28 May 2019

Mindful Dementia - A Book Review

I was honored to be invited to participate in this WOW! Women on Writing blog tour for the book Mindful Dementia Care: Lost and Found in the Alzheimer's Forest by Ruth Dennis with Velma Arellano and Luke Nachtrab. Before I write my review, here's a bit about the book:

Mindful Dementia Care is a book of stories and a book of love. It is a book without denial, without any papering over of the challenges that can be involved with being a caregiver, and the sadness, anger, and frustration they may bring. It is also a life-changing source of information that can revolutionize relationships with one of the most vulnerable populations in our midst. In her decades as a caregiver, Ruth Dennis witnessed the tragic results of the medicalized and institutionalized way of caring for people with dementia. And equally clearly, she saw a better way. Mindful Dementia Care illustrates alternative methods for making a difference and achieving results through care that honors the whole person. The key is creating an environment with countless enriching touchstones to the inner person through facilities that are filled with art, animal companions, music, dance, books, laughter, and wholesome food. It is an approach that embraces creative and artistic processes to shape a more loving, spiritual approach for elders and their families.

My Thoughts About the Book

I have to say this was an eye-opening, touching experience to read this book. I've never had the experience of a family member falling into Alzheimer's Disease. Most of what I know about this disease is second hand. So this was an incredibly informative experience, one that details the things that people go through suffering from this disease as well as what family members deal with daily to care for their loved one. Whether you know someone or are going through this yourself, this is a must-read book that will bring you close to this disease. Sometimes the best gift you can give someone about to go through something like this is a willingness to learn more and have an open heart.

Mindful Dementia Care: Lost and Found in the Alzheimer's Forest is available in print and as an ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your local independent bookstore. Add it to your GoodReads list too! You can also visit https://www.mindfuldementiacare.com/ to find out more.

Be sure to visit WOW! Women on Writing to read an interview with the authors! 

About the Authors: 


Ruth Dennis
In her decades as a caregiver, Ruth Dennis witnessed the tragic results of the medicalized and institutionalized way of caring for people with dementia. And equally clearly, she saw a better way. Mindful Dementia Care illustrates alternative methods for making a difference and achieving results through care that honors the whole person. The key is creating an environment with countless enriching touchstones to the inner person through facilities that are filled with art, animal companions, music, dance, books, laughter, and wholesome food. It is an approach that embraces creative and artistic processes to shape a more loving, spiritual approach for elders and their families.

Ruth Dennis has worked in mental health, the arts, and community education for over twenty-five years. She is a Certified Dementia Practitioner and, for the past two decades, has worked closely with palliative care, hospice, and grief support. Central to Ruth’s life is her role as caregiver to her brother Morgan, who has Down Syndrome. He is the bravest man she has ever known.

Velma Arellano

Velma Arellano, MA, CDP, CALA, Director of Operations, has been working in elder care for the past 2 decades, and is the longest standing administrator in Santa Fe. She has overseen $2 million in construction and design to create two state of the art, intentional Alzheimer’s Care homes in New Mexico, and very recently acquired a third, non-Alzheimer’s, 14 bed, cozy, Assisted Living Bungalow in Santa Fe. The latter, Vista Hermosa is drawing on the cutting edge of culture change by incorporating the ideas of permaculture with elder care. Both Memory Care homes are the only two Eden Alternative Registered homes in New Mexico, and Vista Hermosa is well on its way. Eden Alternative is the honor society of long term care, and is an International Movement which truly changes the culture of how we care for our elders. Velma introduced “real” pets to our homes for elders to enjoy, goats, chickens, peacocks, and recently a 10-week-old German Sheppard puppy named Silver.

Ms. Arellano is a certified assisted living administrator (CALA), Certified Dementia Practitioner through the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners (NCCDP), and an Eden Alternative Associate. Velma has served on the board of Directors of the New Mexico Alzheimer’s Association and was only one 7 citizens who started the first Annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Santa Fe, Espanola and Los Alamos. She is a member of the 305th annual Fiesta’s de Santa Fe Council and was instrumental in the legislative passage of Helen’s Law. This law protects endangered elders, which eventually gave attention to the Silver Alert Program, like Amber Alert, but for memory impaired adults. Ms. Arellano is also a member of the National Biodynamic Association (Tierra Viva) and the Earth Citizens Organization (ECO) and is committed to mindful living and a sustainable world. Velma is active with Shim-Sung, Brain Yoga. Shim meaning heart, and Sung meaning open.
Ms. Arellano holds a Masters Degree in Agency Counseling and Psychology from New Mexico Highlands University and Bachelor’s Degree in Television Broadcast Journalism/ Mass Communication and Spanish.

