June 30, 2010

Hilarious and Outrageous Woman PI – Izzy Spellman

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:39 pm by lbrosch

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

I just got hooked on a new mystery series. Here is a young woman, Izzy Spellman who grows up in a family of private investigators. Not your ordinary family by a long shot. If you think she isn’t outrageous enough, wait until you meet her younger sister Rae. Rae is a brilliant and talented young sleuth and a little too much for the rest of her family to handle.  They would appear to be a family of misfits but underneath it all they are decidedly more typical than first appearances warrant. This book, the first in a series of Spellman mysteries, had me laughing aloud many times over. I haven’t been this entertained by a book in quite some time. I highly recommend checking out this series for a relaxing and entertaining read. There are some lessons about family relationships under the humor as well.

Read more at http://lisalutz.com

April 12, 2010

Gutsy Women of the 21st Century: Women Who Are Making a Difference

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:46 am by lbrosch

Let me introduce some very brave and influential women of the 21st century.

Somaly Mam tells her story in The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine (2009). In this shocking memoir Somaly tells of her own experiences as a sex slave. After her escape she returns to try and save many of the girls who were left behind. The story tells of her efforts to lead them into a new life.
Sisters in War (2009) by Christina Asquith tells the story of the lives of four women shortly after the fall of Saddam.Two are sisters in Iraq whose lives are changed by the involvement of the Americans in the invasion and also two American women involved in helping to further women’s rights in Iraq. All of this is told by the reporter Asquith who spent two years in Baghdad during this chaotic time.

In an earlier post I spoke of Malalai Joya. You can read more of  Malalai’s heroes in this book, Meena, Heroine of Afghanistan: The Martyr Who Founded RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (2003) by Melody Ermachild Chavis and another title becoming popular is Behind the Burqa: Our Life in Afghanistan and How We Escaped to Freedom (2002) by Sulima and Hala. This is the story of two sisters who give first-hand accounts of what life is like for women in Afghanistan but their stories are 20 years apart.

A Thousand Sisters: My Journey (2010) is by Lisa Shannon who left Oregon to establish the Run for Congo Women. This was the start of efforts to raise money for women in the Democratic Republic of Congo who have suffered abuse and death from civil war. Her book chronicles the struggle of these determined women through the history of this long war as well as giving inspiration to all in showing how just one person can make a difference in providing aid.
Warrior Princess: Fighting for Life with Courage and Hope (2010) is a story told by Princess Kasune Zulu with Belinda Collins. Princess tells about her life growing up in Zambia. She is married young and then finds herself infected with AIDS. She sets out with determination to overcome the HIV/AIDS infection and today is a well known advocate, educator and activist speaking about the crisis and its effect on women and children. Her book is of special importance in educating everyone about the AIDS virus and to give strength and a positive outlook to those facing the disease.
Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival (2009) by Halima Bashir
Bashir, now a physician and refugee living in London, begins the story telling us about her happy childhood and the support from her family that leads to her becoming a doctor. She later becomes a victim of the violence in the Darfur region of Sudan where she is brutally gang-raped by soldiers and sees her village destroyed.  Having escaped to Britain she is now using her strength to speak out for the victims in Darfur in hopes of bringing the world’s attention to the terrible tragedies in this region.
I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced (2010) by Nujood Ali
Nujood Ali from Yemen tells her amazing story of child marriage. Her family was typical of many who are so poor that their daughters must be sold. She finds herself married to a brutal man at the age of 10 who rapes her until she manages to run away. She tells her courageous story to help expose the kind of cultural abuse that has long been kept secret in this part of the world. It is hoped that attention to her story will help to save many other young girls in similar situations.
Silent Tears: A Journey Of Hope In A Chinese Orphanage (2010). Kay Bratt went with her husband to China in 2003 as part of a work assignment relocation. She began volunteering at the local orphanage which turned into a crusade to help better the lives of these desperate children which she chronicles in her memoir.  She was honored in China with the 2006 Pride of the City award for her humanitarian work. She is the founder of the Mifan Mommy Club, an online organization which provides rice for children in China’s orphanages, and is also an active volunteer for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for abused and neglected children. She now lives in Georgia.
These are books to be read and discussed by all and especially by women who are seeking ways of helping other women who suffer throughout the world. Learn how to make a difference!!

