Degree of Normal – A Woman’s Journey Out of Childhood Abuse – A Book Review


Degree of Normal – A Woman’s Journey Out of Childhood Abuse

By: Barbara Harken

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Trauma Survival –  Finding Redemption, Recovery, and Wholeness

Barbara Harken has chosen the platform of a psychological novel to relate her story of surviving childhood trauma, a story of abuse, rejection, and healing. Jocelyn Quint (the fictional Barbara) suddenly finds her defense mechanisms crumbling. Mounting trials follow the unexpected death of her mother.

A chance meeting with a fellow student, Alex Strumme, and the discovery of an unknown aunt, Paula, at her mother’s funeral, gave Jocelyn a ray of hope, the first step in breaking down the walls of recovery, and the possibility of finding emotional healing through redemptive love and courage. Small steps forward, then, another relapse into the fear of trusting anyone, and taking back the identity image of shame, pain and unworthiness; a cycle, repeated, over and over again; a stark look into the dark side of the multifaceted power of PTSD over its victim.

Barbara’s writing is punctuated with well-chosen descriptive phrases, gripping realism, and heartbreaking reality. Her story depicts the true picture of what dissociative identity disorder and PTSD is like from the point of view of the survivor. The book is designed to help these victims discover their own voice, their own strength, and their own pathway to healing and recovery.

Harkens has an ability to reach deeply into the soul of the reader and draw out an unknown sense of empathy for the hurting with understanding, the ability to listen without judging, and to listen with understanding, leading to self-discovery, and a personal sense of wholeness.

Barbara Harkens teaches writing at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. This is her third novel

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

Robert Reed Publishers, P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon 97411, 978-1944297107, $ 16.95, 264 Pages

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A  Pair of Miracles – A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting By Karla Akins – A Book Review


A  Pair of Miracles – A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting

By Karla Akins

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

An Extraordinarily Touching Account of Facing the Challenge of Autism

“A Pair of Miracles” is an extraordinarily touching account of a family faced with the challenges of Autism. Karla Akins tackles questions of faith, of wrestling with God, misconceptions about people with autism, community awareness, advice for parenting, and tools for ministry volunteers working with students experiencing the challenges of developmental disability.

Karla Akins, an advocate for parents impacted by the anxiety, frustration and despair of raising children with autism. Statistics indicate that an estimated one in 68 children are afflicted with an autism spectrum disorder. Akins writes to encourage the increasing number of parents feeling without help and alone. Her writing is filled with the compassion and understanding of one who has traveled the journey.

Karla is mother of five, including twin boys Isaac and Isiah, (now twenty-one years old), diagnosed with autism. She is a pastor’s wife, sharing in the ministry of the church and has nearly 40 years of teaching experience, including a degree in special education and a doctorate in Christian Education.

Each chapter of “A Pair of Miracles – A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting” is filled with encouragement, valuable information on neurological or cognitive disabilities, functional skills, teaching strategies, important resources, and communication tips. An extraordinarily touching account of facing the challenges of Autism; highly recommended.

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

Kregel Publishing, 2450 Oak Industrial Drive N. E., Grand Rapids, MI 49505

 

 

 

 

Check Mate: Clans and Castles By: p.m. terrell – Book Review


Check Mate: Clans and Castles

By: p.m. terrell

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Intrigue, Adventure, Narrative Fiction, at its Finest

Check Mate: Clans and Castles is a creative fictional novel, developed from Terrell’s ancestral background, through the 10 generations since King James I, of England. The book is based on the true story of the life of William Neely of Wigtownshire, Scotland.  In 1608, young William  Neely left Scotland for Ulster, in search of himself and his purpose in life.

Award winning author p.m. terrell introduces a new reality to the enjoyment of the historical novel in “Check Mate: Clans and Castles.”  Terrell weaves a unique blend of historical fiction with authentic nonfiction.

Terrell introduces a new level of excellence to the historical novel.  Using the mastery of an artist, Terrell paints colorful word pictures and descriptive phrases that are so exquisitely well-chosen that the reader is magnetically drawn into the plot, taking on a role as an active participant in the intrigue of the story.

I became so deeply involved in the historical accuracy and extensiveness of terrel’s research that I felt compelled to research my own family heritage in England during this period, hoping to learn more of what it was that caused my ancestors to leave England to sail for Boston in the mid-1860s.

Readers of a Scot-Irish descent will resonate with Terrell’s account of events that led to beginning of age of the Plantation, and the transformation of all of Ulster. “Check Mate: Clans and Castles” is true Terrell, writing at her finest, “Causing History to Come Alive.”

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

Drake Valley Press, P.O. Box 979, Clinton, Mississippi, 39060

Invisible: Surviving the Cambodian Genocide – The Memoirs of Mac and Simone Leng By: Frances T. Pilch – A Book Review


Invisible: Surviving the Cambodian Genocide – The Memoirs of Mac and Simone Leng

By: Frances T. Pilch

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Superstition, Disease, Determination, and Drought, in the Crisis, Chaos, and Tragedy of War

Dr. Frances T. Pilch captures the spirit of Mac and Simone Leng in her book “Invisible: Surviving the Cambodian Genocide – The Memoirs of Mac and Simone Leng.” The Cambodian genocide carried out by the Khmer Rouge regime led by Pol Pot between 1975 and 1979 forced relocation of the population from urban centers. Some were sent to labor camps and others to rural farming projects. Forced labor, torture, mass executions, malnutrition, disease, and starvation took the lives of an estimated 2 million people in Cambodia.

