Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Maybe a small spoiler alert here. Though I think the trailer says as much. But just in case I thought I’d add the alert anyway.
Watched Joy the other day. When I saw that the director was David O. Russell and stared Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro & Bradley Cooper I knew I just had to see this movie. I must admit it wasn’t a busy movie and it was different but it was still really good. Another wonderful inspiring movie.
I recently finished reading David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell. This movie could have been in that book. lol (I plan to do a book review on David & Goliath later.)
I loved how Russell really showed not just the tragedy behind success but also took the audience on the emotional ups and downs of what it takes to succeed when things aren’t just easily handed to you. Gladwell’s book also takes you on several of those kinds of journeys but seeing it on screen as amazing actors act it out is a whole different level. And no, I don’t think this movie and Gladwells book had anything to do with each other, or maybe they did. Hum… lol What has Russell been reading? 
There’s also Gladwells book called What the Dog Saw which also makes it clear that you can’t be “lucky” if you don’t put your self in a position to be and to be ready. There’s no guarantee you will find success, but at least you will have a better chance. This movie really puts that into perspective. The only reason Joy was lucky enough to achieve amazing abundant success is because she trained herself, she made her self available, she pushed through when people told her to give up, she never stopped. If she hadn’t become a success she would have still left a wonderful legacy for her daughter.
As far as wither the movie is true or not, it’s a mix of both. Initially the story is about Joy Mangano. But, it is also about several other woman who went through a lot before becoming a success and those woman are all wrapped up in Joy’s character (played by Jennifer Lawrence) as well. I found a good article on it at The True Story Behind the Movie Joy.

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Ghosts Among Us By James Van Praage and mention of When Ghosts Speak by Mary Ann Winkowski.
A book review by Lori


I read the book When Ghosts Speak by Mary Ann Winkowski a while ago and really enjoyed it. She sees earth bound spirits which are spirits of people who passed away but didn’t go into their light and are hanging around often in a state of confusion causing trouble for those who are “living” though often unintentionally. Mary Ann explains in her book that she doesn’t not see spirits who have passed through the light and come back or angels and other such spirits. Not that she isn’t often made aware of their presence as well as negative energies.

James Van Praagh is gifted in seeing those who have passed through the light and have some back to help as well as angelic presences.

Through his book he recounts experiences with people and the loved ones trying to help them from another dimension. He also tells of others with “psychic” type people such as Mary Ann and tells some stories of working along side them.

His stories are filled with love and hope and encouragement. He emphasizes how we are not alone and there are plenty of ententes willing and ready to help us. Of course our “rational” minds are often not open to receiving help and we tend to block their efforts.

James also tells a little of his life and learning about his gifts even as a child and fine toning them. I and other pagan/wiccans I know often warn people to stay away from divination type tools such as Ouija boards and seances. Without a solid protection around, one can end up being fooled by a rogue spirit or even oppressed by one. James take on those subjects is different that what I’ve heard from myself or others. Though I would still use the same warning I understand there is more to it. If you want to hear his take on them, well…then read the book!

Over all both Mary Ann and James help people get over their fears of the afterlife, “unknown” and ghosts. Getting over fears is a giant step in self improvement and moving on. They also give people hope for their loved ones who have passed away making it easier to let go of grief and embrace hope and learn from the legacy they left behind as well as letting go of fear and misconceptions of ones own pending “afterlife”.

I like the order in which I read the two book and would recommend reading May Ann’s book first then James’.

Both writers were consultants for the show Ghost Whisper. Mary Ann tells a bit more about her experience working with the show. She also dedicates a chapter about protecting ones self from negative and annoying spirits and energies.

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Love, Ellen A Mother/Daughter Journey
by Betty DeGeneres
A Book Review By Lori

What a lovely delightful book.

Betty starts off taking the reader on a journey through her New Orleans style childhood. Though my parents childhood was different it’s close to the same era and brought back memories of the stories they told.

