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Developing the Human Spirit

Glenville Ashby Author Interview

Glenville Ashby Author Interview

In Anam Cara you speak of the ‘soul friend’ as the bridge to enlightenment and creativity. How did you discover your ‘soul friend’ and how has it helped in your life?

The soul friend can emerge at any point of time in your life. There is hardly a need to go out and seek a soul friend. Doing so makes the process artificial and inauthentic. There is a saying: When the student is ready the master will appear. This principle applies to the Anam Cara. There are times in our lives when we are challenged, tested and at the very point of folding someone appears to listen, to guide and counsel. The Anam Cara does not provide us with answers but his or her presence facilitates the learning process. Notable is that the Anam Cara is not a spirit guide or discarnate being. The key attribute of the Anam Cara is the power of listening and the ability to subtly guide others toward discovering their own truths.

I have been fortunate to have a number of Anam Caras and do believe that their presence in my life has accorded me the ability to experience and explore truths without criticism and condemnation.

In this audio book you guide readers through 42 confessions to the soul. Why do you think these are essential for spiritual growth?

The 42 confessions are comprehensive and pertain to every aspect of human consciousness. The principles are timless, cross-cultural and aim at developing the human spirit with virtue, righteousness and kindness.

How do you see Anam Cara working in conjunction with, or supplementing, Buddhist and Christian principles?

The Anam Cara is neither Christian nor Buddhist. In fact the Anam Cara is found in every culture and clime The Anam Cara can only strenghten the principles of the great faiths. I am here reminded of St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises where the Anam Car is referred to as a confessor.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next book, “In Search of Truth: A Course in Religious Psychology” will be available in March 2018. It offers incredible insights into metaphysics, philosophy, religion and spirituality. The reader is encouraged to conduct his or her own research and to challenge the various themes presented. The subjects covered will no doubt stir debate.

Author Links: Twitter Facebook Website

Anam Cara: Your Soul Friend and Bridge to Enlightenment and Creativity by [Ashby, Glenville]This essential reading teaches us how to transform our lives by showing gratitude, acceptance and forgiveness. Your Anam Cara or Soul Friend, or confessor is never is judgmental and facilitates this process by listening and listening.When we remove our psychic blockages and barriers we begin to experience the fathomless potential of our soul, the very source of creativity ad intuition. Eric Ober, media consultant and former President of CBS News, calls Anam Cara, “an inspirational book that will maximize our quality of life.”

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Grandma’s Secret Blessings

Grandma's Secret Blessings: A Memoir with a Twist by [JohnEgreek]

A life story told alongside life lessons…

Grandma’s Secret Blessings: A Memoir with a Twist, is a deeply personal and dramatic-memoir. It tells the story of Yianni’s life, family, troubles, and successes. Told from a mix of first and third-person viewpoints, it gives an interesting perspective on how a person develops character. Central to the book’s theme are the secret blessings, which are a collection of inspirational messages, trans-cultural personal instructions, and existential aspirations. The book also has a number of lessons passed down by Yianni’s grandmother from the Greek oral tradition.

Yianni and his family are Greek in origin, and as such, they share a long history involving the oral transmission of stories. Over history, folk tales and legends were often performed by storytellers in front of audiences, including young children and even grown children, such as Yianni. This culture is present in the story as Yianni learns of his family history, reaching clear back to great-great-grandparents. This family history has personal ties back to Greece and Albania, much of it during a time of serious political and economic turmoil. Of course, those history lessons passed down to Yianni are also infused with Grandma’s life lessons for Yianni. This is all interspersed with Yianni’s own personal history, along with description for the way that these stories and lessons helped him.

There are more than ten of grandma’s secret blessings, many of which existing in some form in many different cultures and languages. However, what makes the lessons particularly powerful is that in Yianni’s experience with his abusive father, Yianni explains that, “…it’s the only way to close the gaping hole in my heart.” Many of these secret blessings are a blessing in that they are a form of grace, protection, or favor for Yianni. “You are the captain of your own ship,” as an example, explains for Yianni that no matter what tosses you around and what terrible things may befall you, you still have control in your own life and life choices. This is how the book is a memoir “with a twist.”

