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April 30, 2012

Book Twenty Two of my 2012 Goal

Oracle of the PhoenixOracle of the Phoenix by Steven Blonder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Oracles of Phoenix" by Steven Blonder is his own personal story about his seeing the lights over Phoenix in the week of March 10, 1997 and the path they led him on for the truth. He gives the website where you can see the footage he shot of them so you can see what he saw. Although the book starts with this account of seeing what now is known as the "Phoenix Lights" (most documented case of UFO mass sighting) it does not so much focus on that event in itself only asto it as a starting point and reason for the paths he took to search for the answers to his questions about UFOs and what it all is and means. It seems for every answer Mr Blonder found resulted in more questions and more searching.

The author himself says he became a little obsessed with it, not unlike Richard Dreyfus in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" where me molded his mash potatoes into that hill. Although I am sure Mr. Blonder didn't throw dirt and trees through his kitchen windows I do have to agree that this became an obsession. It more so reminds me of a new show on TV called "Touch" where an autistic boy sees the past, present, and future at the same time in numbers, numbers have meaning. The author seen these lights and they mean something. They have a secret message and he is going to find it.

Mr. Blonder discuses his experiences when he went to Israel. How he visited the different places and the feelings and spiritual awakening and rebirth he felt. Although I couldn't really understand all that he was going through I could relate it to experiences of my own when I visited the Grand Canyon. I couldn't help but feel "closer" to God (as I know him) and wondered if the canyon was created as a way of humbling humankind so they will see just how insignificant they really are not only standing there at the canyon but on this planet, solar system, universe. Just where do I fit into all this? Was it God's way to say "look at what I have created with a wave of my hand, what have you done"? I wasn't even a speck among the great beauty that lies before me. That is why I always told people that you don't "see" the Grand Canyon, you "experience" it. And I am sure others have similar experiences there just as I am sure there are other places in this world that cause a spiritual awakening, wonderment, soul-searching experiences for them I imagined this is similar to what the author was talking about when he says he had a spiritual awakening.

Once he returned from Israel he knew he had to follow up with some method of spiritual study or discipline that takes him to study "Inner Self" and Kundalini Yoga. I basically understand the laws such as the Law of Return that states what goes around, comes around but I am not going to pretend I have a clue what the harmonizing to the universal feminine aspect of self is. Although it is explained I just can't grasp this even though I read and re-read it. Which is the case with much of the "studies" and "conclusions" throughout the book starting with the Kabbalah and Hopi Indian lore to the legend of Montezuma. Some I don't understand where the connection is and others I just don't reach the same conclusion. But that is OK. Mr. Blonder has every right to his conclusions and his beliefs, he is not trying to covert anyone, he is simply trying to make the reader understand what he studied, has experienced, believes, and how this sighting impacted his life. With that being said, I found it all amazing and very fascinating.

This very in-depth (and very time consuming) search for the meaning behind the Phoenix Lights and the paths that search took is not just a story, it is an experience of an eyewitness who has gone to great lengths to find the answers to his questions, for closure. Any one interested in UFOs and how they effect those who see them should find this book as fascinating as I did. I highly recommend it.

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April 28, 2012

Book Twenty One of My 2012 Goal

Inspire To Reach Higher Lite Edition: A-Z Empowering Quotes That I.N.S.P.I.R.E.Inspire To Reach Higher Lite Edition: A-Z Empowering Quotes That I.N.S.P.I.R.E. by Amey Hegde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Inspire To Reach Higher: A-Z Empowering Quotes That I.N.S.P.I.R.E." by Amey Hedge is a fantastic collection of quotes not only for the motivation of others but for yourself. Don't let the fact that Amey Hedge is an inspirational speaker lead you to believe these are for the workplace only. Not only do I need inspiration at times for myself, I love making my own cards and often use quotes for inspiring others. This will prove to be treasured additional source for me. Although the book isn't long, it is full of page after page of quotes that inspire.

I would love to quote my favorite as an example but I didn't see where the author gave his permission to do so even for reviewing the book so I won't. What I can say, is that with all the quotes in the book from various well-known people my favorite comes from the author himself.

Another great benefit of this book is that all the quotes are in sections and are grouped together by 'theme' of the quote such as, "Belief", "Dreams", "Individuality and Uniqueness" and so on. This makes it so easy to look up a quote you need for that particular moment without having to search every page.

I know I will be keeping this book to reference time after time and recommend it to readers of all ages.

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April 26, 2012

Book Twenty of My 2012 Goal

CarnivoreCarnivore by David J. Dundas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first thing that I noticed about "Carnivore" by David J. Dundas was it was the unusual way this story was told. Instead of reading about the events as they unfold, the real story is from the main character, Michael Scott's retelling what happened to him the previous few days to another person who he now finds himself stranded in a snowstorm with.

