Tag Archives: book review

A Dream Uncovered

A Dream Uncovered (Randyjw; June 19, 2019)

 

Unveiling the moon

of her shrouded mysteries

illuminating

 

 

Randy’s Reviews: Tears of the Moon – by Nora Roberts

Beauty and melancholy intertwine in the Irish folklore, music, and deep ties to its land. Among its people, a haunting longing within the heart and soul can only be quenched by returning to the roots of all connections: G-d, Love, and Country. For Brenna O’Toole and Shawn Gallagher, each learn to find the fulfillment of their deepest dreams and desires through a gradual understanding of the meaning inherent in all three.

 

 

(https://youtu.be/2IFBtpfY5kM)

 

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Randy’s Reviews: The Day You Were Born: A Journey to Wholeness through Astrology and Numerology – by Linda Joyce

Randy’s Reviews: The Day You Were Born: A Journey to Wholeness through Astrology and Numerology – by Linda Joyce (Randyjw; June 16, 2019)

 

The Day You Were Born: A Journey to Wholeness through Astrology and Numerology; Copyright © 1998 by Linda Joyce. Kensington Books. Kensington Publishing Corp., 850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022. http://www.kensingtonbooks.com

 

This book applies the sun signs of the zodiac, in a formula beginning in Aries and ending in Pisces, with a numerological factoring for the variance, and combines it with some metaphysically-specific best-practice recommendations to supposedly inform a person on the manners whereupon this application might be achieved.

 

Is it proper for me to side with or promote an astrological/numerological work? Not quite. Evidence for this, in Judaism, would point to the disaster of King Saul and his consultations with Hulda, who may or may not have been the same (I just don’t know) as the externally written-about Greek Oracle of Delphi. King Saul eventually fell prey to a never-ending wrestle between inner peace and an aroused spirit of paranoia and jealousy toward his eventual successor, David, the only one, paradoxically, who could calm Saul’s troubled spirit with the notes he played on his kinnor.

 

Yet, there exists further depth in the Judaic expression and realms of revelations intrinsic in the holiness of the Hebrew script (it is G-d’s word, after all); the corresponding numerical equivalency of the tandem Gematria; Kabbalah; and, really, actually, all things.

 

I can argue under Judaism, or Jewish perspective, for a combination of the essentiality of man’s existence on the earthly plane, combined with the striving toward the spiritual plane. G-d’s Laws (the Torah) are set before us with the imperative to choose life; that ye may live. We are told that doing so is not too difficult for us. We see that the 613 commandments include both the positive and the negative. We see that they include both the earthly (between man and man), and the heavenly (between man and G-d) — the stronger emphasis, surprisingly, being expounded as those between men. Disaster befalls us each and every time we go astray the Laws, which is a deviation from the spiritual. And Hillel sums up the whole of Torah as the essence that one should not do what is hateful unto another, stressing the earthly, inter-relationary aspects of man.

 

According to Linda Joyce, the author of the titled book in review, life should be balanced between the worldly aspects of the physical, such as the body and things of the earth, which is known as Ego, and the world of Spirit – – the heavenly realm — in order for the soul to receive its lessons as it proceeds through life and corresponding zodiac sun signs to grow in a balanced manner.

 

Linda Joyce has formed a merger of the practices of numerology and astrology to reveal an appreciable insight into human nature, combined with a gift for anecdotal and biographical supporting stories. What I can say is that, for everything that she presents, she does so to full confirmation of a certain perspective.

 

In a way, I always thought it was most imperative to nurture the qualities which would be so-considered the characteristics of a “higher calling,” tending to feel that one should aspire to lift one’s self above a baser nature. There’s nothing wrong with self-improvement, so I don’t find that, as an expression, to do so is as hypocritical an endeavor as the transverse, where the thought might be that, perhaps, one can only express their authentic selves via the masks of solely their present, fixed immutability. I think both give themselves a viewpoint weighted to the specifics of each varied individual: an optimistic outlook or a realistic outlook; but valid on either hand, regardless. It just matters which works better for each person.

 

Much like magic did this book appear on a shelf, at a time of deep, personal loss and internal struggle; although, unlike magic, I believe in G-d, and I believe in the basic goodness of man. The Biblical Jacob and his personal struggle teaches us about life, love, hardship and pain. But the message imparted is that we can prevail.

 

This excerpt, delineating Ego and Spirit in its last perfected self through Pisces, is seen, then, thus:

 

The search for your true origin, the haunting memory of happier days, innocence and youth — this is your memory of Eden and paradise. Darwin shocked and divided the world when he declared that men and apes had a common ancestor. His findings challenged the biblical origin story. The truth is that both origin stories are correct. We come from both heaven and earth. Heaven provides our mythical and symbolic origin. Evolution is what happens to us on earth — we evolve and grow and transform. The two are not in conflict (pg. 343).

