Tag Archives: Book Review

Anti-Procrastination Tuesday – My Post for Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Goals This Week


Complete Outstanding Book Reviews::

1) Completed The Nature of God by Mona Hanna

2) Completed Everblossom by Larissa Hinton

3) Completed The Imitation of Patsy Burke by John J. Gaynard

4) A Marked Heart by David George Ball

5) Completed Recipes for Disaster by Sheryl Browne


Books to Read This Week (and Hope to Review!!)::

1) The Devil’s Legacy by Tom Jackson

2) A Life Lived Ridiculously by Dr Annabelle R Charbit

3) Seven Point Eight by Marie Harbon

And, if I accomplish all of these goals…..  I will definitely bring myself some Joy!!!

Please visit Amy at “New Nostalgia“, the originator of Anti-Procrastination Tuesday. Amy has a wonderful blog!



Choose Joy!



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“The Pineville Heist” by Lee Chambers

Seventeen year old Aaron stumbles into the aftermath of a five million dollar bank heist gone wrong. Hiding under a canoe, Aaron partially catches the murder of one of the robbers. In the chaos he sneaks away with the money and heads straight for the closest place of safety, his high school. Terrified, Aaron tells his shocking tale to Amanda Becker, his drama teacher, but it doesn’t take long for one of the psychotic robbers to show up. In the locked down school the pair are relentlessly pursued in a quest to get the money back and wipe out the evidence. (from amazon.com) 

Original Cover

Aaron Stevens is a typical high school student, who argues with his father, and likes to skip the occasional class.  Aaron’s father is very wealthy, and that wealth sometimes becomes a thorn in Aaron’s side, and gives other students a reason to raze him.   

On an ordinary day, Aaron and two of his friends get caught in the middle of a bank heist; a bank heist that now includes guns, murder, lost friendships, and death.  This kind of excitement is more than Aaron and his friends bargained for.  Aaron quickly becomes the key, the centre of an intricate plot that captures the reader’s attention, and keeps hold until the final paragraph. 

The story moves at a quick pace; sometimes taking wonderful gigantic leaps!  The reader will want to keep up – and quite possibly read the book in one sitting. The book is classed as “Middle Grade” reading, but I recommend that any adult who likes adventure and mystery, pick up “The Pineville Heist” soon!  It is definitely a good read! 

Middle Grade students will no doubt enjoy “The Pineville Heist”.  My only comment is a word of caution, with respect to the occasional injection of swearing into the conversation.  While it is likely that Middle Grade students will pass by this language without a thought, I found it unnecessary in a book of the calibre of “The Pineville Heist”. 

New Front Cover

The author, Lee Chambers, keeps situation and character description to a minimum.  Action and dialogue take centre stage, treating the reader to mind-spinning and mind-boggling twists and turns.  In Aaron Stevens, Chambers has created a very likeable hero, who remains through it all, an ordinary guy who exhibits extraordinary courage, someone the reader will care about and cheer on until the last page. 

This is a fabulous adventure and mystery novel, sent to me by Lee Chambers, in exchange for an impartial review.  A review I am very happy to post. 


“The Joy of the Written Word” was exemplified as I smiled and gasped my way through “The Pineville Heist”!  Definitely a wonderful read. 

Choose Joy! 





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Book Review: “A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story” as given to Dee Ready

On a late winter’s day in 1972, a kitten soon to be named Dulcy found a woman worthy to be her human. For the next 17 years, Dulcy and her human learned to communicate on a level deeper than language and to comfort one another with affectionate routines that softened the shocks of an inconstant world. (from Goodreads) 

Let me begin at the end…  As I start to write this book review, the only thought in my mind is: how many of my “cat-human” friends can I give this book to?  Seriously.  I’m creating the list right now in my mind! 

When Dulcy’s human, Dee Ready, gifted me with this treasure of a book, in exchange for my honest review, I was not quite sure how readable it would be.  I mean, would Dee have received Dulcy’s words, as Dulcy would desire?   If not, Dulcy’s story could go quite awry, which I know Dulcy would not have appreciated.  But, fortunately for Dulcy, and for all of us, Dee received the words in the manner they were intended – lovingly; and Dee gave them back to us as they were intended – lovingly.  Of course this really was a given, as after all, Dulcy’s human is an “unwhiskered cat”. 

