Monday, May 30, 2016

Deuteronomy: a book of looking back and moving forward

Deuteronomy is Moses given the people of Israel his last instructions before they enter the Promised Land. He goes over the law that were put forth in Leviticus and Numbers. There are many people who don’t read Deuteronomy because it is a boring old book that reiterates the Laws of Moses. It is true that many of the verses in Deuteronomy are reflected elsewhere in the law. There are three verses which stood out to me as significant given our societal climate. Verses about devotion to God, our relationships with others, and our roles in our lives and in our society.

First, in Deuteronomy 6:5 “Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” This verse is the same one that Jesus told the Sadducees and the Pharisees when they tried to test him in the law. They had asked him what was the greatest commandment in the Law. (Matthew 22:36). In Matthew 22:37-38, Jesus replied, “’Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” First, I noticed that in Deuteronomy, it is commanded to love God with all one’s heart, soul and strength and in Matthew, Jesus says with all one’s heart, soul and mind. The changing of the word could be a mistranslation but I feel the message is still there. We are to love God with everything we have. Every ounce of who we are should be used to love God. Many believers’ devotions are split between God, family, friends and their personal desires. It is hard to devote everything you are to God and it is a constant struggle for me. It is one of the main reasons I’m reading and blogging about the books of the Bible as I am. We live in a society in which we are being pulled in so many different directions that we often lose our way.

Second, Deuteronomy 13:6-8 caught my eye for a particular reason. Last month, Kirk Cameron came out and said that “Wives are to honor and respect and follow their husband's lead, not to tell their husband how he ought to be a better husband. When each person gets their part right, regardless of how their spouse is treating them, there is hope for real change in their marriage." Of course this statement caused an uproar. While I’m not going to argue his statement, Deuteronomy 13:6-8 stuck out as I read with Mr. Cameron’s statement in my mind. The verse says “If your very own brother, or your son or your daughter, or the wife [or husband] you love, or your closet friend secretly entices you, saying ‘Let us go and worship other gods,’ do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him.” Mr. Cameron’s statement makes it seems that wives are to follow their husbands blindly because “he said so” mentality. I don’t know if this statement as been taken out of context and I don’t agree with many of his statements. Deuteronomy 13:6-8 clearly states that anyone who tries to lure you away from your relationship with God, you are not to follow. Do not let the love of your family and friends tear you away from your devotion to God.

Third, Deuteronomy 22:5 stuck out at me during my reading as it reflects recent events in our society. The verse states “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.” Does this mean that women can’t wear pants or men wear skirts? As some churches do interpret the verse this way, it may not be necessarily the case. It is not a statement on the actually clothing. It is a statement about women wanting to be men and vice versa. It has been interpreting as women should not be in battle or be in a position of authority which is ridiculous as anyone who has read Judges knows that Deborah, one of the greatest judges, lead the Israelites into battle. I will discuss Deborah at length later. I think this verse is more as a guide to make sure everyone has a role to fulfill or a job to do. I have seen this verse being used as a reason to hate transgender individuals. As I have my own opinions and thoughts about transgender individuals, I think using this verse as a reason to hate an individual is extremely wrong. I’m still reminding of Matthew 22:39 after Jesus has said what the greatest commandment was. He said the second greatest commandment is “love your neighbor as yourself.” I am commanded to love everyone as I love myself. I am not commended to hate or condemn. I am commanded to treat others as I want to be treated, everything else is between the individual and God.

In conclusion, Deuteronomy is a book of looking back while the Israelites were moving forward to the Promise Land. It is Moses’ last message to the people as he neared the end of his life and someone was ready to become their new leader. It is a book of remembrance and reminders of God’s law. The three verses I discussed stood out to me as devotion to God should always be a main priority for any believer. And beware if anyone, regardless of who they are, tries to stir you away from your devotion. Lastly, using a single verse as a reason to hate is wrong. We seem to forget that Christ came to fulfill the law and when he did so, these verses are more a lesson rather a rule. Whenever someone tries to apply a verse as a reason for anything, think long and hard about the verse and what it is trying to tell us. Take in the cultural significance of the time. Always ask God for guidance.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Broken Angels: a story of sacrifice during a time of great danger

Broken Angels by Gemma Liviero is a story about the horrors of the Holocaust during World War II. Told from the perspective of three individuals: a Nazi doctor, a Jewish woman and a young girl, the events during the war and the programs of the Nazis are told in vivid detail.

