This Too Shall Pass

This Too Shall Pass by David Yuen

Book Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Continuing to share his altogether discerning, literary journey through life, author David Yuen supplies another artistic tour de force with his work in This Too Shall Pass. A thought-filled work that artfully presents an insightful collection of his poetry, prose, and essays, while inviting the mind, heart, and soul of readers to experience life from his decidedly intelligent and Christian perspective. Purchase Here.

Immediately, author Yuen engages the mindset with his stirring discourse, This Too Shall Pass, an essay that is also the title of the book. This well-known adage presents a penetrating and thoughtful look at the true experience of life’s events, which does well to set the poignant tone for the remainder of the book. Moreover, positing the general theme throughout the book that while change is inevitable whether good or bad there is always a reason for it and nothing that happens in life occurs and remains in a stage of permanent stasis but eventually will pass, as life is always a series of emotion rending fluxes. This essay is just the beginning of many well-written excerpts which show the impermanence of life’s events, while many of author Yuen’s poetic works serve to inspire, with elegant locutions embodying stalwart personal strength, morality, faith, and endurance.

Meanwhile, throughout the remainder of the book, there is a diversity of themes covered including multiple essays containing revelations on the Invasion of Ukraine, War in Ukraine, and the atrocities thereof. As well, author David Yuen also presents with eloquent articulation his personal experiences with COVID. Also, he presents many meditative works which flow like stream-of-consciousness narratives where he covers topics including; Fasting, Atrocity and Death, and Impermanence.

Additionally, the poetic works included are stellar intimations of reflection, as they are thoughtful, provoking, insightful, and fulfilling. While I enjoyed all his poetic entries a few remained with me, well after reading them; I Am Man See Me Stand; which engages the prowess of inner strength, All That Remain; which focuses on surviving adversity through maintaining a strong character, So Much So Little; demonstrates the character strengths and weaknesses of appreciation and disregard, My Fragile Foolish Self; embodies a stark look at negative perspectives. Albeit most of the included works were more of a serious nature, there is also included humor with A Poet Argues with His Coffee over Coffee, (this is my personal favorite).

Altogether, I enjoyed David Yuen’s expressive works in his book, This Too Shall Pass, the whole of his works this collection promotes faith in God’s hand in our lives, and although life can be imperfect, it is actually perfectly imperfect because God is always there teaching us through the perceived imperfections. This is a work of intellectual depth, both well-written and observant, which may bring about a change in perspective for readers toward life and all that it entails. As a whole, this luminous literary culmination penetrates the reading experience with lucidity and aplomb and I do highly recommend it.

The Butterfly Cage

The Butterfly Cage by Rachel Zemach

Book Reviewed by Lily Andrews

The Butterfly Cage” is a brilliant and thoughtful memoir written by Rachel Zemach, a deaf educator, writer, and activist. Here, Author Zemach recounts her remarkable navigation through the intricacies of teaching while Deaf in a California public school. It is a crucial and sometimes disquieting panorama of the patchiness of deaf education in public schools offering necessary advice for educators and families alike.  Purchase Here.

She fuses these experiences with her own heartfelt story of sudden deafness at the age of ten, and her ensuing and rather challenging journey toward a deaf identity and taking up a teaching role. With a striking foreword, the text does not tally in its progress but carefully details what it is like as a deaf teacher to strive for her pupils in a system that does not understand their needs and identities and which may end up damaging their potential and psychological well-being.

Her inspiring role in a deaf public school offers a role model that parents wish for their children in a school setting but whom deaf students rarely get in their classrooms. Zemach further details her struggles with the administration, staff, and aides who try to cripple teachers’ efforts at every turn, a scene all too frequent in mainstream schools.

The Butterfly Cage” is one of those indelible memoirs that you finish reading and feel a little like you have lost an old friend. Readers will learn from the true stories of individual students told in an artful and affecting manner, what the deepest struggles of deaf and hard-of-hearing students are, and why the majority of these students in the country may end up losing their birthright due to a broken system that urgently needs restructuring. Zemach is unflinchingly honest and accomplishes much in this appealing and intelligent tapestry by rallying the society behind her to help these vulnerable group attain their budding capabilities.

