The Shattering II – Breaking the Silence

By: Marsha Barth

Reviewed By Richard R. Blake

A Memoir Written as a Novel – A Shattering Story of Child Sexual Abuse

In her book “The Shattering II – Breaking the Silence” Marsha Barth uses a fictional character, Julie, to relate her story of overcoming child sexual abuse. Through Julie, Marsha, tells how she tried to bury the hurt, pain, and heartbreaking trauma of parental verbal, physical, and sexual abuse.

Marsha’s writing is candid, open, realistic, and forthright. She helps the reader understand the devastation and intense traumatic sense of shame and hopelessness of the victim of abuse. Marsha tell how the aftermath of abuse shatters the spirit, robs its victims of self-worth, value and inadequacy, and an understanding of the meaning of true love. The social stigma and emotional scars of shame and guilt that follow are demeaning and unspeakable.

Marsha Barth is an inspirational speaker, author, and advocate for breaking the silence of the ongoing cycle of sexual abuse. She offers hope to victims in their quest for wholeness.

“The Shattering II” is a story with spiritual implication, an amazing story of a survivor of the hurt, pain, and brokenness of abuse, of her steadfast faith and her determination to overcome the hopelessness of a being victimized to claim victory, inner peace, and healing.

Deeply moving, clearly insightful, an important relevant message at a time when there are reportedly over 60,000,000 survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and countless other victims of rape, domestic abuse, and bullying.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Robert D. Reed Publishers, P . O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon, 97411, 978-1944297053, $16.95, 2017, 360 Pages


Teaching School is a Scream! Confessions of a Career Substitute By Judy Woods-Knight – A Book Review

Teaching School is a Scream! Confessions of a Career Substitute
By Judy Woods-Knight
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake
The Art and Challenge of Creating a Win/Win Teaching Situation

Using a memoir writing form Judy Woods-Knight tells of her experiences as a career substitute teacher. Her book “Teaching School is a Scream! Confessions of a Career Substitute” is filled with practical advice, lots of humor, and actual classroom experiences.

Judy’s enthusiasm, optimistic spirit, and subtle sense of humor help her face the uncertainties, and hassles so often prevailing in contemporary classrooms. Judy tells of the excitement and challenge “of daring children to cooperate and have real fun learning.”

In her preface Judy talks about the reasons she chose to become a substitute rather than having her “own classroom and all the benefits that go along with a full-time job.”  She goes on to develop some of the advantages for anyone who may be in the process of change or in the early stages of preparation for a career in teaching.

In a natural and logical progression Judy offers recommendations for creating a “Tool Kit” as well as back up plans for your first day as a substitute. She then moves into Part 1 of the book which is filled practical ideas for dealing with unforeseen dilemmas, with humorous and heartwarming stories, and with those unexpected miracles that bring joy and hope back to the classroom.

The final sections of the book deal with hands-on suggestions and illustrations for defusing problems and preventing disasters; she concludes with dozens of resource ideas and valuable suggestion for making learning fun.

Whether a Regular Classroom teacher or a Career Substitute you will resonate with Judy Knight’s heartwarming stories, real-world examples, and fun loving sense of humor.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Robert D. Reed Publishers
P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon 97411
978-1944297077, $ 12.95, 2017, 136 pages

It’s A New Life – Mom is Gone – A Memoir about Living Independently with Severe Cerebral Palsy – By Steven Salmon – A Book Review

It’s A New Life – Mom is Gone – A Memoir about Living Independently with Severe Cerebral Palsy

By: Steven B. Salmon

Robert D. Reed Publishers, P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon, 97411, 9781944297152, $ 12.95, 2017, 154 Pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

A Candid Message of Living with the Difficulties of Severe Cerebral Palsy

“It’s A New Life – Mom is Gone – A Memoir about Living Independently with Severe Cerebral Palsy” is Steven D. Salmon’s story.  This is an amazing Story of the aspirations, determination, dedication, and diligence that have motivated Steven in his passion to become a recognized, successful, and accomplished author. Steven shares his story of overcoming challenges to write about the physically disabled. He serves as a voice and advocate for the many who do not have a voice that is being heard

Steven’s mother dedicated her life to help him succeed. Steven has a Bachelor of Science degree in English with a writing minor from the University of Wisconsin- Stevens point and a Liberal Arts degree from Madison College. All these years his mother served as his primary care giver, so he could go on to pursue a writing career

When his mother could no longer meet all of Steve’s physical needs, health attendants were hired to become a care team. Things dramatically changed the day his mother fell several times. Steven alerted the family with a call for help. When help arrived his Mom was taken to the Emergency Hospital, she never returned home. She died of a cardiac arrest.

