Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Traveling into the Past to Visit the Mayan Empire - with Carole P. Roman, Travel Guide...


The Mayans were the only ancient American society with a written account of their history. They recorded their accomplishments on stone billboards called stelas, pottery, papers, skins, and anywhere they could report their culture.
The Mayans were indigenous people who lived up and down the Yucatan Peninsula.
The whole area was dotted with wealthy city-states that were great areas of activity. The many cities were not unified under one leader. Each town had a king that ruled the land from his palace, located in the center of the metropolis.
Cities grew along the network of trade routes or a highway. This road was called sacbeob, making travel between towns convenient and easy.
People grew rich from the products that made their way up and down the land. Each city had a temple for worship that attracted people to settle, creating centers of exchange and learning.





You might have made your home in the outskirts of the bustling city state of Tikal. Sixty to seventy thousand people lived in the busy area. It was famous for its six large pyramids. You lived there during the Classic Age, and it is remembered as being the Golden Age of Mayan life.

Tikal is an impressive city that rose out of the rainforest like a giant mountain range. The ceremonial and government buildings were placed in the center. There were plazas, ball courts, and markets. The city sprawled to where the residential areas spread on the outskirts.

The city was filled with carved monuments celebrating the deeds of the ruling kings, and your found your home in the shadow of a great wall separating it from a sacred pyramid.
~~~

This historical story of a once thriving nation, which can be traced back to 1800 BC... Just imagine if you had lived then, you might have been born around 572 BC! The amazing thing was that they wrote their own history from the very beginning and produced magnificent architectural buildings well before they were seen in the Americas...

Carole Roman, with the illustrated help by Paula Tabor, has provided us with over 50 pages of intensive historical data and paintings that beautifully present children, and adults, with a comprehensive study of the Mayan Empire. Life was hard and women worked constantly to provide food and clothing for the family. Men and boys would hunt for food, including turkey, deer, iguanas, et.al., but they had no knives so used stones and flint as their sharp-edge tools. Every part of the animals were used, not only for food, but for clothing, etc.

Each home had a shrine to their god and then the day began to do the daily work...giving a share to the king first and then using the rest of your goods in support of your family.

It was interesting to see how much of their daily living is still similar to today's life...including, for women, to wear jewelry and make their own makeup to color their cheeks, although I admit to being shocked when I learned that they purposefully changed physical characteristics of their children in order to enhance what they considered beautiful... Even more bizarre were what they did to teeth...Whew!

All in all, I was happy to learn about it all, but glad I'm living during the time we are...

There is a special section of contributions of the Mayan which adds greatly to the value of this early society... Learning about this Empire certainly spotlights how much we have learned from the past...and how much of our daily activities lead forward to the future... This was one of the more important books in this historical series and is highly recommended...


GABixlerReviews


Monday, July 24, 2017

Lawrence W. Gold Presents One of His Finest in Latest Brier Hospital Novel!

When Joyce and Norman returned home with David and Luke, it was clear in an instant that life would never be the same. Suddenly, they needed to confront the reality of needy twin baby boys. Norman, a modern, enlightened father, had taken time off to help, but due to male physiology, his contributions were limited to occasional bottle feeding at night. In the first two weeks, they’d averaged three hours sleep each per night as the boys refused to sync their needs. 
“Can we send them back?” Joyce said in exasperation. 
Norman smiled. “I don’t think so. We’re beyond the return date.” “Maybe we can trade them for a couple of teenagers.” 
“Yes, and a whole new set of problems.” 
Two professionals, compulsive and determined to get everything right, had the CDC Developmental Milestone chart on the wall in the babies’ room. They drew two columns, one for David, the other for Luke. “You’re not going to check-mark them, are you?” Norman asked. “As a scientist, you know how much variation exists between two individuals. Do it, and you’re going to drive us both crazy.” 
Despite his protestations, as the weeks passed, check marks appeared on the chart. Both boys had demonstrated smiling, grasping, and reaching for swinging objects, but they were inconsistent with tracking objects. They took a photo of the chart and brought it to their pediatrician. After he examined the twins, he said, “You guys are doing a great job. The boys look wonderful. Do me a favor and eighty-six the chart. If there are problems, you’ll know and we’ll deal with it.” 
In spite of the recommendation, the chart remained in place, each child fulfilling his milestones, Luke lagging a bit behind David. After a month, Norman returned to work. 
At four months, after an exhaustive search, background check, review of recommendations, and enhanced interrogation, they hired a nanny. By the time they were two, it was obvious that both boys were physically and intellectually gifted. Moreover, they were beautiful—many suggesting they might be child models. 
Norman shook his head. “I’ll be damned if I let my boys stand before a camera in their Fruit of the Looms.”
“Not to worry, sweetheart.” More important to Joyce and Norman were the earliest indications of their goodness and easy-going natures. “What did we do to deserve such great boys?” asked Joyce. 
“You picked the right father.”
Like many parents looking back on their children’s past, time flew by. The boys thrived in high school playing football, basketball, and running track. Luke ranked number one in their class with David a close second. Luke studied Russian, while David learned Mandarin. They were top players in the school’s chess club, often competing against each other. Both boys were tall, blue-eyed, and ruggedly handsome. In their senior year, the student body crowned both as kings of the prom.
~~~

