A BLIND GIRL’S TERRIFYING “GIFT” ALLOWS HER TO REGAIN HER EYESIGHT–BUT ONLY AS SHE FERRIES THE RECENTLY DECEASED INTO THE AFTERLIFE.
Loreena Picket thinks she knows herself. A blind young woman who lives with her uncle, a reverend at a small-town church, she’s a dutiful niece and talented pianist for the congregation.
But they’re both hiding a terrible secret. Loreena can kill people with the touch of her hand.
While her uncle sees her as an angel of mercy, helping usher the terminally ill members of his flock into the afterlife, Loreena has her doubts.
Torn between doing her uncle’s bidding and the allure of the fleeting moments when her eyesight returns on the journey to the other side, Loreena cooperates with her uncle until her troubled older brother returns to town. When she reveals her power by saving him from a local drug dealer, she is drawn into a sinister and dangerous world that will test the true nature of her talent and force her to consider how far she is willing to go to survive.
An exciting debut that crosses fantasy and literary fiction, Loreena’s Gift is a thought-provoking meditation on life and death and what ultimately lies beyond this world.
* Loreena’s Gift was recently named 1st place fiction in the 2016 Idaho Author Awards *
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Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the author in exchange for an honest review.
It was my pleasure to read Loreena’s Gift by Colleen M. Story.
This is a very different type of story. Loreena’s “gift” is the ability to kill with the touch of her hands. My first thought was that no one would be able to control such a gift, and then we learn that Lorenna is blind. How would a blind woman be able to avoid touching people as part of her daily life.
I was surprised by the progression of events in Loreena’s Gift. From helping terminally ill parishioners to killing to save her brother’s life was a huge jump for me to make. It isn’t a plot that was had much of a surprise to me once her darling brother came back into Loreena’s life.
The descriptive writing was, however, some of the best I’ve had the opportunity to read. Ms. Story managed to put me in Loreena’s shoes with her words and phrases. It was very easy to close my eyes and imagine myself walking Loreena’s walk at times.
I am pleased to offer Loreena’s Gift by Colleen M. Story four steaming hot cups of Reviews by Room With Books coffee.
©November 28, 2016
Patricia, Reviews by Room With Books
Why Coffee Goes Well with Novels
By Colleen M. Story
When my father was in his sixties, his doctor suggested that he stop drinking coffee. He was experiencing some stomach upset, and the doctor thought all that coffee was bad for him.
For a long time, other doctors felt the same way—that coffee was something that most Americans enjoyed drinking, but that wasn’t especially good for us.
More recent studies, however, have turned that thinking around. Now we know that there are a number of things about coffee that are beneficial for our health.
Yes, coffee is acidic, and if you have a sensitive stomach, it probably is a good idea to back off. Barring that, however, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a cup or two. In fact, there are several reasons why you should indulge—and why coffee makes the perfect beverage to accompany your reading time.
Is It the Caffeine?
Studies have found that coffee can provide a number of health benefits, because of the good-for-you antioxidants in the beans, but also because of the caffeine.
We used to think that it was only the antioxidants that were helpful, but recent studies have found that in some cases, the caffeine is what creates the positive effects.
Coffee has been found to have a protective effect against Parkinson’s Disease (PD), for example, and researchers credit the caffeine for that. In animal studies, caffeine actually counteracted the symptoms of PD, and enhanced the effects of traditional treatments.
There have been a number of human studies, too. In 2000, researchers analyzed data from over 8,000 men and found that a higher coffee and caffeine intake was associated with a significantly lower risk of Parkinson’s.
The caffeine in coffee is also thought to help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A 2010 analysis concluded that most studies support coffee’s ability to help prevent cognitive decline and dementia. (Tea seems to help, too.)
A later 2011 animal study also showed that a component in coffee works with caffeine to increase a growth factor to protect against the development of Alzheimer’s.
What About the Antioxidants?
Would you be surprised to learn that coffee is the world’s number-one preferred source of antioxidants?
That’s what researchers found in 2005. “Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source,” says study leader Joe Vinson, Ph.D. “Nothing else comes close.”
Antioxidants are healthy nutrients that protect us from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other health problems. Of course we also find them in other things like tea, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, but according to this study, as a nation, we consume more coffee than any of these things.