Grandma’s Secret Blessings is not perfect in its presentation. For example, there are a number of typographical and grammatical errors, as well as punctuation mistakes that are distracting. However, these generally do not detract from the message and central themes of the story. In a way, it conveys the very essence of that oral tradition, which is sometimes imperfect and lost in translation.

Grandma’s Secret Blessings is intended for adult audiences. There are depictions of child and intimate partner abuse, discussions of sexuality and sexual behavior, and alcohol and drug abuse. These depictions are realistic in nature, contributing to the overall feel of the book and its weighty emotionality. Overall, even with the copy-editing errors, Grandma’s Secret Blessings is a good read for those looking for emotional and inspirational literature.

Pages: 364 | ASIN: B077PLR98B

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Sacred Secret: Take Eat: This is My Body

Sacred Secret: Take Eat: This is My Body... by [Varga, Wendy]

Have you ever wondered about the importance of communion? What really is the root of all this power the blood of Jesus is purported to have? How can human beings harness this power as God wishes?

Wendy Varga’s Sacred Secret is an in-depth analysis of the Communion. We often use blatant explanations of God’s instructions. But man is protected from all sorts of evil if he marks himself with the blood.

If faith is shallow, little is expected. People should know the limitless capabilities of God as this affects their level of faith and consequently, how impactful He will be in their life.

Wendy Varga’s passion helps to eloquently unravel many biblical mysteries. Her fervent writing had me craving to know more about communion; I found myself often referencing my bible. By the end of this book I felt that I had a better understanding of the power of the New Testament Covenant Meal. The author’s eagerness to truly understand God’s purpose for the Passover is evident. Her break down of the relation between His blood and God by use of scientific explanations is startlingly enlightening. Her insistence to not just know God, but also know Him intimately is a recurring theme. I’ve read other religious books on similar subjects, but they often only touched on this subject before quickly moving on. But it is the focal point in this book. It’s refreshing to see a book take a deep dive into one aspect of faith.

I consider this a knowledge check for anyone who knows their Bible well, but what I truly appreciated was the unique perspective in which the information is presented. Be prepared to ask yourself questions you never have before. In the end, I appreciated how this book left me reevaluating my relationship with God. This book will arm you with the knowledge and power of the blood and thus strengthen your faith. I believe that this book will unlock the potential of God’s power in your life through faith.

Pages: 156 | ASIN: B072M8R6JG

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Stainer by Iolanthe Woulff truly lives up to being a novel of the “Me Decade”. Set in 1975, we follow Ben Steiner, a Jewish Columbia undergrad who at his core is a decent person but wishes to be “in” with the “in crowd.” On the night of his twenty-first birthday he attends a party that will change his life forever. He meets P.T. Deighland, a wiseass from Princeton, who is clearly up to no good, and Rebecca Glaser who he falls for immediately. His new-found friendship with Deighland and his own youthful temptations lead him to make escalating bad choices that may not only harm his budding romance with Rebecca, but expose this alternate life to the rest of the Jewish community. It is a classic journey of self-discovery, but one with a lightness of humor that keeps it from becoming too dismal.

Woulff does a wonderful job with blending the scenery of 70’s New York City with the strikingly personal conflict of Ben Steiner. The cultural tropes of the Jewish community come into full play and provide the initial conflict of the individual strikes out away from the old traditions of his culture. The fact that Ben lives in a converted residence hall with other Jewish scholars from Columbia. He thirsts for the experience outside of his roots that has been denied to him all these years, and turning twenty-one he feels that he is empowered to do so.

In some ways, this novel is very much the spiritual successor of Catcher in the Rye, but considering it is about the 1970s, it feels much more relevant to our present age. I found the pacing to be a bit of a slow burn, since it weaves this inner journey that Ben must make in order to reach the final beats of the narrative. Woulff provides a story with rich character development, which is impressive for a book that is trying to tackle not only personal conflict, but societal conflict and the social statements at large. Ben suffers from the divide his life takes after the party, where he hides pieces of his life from his Jewish friends.