As a volunteer, Velma is a member of the New Mexico Health Care Association and NM Assisted Living Task Force Committee (NMHCAALF) . She sits at the table making her voice heard in guiding NMHCAALF’s advocacy in the New Mexico long-term care delivery system. She helps identify and establish policies and provide resources that give people a real opportunity to improve the quality of life and quality of care in New Mexico’s frail elderly and intellectually-disabled populations.

Luke Nachtrab

Luke Nachtrab, Owner, is a father of 3 children (Joey, Kate and Molly) and married to his lovely wife Kara. They currently live in Sylvania, OH where they were both raised and where Vista Living Home Office is based. He started his career shortly after completing his undergraduate degree at The Ohio State University. As first employee of Northaven, the Nachtrab Family Business Management Company, Luke created an infrastructure to manage approximately 75 residential properties in the Toledo, OH area. Assuming operations of Vista Living, the family assisted living facilities in 2004 (www.vistaliving.com) his passion and love for the elderly, particularly those walking with forgetfulness, and their families began to flourish. He was named President of Vista Living Communities in 2011 where he utilizes his background to maintain the highest standards of care for those with Alzheimer’s. Moving his young family to Santa Fe for 4 months in 2014 he began to set the company up for growth. His passion for this business and making a positive impact on those with Dementia and their families is evident in his approach and philosophies. Using values taught by his parents he brings integrity and compassion to business. With this as a guide he operates VLC as a business second; always trying to do what is right despite potential impact on the business.

Luke has a wide a diverse business background being intimately involved in executive leadership with global internet businesses, restaurants, real estate and logistics. He has been on numerous organizational boards in the Toledo area. He currently serves on the St John’s Jesuit High School Board and Finance Committee. Engaging with the Industry he is also active on Argentum, panels on their mission to Expand Senior Living.

Continuously improving, Luke has completed many non-degree courses in the last 15 years and in 2011 completed his MBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. He is an instrument rated pilot, loves skiing, golfing, soccer, squash, fishing, culture, traveling, watching The Buckeye’s and being Dad! He looks forward to raising his children to someday be involved with the business.

 I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

20 May 2019

29 Seconds by T.M. Logan [Book Review]

Wow you guys, just wow. So, over the weekend I had the chance to review a book by an author I've read before. Last July, I read Lies by T.M. Logan and thoroughly enjoyed it (you can take a walk down memory lane and read that review here). So this time, T.M. Logan is back in the thriller game with this latest book "29 Seconds."

I'd like to just say I practically devoured this book. It caught me right away. Sarah works at a university where she is constantly fighting off the lecherous paws of her boss who is praised within the university community. What everyone knows but no one acknowledges is that he is horrible to women and crosses the line constantly into sexual harassment and worse. Reporting him to HR has proven to be a useless endeavor and telling him no, never works for any woman. Women who do try end up on the losing end. Sarah is his latest target and faces losing her career and everything she works for unless she stops saying "no" to him. This element alone made me want to read the book.

Add in this though. One day en route to picking up her kids from school, Sarah does a good deed and saves a man's life. Thanks to that someone is in Sarah's debt and offers her the chance to get rid of one person in her life. No questions asked. No trace left. I'm sure you all know the dilemma Sarah is facing. What's the right thing to do?

This book grips tightly and doesn't let go. I loved the fast pace and the twists and turns. Each point felt like a roller coaster ride that I didn't want to stop. I really liked Sarah a lot and she was someone I could identify with. I can't believe I'm saying this but there isn't really anything bad that I can say. T.M. Logan has really proven himself to be a worthy thriller writer to me and without a doubt, I look forward to his next book. Actually, I liked this book better than I did Lies and I thought Lies was pretty great too. So kudos T.M. Logan - you won me over with this one!

If you love thrillers, surprise endings, and a moral question that won't let you go, even at the end, then you will want to read this book.

Be sure to add this to your Goodreads list! This book will be available to purchase on September 10th.

I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

15 May 2019

The Ups and Downs of Writing by Damien Larkin (And Giveaway!)

Special thank you to Damien for putting this guest post together! Be sure to read his other guest post about writing military science fiction!

Ten years ago, if someone told me that I would pen a novel, I would’ve thought it was a joke. I had always wanted to become a writer, but back then, I suffered from (what I now call) ‘dream-itis’. It was an unshakeable belief that everything would just work out the way it was supposed to without any effort being needed and so, I just coasted along, hoping for the best.

If novels could be written, edited and submitted from sheer daydreaming alone, I’d probably have at least a thousand novels completed. But in the real world, it took a long time to get to where I am now. I worked various jobs and had numerous side-projects to keep me occupied, but none that I was overly passionate about. It took one of my side projects to crash and burn before I sat back, re-evaluated my life and made a conscious decision to become a writer.

