The Golden Cage: From Entrapment to Empowerment is a motivational self-help book penned by Margot Zaher. Zaher uses her “golden cage” metaphor to explain how people get themselves trapped in relationships, careers, etc. that they find hard to escape from. She explains that leaving those “safe” cages may lead to better outcomes for those stuck inside. Zaher helps take some fear out of taking that first doozy-of-a-step. She will give courage to the frightened and hope to the hopeless. She will hold readers by the hand and lead them right out of their comfort zones. She gives a guide on how to break free from traps and become empowered, as the title suggests.
Zaher exposes her own wounds for the benefit of others. That’s a brave and scary thing to do. Readers will appreciate her vulnerability. People will identify with Zaher’s turmoil and her struggle to step out on a limb and leave the familiar. The scenarios found in the book are relatable. Everyone has a regret. It may be staying in a relationship too long for the sake of “security,” staying in a miserable job because of fear, or staying stagnant because of the fear of change.
I think the book would probably work best as a daily devotional sort of read. I think it can be most effective in that capacity. Otherwise, it may feel redundant and repetitive. Taking a bit at a time to ruminate on would be better than reading it through like a novel. It is a book to work through, not a book to fly through. There are some open ended thoughts that require reflection and contemplation. This makes the read more of an interactive experience for the reader.
Speaking of devotional, I appreciate Zaher’s openness toward a higher power. Most devotional books I have read were pretty narrow as far as their references toward God. I like that Zaher leaves room for anyone to be able to read this book. She refers to God as God, higher power, source of life, etc. She helps to give advice and direction to readers without trying to dictate their personal beliefs. This is refreshing in this kind of book.
Margot Zaher bravely gives us her innermost thoughts, feelings, and struggles to pore over and relate to. The book is great for “thought for the day” passages if taken in its short sections. Zaher bursts through the myth of false security to show readers the brighter future they can discover if they are brave enough to shake off their chains.
Pages: 142 | ASIN: B07HVJ7V4J
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Some time ago, I advanced to a new level of spiritual transformation consisting of awareness and consciousness. Many things transpired to enhance my level of consciousness and lead me to a new journey of refined cosmic consciousness. This is where spirit began to speak to me about the things I had encountered through my life’s journey. The sexual, physical, and emotional abuse traumas in my life became a way for me to help others in this world.
I had to heal myself first to help others, and it is through that healing that I became consciously aware that I was a natural healing vessel. All my traumas served to give me strength for my own spiritual journey. I now share my gift with the world to help other overcome their traumas and the negative experiences in their lives and to teach people how to thrive in this world instead rather than exist. To bring forth this information, I knew that I must speak truth, and fear could not play a part in this healing process.
In my book, I share a variety of examples that are real life-related events, and how each negative event created negative brain patterns. Negative experiences can be transformed into positive brain patterns which create a healthier way of living, and open spiritual pathways toward higher consciousness.
It feels great to be in a state of awareness, and consciousness to know where my life is heading. The things that impacted my life that kept me closed up for so many years no longer have a hold on me. It wasn’t always that way. I had taken on victim energy, and through my transformation, I learned how to release this energy and regain my power. Overcoming these traumas has opened my heart to sharing information as a healing tool for many other people.
My goal is to reach and transform as many lives as possible to awaken other people to this same level of consciousness, one soul at a time tarting with mine. I am inspired and motivated by the outer realms of my mind that which I see but may not yet be visible to others. I try to stay open at all times to receive new information to deliver to those who are open to new possibilities and want to receive healing for the body-mind-spirit.
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The Labyrinthine Journey follows Evan on his continued quest to locate a sacred object and stop the advent of Christianity? What were some themes you wanted to bring over from book one and what were some new ideas you wanted to explore?
I wanted to explore the concept of what if Christianity never happened, and what events may have prevented the birth of Christ. What if the Greek gods were to learn they would be superseded by a single divinity? How would they react and what would they do? Are their powers omnipotent or are they impeded by restrictions and what are they? This is what I wanted to delve into in the trilogy, and offer an alternative. If Christ wasn’t born, then which deity would prevail?
