Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book Review - Do Super Heroes have Teddy Bears ?

Do Super Heroes have Teddy Bears ?

by Carmela LaVigna Coyle

Taylor Trade Publishing, due May 2012

Super heroes - brave, strong, invincible and with amazing powers..... every child dreams of and plays games of being a super hero.

What sorts of things can super heroes do that children cannot, and vice versa ?

Are there any things a super hero is afraid of ? Do super heroes themselves have secret vulnerabilities?

This absolutely charming and delightful children's picture book for pre-schoolers explores these issues, with the activities of children "dressed up" as heroes on the left hand pages, and pictures of children doing everyday things on the right hand pages, accompanied by a sweet and gentle commentary. Central to the activities is a teddy bear, who at the end exhorts the reader to "Be your own hero!".
A truly lovely little book !
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Thursday, March 29, 2012


Well, dear ones, the road to recovery seems not to be a smooth one !

On Sunday morning I felt very nauseous, and when the Nurse visited to see to my wound, she advised me that if I felt any worse, I needed medical attention. By mid-afternoon I had vomited small amounts of blood, so I ended up back in hopsital overnight on IV meds and had a gastroscopy on Monday, which showed I had Stage 2 oesophagitis, exacerbated by my painkillers.  I have had to go "cold turkey" and manage without any painkillers, and am being aggressively treated for the oesophagitis, which is now under control and not causing me dreadful stomach pain any more.

The CT scan has been done and we are waiting on the results of that. The wound seems to be doing just what it ought so far, and I am very slowly becoming a little more mobile and a little more comfortable every day :-)

Mum, on the other hand, has deteriorated ver rapidly over the last ten days, and at a multi-disciplinary team meeting held at her home on Tuesday,  it was evident to all that she now needs 24 hour a day nursing care and it is no longer possible for her to be cared for at home. This has broken my heart, as she has always said she wanted to die in her home, but I was told by the Nursing staff that it truly is necessary. Things have moved quickly, and she is being transferred to a Nursing Care Facility on Friday  morning.  Please pray that this transition may be a gentle one for her, and cause her as little distress and anxiety as possible, and that she will settle quickly in her new home. There is open visiting, so all her family and friends can go and see her whenever they wish.
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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Well, I came home on Friday evening, Glory to God,  after my surgery.

The abscess was "very extensive" to quote my surgeon, and has done a great deal of damage. To remove the abscess and all the damaged tissue has left me with a surgical cavity at least an inch and a half wide and at least two inches deep, which will require daily visits from the Nurse to clean, pack and re-dress the wound and will take months to heal.

I have been warned that this operation is only the first of two which will be needed to deal with the problem once and for all, given how very extensive it is. I have an array of painkillers to take, and antibiotics too, which conspire to make me very sleepy indeed. I have spent much of the day either asleep or awake but still resting in bed, as it is impossible to sit at the moment......

I have a CT scan scheduled for Monday afternoon,  and a further appointment with the Consultant on 4th April to check the wound and discuss the next step of surgery.
Thank you all so much for your love and prayers !
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Updated to add:

Dear Walt and Mimi, thank you so much for your kind messages. If you can keep me in your prayers , that will give me enormous comfort !! I'm praying for all of your needs and intentions too, of course......

Groundhog Day strikes again.

I saw the Consultant surgeon this afternoon, who did a thorough and unpleasant examination of the afflicted area. The good news is that he has found out exactly what the problems are, which neither of the other two surgeons did.

The bad news is I need emergency surgery on Thursday afternoon, which is going to be very extensive and have a painful and lengthy post-operative recovery time.

The other bad news is that the Social Worker  in charge of my Mum's care  feels that Mum is now too unwell and frail for us to cope with caring for her at home, even with support, and that she may need to go into a Nursing Home. Neither Mum nor I never wanted this to happen, but with my health the way it is at the moment, I know in my heart that I simply cannot manage to care for her effectively when I am supposed to be recovering  from serious surgery myself.....

There  will be a multi-disciplinary case meeting tomorrow, and they will put it to Mum that it is in her best interests to be able to have 24/7 care in a properly staffed Nursing home. 
She isn't going to like it one bit :-(

Prayers for all these things and for our whole family will be so very much appreciated !
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And More Recently Read !

