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April 23, 2013

Book Twenty-One of my 2013 Goal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Magick in the City by Zakariyya Ishaq starts off with one heck of an opening. It is the formation of a magical ring in London and a ritual murder in New York. Then the story starts three weeks earlier with Locke & Keys Investigations located in Manhattan, NY and tells a bit of history of the company as well as who the employees and partners are. One night when John Locke was in the office finishing up a letter he had a visitor named Walter Lewis who wanted Locke to investigate his father's disappearance twenty- five years earlier. Walter explains that his father went on this hunting trip with four friends and never came back and his friends said he just disappeared. When Walter asked his family, police, other people he got no where. Then Walter told Locke a strange tale about "Magick, Freemasonry, witchcraft, conjuring the devil, the occult, secret wars, old grudges against elite organizations, and other dark secrets".

I like reading before bed to relax but this is a story that I needed to pay close attention to because of the multiple story lines and there are a lot of characters and organizations throughout. In fact, I found I had a difficult time remembering all of them. Although I enjoyed the story I can't help feel I was missing something because of this.

I am not a professional reviewer, I just like reading books so please bear with me at my attempt to explain this. This story was written in a way that I ( as the reader ) was not drawn into the story, I was not part of it in any way but more like on the outside "looking in". I am not sure if that 'disconnection' was purposely done by the author or if it is just me and perhaps this is the part 'I was missing' as I mentioned above. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed the story as I said but this was just so odd to me to feel this way since I usually am drawn to characters and really 'get into' a story. Then again, this may have been done purposely by the author because if I had a close connection with a character or into the story I would possibly find this a nightmare and disturbing especially with the praying to and the conjuring of the devil.

The story is not a quick read by any means and there was something going on all of the time however I didn't feel the transition into these places or events were as seamless as they could have been so it was a bit choppy although it did come all together in the end.. The plot is good and stayed on course with the characters being believable for the most part. What I expected to happen and what did happen were usually two different things, the surprise factor was great. There was plenty of suspense, horror, and twists to keep me turning page after page.

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April 16, 2013

Book Twenty of my 2013 Goal

Nataliee's Alien Nightmare (The War Eagle Abductions)Nataliee's Alien Nightmare by Markus S Fredericks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nataliee's Alien Nightmare: The War Eagle Abductions by Marcus S. Fredericks and Bob De Long is interesting before I even began reading the actual story. In the beginning of the book it has a section about each author. According to this section Markus S. Fredericks has seen an UFO in 1967 in Washington. Through a chat room for fellow UFO believers Fredericks (now a believer) started e-mails with a fellow poster, Bob De Long. Apparently he (Bob) was abducted by aliens as a young man while he was in Cuba. Together they wrote this book which they call 'fact-based fiction' with Bob De Long's "ominous sounding message to the world".

The story starts off with a sheriff and his deputy driving down the road and seeing a girl walking barefoot in a fancy dress. He wondered if this could be the Nataliee Cunningham who was missing for three months, ever since her high school prom. She had gone to the prom and left it with her date, Anthony but was never seen or heard from since. Anthony was questioned and he told of some wild story about aliens and how they levitated Nataliee in a beam of blue light and took her in their spacecraft. Naturally no one believed his story and he was committed to an institution while everyone feared he killed Nataliee and buried her body somewhere.

Turns out this girl was indeed Nataliee, the main character of the story. Nataliee is well developed and even made more interesting by her sixth sense or better known as ESP. Nataliee recovers her lost memory and also confirms Anthony's story of her being levitated into a spacecraft. She said she was able to escape with help from other girls who were held captive there. They created a diversion for her to escape with the promise she would come back and rescue them. The spacecraft is in a cave on the side of a nearby mountain and she also tells of one very important person that she needs to rescue, her newborn son. Nataliee also shares what she knows about the aliens which include the way they 'take nourishment' and that there are different kinds of aliens with some sort of chain of command among them. She also tells how they use their weapons and how our modern weapons are useless against them and why.

The other characters in the story are developed enough for each of their roles. The sheriff and deputy seem like they are at each other's throats with the sheriff being very racist. They do really like each other in a weird sort of humorous way and remind me of Laural and Hardy hillbilly style. Anthony has deep feelings for Nataliee and his son that he hasn't even seen yet. The ones I would say are the least developed would be the other girls being held in the spaceship however their roles are not that huge of a factor in the story and enough is told about each of them so you get the understanding of who they are as well as how long they have been there and what they are going through.