The realization that “Mom is Gone” thrust Steven into a new stage in his story. He now had to face the challenge of living independently with severe cerebral palsy.

I found it hard to put Steven’s book down. There were other times when he was so gut wrenching honest it was hard to go on reading.  I felt uncomfortable. As I continued to read Steven’s story, I begin to see life through a new set of eyes. I felt ashamed and embarrassed for living in an uncomfortable vacuum of hypocritical empathy, without recognizing the dignity or character of the individual in a wheel chair, quietly seeking acknowledgement, affirmation, or maybe even an act of friendship.

Steven has ignited a new flame and refueled my passion to write with the reminder to:  Believe in yourself, be patient, never give up. He encourages us to exchange our fears, failures, and impatience for hopes and dreams of success. This is the advice and encouragement he received from his friends, and now passes along to his readers.

I am left with an indelible picture of Steven at his computer, in four hour blocks of time, using a Morse code word choice program.  Since he cannot use his hands, he uses his head to tap out his words.

“It’s A New Life – Mom is Gone” is a gripping story of the severe physical limitations, the pain of loneliness, of feeling being lost, scared, and tired; all while in the pursuit of bringing an influential message of hope to a unique people who have been looked upon as unemployable, who are relegated to become wards of the state living in group houses, highly medicated, forgotten victims of the “system.”

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.




Lessons from Zachary – A Book Review

Lessons from Zachary – Turning Disability into Possibility

By Sandy Scott

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

Engaging and Releasing Hidden Powers Within – Standing Strong Through the Storm

Just twelve days after his birth Zachary Scott was diagnosed as severely physically and intellectually disabled. This news began a journey into the uncharted territory of the unknown for Sandy and Jonathan Scott; a heart-rending journey plagued by unexpected disappointments and uncertainties. The daily stresses of hectic schedules, social pressures, and the demands created by Zachary’s disabilities became overwhelming.

Sandy was devastated and frustrated by an unexpected and unusual combination of strained relationships and in desperation was forced to look within herself and to choose a new perspective – one that unleashed in her the power of love.

Sandy reached into the resources of unexplored potential to become a leader in coaching leaders in healthcare, to parents of children with disabilities, and to train professionals in the healthcare and educational fields.

Sandy’s writing is authentic, genuine, realistic and relevant. Her premises are well thought out, her choice of words stir the imagination of the reader and enable them to relate personally to her journey through a complex set of circumstances. As the reader becomes deeply involved in Sandy’s story; her insights and the lessons she learned become personal and identifiable and provide a new understanding into the complications, experiences and unknown potential of their own lives. Dozens of well-chosen pictures and good photography add a whole extra dimension to the heart felt emotions of love, pathos, and positive impact of Zachary’s life.

“Lessons from Zachary” will resonate with readers who have been touched by the challenge of disappointment in broken relationships and other personal tragedy; readers in need of a message of hope, and a strategy for tapping into their unknown potential.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

International Publishing Works, P. O. Box 415, Bellevue, Colorado 50512-0415, 978-097759205, 1995, 2017, 264 Pages






My Story in Black and White – The Autobiography of Jesse O. Thomas – A Book Review

My Story in Black and White – The Autobiography of Jesse O. Thomas

by Jesse O. Thomas/ Rosemary Braxton

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

A Marvelous Story of Persistence in the Face o Adversity and Injustice

“My Story in Black and White” presents an absorbing account of a period in Black history, including antidotes that reflect a vivid observation into the relationships, behind the scenes drama, and an overall picture of the progression  made possible by the cooperation these personalities (black and white) that influenced the direction and motivation taken by educational institutions, government agencies, and economic environment during the first 50 years of the 20th century. The book is adapted from original autobiographical notes of Jesse O. Thomas, facilitated by his daughter Rosemary Braxton.

The author captures an amazing glimpse into the life, brilliance and accomplishments of George Washington Carver’s scientific imagination, and of the impact of Booker T. Washington’s life and influence on government officials.

