Posted by: irenesroth | April 11, 2014

Book Review First Published on Blogcritics

51FRKNkoZCL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_It’s Only Temporary: The Good News and the Bad News of Being Alive
Evan Handler

This book seems to be a sequel to his first book entitled Time on Fire which discusses his journey through leukemia and his chemotherapy treatments. After reading that book, I was always wondering how his life unfolded after that. Well, I didn’t have to wait much longer because the publisher sent me both books to review.


This book is about how Evan Handler puts his life back together after it was ripped by leukemia and chemo treatments. It is not uncommon for girlfriends and other friendships to be changed and this is what happens to Evan. But what is more, there are doors that open for him as well, which was GREAT to read about because of how hard his early adulthood was.


Evan Handler’s acting career just took off and he got a lot of acting roles such as playing leading roles in seven Broadway productions before his thirtieth birthday, including Six Degrees of Separation, I hate Hamlet, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Broadway Bound, and Master Harold….and the boys. He has also appeared in feature films such as Sex in the City 1 & 2, Ransom, and Taps. He was also a guest on Lost, The West Wing, Six Feet Under and Friends. He also had writing assignments for O, Elle, Mirabella, and The New Yorker. Now that is quite a career, if you ask me!


But he also had to endure many other changes as well as meeting and getting married to a wonderful woman. I am SO happy for Evan Handler, and I am happy that his life became so much better and inspiring. What a triumph after such a difficult start to life.


Thank you Evan for writing a book to tell all of us that your life has really mended and you thrived! I really am so proud of you!


Rating: 5 Stars


Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth


Posted by: irenesroth | April 11, 2014

Book Review first Published on Blogcritics

51DQXIMEqjL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Time on Fire: My Comedy of Errors
Evan Handler

I love memoir-type books, and this one is no exception. Evan Handler is a GREAT writer, and he writes his memoir with passion and heart.


This book is about Evan Handler’s difficult and heart-wrenching journey through a life-shattering diagnosis of leukemia and his soul-destroying and hope frustrating chemotherapy treatments and how he felt before, during and afterwards. Evan goes into excruciating detail of how the hospital and the people looked and felt after chemo treatments. It takes a lot of honesty and courage to write about these experiences as openly as Evan does. It was sad but very powerful as well.


And Evan doesn’t just describe his feelings and experiences after the diagnosis but everyone around him who was also affected by the diagnosis, such as his girlfriend and parents. I felt as if I was sitting beside Evan as he was telling me the story. It is so moving and heart-felt.


After reading the book, I could just feel how it would be like to have your whole life change before you in a moment at the wonderful age of 24 years of age. To say that such a diagnosis would be life-altering doesn’t even touch the intensity and confusion of the experience. Yet, he had the courage to persevere and thrive. And he lived to tell his powerful story to others in this wonderful memoir.


This book is for everyone who is struggling with a life-shattering diagnosis, be it for themselves or for one of their close family members. The reader will know what to do in the future if she is ever in this situation him/herself with such a dire diagnosis.


Thank you Evan for such a wonderful book! And may you have good health in the future.


Rating 5 Stars


Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Too Early for Flowers: The Story of a Polio Mother
Kurt Sipolski
Book Review

This is a memoir like no other that I have read in the recent past. It is inspiring, sad and breathtaking in places. It kept me glued to the pages.


Iris is the heroine in this book. It is through her that her son and family that she learns the importance of perseverance hope, and trying to be your best, regardless of what falls your way. I learned so much about polio and how it plagued people in the early part of the 1900’s. We take all of our medical advancements for granted, and we need to really thank our medical practitioners for coming up with cures for these devastating diseases.


This is a story about a boy who contracted polio and who had a mother, Iris, who would not consider him any less than anyone else. She never considered him disabled, and never considered him to be different. What a GREAT message for us all! As a matter of fact Iris had so much admiration for her sons. She was so proud of them and she always showed her pride. She even learned some things from them. Now, what parent would admit to learning something from their children?