The antioxidants in our favorite beverage have been found to help protect against a number of our most common modern diseases. These include:
- Heart Disease: In a 2014 analysis of 36 studies, researchers found that coffee consumption was associated with a small reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. It took only about 1.5 cups a day to earn the protection. Other studies have suggested it may also help to reduce risk of stroke.
- Cancer: Antioxidants, in general, are cancer fighters. Those in coffee have been found to potentially reduce risk of various types of cancer, including uterine and liver cancer. Earlier this year, a panel of experts convened by the World Health Organization concluded that regularly drinking coffee could protect against at least two types of cancer.
- Type 2 Diabetes: If type 2 diabetes runs in your family, you may want to drink another cup of coffee. In 2014, a study led by researchers from the Harvard School of Public health concluded that people who increased the amount of coffee they drank each day by more than one cup over a period of 4 years had an 11 percent lower risk for type 2 diabetes than those who made no changes. In addition, those who decreased consumption of coffee by more than a cup a day increased their risk by 17 percent. Other studies have shown similar results, with coffee consumption linked to decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Dementia: Rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s are increasing. As mentioned above, drinking coffee may help, both because of the caffeine and the antioxidants. In 2010, researchers reported that most studies support coffee’s protective effects against cognitive decline. In one study, drinking 3-5 cups a day at midlife was associated with a 65 percent decrease of Alzheimer’s and dementia late in life. Researchers concluded that it could be because of the caffeine, or other factors like the antioxidants.
Feel Free to Enjoy a Hot Cup with Your Novel
In addition to all this good news, coffee may even help you life longer. That was the conclusion researchers made in one 2012 study. They looked at data that included about 400,000 adults between the ages of 50 and 71, and found that coffee consumption (caffeinated or decaffeinated) was associated with a lower risk of death overall.
So if you’re a reader who enjoys a nice hot cup of coffee with your novel, don’t feel guilty for a second. You’re doing something that’s good for you! Of course, if you experience stomach irritation, or if you find the caffeine keeps you awake at night, adjust your intake. But don’t feel you have to give it up.
In today’s world, coffee is one of the good guys.
G. Webster Ross, et al., “Association of Coffee and Caffeine Intake with the Risk of Parkinson Disease,” JAMA, May 24/31, 2000; 283(20): 2674-2679, http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=192731.
American Academy of Neurology, “Coffee may help some Parkinson’s disease movement symptoms, research suggests,” ScienceDaily, August 1, 2012, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120801165353.htm.
Eskelinen MH and Kivipelto, M., “Caffeine as a protective factor in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” J Alzheimers Dis., 2010; 20(Suppl1):S167-74, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20182054.
Chuanhai Cao, et al. “Caffeine Synergizes with Another Coffee Component to Increase Plasma GCSF: Linkage to Cognitive Benefits in Alzheimer’s Mice,” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 25(2), June 28, 2011, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21422521.
“Coffee is number one source of antioxidants,” American Chemical Society, [Press Release], August 28, 2005, https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-08/acs-cin081905.php.
Ding M. et al (2014) Long-term coffee consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Circ, 129(6):643-59.
Anahad O’Conner, “Coffee May Protect Against Cancer, WHO Concludes,” New York Times, June 15, 2016, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/06/15/coffee-may-protect-against-cancer-w-h-o-concludes/?_r=0.
“Increasing daily coffee consumption may decrease type 2 diabetes risk,” Harvard School of Public Health, [Press Release], April 24, 2014, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/increasing-daily-coffee-intake-may-reduce-type-2-diabetes-risk/.
Eskelinen MH, Kivipelto M., “Caffeine as protective factor in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” J Alzheimer’s Dis., 2010; 20 Supl 1:S167-74, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20182054.
Neal D. Freedman, et al., “Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality,” New England Journal of Medicine, May 17, 2012, 366:1891-1904, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1112010.
About the Author
Colleen M. Story writes imaginative fiction and is also a freelance writer, instructor, and motivational speaker specializing in creativity, productivity, and personal wellness. Her latest novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” was released with Dzanc Books April 12 2016. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” is a North American Book Awards winner, and New Apple Book Awards Official Selection (Young Adult). She is the founder of Writing and Wellness (writingandwellness.com) a motivational site for writers and other creatives.
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