The main theme is self-enlightenment, growing and learning from experiences whatever the challenges or situation. As each book is written, it is my hope Evan and his companions continue to grow and become more self-aware and enlightened. Destiny is another theme I wanted to explore and develop further in each book. Was Evan destined to be the hero, go back to his past and prevent the rise and birth of Christ? Or does his destiny and the world’s change once he makes a decision or when he acts? Is he controlled by forces that he cannot see or feel? In essence, I wanted to explore the idea of whether destiny shapes who we are, how we think and what we do. Family was another theme I wanted to include, Evan is very close with his parents and deceased sister, and mentions in book one various familial experiences. In book two, his recollections of his family are still there, however his surrogate family, Dexion and Phameas, and half-brother, Homer, who he discovers at the end of book one, become pivotal in the story. He and Homer are Zeus’ offspring, and the family ties are even stronger with the High Priestess, who is his sister. Darkness and light are another theme, which is hinted at in book one, grows in book two, something that I will explore more in book three. The darkness is within Evan, his transformation evident when he gets angry and his eyes turn black, a characteristic he shares with the High Priestess, though she tends to use her particular abilities when they are in trouble.
How did the idea of the gods from Greek mythology fighting monotheism develop into a story for you?
It was a twisted path, much like the journey the characters go through in book two, the original concept for the story looked very different to the books I’ve written. It was meant to be about how the Atlanteans re-emerge from the destruction of their home and re-discover the world in which they once inhabited. It didn’t have enough for me to explore or write, so I re-read Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey. They are my go-to books for inspiration as is Joseph Campbell’s books. Then I had an epiphany, if the gods created such havoc through one war and for one individual who tried to return home, what would they do if they discovered that their existence, their omnipotence, their control over humans was threatened? I didn’t think they’d like it at all! And that is how my idea for the story evolved.
I think you did a fantastic job of building great characters in this story. What is your writing process like in developing your characters?
Thank you very much for the compliment! I tried very hard to make sure each character had his/her own personality and I wanted each to stand out, even if their role was a minor one.
I have in mind what they look like, how they sound, how they walk, the colour of their skin and hair, how tall they are or short. I then write their details out on a proforma, similar to the old index cards, a character biography. I have three separate documents: one for master characters, major and minor. On each of these ‘cards’ I have their names and age; their pertinent biographies including occupation (if they have one); physical features; distinctive language; goals/motivation; fatal flaws and saving grace. These help me keep the characters consistent and ‘flesh out’ who they really are. I got this strategy from reading: The Writer’s little helper by James V. Smith Jr.
When I am writing, I visualise the characters, how they interact, what mood they are in, their body language, speech inflections and little quirks they have. For example, Phameas, who likes to keep his hair and beard curled, a Phoenician style and sign of a man’s virtue, is upset when Evan has radical haircuts and shaves. However, the characters don’t always allow me to write how I want the story to go, they interfere, a lot. I guess that’s only fair, as it is their story I am writing.
This is book two in the Servant of the Gods series. Where will book three take readers?
In Book three, Evan and his companions find a way to leave the Isle of Hephaistos, and sail to Crete. They are a bit concerned, as prior experience has seen them shipwrecked and the Argo badly damaged. They island hop, that is Jason’s preference to ensure they don’t run into the Cyclops again. It is at one of the islands that Evan encounters the Dark Master, and have a conversation. When they arrive on Crete, they discover ancestors of the island who had escaped the deluge. One of the islanders shows them the way into King Minos’ labyrinth, where Evan will face the Minotaur. What happens in between, who knows?
Follow Evan as he continues his odyssey as Servant of the Gods in The Labyrinthine Journey. The quest to locate the sacred object adds pressure to the uneasy alliance between Evan and the Atlanteans. His inability to accept the world he’s in, and his constant battle with Zeus, both threaten to derail the expedition and his life.
Traversing the mountainous terrain of the Peloponnese and Corinthian Gulf to the centre of the spiritual world, Evan meets with Pythia, Oracle of Delphi. Her cryptic prophecy reveals much more than he expected; something that changes his concept of the ancient world and his former way of life.
Will Evan and his friends succeed in their quest to find the relics and stop the advent of Christianity?
Posted in Interviews
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Ain’t No Messiah by Mark Tullius is a dark and intriguing novel about the life of Joshua Campbell. Set in the United States, it’s a tale of his life, from birth to adulthood. Significant family members such as his mother, father and brother walk some of his journey with him as well as childhood friends that reappear in early adulthood. Estranged family members are in his mind all the while and readers meet them briefly as he tries to connect with them.
Having almost died at birth, Joshua’s father labelled him the messiah. His father continues to use this label throughout Joshua’s unusual life; citing near death experiences as miracles. His father publishes books about him and fashions a new church and business on the miracles of the messiah. Despite calling him the messiah, he verbally and emotionally abuses and neglects him on a regular basis. Joshua consistently refuses to believe he is the messiah and begins to rebel against his father’s rules. Eventually, at 17 he decides to run away, and experiences the world in a new light, but finds he still can’t shake the title of Messiah.