The story opens in 1996 with the funeral of a mother. Time is transported back to 1942 as a young Jewish woman, Elsi, helps her mother see the Nazi doctor assigned to the Lodz Ghetto. Willem Gerhardt is a doctor who is the son of one of Himmler’s top researchers. Matilda is a part-German child who is taken from her family and placed in a home in the hopes of molding her into the perfect Aryan child for a German family. As events unfold. Willem is confronted with the horrors and atrocities that the Nazis are doing to the Jewish people. He is sent to oversee the children’s program and he enters Matilda’s life. One night after a tragic loss, he sees Elsi, ill and being loaded onto a truck and decides to save her. He takes her in and treats her illness. He soon learns that the children who deemed unfit for adoption are being sent to the camps. He begins to falsify documents and save these children’s lives. Will he able to save these children’s lives? Will he be caught?

Broken Angels is a beautiful and heartbreaking story of Germany during the war. The atrocities of the Nazis, the indoctrination, the experimentation and the blatant disregard of human life. But it also a story of the unsung heroes who did their best to save lives despite the horrors around them and the dangers to their lives. There were moments in the story when the horrific events were just too much and I had to stop reading and process. I recommend Broken Angels as a deep look into events of World War II that many do not read about or don’t want to know about. Keeping the memories of the men and women who lost their lives simply because they were Jewish alive is important. We cannot forget them and Broken Angels will ensure that you never do.

Broken Angels
is available on Amazon and Barnes and
in paperback $14.95
Kindle Unlimited for free

and Audiobook $14.99

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Great new stories by Carole P. Roman: adventures and inspiration!

Today, I have two wonderful children’s books. Both books are told in beautiful prose and teach important lessons of dreams and adventures. Both books are written by Carol P. Roman, author of the If you were me and lived in… series as well as the Captain No Beard series. Both books are also beautifully illustrated by Mateya Arkova.

First, Rocket-Bye is an adventure of a rocket ship as it travels through the stars, the Milky Way, the constellations and past the planets. During the trip, the different plants are mentioned as well as their position in the solar system. The constellations are named with clues to the legends for which they are named.

Second, Can a Princess be a Firefighter? is a parent talking to his little girls about how she can be anything she wants to be. Any job she wants or even two as well as she does what she loves and enjoys. And no matter what job she does, she will always be a princess to her parent. So, yes, a princess can be a firefighter.

I loved both this books. The great adventure in Rocket-Bye and the wonderful lesson in Can a Princess be a Fighter? as well as the beautiful illustrations inspire children to dream and dream big. I highly recommend these books for any family or school library. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Accidental life of Greg Millar: loving someone with a mental illness

The Accidental Life of Greg Millar by Aimee Alexander is a story about love and life with a mental illness.

Lucy Arigho meets Greg Millar with the worst possible first impression. Soon his charming smile wears her down and she begins to date him. He is a writer, a widower with two small children and he begins to help her recover from her own tragic loss. The two become inseparable and Greg soon proposes marriage. After much consideration, Lucy accepts and begins to enter other areas of his life. She is met with opposition. Greg’s daughter, Rachel, doesn’t like her while his son, Toby, is slowly warming up. The long-time nanny, Hilary, treats her with open opposition. Lucy joins the family on their vacation to the south of France, where Greg’s behavior is increasing erratic and seemingly on a roller coaster of ups and downs. Lucy is soon in the middle of taking care of the children while trying to figure out what is wrong with Greg. On the advice of her sister, Lucy convinces Greg to seek help. The answer throws them for a loop. Will Greg be able to beat the demons in his life? Will Lucy be able to help him hold his family together? Will their love survive such a test?

The Accidental Life of Greg Millar is a wonderful story with heart wrenching moments. Moments I cried. Moments I seethed with anger at the events unfolding. There were moments I wanted Lucy to run and save herself from the madness that Greg seemed to be falling into. Then I begged her to stay because the children were left with no idea what was going on. In the end, I cried as family must deal with the stigma that exists in our world about mental illness. I feel Ms. Alexander portrayed Greg’s illness in a realistic light without sugarcoating it or making light of life with a mental illness. I highly recommend The Accidental Life of Greg Millar!