Since then, it’s been like a roller coaster ride, albeit one with a lot of sharp, horrifying, stomach-churning dips. As a stay-at-home father (and also working part-time) my time was extremely limited. Back then, my children were young enough that they still took naps during the day so exhausted and frazzled, I used what little spare time I had to churn out my first novel. Burning with determination, I wrote slightly over 100k words in three months and spent another few weeks with edits and re-writes. Once polished off, I submitted to various publishers and agents and watched the standard rejection template emails flow into my inbox. To say that was a soul-crushing experience would be an understatement.

Dusting myself off, I proceeded to self-publish and in all fairness, my first project got off to a decent start before it too inevitably crashed and burned. Once again, I found myself in the middle of a heart-to-heart moment with myself. I had experienced the euphoria of watching my first ever novel soar through the charts on its initial run and watched sales pour in daily. On the flip side, I now knew the frustration of watching those sales flatline despite my best efforts. As tough as it was, I soaked up every piece of information about where I went wrong and got back to work. Within three months of that moment, the first draft of Big Red would be ready.

Edits, re-writes and submissions followed. Once again, I watched the endless stream of template rejections flood my email inbox. With my frustration levels growing, I prepared to self-publish once again but then something happened. I had recently entered a Twitter pitch-wars event and got some interest from publishers. After passing along the first three chapters, I received a request for a full manuscript and within weeks, a publishing deal.

Since then, everything has felt like a blur. It’s been a lot more work than I ever anticipated, but it’s been worth it to see Big Red in actual book form. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have believed any of this was possible at all, but that’s one of those interesting things about life: you never know what it’s going to hurl at you next. It took my app development side project to go up in flames and my first self-published book to crash and burn to get here. And it has been worth every frustrating, exhausting moment. Big Red – my debut sci-fi – is out now!

About the Book Big Red by Damien Larkin

We have always been here...

Traumatized by the effects of Compression travel, soldier Darren Loughlin holds the key to the fate of Earth's Martian colonies. With his Battalion decimated, his fractured memory holds the only clues to the colony-wide communications blackout.

With time running out, Darren pieces together his year-long tour of duty with the Mars Occupation Force. Stationed in the Nazi-founded New Berlin colony, ruled by the brutal MARSCORP, he recounts his part in the vicious, genocidal war against the hostile alien natives and all who question Terran supremacy.

But as his memories return, Darren suspects he is at the centre of a plot spanning forty years. He has one last mission to carry out. And his alien enemies may be more human than he is...

Book Giveaway

For fans of military science fiction, this book is for you! All you have to do is enter via Rafflecopter. This giveaway is open internationally (depending on where you are at, the book may be given in the form of an e-book). Giveaway ends 5/31.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Damien Larkin is a part-time Planning Analyst and a full-time stay-at-home father of two young children. He enjoys turning terrifying nightmares into novels and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland. You can find him online at https://www.damienlarkinbooks.com/

Readers, purchase your copy!

Barnes & Noble - https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/big-red-damien-larkin/1129887528?ean=2940155877271
Kobo - https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/big-red-11
Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Big-Red-Damien-Larkin/dp/1939844606/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1542632970&sr=1-1&keywords=Big+Red+by+Damien+Larkin
ITunes - https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/big-red/id1442336848?mt=11

10 May 2019

How Our Past Shapes Our Present by Judith Cromwell


Our past shapes our present.  That makes Queen Anne important

Having told the stories of two women prominent in European history, (Dorothea Lieven, a Russian Princess in London and Paris, 1785-1857 and Florence Nightingale, Feminist) I wanted to write another biography about an impressive female.  Queen Anne, (1665-1714) one of the few queens who have reigned over Great Britain in their own right, came to mind – but – I knew nothing about her.  Initial research revealed Anne to be a dim-witted, weak woman, a robot controlled by the ambitious men around her.  Was she?  Getting at the truth sounded like a challenge, and I like challenges. 

Maligned in several memoirs left by her best friend then bitter foe, Anne Stuart, for decades if not centuries, was disregarded or damned with faint praise.  And the men who until recently, wrote history, chose to ignore the successes of Anne’s brief reign, (1702-1714) in fact, a glorious reign, in which she played a key part.  Queen Anne actively, consistently, and firmly supported the historic Union of England and Scotland, which created Great Britain; the Protestant Succession, which gave her country stability; and the nine-year War of the Spanish Succession, then the Peace of Utrecht, which enabled the British Empire.

