Monday, July 21, 2014

Featured Book: Universal Animism by Donald E. Crowell

About the book:

Our society has become saturated with propaganda that proclaims selfish competition as natural and reasonable. This apocalyptic view comes from viewing nature as a heartless foe rather than the divine instrument of life. It is a belief system that turns great profit for the merchants of exploitation and war who promote it. The belief that nature is “evil” also drives the violent xenophobia that has plagued society throughout history. Even evolutionary biologists and social scientists often adhere to this negativity as they see suffering in nature. But suffering and death describe little of the entirety of life. People are profoundly interdependent with nature and each other, but the shock experienced when violence occurs makes many think that horror is the higher truth. Criminality within the social group makes many people blind to the requisite group itself. Universal Animism is a reexamination of the core essence of nature. It is a definitive spiritual doctrine because it follows the rules of reason while recognizing spiritualism as open and infinite. It contains the truth about fundamentalism’s impossible contradiction, the truth about the psychological wars between spiritualists, dogmatists, and humanists, the truth about the shamanist roots of established religion, the truth about the scourge of Social Darwinism, and the truth about Deism and the very nature of God. Universal Animism is a thought-provoking book that calls for a complete reassessment of spiritual consciousness and civic responsibility.

About the author:

Donald E. Crowell is a graduate of UCLA and California Lutheran University. He is a high school instructor of physics and chemistry.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Featured Book: The Big Wide Calm by Rich Marcello

About the book:

A young woman’s journey to find herself and create the perfect album

Paige is a rock star. The world just doesn’t know it yet. With a name like Paige Plant, how could she be anything but the future frontwoman of the next Led Zeppelin? She’s got the charisma, the drive, and, of course, the mega-musical skills. All she needs is to make her debut album, one that will change the world, inspire revolutions—and make her galactically famous along the way.

When John Bustin, a rich, reclusive, former semi-famous singer/songwriter offers to record Paige’s album for free, it feels like destiny, like the next step on her way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, like some strange attractor is pulling her in. Guitar in hand, Paige sets off to John’s recording compound, ready to unfold her future.

But the ever-elusive John, with his mysterious history, and Paige, a big dreamer but naïve about her footing in life, clash as much as they coalesce. Before they can change the world through Paige’s music, the improbable duo must learn to work together, and in the process, discover their authenticity.

One part coming-of-age story and retrospective, one part rock and roll epic, The Big Wide Calm focuses a lens on human nature and the complexities of love through the eyes of young and old on the journey of creating the perfect album.

About the author:

If Rich Marcello could choose only one creative mentor, he'd give the role to Jonathan Richmond and the Modern Lovers. This is not only because he currently resides in New England, where Jonathan started, but because of his life as a contemporary fiction author, poet and songwriter, whose literary inspiration often stems from songs he's written. Rich grew up in New Jersey surrounded by song and word.

For a while it seemed right to travel the musician's path, especially during his stint in his college folk group, at The University of Notre Dame, where he wrote and recorded his first original songs. But, as is true for many musicians, graduation led him down a different road, one on which he found his love for high technology. There, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.

During his time in technology he never stopped creating art, and eventually his love for song and the written word grew to the point where he walked away from his first career to pursue poetry, song, and fiction with the same enthusiasm and discipline he demonstrated in business. In The Color Of Home, his literary voice melds all three together with honest generative dialogue, poetic sensory detail, and “unforgettable characters who seem to know the complete song catalog of Lennon or Cohen.”

Review: Terminal City by Linda Fairstein

With her newest Alexandra Cooper novel, Terminal City, New York Times bestselling author Linda Fairstein delivers another breakneck thriller that captures the essence of New York City—its glamour, its possibilities, and its endless capacity for darkness. 

Linda Fairstein is well-known for illuminating the dark histories in many of New York’s forgotten corners—and sometimes in the city’s most popular landmarks. In Terminal City, Fairstein turns her attention to one of New York's most iconic structures—Grand Central Terminal. 

From the world’s largest Tiffany clock decorating the 42nd Street entrance to its spectacular main concourse, Grand Central has been a symbol of beauty and innovation in New York City for more than one hundred years. But “the world’s loveliest station” is hiding more than just an underground train system. When the body of a young woman is found in the tower suite of the Waldorf Astoria—one of the most prestigious hotels in Manhattan—Assistant DA Alex Cooper and Detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace find themselves hunting for an elusive killer whose only signature is carving a carefully drawn symbol into his victims’ bodies, a symbol that bears a striking resemblance to train tracks.

When a second body bearing the same bloody symbol is discovered in a deserted alleyway right next to the terminal building, all attention shifts to the iconic transportation hub, where the potential for a bigger attack weighs heavily on everyone’s minds. With the President of the United States set to arrive for a United Nations meeting at the week’s end, Alex and Mike must contend with Grand Central’s expansive underground tunnels and century-old dark secrets—as well as their own changing relationship—to find a killer who appears to be cutting a deadly path straight to the heart of the city.

Received for review.

I haven't really kept up on the Alexandra Cooper series but I do catch a book once in a while and I was excited to pick up this latest novel as it is set in New York's Grand Central Terminal.  Having visited it a few times as a tourist it was fun to read about it, seeing it from a completely different angle.

It was nice to visit with Alex and the other characters again.  There's such an easy flow to the writing that it just sucked me in and kept me flipping pages as fast as I could read them.  The mystery was thought provoking and the behind the scenes interactions were entertaining.

Whether you are a diehard fan of the series or this is your first experience with it you will be very impressed.  I highly, highly recommend this.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review: Freud's Mistress by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman

In fin-de-siècle Vienna, it was not easy for a woman to find fulfillment both intellectually and sexually. 

But many believe that Minna Bernays was able to find both with one man—her brother-in-law, Sigmund Freud. 

At once a portrait of two sisters—the rebellious, independent Minna and her inhibited sister, Martha—and of the compelling and controversial doctor who would be revered as one of the twentieth century’s greatest thinkers, Freud’s Mistress is a novel rich with passion and historical detail and “a portrait of forbidden desire [with] a thought-provoking central question: How far are you willing to go to be happy?”

Received for review.

I've been reading quite a bit about Freud lately and I must say that the more I read about him the more I dislike him.

I gather that this was supposed to be a romance but I frankly found Freud and Minna's behavior completely distasteful.  On Freud's part to be carrying on with his wife's sister is just disgusting, but for Minna to betray her sister like that left me speechless.  I suppose as a reader I was supposed to sympathize with Minna and Freud and their "forbidden love" but seriously, they were both behaving like children and completely betraying the sister and wife who loved them both.  I don't understand how I was supposed to feel any sympathy for Minna at all, let alone Freud.  Minna was just a disgusting human being.  I actually took quite a bit of pleasure discovering that Martha outlived both her despicable husband and her scum of a sister.

The complete lack of morality in those two aside this was a beautifully written book.  It fully immersed you in the time period, the affair, and the household politics.  Every scene was told in such lovely detail that you could imagine every illicit action - whether you wanted to or not.  

If you can ignore the fact that these were actual people who went around hurting other real people then it may make for a nice, borderline romantic read.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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