The Accidental Life of Greg Millar
is available on Amazon and Barnes and
in paperback for $14.96
Kindle Unlimited for free
and Audiobook for $9.99

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Frog that lost his croak: a lesson in being a part of the world around you

The Frog that lost His Croak by Anne Toole is a lesson in the difference of a part of the world and trying to be the world. “A little frog that loved his croak night and day/Was very sad when his croak suddenly went away./While waiting and hope for his croak to return/What valuable lessons did the little frog learn?”

A frog loved his croak. He thought it was the best croak around and he boasted about it. The other frogs were mad. Until one day, his croak was gone. He talks to his parents who tell him to rest and his croak would be back. The other frogs now made fun of him for losing his croak. As he waits for his croak to return, he finally is able to hear the other sounds around the pond: the birds, the insects. He realized that it’s not all about his. There are a lot of beautiful songs in the world and his croak is simply one of them. The book is told in prose and I love poetry. It’s a great lesson about being a part of the beautiful world instead of trying to be its center. Written for children between the ages of 4-7, the story presents such an important way that captures their imagination. I highly recommend this book for family and school libraries. 

The Frog that lost his croak
is available on Amazon
in hardback for $18.95
in paperback for $15.95

Friday, May 20, 2016

Hold Your Breath: a romance with a mystery twist

Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle is book 1 in the Search and Rescue Series. It is a story of mystery, romance and one woman’s struggle to leave her old life behind.

Louise “Lou” Sparks has left the comfortable life in Connecticut to live in the Colorado Rockies as a member of the Field County Rescue Dive Team. She is taking part in ice-rescue training when she hits something in the water and causing a headless corpse to rise to the surface. With Team leader Callum, Lou begins to investigate who this person might be and how he ended up in the lake. As they do, the two became close. Are those sparks falling between them? Meanwhile, Lou has the strange feeling she’s being followed and watched. Does she have a stalker? Who is the body they pulled from the lake? Are her stalker and the body connected?

Hold Your Breath is a typical romantic mystery with one little twist. The murder isn’t solved by the end of the book. In a way, I like that. It’s new and it certainly carries my interest to future books in the series. But then I wanted to know who killed this person!!!! Overall, I enjoyed the romance between Callum and Lou. I liked their chemistry and their capability. If you enjoy romance novels, you will enjoy Hold Your Breath.

Hold Your Breath
is available on Amazon
and Barnes and
in Mass Market Paperback for $5.99
on the Kindle for $3.82

or on the NookBook for $4.99

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Reluctant Soldier: letters from war

The Reluctant Solider by Marine Mellblom is a memoir of the Korean War, the Forgotten War. It is told through the letters from her husband, Neil Mellblom.

The book starts as Neil is shipping out. Through his words, Neil describes an Army which was not prepared for the action which were taking place in Korea. Neil becomes a writer for the Pacific Stars and Stripes in which he was writing stories about the front lines. Although he was writing it from the wire report and not from the thick of battle. Throughout the book, the reader sees Neil’s disappointment with the Army as well as himself. He wants to be a better solider. He struggles that he is not on the frontlines but at the same time he is glad that he isn’t. He is frustrated with the extra treatment the officers get over the non-officers, even in acknowledgement of heroism in battle.

I enjoyed reading this book although I had anticipated a different type of book. However, as I read Neil’s own words as he writes about his experiences during the Korea War opened the war in a new light. To the quick paced but ultimately unpreparedness of the Army, to the worry about his friends who are throughout his country, to his struggles with his own role in the war. The book is also the love story between Neil and Marnie as their letters are exchanged across the miles. Sadly, her letters do not survive today due to a flood that destroyed Neil’s barracks before he came home. The Reluctant Soldier is a great look into the personal side of war rather than the political/strategic side. 

The Reluctant Soldier
is available on Amazon
in paperback for $16.95

Monday, May 16, 2016

Burying the Honeysuckle Girls: a story of a family curse and the search for the truth

Burying the Honeysuckle Girls by Emily Carpenter is a story about a deep family secret and one woman’s determination to undo the family curse before it claims her. Told between present and the past, the reader is taken on a journey to save a mystery against time.

The story opens in Mobile, Alabama, Althea has spent the last year in an addiction rehab center. She comes home to see her father who is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s. Her father isn’t happy to see her and tell her to get out. She is two weeks from her 30th birthday and something bad happens to the women in her family by their 30th birthday. Then the story shifts to 1937, Sybil, Alabama and a woman named Jinn Wooten who makes honeysuckle wine. She’s married with two children and dreams of running away to Hollywood. As Althea digs deeper into the events of her mother’s death, her grandmother’s death and even into her great grandmother’s death, she learns a dark and sinister secret. Can she solve the mystery surrounding the deaths in her family history? Can she break the curse before her own birthday? Or is Althea racing against the inevitable?

