Eularee Smith
Writer & Educator

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The Ninth Step

The Ninth Step
by Grant Jenkins
Publisher: The Berkley Publishing Group, Penguin Group New York
Retail: US $15   CAN  $16
ISBN: 978-0-425-25598-8
The Ninth Step by Grant Jenkins, has an interesting plot twist with a hit and run murder careening down a different road. The characters were believable, likable actually, which given the nature of the murder mystery, made it hard to find a villain you love to hate.
Grant Jenkins uses the ninth step from AA to surround the story and drive it through a whopping 64 chapters in 290 pages. The chapters were short, which made it easy to save your spot, but it also made the story a bit disjointed. Just as you were getting into the chapter, it was over and you were off and running in a new direction. Jenkins kept the book edgy with cynical overtones darkening each character's personality.
The main character, Edgar Woodrich, a broken hearted widower, seemed much older until I read further in to the story. An obsessive introvert, Edgar is intrigued with puzzle boxes. His eye for detail leads him to believe he can track down his wife's killer, a hit and run driver.
Helen, his second wife, falls in love with Edgar as she attempts to help ease his grief. But Helen has such a difficult and compelling secret she is keeping from Edgar, that you are constantly waiting for the other shoe to fall. Fall it does and the story flies through the tragic circumstance of the couple and their newborn child. What will each of them do to protect the secret and the lives they both so desperately want to start over? 
A quick and enjoyable read of murder and deceit as you make your way through The Ninth Step. 
Available in bookstores and online in print and ebook formats.



Mutant Message Down Under

Mutant Message Down Under

Marlo Morgan

Harper Collins

iSBN: 0-06-017192-8


At the end of a frustrating day, have you ever wanted to walk out the door and just keep walking? Marlo Morgan had the experience in her book Mutant Message Down Under.

Thinking she was being honored for her work, Morgan accepts an invitation to what she assumes will be a banquet, a few speeches, an award and a humble acceptance. Instead she finds herself on a walkabout with The Real People, native Aboriginals. Stripped down to little more than minimal body cover and no shoes, she begins a journey of a lifetime in this work of fiction.

The culture shock begins with taking little to nothing with her on the walkabout and finding everything she needed in the Outback. A vision of connections between human and environment unfolds through the wisdom of her Aboriginal companions on this trip through the seemingly endless hostile territory. Miraculously, they find water in the drought conditions, plants and meat in the desolate conditions and a beauty in a desert that seems void of life. This is the message she is directed to carry back with her.

Mutant refers to those who are not of the Aboriginal culture, including Morgan. Her welcoming invitation to listen and learn the vision of the Real People is at once overwhelming and all consuming. The changes in her physical body as well as her way of thinking are peeled away to reveal the core of humanity and the intrical part it plays in the scheme of the planet.

Unable to tell her family or friends the reason for her sudden disappearance, she finds herself a willing, if not eager participant in this rite of passage. Her Mutant body defies the ability to survive with swollen, calloused feet, her burned skin peels only to burn and peel again and a lean diet of whatever food crosses their path. Her companions have names that descirbe their talents, Story Teller, Medicine Man, Memory Keeper, Peace Maker and Kin to Birds. They share their wisdom with Morgan signalling their trust and honor for this Mutant woman and their mission to spread the message of true beingness.

There are Mutants on the edge of regaining their individual spirit of true beingness. With enough focus, there is time to reverse the destruction on the planet, but we can no longer help you. Our time is up. Already the rain pattern has been changed, the heat is increased, and we have seen years of plant and animal reproduction lessened. We can no longer procide huamn forms for spirits to inhabit because there will soon be no water or food left here in the desert.  Elder

Marlo realizes she has been chosen as the messenger. Her journey, conclusions and eventual return to the Mutant world are a tribute to the human spirit. Well written, a good mix of truth woven in words of fiction, Morgan does a superb job of spreading the message to the rest of us Mutants. You won't want to walk away from this book.

Available in hardcover, paperback, ebook and audio formats



Have a little faith

have a little faith, a true story
by Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays With Morrie
Publisher: Hyperion   New York
ISBN: 978-0-7868-6872-8
Hardcover: $23.99
Perhaps I enjoyed this book because of the loss of my Dad, my brother and my aunt in the past few months. Albom speaks about two men in this book and their different approaches to faith and the shepherding of their flocks. Asked by his childhood Rabbi to write his eulogy, Albom begins a journey of discovery of the man they call "Reb", Albert Lewis. The two men meet once a month and talk about the past, the present and eternity. Albom finds a new appreciation for his Jewish faith but more importantly, he finds a man behind the rabbi.
The journey takes him down another road. An unexpected look at the life of an African American, an impoverished and at one time a criminal, pastor of an unusual church. Far from the well-to-do Jewish congregation of Reb, Pastor Henry's flock is homeless and the shelter he is able to provide is falling down, with no heat. Albom, surprisingly, finds hope in the desolation of the homeless church and is drawn to the importance of faith these two very different men share.
The chapters or sections of the book are laid out in the seasons of the year. As the Rabbi approaches death and Henry faces the challenges of the harsh winter a unity is profoundly born in faith that there is something bigger than ourselves.
With the same care and insight as Tuesdays With Morrie, Albom speaks to the difficult subject of dying in a provocative but simple language, making it less frightening as he helps us to recognize death as the great equalizer. Faith helps to make sense of the purpose of life and the natural consequence of death.
Easy book to recommend. Easy to digest in small bites for a more thought provoking read or read from cover to cover without putting it down. Either way, this is truly a good read.
Available at booksellers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble in both print and electronic media.

Where Did I Leave My Glasses?

Where Did I Leave My Glasses?

By Martha Weinman Lear

Wellness Central

New York   Boston

Hardcover: 22.95

Available in paperback and electronic media

My Mom recently offered me a box filled with my Dad’s old reading glasses. She could never understand why he needed so many pairs. Increasingly forgetful, I have left my glasses in every conceivable place including on my face. So, of course, the title of Lear’s book was the reason I turned the first page. But from there I found myself in a world of mirrors, every page resembled my daily life.

Where Did I Leave My Glasses? Has a subtitle, The What, When, and Why of Normal Memory Loss. The chapter headings chronicle the hints of aging that creep into our bodies and heads until suddenly it seems we are aware something is different. Linear’s humorous approach to the informative facts about the process of age and memory, help the reader to understand normal memory loss.

Say Hello To Whatsisname, constructs the name problem. You know, the problem with the tip of your tongue. We go through the alphabet and rhymes, grabbing on to any life saver as you drown in that awkward moment. Or the equally vexing problem of the name suddenly popping into your head at the most inopportune moment. Normal.

 In Where Did I Leave My Glasses?, Leah offers evidence of what is normal and what is not but also details “that holy quartet of imperatives that the memory experts keep touting: a healthy diet, a good night’s rest, avoidance of stress, and regular exercise both physical and mental.”

Martha Lear is an award winning journalist and author of New York Times best selling memoir Heartsounds. Her interviews with neuroscientists, psychologists and evolutionary biologists form a backdrop for insights into the often frustrating problems with memory as we grow older. Sharing her own experiences, she reassures the reader we are all in this together. The anecdotes are poignantly real and hilarious. Lear gives the reader the opportunity to laugh and learn about this normal aging process, empowering the reader to embrace rather than fear memory loss. She talks about the 57 Heinz varieties of memory and why there are some things you will never forget. 

You will enjoy every unforgettable word in this book. Just don’t forget where you left it.

Available at booksellers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble in both print and electronic media.

To hear more about this book and to read an excerpt go to NPR.


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