When Joyce and Norman had twin boys, they knew their family was just about perfect...Both boys were gifted and went on to into Medical School...

Until the Accident...

But both boys survived thankfully. It was Luke, however, that had been seriously hurt and, afterward, they realized that he had acquired Asperger's Syndrome, which is normally discovered at birth. Additionally it was discovered that he was a Savant now...and with most of the symptoms of Asperger's, Luke became a stranger in a strange world he hadn't a clue to live in... Perhaps a part of my love for this book is because of my personal relationship with a relative of mine as I was reminded of the various issues that we saw as our little boy grew up... I'm not going to tell much about Part I which is about the twins and the family adjustments and decisions that needed to be made. It is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, the latter because of the closeness of the family and, in particular, Luke's twin brother, David...

In fact. I was so involved with the family drama, that I was shocked when suddenly the whole story switched into an entirely different story!

But that's when the medical thriller for which Dr. Gold is becoming well know with his Brier Hospital Series, really takes off...and, as always, the main character for the series. Dr. Jacob Weizman, who represents the spirit of the series, takes on his important role at the Hospital...

Once again, we are looking at the actions of government operations and find that there is much being done that could lead to  catastrophes, by accident, but also on purpose! And, when there is somebody watching, the type of criminal acts can be stopped through the sometimes dangerous action of a whistleblower...I am thankful he took the chance...

But even the exciting action you'll be reading did not deter me from watching and mostly enjoying the work of the twin doctors who soon were in the spotlight whenever some puzzling case needed to be solved. Dr. Gold has done an outstanding job in creating medical settings in which our new Savant could not only help, but add his skills to solve many cases that were not able to be addressed by others. Kudos, Dr. Gold, for tackling and sharing about this important problem, autism, as it increases for many more people than in the past...

“You’re intelligent and perceptive people, and you, Joyce, as a psychologist, have more than average insight into human behavior. What conclusion would you come to if I described a person with extreme social discomfort, high intelligence, the ability to focus intensely and concentrate, almost to the exclusion of all else, and a penchant for memorization of minutia? Talk with Luke for a few minutes and you’ll be listening to detail on the most arcane subjects.” “Autism or Asperger’s syndrome,” Joyce said. Michael tapped his nose with his index finger. “I tested Luke on the Asperger’s Quotient test, and he scored forty. Anything over thirty-two is, by definition, Asperger’s Syndrome.” “But Autism Spectrum Disorders are developmental,” David said, “they don’t come out of nowhere.” “Oh,” Michael said, “but they do. Most often it happens as the result of brain injury, infection, or brain surgery itself. It’s rare, but many have ascended, if that’s the right word, to the genius level.” David’s eyes widened. “The savant syndrome—Luke is a savant!”
I believe this one is a must-read so that readers will become more informed about Asperger Syndrome... But, adding this drama into an exciting, suspense medical thriller made this book a personal favorite for 2017.