Being in hospital so much over the last two weeks has given me ample opportunity to read :-)

My Sister's Keeper reduced me to tears. A couple with a desperately ill daughter choose to have a designer baby to "save" their first daughter. Problem is, as the designer daughter grows up, she doesn't want to continue to be a source of spare parts for her sister, who now needs a kidney transplant........ an interesting look into the family dynamics, morals and ethics of choosing to have a designer baby to save a sick sibling.

The Little Dancer by Lorna Hill is an old book. I have read many of  Lorna Hill's ballet books for children/young teens; many are superb but this was truly not one of her best. I will keep it for the sake of enhancing my collection by this author, but I won't be reading it again.....

I ♥ Pioneer Woman, which in the USA is sold as From High Heels to Tractor Wheeels. Ree Drummond has a wonderful photography /cooking website  and the book tells of her romance with the man who would become her husband and her move from city living to life as a home-schooling Mom on a cattle ranch.

An oldie but a goodie! The story of the Phantom of the Opera, told as only Terry Pratchett can.

For anyone who loves the Anglican shrine at Walsingham and its history, this is a must-read, albeit tangentially.  Fr Bernard Walke was a very high church Anglican who transformed  the religious life of his Cornish parish at St Hilary. Hard-core Protestants conspired with the Consistory Courts to destroy his beautification of the church, and the Children's Home which he established in St Hilary was later transferred to Walsingham and supported by Fr Hope Patten and the Shrine, to provide the children with a safe haven and continuing Anglo-Catholic life and worship away form the distressing situation in St Hilary. To read Fr Bernard's account of the despoilation of his lovely little Church is heart-breaking and reduced me to tears.

I like Faye Kellerman's Jewish detective thrillers immensely, and my DD3 found this in the Library for me. It is a clever book, well-written by Faye and her young daughter - but strange, unnerving and quite unsettling.

Another detective writer of note is Georgette Heyer. This was a gem, bought at a charity shop !

This was one of my Mother's Day gifts.  The return of Jewish cop Peter Decker and his family, now including Gabe, the RC son of a hitman who has an uneasy and grudging respect for Decker and his wife. Gabe is a young musical genius who falls head over heels in love with a much younger Persian Jewish  girl, and the family end up embroiled in a nightmare scenario of teen sex, drug misuse, bullying, teen suicide and some of the most vicious  - but sadly realistic- behaviour  you  pray would never happen to your kids.  Frightening, disturbing, graphic and realistic, this makes me want to homeschool my kids.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Review - An Amish Wedding

An Amish Wedding
Published by Thomas Nelson, 2011

I wasn't sure how well having a trio of established Amish fiction writers writing on the same theme  would work, but to my pleasure, it did indeed work pretty well ! Beth Wiseman is probably by far the best known of the authors, and I must admit that her story was definitely my favourite as I really like her style of writing and characterisation, but the other stories were great fun too.

The three novellas focus on the characters of one community, where all will be gathering to celebrate the forthcoming wedding of Priscilla and Chester. In A Perfect Plan, Beth Wiseman follows the ups and downs, trials and tribulations of the preparations being made by Priscilla and Chester's families for the big day - but so many things go wrong that poor Priscilla begins to have second thoughts and wonder if she is truly meant to get married at all.

The Perfect Match
by Kathleen Fuller follows the story of Naomi, who manges to act as the perfect matchmaker for her friends and relations but is still single herself. She finds it hard to see her friend immersed in all the wedding preparations. Will she be able to find someone whom she can fall in love with and marry ?

Kelly Long's story, The Perfect Secret, is the one with which I struggled the most. The premise of the story was brilliant - that a young Amish woman is marrying a childhood friend for whom she cares and loves greatly as a friend, but with no major passion.Is this a strong enough basis for a marriage ?  Are there more hidden depths to the handsome but rather stolid Luke Raber than she ever dreamed possible ? And just who is the thief who has been stealing from various homes in the community?