That’s what places the book squarely among the best memoirs written out there. Her writing passion has adroitly amplified a thousandfold in the quiet world of the deaf. Her generosity of spirit is bound to encompass every reader who puts their hands on this hard-to-put-down memoir.

Indeed, “The Butterfly Cage” by Rachel Zemach makes a major contribution to our understanding of deafness, the challenges deaf students meet, and a call to legislators and educators alike in creating a conducive environment for them to learn in public schools. It is an oeuvre from a quintessential voice in America.


We Are All Made of Scars

We Are All Made of Scars by Christopher Morris

Book Reviewed by Lily Andrews

Christopher Morris’s new memoir “We Are All Made of Scars” rivets with arresting echoes of his life’s moving and highly volatile episodes while at a tender age in the hands of a dipsomaniac mother.  Purchase Here.

This book offers a gripping prologue that aptly introduces the reader to a roller coaster of childhood memories and events that foretell a teenager’s story in dire need of survival. Chris’ life seemed like a pushover and his dreams were an afterthought after finding himself surrounded by nurses and doctors who couldn’t stop taking tests on him to bail him out of dejection that set him up as a pledged suicidal kid.  A few days earlier, the frustrating lifestyle exhibited by his mother was getting the best of him as efforts to acquire her attention became futile. She was always sunk on her rocking chair while ceaselessly imbibing and smoking her lungs out without a care in the world.

Her long calls meant that Chris would never get a chance to talk to his girlfriend and this was quickly breaking the swelling banks of his emotions. It is a sad affair to see him give a five-minute ultimatum to his mother if she didn’t drop her long call to which he would openly harm himself if ignored further.  An unforeseen twist into Chris’s daily routine would however beautifully have him gasp in amazement as his oblivious mother showed up to pick him up from school wearing a rather different outfit- a super concerned mum, only to prove otherwise when the mother mentioned the word, doctor.

This magnificent memoir carries a unique tone and style which ably captures a reader’s emotions and feelings from the beginning to the end. The author’s experience is one to sympathize with as he narrates the devastating nature of being a supposed psychic patient due to a foolish decision that left him broken and unstable. Readers may however find themselves shedding a tear due to the author’s family’s horrific lifestyle that brims with gloom and despondency but will quickly jump back to their realities and deep reflection on experienced situations that may have occurred through unsound planning, emotional breakdown, and desire to prove a point.

In conclusion, Christopher Morris’s new memoir “We Are All Made of Scars” is a perfect family read whose voice and moral lessons will echo for years to come. Readers are bound to incalculably draw strength and hope from this new magnum opus, which undoubtedly stands out as one of the most real and inspirational stories ever written.


Why Christians Are Wrong About Jesus

Why Christians are wrong about Jesus by John W. Campbell

Trial lawyer John W. Campbell demonstrates why Christians are fundamentally wrong about Jesus, the leader of the movement that developed into modern Christianity. Using the most up to date research and findings, Campbell shows, among other things, why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah, why the true Jesus was replaced by Paul’s Christ of faith, and why Jesus was not resurrected from the dead. Campbell reveals now Jesus came to be severely misunderstood, unwittingly giving birth to a religion he would not have recognized and surely would have opposed.  Purchase Here.

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Invited to Life

Invited to Life: Finding Hope After the Holocaust by B.A. Van Sise, Neil Gaiman, Mayim Bialik, and Sabrina Orah Mark

Book Reviewed by Lily Andrews

Invited to Life: Finding Hope After the Holocaust” by B.A. Van Sise is a deeply moving composition that features the startling experiences of ninety holocaust survivors who lost everything to war including loved ones but rose from the ashes to defy the very prospect of depression and death.  Purchase Here.

The author, a veteran photojournalist, has compiled stories of individuals who survived the jaws of extinction, mental and trauma after finding themselves trapped in unfamiliar circumstances and territories, in the wake of a dreadful catastrophe that saw millions of civilians targeted based on their race, political affiliation, religion, and sexual orientation. As the text progresses, readers will encounter and interact with unique people such as Werner and Weiss, who possessed enduring resilience that saw them remain flexible in action and behavior, in the face of disruptive and highly distressing moments.