I LOVED this book. It captivates your attention from page 1 and holds you until the final gasp as the truth comes to light. There are so many details about this book I loved but can’t talk about because even the smallest detail will spoil parts of the book. I received an ebook in order to review this book and one day I want to buy a hard copy so I can place it on my keeper shelf. It is an amazing story with twists and turns that will leave you hanging on until the very end. And the end does not disappoint! I highly recommend Burying the Honeysuckle Girls!!!!

Burying the Honeysuckle Girls
is available on Amazon
in paperback for $14.96
and Kindle Unlimited for free
available on Barnes and
in paperback for $14.95

and Audiobook for $14.99

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Jesus (Yeshua) is a worm...and a snake too among other things: an interesting and thought provoking book

Jesus (Yeshua) is a worm…and a snake too among other things by Kendall T. Shoulders is an interesting in-depth study of the imagery throughout the Bible as it points to Jesus as the Messiah. The book is actually two books in one. Book 1 focuses on the imagery of the worm and a snake to indicate the coming of the Messiah in Jesus. Book 2 continues that theme as similarities between figures of the Old Testament to Jesus and the prophecy of Revelation.

Book 1 is the Jesus as the tola worm as it is used throughout the Old Testament. The tola worm is an important worm to the ancient world. It was a source of dye for cloth. It was environmental cleaning. Parallels between the tola worm’s appearance in the Old Testament and the events of Jesus’ life is amazing. The imagery that is drawn between the parallels are mind-blowing. The author also draws conclusions about the use of the materials and decorations in the Tabernacle to Christ. The use of gold, silver, bronze and the colors used in the priestly garments all have a purpose pointing to the coming of Christ. The tola worm’s presence in the story of Jonah teaches that “a self-righteous attitude compels us to compare ourselves to other people” and how easy it is to accept God’s grace on our behalf but how difficult it is to accept God’s grace and even extend grace to others.

The author also draws a parallel with a snake and Jesus in Book 1. While many believers would see the snake as a symbol of Satan, an interesting point was made in the story of Exodus. When Moses makes his request to Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, Aaron’s staff becomes a snake. The Pharaoh’s wise men and sorcerers perform the same feat (Exodus 7:8-13). However, Aaron’s snake swallowed the other snakes. This is an image of Jesus “swallowing our sins, including every possible vile, evil thing that Satan could imagine.” The author also takes the story of the Israelites in the desert and they were told to look at a bronze snake in order to be healed from a sickness brought on by the people’s constant complaining (Numbers 21:4-9). Those who looked at the bronze snake high on a pole were healed, those did not died. This story seems to be a foreshadowing of Jesus on the cross. Those who look to him are healed and saved from their sins and those who don’t…

Book 2 is a bonus section which continues the theme of how Jesus is the fulfillment of all things concerning the Law (Genesis through Deuteronomy), the Psalms and the prophets. From Adam to Isaiah, images and prophecies foreshadow an event of Jesus’s life. It’s a great way to see how every book of the Old Testament points to the Messiah in Jesus. The author compares interesting similarities Genesis figures to Christ, Satan and the end times. While some are interesting and thought provoking, I found some to be a bit of a stretch. For instance, the author claims that Abel’s birth points to the virgin birth of Christ because the Bible states that “Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain” (Genesis 4:1); however, in verse 2 simply states “Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.” He claim is that Adam did not “lay with” Eve in order for her to conceive Abel, this is a foreshadowing of Christ’s miracle birth. Is he wrong? I don’t know but there isn’t any evidence to say it’s true.