Dulcy’s story is a story of love, a love that springs to life when a cat and a human choose each other, guided by a power greater than both.  This is the main theme of this uniquely memorable book. 

Rather than simply being a linear telling of a chronological story, “A Cat’s Life:  Dulcy’s Story”, connects the reader beyond Dulcy’s life, to the life of her human, the person we know to be Dee Ready.  This attests to Dee Ready’s skill of storytelling, a gift that enables her to relate Dulcy’s story, without one mention of herself by name, without any explanation as to why she and Dulcy moved or travelled as they did.  No explanation was required by Dulcy, who simply trusted her human to lovingly preside over all her needs.   

As a reader, I became naturally curious about Dee’s life.  I found myself wanting to know why Dee and Dulcy travelled to, and lived in, different homes over the course of their years together.  But, I also recognized that this story was not about Dee’s life journey, it was about Dee and Dulcy’s shared life journey.  Maybe, Dee Ready will write another story, one that focuses on herself, her family, her career path, her unique life journey.  All things I found myself wondering about as I followed Dulcy’s story. 

I believe Dulcy and Dee have captured honest feelings, about how special the bonds between cat and human can be.  In the sharing of their story, the true wonder of this special bond can be captured by those who have experienced similar relationships, and also by those who have not.   

I highly recommend this book, to all who have been chosen by a cat, to be their human.  I also recommend it to anyone, who would like to read about the pure essence of a shared love. 

Need I even ask my question: “Where is the Joy in this Written Word”?  Joy leaps out of the pages of this very precious and unique tale, of a love that lasts forever. 

Choose Joy! 




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Book Review: “Inner Pilgrimage: Ten Days to a Mindful Me” by Raji Lukkoor

with His Holiness S. N. Goenka

A young woman’s yearning for inner peace is about to be realized–at a trip to the woods to unlock the secrets of the ever-thinking mind. Hosted by spiritual master S. N. Goenka, a ten-day vipassana meditation retreat that she attends irrevocably alters her perspective…and her future. Inner Pilgrimage: Ten Days to a Mindful Me is a comprehensive, moment-by-moment description of the author’s ten-day vipassana meditation retreat. The story unfolds with her arrival at the retreat as an ordinary citizen seeking a calmer, more centered existence. Sacrificing every luxury and self-indulgence, and following a rigid daily routine that excludes reading, writing, praying, listening to music, watching TV, and talking, the author spends ten hours every day, meditating.  Inner Pilgrimage provides rich imagery and clearly articulated details of the author’s physical experience and her mental & emotional states, during sustained meditation. It provides a compelling insight into her experience of discovering the realm and rewards of vipassana meditation. (from Goodreads) 

Raji Lukkoor’s experience on a vipassana meditation retreat inspired her to craft the book:  “Inner Pilgrimage:  Ten Days to a Mindful Me”.  I was immediately drawn to the words in the title:  “Inner Pilgrimage”, “Mindful Me”.   The words conveyed a feeling of calm and serenity, along with a desire to discover self. 

Vipassana meditation, also known as insight meditation, is a journey of personal awareness that can transform the quality of our lives.  And this book is about one person’s journey with vipassana meditation, as experienced on a ten day retreat. 

This vipassana meditation retreat consisted of ten hours of silent and motionless meditation, every day, for ten days in a row.  As a participant, Raji Lukkoor, the book’s author, spent that meditative time sitting cross-legged, (the typical meditation pose), with pillows propped under her knees and ultimately ignoring all sensory experience outside of her body.  There were teaching sessions, via DVD, that spoke to the proper ways of meditating, and breathing as a whole body experience.  This particular vipassana retreat is styled using the methods in the tradition of S.N. Goenka, a vipassana spiritual master, of the Buddhist tradition. 

Raji describes the location of the retreat as being in the middle of nowhere, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, U.S.A.  The accommodations are quite sparse – gender-segregated group cottages, with heat and lighting, beds, bedding, bathrooms and showers.  No access to the outside world, no reading material, no journal writing.  And the first thing Raji had to consider was locating a place to sleep.  I identified with Raji’s determination to find a place where she would be comfortable to sleep for ten days.  I have never attended a vipassana meditation retreat, but I have attended other types of silent retreats, all of various durations.  Getting ‘settled’ and feeling comfortable in the sleeping area is very important.  What is new to me is the requirement to remain motionless for ten hours of active meditation.  It intrigues me, but I am not sure I would have Raji’s stamina! If you connected the lack of writing supplies on the retreat, to the writing of this book, you will realize that Raji Lukkoor wrote this book based on her memory and experience of those ten days – and that I find remarkable.  To me that means that this retreat made such a deep impression on Raji, had such meaning in her life, she was able to write about it many days after its end. And not just a re-telling of the events of those ten days. 

