Thursday, October 23, 2014

Book Review: Island Fog by John Vanderslice

Island Fog
By: John Vanderslice
288 pages
Genre: Fiction/Short Stories
Publisher: Lavender Ink Press, 2014
Book Source: Author in exchange for an honest review

Island Fog is a collection of short stories set on Nantucket spanning 1795-2005. Each of the stories are connected by geography and theme.

An interesting blend of short stories, I enjoyed visiting Nantucket through different centuries and enjoyed the historical aspect of the book. So, I'm giving it...

About the author:

John teaches in the MFA program at the University of Central Arkansas, in Conway (about 30 miles north of Little Rock).  His fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in Seattle ReviewLaurel ReviewSou’westerCrazyhorseSouthern Humanities Review1966Exquisite Corpse, and dozens of other journals.  He has also published short stories in several fiction anthologies, including Appalachian Voice, Redacted StoryChick for a DayThe Best of the First Line: Editors Picks 2002-2006, and Tartts: Incisive Fiction from Emerging Writers.

Author websites:

Creating Van Gogh

Buy it here:


Monday, October 20, 2014

Product Review of Handi-Treads

 Did you know that slips and falls account for over 20,000 deaths per year? And injuries from falls are the most common source of emergency room visits? Since my mother and husband have medical conditions that make them unstable on their feet and I am about as graceful as a bull in a china shop; I decided to take Handi- Ramp up on their offer to review their Handi-Treads in exchange for an honest review.  

They sent me metal treads and the screws to install them with. We decided to install them on the ramp leading up to the front door because even in good weather it's slicker than goose... well you get the idea.
My Dad explaining the process

They were easy to quick and easy to install- it only took about 20 minutes to get them down.  They have raised buttons on them for better traction. When walking on them they felt like they were gripping the bottom of my shoe. They're made out of durable material so they'll last a long time. My husband loves them, he feels more secure now when walking down the ramp. They're pretty in- expensive and come in a variety of colors. They can be installed indoor or outdoor, wood or concrete steps, ramps, decks, docks, and piers. Handi- Ramp has been in business since 1958 and in addition to treads they make handrails, grab bars, wheelchair ramps, and a whole bunch of other good stuff. If you're interested in purchasing your own Handi-treads use this 10% discount code: BLOG2014. I think you'll be happy with the product. We certainly are.

The Husband approves
The kitten approves, too

Friday, October 17, 2014

Guest Post: Benefits of Staying Positive by Jacob Edward

 Benefits of Staying Positive

 Why Staying Positive Matters

 Researchers have come out with countless studies showing that staying positive is good not only for wellbeing but for physical and mental health. The reason they think that the positive thinkers fair better in the long run is because they are better equipped to deal with stress and stressful situations. The positive thinkers recover much faster from stress and in general have no long term effects associated. Stress is very dangerous and can lead to many ailments. These can include fatigue, headaches, weight gain, inflammation, and insomnia just to name a few. Staying positive is one of the main keys to eliminating the harmful and long lasting effects day-to-day stress.

Focus on the Positive

There are many situations where individuals get stressed but the most stressful events are those that have the ability to permanently affect and/or alter our lives. A situation such as losing a job or missing payments on a mortgage can be very stressful. The difference between a positive and a negative thinker is that the positive thinkers tries to focus on the positive and what they can change whereas the negative thinkers focuses on what they can’t change. The best to get through a very stressful situation is to believe you can make it through. Create a goal or a solution and work towards the goal or solution little by little until the achievement is met.

Life Events, Attitude and Overall Health

Harvard researchers using the graduating class of 1944-1945 conducted one of the original and most notable studies into the effects of positivity and negativity on health. The researchers presented the graduating class with a survey and the researchers rated the class’ answers to the survey. They found a surprising correlation. Those who started off positive and remained positive as well as those who started off negative and switched to positive in early adulthood faired the best from a health standpoint. On the corollary, those who started off negative and stayed negative and those who started off positive and switched to negative responses faired the worst in terms of overall health.

Why Does Pessimism Lead to Harmful Health Consequences?

As the study suggests, long lasting pessimism can lead to health issues down the road. The reason for many of these health issues is that the body produces a hormone called cortisol in a stressful situation. The problem is that cortisol, a hormone originally meant to protect and keep our ancestors alert, can easily be produced in by our bodies in the environment we live and work in. A small confrontation with a significant other or a being yelled at by your boss can trigger a cortisol release. According to the Mayo Clinic, long term increased levels of cortisol can lead to decreased immune function, heart disease, diabetes, low bone density, obesity and depression.

A Case Study on Optimism

One more famous case study performed by Dr Dennis Charney of Mount Sinai School of Medicine had 750 veterans with and without post-traumatic stress disorder complete a survey which had them list pre-selected qualities about themselves. They ranked qualities about themselves. He found that the veterans that did not have PTSD had one thing in common. At the top of their list they listed optimism as an important quality. Also, near the top of their lists were selflessness, humor and a belief in a higher power. He also noted that they believed there was meaning behind their lives and actions – all part of a positive outlook.