The storyline which includes alien abductions and unfriendly aliens is nothing new. There are countless stories about that but what is new is the way this story is written with humor yet the storyline is not funny. It is also written with real alien encounters in mind and by that I mean that if you ever hear of real UFO sightings (we all heard about Area 51 and what they claim happened there) or the little 'greys' as so many describe them over the years, this story has those descriptions in it complete with the medical examinations and much more. It is a fast paced, humorous, chilling, and parts are downright sickening story all the way to the ending which I may add has me left with some unanswered questions. Then again, this would have been one of the authors goals since this is only the first book in the series. They would have wanted to give their readers enough to hook them yet leaving them with enough questions or curiosity to buy the next book and it sure worked on me.

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April 12, 2013

Book Nineteen of my 2013 Goal

Summary: Little Prisoners by Casey WatsonSummary: Little Prisoners by Casey Watson by Save Time Summaries
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary: Little Prisoners by Casey Watson is by Save Time Summaries. This is a summary of the book and not the full version book itself. This goes through each chapter in the book and summarizes the chapter and then notes the "Key Take-Away" point in that chapter. I really like the way this is structured and the summary of the chapter is enough to know what went on without the page after page of reading the full version of the book. The "Key Take-Away" is usually a sentence or two that condenses the summary down to a main point. For example; Chapter Five is three paragraphs long and about what Casey hears and observes from the two children that makes her think they were sexually abused. The "Key Take-Away" is one sentence long that states Casey believes the children have been sexually abused based on their comments and actions.

The Summary of...(insert any of their book titles here) by Save Time Summaries are great especially if it is a long novel that you were assigned to do a report on or have a test in. The summary would make studying a lot easier since it is the main points of the chapter and the key points. This also would be especially useful when you have a lot of dates or places to remember such as something in history like a war however on the book of "Little Prisoners" I think it isn't necessarily a good thing because it is like reading a review of a book that tells you what went on including the ending but the drama, the connection with the characters, the heartache and shock of it all is lost. In the book "Little Prisoners" all of that is part of the story, it is what gets the reader involved emotionally. Because it is non-existent in the summary I do not think it works for a book like this. I feel cheated because so much of the emotional part is lost.

So in short, I think the summary is great if you want to know what the book is all about and what happens without all the connections and emotions. The structure and content is good however if you are thinking this is a great way to read the book "Little Prisoners" in a short amount of time I am afraid you will be disappointed. So depending on what you are looking for, this may or may not be the way to go.

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April 11, 2013

Book Eighteen my 2013 Goal

Summary of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity & Disease by Robert LustigSummary of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity & Disease by Robert Lustig by Save Time Summaries
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Summary of Fat Chance: Betting the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Foods, Obesity & Disease by Robert Lustig is by Save Time Summaries and it is just that, the summary of the full version book. It takes key points of the chapters leaving most of the discussion and not so 'key' points. To me they are much like the Cliff's Notes I used to study for the test we were having on the novel we just read in school. Note that I said, "leaving most of the discussion" because it does contain enough so the reader understands the points it is trying to make. In other words, this is not pages after page of a list of key points from the book, there are paragraphs not lists and this reads and explains key points much like any other book would only this doesn't go into great detail. For example under "Learned Behavior or a Choice?" one of the paragraphs following talk about, "A recent alarming study reveals that even six-month-old babies are showing increasing signs of obesity." It makes the point that at that age the baby obviously didn't choose to be obese or have a choice of their food intake. What it doesn't tell me is who did this study, where, when, how was it done or any other details about it. I am not sure if the full version of the book has this information in it or not. So if you are interested in just the 'meat' of the full version book without the potatoes, then this is great. A real time saver! However, if you want to get deeper into it then you are better off with the full version book.

As far as the information, some parts made me say, "Big Deal!" Is it really a big deal that five of the government's major public health agencies agree that the cause of obesity is from eating too much while exercising too little? These are the same agencies that either did nothing or waited until many years later (and in some cases they waited until many more people died) before they did or said anything. Or better yet, they would say something only to pull a flip-flop years later. For example, The US Surgeon General in 1964 claimed smoking wasn't addicting. (Need I say more?) Besides, I know as a fact that not all obesity is caused by overeating and under exercise so I really don't care what they agree on. Besides, I am sure if we wait long enough one of them (if not more) will do a flip-flop.