The book is particularly polished, which is enjoyable and Woulff’s attention to detail and the interiority of her characters to be particularly good. It is also such a wonderful tale of how we can sometimes self-sabotage ourselves and not be able to see the “good” that is often right in front of us.

Stainer presents itself as a coming of age work and one that I think all ages should be able to enjoy. YA readers may take a particular pleasure in reading this novel.

Pages: 345 | ASIN: B071G8KFX1

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Fractured: My Journey Back From Death and the Lessons I’ve Learned Along The Way

From the outside looking in, Elizabeth had the perfect life. She had a family who loved her, numerous friends, and a successful career. No one knew the hurt, pain, and angst she hid inside, struggling to keep herself small so that those around her would still like her. It all came to a head on October 23, 2007, when her parents received a call that she was lying lifeless in the ICU in a hospital in Utah — “You better get out here, your daughter is not going to make it.”; Fractured: My Journey Back From Death and the Lessons I’ve Learned Along the Way is the memoir of Elizabeth’s recovery, spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is about her deliberate decision to begin the hard work finding and using her voice and the struggle to break out of the box that society tried to keep her in. This is the story of what happens when one woman stared death in the face and decided to make a conscious choice not to go back to sleep, but to wake up and live the life she knew she was meant to live.

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Black Inked Pearl: A Girl’s Quest

Black Inked Pearl: A Girl's Quest

An epic tale spun from erratic thoughts placed into text and delivered to the world. That is the sense that readers will get from Black Inked Pearl A Girl’s Quest by Ruth Finnegan. Our protagonist, Kate, is searching for something. She is on a journey through years and lifetimes as she seeks out this piece that is required to complete her. We see this world through her eyes, her thoughts and her experiences. The tale is epic not only in page count, but in content as well. We know that Kate has lost something, that she is searching for this thing, but we don’t know exactly what it is. We are left with speculation and can only turn the next page to find out if she has achieved her goal. With songs, poetry and influences of dreams long past, this tale is one that is begging to be heard.

The way this book is written, with its dream-like prose and fractured sentences, allows this epic fantasy novel to be told in a stream of consciousness style of writing. The thoughts are thrown at the reader: fast and unforgiving. At first glance, the reader may think that our protagonist, Kate, has simply gone mad and the first chapters are from her point of view. However, the entire book reads that way and, if you are not paying close attention, you may get lost. Readers are quickly taken from scene to scene and thought to thought with barely a lull. Perfect for readers who like to be fully engaged in a story.

The words are very beautiful. The poetry both original and borrowed lends a mystical air to the story. If you view the entire book as a sort of waking-dream, it begins to make sense. This writing style is wonderful for conveying emotions and we can get a better sense of how Kate is feeling as she continues her search. The blending of a warped reality with a warped sense of fantasy lends well to the thought of this being a dream-like state that Kate has found herself in.

A whirlwind of a read is what you’ll find between the covers of Black Inked Pearl A Girl’s Quest by Ruth Finnegan. The mystical sense of the book is intriguing. This is a book recommended to be finished in one sitting as you may find it hard to pull away. The dream-like madness that seems to grip the pages make for an exciting read, but this can also be overwhelming. This may be a book suited to seasoned readers who are looking for a dreamlike story of epic proportions.

Pages: 286 | ASIN: B0158VRF26

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Do A Day

Do a Day: How to Live a Better Life Every Day

Do a Day by Bryan Falchuk is written from the author’s own experience of turning his life around – losing weight and eating healthier. He has turned his method into a general philosophy, which he wants to use to help others with achieving their goals and improving their lives. The book is organized into relatively short chapters, so that it can be read a little each day. In order to help readers who want to leave the book and come back to it, each chapter has a helpful summary at the end.