It is evident that the majority of the survivors never meted out justice to their tormentors but rather turned to rebuilding new families and careers under the shadow of those absent. New beginnings were not automatic but rather were achieved from deliberate efforts to try not to be warped by the wounds of the past and irreversible scars that had the potential of constantly reminding them that were meant to suffer and die, with no reprieve, no hope, no possible amnesty, and no chance for alleviation stories.

Van Sise’s exposition of holocaust survivors as heroes and heroines who defied devious odds rather than helpless victims places this book in the must-read category of the most real and outstanding holocaust books ever written. The inclusion of stories such as Lyubov’s who in spite of being a woman participated in the eventual liberation and freedom journey will have readers inspired to stand against enemies of peace and unity, and bravely call out the slightest form of discrimination which if ignored can have long lasting consequences over millions of individuals.

Invited to Life: Finding Hope After the Holocaust” by B.A. Van Sise is overall an invaluable read that will have its readers enlightened besides being challenged to reject hatred, anti-Semitism, injustice, and prejudice that still threaten the world today. Van Sise’s work stands out from all angles and will have the world reminded that every human being, regardless of religion or race should be respected and honored.




Midpoint: A Memoir by Patricia Angeles

Book Reviewed by Daniel Ryan Johnson

In Midpoint: A Memoir, author Patricia Angeles reveals many of the important moments in her life that helped shape the person she has become. The stories contained in this memoir help paint the picture of a woman growing up in the modern world. One of the reminders found throughout the book is how small the world has become and that there are more ways in which people are alike than different.  Purchase Here.

Despite growing up in Manila, the majority of the tales from Patricia’s childhood could just as easily have been set somewhere in the United States. The stories contained within Midpoint: A Memoir mostly focus on growing up and finding your place in the world. The author makes it clear that while the book is meant to be an enjoyable read for anyone who picks it up, the audience at the forefront of her mind is her daughters. The stories aim to show that anything is possible while also demonstrating that things are not always easy and that everyone makes mistakes.

The snippets of Patricia’s life vary in tone. However, she carries a level of humor throughout the book. Refreshingly, she does not shy away from admitting to not being perfect, which is not always the case with autobiographies. Rather than ignore her mistakes, she highlights them and takes us through where she went wrong with the invaluable tool of hindsight. Throughout Midpoint: A Memoir, Patricia carries a feeling of good cheer. Whether writing about a funny story from her youth, or a trying time that left her shaken, it is clear that she realizes it all led her to the life she has now, which she wouldn’t trade for anything.

While almost anyone can find relatable material in many stories throughout this memoir, there are still moments when the unique challenges faced by an immigrant and a minority remind us that this small world we live in can be experienced very differently depending on your background. Midpoint: A Memoir is an easy read full of the short stories that make up a life. Patricia Angeles has a thoughtful and elegant way of writing that enables the reader to immerse themselves in her life, one tale at a time.



Keep Quiet Black Boy

Keep Quiet Black Boy: A Leadership Guide to Mentoring Millennials by Rev. Dr. Jerome Frierson

Book Reviewed by Lily Andrews

Keep quiet, Black Boy” is a nuanced leadership guide to mentoring millennials and a transparent empirical Christian guide whose thought and concept have been drawn from a line of real experience and multifaceted surveys and interviews, which culminate in the author’s passion to break a hideous cycle that has limited many young African American men for decades.  Purchase Here.

Coming from a black community where humiliation, discrimination, oppression, poor economic status, racism, and agony stood paramount, the author carefully carves this book in skill and ardor into an eye opener, whose sole purpose is to enlighten and deliver infinite wisdom and liberating truths to similarly disadvantaged African American young men, who he strongly feels have a greater need for social support than others.

As an experienced preacher, the author bases his research on Christian values and biblical foundation making this a transformative handy guide for the Christian community. The bustling findings derived from well-thought questionnaires and surveys not only draw the reader’s attention to detail but interpretation as well.

Keep Quiet, Black Boy” is a vast read that has employed candid talk and dialogue, a writing style that makes this read natural and original all through. End notes, biblical testimonials, and a vast list of references qualify this book as authentic and also make readers appreciate the deep and exhaustive research undertaken by the author. The author’s objective to have mentorship as the basis for this sumptuous study not only showcases it as an integral tool for transformation, growth, and development but also as a rewarding and fulfilling tool whose benefits are abounding.