Mac and Simone Leng are among the survivors. “Invisible” is the dramatic account of of the horrors they experienced throughout their nearly four years of  struggling for survival amidst the chaotic and inhuman living conditions that existed in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge.

I was deeply touched by Mac’s tribute to Simone as he credits her with the determination, loyalty, resourcefulness, and generosity that enabled their family to pull together in their plight for survival. Simone describes Mac this way. “He put his family above himself. It was a bond much deeper that the word “love” often implies. We were everything to each other.”  Mac, Simone, and their family were not just challenged “to survive, but to survive without losing their humanity.”

“Invisible: Surviving the Cambodian Genocide – The Memoirs of Mac and Simone Leng” is important reading for every American; a call to speak out against inhumanity, tyranny, and cruelty.

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

Robert D. Reed Publishers PO. Box 192, Bandon, OR 97411


Success with People – Your Action Plan for Prosperity and Success

By Cavett Robert

Sound Wisdom

  1. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 978-0768408409, $ 15.99, 2015, 214 Pgs

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

 

An Action Plan for Successful Group Dynamics through Human Engineering
Cavett Robert’s book “Success with People – Your Action Plan for Prosperity and Success” is based on his six principles on the science of knowing how to deal with people. The application of these principles will not only help you discover a new way of influencing others, but will also lead to a better understanding of self.

 

A unique writing style, eye catching topical headings, a reader friendly format and stimulating content all reinforce and enrich Robert’s practical and common sense approach to the dynamics of learning. His writing is engaging and will provide the reader with an understanding of what causes people to act, the anatomy of persuasion, and the credentials of leadership. His proposals are often simple yet always profound, challenging individuals: to know what you are doing, enjoy what you are doing, and to believe in what you are doing.

 

“Success with People – Your Action Plan for Prosperity and Success” is for anyone on the journey to experience a more constructive life; those concerned about their future earning power, measuring their service to others, and learning more about the importance of a positive ethics while growing in professionalism.

Transformational reading.

 

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

Our Journey with Alzheimer’s – Notes from My Journal, June 28, 2016


 

“God usually answers our prayer so much more according to the measure of His own magnificence than our asking that we do not recognize His benefits to those for which we sought Him.” Coventry Patmore

On April 1, 2007 I made this note in my Caregiver’s Journal.

“Today I became a writer.  I had an epiphany – an “aha” moment for me.  I hurried to the car to find a pen. I scribbled a note on the back of my Target sales receipt.  I didn’t want to lose my nugget of wisdom.  Later in the day I grabbed a pen while shaving.  I didn’t want to lose another gem, a perfect descriptive phrase.”

Over nine years have passed since my remarkable epiphany. Two years later in the fall of 2009 I had another epiphany of sorts. I’ll describe it this way: in an excerpt from an assignment in a writing workshop series sponsored by the Bridgman Library, I wrote:

I have a great idea. I know what I’m working on. I just need a push in the right direction and some guidance through the inevitable pitfalls along the way.

I naively completed a questionnaire stating my premise of writing A Caregiver’s Journey – One Man’s Commitment to Caregiving. I then prepared a time line of weekly goals I needed to achieve in order to write a rough draft of from 35,000 to 60,000 words. I had set a goal finishing the rough draft ready for my first edit.

 

A lot has happened in the nearly seven years since then. The manuscript was not completed as planned.

 

The story is still in the making.  Today is a new beginning of another chapter on an unknown story of our journey; a day at a time in a walk of faith with Thelma, an amazing lady.

 

“…so walk…just as you were instructed…overflowing with gratitude.”

From the writing of the Apostle Paul in a letter to the Colossians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holy Spirit – The One Who Makes Jesus Real By: Michael Koulianos A Book Report


Holy Spirit – The One Who Makes Jesus Real

By: Michael Koulianos

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Let the Holy Spirit Kindle the Flame as He Leads You into Knowing Jesus in a New Dimension

I was intrigued by Michael Koulianos’ question, “Have you ever seen Jesus?” This is the first chapter of Michael’s book “Holy Spirit – The One Who Makes Jesus Real.” By the end of chapter one, I knew I was going to experience a whole new dimension in my walk with Jesus, my relationship with God, through the Holy Spirit.

Michael Koulianos combines the story of his spiritual journey with Biblical truths on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Michael focuses on the role of the Spirit in our lives, in giving us access to the presence and resurrection power of Jesus, to reconsider and encounter Him as savior, and to develop a dynamic relationship with Him as Son of God.

Michael is authentic and genuine; he writes with authority, from his experiences; telling of his personal encounters with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Michael’s book is destined to ignite the hearts of those hungering to know more of God.

Michael Koulianos author, international evangelist, and founder of Jesus Image, has a passion for bringing the saving and healing message of Jesus to the world.

