BOOK REVIEWS

MORE THAN A MEMORY: THE CANDACE KATE STORY
By Nancy Fileccia

This is a powerful story of a family that deals with a tragic illness of one of their children. It’s not a story with a happy ending, and there are moments that will shake even the strongest person. But if you take the time to ponder its implications, you’ll be treated to a powerful message about love and faith.

The Fileccia family does not consider themselves special, but they embark on an extraordinary journey when they travel to China to adopt Xing Dan Nang (shortly thereafter renamed Candace Kate), an eight-year-old blind girl. They soon discover that the child also has some learning issues, and the time in the orphanage has stunted her emotional growth.

But this highly religious family presses on, and soon Candace blossoms in the warm and loving embrace of a family that truly values her and grows from the experience of dealing with her challenges.

If only the story had ended there. But soon, the family discovers that Candace has a withering brain disease that stunts her growth and her intellectual development. They cope, but the inevitable deterioration, battle with healthcare, and ultimate defeat is a draining tale whose only redemption is a renewal of the belief that God never gives you more than you can handle.

The book is not a standard narrative, but consists of journal entries that span two years. “I don’t include every journal entry,” says the author. “Some are too painful, and some would not make sense. Sometimes I recount funny stories; sometimes I share my anger; and sometimes my entries are just the ugly truth of the moment. The narrative fills in the missing pieces and gives a glimpse of a normal family that did nothing heroic other than love a little girl.”

Writing in the journal became the author’s way of coping, and the story moves along to a powerful moment when the deteriorating Candace asks her mother the ultimate question: “Am I going to die?”

The answer and Candace’s reply are overwhelmingly emotional moments, and they will hit home with any parent that has faced tribulations within their family. While this is not an easy read, those who take the journey with the Fileccias will be amazed at their faith and courage, and draw inspiration from the supportive actions of friends and family that rally around them in their time of need.

The family has a business called “A Journey Through Learning” in which it presents hands-on curriculum products for homeschooling families. It has more than 300 products and continues to grow.

That’s what a reader will ultimately experience when they read “More Than a Memory.” It’s a journey through the valley of the shadow of death, but you will emerge having learned a powerful lesson about faith and family.

 

A Moment of Quiet is Nothing to Fear
By Christine Gardner/Illustrated by Kristin Abbott

Every modern parent knows the drill – there’s school, soccer practice, dance lessons, violin lessons, play dates, boy/girl scouts, homework, and, and, and…until it reaches a point that the activities of your children are one big blur, requiring a full-time scheduler and taxi driver.

Into this chaos comes “A Moment of Quiet is Nothing to Fear,” a book that actually asks a child to stop, slow down, take a breath, and imagine. The benefits of this are a lesson that should be inserted into the daily lives of entire families. The author has mastered the nuances of children’s story-telling, keeping the language simple and appropriate for youngsters. The final twist of its plot is a sure-fire, heart-warming and hug-engendering point that perfectly caps the story. The author has also kept the book at the appropriate length for young children needing a happy ending before dreamland.

A kindly grandfather is the guide for young Coco, a girl whose whirlwind of a life is stopped short after school when grandpa suggests that she stay home, sit down, take a breath and do nothing but let her mind wander. “There’s a Coco inside I want you to know,” says Grandpa. Naturally, Coco resists. She’s a princess trapped in a tower, and there’s so much to do! But as she slows down and begins contemplating her escape from this boredom, Coco soon finds that she’s navigating a delightful imaginary world of her own creation.

The message, of course, is that you don’t have to fill your life with frantic activity and there is a rich world to be found in the spaces in-between. Yes, dear Coco, there is nothing wrong with a balanced life that includes a moment of silence.

Children of all ages will benefit from this received wisdom, and there’s more to the book than the story. Printed on recycled paper using soy-based inks, and with an environmental impact statement on the dedication page, the book serves as a platform for discussion of lifestyle issues, activism, nurturing, the earth’s resources and much, much more. Lavishly illustrated and easy to read for most youngsters, this is a book that deserves to be read and discussed in every home. Not just at bedtime, but at any time when the pace of life threatens to become overwhelming.
 
Erotic Marriage
By Dr. Frederick D. Mondin

Sub-titled “Break free from the negative sexual script and improve the sexual and emotional quality of your relationship,” Dr. Mondin’s book delivers on that promise. A scholarly yet highly accessible work, “Erotic Marriage” does more in 113 pages to illuminate the barriers to healthy sex within marriage than some books do in works three times the size.

Unlike books that are written by laymen with less-than-impressive credentials, Dr. Mondin brings years of academic achievement to bear in his work. He has a Doctorate in Counselor Education from the University of Northern Colorado, and is a clinical member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Dr. Mondin also holds a Masters degree in Divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary and a Masters degree in Psychology from Pepperdine University.

