Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Review - The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

Dr. Barbara will be a live chat guest at The Writer's Chatroom on Sunday, January 10 from 7-9PM EST. Please feel free to stop in and meet her.

The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything)
Written by: Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein
Readers 9-12
Rated: Excellent (*****)
Review by: Lisa Haselton

The Truth is a glimpse into the diary and thoughts of a girl who is ten at the start of the story. We follow her through two school years and get a candid look at a ‘tween’s perspective of life.
Everyone can remember feeling that we knew more than our parents when we were kids.

In The Truth, the narrator gives us her opinion on falling in love, the damage done when parents argue, and her fears about getting older. She does so in a sincere and straightforward matter. She makes a list of truths that she wants to remember as she gets older because she fears aging has a negative effect. She knows adults must know the truths but that they somehow forgot, for how else can they possibly accept yelling at each other.

The unique voice along with the diary entry format make the book a quick read. It has an educational value which should be shared with all young girls and parents. The entries are direct and honest. The reader feels privy to the secret diary of the girl whose writing is personal, accessible. The observations made within the diary follow a natural progression of personal growth, which makes it feel more like non-fiction than fiction.

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein is the originator of The Enchanted Self(R). She has been a positive psychologist in private practice and licensed in the states of New Jersey and Massachusetts since 1981. She is currently in private practice in Long Branch, New Jersey with her husband, Dr. Russell M. Holstein.

I highly recommend reading The Truth. It is great for women of any age, and can definitely be appreciated by tweens and teens. It’s interesting to have memories of the tween years conjured up that are a mixture of enjoyable and hard to deal with.

Title: The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything)
Author: Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein
Publisher: Enchanted Self Press
ISBN: 978-09798952-0-3
Pages: 96
Price: $6.95

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Review - The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children by Yvonne Perry

The Sid Series: A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children is a great gift to share with a child, between 2 and 5, at any time of year.

The Sid Series includes twelve individual stories focused on topics such as dealing with the death of a pet, the importance of telling the truth, respecting diversity, learning about recycling, listening to your body, and facing fear.

The author, inspired by her spiritually-gifted grandson, decided to share some of his experiences with others. Together they share stories of ghosts, the power of healing the body with herbs, the power of Mother Nature, and learning how to listen to an inner guidance. Told in a comforting and spiritual manner, the stories reach out to young and old alike.

Yvonne Perry is a graduate of American Institute of Holistic Theology where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Metaphysics. Her interaction with the spirit world began as a child and has developed into a gift that blesses those seeking a better understanding of spiritual gifts.

The Sid Series is friendly, entertaining, and educational. The art work adds to each story to engage children visually as they listen to the short stories and learn about life in terms they can understand.

Stop by the Web site to read more about The Sid Series, meet Sidney, and listen to an author interview and several readings.

Title: The Sid Series: A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children
Author: Yvonne Perry
Publisher: Write On! Publishing
ISBN: 978-0982572207
Pages: 52
Price: $19.95

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, by Katherine Howe

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
By Katherine Howe
ISBN 978-1-4013-4090-2

Witchcraft, then and…now?

Connie Goodwin is a Harvard graduate student, majoring in Colonial Studies. Her summer is supposed to be spent doing research for her doctoral dissertation, but her mother thinks closing up the abandoned family home is more important. Connie dutifully travels to Salem to clean and sell the old house.

An ancient key hidden in a seventeenth century bible puts Connie on a quest. Who is this Deliverance Dane? What happened to her? And where is her “Physick” book of spells? (Readers, bookmark when the key is found [page 49 in the hardback]. Toward the end you will need to come back and reread a specific sentence.)

Howe flips back and forth between the past and the present without faltering. 1690 or 1990, the characters leap off the page and come alive. You will care about these women and hold your breath in fear for them.

Many of the events are telegraphed in advance, but that doesn’t detract from the story. You will have suspicions along with Connie and watch over her shoulder, muttering “Oh no, surely not!”, as she digs for answers.

There is a lot of history in this book, but nothing dull or boring. Howe brings the past alive with vivid descriptions and characters you want to call friends. Intrigue more than thriller, this is a can’t-put-it-down book. Read it!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Review: Pane of Death by Sarah Atwell

Pane of Death
by Sarah Atwell
Berkley Publishing Group
Cozy Mystery
ISBN: 978-0-425-22501-1

On the cover of Pane of Death it says, ‘A Glassblowing Mystery”. That’s because this is one of those light mysteries in which the setting and main character are connected with glass blowing. A lot of these cozy style mysteries are this way, featuring knitting, cooking, scrapbooking, etc. It makes for a different kind of setting than the hard-boiled stories. As with the others of its kind, Pane of Death gives you some history into glassblowing both throughout the story and in a short essay at the back. Ms. Atwell also includes two recipes.