Betty, like myself, is a self examiner. She goes through her relationship history not only to tell her story but to help us understand why she reacted the way she did to various situations and to show how far she has come. Again like myself, she doesn’t just retell the stories to get attention and entertain, but to help others who can relate.

Later in the book she delves into her activism. She never set out to be an activist. It pretty much “fell in her lap” and she took up the gauntlet and went with it blessing all those in her wake.

Betty is often know as “Every Mom” and when getting to know her through her book one tends to want to adopt her. I appreciate her open gentle honesty and humble wisdom. This book is good for everyone to read and or hear.

Quotes from Love, Ellen A Mother/Daughter Journey by Betty DeGeneres

Prologue – Page 12

Coming out has been described as an earthquake that shakes the world not only of the person coming out but of everyone around him or her. It has also been described as less a declaration of sexuality to the rest of the world than a personal act of self-love. It is, without a doubt, a discovery of self and a rite of passage that should be celebrated – not only because your daughter or son has taken this courageous step toward being her or his own person, but because you are being given an opportunity to do the same.

Chapter 1 – Page 48 & 49

It was that remarkable woman, Helen Keller, who said that in the ancestry of every king can be found a slave, and in that of every slave, a king. A leveling thought, but true. Between those great differences in status is the vast army of men and woman who are our ancestors – each a contribution to what we are today and each life a story in itself.

In other words, we’re all related. We’re all family. Thank God for our differences.

Chapter 2 – Page 76

I countered, “Lots and lots of gay men and women are Christians and believers.” That brought the discussion to an end. After the caller signed off, I added another observation saying, “The Bible – or rather, the interpretation of the Bible – has been used through the years for whatever purposes certain groups have had. Scripture was used to condone slavery. It was used to keep woman from having the vote. And now it is being used vociferously for this purpose.”

Chapter 8 – Page 223

When an interviewer in Maine asked her about the rigors of touring and why she had decided to take breaks from stand-up, El answered very seriously:

I’ve learned that in life, it’s very important to be happy. If you do something that you’re not happy doing – no matter how much you try to fake it – that will eat you up from the inside, that’ll kill you.

Chapter 9 – Page 265

Many families, I was finding out, have a conspiracy of silence – not because of lack of love but because of lack of skill at talking. Ant not talking about being gay means staying in the closet. What’s wrong with staying in the closet? I knew that from Ellen DeGeneres – Ellen Morgan: It’s suffocating. Gay men and women have the same right to be out in the open, breath the same air, as any of us.

Chapter 10 – Page 313 & 314

To me, the true porfamily stance would be to recognize that what children need is a parent or two parents, who love them unconditionally, who give them a safe, loving home filled with joy and laughter and mental stimulation. Furthermore, unlike heterosexual couples, who often have unplanned pregnancies, gay couples must go to a greater deal of trouble to become parents. Their children are truly wanted, and they are part of a true family.

Since many dysfunctional, abusive households have a mother and a father present, it’s clear that being heterosexual is not necessarily a qualification for being a good parent.

Chapter 10 – Page 318

And they call themselves Christians? How could they be so heartless? How could so many have gone so far afield from the teachings of the One they profess to follow?

The activist Paul Monette wrote of “a world that wallows in holy wars and ethnic bloodbaths.” Regarding the movement toward greater visibility for gays and lesbians, he told of a friend who was “worried about the backlash, having an instinct for the savageries of which religion is capable” Monette used the term “Stepford Christians” and Christian Supremacists.”

Chapter 11 – Page 332 & 333

Why should I have to know other people’s sexual practices? You shouldn’t. And this is where people get confused. When you learn that someone you know is homosexual, you don’t know anything about his or her sexual practices. That is strictly none of our business – just as your own sexual practices are no ones else’s business. I’ve heard it said that with the word heterosexual” the accent is on “hetero” and with the word “homosexual” the accent “sexual.” What a shame that we, as a society, are so hung up on this. After so many generations, we are still, deep down, puritanical. Puritanical and hung up on sex – what a combination! I’m positive that for a committed, loving homosexual couple, sex is no more or less important than it is for a committed, loving heterosexual couple.

