Archive for April, 2011

The Final Summit by Andy Andrews

April 11, 2011

David Ponder has been chosen to lead The Final Summit for three reasons; he is the only Traveler currently alive, he has been judged to be effective in using wisdom he gathered as a Traveler, and he is the only Traveler to represent the common man.  And so the story begins . . .


David has lost his way and forgot all he learned when he was a Traveler in time. The archangel, Gabriel, is God’s servant, and is told to have David rediscover the path he has abandoned. It isn’t only David who lost his way; however, all of humanity needs redirection.


Previous Time Travelers; Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, King David, and Joan of Arc, just to name a few, add to the discussion and help David answer this question:  What does humanity need to do, individually and collectively, to restore itself to the pathway toward successful civilization?


The discussion leading to the answer is absolute genius in writing. It is impossible to put the book down until the problem is solved.  Andy Andrews integrates the perfect amount of humor to keep his readers entertained.  For example:  Abraham Lincoln is reminiscing a time when he had dinner at the table where the discussion was held. He tells everyone the table was handmade, saying, “Of course, you know, the Boss’s Son is a carpenter.”


I recommend The Final Summit for readers of all ages.  It was enjoyable and inspirational.  A bonus is the historical figures dialogue where history comes alive.


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Book Review by Mary Crocco


Get Off Your “But” by Sean Stephenson

April 10, 2011

Get Off Your “But”, by Sean Stephenson

If you want to be inspired to ‘get off your but’ and make positive changes to your life, then reading, Get Off Your “But”, by Sean Stephenson is a must read. Suffering from birth with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a brittle bones disorder, Sean Stephenson shares with us his thirty year journey of his life. He has us realize our full potential in spite of any adversities we endure. Sean makes us realize there are no excuses to why we sit on our ‘buts’.
Sean shares his daily endurance to his physical disabilities to teach his readers we can overcome our fears and insecurities and learn more about ourselves. He gives us practical skills to help us to get off out ‘buts’ and live our life to the fullest. Sean lives his life in a wheelchair with his disease with ‘pain’ as his middle name. When asked if he gets used to the pain Sean replies, “No, at best I understand how to control it.” This is Sean’s message to his readers in his realistic guidebook, Get Off Your “But”. He shows us how we control our own life. We can feel sorry for ourselves, or we can Get off our ‘buts’ to make positive changes in our lives. Today Sean is a psychotherapist and a world renowned professional speaker.
What makes Sean so special? He learned how to displace his daily pain through self-discovery, “Pain was my teacher and I became its good little student.” Sean eliminated all his ‘buts’ and he encourages his readers to eliminate our ‘buts’. For example: Sure, I’d like to change, BUT….. I’m too old/too young. I’m too short/too tall. I’m too fat/too skinny. I’m not pretty /handsome enough. I’m not smart enough. I have a learning disability. Sound familiar? It sure did to me.
I had an unexpected life change at age 55 due to a chronic illness and have been sitting on my ‘but’ for nine months, ‘but’ I am disabled’. After reading Sean’s six lessons in his book, I am now off my ‘but’! Never before has a book gone beyond words on a page to real life behavior changes like Sean Stephenson’s book. Sean’s encouragements in his words and lifelong lessons have his readers participate in activities such as writing responses in a journal. This activity gives us true insights and helps us to get off our ‘but.’ Sean makes us realize we all have challenges and opportunities, and we can choose to sit on our ‘buts’ and make excuses or Get off our ‘buts’ and be successful in life. I chose to get off my ‘but’ after reading Sean Stephenson’s book, Get off Your “But” and I am looking forward to a sequel to keep me inspired to stay off my ‘but’.

Book Review by Mary Crocco

Saving Cicadas by Nicole Seitz

April 10, 2011

Saving Cicadas by Nicole Seitz

Saving Cicadas is an extraordinary story about powerful family memories we all carry with us. But, are these really memories or former past selves that we have to deal with and learn from? If we do not acknowledge these pasts, do we remain stuck living past lives? In this story, God uses a child to speak to us. It is a mystery of God that reminds us that life is truly a miracle.
This is a difficult review to write without giving away the story. It is suspenseful and thought provoking. It has conflicting story elements which played havoc with my emotions. I cried with feelings of happiness and sadness at the same time. I can tell you the characters were developed in such detail you will feel their emotions as strongly as they do. The dialogue is so powerful at times I had to put the book down to digest. The overall message in this story was more than inspiring.
I absolutely recommend this wonderful novel, Saving Cicadas, to readers of every age. It is a quick read and you will not want to put it down until the end.