GABixlerReviews 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Fantastic YA-Adult Story by Staci Stallings - Whisper If You Have To: A Contemporary Christian Romance

“You ready for this?” Kyle asked when Chad slid into the front seat of the little four-door car. It wasn’t great, but it ran. And it was better than walking. 
“I was born ready.”  Chad shifted his attention to the back. 
“Hey, Brooke.” 
“Hey,” she said, but never really lifted her head. Kyle’s younger sister, Brooke, was never without a book in hand. So close in age, they were more like twins, the two of them were never far out of sight of one another even though they ran in completely different circles. Kyle, the school’s jock premier, was only eleven months and three weeks older than his little sister, and although Brooke’s taste ran more toward choir and books than basketball and baseball games, she never missed a one. 
Chad angled his gaze over his shoulder again as they pulled away from his house. “Are you studying already? School hasn’t even started yet.” 
“Finishing up her summer college credit thing,” Kyle supplied. “She may beat us to graduation.” Lifting his chin, Chad nodded in understanding. 
Kyle glanced across the seat to his friend. “So, senior year…” “Yeah.” Chad took a breath to steady the thought. “Who would’ve thought?”
...It was about five minutes after her mother dropped her off that Alison first had the thought, but it would be a million times after that one that the thought would attack her. Jefferson High was nothing like St. Ann’s. Nothing. 
Jostled in the hallways until she thought her brains would rattle free, Alison diligently worked through her schedule.  Trig, History, Computer something, French. She was in the courtyard at lunchtime, sitting up next to a pillar eating her chicken salad sandwich before she really realized there was no religion on her schedule. Perusing it again, she confirmed the fact with a munch into her sandwich. That would be strange. She’d had religion every single day for four years, and now suddenly it wasn’t anywhere on the list. Her gaze took in her final three classes—Physics, English, and Choir. Besides the Physics part, she was kind of looking forward to the rest of the day. Okay, so she would spend it alone as part of the wall like she had the first part, but at least she liked those classes. 
She let her head fall back onto the hard, scratchy pillar behind her and let the warm sun soak into her. Happy noises that she would never be a part of drifted around her, and she let those soak into her as well. Nobody had to tell her the loneliness this year would hold. She knew it when her dad announced the move back in July, and for all intents and purposes, she had already lived with the loneliness for the better part of five years. 
At that thought she yanked her head up. Dwelling on things that would never change no matter how much she wanted them to did no good. That much she had learned. Move on. Move on, and don’t look back. Pushing to her feet, she crumpled the bag and tossed it into a nearby trashcan. One swipe on her light blue straight skirt, and she yanked her backpack up from its resting place. Onward and upward. At least that’s what she hoped. 
“You headed to English?” Kyle asked, clapping Chad on the back as he leaned over to get a drink in the fountain. He stood to straight, wiping the water that had jumped onto his face. “Yeah. You?” 
“You know it.” Together they started down the hall.  “So, you going to the gym after school?” Chad asked. 
“Na, I figured we’d go to my place. The gym’s going to be a mob scene with all the wanna be’s.” 
“Cool.” Chad followed Kyle into the English classroom and right to the back where he slid into the desk right in front of his friend. “You got much homework?” 
“As little as possible.” The bell rang just as Mrs. Whitman entered. Chad sat up a little straighter. He’d waited three long years to get this teacher. She was the coolest of the cool, not because she goofed off but because she didn’t. However, that didn’t mean Mrs. Whitman’s class was boring. No, instead she was quite famous for her unorthodox teaching style...
“Let’s start over here in the corner. Oh.” She stopped with a jerk when she looked at Alison. Tilting her head, the confusion was evident. 
“And you are?” Alison cleared her throat but it didn’t do much good. “Al… Alison Prescott.” 
The teacher turned her roll around, located the name, and smiled. “Well, Miss Prescott, it’s great to have you aboard. Come on up, and get us started.” 
...Alison ducked her head to keep from staring at the two guys presently standing at the teacher’s desk. The white guy had longish blond-streaked hair that brushed the tops of his dark eyebrows in the front and the top half of his collar in the back. His smile was nice, but what she noticed most was the faded jeans ripped just so and the light blue knit jersey that set off his eyes. Something about them screamed, look how cool I am.
Just in front of him, talking to the teacher, was the black guy, leaning in to sign the roll—obviously a regular in the gym. His arm muscles rippled in perfect proportion down to his long fingers. He seemed as if nothing in the world ever had been or would ever be a problem. In a dark gray “Rock On” T-shirt, he looked the embodiment of cool confidence. The conversation came to an end, and the two made their way back to the back corner...
~~~

With all the turmoil happening in America right now, I found I needed to withdraw and pull away from the chaos coming out about our government at this time...

I scrolled through my options and pulled up a book by Staci Stallings, a Christian writer who I've accepted as a favorite for sharing God's love through her wonderful stories. This time, though, I got much more than solace, a time to watch as God could work in each of our lives...

Whisper If You Have To is


Powerfully Spirit Filled!
Timely For Today's World!

This book, for me, felt as if God had outlined the major issues we need to be reminded of today: racism, depression, pressure to succeed above everything, suicide, money, prayer-communication with God, and teen peer pressure...All that in one unforgettable story that is suitable for young adults and above. The two main characters are teenagers, but the adults and their roles play important parts as well. It is a book I immediately wanted to share with my niece...it's a beautiful love story of two teenagers from different cultures but who, readers begin to realize, are soulmates in the truest sense of the word... I loved this book and add it as a personal favorite for all time...