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

Destiny Image Publications, Inc. P.O. Box 310, Shippensburg, Pa 17257, 978-07684116983, $16.99, 272 pages

 

 


W. Clement Stone’s Believe and Achieve – 17 Principles of Success

Sound Wisdom, P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 9780768408362,

$ 15.99, 2016, 278 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake, richard330@yahoo.com

 

Time Tested Principles for Achieving Success

 

  1. Clement Stone’s “Believe and Achieve – 17 Principles of Success” is an official publication of the Napoleon Hill Foundation. The writings and principles introduced by Clement Stone and Napoleon Hill have influenced and become the model for contemporary motivational writers. Nationally recognized leaders in industry and highly influential people in the medical and educational fields also validate the soundness of these principles.

 

The book is divided into five categories:

 

  • Attitudinal Principles which emphasize the importance of a positive mental attitude and a well-defined purpose
  • Personal Principles which discuss initiative, enthusiasm, self-discipline, finances, and health.
  • Fraternal Principles which introduces the Master-mind alliance and teamwork
  • Intellectual principles that include creative vision, controlled attention and accurate thinking
  • Spiritual Principles of applied faith and the constancy of change

 

Anecdotes and success stories demonstrate the importance of learning from defeat; going the extra mile, taking initiative, and maintaining enthusiasm; these stories are interspersed throughout the book. Readers can easily identify with the testimonials, and become motivated to apply the principles personally.

 

This revised and updated edition of W. Clement Stone’s “Believe and Achieve – 17 Principles of Success” is must reading for anyone today seeking to achieve success in business, relationships, and a personal sense of finding purpose.

 

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

Chasing Famous – Living the Life you’ve Always Auditioned For By: Lisa Lloyd – A Book Review


Chasing Famous – Living the Life you’ve Always Auditioned For By: Lisa LloydProduct Details

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Using the Stage as a Platform to Proclaim the Prominence God for His Glory

In her book “Chasing Famous – Living the Life you’ve Always Auditioned For,” Lisa shifts the focus from self-seeking affirmation to pointing people to God as the one to be honored. The theme of exchanging auditioning for approval from the crowds and seeking world renown challenges the reader to change the focus and to seek to proclaim the excellences of God.

Chapters are filled with Scripture truths and an invitation to:

  • Embrace yourself as unique
  • Find God’s unique purpose for you
  • Break free of the bondage of shame and guilt
  • Boldly step out to accomplish your mission of proclaiming the redemptive message of Christ.

Lisa’s writing is articulate, relevant, profoundly thought provoking, and rich in illustrative metaphor. Lisa is openly transparent; and shares an account of an incident from her life when she was young, vulnerable, and felt alone and trapped. She also tells of events in her career where God orchestrated unexpected blessing after a period of testing.

The ‘Questions to Consider’ feature at the end of each chapter can be easily adapted for use as a Reading Guide for book clubs or a discussion guide for small group Bible studies.

Destined to become a spokesperson for a new generation of Christian women, Lisa Lloyd is a successful actress and writer and is a popular speaker at women’s retreats, conferences, and other events, nationally. “Chasing Famous – Living the Life you’ve Always Auditioned For” is highly endorsed by her peers, and by well-known Christian leaders.

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

New Hope Publishers, P. O. Box 12065, Birmingham, AL 35202, 978-1625915177, $ 14.99, 2017, 192 pages

 

Chasing Famous – Living the Life you’ve Always Auditioned For By: Lisa Lloyd – A Book Review


Chasing Famous – Living the Life you’ve Always Auditioned For By: Lisa LloydProduct Details

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Using the Stage as a Platform to Proclaim the Prominence God for His Glory

In her book “Chasing Famous – Living the Life you’ve Always Auditioned For,” Lisa shifts the focus from self-seeking affirmation to pointing people to God as the one to be honored. The theme of exchanging auditioning for approval from the crowds and seeking world renown challenges the reader to change the focus and to seek to proclaim the excellences of God.

Chapters are filled with Scripture truths and an invitation to:

  • Embrace yourself as unique
  • Find God’s unique purpose for you
  • Break free of the bondage of shame and guilt
  • Boldly step out to accomplish your mission of proclaiming the redemptive message of Christ.

Lisa’s writing is articulate, relevant, profoundly thought provoking, and rich in illustrative metaphor. Lisa is openly transparent; and shares an account of an incident from her life when she was young, vulnerable, and felt alone and trapped. She also tells of events in her career where God orchestrated unexpected blessing after a period of testing.

The ‘Questions to Consider’ feature at the end of each chapter can be easily adapted for use as a Reading Guide for book clubs or a discussion guide for small group Bible studies.

Destined to become a spokesperson for a new generation of Christian women, Lisa Lloyd is a successful actress and writer and is a popular speaker at women’s retreats, conferences, and other events, nationally. “Chasing Famous – Living the Life you’ve Always Auditioned For” is highly endorsed by her peers, and by well-known Christian leaders.

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

New Hope Publishers, P. O. Box 12065, Birmingham, AL 35202, 978-1625915177, $ 14.99, 2017, 192 pages