Rev. Jerome Frierson intelligently manages to issue an essential clarion call to the church, school, and community leaders to stand up for African American young men, by creating mentorship and awareness sessions in a world that deeply advocates for sponsorship rather than mentorship. His boundless effort to see a generation thriving and flourishing stands appreciated and valued.

Keep Quiet Black Boy: A Leadership Guide to Mentoring Millennials” by Rev. Jerome Frierson is, without doubt, a much-necessary read in modern times and an incentive to adduce further discussion on the subject of a complex subject little voiced.


Embracing God in the Right Perspective with the Right Foundation of Faith in Him

Embracing God in the Right Perspective with the Right Foundation of Faith in Him by Chris Tham

Book Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Author Chris Tham guides and inspires, with his work in Embracing God in the Right Perspective with the Right Foundation of Faith in Him. Within the text of this work combining spiritual and intellectual wisdom, spiritual stimulation abounds as he imparts his heartfelt template for study and contemplation which leads to uncovering your true spiritual self-buried within. Purchase Here.

Moreover, he delves into our relationship with God, and his desire for us to be like him in thought and deed in addition to maintaining faith and understanding that we are all children of God, no matter your walk of life, and worthy of an abundant life and afterlife, which culminates into a solid spiritual foundation for surviving life. Additionally, the proceeds from the sale of the book go to charitable organizations which helps to further the nurturing intent towards his fellow men of author Tham’s work.

Immediately engaging, this comprehensive and scholarly tome waxes on transcendent truths, throughout, dutifully demonstrating the expansiveness of God’s love proven through biblical text. Also, within this work, author Tham offers the spiritually inclined a significantly insightful, inclusionary, and lucid approach to the spiritual realm as well as attending to the scriptural mindset.

Altogether, this work is fueled by deep dives into biblical interpretation using a variety of resources, not just the bible, including works like the Quran, wisdom from other well-known figures like Lao Tzu, as well references to other spiritually based works. He also includes juxtaposing, well-known biblical figures and their stories of connection, faith, and wisdom, including Abraham and Isaac, King David and King Solomon, Elijah and Elisha, Moses and Joshua.

Moreover, Chris Tham furthers his studious journey into fomenting a faith-filled relationship with God, with earnest exploration of existential topics delved into from his thoroughly researched perspective. He dives deeply into the heart of each pertinent subject necessary for soul growth and healing.  His work garners the spiritual curiosity, by providing answers to questions and issues necessary for building the foundation for true spiritual growth.  He includes topics such as Who is God? and Who are you? Who is the Devil? Knowledge vs Truth, The Three dimensions of Man, Who are the evil spirits?, Trinity of God and much more.

What truly stands out in this work is the author’s tangibly authentic intention to lead others to their true selves through his thorough exploration of each topic. Albeit while this is a large book filled with many great perspective-altering points, I found Chapter 4; The Three Dimensions of Man to be an outstanding exploration of the aspects of the multifaceted human, viewed as essentially composed of spirit, soul, and flesh. His work within this book emphasizes on the spirit aspect because, with attending to the spirit first brings enlightenment; while on the other hand attending to the flesh first, keeps one mired in struggle and fighting with darkness.

Overall, Embracing God in the Right Perspective with the Right Foundation of Faith in Him by Chris Tham made for a heartfelt read that I enjoyed. And while persistence is required for this read, because this is a large book that is expansive in its scope, it is well worth the effort because this is a spirit-based study guide that allows for the accessing of the deepest of spiritual levels.  In fact, this is somewhat of a survival guide for the spirit affecting the mindset and speaking to the soul.  With each well-written chapter, came a wealth of insight, which is sure to give hope and inspiration to all its readers and I do recommend this work for spiritual readers from all walks of life.

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Against the Current

Against the Current in the Silent Service by R.W. Herman

Book Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Against the Current in the Silent Service is a gripping memoir by R.W. Herman about navigating the uncharted waters of life. Through the pages of the book, the author takes a deep dive into his personal life while in the service of the Navy and his winding road of self-discovery.  Purchase Here.