 

Feelings of separation and loss, either because your path leads you elsewhere or someone else’s path has come to an end, is symbolic of the relationship between Ego and Spirit. Pisces is the end of the journey, and these two antagonists have traveled together through sunny days and terrible storms. They know each other in any disguise. They can recognize each other in a crowd, in the role of pauper or king, thief or saint. Together they have played all the parts, challenged each other’s goals and ideals, fought for and against each other’s dreams, shared each other’s joys and sorrows, triumphs and failures. Their commitment to the journey has bonded them through shared experiences, and now their differences seem unimportant and small. Theirs is a true relationship, one tested and sure, one based on earned respect. Now, when they have put aside their differences and learned how to play, it’s time to part. Love has awakened through the impending separation. Ego is old and must face death. Spirit is young. Having been reborn to a new strength, she can now defend herself and move forward, taking Ego’s memory into her heart and soul. Along the path he has protected her, allowing her to do her work. His devious ways and masterful disguises have honed her ability to see and discriminate. He has been her warrior, fighting her dragons; her enemy vying for position and power; her lover, embracing her with desire and will, trying to control her every breath. He has put her on a pedestal and he has abandoned her for fruitless dreams. But through it all they have remained together. Forgiveness came in Aquarius and the true meaning of love will come with separation. For without loss one does not know what one once had. They are soul mates and the song they sing has finally become one. Ego will surrender into the soul of the Spirit, ending their separation forever. Their love defies death because they are children of heaven and earth, who through their magical relationship have been able to bring one person closer to his or her true nature, to enlightenment, and to God.

 

… what they are learning is to love and go on, embodying that love within their soul, knowing that their physical presence is not needed for it to be real (pp. 373-374).

 

 

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Twenty Years at Hull-House; with Autobiographical Notes

 

Twenty Years at Hull-House; with Autobiographical Notes – by Jane Addams (Randyjw; June 1, 2019)

 

Twenty Years at Hull-House; with Autobiographical Notes – by Jane Addams; original publication date 1910. Paperback reissue by University of Illinois Press Urbana and Chicago in conjunction with the Illinois Center for the Book. Introduction and Notes ©1990 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, written by James Hurt, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

 

This is a review of paradoxical contradictions. Written by: a self-termed Conservative with a bent toward issues-oriented policy, regarding the premise of socialized, communal living, termed a ‘Settler Movement,’ within a democratic republic. A Movement meant to examine the processes and application of social theory towards the results of its experiments; yet still finding an unsolved relevancy in the persistence of those self-same subsets one hundred-years forward. The subject of ‘Humans’, as human subjects.

 

The time was ripening for the arousal to consciousness of how man must learn to structure their societal proponents to live amongst a continually burgeoning and industrializing U.S. population. With the influx of immigrants from abroad, there needed to homogenize the old traditions and cultures to create a workable new, and this was the tenet of a number of ambitious people and projects attempting to do so, circa late-Nineteenth/early-Twentieth centuries.

 

Jane Addams was one of them. In her 1910 published book, she describes her project, conducted with a friend, to live amongst the poor, and to become good neighbors with them. Along the way, she is caught up in the issues of the day, such as the women’s suffrage movement, the assimilation of immigrants from old worlds into a new country, and the effects of egregious working conditions amongst the poor. Whether by choice or chance, she winds up taking a more proactive role to see their challenges as they would experience them, up close, and finding means and both temporary and permanent solutions to help rectify their situation.

 

It’s often hard to tell whether this was an intended undertaking, or whether she was just along on a developing ride. But, in any case, it seems that the attentions given to youth development and education enhanced their opportunities for growth through learning, and lent great assistance to achieving these marks.

 

The book offers an interesting perspective of the literal language of life one hundred-years ago. Sometimes dull, sometimes pedantic in thought – – but still a particular slant from another era lending insight into the influencers of the way in which societies might develop.

