Sunday, July 31, 2005

Title: Hot Plants – Nature’s Proven Sex Boosters for Men and Women
Author: Chris Kilham
Publisher: St.Martin’s Griffin (
ISBN: 0-312-31539-2
No. of Pages: 208
Genre: Non-fiction, Health, Herbalism

Hot Plants is Chris Kilham’s account of exploration of plants, which help men and women lead better sex lives and thus enjoy better health. The author is a medicine hunter, author and educator and is the Explorer in Residence at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he teaches ethnobotany. He has written a dozen books, four of which are listed in side the book.
In this particular book, Chris explores about 10 medicinal plants including some like Aswagandha, Yohimbe and Ginseng, which have been well known all over the world and a few lesser known (to me atleast). He describes for each plant, the active part, the location, the scientific studies conducted if any and the views of the traditional doctors, herbalists and the users. He has tried almost all of them himself and thus what he writes can certainly be taken as authentic. He also gives the side effects for some of the plants where applicable. He finishes the book with a very engaging account of the benefits of chocolate, not from the erotic angle but from the angle of love and bonding. His writing style is engaging and the accounts of his wide ranging travels and his experiences with people of various civilizations makes the book an interesting read.
He got a few Indian names wrong (he refers to Dr.Prabhakaran as Dr.Prabakhan and Vata as Vatta), which I hope he will correct in future editions. His perception of the Hindu Gods Krishna and Siva may offend orthodox Hindus and fundamentalists. The conversion of temperatures by the author from Centigrade (Celsius) scale to Fahrenheit scale is approximate at some places. The special feature of -40 degrees in the temperature scale (that -40 F and -40 C are exactly equal) does not come through in the book.

The book would have been certainly more valuable if a few photographs of the plants were included. The author’s recommendations at the end will be certainly useful to those who would like to try out these plants as a good substitute for Viagra and Cialis etc.
Title: The Transformed Leader
Author: Ernest L. Stech, Ph.D.
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
ISBN: 1-4120-3695-X
No. of Pages: 212
Genre: Non-fiction, Management, Psychology, Leadership

The Transformed Leader by Dr.Ernest Stech (Ernie Stech) is a study of the traits that differentiate a leader from a manager. He differentiates the leader from the manager by the use of the adjective ‘transformed’ and describes the process of transformation.

The book has 17 chapters. The 1st chapter deals with Leaders, Leadership, Management and Power and explains the difference between management and leadership. The 2nd chapter discusses ordinary life and ordinary leadership and the next chapter discusses the development of life history and leadership. The topic of the book is introduced in the 4th chapter where transformation is linked to a kind of death and rebirth. This transformation is discussed from 4 perspectives, that of a mythological hero’s journey, the archetypes of Carl Jung (further developed by Carol Pearson), Humanistic Psychology of Dr.Abraham Maslow and Taoism. An integration of the concepts brought out in these four different approaches is attempted in the later chapters. The reviewer couldn’t but help noticing the similarity of approach of Indian (Hindu) epics to this topic.

The book certainly covers the topic well and the resources at the end of the book help the reader to explore some of the concepts further if so desired. Dr. Stech writes in a highly readable and lucid style and holds the reader’s attention well through out the book. Dr. Ernie Stech is the Principal in Chief Mountain Consulting and Executive Director of the Flagstaff National Monuments Foundation. Examples from his own consulting could have been included in the book and would have added greater value.

The book could certainly have been edited better and this reviewer couldn’t help marking his copy at several places.

This book is a good addition to the literature on leadership.
Title: The Roly-Poly Hunters in Kindergarten
Author: Robin Merlino
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
ISBN: 1-4120-5353-6
Pages: 24 plus cover
Genre: Children's Fiction (Illustrated)

Rating: 8/10 (4 stars out of a possible 5)

The Roly-Poly Hunters in Kindergarten, written and illustrated by Robin Merlino is a visually delightful and colorful book meant for children of 3-6 years (Pre K through 1st grade) and their parents / care givers etc. It is a short and inspiring story of how a small girl Maddie overcomes her shyness and makes friends with her Kindergarten class mates with the help of Roly-Polies. The book has a nice educational value too since the author explains what a Roly-Poly is in the beginning with the help of a good illustration.

The illustrations are appealing, the colors are eye-catching and the story is good. The target readers may need a little help from their parents or other elders to read and understand the story. The book may be a good addition to play schools and libraries that cater to children.

While the editor has done a good job in general, I came across a minor slip. The spelling of one Roly-Poly as Cassy and Cassie on two different pages is a little confusing. Except for this, the book is well-produced.


Title: Dance with Your Heart - Tales and Poems That the Heart Tells

Author: Shirley Cheng

Publisher: Lulu Press ( - The Marketplace for Digital Content ID 81082)

ISBN: 1-4116-1858-0

Pages: 228

Genre: Fantasy - Short Stories, Poetry

Dance with Your Heart is Shirley Cheng's (see collection of short stories and poems, some of them written when she was in school. Some of the stories and poems were published in local press and won awards. While I could not appreciate her poems much (because I am not much of a poetry fan), I did enjoy reading her stories, which show her very vivid imagination.

The True Leader is about the true traits of a great leader, including kindness and courage, willingness to sacrifice oneself for the sake of others. A doe is portrayed as teaching the apparent leader lion, a few lessons in real leadership.

Fancella, the Fire Goddess is a fanciful tale about why a fire is hot, which apparently was not initially so. Interesting to read.

Smell the Roses is a heart-warming story about the transformation of a man by a girl dying of cancer.

There are many more stories, most of them good to read, with some useful moral.

Shirley writes in a fluid style, though the language gets a bit flowery at times. Those who like to escape into a world of fantasy for a few hours by reading the stories will like the book.

The book is well printed with an easy-to-read font. It will be a good buy for children and parents who like their children to read some good stories. It will also be a good addition to libraries and schools.

- Swamy

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Title: The Revelation of a Star's Endless Shine - A Young Woman's Autobiography of a 20-Year Tale of Trials & Tribulations

Author: Shirley Cheng

Publisher: Self Published by Author

ISBN: 1-4116-1860-2

Category: Autobiography

No. of Pages: 700 (including 50 photographs)

The book with the rather long title is the story of Shirley Cheng, an American girl (of Chinese descent), who was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when just 11 months old. Cared for by a loving,courageous and spiritually strong mother, Shirley overcomes all her physical challenges including being confined to a wheelchair, loss of vision and constant pain to realise her intellectual and artistic potentials to a great extent.

The book is written in third person and reads more like a social novel than an autobiography. The author chose this particual format to probably maintain a sense of objectivity and seems to have succeeded to some extent. The book is written in a lucid, vivid and flowing style and is easy to read. It may take the reader a few days to read through because of the number of pages. But it is certainly not boring and the author holds the reader's attention all through. The portrayal of the various people who played a crucial role in Shirley's life has been well done and the reader gets a fairly clear idea of the people involved and the events. As is to be expected, Shirley and her mother encounter a number of problems from various people who are not able to understand the special problems of Shirley and at the same time are helped by some really kind souls.

The narration is moving at many places and at the same is also inspiring because of the perseverance of Juliet, Shirley's mother and Shirley herself. Their problems with the US Medical, Social and School systems evoke reader's sympathy. However, the same system helps Shirley in several ways including her getting a laptop computer with special software which finally allows to read what she is typing. The reviewer could empathise with several aspects of Shirley's suffering. All in all, a good, inspiring read.

Please visit Shirley Cheng at and

this reviewer at