Not long ago, I heard the great writer Toni Morrison being interviewed on 60 Minutes. As an African-American, she said, “When you know somebody’s race, what do you really know about them? Nothing.” How true and this can be applied to sexuality. When you know somebody’s sexuality, what do you really know about them? Nothing. It should be just a fact and should not enter into the equation of the sum of that person.

Chapter 11 – Page 341

Is it possible to have a healthy dialog between people who disagree? As an incurable optimist, I’d say yes. And the old saying “You can disagree without being disagreeable” might be a good starting place. Also, respect helps tremendously – self respect and respect for others and their beliefs.

The qualities needed to accept diversity are the same qualities needed for a healthy dialogue about differences of any kind – race, religion, orientation, ideology, or whatever we can imagine that divides us. “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. “

Epilogue – Page 364

Not long ago, I was inspired by a short piece by Robert J. Hastings called “The Station.” He uses a train as a metaphor for our journey through life. He says that like many passengers on trains, instead of enjoying the sights and the scenery along the way, we think only of getting to the station – the station being, “when I get a promotion,” “when I pay off the mortgage,” “when I meet Prince Charming,” and so on. Hastings speaks of the importance of realizing that there is no station, that “the true joy of life is the trip.” What an important message.

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I was happy to read my cousins Shawn’s post saying he got a part as an extra in the film based on the book The Hunger Games. I had never heard of the book but I have enjoyed being in a cattle call myself for the film Forgetting Sarah Marshall and was happy for him. I read the other comments on his status and there were quite a few people who said they had read the book and really liked it which sparked my curiosity.

My cousin Shawn Dougan. I thought this pic went well with this blog. lol

Later the book came up in a conversation I had with my sister Kari. She said her daughter had it and she checked it out. I think she told me most of the story but I had already thought about reading it so I did my best to zone out most of what she was saying so it wouldn’t ruin the plot or ending for me. lol

My sister Kari Aellig and my niece Kenzie. (Not the niece mentioned above.)

Later I found the book for sale at Sam’s Club for just under six bucks and picked up a copy.

It was fascinating from the start! I enjoyed every minute of that book. I read through chapters with out realizing it.

It is the first in a trilogy so at the end there are some things left unfinished. But still, it ended with a good wrap up and left me wanting more in a good way. Suzanne Collins is an amazing author, I look forward to reading more from her.

The book is set in the far future on the North American continent but a very different more advance yet more gritty culture. Katness Everdeen is the fourteen year old heroine of the story. She is put into a very cruel natural nature looking arena where the contestants play to the death. All contestants are between the ages of 12 to 18.   It is designed to remind the people that the ruling government owns them and there is nothing they can do about it. Thankfully Katness has been illegally hunting all her life so she isn’t fair game, yet the game makers make sure it isn’t easy to survive.

I believe this book would be a good read for more advanced pre-teens and teens as well as adults who like adventure type stories.

I couldn’t help but think of what fun the people making and designing the movie must be having. The story is so full of colorful unusual people and ideas. Though the movies don’t live up to the books I have a feeling I’m gonna enjoy this one.

I just have to add that I think  Suzanne Collins looks a lot like Annette O’Toole.

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It took me a long time to finish reading this one. Not because it was boring or anything like that. Just the opposite actually, it was wonderful and I took my time digesting every little bit of it.

It’s a book loaded with life lessons but done so in a light hearted relatable way.

I would say I recommend this book to everyone but having talked to others who have already read it I have come to understand that not everyone would really “get it.” People who are young and inexperienced or are just content with their lives and not looking to better themselves may not really understand or appreciate how Elisabeth picks things apart and can create a better world for herself by doing so.

I now have this strong desire to go to Italy, India and Indonesia for some reason. Elizabeth describes these places so well you feel like you are there with her.