Don't get me wrong, there was a lot interesting too. The one that stands out the most is the biochemistry and hormones in chapter four. I found the Leptin deficiency testing quite interesting but can't help wonder why it hasn't continued. This is such an important subject, as the book explains it is a worldwide issue that not only is a personal problem, it is a social one, one that is life-threatening to so many and the chapter ends with, "Further research is needed, but this developement definitely has many health professionals feeling optimistic". This is the sort of thing that make me think, huh? Shouldn't that read, "further testing is being done"?

So to sum it up, this summary is a good way to get the key points of the book without having to read the three hundred and whatever pages of the full version book. It is a great way to get the general subject of any one point so I know what to search for, for more details. (Example, I know the 6 month old babies are showing signs of obesity so I know that I can look up this study for more detailed information). It is a great time saver and well worth the cost.

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April 10, 2013

Book Seventeen of my 2013 Goal

From the Cauldron to the Cross: My Journey from Wiccan to ChristianFrom the Cauldron to the Cross: My Journey from Wiccan to Christian by Shari Hadley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the Cauldron to the Cross by Shari Hadley is one of those books I just can't put down. I started it in the morning and finished it that night and it isn't what I would call a short book. It is just so interesting and I got so caught up in this true story of a journey to be saved that I just couldn't leave it alone. I was interested to see the journey Shari took since I know many Christians and I know many Wiccans but I only know stories of going from Cross to Cauldron (Christians turning Wiccan) and not the other way around. I also would like to add, I do consider Wicca a religion and refer to it as such in this review.

Shari's childhood life was anything but normal living in a house where she was abused by her mentally ill mother and sexually abused by her father. Eventually Shari met Randy when she was eighteen and soon after went to college and Randy followed her. Two years later they got married and eventually had a son named Glenn.

Many things turned her off about being a Christian including the way they treat women in the Bible. Shari's journey into paganism began when she was attending her local state university. One day her class had speakers who practised modern-day witchcraft and she was hooked. She studied and practiced and was able to call on the deities for guidance and knowledge. In a dream an ancient celtic god, Cernunous came to her. She thought he came to her to show her that she belonged to him and he was her god. Later she found this not to be true. She was a solitary practitioner of 'The Craft' which means she did not join a coven. She was a loner who did it all; she cast spells; read tarot cards; carved runes; cast the sacred circle; summoned spirits; worshiped the sun, moon, and stars; celebrated the pagan holidays, and more. She was a good witch true to her religion and her deities.

She started to hear 'Them' The voices in her head that were like being in a crowded room where everyone is talking but you can't make out any one conversation. She shared this with her husband who was concerned. They were getting more frequent and she was afraid, afraid of being labeled schizophrenic or put on medication so she declined talking to a psychologist. Then the dreams or I should say nightmares started. Weird things and so graphic, depicting every form of violence known to man. She would feel an evil presence in the room and sometimes see a dark shadowy figure at the foot of her bed. She kept telling herself there were no such things as demons. She knew all supernatural powers were good, evil only lurked in the heart of humans. She knew this because she was enlightened, her beliefs told her so.

A few days before Glenn's sixth birthday Shari was expecting Randy to come home and heard a car coming in the driveway only to find that there was a state trooper and a chaplain in it to inform her that there was a car accident and her husband did not survive. It was shortly after this Shari questioned her beliefs. She asked where her goddess was that she so faithfully served for nine years. As the doubt entered her mind and she realized she had no one to turn to since her goddess obviously isn't there for her (Or does she even exist at all?) the door to Christianity slowly opened for her.

I found what follows some of the most interesting parts of the book. The subjects about the spirits and manifestations, the voices and what they turned out to be, and the answers to the many questions that Shari had about Christianity. One of the question she asks is one I had myself. If Christians aren't polytheistic (belief in or worship of more than one god) then how can the Holy Trinity not be considered polytheistic? It consists of "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; that is three, not one." The answer was very clever so anyone could understand it. I learned quite a few things about both religions in this book.

I found this story bittersweet in parts, scary in others, and heartwarming in others. Grab some tissues just in case because it pulls at your heartstrings. I found this journey to salvation extremely interesting. She wrote with honesty and as I said I learned things from this story I didn't know. It is the close inspection of her beliefs that really speaks volumes (both as Christian and Wicca) it is just so tragic it had to happen this way. I recommend this enlightening story to both Christians and Wiccans. In fact, no matter what your religion is, I think you can learn something from this book even if it is nothing more than ways to examine your own faith.