As I said, the plot is excellent but it just doesn't quite work for me in terms of the character and behaviour of Luke in the first half of the book, though it got much better towardst the end. On the whole, still an enjoyable read.

I was given a free copy of this ebook from Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze program in return for my honest and unbiased opinion.
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Recently Read

Kim by Rudyard Kipling
Now, of course, this book would most likely never even make it into print because of its lack of politicial correctness, but I found it to be a delightful voyage of discovery through colonial India as Kim disovers the facts behind his parentage and is carefully groomed for work as an undercover British spy in the Great Game between the nations competing to use India for their own ends and gains. Fascinating, absorbing, hilarious and sad in turn, it is well worth a read to gain a picture of life in colonial India..

     The Sheen on the SilkThis almost 600 page novel starts in 1273 when Anna Zarides disguises herself as a male physician in order to try to discover the truth behind the murder of Bessarion, a nobleman involved in politicial intrigue and religious controversy in an attempt to secure the future of the Byzantine empire against the encroachments of Islam and the political scheming of Catholic Europe.  Her twin brother is in exile, having been accused of the murder of  Bessarion, his best friend and Anna -or Anastasios, as she now styles herself, is determined to infiltrate the ranks of the great and the good in her dangerous search for the truth.  With the caveat that both the Orthodox and Catholic characters involved in intrigue and assassinations appeared to have very lax confessors to allow them to systematically decimate their political and religious opponents, the book appeared to be well-researched till the fateful page 398: "She never stopped muttering the names of all the holy places she had been to, like an incantation. Canterbury, Walsingham, Lourdes, Compostela....."
I cannot believe that an author researching this period did not check her facts; Bernadette Soubirous did not claim to have had her visions of the Virgin at the Massabieille grotto, Lourdes,  till the year 1858. This really took the edge off my enjoyment of the story and does cast into doubt the veracity of other facts in the book, which is a shame.

The Politics of Hope by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Rabbi Sacks examines the political changes which have tansformed modern British and European society particularly from the immediate pre-WW2 period  and looks at the theories underpinning many social and political thinkers of note of this period, some well-known and some very much less well-known, but all of whom have been influential for good or bad. The morality and politics of responsibility are examined in depth, and Rabbi Sacks postulates that although there has been much change for the worse, causing society to lose its social cohesion, there is still a way to find our path back by identifying, examining and upholding our basic and God-given responsibilities and obligations to our family, friends, neighbours and those with whom we have dealings  whether on a regular or irregular basis.  Not everyone will agree with his politics, but all will agree that protecting liberal values whilst protecting the fabric of society itself is worthwhile and truly essential. Not an easy read, I grant you, but an interesting one which makes me question my own political views and social values.

The Daughters of the Promise series by Beth Wiseman
Plain Perfect
Plain Pursuit
Plain Promise
Plain Paradise
Plain Proposal

 I bought all five of the Daughters of the Promise series on the strength of having recently enjoyed reading her book The Wonder Of Your Love. It is fascinating to see how the characters have developed and how Beth Wiseman's writing style has changed over over the five books, and I have actually read the first three books twice over, I enjoyed them so much. The last two I read in a slight post-anaesthetic haze, and will read them again soon to assess them properly.

Georgette Heyer - Biography of a bestseller by Jennifer Kloester
 I savoured each and veery page of this book, and was so sad to get to the end of it! It was a mine of information, though not as tightly written as Joan Aiken Hodge's biography of Georgette Heyer. Informative and absorbing, nonetheless.

Amish Grace - how forgiveness transcended tragedy by Donald B Kraybill et al
This was a heart-breaking yet inspiring book about the tragic school shooting of ten Amish girls at Nickel Mines, Pa. and how the Amish and English communities dealt with the tragedy and the struggle to seek and extend forgiveness.Further details here

Silverfin (Young Bond series) by Charlie Higson
This was an extremly good book aimed for children aged 11+. It tells the story of a young James Bond when he starts school at Eton and finds himself drawn into a web of intrigue and terror that lies behind the behaviour of one of his school enemies as they both find themselves in Scotland visiting their individual relatives during the holidays. Fast-paced and well-written, this will appeal to those who enjoy action packed stories with a serious amount of creepy factor.

