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May 20, 2015

Book 12 of 2015

Dark Shadow of BabylonDark Shadow of Babylon by Julian Speed
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If the cover of the 'Dark Shadow of Babylon' by Julian Speed doesn't give you the creeps and scream horror, paranormal, and suspense, I know the book will. In fact, I wasn't expecting near as much as this book provides but since it is a rather long book (approx. 404 pages) I was pleased every page was just as unnerving to me as the last one. Between the suspense and fear I was able to keep turning page after page and read on, enjoying the action, death, and so much more.

Not all the characters in the book are human (at least not any longer) so it is hard to actually say how believable or realistic they are however I did enjoy all the characters. They were developed nicely and didn't leave me in the dark about which were human and which weren't. I liked that all the characters made sense and they were not just random characters in the book but followed the plot and a legend or myth known which is what explained their presence. Each had their own distinct personality or existence and the characters varied from terrifying to amusing.

The opening of the book is in 61AD during the Roman Invasion although the majority of the book takes place in modern day (2012) in West Virginia. The author wrote a great description of the book so you can read that for yourself. I feel there is no need for me to recap it but there is one thing I want to touch on about what the author wrote in his description. He wrote, "Dark Shadow of Babylon is a horror/paranormal novel with light elements of suspense." While I do agree compared to the paranormal/horror of the story , the suspense is less dominate but I personally think he is too modest and downplayed the suspense. By the very nature of his writing, suspense is projected in the sentences. A perfect example is, "They looked at each other with worrisome expressions and said not a word. The screams on the circus grounds had ceased and silence seemed to be the only thing that kept them company as they nervously looked around expecting something to jump out at them at any minute." The whole novel is encrusted with this building type of suspense as well.

I thought this novel was great and I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who loves paranormal, horror, and suspense.

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May 12, 2015

Book 11 of 2015

Break Free: To Reboot With Confidence, Playfulness and AdaptibilityBreak Free: To Reboot With Confidence, Playfulness and Adaptibility by Robert Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just as the cover describes, Break Free by Robert E. Lewis is a self-help type book that explains how to escape the controlling conditions and dependencies we have grown dependent on during our lives. Since we were little children we were raised to be 'conditioned' to fit into a society where free thinking and expression seems to be frowned upon. In other words, you behave, go to school, graduate, get a job, get a house, have a family, grow old and die. That is our lives in a nut shell. The more money you make, the better. You can have a bigger house, fancy car, send your kids to the best schools (so the cycle repeats for them) and uphold a significant spot in socials and society. After all, value is placed on the wants and needs of those who hold the bigger bank accounts, more so than the average person. (We see this everyday in politics.) Happiness, explorations, discoveries, worry free environments, those were all things of childhood that we must leave behind, or do we?

As a child we would sit at the beach with our pail and shovel and dig a hole in the sand filling our pail. Then we discovered that if we got that sand wet, when we dumped it out it remained in the shape of the pail. We built sandcastles, seashells found on the beach became windows, doors, or fancy decorations, seaweed was a garden or sea monster on the attach. There were no worries, there were no right and wrong, there was only fun, imagination, and discovery. We didn't worry about anything, not even the approaching high tide. We were living in the here and now, not the past nor were we worried about the future. Sure, we learned from our mistakes but that was the beauty of it. We learned the next time we go to the beach to build our sandcastle a little further up the beach so when the tide does come in, our castle isn't washed away before we were ready for it to be but this 'discovery' was through fun and play. It was stress-free and it wasn't even the fact that the sandcastle would be washed away (or knocked down) but the real fun was right there playing in the 'now'. In other words, through life the destination isn't what is important, it is the journey to get there.