The story opens with Michael walking on the road and a vehicle driven by Oswald Peterson, an off-duty security officer swerve off the road to avoid hitting him wrecking his car. Oswald knows of a cabin nearby were the men can hold up during the snowstorm. As they grab some canned food to eat and settle in, naturally Oswald asks Michael why he was walking on the road and what happened to him.

Michael is an investigative reporter who was sent to Silvertown to do a story on some murders. He only makes it as far as town of Larit where he finds more than he bargained for. Between people missing, a dirty sheriff and a woman he fall for, the story is far from dull. As the name implies it is horror fiction about some 'knowing' and some 'unknowing' carnivores.

The characters were well developed and the story constantly moving forward. There were a few little things 'off' but I didn't think it took away from the story. After all, if I went through all that Michael Scott did, I may not be recalling my last few days crystal clear either. And now we understand what he was doing walking on the road.

I enjoyed this short story and recommend it to other horror fans but be warned it does contain adult language.

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April 24, 2012

Book Nineteen of My 2012 Goal

Alec's DreamAlec's Dream by Dave Birchbauer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to admit when I started reading Alec's Dream by Dave Birchbauer I put it down after the first few chapters never planning to pick it up again. I realize the author needs to give sort of background and get the story going in the first few chapters but I was so totally confused and lost. I found myself re-reading it many times and still helplessly lost in the science and anti-gravity jargon. I really can't say why this bothered me so much because in other fictional books it was fine that a couple of kids go into a thicket of bamboo and find themselves in a world with fairies and unicorns or some guy can walk to a certain spot of the pantry floor and find himself transported back into time and that was perfectly fine but this anti-gravity stuff bothered me.

After a few days I picked it up and continued reading and I am so glad I did because it got to the point I didn't want to put this book down. As I said the beginning was confusing and full of some scientific reasoning for how and why Alec developed this anti-gravity blanket with the help from Jessie, his daughter. Alec really isn't well developed as far as the story goes but then again he doesn't have to be as none of the adults really had to be since the main character is really Jessie. Jesse and her friends end up in life and death situations when they find themselves face to face with aliens who not only want to gain this technology for themselves, they want to rid the earth of the life form they hated which are humans. Jesse is the key to getting them all off this alien spaceship alive and get the warning to earth.

The story was a bit like what I would imagine Star Wars in the Twilight Zone with a little of Star Trek would read complete with four dimensions, anti-gravity blankets, space portals, space ships and even aliens both good and bad. The weapons as well as the ships were exciting and futuristic and I was never quite sure where the story was going, there seemed to be surprises with every turn of the page. By the time I finished the book I realized somewhere along the way the beginning sort of made sense and I did enjoy the book.

The author really has one heck of an imagination with an outstanding sense of detail. I could close my eyes and imagine the inside of the ship and the grass maps as well as the chase on the far side of the moon. I think any fan of science fiction would enjoy this book especially young adults.

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April 21, 2012

Book Eighteen of My 2012 Goal

The Dryad's Kiss (The Mighty Finn #1)The Dryad's Kiss by R. Scott VanKirk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was a little confused when I started reading The Dryad's Kiss by R. Scott VanKirk by the Indian lore at the beginning since by the name of it I thought it was about a Greek mythology creature called a Dryad. As I started reading I wasn't disappointed as it soon became clear that this story did include a Dryad as well as having sacred Indian burial mounds and so much more. It is a well written story where fantasy overlaps reality and had suspense, mystery, and even had me laughing at times.

I won't recap the whole story since you can read that for yourself but the main jest of it is about Ian Finn Morgenstern or simply "Finn" by his friends who is a bit of a geek. He enjoyed "gaming" and created this fantasy world where he and his friends would play. It was a world of magic but posed dangers as well. He made many things in his world including the "Dreamstone". The "Dreamstone" is really an amethyst crystal that his father had originally given Finn's now deceased mother on their wedding anniversary. After her passing he had given it to Finn so when he looked at it, it would remind him of his mother and how much she loved him. The only thing neither of them were counting on is the Dreamstone driving people into a psychiatric breakdown. Nor was any one expecting Finn's dream about the Dryad that lives in the big oak tree outside his bedroom window to be real and sucking the life force out of him or as he put it, using him as fertilizer, until there was no way to deny it any longer.

This story involved a lot more but as I said I won't recap the whole thing nor do I want to spoil it for those who didn't read it. I found this to be one of the books that once you started it you didn't want to put down. I was a bit disappointed when the questions raised were not answered but this is only the first book in a series so I am assuming the answers are in the following books. In the author's defense I think that is the whole object to a series, get you hooked on the first book and then make you want to read the next book. He definitely succeeded!

