Monday, December 29, 2014

Life Along the Illinois River by David Zalaznik forward by Pat Quinn

Life along the Illinois River Hardcover – October 31, 2008

Editorial Reviews


"A work of love ... this is a book you'll continue to be drawn to, irresistibly."--IllinoisTimes 

Book Description

The Illinois River flows through the heart of Illinois, beginning in the northeast of the state at the confluence of the Kankakee River and the Des Plaines River in Will County and extending 270 miles to the southwest, where it joins the Mississippi River at Grafton in Jersey County. Many people depend on this river for their livelihoods, and many more are drawn to its waters as an escape for recreation, sport, and reflection.
This collection of photographs offers intimate insight into the Illinois River, spanning its entire length and illustrating the river throughout all seasons. Evoking moods that are by turns meditative, practical, and quirkily playful, the ninety photographs in this volume compose a portrait of the Illinois River with a face that is transformed throughout every hour of the day. Photojournalist David Zalaznik captures the spirit of people at work and at play on the river, as well as the quiet beauty of the flora and fauna that make the river a natural retreat. Guiding the reader through the unique communities built along the river’s shores--from Ottawa and Morris to Peoria and Chillicothe, from Lacon and Bath to Kampsville and Grafton, as well as many others--the photographs convey the sense of spontaneity, discovery, and celebration felt by people who live near or visit this great gift of nature.
Life along the Illinois River is a gracious portrait of a river that unites humanity and nature, and it offers a new vision of the Illinois River’s vitality and its role in our lives. The book also includes a short introduction by the photographer and a foreword by Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Two Surprising Elements that Create a Dynamic Compelling Character in Dark Fantasy

The Unholy Book Tour  

About The Unholy
 "A young curandera, a medicine woman, intent on uncovering the secrets of her past is forced into a life-and-death battle against an evil Archbishop. Set in the mystic land of Aztlan, the Unholy is a novel of destiny as healer and slayer. native lore of dreams and visions, shape changing, and natural magic work to spin a neo-gothic web in which sadness and mystery lure the unsuspecting into a twilight realm of discovery and decision." 

Guest Post by Paul DeBlassie 

The stronger the character in terms of the capacity for both love and rage the more compelling they are and it is in this that the true character is birthed. Love and rage are in essence the nests in which the characters are cared for and nourished and then allowed to fly free. 

I find that I must dip into my own capacity for primal feelings of love and rage in order to discover that aspect of myself that is like the character, has been like or felt like the character feels in the situation. 

It’s critical to always allow this to move the story forward and not get stuck by over thinking the character, to just hit and go into the emotional life of the character and let the character then tell me what he or she wants to express. The rage in particular can be horrifying because of our human capacity to inflict injury on others or society. 

To express this on the page leaves me feeling vulnerable yet also true to myself within this dimension of storytelling. It’s mind boggling for me to experience the rage of the character and what the character like Archbishop William Anarch in The Unholy wants to do and does to innocent human beings. 

Claire Sanchez, the medicine woman, on the other hand needs to find rage, a healthy aggression, that has gone awry in Anarch, and only by doing this, if she can, will she potentially be able to discover the strength to fight the powerful archbishop.   

Book Excerpt from The Unholy
As she ran forward, out of nowhere the two crows flew at her, scraping the air near her face with their sharp talons. Fists clenched, she struck out at one and grabbed at the other. They flew up, circled overhead, then dove, talons flaring. Unmoving, Claire placed her hands by her side and held their gaze. They fluttered above her head for a minute, then left. Claire turned and saw an eagle soaring—a healer’s spirit manifestation. Medicine women said it came only when needed, when danger lurked.

Frantically tugging away bush, bramble, and cacti, she uncovered the mouth of the seventh cave and stepped in. She had the feeling somebody was watching.

Her eyes adjusted and she made out the contour of something. Squinting, she stooped and touched what seemed to be a circle of stones and charred, cold logs. She stood up and pulled back. A bat flew at her. She waved it away.

She stopped, waited for her breathing to slow, and, stepping sideways, touched the walls of the cave. They were damp and the stink of blood and guts was everywhere. Using the hard surfaces as a guide, her fingertips suddenly brushed through a hollow space roughly the size of a human body.

Book Information
Name: Paul DeBlassie III
Book Title: The Unholy
Genre: Paranormal Thriller
Publisher: Sunstone Press

About the Author
Author Paul DeBlassie 
PAUL DeBLASSIE III, PhD, is a psychologist and writer living in his native New Mexico. A member of the Depth Psychology Alliance, the Transpersonal Psychology Association, and the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, he has for over thirty years treated survivors of the dark side of religion. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ted Kooser, Neil Degrasse Tyson, and Norma Fox Mazer: A few writers to know