The book explains this and how material things don't matter, in fact, in some cases they just tie you down. They don't only anchor you physically but mentally as well. As the book states it, "Consumership has replaced citizenship, the measure of life has been reduced to a standard of living, a calculation of consumption and ownership." It is not saying you shouldn't own anything as we all need a place to live and usually a car to drive to work but what it is saying is that we as a society are no longer measured by our abilities, differences, contributions of our minds or work, we are being measured by how much money we earn or spend and characterized into 'classes' where the upper-class is the one on top and naturally the lower-class is on the bottom. If a lower-class citizen makes some discovery, invents some amazing machine, or writes a best-seller, simply by the class that they are in, they will have a much harder time than if they were in the upper-class for the simple reason that upper-class owns and consumes more so they are held on a higher tier, they are taken more serious. They are the place the lower and middle classes should strive to go.

We think we don't have a choice but have to live like this. We have to live in society so need to abide by the rules but we do not have to live by the conditioning or restraints that society put on us. We can 'refresh, reboot, and reprogram' our lives to once again 'live in the here and now' and the book explains how to do this. Again, it isn't saying we don't have responsibilities or need to forget all about saving for a retirement but what it is saying is that life should be like 'playing' as a child: imagination, discovery, stress-free. There was no wrong way to make the sandcastle. If I wanted a door on the top of it and put it there, so what! I wasn't bound by some rule that said I couldn't, I wasn't going to get a spanking, or grounded. My future wasn't going to be ruined nor was it hurting anyone. I could put the door where ever I wanted and I was happy with that. It is only when someone came to me and said that the door don't belong there because it looks stupid and serves no purpose since there are no stairs and you can't get to it that I was restricted in my play because someone was trying to put conditions on it. They were trying to 'limit' my imagination. However, I was playing in the 'here and now' and still using my imagination so I said it wasn't to go in, it was so once inside I can throw things out! This is what the book is getting at, throw out all these negatives in our lives, all the conditioning, limits, and classifications that were instilled in us since small children and just learn to 'play' again.

The book goes pretty in depth about how through time and by so many ways we lost our ability to 'play' and how to undo this 'conditioning and conformity' demands that were put on us so we can become the imaginative, empowering individuals we once were. How to deal with egos and the importance of keeping journals. There is a lot of truth in the book, careful observation by the author, and even quotes from famous people that stress the point the book is trying to make. While I found it all interesting, the chapter I really found most interesting was the "Exercising The Brain To Get In Mental Shape." It is full of great advise whether you want to do anything else in the book or not. This chapter alone will make your life a much happier, peaceful, and rewarding experience.

I did find a typo and format errors but nothing that is extremely distracting from this book and recommend it to everyone, old and young alike. Even parents and expecting parents can find useful information and perhaps insight on how to not restrict the power of 'play'. I know I will always remember the one statement, "Replace your ego-driven life dramas with selfless interactions" which are great words to live by.

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May 4, 2015

Book 10 of 2015

The Southern California Dental Patient Guidebook; Perfect Crowns and SmilesThe Southern California Dental Patient Guidebook; Perfect Crowns and Smiles by Dr. Steven J. Sutherland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To start with I am a little confused with what the real title to this book is since the picture of the cover gives the title as "The Southern California Patient Guidebook Perfect Crowns and Smiles in One Day" by Steven J. Sutherland DDS but the title page gives the title as "The Southern California Patient Guide to Same Day Cosmetic Crowns." Personally I think it was originally the latter but was changed to the first one (only the title page wasn't changed) since it was much more fitting for this book. This book is way more than just a book about cosmetic crowns. It is a plug for Dr. Steven Sutherland's office, Torrance Dental Arts and tells what he has to offer but it is also fantastic information on dentistry and the new technology no matter where you live.

The book explains the importance of a good smile cosmetically speaking: appearance. It explains how we are judged as a person on our smile and although I want to say people are not this superficial and we are judged on our performance in the work place or our personality in social gatherings, there is no denying the fact that our smiles (or lack of) play a part in how we are perceived by others. Examples are given to support this statement which I have seen and heard some of these 'prejudices' myself.