Jesus (Yeshua) is a worm…and a snake too among other things is an interesting and thought provoking look into the Bible and how Jesus is seen in every story. When I first saw this book as it was available to review, the title caught me off guard. I requested to review it as I was anticipating being angered at the possibilities of what the title seems to suggest. However, once I started reading, I realized the title doesn’t fully give the picture of what an amazing book it is. While I disagreed with some of the author’s claims, he presents them with verses and cultural references for support. I highly recommend this book as a new and unique look into the amazing works of God as it is told in His Word. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Lupus Awareness Month

Last week, I wrote about Celiac Awareness Month for May. May is also Lupus Awareness Month. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body. Inflammation and damaged can occur in the skins, joints, organs, literally the entire body is under attack. It is a disease of flares and remissions. It is an immune system in overdrive. Lupus is a disease which is more pervasive and severe than people think. An estimated 1.5 million Americans are living with lupus today with more than 16,000 new cases every year. Lupus has touched my life as my cousin-in-law suffered with lupus until her death in 2013. Recently, I learned that another dear cousin-in-law has been diagnosed as well. When I learned that May is Lupus Awareness Month, I had to take the time to educate myself and hopefully others as an estimated two-thirds of people know little or nothing about lupus. Together, we can fight this disease and support those who must live with this horrible disease.

Lupus is known as the Great Imitator as symptoms closely resembles other diseases and can come and go over time, making diagnosis difficult. On average, an individual will be diagnosed within six years from the onset of symptoms. While an exact cause is unknown, scientists believe that lupus is triggered by a combination of genetics, hormones and environmental facts. Ninety percent of lupus patients are women who commonly developed symptoms between the ages of 15 and 44, although lupus can occur in children as young as infants. Lupus is NOT a form of arthritis and it is NOT contagious. Lupus affects all races and ethnicities. Although, African-Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asians, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans are two-three times more likely to be diagnosed than Caucasians. The difficulty in lupus is that no two cases are alike and the symptoms can vary greatly among patients. Symptoms may develop suddenly or slowly, be mild or severe, or can be temporary or permanent. Most lupus patients will experience symptoms in flare-ups and can have periods of remissions with no symptoms at all. The most common sign and symptoms are:
Fatigue and fever
Joint pain, stiffness and welling
Butterfly shaped rash on the face across the bridge of the nose and cheeks
Photosensitivity (resulting in skin lesions and rashes, fever, debilitating fatigue, and joint pain)
Raynaud’s phenomenon (fingers and toes turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods)
Shortness of breath, chest pain
Dry eyes
Headaches, confusion and memory loss

Due to the attack on the body, lupus can lead to various complications throughout the body. Patients can develop kidney complications often characterized by generalized itching, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and edema. Lupus can affect the brain and the central nervous system characterized with headaches, dizziness, behavior changes, hallucinations, strokes and seizures. Patients can experience memory problems and difficult expressing their thoughts. Patients can also suffer from anemia, increased risk of bleeding and blood clots, and vasculitis, the inflammation of the blood vessels). Patients are susceptible to pleurisy, inflammation of the chest cavity, and pneumonia. Lupus patients are also at greatest risk for pericarditis, inflammation of heart muscle, and cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. Patients are also at greater risk for urinary tract infections, yeast infections, salmonella, herpes and shingles. There is also an increased risk for cancer. Patients can develop avascular necrosis or bone tissue death. This is caused by loss of blood supply to the bone. Tiny breaks in the bone occur until eventual bone collapse. The hip joint is the most affected and can lead to the patient needed assistance for mobility. Lupus also poses complications of preeclampsia and preterm birth in pregnancy.

Reading the list of symptoms and possible complications is scary and heartbreaking that millions of people are suffering with these conditions. Treatments have advanced which help patients control their symptoms and even achieve long periods of remission and increase the longevity of their lives. Lupus patients can expect to live a normal lifespan. On average, lupus patients will have eight prescriptions to manage the symptoms. In 2013, the FDA finally approved the first drug designed to specifically treat lupus. Due to lupus causing the body’s immunity to go into overdrive, immunosuppressant drugs such as cyclophosphamide, a chemotherapy drug, has been shown to help alleviate symptoms. NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen, have been useful treatments. Antimalarial drugs also have been shown to help with symptoms. Corticosteroids are a common course of treatment. There are also a variety of home remedies and alternative medicines which can help as well. With the help of various treatments, many lupus patients still lead full and active lives while for others it is debilitating and greatly affects their daily lives.

In recent years, more and more famous faces have been coming forward with their own stories of lupus. I’ve complied just a few to show that lupus doesn’t have to stop life as you know it. Flannery O’Connor was diagnosed with systematic lupus erythematosus in 1951. She was told by doctors that she only had five years to live. She went on to live additional fourteen years. She died in 1964 after completing more than two dozen short stories and two novels while battling lupus. More current faces of lupus include Nick Cannon who was diagnosed with lupus nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys). Selena Gomez, Paula Abdul, Toni Braxton, and Seal all have shared their stories and continue to advocate lupus research and education as well as continue their careers and enjoy their favorite activities.