There were a few times I appreciated her ideas but didn’t agree with them. As she progressed on her spiritual journey she would come around and alter or change her understanding which would line up more with how I feel. The book really was like a daily devotion to me. I enjoyed every bit of it.

While reading Eat Pray Love I felt so much like Elizabeth knew my heart, like she was a long lost twin sister. It was so easy and delightful to go on her written journey with her when we seem to see through the same eyes.

Pic of Elizabeth I found on google.

I haven’t yet seen the movie. I plan to one day soon. I also plan to be forgiving of it because I’m sure there was tons left out and changed. It’s the way movies are now days. When I do see it I’ll be sure to write a review and include the link to it on here.

 I marked my book up. I underlined things and made page notes at the back so I could come back and use quotes. I am writing my favorite quotes from the book on here. They will be in the pictures. At the end of the quotes area there is some pages I didn’t quote because they were to long so I included my thoughts on what is written instead.

 Me reading pool side.


Quotes from Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Pic I took of a peacock in Hawaii.

Pic I took at Waikiki Aquarium.

Pic i took in Hawaii.


Pic I took.

Pic from google search of Augusteum.

Pic from google.

Pic from google.

Pic from google.

Pic by me.

Pic found on google.

Pic found on google.

 Pic found on google of Elizabeth Gilbert.

 Pic found on google.

 Pic drawn by my daughter Kara. 

Pic I took.

Pic I took of Halona Blowhole in Hawaii.

Pic found on google.

Pic i drew.

Pic from google. It was a nun that told her that.

Pic I took of my daughter Kara.

Pic I took.

Pic of me in Hawaii.

Pic i found of google.

Pic I found on google.

Pic I took of myself.

Pic I took in Hawaii.

Fun pic I took of my oldest three and me.


I have to temper myself because I enjoyed and got something out of the whole book. There were a few areas that were too long for a quote but I related to it so I just put the page number down. I’ll tell you why they meant something special to me.

Page 203/204
This part has helped me find some patience for people who can look at a tray of facts and still refuse to eat anything from it. They are satisfied with where they are and have no desire or intent to change not matter how pretty you paint the picture. In the past I got so aggravated with people like that. I couldn’t understand their way of thinking. I still have my moments but for the most part I realize now I am the one who is actually different. It’s isn’t all that normal to be a truth seeker, to be an investigator, an explorer, to what to know what, when, why and so on and be ok and happy being this way.

Elizabeth uses the word slippery. One of the traits I have avoided admitting I have in some witchy descriptions of people types is slippery, slimy, and mucus. It sounds so unreliable and it sounds yucky. But, everything has its purpose and that purpose can be positive or negative, it all depends on how you use it. I like being able to slip from one understanding to a better one. I like the flexibility and, you gotta admit, mucus is quite flexible.

Just as I have been intolerant of people who seem close minded, I can see how they could easily be the same toward me. It’s about how you look at it and it’s about what you do with it. We all have our purpose, we can all benefit this life, and we could do it so much better if we understood that it is ok for people to be different than us and even better yet if we accept each other the way we are and work together.

Page 293
This area was just fun because I had recently seen an interview with Lady Gaga. In the interview she explains how a lot of her songs that are about romance and religion are actually about how she feels about her home, New York. Here in this area of the book that Elizabeth and a friend are reminiscing about New York and I felt the feeling they expressed went along well with what I heard Lady Gaga say.

Pic I found on google of NYC.

Page 263
I got a good laugh at this part. It’s about a lady telling Liz what to do so she can have beautiful hair like her. Nothing deep really, just funny.

Page 232
Juice from saffron and sandlewood for burns. Has anyone used this and how did it work out for you?

Page 327
This part is near the end of her book. She is accepting her pain and hurt and such and dealing with it in a manner I had been told all my life was wrong and bad and harmful and pretty much would turn into sin at some point. She is bringing the seemingly negative feelings into herself and accepting them.