The Narrow Path by Gail Satler
I read this an free ebook from Kindle, and I enjoyed every page of it :-)  Ted belongs to an Old Order Mennonite community and church, and when the church hire a Mennonite composer from out of state to design  a Church special outreach for them, he is not prepared for her to be a very modern woman indeed who in turn feels as if she has been dropped into Pioneer times:-)
You can read Chapter 1 here !
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Apologies For My Absence, Mark 2

My life is beginning to resemble the film Groundhog Day.

A routine visit to have my wound checked on Monday at the Doctor's resulted in both the GP and the Nurse staring in some bemusement at The Wound, some prodding by them, screaming by me, punctuating by bouts of violent coughing from me and some very worried glances.
Basically, the initial surgery was insufficiently aggressive or radical enough to deal with the underlying problem, the wound had managed to close itself and the abscess had re-formed with a serious vengeance. I was re-admitted to hospital as an emergency on Tuesday morning, and within ten minutes of my arrival, had been whisked off for a chest X-ray, ECG, blood tests, and painful invasive examinations by the medical doctors and the surgical doctors. The outcome was that I needed more extensive surgery at the abscess site, but the concern was my chest. The doctor in A&E said my X-ray and exam were fine, but that did not explain why I was coughing as though it was going to be made illegal in the next ten minutes and was determined to cram in a whole lifetime's worth in those ten minutes........

The only place in the NHS hospital which had a bed for me was in the rather swish Private Clinic, so I was taken there by bed and ensconced in a nice private room and told in no uncertain terms I would be going back to the OR later that afternoon.  The anaesthetist visited, did the usual history-taking  and expressed concern about my cough, though he too listened to my chest and said that there was nothing audibly abnormal. He checked the X-ray and found "some areas of consolidation" - ie infection in my lungs and went to consult with his Boss. I was afraid about having another General Anaesthetic so soon after the last one if I had a chest infection as well, but agreed to discuss it with the Consultant in the Anaesethetic room before the operation.
I was able to walk slowly and rather breathlessly the very short distance to the OR and made comfortable. The Anaesthetic Consultant came to chat to me and said he was anxious about doing a spinal block because of the purulent abscess so close to the base of my spine, even though it was in theory still a safe procedure. He reassured me that they would monitor my breathing and lungs very carefully indeed, and give me IV antibiotics etc in the OR and that he really, really wanted me to have another GA, which seemed fair enough under the circumstances.

 I held out my arm, and the drugs which he injected which he said would make me feel partly sleepy Didn't.   I kept looking at the anaesthetic assistant with wide-open eyes as if to say "I'm here ! Still Wide awake!" whilst the anaesthetist made notes on the forms,  and after about twenty seconds, I gave up, closed my eyes, prayed fervently for my loved ones and for myself, and settled to say the Jesus prayer. I said no more than five prayers before I woke up in pain in the recovery room, to hear the words "we've just given you some morphine and you will feel much better very soon!" I did feel better quickly, and after a brief nap, woke up properly pain-free.

I could tell from the size of the dressings that a lot more had been done this time, and also by the discomfort, which was a relief in a strange sort of way.

I had no cough at all. Not a smidgeon.  I later found out that my breathing had  indeed caused a smidge of concern and I had been given the promised IV antibiotics and also IV steroids. I got back to the ward, feeling exhausted, woozy and as if someone had replaced my brain with porridge, though being able to have a cup of tea was a huge comfort. Until, at least, my bladder went on strike and I was unable to pass urine at all.  An ultrasound scan revealed 786ml of urine sitting stubbornly in my painful bladder, so I ended up with an in-dwelling catheter  for the rest of the day and overnight .

Quantities of vile-tasting tablets followed, but sweetened by a lovely bowl of soup, some tuna sandwhiches and a bowl of jelly. By Wednesday morning, I was a happy camper, anxious to go home. The IV and catheter were removed, and I was sent home on two lots of antibiotic tablets and instructions to see the Practice Nurse each day to have the wound cleaned, packed and dressed.