 

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Randy’s Reviews: The Founding Conservatives: How a Group of Unsung Heroes Saved the American Revolution

Randy’s Reviews: The Founding Conservatives: How a Group of Unsung Heroes Saved the American Revolution (Randyjw; August 26, 2018)

 

The Founding Conservatives: How a Group of Unsung Heroes Saved the American Revolution

David Lefer. Penguin/Sentinel, $29.95 (416p) ISBN 978-1-59523-069-0
In the course of learning about my people’s, the Jewish people’s, history, I have often heard countless retellings of the stories of famous Jewish people who have contributed throughout the course of history toward the financial gains of their host countries’ continuance. This has often come in the form of providing their own families’ personal wealth in the form of currency toward the war chests of the countries in which they lived. I have heard that the Columbus voyage in discovery of the New World had been financially helped with Jewish funding; and another is the financing of the American Revolution by Haim Solomon, who helped U.S. Treasurer, Robert Morris, refill the American coffers to continue their defense against the British Redcoats, and to win the war for the American side. This salient fact is missing from the above book, which is one reason to question the revisionist manner in which the American story is retold.
Read about Haim Solomon, here, on Wikipedia:
I was going to give this book an excellent rating for its in-depth research into the machinations behind the men who cobbled together the form of democracy our United States would follow in the years just preceding the colonial uprising against the Stamp Act, resulting in the Boston Tea Party, where cases of imported tea from Great Britain were charged by King George III to be assessed against the thirteen American colonies, eventually resulting in the American Revolution against the British. I detract some of its points for the author having excluded the important, and well-known, contribution made by Haim Solomon to the American cause, overall, and for his blind-eyed focus solely on the known signers (for the most part) of the Declaration of Independence, with their internal debates of the issue of whether to remain a subject colony under British rule of the Monarchy, or whether to break off and become an independent nation.
Read about The Stamp Act, here, on Wikipedia:
It never seems that independence was exactly a foremost thought in the minds of our Founding Fathers – – at least, according to what author David Lefer writes, through his unearthing of the signatories’ diaries, and other records, such as letters found in archival libraries and collections he uses to piece together this interesting and fascinating account of the steps and, almost, missteps, the colonial Congressional Representatives and influence holders take in the construction of our seemingly much-different nation during its formative infancy.
The matter of taxation being imposed on the colonies from afar without the feeling of consideration that they were being properly represented, was probably the main impetus for the cause of the American Revolution against the British. Yet, there were those on the other side of the aisle who felt that America should continue to be ruled by the aristocratic and landed gentry, as they were the ruling classes in a still-feudal and Monarchical society in Britain, holding the land titles and much of the commercial plantations of serfs, which represented the bulk of the capital, at that time.
This book reads like a present-day thriller, of sorts, as equal pressure and equal measures are brought to bear by both sides of the American controversy, to the status, hanging in the balance, of the American future. Already secure in our knowledge of the outcome, we still read how very different the nation proceeded from the start, as compared to its final outcome which we experience now today. It is interesting to learn how this occurred, and what thoughts may have transpired in the minds of the framers of the Constitution by which our nation has successfully managed its founding and consolidation, amongst the diversity of thought, these many centuries later.
For this reason, I recommend the book as a learning opportunity and to enrich our minds in the process of how America was formed and the issues which informed that decision.

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Randy’s Reviews: Chandra, by Catherine Coulter

 

 

 

Randy’s Reviews: Chandra, by Catherine Coulter (Randyjw; July 9, 2017)

 

I still have two pages left to finish this book, which I hope to do later this evening — but, I thought I’d write and post this review beforehand, nevertheless. This is another of those well-timed messages that seem to pop-up out of nowhere, perfectly attuned to your own peculiar situation and personality, lending it great resonance to your life at the specific time. And so it was with me, with regards to this particular book.

 

Chandra, the main character about whom the novel revolves, is a teenaged girl growing up in a patrician world, where women are expected to willingly tend to all household duties in their arranged marriages to bridegrooms chosen by their fathers. But Chandra’s tomboy tendencies, indulged by her father, clearly clash with others’ expectations for her, especially of the man who wishes to wed her (who is, also, thank goodness, her father’s pre-arranged choice).

 

The novel is set in medieval England during a period of active monarchy and feudalism, with all its attendant treacheries amongst the knighthood — the backstabbing, the clannishness, the alliances of convenience, like marriage, as appropos as any war strategies to expand land holdings and power.

 

Chandra’s headstrong, feminist tendencies lead to many adventures, and some troubles, as she learns how to negotiate her way in a male-oriented world. I find her quandary as relevant today, as they were in the days, centuries ago, of the timeframe which this novel portrays. Some of the issues are very disturbing, and the content is aimed for a mature audience. Because of that, I almost did not do the review. The way the issues are presented is as if seen through the lens of the century in which it falls. For instance, child marriage is seen as a more commonplace occurence. Women treated as chattel like objects, through trafficking and slavery, placement in a harem, and subservient to men is also some treatment themes addressed throughout the book, as are stereotypical depictions of the Muslim rulers fought against during the Crusades, written about as through the English, Christian perspective taken here.

 

I found that the style of the written language lent itself to far greater civility than our present structural usage employs and was, indeed, quite lovely in its romantic interludes. There was a beautiful poem in this style, for which more I’d hoped to be scattered throughout the book. There were, additionally, some rather descriptive page lengths of love scenes written out that would have steamed up my glasses, had I been wearing them.