April 6, 2010

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:10 am by lbrosch

Just finished reading Moloka’i by Alan Brennert and I can’t get it out of my mind. I have never been very knowledgeable about the disease of leprosy or more recently known as Hansen’s disease. Other than reading about lepers in the Bible I was only vaguely aware that the disease had been known in modern times as well. Since 1980 a part of Hawai’i known as Kalaupapa has been a historical park but this book tells much of its long history as a location for leper exiles. The story centers around the life of fictional Rachel Kalama who is diagnosed with the disease at the age of 7. She is taken from her family and learns to survive through the love and kindness of other lepers and the sisters of the Bishop Home on Kalaupapa. The story describes not only the discrimination against the lepers themselves but their entire family faced isolation so great that jobs were lost resulting in many families becoming destitute.  Often they were forced to move away to a place where no one new they had a leprous family member. Many characters in the book are real people who were a part of the colony’s history. This is a heart wrenching story which will put you on an emotional roller coaster. Many times when you think Rachel is about to overcome the odds, you find that she is thrown down into the depths again and your emotions are stretched to the limit. It is an important story to be told to the world about the history of the treatment of leprosy and the needless suffering of so many who had to endure the loss of family and eventually their lives due to the ignorance of how the disease was spread and the lack of treatment. After taking us through many tragedies in the lives of the citizens of Kalaupapa the book does end on a hopeful note. I highly recommend this book to everyone!!

For more information on leprosy today go to the World Health Organization site.

March 31, 2010

The Truth About Afghanistan!!??

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:22 pm by lbrosch

I just finished a book entitled A Woman Among Warlords (2009) by Malalai Joya. This was an astonishing revelation to read! Malalai Joya (which she says in the book is not her real name) is an amazing woman who tells us the story of her life so far. At the age of 31 she has been a teacher, social worker, elected member of the Afghan Parliament, star of the documentary Enemies of Happiness and worldwide speaker for women’s rights. She describes the difficulties of growing up female in Afghanistan and her family’s struggle to provide for their children both economically and educationally. With a good education and being well read she discovers the truth about the governmental situation in her country at a very young age and sets out to help her people. She becomes politically involved and is elected to a government post where she is dismayed when she finds that the U.S. has supported the warlords who have long terrorized her people and they are now the ones sitting in the Parliament and passing laws to give themselves amnesty and further prevent the progress of education and justice for violations of women’s rights. When she attempts to speak out to the Parliament she is silenced, threatened and finally framed and suspended from her government office. She is still hiding from the officials who would wish to assassinate her. The information she provides on the true status of women and the poor in Afghanistan is appalling. Here I include a quote from her book that is part of her speech when accepting the International Human Rights Film Award in Berlin in 2008:

Although the authorities in my country tried every possible way to prevent me from being with you here today, I am here and accept this award on behalf of oppressed Afghan women who do not have the opportunity to speak for themselves. But they are brave and fight for their rights. You gave this award to a daughter of  a land that was bombed by the U.S. and its allies for seven years in the name of democracy, peace, and human rights. But today we are as far from these values and these vital human needs as we were in 2001.

I dedicate this award to my betrayed people who do not have liberation at all…. I want to announce to all human rights defenders that the U.S.-occupied Afghanistan is still a burning hell and a brutal joke made against democracy and human rights. Unfortunately today the worst enemies of these values are the current policymakers of my country.

Near the end of the book she devotes a chapter to telling the world what should be done about the present situation. In brief, the ideas she covers are: end the war, send real humanitarian aid, put an end to the rule of the warlords, and withdraw all foreign troops. She further adds that one of the most important things each person can do is to stay informed about the reality of Afghanistan today. She suggests a website: RAWA news. She says to get involved with groups that are working honestly to support women and men in Afghanistan and monitor, criticize and work to improve your own government’s foreign policy.

Read more about Malalai and her work at these websites:

March 18, 2010

Over 50? Need Some Guidance?

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:12 am by lbrosch

Over the past 6 months I have been reading books by Joan Anderson. You can learn more about her books and retreats at http://www.joanandersononline.com. In her first book A Year By the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman (2000) she describes her feelings as she has just discovered that she is facing life on her own, So with her mothering years having finished and her husband busy with his career she decides to spend some time on Cape Cod by herself to think about where to go next with her life. She happens to meet Joan Erikson, wife of Erik Erikson, the famous psychotherapist who is noted for designing the Eight Stages of Life. After spending several months with Joan as her mentor she comes to discover how to set a course for a purposeful, energetic life. This book was full of helpful advice for me and I truly identified with many of the feelings she was going through as I have just retired from a full time career and am looking for ways to find purpose in my own life. After reading this book I was immediately drawn to find more of her work and a few months ago read her newest book The Second Journey: The Road Back to Yourself (2008). This book again affirmed many of the thoughts I was having about how to best make use of my time. Though not as specific in goal setting as the first book, it was a good chance to see how Joan is not always the best teacher and falls victim to some of the pressures many of us face as we try to reset our lives to new goals. In this book she finds herself dealing with an aging and frail mother who is becoming more helpless and demanding of her time. Again, we all can gain insight into how to face our midlife crises through Joan’s guidance. She talks about women’s phases. These phases cause us to change emotionally, spiritually and physically about every 7 years. 1-7 we are filled with wonder; 7-14 is the hormonal stage (no explanation needed); 14-21 sexual stage; 21-28 desire to procreate; and then the resulting stage of mothering and losing ourselves to the needs of others. By 35-40 we are looking beyond the stage of selflessness to what may lay beyond and then by 42-49 we see approaching menopause. 49-56 is a desire to live without rules and find out who we are and who we want to be. She says this is when we truly become who we are, what she calls the ‘watchwoman’. She says that Joan Erikson gave her the idea that ” a full life is about self-cultivation. We owe it to ourselves to create something out of nothing.” She talks about evolving inwardly, the situation of facing downsizing and a dilemma of being in two states, the human condition of wanting to be alone and wanting to be in a relationship. I can really relate to that one and it was so affirming to see it talked about in her book. There are so many more nuggets of wisdom for women within her books. A Weekend to Change Your Life (2007) describes the agenda used during her weekend retreats with many of the exercises. This book can be used to design your own weekend retreat with a women’s group or group of friends. Her other books include A Walk on the Beach (2005) and An Unfinished Marriage (2003).

Another book which caught my eye recently, especially after remembering a theme of “share what you know” from Joan’s book; is What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self (2006), edited by Ellyn Spragins. This book contains letters from a wide variety of successful, confident women ranging from Madeline Albright, Maya Angelou and Ann Curry to Noor Al Hussein, Kitty Kelley and Nora Robert. Women of all ages and walks of life share their advice on how to face life.

If you are approaching 60 then you might like Carolyn G. Heilbrun’s The Last Gift of Time: Life Beyond Sixty (1998). This was a New York Times Notable Book and has gotten great reviews. With a wise and compassionate voice Carolyn will help you ease into this next phase of life. She is still writing books to help women gain a clearer perspective on their roles with her more recent bestseller, Writing a Woman’s Life (2008).

Before I end this post I must tell you about a new book that was recommended to me a couple of days ago and definitely intrigues me. Listening Below the Noise by Anne D. LeClaire (2010) is the story of this novelist’s decision to start a practice of spending 24 hours not speaking for twice a month. She explains how this period of silence brings her to a greater self-understanding, deeper observation of nature and a spiritual contentment. I think this will be yet another way of dealing with our encroaching stresses as we age.

March 8, 2010

Apologies

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by lbrosch

Well, I will give you a list of excuses as to why I have not been posting but none of them are worth much I am sure. I have been working on writing a review column for another blog. I was away for a brief while. I have become busy with a new group of friends and activities and I have been reading books for book groups but the titles have not been fitting to the theme of this blog. So, I have decided to push ahead with some posts on what I will be reading and what I recommend from my reading of reviews from around the web. Then I will get busy reading these books and blogging here!!!

February 10, 2010

Day After Night by Anita Diamant

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:45 am by lbrosch

Day After Night is a work of historical fiction based on the rescue of more than 200 prisoners from the Atlit internment camp in Israel.  The story centers around 4 young girls in their late teens who have come from a variety of backgrounds in surviving the holocaust of World War II. They are being kept in a prison near Haifa which is run by the British military. Some seem to have family members who come for them but these four girls are totally alone in the world due to their families having been killed in death camps, etc.  These girls become devoted friends over the weeks in the camp and eventually begin to reveal some of their darkest memories. I found the story somewhat difficult to follow as it quickly moved from one girl to the next and with four major characters and each with their own involvement with other minor characters it was sometimes difficult to determine which girl was being presented. However, once you get a feel for the structure of the story it does prove to be very gripping as the climax nears.  The message is one of hope for the girls and so many other prisoners who have suffered such trauma in their lives. The story provides a glimpse into the lives of these people whose stories seem to provide a fresh look at the aftermath of the Jewish survivors of the war. It is certainly a piece of history that should be told and gives us more insight into Jewish women survivors of war.

For more info:

Atlit: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/geo/atlit.html

Atlit camp: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Immigration/atlit.html

January 26, 2010

Meet Mary Russell – Woman Detective

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:35 am by lbrosch

I just recently discovered a great mystery series featuring a strong minded, intelligent young woman named Mary Russell. She becomes an apprentice to the famous Sherlock Holmes during World War I in England. They soon begin to solve new cases and end up in serious trouble, of course, having to solve a mystery that involves saving their own lives. You can’t help but fall in love with the character of Russell who is struggling with a difficult past, trying to find her place in life as a developing teenager with a brilliant mind. She is far from your average teenager. The background of England during the World War I time period seems very historically accurate and adds to the tension of the story.  The Beekeeper’s Apprentice is the first book of the series which is followed by many more adventures of Mary and Sherlock. The following quote is an example of the eloquent writing style of Laurie R. King: “This was, however, 1915, and if  the better classes clasped to themselves a semblance of the old order, it did little more than obscure the chaos beneath their feet. During the war the very fabric of English society was picked apart and rewoven. Necessity dictated that women work outside the home, be it their own or that of their employers’, and so women put on men’s boots and took control of trams and breweries, factories and fields. Upper-class women signed on for long stretches nursing in the mud and gore of France or, for a lark put on smocks and gaiters and became Land Girls during the harvest. “

January 20, 2010

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:37 pm by lbrosch

Lisa Genova who has a Ph.D in neuroscience has written a fictional account of what it is like for a Harvard woman professor to find out that she has early onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 50. This woman main character is an accomplished cognitive psychology professor with a long respected career in teaching, research, publishing and presentation at conferences worldwide. She suddenly finds herself lost in her neighborhood one day while out jogging. The story deals with her own feelings at facing the diagnosis as well as the reaction of her husband and three grown children. All the varying facets of human emotion are displayed as each character deals with the diagnosis differently. Lisa Genova did a great deal of research through interviews with Alzheimer’s patients at varying degrees of their illness as well as the latest developments on drugs and treatment plans for the disease. Although this story is heartwrenching it is an important book for people to read especially if they are dealing with this disease with a loved one or think they may have to in the future. I found it difficult to read because I have lost both my father and uncle to the disease in the last 5 years. I myself have a good chance of developing the disease. I did find the book to offer hope in that more recent developments in treatment of the disease may delay the loss of memory to the extent that was revealed in the story. More importantly, for those who may be starting down the road of dealing with a loved one’s memory loss it helps you to understand what is happening to the person who is going through the disease and feel empathy with their confused state of mind and understand some of their feelings and responses.

For more information on Alzheimer’s disease check out their website at http://www.alz.org/index.asp.

Wollstonecraft’s Daughters will be discussing this book at their next book discussion for Sunday, February 21 at 10 AM. This discussion will take place at  OuterWorld Landscapes,
http://slurl.com/secondlife/Subbarao/135/202/43

January 14, 2010

Human Trafficking Exhibit at Alliance Virtual Library in Second Life

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:57 am by lbrosch

I recently attended this exhibit which is a multi-media exhibit that allows visitors to learn about the dark underworld where people are bought and sold, living lives as abused and dehumanized slaves.  The United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking reports that this criminal activity is second only to drug trafficking.  No region of the world, no race, no gender, no age group is beyond the reach of traffickers.  This exhibit serves to provide information about human trafficking, but also places the visitor inside this world to experience a small sampling of the hardships faced by victims.

If you are a member of Second Life you may access the exhibit at the following slurl:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Info%20Island/138/105/34

The exhibit contains various resources. The experience is divided into three distinct areas that you can visit.  You need to take a sound badge and wear it before you teleport to these areas. The sound badge can be found on a poster at the landing area.

=============Human Trafficking Exhibit===================

Global Government Agencies Combating Trafficking
—Anti-trafficking government agencies around the world.

Global Non-Profit Agencies Combating Trafficking
—Anti-trafficking non-profits around the world.  Learn how you can volunteer and what you can do to help.

Human Trafficking Global Information
—Reports from countries and regions around the world.

What is Human Trafficking?
—Basic definitions and information

Statistics, Publications and Reports on Human Trafficking
—In depth information.  (Some links are to PDF files which will need Adobe reader.)

Report Instances of Human Trafficking
—How to report suspected human trafficking activity.

Human Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation
—Personal stories and news reports from around the world.

Human Trafficking for Forced Labor
—Personal stories and news reports from around the world.

Human Trafficking for Adoption/Marriage
—Personal stories and news reports from around the world.

Each exhibit sign provides Internet links to information and groups combating human trafficking.  I have linked to many of the provided links and other information on the right side of the blog page.

This information provided adds to the recent discussion on Half the Sky by Kristof and WuDunn.

I would like to thank the following people from Alliance Virtual Library who were responsible for the exhibit and the information shared here.

=================Credits===========================

Alliance Library System and Lorelei Junot (SL name) owners of Info Island.

Rolig Loon (SL name) co-producer, audio scripting
Abbey Zenith (SL name) co-producer

Background photo for exhibit used with permission from the photographer, William Warby (RL name).

Bucky Barkley (SL name) scripting contributor
Cindy Elkhart (SL name) art contributor
Silhshoot Seelow audio contributor
Silhsoot’s Class
Thoth Jantzen (SL name) video contributor
Waldron Rhino (SL name) audio contributor
Rocky Vallejo (SL name) consultant

http://www.freesound.org audio contributor

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