Do a Day is appreciative of people’s differences and faults – the author doesn’t write as if he expects everyone to live exactly as he does now. He even shares where he went wrong on his journey so the reader can learn from it. These semi-autobiographical sections are one of the strengths of this book, for me.  It added interest and a more human element than lists of instructions.

I felt as if some parts were over-explained, such as the metaphor of the chapter entitled “Before My Dawn”. I enjoyed the humor that I read, but there was too little of it, making the book a little more serious than it otherwise could have been.

The chapter order was well-chosen to guide the reader through the author’s philosophy, and I appreciated the references to scientific studies and other data that lent some credibility to the method, which was otherwise based on anecdotal evidence.

The content of the method itself was not revolutionary, but I felt that in this form it might be more accessible and inspirational to some people who might otherwise not care or not have the opportunity to learn about it. Do a Day felt like an honest account that didn’t promise any quick, or low-effort fixes.

Mainly, the book gives sensible advice. It covers how to apply the described way of thinking to every aspect of daily life – exercise, eating, parenting, work, and getting through a bad day. It’s very thorough, and feels like a natural fit for each.

Overall, it contains useful advice with interesting sections of autobiography and is well-explained and is accessible and inspirational.

Pages: 137 | ASIN: B06W9L9NDT

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The False Prophet

The False Prophet (Stonegate, #2)

The False Prophet, by Harry James Fox, is set in a post-apocalyptic America where a plague wiped out a large majority of its inhabitants. The remaining populace, left angry and bitter, instigated wars and caused even more deaths while seeking retribution from various groups of people. With all remnants of modern civilization long gone, their society was essentially thrown back into the dark ages. At the opening of the book, the son of a mysterious prophet named Hiram Abaddon now seeks to continue his father’s legacy of dominion over any that do not support him.

The book has Biblical references with the main opposition to Abbadon (the False Prophet) consisting of Christians. The story plays out like one would imagine the tribulation as discussed in the Bible, with Abbadon seemingly synonymous with the Antichrist. One man, Donald of Fisher, along with a group of comrades, sets off to gain support in the fight against The False Prophet. The book is definitely picks up speed as the story progresses; the first half is slow to build and relatively uneventful but does well to setup the rest of the story. In this way it reminds me of Game of Thrones, in that it was a lot of information upfront, but once you were caught up, you were hooked. When news reaches Prophet City that there is an uprising, the story line really picks up and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Right from his introduction in the story, The False Prophet’s character is intriguing and easy to hate. Which is a perfect setup and a stark contrast to Donald of Fisher. The fact that the False Prophet is easy to dislike and connect with as an enemy really helped to keep my interest piqued. Although I felt like Donald’s character could of used more depth, it could easily be that I wanted this depth because his character was also so intriguing and begged to be explored.

Personally, I love the Biblical undertones of the story and the fact that a lot of the chapters open with a Bible verse helped to give insight into the chapter’s direction. I also like that the Biblical alignment is less obvious than in some other books that have attempted to use a similar setting or premise. Because of how it is done, I think this book will be more appealing to the general public than to a very specific niche. Overall, I find The False Prophet to be a fascinating and entertaining story. I can’t wait for the next one!

Pages: 368 | ASIN: B01N6PZUU0

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My Father’s Kingdom

My Father's Kingdom: A Novel of Puritan New England by [George, James W.]5 Stars

A historical fiction novel by James George, My Father’s Kingdom is centered heavily around the religious strife during the American settlement at Plymoth in the late 1600s. The story is told through the narrative of both native Indian tribes and from English settlers, 50 years after our beloved Thanksgiving holiday occurred. The differences between the two people, especially in religious decisions, is what drives the stress between the alliance. The wordsmanship by George is a beautiful combination of elements and themes, pulling together from the hardships our ancestors faced and the fear that comes with abnormalities and change.

The narrative of this story is told mostly by Linto, Metacomet, and Israel Brewster. Each offers a different opinion and set of beliefs on the alliance between the people, and on their personal religious journeys. This plot of the story is comprised of a brewing rebellion after an untimely death nine years prior. Tension is strong between the two people, and fear and talk of war is present early on.

