Review: Island of the Mad

Island of the Mad

Author: Laurie R. King
Bantam Books
2018
ISBN #978-0804177962

 Island of the Mad cover

I absolutely adore all of Ms. King’s books, but her Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell series is my favorite! “Island of the Mad” does not disappoint! I am not thrilled that Mrs. Hudson is taking a “side-trip”, but she would not have been in this book anyway, as it features Holmes and Russell in lovely Venice.

Russell has been asked by a friend to find her Aunt, while Holmes has been asked by his brother Mycroft to “check into things” in Venice re Benito Mussolini and the rising Fascist movement. Holmes is not quick to make that clear to Russell, however! We are looking at a post WW I, pre-WW II environment.

The missing Aunt, Lady Vivian Beaconsfield) by the way, has been in and out of insane asylums for many years. Her condition was said to have been brought on by the loss of her brother and father in the Great War – but is that really so? It is interesting to note that Lady Beaconsfield arranged to leave the asylum to attend her other brother’s birthday party, but she managed to disappear (after taking a large amount of money from her personal account, and having her brother get an expensive diamond necklace that is hers out of the vault). The nurse that was attending her has also conveniently disappeared!

Once in Venice the focus is on the Lido cabarets, wealthy, privileged individuals at play, and the ominous presence of the Fascist “Black Shirts”. Cole Porter, and a new (to Holmes) violin also come into play. There is also a strong LGBTQ theme, along with the rights of women – or rather, their lack of rights.

As always with Ms King, the characters are wonderfully bold, the storyline does not wander one iota, and the intensity of research shows through clearly. Thoroughly enjoyable, and highly recommended!

© July 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

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Review: The President Is Missing

The President Is Missing

Author: Bill Clinton, James Patterson
Little, Brown and Company; Alfred A. Knopf
2018
ISBN # 978-0316412698

The President Is Missing - cover

I have looked forward to reading this book ever since I heard about it – and it did not disappoint! Very slow in the beginning, and dragged a bit, but it did pick up the pace wonderfully!

What we have here are two individuals (Bill Clinton, former president and co-founder of the Clinton Foundation, and James Patterson, renowned author and founder of the JIMMY book imprint for children) who shared their expertise to create a timely story about government (national and global), terrorism, cyberspace, and the need for cyber-security.

The story is based on fictional U.S. President Duncan, and how he deals with a crisis situation of critical proportions in a very humane manner, with all of the knowledge and wisdom gained through his life in the military, as a POW, and as a civilian. Between Clinton and Patterson, they create a believable (and functioning!) White House, a believable environment around the president (including the Secret Service), great descriptions of the White House, a unique location where a great deal of the action takes place, and strong global interaction.

We start out with the president dealing with a health crisis that underlies the entire story. But he has to be President – no time for doing the right thing medically! The national crisis is one of epic proportions – one that could take the entire U.S. down through a virus that was planted in it Internet three years before. And yes – there is a date when the virus will activate. A date that comes too soon, and a cyber security team that, while they are the best of the best, cannot locate the virus, and, when they finally do, cannot stop it. Every system in the U.S. that is connected to the Internet (and all systems are!) will go down. No clean water, no ability to purchase anything, no ability to keep hospitals operational – the list goes on!

So – we have a president with a health crisis, who needs to protect his country, who had been about to face an impeachment hearing, and who has now “gone missing”. He has the secret service with him, but he is still targeted. The person behind the virus (who did meet with the president) is killed. Her partner did not write the code, he simply hacked it into the U.S. systems. He is captured alive – and actually wants to help!

The President reaches out for help from the Israeli Prime Minister, the German Chancellor, and the Russian President. He gets two out of three in person – the Israeli Prime Minister and the German Chancellor. Russia comes up short, sending their second in command, Prime Minister Ivan Volkov.

Then there is the individual that might have been the cause for his impeachment – a global terrorist by the name of Suliman Cindoruk. Oh, and yes, one of the President’s six closest advisors, the only people that know about the virus, is a traitor.

I definitely recommend this book as representative of our times. Even though it starts slowly, and to me has an overwhelming amount of female primary characters (FBI Director, Vice President, the President’s personal physician, the President’s Chief of Staff, and Deputy Chief of Staff, and a female assassin who is pregnant), the characters are well written, the plot is fantastic, and the storyline moves quickly (after a slow start). I also recommend watching the accompanying video on Amazon featuring both authors. Definitely a history lesson within the covers of this book!

