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When the violence and terror of "ethnic cleansing" against Muslims begins, Irena and her family, brutalized by Serb soldiers, flee for safety across the river that divides the city. If once Irena knew of war only from movies and history books, now she knows its reality. She steals from the dead to buy food.

'Pretty Birds': A Sarajevo Story | NCPR News

She scuttles under windows in her own home to dodge bullets. She risks her life to communicate with an old Serb school friend and teammate. Even Pretty Bird has started to mimic the sizzle of mortar fire.


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In a city starved for work, a former assistant principal offers Irena a vague job, "duties as assigned," which she accepts. She begins by sweeping floors, but soon, under the tutelage of a cast of rogues and heroes, she learns to be a sniper, biding her time, never returning to the same perch, and searching her targets for the "mist" that marks a successful shot.

Pretty Birds: A Novel

Ultimately, Irena's new vocation will lead to complex and cataclysmic consequences for herself and those she loves. Pretty Birds is a bold departure, and the auspicious beginning of yet another brilliant career for its author. Irena Zaric put her last stick of gum in her mouth, winked at a bird, and wondered where to put her last bullet before going home.

Sometimes she conferred with the pigeons that flocked along her arms. What's going on over there? The grim sky was beginning to open into a briny blue. The first winds of the day from the hills blew in with a bite of sun and a smell of snow. After a long night alone in the city's rafters, Irena was consoled by the swish of the pigeons.

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They reassured her: she wasn't the only one left in town. The birds were tired and, she imagined, cranky from hunting for tree Scott Simon, through his first hand experience of the Seige of Sarajevo, brings the people and the events to life in this extremely strong first novel. I recommend it to all adults, and also for older teens Full Review words. But for Simon, writing a novel completes a circle, one that began as a high school infatuation with the works of Norman Mailer and James Agee but that turned into a journalism career in which he has won nearly every major radio award.

But he felt a novel would provide a better vehicle for exploring the lives of people under a sanity-threatening siege in which waiting for water was a gamble on whether you could reach the head of the line before a mortar shell fell.

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And to be sure, I wanted to create a challenge. There are few accomplishments I admire more than a good novel, and I wanted to see if I could write one. Early reviewers think he has. Simon is talking about the book from a rather exposed position on the top floor of an Old Town Pasadena parking ramp, awaiting a photographer delayed by the vagaries of a Los Angeles afternoon.

But there is more going on behind the thick brick walls than beer making, and Irena becomes trained as a sniper. It is the absence of outside action, and Simon says it altered his view of the world. The most compassionate thing we can do is to interrupt these habits.


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    Anatomy of The Spirit , by Caroline Myss. Illness that we as human beings suffer from is way more complex than the way Western Medicine lays it out. Many people do not agree with me especially most doctors , but your energy, stress, and diet are major contributors to the illnesses that we develop. I will even go as far to say that changing certain lifestyle patterns and developing the courage to make life-altering decisions can even prevent us from developing diseases and illnesses. In the Anatomy of the Spirit , Myss gives us a comprehensive guide to energy healing, revealing that hidden stresses, beliefs and attitudes cause illness.

    With fifteen years of research in energy medicine combined with the wisdom of Hindu, Christian and Kaballah traditions, she tries to teach us to see our body and spirit in a new way, while giving us the tools for spiritual maturity and physical wholeness. The most powerful scenario that embedded the power of energy healing is when Myss compared two women with cancer. One woman was in a mentally abusive relationship; this woman had developed breast and ovarian cancer.

    As she points out, this was very telling since the cancer developed in places found in women. Another woman, simply unhappy in her marriage, but too scared to leave her husband out of fear of being alone, developed cancer. This latter woman finally got the strength to leave her toxic relationship and she was cured from cancer, while the other woman passed away months after diagnosis. I am not saying it is as simple as that to cure cancer, but we definitely underestimate the power our energy has on us.

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    While working through my anxiety and healing my energy, one of my healers suggested buying this book to help me get unstuck from my current rut. Regena — those who know her better call her Mama Gena — lays out a pathway for us women to no longer be victims and step into our inherent radiance. Mama Gena does not deny that the title may be provocative and may be offensive to some, but it is meant to be a wake up call that the world desperately requires the feminine touch.

    In no way is this book a dig to men, quite the opposite — with the empowerment she sets forth, you are sure to become only a better partner.