A woman “of intelligence and ambition,”* the queen showed “high virtue, merit, and sweetness of temper.”  An accomplished musician (Anne excelled in playing the guitar) and patron of composers, the queen liked, in the rare moments she had to herself, to listen to her private musicians perform; she took great pleasure in planning renovations to the gardens surrounding her several palaces; Anne loved to hunt the fox and the stag in Windsor Great Forest; and she enjoyed horse-racing – the queen founded Royal Ascot, which persists until this day; now, the Ascot races open with Queen Anne’s Stakes.  
This “excellent and pious queen” talked in a clear melodic contralto; her “softness of voice and sweetness of pronunciation added much life to all she spoke.”  The “best mistress to servants” treated “everyone as if they had been her equals.”  As head of the judiciary, the “kindest of queens” did not order any political executions; she reviewed all judgments, modified sentences she thought too harsh for the crime, and overruled a judge who had given a rapist lenient punishment.  But she refused clemency for a highwayman who, for years, had terrorized her people. 

Mother of her nation.  Seventeen pregnancies failed to give Anne Stuart the joys of motherhood for more than a heartbreakingly few years; but, on the first day of her reign, Anne promised her people always to act in their best interests.  They, in turn, respected Their Queen’s piety and patriotism, her sympathy for common people -- shown in her generosity -- Queen Anne’s Bounty and Touching for the King’s Evil (laying her Healing Hands on those with scrofula, not to mention giving the sufferer a piece of Healing Gold.)  Anne never refused charity, spent no money on jewelry or new buildings.  Her subjects especially admired Anne’s private life of happy domesticity with her husband Prince George of Denmark; at weddings, people made a habit of wishing newlyweds “to love like the queen and prince.”

As a female, Anne got neither education in, nor experience of, government, for women were held to be inferior to men, incapable of comprehending politics or any form of business.  But Anne Stuart grew up at a decadent and intrigue-ridden court, where snakes swung from the trees, and crocodiles slithered over slimy ground.  That taught her valuable lessons about life.  During her brief reign, Anne’s small island nation off the coast of continental Europe rose from the chaos of civil war, regicide, and revolution to the cusp of global ascendancy mainly due to the men she chose to lead her army and government.
 
“Whoever of the Whigs thinks I am to be hectored or frightened into compliance tho I am a woman are mighty mistaken in me.”  Deploring bitter party conflict because she thought it weakened her nation, the conscientious and hard-working queen governed via Moderation.  She filled her cabinet and administration with men from the Whig and Tory parties, thus keeping the crown independent. 
Neither brilliant, charismatic, nor beautiful, battling poor health and the contemporary notion that females were the weaker sex, Anne Stuart had grit, a decent heart and a practical outlook on life.  Strong awareness of duty, as well as common sense, made her an astute head of state, deftly navigating the treacherous shoals of power politics and party polarity to become the unifying and stabilizing force in her divided country. 
In the “Me Too” era, when so many women of all ages and backgrounds seek fulfillment, Anne Stuart inspires.  Because she proved how an average female overcame personal tragedy, physical debility, and the perceived limitations of her sex to become a beloved and effective queen.
* All quotes are taken from contemporary accounts.

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Thank you to author Judith Cromwell for her special guest post today! Readers, be sure to purchase your copy of the book Good Queen Anne, now available on Amazon or add it to your Goodreads list.

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Judith Lissauer Cromwell spent a successful corporate career on Wall Street before returning to academia as an independent historian and biographer of powerful women. She previously published Dorothea Lieven: A Russian Princess in London and Paris 1785-1857 and Florence Nightingale, Feminist, and now tells the real story of Queen Anne in her latest book, Good Queen Anne: Appraising the Life and Reign of the Last Stuart Monarch. Today she brings her perspective on the meticulous research involved in writing about these impressive women.



 

08 May 2019

123 Tomorrows by Vaibhav Thakur [Book Review]

I am always so interested in books about time travel. Truly, I'm a sucker for it. So, when I heard from author Vaibhav Thakur about his book 123 Tomorrows, I knew I had to read it.

Here's what the book is about:

“What would you do if you could re-live the same day over and over again?”

Iqbal, a 15-year-old orphan was living an ordinary life when a devastating nuclear attack on Delhi claims millions of lives. It consumes everything he loves and pushes the world towards an inevitable nuclear World War. BUT… Iqbal is no ordinary boy. With his newfound powers of Time Travel, he can reset the day of the bombing.

He lives and relives the day of the blast, masterminding an increasingly complex sequence of events in an attempt to prevent a dystopian tomorrow. A gripping journey through cause and effect, that forces Iqbal to confront his own past… and future.

123 Tomorrows is a cleverly plotted time-travel masterpiece, which is replete with mind-bending twists and surprising turns at every page.

****
What I Thought

I loved the setting of this book. I felt like I really was stepping into the heart of Delhi and the world within. I also liked the character Iqbal a lot and it was fun to see him change as he uncovers his newfound abilities and tries to undo the future. There was a part that I couldn't get into as much and that was sort of the "world leaders" side of this disaster, but overall I enjoyed it a lot. If you love futuristic tales and love the idea of time travel, you will want to read this book.

Overall, if you like time travel, you should check this book out. Purchase it now on Amazon or add it to your Goodreads list.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

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