Janice’s Review Blog

Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Usually the mention of 9 to 5 brings visions of a long work day doing mundane things, watching the clock and itching to go home, but the Image Workshop held by Sallie Christopher on Saturday, Jan. 14 brought nothing but pure joy, relaxation, great people and creativity. Read the rest of this entry »

Every year on March 3, I get to missing my Dad. He pulled a fast one on me and died on March 3, 2003. He knew that I’d take notice of all of those threes, and he also told me about the cardinal at his bird feeder before he died. It just so happened that a cardinal showed up three times in three weeks after he died. They say there are no coincidences, and now I believe them. Read the rest of this entry »

Christmas came and went and everyone returned to their usual routine.  This year on Christmas day, I spent some time on Twitter between my morning walk and the annual tradition of grabbing the camera and making tracks to the deserted streets of Old Town Scottsdale to enjoy peace and our glorious Arizona weather.

Leading up to Christmas, I noticed that many military and non-military folks posted YouTube’s and thank yous to our troops serving and watching over us here and abroad.  The support from the military family continues as an ongoing event, but after the holidays, we civilians seem to get into our routines and forget the sacrifices our troops and their families make for us all year-round.  Read the rest of this entry »

"Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself" written by Alan Alda.

"Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself" written by Alan Alda.

The title of this book alone made me want to pick it up and read it, but when I discovered that Alan Alda of “Hawkeye Pierce” fame wrote the book, I knew I needed to read “Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself.”

The book begins with Alda’s life-or-death experience in Chile, and how the fates put all of the right people at the right places so he lives to tell another silly story or maybe not so silly.  He even got to impress the surgeon who performed the life-saving surgery by naming the surgical procedure before the doctor told him what it was.  The writing doesn’t do justice to the story as told in person by Alda.

Alda talks about values and how he shares his values in the way he lives his life and in the types of work he chooses to pursue.  He also shares his values and the important things he’s learned in life by performing public speaking engagements at universities and organizations.

After 9/11, Alda talks of people’s desire to help and how the flag became important to all of us.  He went to ground zero to talk to workers and vividly describes the situation as his group comes upon the scene.

“Work lights illuminated the scene almost as if it were daylight,” he writes.  “Steel shard reached many stories high, piercing the black sky.”

Alda shakes hands with workers and volunteers, listens to their stories and asks what they need.  One mentions how much they enjoyed candy bars someone brought them.  Johnnie, one of the workers, describes how people came from everywhere to help.  He points out that race and religion don’t matter, but everyone works together as one country, and he hopes it continues.  Alda promises to pass this sentiment on whenever possible, and he makes sure the Hershey factory sends a truck load of Hershey bars to the site.

The book relates more of Alda’s stories-some happy, some sad, all meant to show the values he treasures in his life and how he came by them.  Alda proves to be not only a talented actor and writer, but also a man of character.

"Whale Song"

"Whale Song"

While reading a newsletter by Jerry Simmons, I came across a great article on Twitter written by Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author and book marketing coach.  An added article invited readers to follow her on Twitter to win prizes in a contest she planned.  I followed her on Twitterand not only won a prize during the contest but also learned about one of her wonderful books, “Whale Song.”

I picked up the book on a Tuesday and read the entire novel by Thursday.  What a piece of art.  Tardif touches on so many important lessons and spins the tale so I believed it to be a true story.  Her descriptions of people, places and scenes captivate the readers’ imagination and place them within the pages of the book. 

Tardif handles controversial subjects, such as bullying, racism, child abuse, mysticism and the right to make  decisions on life or death, all in one novel.  Readers also gain an appreciation for the beauty of killer whales and Vancouver Island, Canada; the customs of Nootka Indians; and the true love of family and friends.

The book spins many kinds of mysteries inside its pages.  Sarah Richardson, the 11-year-old main character, lives many years of her life in the book supported by family and friends as the mysteries unfold.  Anyone 10 years old or older would enjoy this exciting, well written novel.

Tardif dedicates the Special Edition of “Whale Song” to the memory of her late bother, Jason Anthony Kaye.  Kaye lost his life in a brutal murder on Jan. 23, 2006.

“It is my ‘heart book,'” says Tardif in a Twitter message.

"Bones in the Desert"

"Bones in the Desert"

The news story hit the airwaves in December 2004, Loretta Bowersock was missing under unusual circumstances.  Her daughter, Terri, owner of a multimillion-dollar Tempe, Ariz. business, put out fliers and set up interviews with the news media to find her missing mother.  In the meantime, Taw Benderly, Loretta’s companion, tried to prove his brilliance by making up one story after another about Loretta’s disappearance.

The story continues with Terri’s acceptance that her mother is dead at the hands of Benderly and buried somewhere in the desert.  Before she can get Benderly to reveal her mother’s whereabouts, Benderly takes his life, and Terri turns to psychics and the public to find her mother’s remains. 

In her book, “Bones in the Desert,” Jana Bommersbach uses all her investigative and writing talents to disclose the events that led up to Loretta Bowersock’s death.  Through interviews with friends, family and Loretta’s journals, Bommersbach tells how a beautiful, confident, independent business woman undergoes the sinister, calculating abuse of the man she loves-details the media never take the time to reveal and circumstances most people would never know.