The story takes place in Tucson Arizona. Emmaline is a glass artisan who get a rare chance to team up with her local rival to work on a nearly priceless stained glass collection. It’s a dream job until the patron turns up dead and Em is blamed for it. With the collection also missing, everyone in town teams up to figure out who actually killed the man and took the art. The clock is ticking because if the missing pieces aren’t found soon, they’ll disappear forever.

Of course I won’t spoil the end for you. It is slow in a couple of places and I’m still not quite sure how the dogs fit in to the story. The first person narrative does showcase the quirky personality of Emmaline as she snoops her way in and out of trouble. If you like your mysteries with down to Earth characters and not much bloodshed, this is the book for you.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Review - Matters of Faith by Kristy Kiernan

Matters of Faith
Written by: Kristy Kiernan
Rated: Excellent (*****)
Review by: Lisa Haselton

Chloe is mom to 18-year-old Marshall and 12-year-old Meghan, and wife to Calvin. Her life is like any other with its daily challenges, but even she doesn’t know what she’ll do when her family’s cohesiveness is put to an extreme test.

The novel opens with Chloe reflecting on how having a sixth sense would be helpful in noting the small things in life that become the catalyst to a major turning point. Hindsight is always educational, isn’t it?

Marshall is coming home during college break and is bringing a girl, the first girl to meet the family. First impressions are not always the best and Chloe and Cal have different reasons for not readily accepting Ada. But Meghan and Ada become instant friends, so there’s hope.

The writing in Matters of Faith works with two distinct points of view that engage the reader in just the right way. Kiernan doesn’t waste any words. She balances narrative with dialogue so the reader feels more like a fly on the wall of a real family instead of someone flipping pages. Kiernan’s characters are unique individuals dealing with the typical daily life routine. And because of their ‘realness’, the author is able to connect with a large audience. Like having a conversation with friends, Kiernan’s writing challenges the reader to figure out what he or she would do given the same circumstances. Where many writers create characters that are black or white in their response, Kiernan’s characters are unpredictable.

Kristy was born in Tennessee and raised on the beaches of southwest Florida, where she still resides with her husband, Richard, and their dog. Her first novel, Catching Genius, was published in March of 2007 and has become a book club favorite. Matters of Faith is her second novel.

From the opening lines in Matters of Faith until the final word, the reader becomes a witness during a small portion of time in one family’s life. This novel doesn’t jump out and grab you by the throat, instead it softly winds its way into your heart so you can’t walk away. I highly recommend this novel to anyone interested in a great story.

Matters of Faith is available through:,, other online outlets, and local book stores. Visit for more information.

Title: Matters of Faith
Author: Kristy Kiernan
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978-0-425-22179-2
Pages: 322
Price: $14.00

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Review of Ramblin' Man by Michael Murphy

Ramblin’ Man
By Michael Murphy
eWings Press, Inc.
ISBN: 1-59705-782-7

The back blurb says this: A young drifter comes to the aid of a runaway heiress fleeing a controlling father. With nothing in common, the ramblin’ man and the heiress find themselves falling in love as her father’s desperate security team manipulates the media into reporting the heiress has been kidnapped.

The blurb is a bit dry compared to the story itself. Think Paris Hilton meets up with a good ol’ Stetson-wearing fella and you’ve got Samantha and Bart, complete with an adorable purse dog named Tinker. She’s run away from her father’s expectations and straight into Bart’s path. He rescues her from some ruffians and whisks her off in his truck, not realizing the turn of events this sets into motion.
Suddenly he finds himself running from hired security thugs and blamed for kidnapping Samantha.

Samantha is opinionated and independent in her own way but she does learn a few things about life beyond prep school and away from decadence. Eventually she moves out of being his problem and into the role of friend and companion. The sparks do fly between them as they hide out in a small town, avoiding Bart’s old nemesis, the authorities and her father’s private security. Until someone recognizes her.

I won’t say more and spoil the ending but I do want to point out that the blurb is wrong in that these two characters do have a lot in common. Discovering that is part of the journey this story makes. At first this drifter and heiress seem almost stereotypical and then you find out there’s more to each of them than meets the eye. You’ll love Bart’s sense of humor and find yourself rooting for everything to turn out all right.

You can visit Michael’s website at: