Your reading for August from Susan Keefe

Mind Home

by Joel Ross Whitehead

“We’re all on a journey to improve our mental health for peace of mind and soul” thought –provoking words from the heartfelt introduction to this important book by the author Joel Ross Whitehead.
The main character is Gosling Wakefield, a man struggling with his life, in his own way. We may not relate to his particular mental health problems, each and every one of us takes their own journey through life, and tackles the obstacles and challenges each twist and turn along the way throws up uniquely.
Gosling struggles with voices in his head, and the scenarios they play out before him.  It is in one of these moments that the voice in his head tells him that he must find the room where ‘he’ resides, and then go on to find thalamus. But the question is, how can he do this, and who or what is thalamus?
Struggling with inner voices is something everyone experiences in their life. Whether it’s that inner voice that says, “Go on, one more biscuit won’t hurt your diet,” or the nagging fearful voice which haunt the time between an illness and the doctor’s diagnosis. However most of us then let life take over, kick into another gear, and continue on our life’s journey, but not all of us can do this. Mental health is a frail thing. Depression, anxiety, and fear expand out of control. This is the mental state Gosling is in, and it is propped up by alcohol. However, despite regularly looking, Gosling discovers the answers are not found at the bottom of his whisky glass, or the next, or the next…
The horrors of his inner torment are compounded one day when in his drunken stupor he realises that the irritating inner voice is in fact the younger him.
Things then get worse as his life is played out before him, the night terrors of his youth, the zealousness of the religious teachers at St. Johns where he had been sent for education and rehabilitation, events, people… As his mind tumbles through the memories of his lifetime the reader cannot help but feel a myriad of emotions, torment, loves lost, death, failure, they are all there, and more.
Then when his life has been thoroughly exposed, we discover if he found his thalamus. I’m not going to spoil the story and reveal all here, this book is just too good, you will have to discover the answer for yourself. What I will say to future readers of this inspiring, uplifting, and incredibly poignant story is that at the end of his journey Gosling found peace, a way to come to terms with his illness and face the world anew.
In conclusion: This book was absolutely incredible, I just could not put it down. It journeys into the torment we can put our mind through, and exposes the real suffering mental illness causes, yet gives hope that life CAN be different, but the changes stem from within.

If I Were Human 
by Wes Tyler

As soon as I saw this book it instantly appealed to me, not just because I am a dog lover, but because being a mum and nanny I just knew that it would appeal to our little grandchildren.
Sure enough, on the cover, the two extremely cute main characters; black (Brina) and white (Winnie) instantly caught my three year old granddaughter’s eye.
Anyone who spends time with dogs will instantly be able to relate to the way that Brina watches over her little mistress Genevieve as she is playing a game. You can practically see your dog’s brain computing everything which goes on around him or her, and sure enough it’s not long before Brina’s thoughts turn to what she would do if she were a human. This book is beautifully illustrated and captivated our little one, every page turn brought a different scenario, as we discovered what this little Scottie dog would do with her day.
Of course, it’s not long before Winnie is asked the same question, and being a boy dog his day is totally different. Add into the equation a squirrel with dreams of being a MasterChef, and the nosy dog next door’s visions of grandeur, and you have a story which will captivate every child who reads it, or has is it read to them.
This enchanting book will stand the test of time, and hold a very special place on our bookshelf for years to come. Highly Recommended!

I Believe: I Am a Great Reader and Writer Just Like Jojo, the Talented Horse
by Suzanne Mondoux

The star of this children’s book is Jojo the talented horse. When she meets two other horses, Carlo and Teddy, she invites them to a reading and writing class which is being held at her ranch. Already waiting for the class to begin are four children, Julie, Sam, Paul and Suzie.

When Julie reveals that she has a stutter it prompts Carlo to confide in them that he had a difficulty too when he was younger, but he has overcome it. In doing this he gives Julie and the other children confidence that they can overcome obstacles too.
Jojo is very pleased to hear the story and decides to set the children and horses’ playtime stories to improve their writing and reading. In the first they are asked to explain why they believe they can be great readers and writers, and in the second they are asked to write about the person who has helped them learn something new.
However, this is an interactive book and so the playtimes continues for a further 30 days. The reader is encouraged to write their own short stories each day about any type of animal, and how people can help it. They are encouraged to use their imagination and see where it takes them.
My grandson is staying with us, and so we have decided that we are going to do a short story each day.  Kevin is loving the creativeness of this project, and as a parent and grandparent it is amazing to see how his writing and imagination is growing each day.
Having belief in yourself and your abilities doesn’t always come naturally to everyone. Each person is different, and sometimes there may be physical, or mental challenges to overcome. This wonderful book is excellent for children, but also a tool for parents and teachers showing them how to encourage their charges to be creative and express their dreams and imagination as stories.
I absolutely love this book and its concept. The message is clearly demonstrated to children, practice regularly, use your imagination, believe in yourself and anything is possible. It is also an important lesson to adults that sometimes spending time with your child, giving them the confidence that you believe they can do a task is all it takes to  sow the seeds of success, and these will eventually grow helping your child gain confidence and belief in themselves.
Available from Amazon: 