While this memoir was written as a continuation of the author’s debut book, The Unopened Letter, it is well-rounded enough to stand as an independent read. This first book details the author’s experiences in the Navy during the Vietnam War Era, offering a peek behind the curtain of history from a uniquely personal perspective. Readers already familiar with the author’s life will finally know the answer to what happened next and why the author is called Commander. Those freshly introduced to R.W. Herman’s writing will discover an alluring and thrilling personal universe.

After building a reputation as an exceptional sailor (with an intriguing rebellious streak) R.W. Herman aims to become a commissioned officer. However, career advancement lies at the end of a winding road sprinkled with obstacles. To succeed, Herman must navigate the troubled waters of the system, inner struggles, and family life. At one point – which turns out to be a stepping stone for his dream future – the author is thrown into the foreign universe of submarine service.

Herman’s life story of trials and tribulations is an inspiring illustration of how hidden currents may guide our lives to the shores that we recognize as home. Also, his drive and ingenuity in thriving in adverse conditions keep the reader glued to the pages of his life. What is more, Herman skillfully decodes hostile conditions and uses the data and his knowledge as a world-building kit.

Readers might expect the setting for Against the Current in the Silent Service to be within rigid Navy and Marines confines. However, that is not the case. The story expands from within these systems touching on some of the great literary themes of love, loss, self-discovery, and freedom. The author interprets freedom as self-acceptance and allowing oneself the liberty to pursue the realization of a future self and a future us.

What is truly impressive about the read is the multiple levels of complexity that embrace the core story. The systematic exploration of social dynamics stands out as particularly relevant. Herman captures the fragile and subtle couple dynamics as two individuals jointly venture into a shared future. However, he also peers into the cracks of a seemingly rigid and stern system to uncover shifting and often unpredictable dynamics driven by a complex mixture of self-interest, duty, preservation, and sacrifice.

Against the Current in the Silent Service is an effortless read that can easily entrap readers into its flawless web of writing. While Herman displays an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the Navy and communication systems, his life story is not weighed down by technicalities. All that remains is to witness a most captivating life unfold in the pages of this book.

Singing the Land

Singing the Land: A Rural Chronology by Chila Woychik

Reviewed by Teri Takle

Many people write about the events in their daily life and the thoughts that make it memorable. Daily record keeping is unnecessary, but every few days is needed to view what we have enjoyed in our little snippets in the back of our minds. Purchase Here.

Depending upon where you live, life is different. If you live in a large city, it is busy, crowded, noisy, and many residents thrive upon that lifestyle.

For some of us, we live in Iowa, one of those fly-over states. We thrive in the quiet life of the country, or a small town, or even a large city.

For the author, Chila Woychik, she adores her life on her farm with her husband in the beauty and joy of nature in Iowa.

January 21

“First snows, like first loves, leave one panting for breath.”

January 31

“Iowa is nothing in winter, but endless roads slick with lonesome.”

How can these two entries be written just ten days apart? The answer is Iowa. The first draws the reader inside the beauty, silence, and complete awe of the first snow. The second reflects the days of hard work, shoveling, and the constant slipping and falling on the ice.

Another author, Stephanie E. Dickinson, is also an Iowa native. In her foreword to Chila Woychik’s chronology, she reveals her love of the people and the way of life in Iowa. She also beautifully reflects about her childhood memories in Iowa.

Many visitors to Iowa frequently have no clue what to expect when they arrive in our state. (Yes, a visiting professor from the east coast appeared before a class wearing a pistol around his waist and cowboy boots that were new and hurt his feet. My class, including myself, were not impressed. How can an educated man be so unaware of this part of his country?)

People who have always lived in large cities sometimes have difficulty understanding the peace and contentment of living in a rural community. Iowa is a land where hard, physical labor brings a joy with living daily with the wonders of nature.

Singing the Land is unique. This non-fiction gem explains how Iowa compares to other places like Alaska in the winter.

Singing the Land is Chila Woychik’s monthly journal of the family farm’s events for one year. Yes, it is likely to change from year to year, depending on weather and challenges. She seems to capture the hearts of those who choose Iowa as their home. However, Chila has a gift of optimism and hope with every word she writes to create this beautiful book, complete with many of her pictures. Between joys and sorrows, births and deaths, unpredictable weather, reflections upon life, time, religion, hard work, and a sense of accomplishment are all part of this book’s gemstone.