While an undergraduate at Tuskegee Institute, Jesse Thomas came to the attention of Booker T. Washington and President Theodore Roosevelt. The results of these contacts opened doors for Thomas to become an outstanding influence and spokesperson for educational causes, for the underprivileged, for racial inequality and for integration, and desegregation.

Readers will find nuggets of truth which lie hidden away in Braxton’s detailed account, begging to be discovered, mined, polished and recognized as true gems of treasured wisdom.

““My Story in Black and White” is the story of a man who believes that regardless of the circumstances of birth, racial identity, or heredity it is man’s purpose to fulfill his destiny by making a contribution to make toward advancing the world during his generation. Jesse O. Thomas is an example of this kind of man; a man of accomplishment and purpose.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Robert D. Reed Publishers, P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411, 9781934759981, $ 14.95, 2015, 360 pages

From the Heart – The Life of a Jewish Boy During World War II in Palestine By Alexandro Modena – A Book Review

From the Heart – The Life of a Jewish Boy During World War II in Palestine

By Alexandro Modena

Robert D. Reed Publishers, P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411

978-1944297022, $ 14.95, 2016, 120 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Important Lessons Learned During the Hard Times

Alexandro Modena captures the essence of the adversities he and his family faced while existing in poverty at a time when Jews, Arabs, and Christians lived together in Palestine, when the cultures were changing and during a time the country was occupied by the British Army.

Modena’s memoir “From the Heart – The Life of a Jewish Boy During World War II in Palestine” focuses on his values and perceptions he learned as a fourth grader under the tutelage of Mr. Cohen,  the only male teacher in his elementary school.

These observations are narrated by Alex voice expressed form a 10 year old’s perception level, but with amazing insight. Each chapter details an experience revealing his progress and development as seen through his: improved grades, confidence, self-esteem, and lessons learned about genuine friendship, envy, greed, forgiveness, and deception.  Alex recorded these lessons in a special journal that ended with a short poignant summary statement.

Preteens, teens, and adults will benefit from reading “From the Heart” a heart touching real life story modeling good citizenship, establishing genuine friendships, and living as a community. A fast moving story told with pathos, including Alex’s personal setbacks, and victories.

“From the Heart – The Life of a Jewish Boy During World War II in Palestine” is timely reading for today’s challenges, ideal for opening family discussions with contemporary applications. Highly recommended.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my onw.




Troubled Mission by John Wagner – A Book Review

Troubled Mission

By: John Wagner

Kelly House, Sacramento, California, 978-0996248501, $ 14.99, 2015, 292 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

A Quest for Personal Transformation and Self Discovery in the Midst of Terrorist Violence, Corrupt Government, and Injustice

In “Troubled Mission” author John Wagner takes his reader on a dramatic adventure; a quest for personal transformation, justice and human rights, in the midst of terrorist violence, and increasing corruption in government. Wagner combines the literary forms of the fictional novel with this gripping personal memoir presented as an eye witness account of his personal mission to fight for the plight and rights of the underprivileged in Peru, South America. The novel is based on the events, terror, and bloodshed which occurred during the chaotic period of Sendero Luminoso’s regime.

Wagner’s writing is penetrating and thought provoking, filled with descriptive phrases and carefully crafted word pictures that enable the reader to visualize the scenic wonders of Peru and become immersed in the culture of the people. The introduction of romance adds another human dimension to an already dramatic, fast moving plot filled with corruption and terror, spiritual redemption and social interaction.

“Troubled Mission” is a fascinating account of one man’s potential impact while on mission for the human rights of the under privileged in the midst of a country plagued by injustice, under an autocratic government, and political corruption. The book is highly readable, with unforgettable content; steeped in social, political, and spiritual awareness.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Life Lessons from Proverbs by Jack Nordgren – A Book Review

Life Lessons from Proverbs, By Jack Nordgren

Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 978-1500252434, $ 9.95, 2014, 108 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Thoughtful Wise Words to Live By

In his book “Life Lessons from Proverbs” Jack Nordgren draws practical applications for daily life from selected verses found in the book of Proverbs; through personal stories from Jack’s own life experiences.

