Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A Whole System Approach to Healing

Two of the most pervasive killers and two of the most difficult to control are stress and inflammation. Chopra and Tanzi present a well researched approach to using your mind and body, or mindbody, to heal yourself from these afflictions.

Today’s world is filled with situations that raise your stress level from traffic to despair over the world situation. In this book the authors discuss what stress is and how to move from being controlled by external stress to using your inner resources to take control of your life. Inflammation is another killer. From the American diet, heavy on sugar, fat and refined grains, to the polluted air we breathe most of us are hurting ourselves with high levels of uncontrolled inflammation.

The authors present a chapter on each of these major health concerns along with suggestions for how to get your stress and inflammation levels under control. In addition to the these two major topics, other aspects of health and wellness are discussed. The book also offers a seven day plan aimed at moving from debilitating habits and beliefs to better health.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in healing and maintaining awareness of the fact that our minds and bodies are integrally connected. The interaction is much more important than most of us realize and can lead to health or wellness. The choice is in how each person interacts with their environment both internal and external.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Murder in a Haunted Girl’s School

Fiona Sheridan, a journalist, can’t get over the murder of her sister twenty years ago. Fiona keeps going back to where her sister’s body was found in the middle of an open field at the abandoned Idlewood School. Idlewood was a school where troubled girls were sent, and it’s rumored to be haunted by Mary, the ghost of a young woman, who died years before the school was founded.

The story encompasses not only Fiona’s tragedy, but tells the story of four roommates who were at the school sixty years ago. They bonded and became each other's strength until on of them disappeared returning from a weekend to visit family. The school called her a runaway, and her body was never found, but the girls didn’t give up their belief that something terrible had happened to her.

The atmosphere at Idlewood is eerie, just right for a ghost. The description of the school, even in it’s abandoned condition can make chills run up your back.

All the girls in this story are troubled from Fiona to the four roommates. Fiona can’t break free from her sister’s tragedy until she decides to take action and write about the renovation of the school. The other four are difficult girls, but I couldn’t help liking them and rooting for them to become successful women. One, Katie, was particularly resourceful and brave.

I highly recommend this book for lovers of haunting mysteries.

I received this book from Berkley Publishing for this review.

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Social, Political, and Cultural Perspective on Paul’s Mission

In this comprehensive work on Paul, we see not only the theology, but also the social, cultural, and political dynamics that helped to form his thinking. The book takes a chronological perspective starting with his Jewish upbringing, follows him through his conversion to a follower of Jesus and his journeys to the early Christian communities.

The book is well written and easy to follow even if you’re not a Paul scholar. I found the early chapters some of the most interesting. It’s easy to ignore the fact that the early Christians living in world shaped by political and social realities. Paul was raised in the Jewish tradition and the scope of that history had a significant bearing on his later writing.

My other favorite chapter was the last chapter where Wright puts the whole thing together. He emphasizes that Paul’s concept of love and the outward looking church were significant factors in the way Christian communities developed and responded to social challenges. He suggests this world view was responsible for founding hospitals to care for everyone and for the development of education.

Weaving the cultural and historical factors of the time into Paul’s story and teachings made the scriptures come alive for me. I highly recommend this book. Whether you’re a Paul scholar or even particularly religious, this book will make you think and, I hope, bring a new level of understanding to Paul’s Letters.

I received this book from BookLook Bloggers for this review.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Does More Equal Happiness or Prosperity?

We are conditioned to look at GDP (Gross Domestic Product) as a measure of economic progress for the country. The economists love this number. It gives them a standard to measure against. But, for the average person what does the GDP say about our lives? Are we happier because it’s high? Is the quality of life better? These are interesting questions tackled by The Growth Delusion.

This book, while examining difficult economic concepts, is written for the average person to understand. This may not be appropriate for experts, but it gives the average person insight into what the experts are talking about. Economists are traditionally caught up in looking at the wealth of nations and ranking countries on their economic progress. They believe that they understand the workings of the economy and are therefore justified in telling people whether they should be happy with the way the country is going.