 

Author Catherine Coulter’s biographic pictorial photo and her character, Chandra, were well-relatable to me, and I appreciated her usage of the name, Chandra, for her heroine, as I feel it gives a tributary nod and thoughtful gesture — much needed — for a poor girl, Chandra Levy, murdered recently, as all murders are, under suspicious circumstances.

 

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Randy’s Reviews: Pilate’s Wife by Antoinette May

 

Randy’s Reviews: Pilate’s Wife by Antoinette May (Randyjw; June 13, 2017)

 

I believe in things like karma, synchronicity, and the other myriad, subtle influences that play a part in our lives, both physically and metaphysically. Little did I know that this fictional book, set just preceding and throughout the nadir of Pontius Pilate’s governorship in Judea during the reign of the Roman Empire, would touch me self-reflectively in the many references it makes to the journey I’ve felt myself to be on in recent months.

 

I’ve felt that the “universe” has been trying to tell me something very important that I have apparently been overlooking in my life. The same is being said to be the missing factor of the main character in this novel, Claudia Proculus, the eventual wife of Pontius Pilate. She is besotted with making this charming, handsome man her own, and goes to great lengths to see that this occurs, even seeking incantations from the mystagogue at her temple of Isis, to whom she swore devotional allegiance. Whether divinely inspired or chemically-induced, the attraction seems to work it’s magic spell and lures Pilate to her side, with equal ardor.

 

Claudia lives an idyllic childhood all too abruptly thrown into turmoil, as her life takes on tragic twists in the fate of her family members. She realizes that her inner happiness is in question, as well as her choices. Her child with Pilate brings her great joy, compounded by the realization that the man she really loves cannot be in her life. Their brief dalliances must last her a lifetime, and they do.

 

The book was researched by its author, Antoinette May, over a course of many years, taking about fourteen years’ time to complete. Several of these years were spent delving into the studies, documents, literature and resources of the Classics Department at Stanford University to research the era of this time, in order to make the real-life characters of the time come to life. I felt it was a very unique insight into the formation of monotheistic religion from its beginnings from its more nature-based, pagan panoply of deities. I loved the descriptions of the clothing, which were fashioned often after the celestial bodies of the stars, sun, and moon; the mentions of the various deities and their properties and how people came to worship them; etc.

 

While I appreciate that the Jewish slave, Rachel, was strictly written about in human terms and was never shown in any diminutive fashion, I felt that there was unnecessary antagonism toward the Jewish people portrayed by Ms. May in her wording and the feeling that I got based on her attitudes, which seemed particularly stereotypical and condescending toward the Jewish people as a religion and as a people. For this reason, I was really disappointed, although the book was otherwise an engaging and engrossing read. Taking this in mind, I do hope you have a chance to read and enjoy this book, as a love story and as a throwback to ancient times.

 

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Freedom: The Story of My Second Life – by Malika Oufkir

KIMG0039

Copyright 2006 by Malika Oufkir. Jacket designed by Beth Middleworth. Author photo by Melanie Dunea. Hyperion, 77 West 66th Street, New York, NY 10023-6298. Printed in USA ©2006 Miramax Books.

 

This book is one of the cherished volumes of my personal collection that just can’t seem to make it into a “give-away” pile to allow room for new reads on the shelf. Each time I say that I’ve read enough that I ought to be able to detach it from my core staples, it keeps coming back and taking its place among the rightly-deserved designated “keepers”.

 

Why this should be so is due to Ms. Oufkir’s beautiful Middle-Eastern phrasing and mindset. No-one can write with the allegory and turn-of-speech better than a son or daughter of the Levant (including the northern reaches of Africa). Think number one books, such as the Bible, or number one authors or poets, such as Khaled Hosseini or Khalil Gibran, respectively, which bring to mind examples for the simplicity of sentence regaling the beauty of a song.

 

Malika’s prose and outlook are remarkable, given the harsh treatment received throughout much of her life. She was the favored playmate in childhood of the King’s daughter. Later on, her father would be executed and she and her siblings and mother imprisoned for twenty years as collective punishment for the assassination attempt on the King in a coup d’etat allegedly involving Malika’s father. Their subsequent escape, recapture and final harrowing push to freedom are relayed in a compelling saga woven as beautifully as an embroidered wedding dress.

 

Her first book, Stolen Lives, was an international best-seller and relates her years during captivity. It doesn’t matter which book is read first; I almost prefer having read the sequel with which to gird oneself for the harshness of the first.

 

This post is dedicated to freedom and to the brave souls who fight to find it.

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