Spectrum ISBN: 9780998964805, published, copyright and written by Shelia M. Sullivan.

The story opens with Frances Olar Kavenaugh, one of the children of a large devout Irish Catholic family living in Missouri, who is completely grounded in the edicts of the church. Her first career love was art but was severely frowned upon and cancelled by her parents. She obtained a PhD in economics and began a career in consulting. Successful but unhappy with the choice and in spite of gaining a very lucrative career, she decided to become an artist, abandoned her lucrative career, and moved to San Francisco and rented a studio. She married a man who began to control her life, a partner selection probably influenced to a greater or lesser extent by her mother’s controlling tendency and the strength of the religious influence. Now finally divorced she has moved into a loft converted it to a studio, and rejoins friends she deserted during the two-year period of marriage. The friends in her “Buena Vista Irish Coffee Club are a motley group consisting of husband and wife Russell and Simon, Cheryl and Winter who was supposed to help her reenter the dating game. The group discuss the various prospects, although Winter’s help is somewhat curtailed with her involvement with Jason. The discussion leads to further thought on Francis’ part, Nathan, a highly successful art dealer accepts her work and the story continues following her journey to ‘find the true Francis and a satisfying way of life and love.’ Along the way she finds a number of interesting characters of both sexes, experiences ecstatic love and disappointment, discovers unrealized facts about members of her family and is threatened by a matter that she had completely overlooked.

Discussion: This is the first book in the F.O.K. (Francis Olar Kavanaugh) series. It follows the life of this young woman from a seemingly somewhat dysfunctional family as she, accompanied by zany friends, moves through life in a rather confused manner discovering alternative romantic attachments and unsuspected danger along the way. It is well written, providing often amusing incidents and interesting characters. At times it is a little slow moving and contains many ‘side issues’ that, although not seemingly pertinent to the plot, do contribute to the entire tale.

4* A well done tale of a young woman’s alternative life style investigation.

On the Lighter Side of Forever

On the Lighter Side of Forever ISBN: 9781523366682, an e-book by Everett Lavell.

The book is interestingly and amusingly “dedicated to the most magnificent and entertaining person I have ever gotten the pleasure to know. This person, through all life’s trials and tribulations and all its rises and falls, has proven to be nothing less than God’s best work. So it gives me great pleasure to dedicate this book to myself.” A short introduction explains why he feels justified in setting forth this impressive statement. There follows intriguing statements such as: “Hell, most of us are deceased while technically still alive – just breathing God’s air, never channeling any of our talents, constantly dwelling on our failures, and reading countless self-help books from every self-proclaimed guru on earth yet not once looking inside ourselves.” He blames this first on parents quoting results of a study done in the UK that claims “we as children were told an average of five thousand lies just to get us started in life…. This means our parents…. Had such a low belief in society as it existed that they felt the only way we could survive was for them to fill our heads with bulls—.” (Not counting, of course the big 5 – the sandman, tooth fairy, Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and God.) “Let’s face it: these poor folks, our parents, were just addicted to s—.” so “…as soon as they came clean or detoxed from one lie, they were back at it again.” Further discussion is advanced to explain: “The main point to be broached here is the hypocrisy we experience from our childhood straight into adulthood.” And he “wants to help you join me on the lighter side of forever.” In continuing he explains that he is not about to discuss the whole 5000 lies told by parents. “I just want us to examine and absorb a few for the purpose of gaining clarity on why we are so easily manipulated and distracted from accomplishing being the best us possible.” To accomplish this feat it is required that we move away from or beyond the early teachings absorbed because “We have been trained to trust blindly, repress our emotions and feelings, and accept that things that bring satisfaction are bad.” We must stop with all the regrets, guilt, immortalizing the past (because it really wasn’t that great, we just forget the worst parts) and stop justifying mediocrity. You can’t be ‘kind of happy’. You are or are not.

Discussion: In this rather short book the author has set forth a sizeable number of truths which individuals seldom face, or perhaps are ideas that don’t even enter their thoughts. They are well worth perusing and have been provided in an amusing package that makes reading easy. The last approximate fifty pages have a more serious tone that unfortunately do not quite fit the rest of the prose, but basically it is well worth the read.

4* Short, amusingly readable thought-provoking ‘self-help’.