particulars of rural post-war Germany which may be educational for someone who is seeking material from that part of history. In addition, I enjoyed the details involving the textures, tastes, and smells of Rita’s experiences. When the author describes the spring cowslip flower as smelling “like a fresh apricot,” it reminds me of my own childhood growing up with a European grandmother. Rita’s mother filled her home with the colors and scents of lilacs, lilies and jasmine. I could relate to these as symbols of warmth and happiness.

Waldesruh’s biography of Rita Lulay Malsch is one woman’s story of struggle and transition. It has interesting anecdotes of a life that began simply but quickly filled with difficulties. I would recommend “My Family, My Friends, My Life” by Isabell von der Waldesruh for people that are struggling with seizure disorders as it frames the strain this places on a family and normal living. Despite the unusual circumstances with which Rita is faced, she is a woman who remains strong and determined to fight for a joyful existence.

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“The Covens of Elmeeria” by Miguel Lopez de Leon

TheCovensOfElmeeriaTHE COVENS OF ELMEERIA

Miguel Lopez de Leon
Galadria Worldwide (2017)
ISBN 9780692832837
Reviewed by Evan Weldon (age 15) for Reader Views (9/17)

“The Covens of Elmeeria” by Miguel Lopez de Leon is about eighteen-year-old Nia Roo, crown princess to the majestic kingdom of Elmeeria. Nia has led a sheltered life, loved by the people and with few worries aside from the responsibility of inheriting the crown of Elmeeria.

However, Nia hides a dark secret, the powers of a witch. Soon after her eighteenth birthday Nia is faced with another threat–that of her overly controlling mother, determined to find her a husband. At a feast in which Nia is supposed to meet eligible bachelors selected by her mother, everything falls apart. Enemy soldiers disguised as waiters kill the guards and take the king, queen, and royal guests hostage. Nia manages to escape and flees into the woods controlled by the witches beyond the castle’s walls. There, she must form a plan to stop the enemy soldiers from instigating the total takeover of Elmeeria. Will she be able to come up with a plan? Read and find out.

My favorite character was Fetch, Nia’s pet. Always loyal, he seemed to take on a character of his own throughout the book.  The characters were well crafted and easily relatable, though I thought they sometimes acted in ways inconsistent with their prior behavior.

In addition, I enjoyed the world created by the author. As a fantasy world though it lacked total realism, it was similar enough to Earth to be relatable, but also distinct enough to always keep you on your toes. The writing was great and the descriptions provided by the author were exciting.

I would recommend “The Covens of Elmeeria” by Miguel Lopez de Leon for young adult fans of fantasy fiction. It was an entertaining and pleasurable read.

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