Janice’s Review Blog

Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

In The Unarmed Truth: My Fight to Blow the Whistle and Expose Fast and Furious, John Dodson, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent, law enforcement officer and Army veteran, writes in detail about his life and the details behind the ATF Operation Fast and Furious and how and why he blew the whistle on the operation.

John Dodson exposes Operation Fast and Furious in The Unarmed Truth.

John Dodson exposes Operation Fast and Furious in The Unarmed Truth.

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After nine months of abuse, rape and starvation by two evil people who kidnapped 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart on June 5, 2002, she finally returned to her family and her home in Salt Lake City, Utah. Smart documents the events from the time she meets her kidnapper, Brian David Mitchell, a religious fanatic, to her rescue and the capture, trial and imprisonment of Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, in her book, “My Story.”

Elizabeth Smart writes My Story.

Elizabeth Smart writes My Story.

The memoir reads like a horror story, and one wonders how such a young, naive child could survive such treatment at the hands of these two evil people. Smart recounts how she never lost faith in God, and how He sustained her in the worst times of her captivity.

During periods of her captivity, she remembered her family members, and the good times they spent together. Smart also believed that her grandfather, who died a few days before her kidnapping, stayed close to her during the entire ordeal.

She wrote, “It helped me remember that God still cared for me, that He hadn’t forgotten or forsaken me, that He was doing everything He could to help to carry my pain. It brought me comfort to think that Grandpa was helping me too, …”

Smart recounted times when she believed she was moments from being found, but then the moment passed, and she again needed to stay strong and continue to have faith. The abuses were many and vile. Because she was a Mormon, she practiced a healthy way of life, but Mitchell forced her to drink, smoke and take drugs, and the more she protested, the more abuse he forced on her trying to break her spirit and make her evil like himself.

In order to protect herself and her family from the death threats that Mitchell constantly repeated, Smart remained silent until she knew that Mitchell could do no harm. The story is amazing. The woman, Elizabeth Smart, and her family are even more amazing.

I would recommend this book to everyone. Even though Smart presents all of the horrors she endured, she also shares the love that her family bestowed upon her and the wise words her mother shared with her upon her return. It is a book filled with inspiration and courage.

© 2013 Janice Semmel

Jeff Goins wrote “The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing.” Even though it’s a little book, it contains an enormous amount of information about those times in-between while the author or any of us waits for the next thing to happen.

Jeff Goins writes "The In-Between."

Jeff Goins writes “The In-Between.”

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Janet Evanovich in her inimitable style and in conjunction with bestselling author Lee Goldberg releases a new novel, “The Heist.” In it, former Navy SEAL (the Acknowledgments assure readers that, “And yes, we know there aren’t any female Navy SEALS. But we think there should be.”) and current FBI Special Agent Kate O’Hare leads the reader on her wild adventures with the FBI and her escapades in her personal life.

Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg spin an adventurous tale in "The Heist."

Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg spin an adventurous tale in “The Heist.”

The beautiful, fearless and brilliantly talented O’Hare possesses a quirky love for fast food and high cholesterol food in large quantities, and  she always seems to wear some of it on her sensible, unfashionable clothes. Evanovich loves to attach a humorous touch like this to her characters, and it brings a smile to the readers’ face as they plunge into the adventure.

O’Hare spends her time hot on the trail of the handsome con man, Nicholas Fox. A turn of events leads her into a partnership with Fox to bring down a corrupt investment banker. The talents of the FBI agent and the con man bring humor and suspense to the tale. 

The action continues throughout the book. The characters Fox enlists to help with the con and O’Hare’s dad, Jake, a retired Marine, who brings in long-time, trusted friends from his days in the military, add an extra dose of color and excitement to the story .

The book keeps the reader in suspense, but entertains with the unexpected developments and the plethora of characters and their individual stories. It’s a great book, and I hope the first of many more to come, featuring O’Hare and Fox.

© Copyright 2013 Janice Semmel

In “Haunted Old West: Phantom Cowboys, Spirit-Filled Saloons, Mystical Mine Camps, and Spectral Indians,’ author Matthew P. Mayo spins frightening ghost stories and shares Old West history with spell-bound readers.

Matthew P. Mayo writes a spellbinding book on the "Haunted Old West."

Matthew P. Mayo writes a spellbinding book on the “Haunted Old West.”

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In the book, “Coming From the Light: Spiritual Accounts of Life Before Life,” Sarah Hinze shares some of the 150 stories she’s collected about these “Life Before Life” experiences, including her own story. Hinze offers a spiritual explanation for how children come to Earth. She includes insights into miscarriage, using her own as an example, or why a child may be born to someone and given up for adoption to another family who envisioned this child as their own.

"Coming From the Light: Spiritual Accounts of Life Before Life" shares stories of the "Life Before Life" phenomena.