The wound has up till now been cleana nd healing, but today's check (Monday 19th) showed the wound was infected, draining pus and the areas of pain have spread dramatically, so a swab has been taken to grow the bugs and I will need to go into see the Outpatients Surgical Clinic within the next few days , as soon as they can fit me in.

Like I said, this is like Groundhog Day....... and prayers would be much appreciated that all this settles down quickly without need for a further, third operation !
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Monday, March 12, 2012

Apologies For My Absence...

On Monday, I visited the doctor with what I thought was a minor infected area. It turned out not to be a minor infected area at all, but a painful and rapidly growing abscess. Gulp.
He prescribed antibiotics, but warned me that they may not work and that if the pain worsened, I was to contact him immediately and he would need to admit me to hospital for surgical drainage of the abscess under anaesthetic. Even bigger gulp. I hobbled out, clutching my prescription for heavy-duty antibiotics and hoping fervently that they would work .

Unfortunately, they didn't. So a phone call to the GP on Tuesday resulted in his faxing a letter to the A&E Dept and DH driving me to the hospital. I was seen very quickly, and once they found I was in enough pain for my blood pressure to be 180/96 and for me to be tachycardic, they gave me painkillers and sent me back to the main waiting area for a member of the surgical team to become available to examine me. That took a further four hours during which period I was to remain nil by mouth, as I had been since 11am anyway as I felt unwell......

The junior doctor performed a very through and moderately painful exmaination of the afflicted area which brought tears to my eyes, only for him to utter the fateful words: "I need to discuss it with my Surgical Registrar." I resigned myself to another  lengthy wait, but in ten minutes, the delightful Registrar arrived, only to repeat the examination even more thoroughly and consderably more painfully, for which he was very apologetic. He decided that 10.30pm was too late to operate, and admited me to the Short Stay Unit overnight for the operation the next morning.

I ended up in a single room, with a nice view, ensuite facilities and all mod cons. Unfortunately, access to the water jug was removed very rapidly, as I needed to be nil by mouth overnight ready for theatre early next morning.
That was the plan. The consultant came round with his entourage of half a dozen the next morning, said cheerfully that he wouldn't examine me again as they "would be doing it in greater detail, in theatre anyway !", and that the anaesthetist would be "round soon". This was at 9am.

Never trust those words, gentle reader!

When the shift changed at lunchtime, the nursing staff apologised for the delays due to cases taking longer than expected. Well, having worked in a hospital, I know how easily that happens, and I was fairly philosphical, but aware that the promise of discharge home a few hours after the operation was becoming much less likely. By four pm, it was obvious I was going to be in hospital overnight again. By now, the staff were increasingly apologetic each time they came in my room, and couldn't understand why I was quite happy, reading Pride and Prejudice and playing on my phone. The fact that I had no desire to have the tv on , they found quite baffling, I think :-)

 By 7pm, I was seriously questioning if the operation was going to take place that day, and when the anaesthetist turned up to assess me at 8.15 pm, I couldn't help but ask him how much longer it was lkely to be. He estimated 15 to 30 minutes, unless anyone needed anaesthesia on Labour Ward or unless any more emergencies came in...........At 8.40pm when I could both see and hear two ambulances arrive at speed at A & E with lights and sirens going full pelt, I gave up in abject despair, lay on the bed and went to sleep, woken again by the happy sounds of a nurse coming in to tell me they were sending a porter down to take me to theatre. 

After being stuck in a single room all night and all day, I was glad to walk to theatre and the porter used the wheelchair to transport my overnight bag etc .  The hospital was calm and quiet, and theatre was quite spookily so, as they were winding down for the night.  
The staff in theatre were in good humour, and incredibly friendly and calm. When I was told they were giving me some medicine that would make me feel a bit woozy and then something to make me sleep, I  closed my eyes, observed mentally that I did indeed feel woozy, wondered just how many medical staff were in theatre planning to examine my abscess in great detail, and fell blissfully fast asleep........