In this book, the author discusses three major areas: the problems of growth; what growth tells us about ourselves and the developing world; and finally a look at the factors that relate to happiness and well-being. Although I enjoyed the first two sections, I found the last section most persuasive. The Industrial Revolution was great for the wealthy, but the poor suffered mightily. Are we heading for the same problems with our emphasis on growth? The poor and middle class plus the environment may suffer most for our emphasis on growth.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Religion, Philosophy and Romance

After an unsettling meeting with an old friend from seminary, Father Kavanagh wanders through Central Park. To escape the rain, he takes shelter in The Cloisters. He’s hoping to be alone, but Rachael Vedette, a museum guide, wanders into his sanctuary. Their unexpected conversation changes their lives.

Rachael is a survivor of the Holocaust in France. Her father, a Medieval scholar, studied Abelard in the hope of bringing Abelard’s ideas to the modern era and garnering him the honor he deserves. Rachael protected her father’s work throughout her own ordeal, now she feels compelled to share it with Father Kavanagh.

The novel revolves around the story of Heloise and Abelard, an iconic love story that echoes through the centuries. It is also the story of Rachael and Kavanagh and the struggle to bring the story of the Jews into the rightful place in philosophical thinking, a task that Abelard paid dearly for.

This is a beautifully written book. It’s a book to be savored, not read quickly. The love story and the foray into philosophy and religion present much food for thought. The characters are real people struggling with mighty issues. The author did an excellent job of making both the middle ages and the modern era into backgrounds that enhanced the novel.

I enjoyed both the romance and the philosophy. It’s a book worth reading more than once.

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.

Monday, March 5, 2018

A Mathematical Puzzle and Murder

Hazel, adopted granddaughter of mathematical genius, Issac Severy, is devastated to learn of his suicide. She is even more startled when she receives a letter from him written before his death. In the letter, he entrusts her with finding and delivering his final equation to a colleague he believes will use the equation for good.

In the letter he tells her that he is being followed by a shadowy organization that wants control of the equation. He doesn’t trust them and doesn’t want the equation to fall into their hands. Hazel feels she is the least likely member of this family of geniuses to carry out the task, but Isaac has told her he respects her logical mind and is sure she can do the job.

After the funeral, Hazel’s task starts, complicated by the family of eccentric geniuses and her brother, who is a police officer. The book follows Hazel’s quest, but also explores the lives of the other Severys particularly Philip, Isaac’s theoretical physicist son.

If mathematics is not your thing, don’t worry. Math is the background for an engrossing mystery. The characters are well drawn. Although they are unusual and bedeviled with the problems of being a member of a family of geniuses, it’s easy to relate to them. The action moves moderately fast, but there are a number of chapters where the family members expose their insecurities and the backstory of how Hazel and Gregory became members of the family is explained.

I enjoyed the book. The plot was well constructed and the ending a surprise. It was hard to guess until you got to at least the middle of the book. If you enjoy a mystery with quirky characters and a reluctant heroine who realizes her potential, this is a good book.

I received this book from Eidelweiss-- Above the Trees for this review.

A Terrifying Evening Gets Worse

Melanie is late again picking up her baby, Alex. The babysitter is a stickler for punctuality. Worried, she pounds on the babysitter’s door, only to be told that Social Services has taken the baby. How can that be? She was only two minutes late.

When she arrives home, it gets worse. Crime scene tape is stung across the porch and inside her house is a shambles, raided by the sheriff’s deputies. They found cocaine. Melanie knows she’s clean, but the evidence is stacked against her. She could lose Alex and go to jail for years.

Amy Kaye, the assistant commonwealth’s attorney, is assigned to Melanie’s case. She's working the case or a serial rapist who has been operating in the county for years. Shockingly, Melanie was one of his victims. Amy can’t get cooperation on the rapist case. She feels that Melanie’s case is more complex than it appears,
perhaps related to the rape, but again she gets little cooperation.

Two women from different perspectives battle law enforcement. The book is skillfully written. You can feel Melanie’s desperation and Amy’s frustration. The pace is fast with hardly any breathing room. All the characters are well defined. People you can connect with. I enjoyed the fact that chapters were written from both Amy’s and Melanie’s point of view.

This is book is so closely written that taking in all the problems Melanie is facing can sometimes seem overwhelming. It’s also a good reminder that law enforcement people are not without their own issues. It makes you hope that you never get caught in the kind of trap Melanie is in.

I received this book from Dutton for this review.