Kurt is a great dramatic writer. He has written a memoir that cannot be put down. It is a book that you will want to read over and over again because of its inspiring message and the perseverance and love that all the family members shows to each other. What a wonderful gift to honour your mother! Thank you Kurt for such a wonderful memoir!


I recommend this book to anyone who loves to read memoirs. This is a memoir like no other. I also recommend this book for history lovers and for people who would like to know what the world was like in the early 1900’s.


Rating: 5 Stars


Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth




9781495914881_p0_v1_s260x420The Last Virgin Alive
By Stephanie Crosby


This is a riveting novel that every adolescent girl should read. It is sad but also empowering for girls in that it shows the perils of having low self-esteem in our sexual culture.


Stephanie is very similar to many teenager girls. She has low self-esteem and has bought into a sex-obsessed culture. This makes her feel vulnerable and lonely. No one wants to socialize with her like they do with the other girls. So, she feels estranged from her peers and like an outsider.


Stephanie also struggles with other problems. She lost her mother, has a difficult time getting along with her sister, and her dad is quite cold to her. But when she tells her friend Gigi about her difficulties, she introduces her to a handsome boy named Adam. She never knew anyone quite like him and she falls in love with him. But is he the answer to all of her worries?

The book is written in journal format. Stephanie talks about her fears, frustrations, anger, and bitterness in an exceptionally open and honest manner. What a GREAT example to adolescent girls who struggle. Journal writing could be a way of overcoming depression and loneliness and it is especially a way for self-expression.


I enjoyed reading the book from beginning to end. It is riveting and it will keep adolescent girls reading and pondering the pages of this book. It is for all adolescent girls, especially those who want to go against the societal tides of what is proper and follow their own values.


Rating: 5 Stars


Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted by: irenesroth | April 8, 2014

Book Review “Reaching for the Existence of God”

518Vhzx62UL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Reaching for the Existence of God
Theodor Bardas

Reaching for the Existence of God is an important book for our times because it seems that we are all searching for something—we just don’t know what it is. So, we shop incessantly and yet we are still unhappy. Theodor Bardas believes that we should not look to things in the material world for our happiness but instead we should turn inside to our spirituality.

Our superficial culture of consumerism is also shaped by the media which heightens the necessity for instanteous happiness. However, as Bardas argues that although wealth can buy power, control and social standing but it can never bring happiness, love and peace. We need loftier goals that transcend the material world to achieve true happiness. To do this we need to slow down and examine our true purpose and meaning in life through higher principles of spiritual growth.

According to Bardas, we should change our self-centered, egoistic, and consumerist ways which are the part of our modern society. Instead, love, understanding, compassion, wisdom, and peace of mind should become the cornerstones of our behaviour. But to makes these virtues cornerstones of our behaviour will require that we turn away from the evil of the world and all the materialism and consumerism which seems to focus on achieving happiness from the outside.

Bardas’ book will help the reader to rekindle this need for spiritual nourishment and development. He will awaken our need for God and how we can attain love, peace and happiness by seeking purposeful goals which are sought through God and the spiritual life. Billions of people in the world are seeking God through many different religions and denominations. They are all seeking to live according to a solid foundation and rock. This foundation is available to all of us. All we have to do is to reach for God.

This book will be enjoyed by historians, philosophers, and psychologists who are interested in religion, purpose, and meaning that transcend the material world. The book is theoretical in places but it is worth pondering and reflecting on because of its important message for all of us. We can’t afford not to read this all-important book.

Being a philosopher interested in the psychology of meaning and flourishing, I truly enjoyed reading this book. Thank you Theodor for such a wonderful book!

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted by: irenesroth | April 5, 2014

Book Review for Tyndale

It Had to be You
By Susan May Warren

This is an absolutely GREAT Christian novel about Eden who is trying to grow and find out where God wants here to be. There are moments of grace and absolutely divine thought and movement in the novel. I was transported right into the story.