Before reading this book about two years ago I started doing something very similar. Before, I had believed things like anger, hate, jealousy, bitterness and so on were sins and so I wouldn’t accept them. When I felt the urge to feel those emotions I would scold myself and quote scriptures in my head or even find them and read them to help me quickly overcome the feelings and I’d repent. I did this for a few reasons. One, I wanted to please the Lord Jesus Christ and it was from the scriptures that I was taught so well that those emotions were harmful and sinful. I also just didn’t want to feel them either.

What I didn’t realize was that by denying those natural emotions I was not actually blocking them or getting rid of them, I was burying them deep inside me. Instead of blowing up like a bomb, I would have a  random crying fit from time to time which I absolutely hated because I didn’t like to cry. I had some ignored health issues that I can now see were likely related but it wasn’t till I was 19 that I got terribly sick and it became evident that all those things I thought I got rid of were in me and destroying my body physically.

One of the sisters in the church taught me to admit I had a negative feeling, call it by name, ask the Lord for forgiveness and then imagine it in a box that I offer up to him, thus ridding me of the negative emotion. It helped for a while.

However, emotions are not sins. They are naturally a part of us and by denying and riding ourselves of them we are denying who we really are.

About three years ago when I woke up to the fact that I had been in a Christian cult for twenty years and at the same time my marriage was on the rocks I got to experience what it feels like to live in the void. I wasn’t about to take on anything just to get out of it. I had to know the truth even if it meant that I would never leave the middle of nowhere.  As it turned out I didn’t have to make permanent residency there after all.

Since my idea and definition of sin was challenged and I was learning about morals, ethics, negative, positive and such from something other than the Bible and those who use it I was no longer afraid to do some experimenting. I decided to see what it felt like and what would happen if I just embraced the feelings that came to me. So, when something made me angry, I decided that angry was what I was gonna feel and I wasn’t gonna try to stop and I was gonna express myself about it and I was just gonna accept it  and then I just wasn’t really actually all that angry anymore and then I was surprised to find I was fine and rather happy. The same with jealousy. I felt funny admitting I wanted what someone else had but I did it anyway. Not always where they could hear me but so I could at least hear myself very clearly. And then it would just fade away and I’d find myself happy for them and fine with who and where I was.

I understand now that I wasn’t bringing anything foreign into myself. I was just accepting me.

I drew this pic of some of my elements and signs and an important reminder to go along with it!


You can find Elizabeth Gilberts web-site at http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/bio.htm#.

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Wicked: The life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West
by Gregory Maguire

note: Not for children. This book has sexual scenes.

I have not yet seen the musical but I love the song Defying Gravity that comes from it. That song sings out how I often feel. I’ve had to do an awful lot of “defying gravity” it seems.

I don’t know when or if I will ever get to see the musical so I decided to get the book and just read it. Now that I have finished reading it I’m pretty sure the musical is going to be quite different. Naturally when books are put into plays or movies that it just how it goes.  I think that books like Wicked would make a good mini-series so that there could be more attention to the intriguing details.  I still however, want to see the musical.

Elphaba, what an interesting main character. I’m a mom of kids with Autism and Aspergers, so I am quick to recognize like traits in characters from stories and Elphaba would likely be considered Autistic in the real now days world. She has a mind of her own. She goes by her own logic. She has a strong sense of justice. She avoids people. She has a texture problem, with water. And much more.

As unreal and surreal the story is, it is laced heavily with reality. You could say the author has a political or religious or non-religious agenda yet at the end of the story it is still just a story.  In its amazing landscape of talking animals and people of various sizes and colors, humanity is the same as it is in real life with its unpredicted consequences, or are they actually predicted?

Most of the time the book held my attention. I’m a tough one in that area. I could very well have ADD, or maybe I’m just a busy mom. There were some mundane areas in the book but Mr. Maguire had my curiosity elevated enough to keep going and find out “what happened”. He always delivered and I was never disappointed.

I don’t see the book as inspiring, though it does make one think. It may be that it needs to be read a few more times to get the full jest of it. Gregory Maguire has written quite a few other spin-off books from the old fairy tales and I totally intend to read them all.

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