As the story progresses it is unclear whether he seeks out trouble, or trouble seeks him out, and this grey area is what kept me engaged throughout the story. Joshua is dragged into a world of sex and drugs, but he still has to run from his label as the messiah and his tyrannical father. As Joshua is pulled deeper into this world it becomes unclear who he can trust and things turn into a life and death situation. This reminded me of how Stephen King sets up his stories to deliver poignant ideas through simple prose.
Ain’t No Messiah kept me engrossed until the very end. As I read I kept questioning whether Joshua would break free forever from his father, or if he would be tempted by the life of fame and comparative comfort? At times I questioned his life choices and whether he could trust the people he aligned with. The main characters were well developed and believable. However, I felt there were far too many minor characters in the story that kept entering and disappearing. At times it became difficult to keep track of who was who. This detracted from the overall story as I had to pause and try to remember who the character was and why they were important to the story. The transition between flashbacks to past events and present day were clear at the start of the book, however near the end they became less clear which also distracted from the overall continuity. Overall this is an interesting and well written book that delivers a thought provoking message by putting a fascinating character in evocative situations that beg one to reflect on the choices we all make in life.
Pages: 326 | ASIN: B07KCQ8P17
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No Reflection: Are You Who You Thought You Were? By Christopher Johnson is an introspective religious and spiritual book. It contains many quotes from the Bible as well as quotes from famous people and some other religious figures with thoughts connecting it. Each chapter in the book covers a topic, such as love and forgiveness and then they all follow the same formula of having different quotes and speculation on these quotes. Johnson mentions in the book that his work is the result of conversations with different people in his life and his thoughts on these quotes.
Johnson’s work is interesting. He has quotes followed up with statements that are thoughts on these subject matters. The thoughts connecting these quotes are not always religious, some of them are statements referring to life, but the bulk of them are religious. In addition to quotes, there are topics for each chapter, and some contain metaphors. The metaphors, connecting quotes and thoughts are well done and seamlessly flow into one another. I quite enjoyed the vampire metaphor a lot. It fits into what the author was doing with that chapter perfectly, and I never thought of why vampires cannot go into the sunlight before, but his explanation of it made sense and fit so well with the text. Another analogy I greatly enjoyed was the tortoise and the hare. Johnson relates this to life and states that some are fast to separate but slow to come together, and I found that I agreed with that to a point.
I think for some, this book could be controversial, more specifically the parts addressing homosexuality. I personally do not agree with the sentiments made. I think when making claims similar to these, it would have been nice to have other sources other than Bible quotes and quotes from people that back up thoughts to make it more balanced. Without the balance, it comes off more as a strictly religious text. I do not think Johnson is intending to be biased, but I would have enjoyed other sources with similar statements.
Some of it seems contradictory at times too. For instance saying that God does not have a part in everything because He gave us free will and does not pull all the strings in everything, but then stated God supplies our money. But from the text, it would seem if we choose to work to make money, then we are supplying money through choice. Definitely a mind bender! The book is definitely thought-provoking at times, such as the chapter on forgiveness. That was an interesting read.
Overall, I liked the book. I would recommend this book to those who are open to religious talks, as the book felt like a church sermon in each chapter, or those who are of Christian faith. I am open to seeing others’ perceptions and thoughts who are different from my own, so it was an engaging read and food for thought.
Pages: 144 | ASIN: B07964NR4B
Posted in Book Reviews
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Whatever He Wants: The Pleasures and Perils of Power By Joan Conning Afman is a contemporary story set in West Palm Beach, Florida. The books starts with Mel Martinelli and Sam Abrams, two unethical businessmen, looking for an up-and-coming politician to groom for state senate. They want a man they can control, who will serve their own interests. They decide that David Shepherd, a young, handsome lawyer is the ideal candidate. David insists that he will not be a party to anything illegal, and with their insincere assurance that they would never ask him to do anything like that, he agrees to their proposal to fund his campaign. Mel goes so far in his machinations as to encourage a romantic relationship between his daughter, Michelle, and David, which eventually leads to marriage. Will David’s ambitions cause him to act contrary to his beliefs? Or will he stand firm against others’ attempts to compromise his determination to do what is right?
Michelle Martinelli is a controversial character that had me shaking my head at the beginning of the story. She was entitled and snobbish, with no ambition and was supported by her rich father. She was a character perfectly created to be hated. She was drawn to a man based on his looks alone, without any thought for what kind of person he was. What I really enjoy about the characters in this book is how they evolve over time. Michelle starts to develop some redeeming qualities as time passes, although still unlikable, I was impressed with how well developed here character was.
