Monday, May 31, 2010

Turtle Dolphin Dreams by Marian K. Volkman

Reviewed for Review the Book
Publisher: Loving Healing Press

Marian K. Volkman has written and illustrated a beautifully imaginative scenario with this book. We have no problem with trying to learn to communicate with other cultures, and even imagine what it might be like to communicate with beings from other worlds, but how often do we think of those other worlds as being right here on Earth?

A fable in the true sense of the word*, the story is introduced by a turtle, named Turtledove for the benefit of humans who think every being should have a name.  Turtledove speaks of a time when dreamtime, in winter for turtles during hibernation, became shared dreaming, inter-species, in this case with a specific group of dolphins. The dolphins in turn have been sharing dreaming with other aquatic species but required a species both aquatic and land-going to bridge a gap to humans, hence contact with the turtle.

Whimsical and thought-provoking, inspiring in it's creative message, Turtle Dolphin Dreams was originally written in 2005, but with recent events it may hold even greater meaning here in 2010. The reader is taken through metaphysical voyages of delight, a balance of nature, while remaining earthbound but connected. A truly unique book with several messages presented, a journey worth taking.

*Definition from, fable:  A short allegorical narrative making a moral point, traditionally by means of animal characters who speak and act like human beings.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Rankin Inlet, a Novel by Mara Feeney

Reviewed for Review the Book
Publisher: Gaby Press

I find it incredible that this is a debut novel, it is so well-written. Mara Feeney has written a wonderful novel taking place in a part of Canada few people know about. The characters and descriptions of life in Rankin Inlet are so real that it is difficult to realize this is a novel and not a true story. Ms. Feeney has personal experience to draw from. The book is written with a very compelling knowledge of life in the isolated north, and no doubt at least some of her characters are based in some small part upon real people, or a combination of individuals she has known or met. To this Canadian reader I felt a connection to this far northern village through this book.

The story begins in 1971 when our heroine, Alison, comes from Liverpool, England to be a nurse in this remote location. After waiting for weather to clear she is on her way north in a small plane flown by a bush pilot, arriving in a village that looks completely alien to her.

The book is written as a diary by Alison, some pages devoted to the stories of the patients themselves, some to the families of patients. The stories are told in the voices of the characters. Historical and accurate, this is the first book I have read of this particularly remote area and am very glad I did. This is a delightful read with the characters bringing us from the old ways via a grandfather talking to his critically ill daughter, and later to his grandchildren. The novel continues to update right through the creation of Nunavut, the newest of the northern Territories of Canada in 1999.

The "first hand" stories of the entire family of Nikmak, the grandfather, give the reader insight impossible to get without an actual non-fiction biographical work. When Alison marries into the family we really begin to see the changes as they occur in the lives of the Inuit. Using the true Inuktitut words in many cases adds to the authenticity of the book. Although explained as the words are first used, there is also a glossary at the back of the book.

It is a tale of hardship, family, lifestyles old and new. The coming of electricity, skidoos, and finally television and computers, while still trying to maintain some tradition in their lives becomes more difficult as time goes on. Children in the old days were sent away to school, later they were able to be schooled in Rankin Inlet. Many of the Inuit children are now able to go on to university in Manitoba and become a part of the evolution of the north while trying to protect the rights of the "people of the land". Alison's own sons and daughters become very active in the environment, the growth, and the government of Nunavut.

I would definitely recommend this book to any age group as a glimpse of the Arctic and its contribution to the development of this country, to the mix of ethnicities of Canada, and among the first peoples of Canada.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Of Ghosts and Magic by Alfred M. Albers

Reviewed for

Despite the title of this book, it is primarily cheerful, with an undercurrent of mystery surrounding the strange disappearance of a Vietnam vet 26 years previously. Alex Holloman had returned home after his stint in Vietnam, but lost his parents in a horrible freak accident a few months later.  After celebrating New Year's eve with his cousin Stella Noone, he walked out into the night and simply vanished.

Stella and Alex had been very close. Both were also close with his best friend, John Michaels, the three a tightly knit group.  John was also a Vietnam vet who had returned several months earlier and became over the next few years a world-renowned magician. Alex's disappearance made an incredible hole in the lives of both Stella and John.

When John receives an invitation in 2000 to their high school 30 year reunion, he immediately calls Stella. Over the years he was touring with his magic show, he had gradually been in contact with her less often. The reunion is the link that begins the chain of action, renewal, and reconnection of friendships. It is the catalyst that begins the search for Alex.

Alfred M. Albers has written a wonderful book of relationships and how they work or don't work, as well as a very interesting glimpse of magic from the inside out. John is asked to bring his magic act out of retirement as the main entertainment for the reunion.

The storyline is unexpected and great to relax with in a comfy chair; the portrayal of the people of New York was a nice surprise from the overtly rude citizens often portrayed in books.

The reunion itself brings happy memories to this reader, memories so often shared at these events and the wonderful camaraderie that ensues. The magic show is a huge success and the evening ends on a very high note.

Unexpectedly, this was not the end of the book. The author still has more to say, but it is far from a letdown. This is the point at which relationships become a major factor in the story. Misunderstandings, psychological effects on the Vietnam war survivors, especially those who suffer further trauma after returning home, as so many did, tie up the loose strings into a neat package.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It kept my interest, taught me something about dealing with depression, a little bit of magic, and the difference friends can make in one's life.