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April 9, 2013

Book Sixteen of my 2013 Goal

Kaylee's GhostKaylee's Ghost by Rochelle Jewel Shapiro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you like reading about ghosts, psychic abilities, family bonds and everyday life that is not so much an everyday day, then Kaylee's Ghost by Rochelle Jewel Shapiro is the book for you. This delightful story will keep you turning page after page. It is far from a typical boring 'soap opera' story. The plot is great and has so many twists and turns it kept me guessing who was going to do what next. I didn't read "Miriam the Medium" and was not at a loss as this book stands on its own.

Both Miriam and her granddaughter, Violet have psychic abilities but it must have skipped a generation because Cara, Miriam's daughter and mother to Violet does not. Not only can they 'see' things that will take place in the future but they can in the past as well. Top it off, they can talk to and see ghosts or spirits as some call them. This becomes a real problem when Miriam encourages Violet's gift despite Violet's mother's wishes to have her lead a normal life. As it is Violet already has no more friends. She isn't invited to parties or to play dates because she doesn't understand you are not suppose to tell everyone's business in public. She would blurt out things about the other child's parent and when the parents found out that she was telling their secrets (Your mother is having a tummy tuck today!) they wouldn't allow their child to play with her and would even go so far as to switch their classrooms so they didn't have to be near her. This 'gift' was more like a 'curse' in Cara's eyes.

Miriam does readings and has her normal clients. One of these clients is Kaylee who contacts her often for a reading. Kaylee had just lost her mother not long ago and she was thinking of going somewhere to 'relax' and her mother told Miriam to tell her not to go. Miriam knew how much Kaylee needed this 'vacation' and told her to go but it ended with disastrous results and now Miriam blames herself for lying to Kaylee. She knew if she had told her the truth, Kaylee wouldn't have gone and none of this would have happened. This really turned Miriam off about being psychic and gives up her clients and learns to ignore her abilities.

In the meantime, Cara is having a crisis in her marriage and they don't see eye to eye about how to bring Violet up or how to deal with her abilities. There is a lot of tension in the family and things come to a head when Violet disappears one night from her bed. The whole family, in laws included must come together for Violet's sake and their own. Not an easy task when ghosts are involved and there is so much guilt, resentment, even snootiness but this is either a bonding time for them all or a time that will rip them apart forever.

I realize I am not making it sound interesting but believe me it is. I just can't write more because I don't want to put any spoilers in it. It was a great story and the characters were all fully developed. I couldn't help feel a connection with them and when little Violet was in a crisis I even could feel my own heart sink. You may need a tissue box not far offhand but be prepared for some laughs too. I recommend this book!

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April 5, 2013

Book Fifteen of my 2013 Goal

A Spiritual Journey Into Quantum Reality (Volume 1, A 21st Century Owner's Manual for Humans)A Spiritual Journey Into Quantum Reality by Bonnie Jean LC
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't even know where to start with A Spiritual Journey Into Quantum Reality: Volume 1, A 21st Century Owner's Manual for Humans by Bonnie Jean LC and Michael Green MD. I guess I should make it clear that this is not a story, it is more of a 'how to' book. The authors explain what, where, why and how from the very basic such as happiness to the more "weird" of Quantum Physics. In short, it is about the quantum science of spirituality.

The goal of the authors is to show how we all live our lives in a world that is not real and explain how to change it. According to the book we live in a reality that we each create and live our lives against the constant ticking of a clock. Time is the key because there really is no time, there is only the here and now. This is the quantum reality as it really exists. Until we accept this and change our way of thinking, feeling, and experiencing life we are all living in a made-up reality where pain, darkness, and suffering exist. A world with limits and where spiritual growth is difficult if not next to impossible.

The way the book is structured is very easy to read although to be honest with you, it would help if you have some knowledge of quantum physics. I don't so I am having a bit of a time with it but I am not totally lost thanks to the authors explanations which are put in everyday terms complete with diagrams when needed. Many times they are actual personal events that are picked apart piece by piece so the reader can understand what is being said as well as the references to experiments and studies that were done. So why am I having a hard time with this book? I just can't grasp some of the concepts. I understand what is being said, for example: "The holographic principle states that each point on a 2D (flat) holographic picture will contain all the information needed to form the complete 3D image". I know what a 2D and 3D picture is so there is no problem there, it is when we cut a 2D holographic photo into many fragments and every piece of it will project a 3D image which is complete in every detail that I get lost on. I also can't get over that time does not exist, it is an allusion as well as death. If that is the case then I have to think in the here and now because there is no such thing as yesterday or for that matter tomorrow.