Jacob Edward is the manager of and Prime Medical Alert in Phoenix Arizona. Jacob founded both companies in 2007 and has helped many Arizona seniors and their families navigate the process of long term care planning. Senior Planning provides assistance to seniors and the disabled finding and arranging assisted living in Phoenix, as well as applying for state and federal benefits. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys dining out and supporting his alma mater Arizona State's Sun Devil sports teams. Jacob lives in Tempe Arizona.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Girl Who Came Back To Life: A Fairytale by Craig Staufenberg

The Girl Who Came Back To Life: A Fairytale
Author: Craig Staufenberg
Genre: YA/ Fantasy
180 pages
Publisher: Create Space, 2014
Book Source: Author in exchange for an honest review

Twelve year old Sophie is self-possessed, mature orphan who lives with her grandmother. When the weather gets warmer they make their way to the North and The City of the Dead where people go to tell their loved ones Goodbye so they can move on to the next world. But Sophie has other plans- she wants to bring her parents back to life. Along the way Sophie is resourceful and finds out things about her grandmother she never knew.

This was a quick, entertaining read. I found the storyline to be original and the characters interesting. I wished Sophie had acted a little more like a kid, though. But she was a very good heroine and she ended up learning a valuable lesson in the City of the Dead. My main quibble is with the cover. I think a more descriptive cover would have represented the story better. I'm giving it...

1/2 teacups
About the Author:
Craig Staufenberg is a writer and filmmaker living in New York City.

 This review is part of a tour hosted by:
Virtual Author Book Tours

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Amazon / B&N


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Damascena: the tale of roses and Rumi


Damascena: the tale of roses and Rumi
Author: Holly Lynn Payne
348 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Skywriter Books, June 2014
Source: Free copy via publisher

Young Damascena ( named after the rosa damascena) is an orphan born in a monastery in Bulgaria. She is raised by a cruel monk, but as an adolescent flees him and discovers her gift for turning roses into rose oil. She then travels to Turkey where she meets Rumi, who recognizes her as his final spiritual companion, and unlocks the secret of the rose.

I admire Rumi, but don't know much about him. Even though this is a work of fiction the setting, characters, and dialogue seemed so real that I felt I got to know him a little better. It's a beautifully written book. A little slow going at times but worth the read. So, I'm giving it...

1/2 teacups

Here's what others are saying:

Damascena is a stunner. Holly Payne takes us into the yearning at the heart of the mystic’s search.
She turns the Sufi quest for connection with God into a human drama that is both moving and soaring.”
Tamim Ansary, author of Games without Rules: The Often-Interrupted History of Afghanistan

Holly Payne has deftly captured the magic, beauty, and ecstatic energy of the Sufi's ancient sema dance with her story about a girl, Damascena, whose
life transcends her own world, and ours. The prose transports the reader creating astonishing characters and at times, a thriller-like the plot, carrying
us into a world that is part hallucination and part real as Payne weaves in themes of loss, beauty, devotion, evil, struggle, magic, and, ultimately, love. “
David Ewing Duncan, best-selling author of Experimental Man: What one man's body reveals about his future, your health, and our toxic world

“Holly Payne's latest novel touches Jelaluddin Rumi's essential beauty within the fragrance of 13th century Turkey and the rich tapestry of his life as a
mystic, poet and honored scholar. Payne exposes the very human challenges Rumi encountered as he grew into one of the greatest poets of all time.”
Murshida Mariam Baker, author of Woman as Divine: Tales of the Goddess senior teacher, Sufi Ruhaniat International and the Mevlevi Order of America

This is one of the most gorgeous novels I've ever read. Payne’s research was so thorough. It makes me want to learn more about the dervishes, their religious
practices, and about Rumi and his achingly beautiful poetry. The themes of forgiveness, spirituality and all the different forms of love resonated with me on every page.”
Laura Marquez, Emmy Winner and former ABC News Correspondent

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Nine Lives To Die by Rita Mae Brown

Nine Lives To Die: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery
Mrs. Murphy # 22
Genre: Mystery
272 pages
Publisher: Bantam, 2014
Source: Publisher via netgalley in exchange for honest review

Winter has come to Crozet, VA and Harry and Fair are busy preparing for Christmas in addition to delivering presents to needy residents and participating in fundraisers.

When two mentors with local agency Silver Linings end up dead in addition to a cold case turning up it's up to Harry and her pets to sniff out the mystery.

While the mystery itself was pretty good, there wasn't enough focusing on it. Still more talking in these books than doing. At least Rita Mae Brown has toned down on the political stuff. Thank Gawd. I wish she'd bring the old friends back such as Miranda and the Sanburnes. They helped make the stories more interesting. So, I'm giving it...

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Try A Little Tenderness

My Mother had an appointment at a neurologist's office yesterday. She hadn't been there in four years but her migraines got worse so she went back. This time she saw a nurse practitioner she'd never seen before. The FNP seemed nice enough even though she seemed hurried. She asked questions about Mom's medical history and at times asked another question before Mom could get the first one answered.

I had to keep chanting to myself " Don't say anything. Don't say anything."

I understand that medical practitioners are busy and pressed for time. However, not allowing enough time to get a clear picture of your patient can be detrimental. How can you treat someone properly if you're too rushed to listen? Or too rushed to do a procedure properly? She ended up giving Mom an Occipital nerve block to help with her migraines- I watched her do it. She didn't appear to have a light touch and didn't numb the area like Mom's dr. did when she had the block before. So, something that helped in the past ended up making her feel worse. Which could have been prevented if the FNP had taken a few extra minutes instead of rushing to get done. Not rushing would also prevent the patients and family members from not resenting the medical personnel. And keep a big, blonde viking-esque daughter happy.

And despite all the rushing we were still there two hours all together. Yippee. So I took a magazine of theirs home with me. I considered it a tradeoff. Yes, I'm very mature.