BOOK REVIEWS
By Sandy Gostel Perkins



FUNERAL FOR HORSES
A Novel
By Catherine Ryan Hyde
I've known and admired Catherine Ryan Hyde's writing talent for the past four years. She's an editor at the "Santa Barbara Review," and has been nominated for the Raymond Carver Short Story Prize, Best American Short Stories, the O.Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize.

I knew that her first novel would have to be well-written, intense, and thought provoking. It is. I read it in one sitting. I couldn't put it down. Giving up a full Sunday to read an entire book is not something I do lightly. I did this as homage to a truly gifted writer.

FUNERAL FOR HORSES is fiction. This story is "a compelling tale of a woman's search for her lost childhood while slipping in and out of insanity. She clings by a slender thread to the flattened earth of her existence." It is fiction in story only. So many people have fallen victim to childhood trauma. Many have gone over that fine line of sanity, have created a safer world in which to exit. Ella, the heroine of this story, has spent her life between these two worlds. Now her brother, the one who seemed so stable through it all, has disappeared. Ella is determined to find him, and through the journey, she finds herself.

I spoke with Catherine recently. We sat sipping cappuccinos near her home in Central California. The setting was peaceful, serene. She has always been an encourager to those that are committed to the craft of writing. She is given over to her gift. You cannot separate the two. Yet I perceived a subtle changed since I saw her last. What was it? Was I seeing the afterglow of success at the tremendous acceptance and recognition her first novel was receiving?

"Where did this story come from, Catherine?" I asked.

Her gaze went into her own past, scanning her thoughts and her life. She looked at me, sizing up this friend-turned-reviewer. Then she spoke. When Catherine speaks it is with the same determination with which she writes. Each word has its importance.

"There are many people out there who have dark pasts filled with pain. This story is for them. To show them that there is a road back. It's not the bleak story that you might think. It's a story of victory and of life."

"Is this your story?" I shamelessly asked.

"This isn't my personal story. But we all have our stories. The situations may be different, but the important thing is to gain the courage to claim your life back. If I can reach others through this story, and give them that courage, then I've accomplished my goal."

"How does it feel having your first novel sitting here next to us on the table?" I picked up the book that "Publisher's Weekly" had just given a rave review.

She smiled that deep down Catherine smile. The one that connects with old souls and new and said, "It feels wonderful."

She told me of the book signings and interviews, the plans to perhaps come down to Southern California. She's sandwiching all this in between putting together her next book for publication, which is a collection of some of her short-stories.

The reading public has found Catherine Ryan Hyde. And it's to our delight because we have only tapped the surface of what she has to bestow upon us.

If you are looking for a good book to use for your reading groups, this would be a natural. It will bring up much in the way of discussion, examination, and healing. If you want to book her for your store or group, leave a message for me at (714) 894-5133.

Published by Russian Hill Press San Francisco, California available at local bookstores Hardback $19.95, approx. 250 pages

 

BECOME THE DREAM
The transforming Power
of Hypnotic Dreamwork
By Randal Churchill
As most of you know, dreamwork is high on my list of loves. I scrutinize every dream book that comes my way. BECOME THE DREAM is one of the best books I've seen in quite a while. Randal Churchill is a well-known, well-respected hypnotherapist and teacher. He has spent most of his adulthood researching and exploring the world of dreams.

In BECOME THE DREAM, the author explains his technique of combining Gestalt Therapy and hypnosis. This partnership allows for gaining an understanding of the intent and message of the dream, without the need to intellectualize or analyze. Though somewhat technical, Churchill has written the book at a level that an aware layperson can grasp and follow what he has to say.

The intent is to bring about awareness of what the subconscious is trying to communicate to us. We learn the habitual patterns that were locked in at earlier ages, and discover how to observe our awake behavior through the exercises of our dream discoveries. We then have an opportunity to bring about changes in our daily dealings with life.

The case studies are easy to follow and the reader will benefit by identifying with the dreamers' process. Those of you in the practice of dream work as a career will be informed of techniques for combining your current methods with that listed in the book.

Published by Transforming Press available at bookstores Hardcover $29.95, approx. 280 pages

 

RUEFUL DEATH
A China Bayles Mystery
By Susan Witting Albert
This is my first encounter with this author and her series of the China Bayles mysteries. I must say Ms. Albert spins her craft well. She has a cast of characters that are well-developed and real. They are endearing, with all their strengths and flaws. It takes talent to write a series where each book stands on its own merit, and Ms. Albert certainly has talent.

China Bayles is a former big-city attorney who now resides in a small country town in Texas, where she runs an herb shop. Most woman will identify with this multi-leveled, intelligent woman and her yearnings for the simple life. She has recently moved in with her boyfriend and his 12-year old son and is battling with the big C' word - Commitment. In "Rueful Death", we find China leaving for a two-week retreat at a monastery run by nuns. Her hope is that this serene setting will give her the opportunity to relax and reflect, and find the direction she truly wants to take in her life.

From the onset the stage is set for mystery, mayhem and intrigue. Something is going on at the monastery. A series of Œaccidents' indicates something may be afoul. At stake is big money - several million dollars; in the back- ground is the disgruntled family of the benefactor; adding fuel to the lives of the nuns is the political workings of the Catholic Church; and the raising of garlic adds flavor to the story. Ms. Albert weaves a plot that is sure to delight and thrill any mystery lover.

A Berkley Prime Crime Book Published by Berdley Publishing Group available at local bookstores hardcover $21.95 approx. 300 pages

 

SUPER-NUTRITION FOR ANIMALS
Health Advice for Dogs, Cats, Ferrets, Horses and Birds By Nina Anderson, Dr. Howard Peiper, & Alicia McWatters, MS A few issues back I reviewed Anderson & Peiper's book "Over 50 Looking 30!". Well, the timeliness of their book and my birthday caused me to put into practice the information they gave. Suffice it to say, I'm on my way back to 30!

So when SUPER NUTRITION FOR ANIMALS was sent to me, I already knew that these were authors who Œknew of what they speak'. We have an ailing four-legged family member named Lady. Once again I find the timeliness uncanny. I've grown to trust these authors. This book continues in that same well-balanced, no-nonsense vein that I've come to expect.

The book points out that there are approximately eighty million pet owners in the United States. These animal lovers spend twenty seven billion dollars on their pets annually. However, household pets die younger now than ever before. The normal lifespan for the average pet dog or cat has decreased by eighteen percent in the last forty years. The main cause is nutritional deficiency.

Most of us are familiar with the need to pay attention to our own nutritional needs. But many of us assume if we are feeding our pets a quality brand of food, that everything is fine. WRONG. We find out that the same processing that has depleted minerals, nutrients and enzymes from Œpeople' food, is also true for pet food. Makes sense, and I really never thought about it until this book pointed it out.

One thing stressed in the book is don't second guess or try to diagnose your animal or bird's deficiencies. The authors give resources for sending in lab samples to know what you need to do for your pet. And, of course, always work in conjunction with an aware veterinarian.

We are shown possible symptoms that are caused by different deficiencies. We are made aware of the need for nutritional supplements, enzyme replacement, and water and air quality.

There is much useful information given for a variety of domestic and farm animals. The listings in the back of the book will give you a variety of beneficial resources.

Will Lady look and act younger? I have no doubt in my young-looking head!

Published by Safe Goods ordering 800-903-3837 Paperback $12.95 approx. 175 pages


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