On the other hand, there is a lot that I do understand although I never really think of it on a conscious level. Subjects like attitude, meditation, mind over matter, and thinking vs. consciousness which I found very interesting. Another area covered is right brain and left brain thinking and the differences. I also found the whole topic on thought/mind/ego interesting plus the way that quotes either from the bible or just different people are used. The quote itself may make a bit of sense when reading it but after the explanation is given then the quote, it really makes sense. For example as I said earlier, time doesn't exist and then quote from Wheeler, "The past is only theory and it does not exist until invented by one's mind (Thought/Mind/Ego) to explain its observations of apparent beginnings and endings." Now I understand the quote even if I don't really understand time being an illusion.

This is the type of book that I can't read and understand all in a few days or even weeks. This needs some reflection and investigation as well as time to 'just let it sink in'. It is one which I will have to read certain chapters over and over to understand it and of course there is a possibility that I never will 'get it'. After all, all things are possible and miracles happen everyday.

With the authors recapping and restating what is learned in each chapter and the recalls from one chapter to another (what was learned) as well as all the reference studies, I think any reader with an average IQ can understand this book if they are willing to put the time into it. As I said, I don't understand the whole thing but even I have gotten some useful information I can use to create harmony in my life. For this reason, I do recommend it.

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April 4, 2013

Book Fourteen of my 2013 Goal

Mayan InterfaceMayan Interface by Wim Coleman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mayan Interface by Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin is a great read. I know very little about Mayan history and computer programing so I can't tell you how realistic any of this is but it still engaged me in its magical grasp. Once I started it, I hated when I had to put it down. It is not packed with action scenes nor is it a boring history book but it has both action and history in it and so much more. It is a mystery that has me looking at history a little differently and makes me wonder, what if? It is also about the spiritual with the Uay and mystical with the Zaztum and so much more.

The main character is Lydia Rosenstrom who is an archaeologist and shaman exploring Mayan ruins and translating Mayan glyphs in Yucatan but she leaves Yucatan to go to Portland. Her niece works at a museum there and is making an exhibit that has a virtual reality (VR) stroll through Mayan temples so visitors can see how the village looked. There are these plastic bubbles and the visitor stands in and puts on this type of headgear that allows them into this virtual world of long ago. When Lydia learns her niece died of fright in one of these bubbles she stayed in Portland to try and find out what had happened to her. How did she die in the virtual world as there is nothing in there that would cause a death unless someone tampered with the program, but who? She suspected the one person who has his own private access to this world, but why would he do such a thing?

This is not the only thing going on in the story although to me it is like the main plot, the one that starts the rest (aside from the fact that Lydia is trying to translate the glyphs). I have said enough about the plot since I don't want to give any spoilers but what I will say is that there are many layers to this story each holding its own magic, mysteries and warnings. There is another member of Lydia's archaeological team back in Yucatan and the storyteller is telling stories to him.These stories are things passed down generation to generation and a lot is learned about the Mayan through these stories. Also, a lot is learned by Lydia's experiences in the VR world. Not only about Mayan history but about herself and reality. All of these are braided together in this cleverly written story. Just as three strands in a braid are separate but are twisted in a way that they come together time and time again to make one braid so does this story. At no time did I feel I couldn't grasp what was going on nor did I feel like I was bounced from one thing to another. Instead, this was written with such fluidity that it was seamless and flowed naturally.

The authors described the scenes so spectacular that it was like I was in that VR bubble since I could see it laid out before me. It was extremely easy to visualize and if you are cooking dinner and you also smell that incense, put the book down and turn your stove off. You just burned dinner so you are having pizza tonight! (I did that, that is how engrossed I was in it.) Even the characters were described beyond the usual and they were all well developed.

While reading the book, I was on the edge of my seat a few times wondering what will happen next. Then I would put the book down to make dinner (more like burn dinner) or sleep and I would find myself wondering what if certain things were that way? Is reality something we only perceive on one level although there are many that make it up? Are we who we think we are? Is she who she thinks she is? It had me guessing all the way to the spectacular ending.

I highly recommend this book.

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