Book Review by Mary Crocco

Lee, A Life of Virtue by John Perry

April 10, 2011

Lee, A life of Virtue, by John Perry

An easy, quick read

Many books written about Robert E. Lee are on bookshelves across America. Lee, A Life of Virtue, by John Perry, is geared toward a young audience. Teachers would do justice to middle school students by assigning John Perry’s book as part of the curriculum when studying the Civil War. Parents who enrich their children’s school work at home may consider purchasing this book.

Perry described Lee, a major general, with role model potential: a diligent, honest student. Readers will understand Lee’s attributes:  leadership qualities, determination to get the job done, and responsibility for his actions.

People respected and admired Lee, without fearing him. He brought the best out of his soldiers by being humble, even sharing their deplorable living conditions during the Civil War.

In his book, Perry balances Lee’s virtues by including his flaws:  he was too trusting and not forceful enough. This may have cost him defeat in certain battles. Perry describes the battles Lee won and lost, stating probable reasons why. He points out, ‘Lee never pointed a finger, never blamed anyone but himself.’

Lee, A Life of Virtue, is an easy, quick read for students and adults. I recommend the book to be on school and home bookshelves across America.


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Book review by Mary Crocco

The American Patriot’s Almanac by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb

April 10, 2011

The American Patriot’s Almanac, by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb



The American Patriot’s Almanac is both an academic resource and a story book.  Bennett and Cribb have given Americans a beautifully written keepsake of mementos reminding us why we should be proud to be Americans.


The book is divided into months of the year. Each month tells a different story of America, for example:  starting in January with the Flags of the Revolutionary War, continuing in June it includes the Declaration of Independence, and ending in December with State Flags, Facts, and Symbols.


No historical event or document is missing. The book reinforces well known facts, and then introduces unknown information that surprises readers. This makes the book interesting and fun for all ages.


As a former middle school history teacher, I would recommend The American Patriot’s Almanac as a classroom resource. If only textbooks were presented to students in this format, students would be enticed to study American history.


I also recommend this Almanac for every home in America. The format enables a family to easily read the monthly entries on daily basis. What an exciting way to promote the American Patriot in us all.



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Book review by Mary Crocco

1923: A Memoir by Harry Leslie Smith

April 10, 2011

1923: A Memoir by Harry Leslie Smith


The author, Harry Smith, describes his birth as coming into the world with no fanfare, no glad-handing in February 1923.  He was born into poverty, abuse, and alcoholism during the Great Depression in England.  The matriarch in the family, Lillian, had abandoned Harry’s father, Albert, to put food on the table. She fled numerous places called home, and accepted another man only to feed her kids.  Lillian was hardly the loving mother; however, Harry did love her as he did his father. But not for Harry’s sister, Mary, he never would have survived. She provided    the emotional and physical stability for Harry even though she was only three years older.


Harry discovered a library where books offered him much solace in his chaotic life.  He read and dreamed of escaping the place he called home. He took a bicycle ride to York and after observing a beautiful medieval cathedral he experienced an epiphany; he would someday escape from King Cross, Halifax, and Yorkshire. There was another world out there and Harry would find it.


Harry did see more of the world, but not always in a good way. He joined the Royal Air Force during WWII.  He experienced the horrors of war that every man and woman in the service should never have to experience.


Harry tells his stories of home and war like a good novel.  He describes his family and war buddies as if we were family and kin.


There are many books written about WWII and The Great Depression, however written in a memoir creates a different read. If not for the true to life language of Harry’s experiences, this story could be on school book shelves for students studying history.


I am hoping for a sequel as the ending leaves the reader intrigued. Glad you survived, Harry, to write this memoir. Hope to read more about you and Elfriede.


Book review by Mary Crocco

Dead Men by Derek Haines

April 10, 2011

Dead Men by Derek Haines


This is a story about the hell of divorce from the point of view of three men. They are angry, bitter, depressed, and lonely. They have lost their jobs, homes, and their children. Any money they eventually earn goes to child-support. They feel the Family Court favors women and they try to beat the system. These men did not exactly grow up in nurturing homes, which definitely adds to their outlooks on life.


Within a few months, divorce turned three men into confused and bored women haters. David and Tony’s wives discarded them, both had cheated on them. Steve felt his wife measured him by his salary, which he increased with petty criminal activities.


David, an innovative salesman; Tony, a hard working owner of a transport company; and Steve, a well-qualified and dependable accountant, are reduced to feeling useless and worthless to their families and society in general.  They end up twisting their skills using illegal activities.