I woke up from the anaesthetic painfree and smiling, listening to the chatter of the recovery room nurses. I looked at the clock and it was 10.45; I then dozed back off, waking to see it was now 11.15pm. This time I managed to stay  awake and chatting, until the familiar waves of post-operation nausea started to rear their ugly head. I must have turned green as my nurse asked if I was okay, and when I said I was starting to feel a little queasy, reassured me I was going across to the ward very shortly and I was written up for further medication to make me more comfortable..
I was taken to a bed in a six bedded bay, and as we trundled up the ward corridor, I could see an elderly lady in a red dressing gown sitting on a chair talking to the nursing staff on duty. I was glad to get into my comfy bed, have my obs taken again and then be given some painkillers and anti-nausea med, which worked brilliantly well and I had the best cup of water in my life, after 25+ hours of being nil by mouth.  I was vaguely aware of hearing a man at the other end of the ward shouting that he wanted to see his wife immediately, but I just went back to sleep.

 I woke an hour or so later, disturbed by soft shuffling sounds. When I opened my eyes, the elderly lady I had seen earlier was fiddling with my red dressing gown before one of the nurses hastened up to her and ushered her away back to her bed in a different part of the ward. I went quickly back to sleep, was woken a few more times for the staff to check my vital signs.
I woke yet again to hear a clattering noise, and could see the lady in red at the foot of my bed, fiddling with the bed adjustment controls . She looked at me sternly, picked up the controller on its extendable curly lead and walked off with it, saying: " Come on , Jess, we need to go now. Bad dog, Jess !" and tugging on the lead as if it was a dog's lead. The problem was, it was attached to the bed and  she was attempting to tug my bed down the hospital corridor !

 It was all becoming increasingly surreal, and the combination of lack of sleep, post-operative wooziness, anti-nausea meds and heavy duty painkillers obviously conspired to addle my brains totally , for instead of gently telling her to please leave my bed alone and go away, I remember just closing my eyes and thinking to myself that she was making so much noise, the staff would be along shortly to sort her  out and that the brakes were on the bed so she couldn't *actually* drag me down the corridor, and I drifted happily back to sleep.

 I was woken up for the final time at 5am by the sound of shouting. This time I sat bolt upright up in alarm, opening my eyes  only to see  a very tall man, fully dressed, clutching a fire extinguisher standing a few feet away from my bed and screaming blue murder:
"I want to see my wife ! I know you have her hidden in here soemwhere, and you'd better bring her out right now or I am going to use this on you all, I swear ! Bring her out to see me now!"

I sat there transfixed, debating what I should do, when a tiny nurse - she must have been about 4ft 10 - walked right up to him and told him to put the extinguisher down. He made as if to throw it at her, and she told him firmly to put it down or she would call the police. In the meantime, one of the other staff had called hospital security, and after making a few more demands and threats, the staff managed to calm him down and reassure him that the weren't hiding his wife anywhere, telling him that she was at home and they would phone her if he would come back to his own bed in the male part of the ward. They managed to part him from the extinguisher and lead him away. I didn't see him again whilst I was on the ward.

I couldn't help but ponder the look of anxiety, confusion and distress on that poor man's face; he was kept  in his ward area by the security staff who sat with him, but he looked so distressed and fearful :-(

Sleep was impossible after this, so I read quietly until time for breakfast. There was a choice  of cereals, porridge or bread and butter and jam/marmalade - no toast, as it sets off the fire alarms.  I devoured a bowl of cornflakes and, like Oliver, really wanted more but  sadly none was forthcoming.

Every other person in the ward was seen by their consultant Surgeon except me, and I was champing at the bit by the time he did come round. The obligatory exam involving gloves and KY Jelly  was performed, and I was allowed home. the surgeon said I needed some dressings to put on the afflicted area to mop up The Ooze, as the abscess had been incised and allowed to drain freely.

So what was I given ? Half a dozen, non-sterile large incontinence pads. LOLOL. I hobbled out of there was fast as my little legs would carry me, desperate for the Hubster to take me safely home :-)
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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Book Review - Almost Amish

Almost Amish : One Woman's Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life by Nancy Sleeth
Published by Tyndale House Publishers, April 2012

"The Amish are islands of sanity in an ocean of change."

How did one family change their lives so radically as to be regarded - and to regard themselves as  "Almost Amish" ?