I usually don’t like stories that are about hockey since it is not my favorite sport. However, Susan May Warren did such a great job embedding this sport into the story and making it wonderful. I even stared watching a bit of hockey in my spare time.

Many of the themes in this novel are very familiar to women, such as doing a lot more than expected and not being appreciated for all that we do. But even the negative and sad overtones in this book have an incredible grace. I just was so moved by the themes and sub-themes.

This book is geared mostly to women although I think that older teenage girls may also enjoy the book. They will certainly learn a lot about Christian values.

I am new to Susan’s works. However, I am now absolutely hooked on her work. I found a new author to read! I will be placing a hold on more books by Susan May Warren in my library. In fact, that is what I plan to do as soon as I post this review to Tyndale and my blog.

Thank you Susan for such a GREAT and moving book with such wonderful Christian overtones!

I received this book from Tyndale Publishers for review purposes.

Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted by: irenesroth | March 1, 2014

The Laika Mission-Book Review

The Laika Mission is a unique story.  It is fictional in nature, but it is based on real-life situations and events which occurred during the space race in the US and Soviet Union. It is a story that is as enchanting and endearing as it is inspiring. I felt glued to the pages of the story, and readers of all ages will really enjoy Mark Phillips’ story.

The Laika21P-jhaMkQL._SL500_AA300_ Mission is about the Soviets strike when they launch a satellite called the Sputnik 1. Not too long afterwards they strike again with Sputnik 2.  But the second satellite is graced by a really special being—a dog named Laika.  Initially, Laika had a journey like many abandoned animals that we find in animal shelters today. She was a stray for a while but then Laika’s journey changes drastically. But Laika never thought that she would end up in space! What a surprise! And Dimitri, the young Russian scientist who selects her from the dog pound and takes steps to get Laika ready for a historic flight into space.

The story brings Laika and Dimitri together at a time when they both need each other the most.  It is still a time of oppression and hardship in the Soviet Union, and somehow having Laika beside him helps tremendously. The love that a pet offers cannot be replaced and should be treasured. However, will Laika make it around the world and return home?

This book will be enjoyed by pet lovers and historians as well as individuals who love to read about space travel. There are also a lot of details about the Soviet Union that will inform the reader.  They sure have had a difficult time throughout their history.

Thank you Mark Phillips for such a wonderful story!

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewed by:  Irene S. Roth

Posted by: irenesroth | February 6, 2014

Book Review about “People Factor”


41NFNIYC0LL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_People Factor: How Building Great Relationships and
Ending Bad Ones Unlocks Your God-Given Purpose
Van Moody

This book is for everyone who wants to know what a good, healthy relationship looks like and how one can achieve one. It is also a book about how to end relationships that are bad for you and your health.

Most people find relationships baffling. There seems no rhyme or reason to why some relationships work and others just plain don’t last. Van Moody, a prominent pastor, shows the reader some of these reasons and details about the intricacies and complexities of relationships. It would almost seem that some relationships are gifts from God, and because of this, God really does have a say as to who is good and bad for us. But it is up to realize if a relationship is good or bad and either continue with the relationship or end it.

There are several critical laws of relationships. Some of these are the law of being real, the law of mutual benefit, the law of agreement, the law of letting go, the law of selectivity, the law of sacrifice, the law of against secrets, the law of true value, loyalty, and constructive transition. When any of these laws are broken or go awry, relationships go through changes and sometimes they don’t work. When relationships go wrong, we sometimes have to make difficult decisions about what to do.

One of the hardest things to do is for us to honestly recognize who is in our life for the long term and who can’t be given the dynamics of the relationship. That section of Moody’s book was quite eye-opening for me. Also, the section on the essentials of great relationships made me stop in my tracks. I think it is time for me to take a healthy inventory of some of my significant relationships, and see if they are really healthy for me. It takes a certain amount of honesty and openness with oneself. But it is much better to perhaps be alone than to be in an unhealthy relationship. I’m sure Moody’s book will have the same result for most readers.