Alison and Chad met the first day in their English class, where they were immediately swept into a partnership on their first assignment. 

Alison had come from a religious girls-only school; her clothes were so different that, though she tried to be invisible, it didn't work? Who still wore straight skirts and blouses, with the same white sweater over her blouse every day. From the very first moment, Alison had noticed the two friends, one white, one black. After all, just looking at them and seeing the reactions of the others around them, Alison knew they were elite guys, probably even athletes, sure to never look her way... Still, they were soooo cool!

It was clear to Chad that Alice was new to school and was painfully shy in meeting others. Even after being matched for their assignment, Alison kept her head down, with her hair covering her face, until she was forced to deal with him...On the other hand, Alison wasn't about to allow him to know she was practically swooning and couldn't dare look into his eyes without totally embarrassing herself...

And so it began... While this is placed in the romantic genre, I would say that it fits more in family drama because it certainly is not just a "love story." First, neither Alison nor Chad shared anything about their personal lives, afraid to reveal just how different they probably were. It was Chad's friends, Kyle and Brooke, brother and sister, who little by little pulled them into their family life. 

Due to the complexity and interrelationship of the various plots, I've decided not to share much of the actual storyline. I do, want to highlight, however, the very awesome and amazing spiritual warfare scenes this book provides! I was gratified to see them included in a teen book especially to help our young people learn to pray and act on behalf of both their own needs as well as their peers. Kudos to the author for a truly inspiring novel that speaks, well, to the contemporary world in which we live... 

This is a personal favorite selection for me and, in my opinion, I have to call it a Must-Read novel! Buy it for your teenager children and read it yourself...then talk about it! There is soooo much in this book that responds to questions we all have. It's great to have such an excellent model against which a needed discussion could very well begin...


GABixlerReviews

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Direct from Martha's Vineyard, Adolfo Caso Presents Weston Bucolic 2




Weston Bucolic 2

Adolph Caso



I
Spring,
More than the other seasons,
Is a season of birth and re-births
Of one generation to another.
    Leaves of green enfold the branches;
Colors of flowers embellish their leaves,
While,
Seeds transform into sprouts--
Now,
As they did
From beyond
The time Virgil.


II
No comparison
Between my plush Weston backyard
And of Nonno Gabriele’s
Nineteen century patch
Next to the stone wall of his well,
Covered with effusive branches
Of odorous leaves,
Which he rubbed
Over my forehead and hands—
   Now, an octo,
Getting near to his 92nd,
I automatically bring my hands to my nose.
Though the scent has gone,
Those sweet memories keep persisting.
   I am a boy again!


III
A single coyote silently strolls
Across my plush green lawn—
I wish
I had
A gun:
   Three little boys live next door to me!

Comfortably, and almost invisibly,             
I sit in my swivel chair.
   From one corner,
I survey the whole horizon
And the activities encompassed within:
The red oak in its majestic silhouette,
Scrub oaks offering shade,
My sister’s dogwoods laden with flowers
Reflecting a canopy of pulsing stars,
The Delicata tree
With its unique apples created
By my late friend, Ned:
Their images wander in my eyes.
   I sit there, silently.
How does it all happen!




IV
Noiselessly, two Robins scamper onto the lawn;
They turn, leap, dive, and jump into the soft grass.
Neither makes one sound or noise.
   In a new phase:
First the mother, then the father,
With beaks full of dry grass,
Begin to fly into the cornered Japanese maple.
In a few days, the flights stop:
Well ensconced within the tree,
They complete their nest.
   Having delivered three grayish eggs,
The mother reduces her flight;
Her concentration is to gather food.
At the same time,
The father flies around
As if he was in charge of military vigilance.
   Their efforts paying off,
Three featherless baby Robins appear,
As prescribed by destiny.
With their egg shells,
Dropped to the fertile soil below,
Mother and Father resume their flights--
Their beaks filled with food.

V
The nest,
Overflowing with feathers,
The adult Robins fly from every direction.
   Their wings, creating concurrent whirls,
Reflect anxieties on a feeding pace,
As they await their chicks’ first flight.
   Suddenly, and, expectedly,
A consternating raucous blare
Causes me to rush out the kitchen door:
Mother and father are repeatedly diving
Into the tree,
Their deafening screeches
Of the otherwise silent birds
Sound an ominous doom.
   My head peering into the tree line,
It startles the raiding squirrel into fright.
Stunned,
It fearfully runs toward the oak tree,
Chased
By the raucous Robins in deathly pursuit;
Their screeches piercing my ears,
They dive
With their beaks aimed at the feared squirrel.
   Having driven the quadruped out of sight,
They return to continue scampering on the lawn
Intent on bring nutrients to their brood.
   Unexpectedly,
A baby chick peers out the nest.
Seeing no rhythm to its wings,
The father quickly approaches from behind
And cautiously leads the baby to a nearby oak.
Before long, a second appears.
This time,
The mother repeats the flight.
With the five of them secure in the new tree,
They finally disappear beyond the backyard--
Never to be seen again!
   The loss is impacting my heart.



VI
Meanwhile,
The un-aware squirrel reappears,
Jumping flawlessly and gracefully
Among the branches—
Its shimmering tail guiding with confidence--
As if,
Neither the Robins,
Nor I, were ever living testaments,
Let alone be the co-inhabitants of its own world.
   I am glad
  Not to have had
                                           The need
To own
 A gun!
~~~







Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Come on! We're Visiting Cuba with Tour Guide Carole P. Roman



  

If you were me and lived in Cuba, you would live on an island located in the northern Caribbean in the western hemisphere. It is known as the Republic of Cuba and is the biggest island in the Caribbean and the second most populated in the area. You would live in the capital and largest city Havana. You would love the energy of this busy port. It is an important business and banking center for the whole island.




I'm not totally uptodate on the present relationship with the United States, given some fairly recent comments by our president; however, it is obvious as you turn the pages of the latest Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World by Carole P. Roman that Cuba is beautiful and offers a wealth of enjoyment for vacationers and sightseers. I found pictures for our children in the above video but do like to learn about the names given in the various countries we visit.

Veronica, Zamira or Aymee are sometimes chosen for girls while Ernesto, Jose, and Luis are often given to boys... Coming home in this case involves arriving at a pleasant house with architectural design similar to ours while town buildings may represent an older time period, and also, when we visit, we would go to see the Castillo del Morrow, a Spanish form built in the 17th Century.




I was impressed with the quality of the architectural works, such as with the Castillo, and give kudos to Illustrator Kelsea Wierenga for her contribution to the wonderful book.

Of course we got to have lunch with the family! I love to be able to at least taste food in different countries, but with my sweet tooth seeing the tres leches waiting there on the buffet, I was already looking forward to dessert even as I was enjoying arroz con pollo, which is chicken and rice...I also tasted twice-fried plantains...which I had never tried before, although I've seen them in grocery stores--they look like bananas (actually I didn't get to taste them, but I would have if I'd really been there in Cuba!)...

Do you know what I was most impressed with! The importance placed on a healthy body, with the parents early teaching children about sports as an essential part of life...Parents began exercising with you when you were only 45 days old! Wow! I sure wish America had that as a guiding principle for our youth...I doubt many of us would be in the shape we are when our parents automatically began to indoctrinate all of us early to exercise massage of arms and legs...Especially when they added it to games so it would be fun!

And you know what? It's July 18th and it's a special time...it is when Carnival at Santiago de Cuba is held! You'd have a week-long week to enjoy if you were there right now! And then stay to watch the annual Fire Festival, Fiesta del Fuego, which highlights a culture from the country each year.