Also what is explained, traditional dentistry being done today for crowns is messy and uncomfortable with the goop in your mouth needing to harden so impressions can be made which leads to imperfect fits and reducing the strength, and it is time consuming requiring multiple appointments spread over weeks, months or even a year. However there is a new process (Perfect Teeth in a Daytm) and material Cerec® (ceramic) that makes it 3x stronger than traditional porcelains that can be used so you can literally go to this dentist (or the handful of others that use it) and have your crowns and veneers done in a couple of hours so you can walk out of that one office appointment with your new smile.

The book explains a lot on the hows and whys and even goes into the importance of good teeth for your health. Some of the information I didn't know and some I did. However I didn't think the book went into this deep enough. Yes, we all want a smile to be proud of or at least to be able to smile without being self conscious about it as far as cosmetic reasons and the book explained this well but the fact that your teeth play such an important role in your overall health was just too brief. I especially say this about the part it mentions Temporal-mandibular-joint-dysfunction (TMJD) where it is only referred to as your jaw clicks. It is far wider and much more severe than just a 'click' when you open and shut your mouth. I know this from personal experience where I had to have an operation on my jaw on one side (because the joint on that side 'locked' my mouth shut) when I was young and I continue to have 'flare ups' of the other side (side not operated on) as recently as last year. A flare up consists of the most severe pain you can imagine. It isn't just confined to the area of your joint either. Every tooth on that side, both top and bottom ached, the pain went across my face to the joint area which hurt and gave me a very painful earache but didn't limit to that area either. It went up to my temple giving me a severe headache and down my face on that side into my neck and shoulder area. I don't mean this was a little pain either, it was the worse pain I have ever felt. It was sharp and made labor and natural childbirth feel like a vacation. All I could do is lay in bed and cry. Don't open your mouth, don't lift your head. The pain so so intense it even made me sick to my stomach. Eating and functioning in everyday life was not an option and nothing took this pain away except time, anti-inflammatory (not pain medicine, they did nothing), and a heating pad. (I know one would think ice but heat was all that worked to help lessen it). I went to several Dr. (with barf bag and heating pad) and specialists that cost over $2,000 which insurance does not pay for TMJD for some reason and I was told no dental insurance pays for it. So the importance of a proper bite is a bit under explained both physically and financially in the book.

What is explained well is this is not just a cosmetic dentist since they do everything and take everything into consideration. They make sure your bite is good, your teeth go well with your jaw and facial structure, just to name a few. They do the cosmetic work but they also do root canals, tooth extractions, cleanings, etc. They are a dentist that you can go to and have your root canal and crown done in one visit and the same day.

I just want to add I had a root canal done the day after I started this book and I'm still waiting for my appointment to get a crown with a different dentist. I hate having to go to one dentist for a cleaning and checkup then when something hurts, I make an appointment and go back to him for him to say that I need a root canal so he gives me a referral to another dentist. I have to make an appointment with the other dentist and wait a few days or week (in pain) and go to that appointment only to get that part done and be referred to yet another dentist for the crown. I still didn't find the dentist to do the crown! So for one tooth I already had 3 appointments: my regular dentist, then two appointments for the root canal since the first time it hurt so bad even with the maximum amount of Novocaine they still couldn't even touch the tooth so I had to take antibiotics for 3 days and again still in pain this whole time and go back, and to top that all off I need another 2 or 3 for the crown to be made. The financial cost of this is outrageous since now I need to consider the time missed from work for all these appointments. Although this was mentioned in the book, I just wanted to confirm that I know through personal experience it is true.

Lastly, I felt the ending was incomplete. The information is great, don't get me wrong but it just stops abruptly. This would be the perfect spot to add a line to conclude the book by 'plugging' Steven J. Sutherland's office one last time. Maybe something in the line of "Make your appointment today by calling Torrance Dental Arts at (xxx) xxx-xxxx."

*I received a free copy of this book for my honest review.

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