Thank you Pastor Van Moody for such a wonderful and insightful book!

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted by: irenesroth | December 31, 2013

Book Review First Published with Blogcritics

41wlT5QJs8L._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_The App Generation:
How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World
By: Howard Gardner and Katie Davis

It is not difficult to see that our youth are inundated with digital technology. They seem to be plugged in all the time. Professor Howard Gardner and Katie Davis explore some of the drawbacks of the digital age and how we can all take control of our lives.

Our generation is sometimes regarded as the App Generation. It is considered as such because our youth use more apps in their lives than anyone else has in history. And many of our youth have become very app-dependent. One of the purposes of writing this book is to ensure that teens become more app-enabled than app-dependent in future.

Young people growing up in our time are not only immersed in apps; they’ve come to think of the world as an ensemble of apps and to see their lives as a string of ordered apps. Apps that encourage new possibilities are app-enabling. However, when teens allow apps to determine and restrict their procedures, choices, and goals, they become app-dependent.

Digital technologies have transformed a teen’s personal identity, intimate relationships, and how she exercises her creative powers. All of these important aspects of a teens’ life have fundamentally changed how they interact with each other and with themselves.

According to Professor Gardner and Katie Davis, the identities of young individuals are increasingly packaged. The packaging has the consequence of minimizing a focus on an inner life, on personal conflicts and struggles, and on quiet reflection and personal identity. The packaging later discourage these same individuals from taking risks of any sort. This is because teens present a polished self online. This self is not real, but it is manufactured online. This can make teens much more self-focused than teens of previous generations.

Today’s youth also communicate in fundamentally different ways from earlier generations. Internet-enabled cell phones, tablets, and laptops have altered what can be said, where, and to whom. Perhaps the most notable change is the constancy of communication and the immediacy of it. The typical teen sends 60 text messages a day. Among teen girls, the number can jump to as much as 100. Yet teens feel lonelier and more socially isolated. Teens are therefore more and more connected but less and less able to really connect with others face to face.

Apps have also altered the landscape of imaginative expression. They have affected every facet of the creative process. Imagination is a difficult process to define and measure. Digital media may also disrupt the mental processes that are conducive to creative thought in youth.

Thus, it is crucially important for teens to take back their creative and mental powers. They can do this by unplugging from technologies from time to time and only using technologies to pursue new possibilities. Otherwise, teens should monitor their own app-dependence and create a reality that will allow them to have more creative and mental control over their lives and time.

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Rating: 5 Stars

Posted by: irenesroth | December 18, 2013

One of the Saddest and Most Inspiring Books

51VR9DAl63L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Break the Chains: Transforming Shame into Forgiveness
By Jay D. Roberts, MD

This has got to be the most compelling and sad book I read all year. I was moved with pity by the author’s honesty and openness. It is a book that most readers won’t be able to put down once they start reading.

The book details years of abuse in the hands of his father. These accounts are so sad and disturbing. As I was reading the book, they brought me to tears many times. It is hard to believe that a mother could justify such abuses to her son. Alcoholism can be a terrible disease and it can destroy a family, and Dr. Roberts shows this very vividly in his book. And adults who live with alcoholics tend to be in denial about what is happening a lot of the time. But this takes this fact to alarming new heights.

Dr. Roberts had to hit rock bottom before he was able to forgive himself and let go of the shame. It can take a lot of knowledge, time, and patience to come to that place. And some of us can never get to that place because it takes so much courage.

The most inspiring part of the book was that Dr. Roberts went on to become a medical doctor despite all the pain and the hardship he endured so that others could get the help that they needed. I learned a lot about the politics in the Philippines too—something that I wasn’t aware of. To practise medicine in a place like the Philippines is an accomplishment in itself. But to practise with his background is breathingly awesome and inspiring.

What a wonderful book about a journey that few can take with the kind of authenticity and honesty that Dr. Roberts did.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 44 other followers