Lupus is a debilitating disease which can affect everyday activities. Many people have heard of lupus but do not know what the disease can do. During this awareness month, I want to get the word out about this silent demon which wreaks havoc on an individual’s body. I hope this post brings some understand about this horrible disease. And may it also bring awareness to someone who may not have the disease and not realize it. I’ve included websites below which you can go to for further information.

For more information:
Lupus Awareness Month
Lupus Foundation of America

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tucson Knights: another adventure in the Wild West

Justice P. Stone is back in Tucson Knights by Robert C. Mowry. A new mission, same enemy and the same high stakes. It has been two years after the events of Adobe Gold.

President Lincoln calls Stone to Washington DC with a new assignment. An assignment which would take him back to the Arizona and New Mexico territories with special appointments. At the same time, his son, Buck, is eagerly to muster out of the Confederate Army as he no longer believes in the fight they are fighting. He may be able to walk away from the Army but many will try to pull him back in. A plot by the Knights of the Golden Circle to rid the territory of the Union presence is at the center of the events. Will Stone be able to get to Tucson in time to stop the plot? Will Buck be able to rid himself of the Confederate Army?

I enjoyed Tucson Knights as much as Abode Gold. The events are exciting and fast paced. I eagerly turned the pages to finish the fight, to see who won each round and to discover if Stone will be able to complete his mission and foil the plot of the Knights. I highly recommend Tucson Knights as well as Adobe Gold for the readers who enjoy mysteries and suspense set in the Wild West territories.

Tucson Knights
is available on Amazon
in paperback for $13.95

free with Kindle Unlimited

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Avignon Legacy: mystery of a hidden treasure

The Avignon Legacy by Daniel C. Lorti is an intriguing novel which takes the reader from 14th century France to the present day events surrounding Avignon, France.

The book opens with Part 1 in the Middle Ages. The Termonde family meets Sir Michael Chatillon, a night and noblemen of King Philip VI, who invites the family to his estate. Life progresses, improvements made and the Termonde family becomes an important addition to the estate. Jean Termonde becomes friends with Sir Michael’s son, Maurice, who is sponsored to become a knight. Jean proves to be a worthy knight and events bring him to the Petit Palais at Avignon. There he is entrusted with important and secret tasks by Cardinal Guy de Boulogne. These tasks will play in an important role in Part 2. James Pierce deals in rare books, the more challenging the book. The greater risk the greater reward and his methods of retrieving these books are always on the up and up. One day, he is approached by wealthy reclusive billionaire, John W. Baxter. Baxter will offer him a job that will take Pierce to Italy, into the Vatican and end up in Avignon. There Pierce discovers clues Jean Termonde and rumors of a hidden and long lost treasure.

The Avignon Legacy is an excellent story which builds a mystery and Ocean’s Eleven type cat and mouse with the controversial history of Avignon. I enjoyed seeing the parallels between the events of Part 1 and 2. I loved the suspense as Pierce carries out his plan to retrieve a book for his clients. I highly recommend the Avignon Legacy

The Avignon Legacy
is available on Amazon
in paperback for $17.99
and on the Kindle for $3.99

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Celiac Awareness Month

May is Celiac Awareness Month. It astonishes me how much people still do not understand celiac sprue disease and other gluten intolerance. Some still think that gluten free diets are a fad but to those who suffer from a gluten allergy, the explosion of gluten free food is a sigh of relief. There are more than 200,000 cases of celiac cases in the US per year. I’ve been on the gluten free diet for about 10 years and it’s been a struggle. So before you roll your eyes at someone who requests a gluten free menu or asks for the ingredients, educate yourself about the importance of a gluten free diet for those who need it.

Celiac sprue disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. The body creates inflammation that damages the small intestine. The villi, the fingerlike projections in the small intestine, which aid in absorption of nutrients are attacked by the body when gluten is present. The reaction leads to atrophy of the villi which leads to malabsorption. The classic symptoms are diarrhea with other symptoms of bloating, gas, fatigue, anemia, nausea, vomiting and decreased or increased appetite. Sufferers can also experience a wide range of pain in the abdomen, bones and joints. The pain can be a sharp, stabbing pain or a constant ache. I can tell when I’ve had gluten because my wrists will aches and I will get sharp pains in the middle of my forearms. Other conditions which are related to celiac and gluten intolerance is cramping, itching, lactose intolerance, skin rash, unexplained weight loss or even weight gain.