While the books started with me loathing Michelle, I had the opposite feeling of David Shepherd. He seemed to be an ethical man who refused to comprise his principles for others. But as the story progressed, he abandons his scruples and becomes corrupted by power. This slow decline into the very worst sort of politician reveals how someone can change, and the contrast is stark and revealing–accepting bribes, having an adulterous affair, fathering a child with a woman who was not his wife, contemplating and condoning murder to further his own ends.
I enjoyed the author’s writing style, it flowed easily and was frank and to the point with only a few editing issues. The story was well paced but there were a few sections where I would have enjoyed a little bit more information before the story moved on. The story follows the development of the characters over the course of more than twenty years so there were points where there are large time jumps leaving me with a few questions in an otherwise well written story.
This is a fascinating story that examines how people change over time. This is a character driven story that I highly recommend to anyone who likes stories that put humanity to the test.
Pages: 190 | ASIN: B0793QKWYF
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Have you been in a situation where all hope seems lost? Have you felt like God is abandoning you? Have you ever felt like you faith is wavering? Like you are losing grasp of your relationship with God?
Heavenly Whispers taps into all of these feelings and serves as a guide to devotion to help keep that bond with God. This is a guide to keeping a hold on faith and remaining strong under God despite the storm that’s raging. This book will help you devote yourself to God unencumbered by your own mind and self-imposed hurdles by providing you with a strong and insightful scripture every day for 222 days. It comes in a tiny package. You can have it in your pocket for whenever and wherever the need to commune with God arises.
There are so many great qualities here. First is the carefully picked words from the Bible. The prayer after each scripture. Then there is how the message just seems to tap into that deep yearning for God. Another great thing, it is not bogged down by stories. There are no endless paragraphs of one person telling you how they do things and how this will succeed. The author delivers the scripture and prayer and then leaves it up to you to execute. Another thing that I really liked is that the devotion sessions are short. You could have a moment with God as you wait for the train or between meetings. It really is the best travel companion.
I feel like the book could have benefited from a sort of appendix at the back. A guide on which pages to go to when faced with specific situations.
Dr. Ronel Benade has provided people with a way to gain divine knowledge in a daily piecemeal way that makes all the wisdom of God attainable.
The prayers are simple and impactful and the author urges the reader to go on and impact the world positively. I find that the mere act of sharing this book with others is impactful. There is greater joy in receiving these little bits of Heavenly whispers.
Pages: 232 | ASIN: B07KMXN44F
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The Bookbinder is a memoir about your life and includes details about Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri. What was the inspiration that made you want to write a memoir?
Well, Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri passed away in 2006 and since then there had only been one book written in English on the rabbi from the non-Jewish perspective. However, it did not go in-depth into the specific culture of the rabbi’s inside court, the kabbalistic traditions as well as the respect that the “tzaddik” commanded from the different orthodox groups in Israel and abroad. I felt that it was important to portray the rabbi’s more human side, his compassion, his unconditional love for one and all, particularly during their times of distress and need. What better way to do so than to share our personal journey?
Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri features prominently in this book. What were some aspects you felt were important to capture in this book?
Rabbi Kaduri, ztl, had a humble soul. Despite his remarkable memory, wisdom and knowledge he did not proselytize nor did he recruit anyone to his principles or belief. I tried to convey that message as best I could through our personal interactions with him, and those close to him. The rabbi’s ruling on any halachic impasse was not questioned as he was skilled in illuminating difficult passages for other rabbis and leaders to understand. What was important to grasp is that he led a simple life devoid of pomp and glamour. The rabbi’s signature was his peaceful silence during the many religious celebrations around the country. He only spoke to pray and bless – he never made small talk.
This is a very emotional and thought provoking book. What do you hope readers take away from this book?
Well, I think that this personal tale was meant to be shared so that others would understand that miracles occur everyday when there is the smallest seed of faith. Whenever one meets a great mystic of this degree, of course, those miracles become more obvious. The Jewish faith and its traditions are replete with miracle stories of simple people that prayed with nothing more than devotion and hope. One could come away understanding that all faiths and traditions are important insofar as they give man hope in goodness. This is just one story. It just happens to be one that concerned one of the oldest living and renowned kabbalists in the history of modern Israel.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
As briefly mentioned in this book, I am a spiritual counselor and holistic therapist. My fascination with natural healing has led me to study many modalities from various countries for more than twenty years. Yet, I still return to our Jewish traditions. My next book will be about Jewish healing and herbalism.