With the same drive Terri exercises to find her mother’s body, Bommersbach also leaves no stone unturned as she writes every detail leading up to the murder, burial and search for Loretta.  Better than any fiction mystery thriller, you won’t be able to put this book down until you find out every detail leading up to this tragedy.  Although the two most important people in the story can’t answer interview questions, Bommersbach tenaciously investigates every avenue until she  completes Loretta’s story.

"Left to Tell"

"Left to Tell"

Buhoro, ten-year-old Immaculee Ilibagiza’s teacher, took ethnic roll call on the first day at her new school.  Her teacher angrily sent Immaculee from the classroom when she stood up for none of the three tribes, Hutu, Tutsi or Twa, that he called from the roll.

“Get out!  Get out of this class and don’t come back until you know what you are!” said Buhoro.

Immaculee Ilibagiza tells the story of her life in Rwanda and how the tension between the majority Hutu tribe and the minority Tutsi tribe erupts into a full blown genocide in 1994 in her book “Left to Tell.”

The idyllic life that Immaculee lives with her mother, father and three brothers turns into Immaculee’s fight for survival as the Hutus begin a three-month murder spree, which kills nearly a million Rwandans.

As the Hutus approach her home in the village of Mataba overlooking Lake Kivu, Immaculee’s father tells her to flee to the home of Pastor Murinzi, a long-time friend and Hutu, to take refuge from the killers.  Immaculee begs Pastor Murinzi to hide her from the murderous Hutus, and for 91 days, she hides with seven other women  in a small, remote bathroom in the pastor’s home away from the pastor’s family and the murderers.

The book unfolds like a fiction thriller with the reader wondering if Immaculee and the other women will survive or be found and killed on the spot.  The outcome of the book shows the strength and the courage Immaculee showed during her ordeal, how she recovers, the fate of her family and her capacity to forgive those who hurt her most.

"The Greatest Gift: The Courageous Life and Martyrdom of Sister Dorothy Stang"

"The Greatest Gift: The Courageous Life and Martyrdom of Sister Dorothy Stang"

Author Binka Le Breton follows the life of Sister Dorothy Stang from her birth in Dayton, Ohio to her untimely murder in Anapu, Para, Brazil in her book “The Greatest Gift: The Courageous Life and Martyrdom of Sister Dorothy Stang”.  Through interviews with friends, family and others, Le Breton follows Sister Dorothy on her incredible journey as she shows her true self during her quest.

Born on June 7,1931 to Henry and Edna Stang, Dorothy Mae Stang grew up as the fourth of nine children.  Growing up, Dot served as the primary caregiver for her younger siblings and a moral force.   She learned to be resourceful and self-sufficient by watching her father, who soled shoes using carved pieces of old tires, conserved water by building a cistern to catch rainwater and planted and harvested fruits and vegetables from their garden to eat and sell.

Henry and Edna followed the rituals of the church and the children all attended Catholic school.  While attending Julienne High School, Dot joined Young Christian Students.  This club produced activists of which Dot was one.  Her friend Joan also says, “A desire began to grow and deepen in Dorothy’s heart to give her life to God as a missionary.”

 On July 26, 1948, 17-year-old Dot entered Notre Dame de Namur with her friend Joan as a postulant.  Dot learned to live in a community operated on a strict routine in a state of poverty, chastity and obedience.  Sister Dorothy served her time and taught at a school in Illinois before arriving in Phoenix, Ariz. in August 1953 to teach and then serve as principal at Most Holy Trinity.  During her 13 years in Arizona, Sister Dorothy worked with the Mexican migrant laborers and their children.  This prepared her for the work that came in Brazil.

In August 1966, Sister Dorothy and Joan arrived in Brazil.  They attended the mission training school and then they began their work.  The sisters worked with the people, who were the poorest of the poor.  They lived with them, ate with them, taught them and helped them in any way possible. 

“We were to be the church of the poor,” said Joan.

The Brazilian people embraced the church and held their heads high.  The sisters went out and started to set up and organize communities with schools.  They worked with prostitutes to teach them other professions to support themselves and their families.

Landowners disapproved of the schools and tore them down.  They bought the peasants’ crops, but the peasants never got ahead.  The peasants feared the landowners, the police and the army.  As the sisters tried to help the peasants with human rights, they became labeled subversives, and Sister Dorothy was labeled a communist. 

Sister Dorothy worked to set up her “projects of sustainable development combining sustainable agriculture with conservation of the forest and a form of communal ownership of land.”

Journalist Carlos Mendes paid attention to Sister Dorothy and her plan because her project used sustainable development, and she and her people were making it work.  He said, “She was a visionary.”

Unfortunately, the greedy landowners became angry with Sister Dorothy and her success and put a price on her head.  A rumor surfaced that a group met in a hotel room in Altamira on January 2005 to discuss what to do about Sister Dorothy.

Over the more than 30 years that Sister Dorothy  spent in Brazil, she helped the poor and also worked to save the rainforest.  She continued to speak up even to the day of her death.

Finally in the book, Padre Nello, the rubicund Italian who worked with the Indigenous Missionary Council, summed it up best when he said, “And at the end of the day she’s achieving in death what she never would have achieved in life.”