© June 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Review: When Spirit Calls – A Healing Odysey

When Spirit Calls –
A Healing Odyssey

Author: Joan Diver
Monkfish Book Publishing Company
2018
ISBN #978-1-939681-68-3

When Spirit Calls - cover

Joan Diver was the first Executive Director of Boston’s Hyams Foundation, a position that she held for eighteen years, and for which she was recognized for her creative leadership in philanthropy and social justice. She and her husband Colin (Dean of Penn Law School, later to be President of Reed College) were featured in J. Anthony Lukas’ Pulitzer prize-winning book “Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the lives of Three American Families”.

This is an intensely personal story, revolving around personal growth, spiritual growth, the growth of a relationship, and the growth of a family. It is very detailed, with a good mix of family issues, personal issues (Diver suffered from intense back pain for many years), and both Joan and Colin Diver’s spiritual growth.

Even during the years that Diver served as Executive Director of the Hyams Foundation, she was following her spiritual path. Beginning with being a member of the congregation of preacher Howard Thurman (spiritual mentor to civil rights leaders), her spiritual life was important to her, and she followed where that path lead – even when she did not understand why. Speaking for those of us that grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, this was not an unusual thing. When we heard about a spiritual leader, we tried to see what they were all about. We have all been to lectures and retreats, sat on the floor listening to guru’s sitting in front of us on a raised dais. Diver’s journey is very much an East/West journey, as she visits gurus here in the U.S., in China, in India, and makes pilgrimages to Egyptian holy sites.

We are shown a world where spirit guides and unusual (out of body) experiences abound. It is all about being open to what we see, and what we hear. It is all about seeing where we are closed off as individuals, and about where we are blocking ourselves. It is about healing ourselves on all levels.

All the while Diver is dealing with a back that many times, and for long periods of time, is so excruciating that all she can do is lie down. The pain originates in the solar plexus, which is where the release and healing must occur. She deals with both Eastern and Western medicine, including past life regression and healing. Hers is an amazing story! I personally want to thank her for sharing the depth of her experiences, including the information that comes to her in her sessions, how it comes to her, the wisdom that comes from her teachers/guru’s, and in-depth detail of her surroundings/environment.

As a woman, I can appreciate her concern about how following her path might affect her marriage and her family. I loved the detail that she went into about her home(s), about social responsibilities (hers and her husband’s), and about the changes that they went through. She is transparent and honest in sharing her story (including the doubts that she has more than once along the way about whether she was doing the right thing).

Every reader will find their own version of personal growth through this story.

© June 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission.

Review: The Magic Moon Lenormand Oracle

The Magic Moon Lenormand Oracle

Author: Heather Mendel
Artist: Heather Mendel
A Word of Art
2018
ISBN #0-9710976-2-3

“The Magic Moon Lenormand Oracle” is presented as two decks (2 ¾” by 4 ¾”, and 2 ¼” by 3 ½”), a beautiful lavender mesh bag to store them in, and a 191 page workbook. Where to start! A good place to start is with Heather herself. I met Heather a few years ago at a Tarot conference. She is a joyous, lovely lady – a South African born mystic and intuitive counselor. Her previous work includes “The Sacred Mandala Tarot”, “The Sacred Mandala Lenormand Oracle”, and “The Syzygy Oracle”. I fully admire the manner in which Heather brings together Kabbalah, Tarot, women’s spirituality, sacred geometry and mythology into her interpretations as a tool for self-awareness and self-empowerment.

Why two decks? Does one just go in our purses with us for on the run readings? It is a bit more complicated than that (yet not really complicated at all). It gives the reader a choice of sizes for regular readings, and an easier layout for the Grand Tableau. In a full reading the larger deck is laid down for the Houses, then the smaller deck is shuffled and set out over the larger cards, leaving the relevant House card information visible.

Note: There are four bonus cards giving added choices for Man and Woman: a male and a female figure, and the iconic male and female symbols that can be read for masculine and feminine energy.