The cause of celiac and other gluten intolerance is unknown and it can develop at any point in life from infancy to adulthood. It is most common in Caucasians or those with European ancestry. Celiac will affect more women than men. People with celiac disease or gluten intolerance may also have other autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjogren’s syndrome, and Addison’s disease. Gluten intolerance has also been found in people with Down syndrome, intestinal cancers, thyroid disease and as mentioned before, lactose intolerance. I find the link to lactose intolerance interesting as I was lactose intolerance throughout childhood and adolescence. I would break out in skin rashes and have upset stomach whenever I had too much milk. After going gluten free, I noticed that I could tolerate larger and larger amounts of milk. While I still watch how much milk I consume, I don’t have the same reactions as I did when I was younger.

Gluten intolerance is very difficult diagnosis. A blood test is usually done first. If a positive test comes back, then an upper endoscopy is performed. A biopsy of tissue from the villi of the duodenum is taken. Misdiagnosis will occur or in my case, be inconclusive. My doctor said that if I felt better on the gluten free diet, then I most likely had an intolerance. So while I do not have an official diagnosis, I do have it on my medical records that I am gluten free. And I do feel better. The symptoms of an intolerance can go beyond the digestive system. Easy bruising can be seen in sufferers, or in my case, a bruise which has never really gone away. Depression and anxiety are common. In children, a failure to thrive is common as well as fussiness, tooth defects and delayed puberty.

The only treatment for celiac and gluten intolerance is a gluten free diet. A gluten free diet will relieve the symptoms and may lead to healing of the small intestine. So stay away from anything made from wheat, barely, and rye. Sounds easily right? Wrong! Gluten can be found in everything! Breads, cookies, cakes, and other foods that have obvious gluten ingredients. However, there are some that aren’t so obvious. For instance, soy sauce and some package seasonings. Beer is off limits. Some barbeque sauces have malted barley as an ingredient. Some candy is off limits too. Milky Way, Whoppers, and Werther’s Original caramels are just a few which may not seem to have gluten but they do. Checking ingredient lists at the grocery store becomes second nature and eating out can be a night mare. Not following the diet can put a person at risk for other autoimmune diseases, bone disease, certain types of intestinal cancers, anemia and infertility or repeated miscarriage.

In conclusion, the gluten free diet isn’t a fad. It may have started that way with people thinking it was a healthier way to eat. However, the people who have benefited a great deal from the rise in the availability of gluten free food are those who desperately need it. I can finally have decent pasta dishes with my family. I can have a hamburger without treating it like a steak. I can bake cookies and cakes for birthdays. Remember before you make a remark or get annoyed at the person asking for the ingredient lists, you don’t know how dangerous it can be for an individual if gluten is in the food they eat. Please treat gluten free individuals will the same respect as you would for people with more noticeable food allergies like strawberries or peanuts.

For further information:
Celiac Disease Foundation

Celiac Support Association

Monday, May 2, 2016

Two great new books for children

Today I have two children’s books to review. Both educational and fun for the kids. I highly recommend these two books as great additions to a child’s reading list

First, If you were me and lived in…Egypt by Carol P. Roman is a new addition to the exciting series. This book takes the reader through the land of Egypt and introduces life as a resident. The book teaches about the geography, history and the cultural aspects of the country. The children are introduced to the pyramids, the food: falafels, popular games and national holidays and festivals. I have review these books before and I have loved every single one. Every book in this series, including Egypt, needs to be a part of a family’s or a school’s library. This book will help open other countries to the reader and inspire more reader about Egypt and other wonderful countries.

Second, Cave Kiddos: A Sunny Day by Eric Jay Cash is a book about four Paleolithic children who share the experience of developing and learning important words and concepts. The readers join Alk, Haha, Lala, and See as they discover the world around them. In this book, the word, water, is water. It’s a simple story which helps children flow the development and pronunciation of the word water. The author writes a note to the reader to read in a caveman voice as the characters are doing. While I don’t do voices when I read to my daughter, I’m sure there are parents who could have fun with that aspect.

If you were me and lived in...Egypt
is available on Amazon
in paperback for $10.99
or free on Kindle Unlimited

Cave Kiddos A Sunny Day
is available on Amazon
in paperback for $9.99
and on Kindle Unlimited for $1.99