You know this collection is a wonderful set of books for your child's library, but, well, I'm not a child anymore and I must add that, for me, I have learned more about the culture of the countries I've visited through these books, than I would ever had done through travel books... These books are created to entice you to visit, giving sufficient information about the country and culture there, as well as events and tourist places, that you have a short overview that gives you enough to become quite acquainted with countries where you may never visit. 

So, let's just say this book and the series are highly recommended for children...and their families! Find out Why if you haven't already...


GABixlerReviews




Monday, July 17, 2017

Blood Moon - Second in Fantastic Series by Alexandra Sokoloff


After not much sleep on his delayed plane, Roarke walked out of the Civic Center BART station into a gorgeous day... And he pretended he wasn't expecting to see Cara Lindstrom at every intersection, standing across the street from him as she had done the day he'd first seen her, the day his hunt for her had begun...
He was spared further memory of that vision for the moment as the concrete and glass monolity of the Federal Building loomed up in front of him...On the fifteenth floor he walked down gleaming halls with white walls decorated with framed sepia-toned newspaper accounts of famous busts and images of the history of the Bureau, toward the conference room the team had taken over for their manhunt. Manhunt being an ironic word for the investigation into Cara Lindstrom. There were no words for what she was, for what he had done, the Huntress...
Roarke's eyes went immediately to the case board behind them, a seven-foot long white board on a standing metal frame taped with clusters of photos, documents, Post-its--everything they knew about Cara Lindstrom. The police sketch that was their only image of her looked down on him: blond and fine-featured, eyes concealed behind big dark sunglasses.
He forced his gaze away and looked around at his waiting team. "So, where are we?"
He saw a flicker of anger on Epps' face, and Roarke knew why. He'd been uncharacteristically late, which for him meant he stepped into the briefing at their meeting time of nine on the dot, to avoid being cornered by Epps. It was the same reason he'd taken a different flight back from L.A. Roarke didn't want to talk to Epps alone, and Epps knowing that made him even more determined to talk to Roarke, and they had been doing this dance for days.
It would come to a head any moment now, Roarke knew. But he was not about to talk about that night, two weeks ago, the night he had helped Cara Lindstrom kill ten people...
~~~



Nearly all of the FBI agents who were hunting Cara Lindstrom knew her only by a police sketch with blond hair and wearing large glasses... But everybody knew her background. Her entire family had been killed; only Cara survived... She was out for revenge and it didn't matter whether the criminals she killed were guilty of her family's deaths... They were evil; they had to go... And she had taken the time to learn all she needed to know in order to do what he needed to do and then immediately escape... Only one agent had seen her and his internal emotions were always in play. She was his target... She was a victim and needed to be protected... How would it end, especially since he was heading up the team who had been given her capture as their top priority.

Every time I'm reading one of the books, I think of the movie, Laura, where a detective falls in love with a painting...

As we watch Roarke caught in emotions that tells him one thing while his brain tells him another, it is poignant to realize how some people can fall in love, even realizing that it is the worst thing that could happen to them... Still, many of us are caught in those moments, knowing that their love could never be, and yet... hoping...

The twist in this book is significant, explosive, and totally surprising... While the Team is gearing up and moving on their investigation for Cara, a series of family murders begin at various locations...

The murders send both Roarke and Cara back 25 years and they both relive what happened. Roarke could still hear the voice of the 5-year-old and even then he had wanted to help her...

Now, Roarke wants to move on to work on these new family death cases, but he is told to stick with the Cara Lindstrom search... That didn't stop him...and it didn't stop Cara from searching for a new monster...or, even, perhaps the monster she saw so many years ago...

Many of you have already read this book. But if you haven't, I highly recommend it. It's a series you just don't want to miss if you enjoy FBI Thrillers and a fascinating victim/villain!


GABixlerReviews


June, 2017 - I will no longer be accepting new requests for reviews, effective this month. Among those I already have, many submitted as ebooks before I've accepted them, I will review as I am able and select those I wish to read. Book Readers Heaven will continue at my own pace, decreasing reading time to meet my personal needs... Thank you for your continued support of Book Readers Heaven...

Coming up! Major author spotlight in August for The David Chronicles by Uvi Poznansky!