“Coming From the Light: Spiritual Accounts of Life Before Life” shares stories of the “Life Before Life” phenomena.

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Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever seen one? Author and paranormal investigator Mary Ann Winkowski began seeing and communicating with ghosts by the age of two and a half. In her book, “When Ghosts Speak: Understanding the World of Earthbound Spirits,” Winkowski recounts her exploits with ghosts and how they continue to be a part of her life.

Paranormal investigator and author Mary Ann Winkowski shares her insights in her book,"When Ghosts Speak."

Paranormal investigator and author Mary Ann Winkowski shares her insights in her book,”When Ghosts Speak.”

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This new thriller, “Agenda 21,” written by Glenn Beck with Harriet Parke depicts a scary scenario of how the United Nations voluntary plan Agenda 21 could change the way we all live. Portions of the book already hint at the deterioration of the freedoms we hold dear, and the “Afterword” explains how the novel came about and lays out some of the details of the actual Agenda 21 and what readers can do to keep it from turning into the scary scenario Parke laid out in her novel.

The novel "Agenda 21" presents a scary scenario of the United Nations plan by the same name.

The novel “Agenda 21” presents a scary scenario of the United Nations plan by the same name.

The story starts with a family of three living in the Republic, which in the recent past was the United States of America, and ruled by the Authority. Gatekeepers patrol and record the movements of the Citizens of each Compound day and night. They deliver the food rations to Citizens in their Living Spaces. Citizens wear uniforms according to their work assignments and women wear head scarves to denote their status. They perform assigned labor or walk on energy boards to supply energy to the Republic.

Citizens make no choices of their own. At a designated age, children submit to fertility tests and the Authority pairs them with mates. They reproduce children to populate the Republic, but they never see or raise their offspring. The Authority takes the babies to the Children’s Village where their basic needs are met. 

The Authority confiscated all of the books, papers and writing equipment from the citizens and gathered everyone together at Social Update Meetings to relay the news they want the Citizens to know.

Emmeline lives with her father and mother in a compound and undergoes the examination for fertility. Unlike most children, Emmeline got to stay with her parents while others went to live in the Children’s Village. Eventually the Authority partners Emmeline with George and she becomes pregnant.

George and her family hatch a plan for them all to leave the confines of the Compound and live in the unknown outside world, but before the plan becomes reality disaster strikes, and Emmeline faces her challenges in the Republic by herself.

Another character, Joan, makes a familiar statement in the book. She says, “So nobody can be better than anyone else. No one can be stronger or smarter. No one can be outstanding. All Citizens are equal. All get the same rewards….” Does this sound like something we hear now? Think about it!

The drama never ceases as the story unfolds, and Emmeline learns the harsh reality of how the Republic came to power and the freedoms and lifestyle everyone lost. Emmeline takes her cues from things she heard from her mother like “If it’s monitored, you have to do it.” She also remembers, “Save what you think you are going to lose,” the word “trust” also continually comes up over time.

One Twitter friend, @SarjuntJ, tweeted about the novel, “That is such a cool story! I cheered, I swore, I worried about poor Emmeline! And I love the ‘first person’ perspective!”

I agree with @SarjuntJ’s perspective on the book, but I look at Emmeline as the strong, silent type, who awakens from the nightmare and takes things into her own hands. One person can make a difference, but she needs to have all of the information to make an informed decision, so she can do what needs to be done. Emmeline learned and had the courage to do what needed to be done.

I highly recommend everyone reads this book. We get too involved in our everyday lives and let evil sneak up on us. We need to pay attention and take action to keep the freedoms we hold dear and to “save what you think you are going to lose!” Read the book! Take the action!

© 2013 Photo by Janice Semmel







Edward Grinnan, editor-in-chief of Guideposts magazine, writes his inspirational story of change, includes Guideposts stories of change and lists in each separate chapter the nine qualities of personal change. His book, “The Promise of Hope: How True Stories of Hope and Inspiration Saved My Life and How They can Transform Yours,” does a wonderful job of highlighting the nine qualities and shows how ordinary people turn their lives from ordinary or problem filled into extraordinary and inspiring.

Guideposts magazine Editor-in-Chief Edward Grinnan writes "The Promise of Hope."

Guideposts magazine Editor-in-Chief Edward Grinnan writes “The Promise of Hope.”

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In her book, “Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place,” Angie Debo, a Native American history scholar, gives the reader a detailed history of the life of Geronimo and the Apaches of his time. Using all of her research techniques to construct an accurate timeline, Debo chronicles information of significant events throughout Geronimo’s life. The book contains footnotes documenting information and adding others’ recollections to the material. Black and white photos of Geronimo and other prominent Apaches also appear throughout the book.

Angie Debo writes "Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place."

Angie Debo writes “Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place.”

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