The story begins in their birth city of Perth, Australia.  The men move to Sydney, Australia where they all meet by chance, calling themselves The Three Musketeers. This is where the story develops.  The reader experiences the trials and tribulations these men experience during and after their divorces.  We listen to the ramblings of broken men who can’t be seen as weak. They don’t know how to talk about their emotions and/or feelings in a healthy way. We watch how they do handle life, which isn’t very pretty.


Readers will have different opinions regarding how the story ends for Tony and Steve. David’s ending, where he meets his match, will have readers hoping for the best for him.


The book is dark as the story is rough. Derek Haines strength is developing his characters, and he does an extraordinary job describing three distasteful men who deal with their circumstances in the only way they knew how. While doing so, he does offer his readers a different perspective in the difficult matter of the hell of divorce.


Book Review by Mary Crocco

Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck

April 10, 2011

Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck

A summer job like no other!

Kelsey, a young woman looking for a summer job, lands one in a local circus in Oregon. She takes care of a beautiful white Bengal tiger named Dhiren. Kelsey is unaware of the true mystery of this white tiger as she develops a caring relationship with him.

After two weeks caring for Dhiren, the owner of the circus announces that Dhiren was bought and will be set free in a tiger preserve in India. Kelsey is overcome with mixed emotions. She wants the tiger to be free, but knows she will miss him terribly.

Mr. Kadam, the man who bought Dhiren, realizes how much Kelsey loves his tiger, and how Dhiren responds to Kelsey, and asks her to take the trip to India with him to assure a good trip for Dhiren. Both Mr. Kadam and Dhiren have hidden motives unbeknown to Kelsey.

This is where Kelsey’s summer job becomes like no other! She finds out the true mystery of Ren, the beautiful white Bengal tiger, who she innocently took care of back home in the circus.

The story doesn’t miss a beat involving readers to experience the deep culture of India, along with its magical legends and mythology. The adventures take place as Kelsey and Ren try to survive the creatures of India’s jungles. At the same time, the readers share the budding romance between Kelsey and Ren as Kelsey tries to break the Tiger’s Curse. It’s impossible to stop reading until we find out if Kelsey and Ren becomes a couple and if the Tiger’s Curse gets broken.

Book Review by Mary Crocco

A Cowboy’s Touch by Denise Hunter

April 10, 2011

A Cowboy’s Touch by Denise Hunter


Romance Western Style!


Chicago city girl meets Montana Big Sky cowboy.  Abigail is a workaholic expose writer who decides to expose Wade, the handsome cowboy, in an effort to save her mother’s magazine in Chicago.  Circumstances get in the way and the article is never printed for the public.


It’s the circumstances that draw the reader to enjoy this western style romance. There is a spiritual message about redemption and forgiveness. The characters wrestle with these emotions and it’s their decisions that compel the reader to reflect on our own decisions.


Denise Hunter describes her main characters, Abigail, Wade, and his daughter Maddy, with amazing detail. The reader feels part of the family from beginning to end.  At times we experience ambiguous feelings as they struggle with their decisions.


I recommend A Cowboy’s Touch to readers of all ages, definitely for the young adult ladies. Wade’s daughter, Maddy, is a spunky character the young reader will thoroughly enjoy. It’s a nice way to spend an evening, and a bonus if you like cowboys!


Book review by Mary Crocco

Louis by Derek Haines

April 10, 2011

Louis, by Derek Haines

Derek Haines describes his friend, Louis, as an enigma. He reflects how Louis was someone who taught him how to imagine. Haines engages his readers to travel alongside Louis to all parts of the world. At the end of the trip, we all wish we were friends of Louis.

Teremum was born in Cairo. As a young boy, his almost non-existent family contributed to a perfect resume for being a spy in the British Secret Service.  As a spy, Louis led a secret life where he used both his Egyptian and English heritage to his advantage. He used different names to match his secret identities. He was a compassionate man who completed his missions with integrity. As a spy, he had to kill and also be a target. We feel his triumphs and his pain as we travel with Louis.

Louis is a historical fiction, and the author shares his secret life during both World Wars.  Readers feel the emotions, the ups and downs, that Louis experiences. One of my favorite phrases in the book is . . . his mind started to wander the corridors of his life again.  Derek Haines’s words sum up how Louis felt after suffering a severe stroke.  Throughout the book, Derek once again makes us feel his characters true to life.

The ending was abrupt. I selfishly wanted the last chapter expounded. Without spoiling the ending, I am thinking, maybe a sequel Derek?

Book Review by Mary Crocco

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