The color black is used as background for both the front and the back of the cards, representing unknown mystery, from which intuition springs. The backs show two quarter moons in white, with female figures sitting on each of them, facing each other. The backs are not reversible. The card faces show the card number and title across the top of the card, and the card number across the bottom. At the top of the card, under the card title/number, there is a white quarter moon and female figure, with the emblem of the associated suit and playing card to the right. The card image is under this – strong, clear images in a bright color palette. The border designs are color coded – yellow, blue, green, and pink: yellow for Diamonds (associated with Wands/intuition), blue for Spades (associated with Swords/thought/being), green for Clubs (associated with Coins/physicality), and pink for Hearts (Cups/emotions).

The workbook is something that I am really impressed with. It functions both as a workbook, and as a companion book. In her introduction, Heather talks about oracles as being a portal to the intuitive surrounding us. She also talks about her time in South Africa, and her move to the United States. She talks about us being a global family, and the increasing need for intuitive awareness and skill.

There is a Keyword Chart, including the Lenormand card number and name, the associated playing card and suit, along with keywords. Each card is then presented with a black and white scan on the left hand page (with space for the reader/student to makes notes), and card information on the left hand page, including Name and Number, Keywords, Theme, Tone, Time Frame, Significator, Mindfulness, Added Meaning, Grand Tableau, Meanings (Literal, Symbolic, Metaphoric, Spiritual, Noun, Verb, Descriptive (adjective and adverbs), People, Spectrum, and Advice.

This is followed by a section that addresses the cards as a story, including the Lenormand, Kabbalah, and the Hero’s Journey. Techniques are given for reading single cards, two card combos, three/five/seven card combos, a nine card spread, and the Grand Tableau. The final section of the book is magic – a compendium of two card combinations, and how to read them.

I am fairly new to reading the Lenormand, but I highly recommend this deck (large and small version), and the workbook. Through this work we can open ourselves to our intuition, and begin to grasp things that we may have never thought of before!

© May 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Review: “A New Republic of the Heart”

A New Republic of the Heart:
An Ethos for Revolutionaries –
A Guide to Inner Work for Holistic Change

Author: Terry Patten
North Atlantic Books
2018
ISBN: 1623170478

 A New Republic of the Heart

“A New Republic of the Heart” is a 408 page book on the transformation of civilization in regard to our current global issues. To get the most out of this book, one needs to look at the background of the author. Terry Patten has devoted his life to understanding the evolution of consciousness by facing, examining, and healing our global crisis through merging spirit and activism. He is a philosopher, activist, and social entrepreneur. His written works encourage his readers to become activists in their own way, in their own lives.

In his introduction, Patten talks about our need for guidance from a higher wisdom. He makes the very interesting observation that all of humanities highest wisdom traditions are in conversation as never before. He also asks: How can we “be the change that we want to see in the world”?

Patten talks about “whole system change”, a broad transformation of all human civilization. Constant transformation. Like it or not, we are all interconnected. Patten teaches us to turn what we see as problems into opportunities, to encourage conversation with those we agree with, as well as those that we do not agree with, and to form creative responses. He encourages all of us to be active agents of transformation. It can be scary, as we face both spiritual and political awakenings – and see how intertwined they are.

Patten has broken this material into four parts: Part One puts the material into a multidimensional consciousness. Part Two explores the integral understanding of the nature of individual and collective spiritual practice, purpose, social responsibility, and evolutionary activism.

The work that we do here is both inner and outer work. The writing in this book is clear and concise. While Patten talks about global issues, about issues that we face on a day to day basis, he speaks at a level that we can all understand, about subjects that have great depth. I liked the manner in which this material was organized – it describes the journey that Patten has taken, and allows us to take the journey with him. The problems that we are facing are termed “wicked problems”, because they are wickedly hard to solve. Patten notes that some people have categorized climate change as a “super-wicked problem”. Then there are the “black swan events” – transformation that comes about dramatically and suddenly, due to events that we could not have predicted.

I have to note here something that I was fascinated by, and that was the Four Quadrant diagram, where we are looking at interior and exterior, merged with individual and collective. The four resulting quadrants are Subjective, Objective, Intersubjective, and Interobjective. Quite the picture in words!