By A.J. on March 19, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback

As one of the great astronomer-writers of the Twentieth Century, Carl Sagan was extraordinarily communicative with the non-scientific public, able and willing to take the time and trouble to break down the mysteries of the universe into comprehensible fragments. The purpose of this book, which can be considered a companion to the acclaimed television series, is to explain what we know about the universe from a cosmological perspective and why we need to know more about it.
Physicists often talk of the unity of the branches of physics: the interrelation and application of mechanics, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, and optics to the motion of everything from galaxies to subatomic particles. Similarly, Sagan's major theme is the unity of cosmology with the natural and physical sciences that define what we know about the Earth. Does the stifling, carbon dioxide-choked atmosphere of Venus imply anything about the greenhouse effect on Earth? Was a nearby cosmic explosion called a supernova indirectly responsible for the disappearance of the dinosaurs? What would be the biological consequences for the survivors of a global nuclear war? The answers to these questions are vital to the continuation of life as we know it.
Sagan also identifies cosmology with its own history. He lavishes reverent detail on the ancient Greek and Alexandrian study of the stars and planetary motions, the pioneering work by the Renaissance scientists Brahe, Kepler, Copernicus, Huygens, and others, and the men who revolutionized science with the formulation of laws of motion, Newton and Einstein.
The scope of "Cosmos" is tremendous, from the farthest expanses of the universe containing a hundred billion galaxies in addition to our own Milky Way, at the end of a spiraling arm of which our solar system is located; down to the lone electron circling the nucleus of a hydrogen atom, the most plentiful single entity in the cosmos and the source of everything we know, love, and are. In between there is discussion of the unmanned spacecraft expeditions to investigate "our" planets: Mars with its boulder-strewn, desert-like terrain; the gaseous giant Jupiter; Io, a Jovian moon of incredible redness, spotted with volcanic orifices and resembling an unappealing sauce-covered meatball; Saturn with its ice rings. Would these worlds contain life? Using what we know about the evolution of life on Earth, Sagan hypothesizes how different types of lifeforms might develop on worlds with different environments.
Even a casual interest in cosmology requires a fascination with astronomical distances and unthinkably long spans of time in which a human lifetime is but a blink of an eye. However, Sagan seems to write also for those who would rather relate cosmic arcana to familiar terms, and in this sense he is a grand entertainer: A thought experiment that provides a simple but fanciful illustration of the concept of black holes uses the tea party scene in "Alice in Wonderland" as a setting. "Cosmos" neither complicates unnecessarily nor insults your intelligence; very few "popular" science books will capture your imagination so well.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Book Review: Life Is What You Make It,by Preeti Shenoy


About the author:
Preeti Shenoy is an author and artist. She believes life is the biggest teacher. She is an avid blogger, whose poetry has also been published. This book is her second published work.
My thoughts on the book:
So we have the protagonist, Ankita. She’s a 20 something girl who seems to have issues from the past that haunts her present. In the prologue, we start with her sitting on a chair outside the doctor’s office, mulling over how they’ve come a long way to get her treated. Now that start is perfect. It’s that conflict that pushes the story toward an ending, and makes the reader wonder why she’s at a doctor’s office in the first place. But then, in the next paragraph, it appears as if the protagonist is still traveling to the doctor’s office. And we’re taken through a drive. Major confusion here and that doesn’t do the story good.
The story begins as a flashback. We’re shown letters that Ankita sends to Vaibhav and Vaibhav’s reply. As the story moves, we come to know that Ankita’s parents are very old-school (for the lack of a better term) and don’t approve of her being with other guys, even if in a group, or allow her friends who are boys to call her at home. So they begin to sneak around, doing what they can to stay in touch. Guess love is like that.
The story moves to Ankita’s life at college. This part of the story goes well. It’s kind of like settling in, finding new friends, etc. She gets elected into the school’s office bearers group. The campaign part is fun too. The story goes smoothly till the second guy comes into the picture. Abhi, the guy who she meets at an inter-collegiate event, begins to woo her. Now, good for her part that she tries to tell Abhi about Vaibhav and stuff, but if she is really in love, then it feels really strange that she’d start feeling for Abhi so suddenly. Especially with her talking to Vaibhav and pretending all is well all along. Fast forward and Abhi proposes that Ankita stay in the same city and college so their relationship continues, but Ankita refuses because her parents would not understand, and more so because she’s got into the best college in another city. She even refuses to guarantee that she’ll stay in touch with him because she felt it silly. (If she could stay in touch with, and sneak calls with Vaibhav earlier, this casual brush off for someone who was right near to her and who she “loved” felt very out of character.) The events that follow leave a big mark on her, and she leaves the city on a sad note.
From this point, and her new college life for her Masters degree, the turnaround in her character is quite stunning. She becomes very, maybe even too competitive, and starts seeking perfection. She has affections for one of her new classmates, and kisses him. When her academics seem to be going well, her parents find her “love letters” and turn on her. In front of her, they burn the letters. From here, her mind cracks and she begins to lose it. The problems arise and she leaves going to college. Her parents take her to psychiatrists to try and solve her problem, even trying to force her to return to college. She’s taken to NMHI where she finds someone who’s willing to listen to her, understand her problems and help her get past them. And we move to the ending which culminates it all.
What I liked in the story is the simple language and narration. It’s a quick read if you have some time on your hands. It’s inspiring to the extent that it tells you problems are temporary and you can get past them if you believe. Yes, the story does have elements of a love story, but it isn’t completely one.
What I didn’t like in the story is that you are left much confused. The prologue is conflicting, and the characters very shallow. It’s difficult to think that when your daughter is excelling in the field she’s chosen, any parent would react in that cut-throat way to finding a love letter that HAS a date and is known that it’s long back and target their daughter’s mind health, no matter how strict they are. You don’t get to know why Ankita begins to lose her mind suddenly, if it’s one thing or a combination of different things. The title is only justified with an epilogue that happens fifteen years later. You start to think the plot somewhat quarter or half way into it, so knowing what might happen leaves you disappointed, and also makes our feeling of sadness or sympathy with the protagonist less.
Overall, I think this is a one-time read. I can’t for the life of me figure out why the book is as popular as it is. I don’t think it is a bad book, but it’s confusing why it is titled so. It’s a really nice message, I agree, but the story doesn’t bring it out like it needs to.

Rated 5/10
Rated 5/10
Book details:
Title: Life Is What You Make It
Author: Preeti Shenoy
ISBN: 9789380349305
Genre: Romance
Publishers: Srishti Publishers
Price: Rs. 100

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 a online friend, a skillfull poet, well done bookreview, leo