A unique feature of Jack’s writing is his “down to earth” way of communicating truths, in practical terms that speak to the heart. He is open and honest in his writing.  He writes with an amazing insight into human nature and the resultant consequences of sin and selfish desires; the pain divorce, the chains of addictions, tragedy, hurt and suffering. He also offers encouragement with stories of the blessings of reconciliations and changed lives.

Each chapter is filled with hands-on guidelines for practical living and with suggestions for effective ministry, including: lessons on listening, lessons from the lottery, and the secret of facing the fear of sudden disaster.

Jack’s earlier books tell of his spiritual journey, from surfing in Lake Michigan to a call to Chaplaincy and a ministry to surfers on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. “Wave Chasers’ Volume I and II tell of searching for surf on Lake Michigan and on the Great Lakes.

Jack writes for surfers, men and women. Life Lessons from Proverbs is a book and  for all readers facing the struggles and challenged of life today.

A complimentary copy of this book was received for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.




The Other Side of Heaven – An After Death Experience by Russ A. and Virginia G. Vassallo – A Book Review

The Other Side of Heaven – An After Death Experience

By: Russel A. and Virginia G. Vassallo

Krazy Duck Productions, Liberty, 2227 Woods Creek Rd, Kentucky 42539

978-0996162210, $ 26.00, 2015, 372 Pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

A Life and Death Heartwarming Story of Love Threatened by Misunderstanding, Insecurity, and Resentment

In their book “The Other Side of Heaven – An After Death Experience” Russ and Virginia Vassallo provide inspiration and encouragement to readers experiencing suffering and pain that comes with the uncertainty and devastation of losing a loved one and the imminence of death.

Russ’ account is reflective and autobiographical; not necessarily chronological, sometimes humorous, often profound, with a lot of insight, and stimulating unanswered questions. Virginia’s story ties together some loose ends in an orderly sequence of events and adds a positive perspective on some issues needing resolution or closure while finding purpose to the uncertainties of the relational misunderstanding introduced in Russ’s narrative.

As the hours turn to days and the days to weeks, in the hospital, Russ’ thoughts turn inward.  On more than one occasion his heart stopped, while clinically dead Russ envisions a glimpse of heaven. He tells of conversations with his guardian angel Malcius and with Jesus. He describes heaven as a place of mist, just out of sight, where all the loved ones of God reside, a place of peace and harmony.

In a brutally honest openness  Russ relates the indelible imprint of parental neglect and the needless negative input and verbal abuse led to disappointment, insecurity, and a low self-esteem that led to misunderstanding, resentment, and mistrust in his expectations of Virginia’s love. He relates the impact of his culture and relives the anguish resulting from resentment and thoughts of vengeance.

Stories of growing up in Newark, of relatives linked to the mafia, of his days as a successful lawyer and bring back wonderful memories of the past which are linked together with recurring themes of a fierce determination for justice, his inability to see his own value, questions as to why he was spared from death and entering heaven, and of finding purpose and solace in the rituals of the church.

“The Other Side of Heaven – An After Death Experience” is a beautiful story of finding love, redemption, and peace; an inspirational journey, filled with encouragement for the reader “homesick” for healing memories of the past.

A complimentary copy of the book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.




Finding Home with the Beatles, Bob Dyland and Billy Graham – A Book Review

Finding Home with the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Billy Graham

By: Jess Archer

WestBow Press, 1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403978-1512721614, $ 11.95, 2015, 124 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

Struggles with Insecurity – On a Path Leading to Finding Home
In her book “Finding Home with the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Billy Graham” Jess Archer describes a transitory life style with inescapable adjustments; of creating new family routines in another rented house or apartment in a new neighborhood, with new schools, stores, and doctors, over a period of 15 years.

Jess opens her heart to the reader with candor and frankness in a way that help them identify with her anxiety struggles, fears and doubts as well as discovering new insights into finding answers to their own questions of faith, purpose, and spiritual meaning.

Archer’s sensitive poetic nature, beautiful descriptive phrases, and her gift of communication enhance her writing skills. Add her sense of humor and light hearted wit, and you know you are in for an exceptional read.

“Finding Home with the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Billy Graham” will resonate with three audiences: those touched by the Billy Graham Crusades going back to the well-publicized crusade in Los Angeles that launched the Crusades in the early fifties, the fans of the music of the Beatles and Bob Dylan who were searching for purpose and meaning to life, and the generation who responded the Youth Crusades of the Nineties.

Brilliant writing. Highly recommended.