“Ha Rav”, Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri, OBM (1898-2006) was the most senior kabbalist of the 21st century in Israel. While many believe that his life and work: studying, praying, and counseling the masses was far removed from the everyday man, this perception could not be further from the truth. The Rav was a humble but great sage whose glance commanded the respect and ear of the leading rabbis of his generation. He experienced exile from the country of his birth, Iraq, and witnessed the destruction of holy places of study in Jerusalem. Yet, to anyone privileged to have been in his presence, the tsaddik showed only joy, humility, kindness (chesed) and a deep wisdom unique to his character. The Rav’s contemporaries respected his decisions on questions of the Torah and Talmud and above all, they cherished the Rav’s blessings.This is an intimate portrait of one family’s journey of ten years standing in the shadows of this sage. There have been many righteous (tsaddikim) throughout the ages whose lives were dedicated to teach, guide and console the Jewish nation. Yet, in the memory of the Jewish people, there will only be one Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri.
Why are we here? Where did we come from? Is there a bigger picture than the existence that we know? Is human life purposeful? Humans have contemplated the answer to these questions, and others that are similar, for much of our history. Here, author Francis O’Neill makes his own attempts to provide answers through a mixture of science, religion, the supernatural, and some ancient mythology. O’Neill’s theories lead to a definitive “yes, we are here for a reason”, but the journey to his conclusion is more interesting than the resolution itself.
In Love’s Story of Why We Are Here, O’Neill explores one of humanity’s most philosophical conundrums from a wide variety of angles. By his own admission, the theories that are proposed are speculative, and therefore untestable. For that reason, much of what he provides as answers can’t be considered true science. Many might argue that there is no science involved at all since much of the book focuses on the idea of a living Earth (not terribly far-fetched) and the importance of extraterrestrial life in human evolution. Despite the very unusual ideas that are discussed, O’Neill’s theories are presented in a well researched and organized manner, often including quotes from well known scientists in a plethora of fields. The professionalism of his work protects the subject matter from ridicule. The excessive use of commas throughout the book seems to imply a casual, conversational tone but instead creates long and circuitous sentences which often hide O’Neill’s intended meaning. I had to read many sentences multiple times, which interrupted the flow of the text and made it difficult to comprehend some of the concepts.
The theme of this book is simple- existence, purpose, and an explanation for both. Curiosity is a basic human trait that propels us forward and O’Neill uses that interest in the unknown to explore these ideas from a fresh standpoint. While some of what he discusses is not exactly new, he creates a fresh combination out of multiple theories that have been proposed in the past. It is also interesting that he uses both science and religion to support his theories, since those two schools of thought are typically contradictory.
There were parts that laid out simple rules for happiness and self-care, which everyone could stand to be reminded of. There was also a quick lesson on quantum theory that is thorough yet simplified, and incredibly interesting. Ultimately though, much of the book had a very new age and enigmatic feel. While this would be appealing to readers that are already interested in such subjects, it would likely make very few converts out of those that are not.
Pages: 163 | ASIN: B07FDG9FSL
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The Transition, Initiated by Copernicus and Galileo, from Religion to Science: The Beckoning Bridge Many Find Difficult or Impossible to Cross’ By Lawrence H Wood is a nonfiction book that seeks to shed light on the dichotomy between religion and science, and how the two can continue to co-exist side by side. The author details the transition from a religious based understanding to a scientific based understanding that began to occur in the mid sixteenth century, and discusses the two different explanations of ourselves and our surroundings–how they developed and why they co-exist when such coexistence is a constant source of confusion and conflict. In this book, Dr. Wood, a science historian, focuses on examining the historical aspects of science to further the reader’s understanding of the subject.
This books is divided into sections that look at various aspects of the historical development of science. It’s a fascinating topic that is given very little attention in an academic setting, since most science classes focus exclusively on the actual science with no mention made of the history of science. I found it interesting to read about the historical development of scientific understanding, as people came to understand various scientific principles, starting in the 1500’s when Copernicus observed that the Earth revolved around the Sun, not the Sun around the Earth, as was the previous accepted belief. This marked the beginning of modern scientific investigation, along with the invention of the telescope and the microscope. I liked that the book described many scientific principles and theories and how they came to be discovered, and covered many different science disciplines, including geology, physics, biology, archaeology, and chemistry. I enjoyed reading about the discoveries and contributions of a wide range of scientists, from the sixteenth century to the present.
The book focuses on a variety of subjects from discovering that the Earth is billions of years old to modern advances in DNA and gene-splicing, but the author describes it in terms that make the information accessible to average people who may not view themselves as particularly scientific-minded. The author’s use of graphs and charts to illustrate points was a welcome inclusion that helped to further my understanding of the explanations presented in this book. Another helpful tool was the author’s summation of information at the end of each chapter.
Pages: 444 | ISBN: 1532024576
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