I really enjoyed the book and although there was sex between the Dryad and Finn it didn't go into any detail so Young Adults should enjoy this story of coming of age as well as adults. I think Young Adults can relate to this story even more so than I can but it didn't stop me from enjoying it one bit. Be warned, if your curiosity is intense as mine be prepared to put the next book in the series on your reading list.

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April 16, 2012

Book Seventeen of my 2012 Goal

Eyes Behind BelligerenceEyes Behind Belligerence by K.P. Kollenborn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Eyes Behind Belligerence by K.P. Kollenborn is a fictional and lengthy novel of what life was like being Japanese in America just prior to and after the Bombing of Pearl Harbor during WWII. Although the author makes it clear this is a work of fiction many of the facts and events are historically accurate.

The book starts off with a list of "Characters & Terminologies" that include pronunciations which I really found helpful with understand the book and then the story is broken down into five parts. The main characters are Jim/Jimmu Yoshimura and Russell/Goro Hamaguchi. These two unlikely friends live with their families on Brainbridge Island in a predominantly Japanese area where life was 'normal' with a heritage where family name and honor was important. Life was like any where else, they worked, went to school, had friends.

Once Pearl Harbor was attached the Japanese community worried about being arrested and sent to Montana for being Japanese Spies. The Yoshimura and Hamaguchi children thought they had nothing to worry about since they were American Citizens but they worried for their parents since they were not American Citizens. Russell found he was being discriminated against despite this when some of his acquaintances at school told him not to eat lunch or hang around with them. His parents, as all the Japanese community found they were all being discriminated against when it came to employment and their bank accounts were frozen. Things even got violent such as when Jim was at this father's store helping him and someone threw a brick through the front window yelling for them to go back to Japan, they are not wanted here.

Then the day came where the families were rounded up and put into "Relocation Camps". The children had their citizenship revoked and were shipped there along with the parents to Manzanar. This was told to be for their own protection but the truth of the matter is they were nothing more than detention camps with lookout towers, barbed wire fences and with a whole new set of problems and dangers. The families had to battle hatred, disease, cramped quarters, poor health care facilities, gangs, and the elements. They watched their family being torn apart and spread all over the country.

Finally the day came when the war ended and they left the camp to return to Brainbridge Island. Some went back, others chose not to. The struggle continued with the life path each followed and where it brought them. Each needing to choose what was important to them and if they can do something with their lives to better the situation if not for themselves then for the next generation.

I thought the novel was a real eye opener. It really captured what everyday life would be like, how they would talk, grow with not only age but maturity and wisdom. It showed real feelings in the different relationships and the values of the family and friends. It showed the pain, the weakness, the strengths and the breakdown of decency. Prejudices and not only by those toward the Japanese and others but even by the Japanese toward others.

If you want to read a believable book about what life was like for the Japanese during WWII then look no further, you found it. I think Jim wrote it best. "Exiled, shamed and damned like bastards, we stare through these barbed wire fences, our eyes. our eyes betrayed by this world; our eyes behind belligerence."

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April 1, 2012

Book Sixteen of my 2012 Goal

No ExitNo Exit by Julie Harris

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

No Exit by Julie Harris is a fictional supernatural-thriller with romance that sucks you in from the moment you start the book to the last word. This well written story was nicely paced and forever keeping me in suspense.

Rebecca Miller has a psychic gift or a curse depending on who you asked. To some she is an angel and healer and others a freak of nature. It kept her from having close relationships with even her own parents who were uneasy around her. As Rebecca grew into a young woman she used her 'gift' to help others and even the most skeptical people noticed her. She was invited to speak at a paranormal event only to find out it was a hoax and there really was no such event. It was a ploy to get her to London where she was met at the airport by some men in uniform who turn out to be US Navy SEALs. Kelly Nolan, commander of the Nighthawks, looks familiar to her but she can't quite place him. He takes her into protective custody where she learns the true reason for the her presence.

Two years prior Rebecca did a "reading" for a US Senator's wife confirming her fears about her husband's death. Senator Glover didn't believe in any of the psychic stuff but now that he is a presidential candidate the SEALs have orders to keep John Glover alive despite their knowledge some want him dead and Rebecca is to help them with this mission. Between her help from her "gift" and the remote viewing and psychic connection by others on the team failure is not an option even if one of their own is "seen" to be the assassin. Rebecca not only learn more about being a SEAL than she ever wanted to know, this journey takes her places she never imagined including her own death. She learns about betrayal but more importantly she learns about friendship and love. She also learns that sometimes their is no exit.

Even though the main plot has several sub-plots I found the story easy to follow and captivating. I love the style of the author used to introduce these sub-plots as each in its own right was interesting and important to the main story. The story as a whole progressed nicely with content and time line. "No Exit" will be found on my favorite shelf since I found it to be completely enjoyable.

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