As core modules of individual practice, Patten lists Body, Mind, Spiritual, and Shadow Work. Under relational practices, he lists intimate relationships, work and creative service, and civic participation.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that wants to transform themselves and the world around them. At the end of the book Patten presents a list of resources to help the reader implement this material into their own lives. I found this list to be comprehensive, and useable. There are some marvelous tools for change here! Another plus is that there is an index of names and terms, with a link to where they can be found in the book.

© April 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Uber, Lyft, Or An Ambulance?

The most recent issue of AARP begins with a short article entitled “Uber and Lyft Disrupting Ambulance Usage”. Fortunately, the article itself was much more balanced that the title was. Why would anyone choose to take Uber or Lyft to the hospital (read ER)? Because, my dear, it costs a whole lot less!

The article notes that emergency medical transport in an ambuance can easily exceed $1,000. I can testify to that, as my oh dark thirty ambulance ride last October was over $1,000. Of that, my insurance covered all but $200. I was not in a position to call Uber or Lyft – I could not breath. If I had called Uber or Lyft, their driver would have to have been out of his or her mind to accept me as a passenger, as I could not breath without great effort.

In a less serious situation, Uber or Lyft I feel is a more than acceptable option. I would rather not see questionable drivers on the road. (As in a driver that starts out their trip to the ER in relatively okay shape, but then takes a turn for the worse.) Interestingly enough, the article states that Lyft is being incorporated into some emergency systems. In such a case scenario, a triage nurse decides whether an individual requires an ambulance or not.

From a conversation that I had with one of my nurses when I was in the hospital, I know that the hospital in question does not allow a patient that is being released to drive themselves home if they have been given pain medication. In such a case, either Uber of Lyft will be called for them.

From my personal perspective, allowing Uber of Lyft to take less serious individuals to the hospital frees up medical resources. Having said that, Uber and Lyft drivers need to  use their comon sense – if a prospective passenger looks unstable healthwise, they need to encourage them to call and ambuance.

(c) April 2018 Bonie Cehovet

Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

Review: King Billy and the Royal Road

King Billy and the Royal Road

Author: RC Ajuonuma
Illustrator: Beverley Young
Silverwood Books
2017
ASIN #B0771VL77Q

King Billy

King Billy and the Royal Road” is a lovely children’s book, based on the Major Arcana of the Tarot (which are often referred to as the Royal Road). It is written in short paragraphs, akin to poetry, and shows a fluid series of thoughts for a young boy called Billy.

The format of the story is very much fairy tale/adventure, with Billy waking up to an empty refrigerator. No food! He tries to wake his mother, but is unable to, so he makes the decision to grab a sack, and a stick, and begin his journey to find food. (For those who know the Tarot, in the card entitled The Fool the character is on a journey, with his belongings tied up in a sack that he carries at the end of a stick. Billy makes his way past a dog that his mother has told him is his best friend, while the Fool has a little white dog that travels with him, and nips at his heels.)

Note: I need to mention here that Billy lives with his mother, who feeds him well and keeps him protected from the outside world. Indeed, he has no experience of the outside world, about people, and places, because his mother does not let him out.

Throughout his journey, Billy comes upon people and places that have food to offer. They also offer him other things – such as an atlas to the world (where he could find food on his own), and words of wisdom (he is not the Prince that he thinks he is). He ends up with more food than he cares for, but he has lost the beautiful young lady he talked to on his journey.

The dog that is mother had told him was his friend reappears.  In his haste to get away from him, Billy ends up in a cave, with a lamp on a table of stone, and a book. Every page said the same thing: “Be brave, be true, and your heart will find you.”

This is quite a fascinating journey, divided into three parts: Part 1 – The Way To Your Heart, Part 2 – Be Brave, Be True, and Part 3 – What Was Lost Can Be Found. This coincides readily with one way of breaking down the Major Arcana into stages of progression on the journey to enlightenment: (1) consciousness (the outer concerns of society), (2) subconscious (our inner search for self), and (3) superconscious (developing a spiritual awareness). It is presented in a manner that a young child can understand.

It was a pleasure to read this book, with the gentle black and white images by artist Beverley Young. It certainly lends itself to and adult reading the book to/with a child, and to ensuing discussions about what the child is getting from the book. I would love to read more books from author RC Ajuonuma along this line.

© February 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.