Meanwhile, the characters are on journeys of their own, to find a connection with God. Linto is hungrily trying to understand the Englishmen’s God, and is plagued by the stress. He seeks comfort in his own communion with nature with The Great Spirit. Metacomet is overcome with grief for the loss of his brother, and struggling with the responsibility of leading his tribe down the correct path. His distrust for the Englishmen and the revenge he seeks plays an important role in the evolution of the story, and it feels like you grow right along with the young leader as the tale unfolds.

On the other side of the coin, the English settlement faces troubles of its own, told mostly from the Reverend’s point of view. Israel is also a character who is suffering internally, battling the repercussions to his faith with the loss of his wife. While he does his best to keep his community pure by offering extensive counseling, he also battles with the shaky relationship with the local native tribes.

The consistent theme to the story is that which exploits the importance of peace. Often we forget what truly happened in the history of America, and instead focus on the gracious holiday that was born from the struggles of the first settlers. This story helps serve as a humble reminder of the bloodshed and the turmoil that really occurred.

Everything meshed together beautifully, staying accurate enough to the history of the war that happened while giving a unique and fresh tale to follow. It breathes life into the history we read so blandly, and George does an excellent way of making the scenario relatable and understandable to modern time. The characters are beautifully flawed, and all so different from one another. You feel the pain they feel in their journey, and I was eager to discover the endings that they would come to face. It’s a beautiful picture of American History and the fragile nature of peace and friendship.

Pages: 169 | ASIN: B01MS5OQP8

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Not Alone

Not Alone3 Stars

Not Alone is a modern retelling of the biblical story of Job, in which a man’s faith in God is tested by having everything but his life taken from him – his family murdered, his crops burnt, livestock slaughtered, and his physical self covered in boils and sores. Not Alone brings this story into a modern-day setting with Joe Moretti as Job. Joe, with his wife and five children, is mostly content with his life and hopes he is a good person. However, unbeknownst to him, there is a war being waged for his soul between the highest of angels and the lowest of demons. Joe suffers similarly to Job, and has most everything ripped from him. He and his wife must suffer immense pains to see if humanity and faith itself can survive anything.

The novel has a lot going for it, but it’s held back in many regards. There is an intelligent sincere voice in this novel, but there are many spelling and grammar errors. Many of the scenes are thought provoking, but there are jumps between narration that cause the reader to stop and ask what is happening. The overall pacing hinders otherwise great character development – the jumps in dialogue and setting cause far too much friction to enjoy the areas of the book where the flow moves the reader well. The story really draws you in with the depth of characters and tense scenes, but there is a lack of focus – the book will take its time to describe the visuals of the various angels and demons in the war for Joe’s soul, but then rush through other crucial scenes. A good example of this is when the news of his business being nearly destroyed hits Joe the same time as he is told that his five children have been viciously slaughtered. The whole scene flies by, with the police telling Joe that his children have been murdered in a ritualistic killing and then leaving moments later, with the whole exchange coming off nearly robotic in its utter lack of emotion from either party involved.

While the various descriptions help the reader visualize the setting and characters of the story, I often felt that the focus was on the wrong subjects, for example: pausing to inform the reader how tall every single fantastical entity they meet is really hinders the book. I often found myself engrossed in this novel and Joe’s life being torn apart, but I was often thrown off by common terms used in incorrect ways, like saying ‘beamer’ in non-speech text without capitalization to indicate a BMW, or misspelling the main female character of the original Star Wars (it should be Leia, not Leah, it could be that I’m too much of a nerd to even notice this). Not Alone is brimming with potential, there is nothing in here that a good editor cannot fix, so that this novel can be the truly great novel that I know it can be.

Not Alone is a re-skin of a morality tale from the Good Book; a conglomerate of descriptions; a hope by the author to show how much faith and understanding in a higher power can be pushed to the breaking point, only to bounce back. The author has a fantastic understanding of Christianity and how it can help people.

Pages: 242 | ISBN: 1633063194

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