Raji Lukkoor

Raji Lukkoor was able to step back in time, to the first day of her vipassana meditation retreat, and bring us, the reader, along for the journey.  We travelled with her as she settled herself in her sleeping area, and checked the bath and shower accommodations.  We joined her negative and positive reactions to the dietary rules and conditions.  As Raji struggled to learn vipassana meditation, we captured the moments with her.  The seating challenges, the physical wins and the physical losses. Lukkoor’s detail focused, sharp engineer’s mind, plus her gifts as a writer brought the reader directly into the centre of the retreat.  We see the balance tip between the whole experience as overwhelming, and the whole experience as life-changing.  As the book comes to conclusion, Raji excitedly travels home bringing with her new spiritual skills to use in her everyday life.  A life in which, she feels more aware and more authentic. 

This book is not an answer to all questions about vipassana, nor is it an instructional manual.  It is one person’s experience.  Within the book, Raji does point us in a direction that will give us additional information and assistance, should we choose to study vipassana meditation more extensively.  Belonging to the Buddhist tradition is not necessary, in order to experience vipassana.  Raji herself had no Buddhist background. 

This is among the best inspirational books that I have read.  I was inspired by Raji Lukkoor’s personal spiritual journey.  I was inspired by this new-to-me form of meditation.  And I was inspired to sincerely look where in my life, I can move from restlessness to calm, from cloudiness to clarity. 


For me, the Joy of the Written Word is written throughout “Inner Pilgrimage:  Ten Days to a Mindful Me” by Raji Lukkoor. 

Choose Joy! 



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Book Review: “Return to Mercya (Part 1)” by Mark Ruckledge

In a world beyond imagination one man returns to the land he once knew only to find it changed beyond all recognition and overrun by evil.  But with companionship and love he may just make it through.  This is his story. (from Smashwords) 

“Return to Mercya (Part 1)” by Mark Ruckledge, is a short fantasy story.  Not a genre I generally read, but after email correspondence with the author, I agreed to take a chance on Mark’s story.  In exchange for an impartial review, Mark gifted me with a copy of his writing. 

It took me a few starts and restarts to get familiar with Mark’s writing, mainly learning names of people and places, and trying to keep in mind I was reading a fantasy – that I need not expect the same plotline as, for instance, an historical novel.  Having to focus on the genre I was reading, helped me to focus on the plotline.    It was an opportunity to relax my mind from “the typical”, and simply enjoy the travels of the main character, as he sorted through his life’s journey to date. 

And I did enjoy the journey of Brendel Domia, even if he himself did not!  There were a few descriptive sections that I had to read with my eyes closed; simply because I scare easily!!   

In this short story we see challenges, happiness, and romance between characters.  Jil Iliminiel is Brendel’s love interest; the Shadowland Emperor and Empress his enemies.  Although, due to this work being a short story, neither relationship is explained fully, or is detailed enough.  For that to happen Mark would need to write a full length novel, this short story is just that, a short story.  The story did wrap up at a specific junction in the action, but has left a number of questions unanswered.  Since the story’s title includes the words “Part 1”, there are expectations of future twists in the plot. 

One comment I will make is this:  I found the ending of the story to be a little confusing.  I was taken aback, and flipped back pages looking to find at least partial clarification – which I did find.  Yet, even so, the ending left me feeling a little lost.  (To say anything more would be nearing story spoilers, so I will stop there). 

One aspect of Mark’s writing style is his use of extended sentences, with little or no punctuation.   This left me a little breathless at times, and caused me to re-read paragraphs, to ensure I was correctly following the plot. 

All in all, I am happy that I read Mark Ruckledge’s fantasy short story, and I will be on the lookout for Part 2.  For the fantasy readers out there, I do recommend that you read “Return to Mercya”.  Then, come back here, and let me know what you think. 


Where is “The Joy of the Written Word” in today’s post?  For me, the Joy has been casting my reader hooks a little towards Fantasy Short Stories!  Thank you, Mark! 

Choose Joy! 



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