Friday, 27 February 2015

Review: 'Coping with Teen Suicide' by James M Murphy, MD

Coping with Teen Suicide by James M Murphy, MD, 1999, The Rosen Publishing Group, $2.57, hardbound, 125 pages. Cover: not bad. Category/Genre: reference. Where we got it: borrowed it. Where you can get it: AmazonBarnes and NobleBooks-A-Million

This book is a must-have for teens. (It wouldn't hurt to be in an adult's library, either.) Murphy walks the reader through various reasons for teen suicide, the primary one being stress. Murphy gives several ways teens can cope with stress, including speaking up (don't hold your feelings inside), negotiating (try to compromise to get what you want), and changing tactics if what you're doing isn't working. He also offers ideas on how to cope if you can't alter your situation.

Various ways to get help are described, and there's a handy list at the back of the book should you need to get in touch with any of these places. 

Murphy describes the stages of grief, goes over how you can help prevent suicide, and talks about the reasons you shouldn't commit suicide. He also includes scenarios based on real-life situations. 

This is a helpful book, and the subject matter is treated with respect. Teens are likely to respond to Murphy's easy writing style and compassion. 

If you like this one, try: Suggestions? 

Friday, 20 February 2015

Review: 'Wildflower Folklore' by Laura C Martin

Wildflower Folklore by Laura C Martin, 1984, Fast and McMillan, $16.95, hardbound, 256 pages. Cover: colourful, but not as good as the artwork on the inside. Category/Genre: reference. Where we got it: borrowed it. Where you can get it: AmazonBarnes and Noble

105 of the world's best-known wildflowers are collected here, grouped according to their most frequently-occurring flower colour. Full-page black-and-white line drawings accompany each flower, along with the plant's common name, scientific name, habitat, and blooming period. A brief description is included. 

But this book isn't just scientific facts; it includes the history of the wildflower (how people used to use it and what powers -- magical, medicinal, or otherwise -- they believed it had), its culinary uses, how it got its name, and legends, myths, and stories about the wildflower. 

For example, there are many beliefs about dandelion clocks: it is commonly held that if you blow off all the seeds at once, your wish will come true; it's also said that the number of seeds left after a hard puff is the number of children you'll have. And if you whisper words of love, then blow the seeds gently towards your loved one, the seeds will carry your words to him. 

An interesting book for anyone interested in folklore or flowers. 

If you like this one, try: Folklore of Birds, by Laura C Martin; and Wildlife Folklore, by Laura C Martin. 

You can find Laura C Martin's author page here. She can also be found on GoodReads and The Creative Connection

Friday, 13 February 2015

Review: 'Historical Heartthrobs' by Kelly Murphy with Hallie Fryd

Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes – from Cleopatra to Camus by Kelly Murphy with Hallie Fryd, $17.99, hardbound, 223 pages. Cover: pretty good. Category/Genre: Reference. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million.

From artists to rulers to scientists and civil rights activists, this book offers a glimpse at what made people fall for certain celebrities of the day – and whether or not we would find them just as appealing today.

It isn't just physical attributes that are measured here. Charisma goes a long way, as does intellect, bravery, and wit. Factors that may dampen the sex appeal of those found in this book include narcissism, rudeness, and homicidal tendencies.

You'll find a whole host of hotties to choose from: Cleopatra, Annie Oakley, Jane Goodall, Jim Thorpe, and Frederick Douglass to start; and not all of them were good guys. You'll find Mata Hari, John Wilkes Booth, and Bugsy Siegel in these pages, as well.

Vital stats are given: date of birth and death; country of origin; area of influence; and style of seduction. There are quotes about each celebrity, as well as a brief life story, information on his or her sex life, and a blurb on why that person matters today. The “Heat Factor” is measured from one to five (five being the hottest). There are also pictures (photographs or portraits) of each of the hotties.

An unusual, interesting way to learn a bit of history.

If you like this one, try: Suggestions? 

Friday, 6 February 2015

Review: 'Nightmares Can Be Murder' by Mary Kennedy

Nightmares Can Be Murder by Mary Kennedy, 2014, Berkley Prime Crime, $7.99, softbound, 292 pages. Cover: like it. Category/Genre: cosy mystery. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million.

Freelance business consultant Taylor Blake is in Savannah to help her sister Ali cope with her struggling business. What she doesn't expect is that Ali will rope her into attending the Dream Club, a group of women dedicated to helping each other analyse their dreams.

She also doesn't expect to become embroiled in a murder; but that's exactly what happens when a local dance instructor and ladies' man is killed in his studio. Ali becomes a suspect, and Taylor is determined to solve the case and clear her sister's name.

To do this, she enlists the help of an old friend, Sara Rutledge, a freelance reporter for the local paper, and Taylor's ex, Noah Chandler, a former FBI agent-turned-private enquiry agent. But Taylor isn't over Noah, and she's unclear as to how he feels about her.

We had a couple of issues with this book: there are too many women in it; it's unrealistic. Plus we take great umbrage at the use of 'womans's' – which anyone interested in grammar can tell you is incorrect. Still, it was an enjoyable read, and we recommend it.

This is an unusual mystery, not only for the matter of the dream interpretations, but also because, refreshingly, it doesn't tend to follow the usual formula for cosy mysteries.

If you like this one, try: The Missing Ink, by Karen E Olson.