Perhaps one of the most important questions facing us in the developed world is whether it is really necessary to have the most modern technology for enhancing one's life or just a fad ? This book aims to show the reader that technology has implications and costs for the well-being of families and communities as well as the simple financial costs of purchasing the equipment.

The book looks at the need for - and the morality of - caring for the environment and how the Amish have set the rest of the world a gold standard by their plain living and belief in being stewards of their land and homes. Few in the developed world may want to go quite as far as the traditional Amish farming way of life, but their ideas have much to teach us and inspire us to take back control of our lives and technology rather than allowing technology and the general busyness of life to overwhelm and control us. It is perfectly possible to combine environmentally friendly living with solid Christian values to enhance our lives. 

I found it to be an extremely interesting and thought-provoking book, once I got past the slightly slower paced first few chapters.
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Book Review - Grieving God's Way

Grieving God's Way
by  Margaret Brownley

Published by Thomas Nelson, due July 2012

Grieving God's Way is a 90 day devotional book of thoughts, Bible verses and practical advice.

As Christians, we are truly blessed with the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection, and we have the hope and expectation of meeting our loved ones  again one day. It is normal, natural and healthy to grieve, but it is also important to grieve in a positive, life-affirming way, not in a destructive or addictive way, and this book sets out many ideas for Christian grieving.
The importance of taking care of one's body as well as one's mind and soul at this difficult time are stressed, as is learning to cope with and accept grief rather than trying to "numb" it away as is sadly so often the case for many people struggling to deal with grief. 
Art as therapy, plans for involving children in funeral and memorial services, and learning from their spontaneity are all covered in this unusual book.

I found this quite a difficult book to review, however, given my very clear recollections of how I felt  after my brother's death. I am a voracious reader and read every single day without fail, but after his death for a very long time I found it difficult to sit still long enough to read even a short daily devotional such as one of these .
 And of course, there is always the problem/issue  about which  you may desperately need to be comforted  or receive advice on is not covered during the time-scale you need it, but later on in the 90 day period.

I am sure that for  many this will be a valuable and useful book in helping them deal with their grief, but  I don't think  that I would have found this book particularly helpful or comforting at that particular stage in my life.

 However,  I do definitely think it is an extremely useful book to read when you know that the death of a loved one may be imminent. There are many useful things and comforting things, but perhaps it is better to have read them in advance  for them to seep back into the conscious memory for when one is actually grieving.

 This book will be particularly useful for those belonging to Protestant denominations, but I  think it may be of limited usefulness for those in the Orthodox Christian and Roman Catholic traditions for whom great comfort is gained by prayer for the dead , which is not really covered by this book .
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Book Review - Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes

Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes

By Michelle May, MD with Megrette Fletcher, MEd, RD, CDE
New Harbinger Publications, Inc. 2012

We have a family history of diabetes and some of my daughters' friends are diabetic, so I found this book extremely interesting.
It isn't a cookbook of recipes for those who have diabetes or are hovering on the verge of diabetes (pre-diabetes), nor a prescriptive manual of things to do or not to do; but it is  a guide to living and dealing with this health issue in a truly positive, life-enhancing way.

It is essential to truly understand what diabetes is, how it affects the body and the mind before being able to make informed choices about  the necessary lifestyle changes, dietary choices and embracing a positive  mental attitude to living with diabetes and this book is a comprehensive guide which achieves just that. Instead of being afraid of food and its possible effects on the body, we are shown how to tune into our bodies and see food choices and glucose monitoring as a challenge, a long-term puzzle to be solved, not a depressing chore which seems to set us apart by forbidding certain foods.

Mindfulness , balance and taking charge are key concepts in the challenge of taking care of oneself with this illness.The importance of exercise, relaxation, acceptance and taking responsibilty for ensuring adequate medication and medical care are explained thoroughly, and how to maintain a healthy weight  are all covered in detail, including how to work out one's own current patterns of eating which have been culturally and socially conditioned and may not be really related to the messages the body gives of hunger. Think of this book as a workbook, a guide to managing *your* diabetes.  A truly fascinating read.

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