The Domino Effect 
by Andrew Cotto

The people who shape us, and the influence they have on us is something which we probably only realise when we look back over our lives. There can be no doubt that strong parenting, and the ideals which our family, culture, and the neighbourhood in which we live affect us, either consciously or subconsciously as we grow up.

In this incredible story, which was a finalist in the Readers Favorite Award, the author has written a spellbinding coming-of-age story.

The protagonist, Danny Rorro or Domino as he is known to his childhood friends, is a loveable rogue, a prankster and mischief maker. He lives in Queens, in the neighbourhood his Sicilian mother has grown up in, and he idolises his Italian father who is a musician. His life is good, until the Italian neighbourhood is taken over by the Spanish. Then, Danny quickly discovers that life will never be the same again.
After trouble between the two factions escalates at his school, Danny suffers a savage beating and he ends up in hospital. Distraught, his parents, doing what they think is best, move house and change his school, still Queens but a different neighbourhood. The impact the beating has on him, and the resulting damage to the relationship he has with his father is catastrophic. Resentful, argumentative and extremely happy, Danny is reacting as only children know how, yet it has to stop. After discussion it is decided boarding school is the answer, and Hamden Academy seems just what he needs, especially when he falls in love on the first day with the beautiful Brenda Devine. In his rollercoaster years at this sports obsessed academy, in his own way Danny makes a difference, standing up for what he feels is right, making plenty of blunders, having conflicts with other pupils, and having bumbling attempts at romance along the way.

Throughout this fast paced, exciting story I found myself going through a myriad of emotions. As a mother I felt protective of him and, yet as a parent of a son I saw his parents’ side of things.

In conclusion, this book was a real joy to read, as I watched this young vulnerable boy evolve into the young man he became, overcoming hurdles, achieving more than he could have imagined, and surviving boarding school.

Highly recommended as a wonderful read for all ages.

Kinda Friends II (Super Speed Sam Book 12) 
by Monty J. McClaine

Kinda Friends II (Super Speed Sam)
My family really enjoy the Super Speed Sam series of children’s book and its star the loveable Basset Hound Sam. His family (because all dog owners know that our dogs are sure they own us and not the other way around) are the McClaine family consisting of Jack, Sam’s mischievous human playmate and partner in crime, his little sister Molly, and their mum and dad.

This story opens with mum getting ready for a bargain hunting shopping trip with her new neighbour Patricia Goldman, and Jack and Sam looking forward to spending the afternoon paying with Jack’s friend Gary.
However, mum is soon surprised to discover that Sam will have to stay outside, you see her new neighbour has a very precious cat called Bella, but she’s not just an ordinary cat, she’s a real film star, and is on Molly’s favourite TV programme The Cat Walk Kittens’.
Consequently, having such a precious diva cat Patricia is not sure she wants her upset by Sam , so it is agreed Sam will stay outside whilst the boys play. However when Jack arrives in Gary’s bedroom he is stunned to discover that Gary doesn’t have a computer or games consoles. Gary has instead just put the finishing touches to a space game, played the old fashioned way. It’s not long before the two boys are deeply engrossed in their game, oblivious to the catastrophic events which are happening outside.
You see, it hasn’t taken Bella long to realise there is a dog outside and she decides to trick him, much to Sam’s dismay. However karma is a good thing and soon she finds herself making a chain of bad decisions which leaves the diva distraught.
The next part absolutely captivated my granddaughter as Sam’s inner voice brings back memories of times long ago and an event which happened to him then – or is he just imaging it did? Anyway, Sam decides he must go into superhero mode and after chanting his special chant he magically saves the diva, even if he does make a blunder on the way. He thinks he has got away with it, but then Bella says something to him which makes him wonder…
The Super Speed Sam books have become a firm favourite in our household, each one bringing a different special message subtly woven into their wonderful stories. Highly recommended for children who love superheros, especially the canine variety.

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