In addition to managing a private practice as a marriage and family therapist for forty years, he has taught Human Sexuality at Boise State University for the last twenty-five years. He continues to teach Human Sexuality at Boise State University, present workshops, and practices as a marriage and family therapist with his partner, Dr. Joan Henderson.

In short, the man knows his sex. And what he emphasizes in this work is exactly what the title promises – rejecting the negativity surrounding sex and evolving society away from the repression, inhibitions and restrictions that have characterized so much of the history on this subject.

Using history, everyday life situations and rigorous analysis, Mondin makes the case for liberation from the fear, guilt and shame that mark so much of this aspect of human interaction. He promises that you will become the lover your lover wants, and in highly-readable fashion, delivers on that. The book should become a mainstay of the mainstream human sexuality genre for years to come.
 

Oh Brother! The Life & Times of Jeff Fazzolari
By Cliff Fazzolari


It’s strange that a story about death has so much to teach us about life. But that’s the lesson of “Oh Brother! The Life & Times of Jeff Fazzolari,” an autobiographical look at the author’s kid brother, who passed away much too young but left behind a poignant legacy of laughter and the celebration of life.

Everyone should have a Jeff Fazzolari in their life. A jokester with a love of cooking, Bruce Springsteen and his family, “Oh Brother” is the story of his childhood and young adulthood. When an unexpected stroke fells him at age 38, leaving him incapacitated in the hospital for six weeks, the author intercuts scenes of that medical struggle with memories of happier times growing up: road trips and jaunts around town, head-shaving, watching Hank Aaron’s 714th home run, and pranks and stunts galore. “How does he get away with this crap?” his brother asks a friend at one point. “Everyone loves him,” the friend says. “How can you not?”

By interspersing those memories with the anguish of the family in the hospital, author Cliff Fazzolari paints a vivid picture of family love and unshakeable bonds. It also contains a message to the audience on the real value of living every day with gusto and gratitude. Although Jeff succumbs to his illness in the end, it does not extinguish all the light that he created in his short life. As Cliff Fazzolari notes at the end of the book, “there is hope alive because of the love that surrounds our family.”

 

Empower Yourself for an Amazing Career
By Blanca De La Rosa
Balboa Press


Finding your way on the career path is often a difficult journey. Author Blanca De La Rosa offers a lantern, drawing on her experiences gleaned from thirty years at a large corporation. The book is filled with personal anecdotes on a business life that wasn’t always smooth, and the author candidly admits her faults and missteps.

Ultimately, this personal touch elevates the book beyond the standard “how to succeed in business” tome. In many ways, “Empower Yourself for an Amazing Career” is about how to live a life of dignity, honor and growth, relying on instincts and your moral compass to guide you through the turbulent world.

De La Rosa was not always a corporate shark. Growing up in a predominantly Spanish-speaking environment, she was admittedly not ready for corporate life at the beginning of her career. But thanks to a diligent work ethic, the ability to adapt and some nurturing work environments early in her career, she managed to pick up the clues necessary to survive in a different culture. To her credit, she maintained her empathy in the transition, and the book is a way to give back and prepare those from similar circumstances who may follow in her footsteps.

Of particular note in the book is the section devoted to failure, a topic well worth examining in this era of corporate upheaval. De La Rosa knows the experience, having transitioned at one point from a “well-known, highly respected professional with a career to an employee whom no one knew with a good paying job. In effect, the ladder had just been pulled out from under me.”

De La Rosa reassessed. She asked herself about her core values and realized that despair was not a useful tool. She empowered herself to look at the situation as part of her informal education. Reinvigorated, she was later vindicated through hard work and a new attitude, emerging as a stronger, more confident person.

“Along your journey, there will be challenges and tough times, but it is imperative that you choose to regard these as opportunities and not roadblocks,” the author cautions. “Embrace the challenges you encounter and view them as learning opportunities.”

That is a lesson the author has lived, and following her path is well worth the effort for any reader seeking to be inspired and successful.

Lulu, the Big Little Chick
By Paulette Bogan


There’s fowl play afoot in this delightful children’s tale, resulting in a perfect bedtime read.

Like many young chickens, Lulu is tired of being told she’s too little to do things. So she decides to run “far, far away” from the hen house. Along the way, she encounters pigs, a horse and a cow, all of them surprised to see the little one.

When finally she gets to the far reaches of the farm, a loud crow scares Lulu – but Mummy Hen is there to save the day, prompting Lulu to exclaim that she’s taking Mummy with her the next time she ventures away.

The author has mastered the nuances of children’s story-telling, keeping the language simple and appropriate for youngsters at bedtime. The final twist is a sure-fire, heart-warming and hug-engendering twist that perfectly caps the story. The author has also kept the book at the appropriate length for young children needing a happy ending before dreamland.