Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Book Review [The Answers Are Within: Developing Awareness by Dorena Rode]

First I must say that I love the choice of quotes that opens each chapter. They are from some of the most profoundly spiritual minds of our time. Although The Answers Are Within: A Collection of Personal Stories Volume 1 - Developing Awareness by Dorena Rode is no Chicken Soup for the Soul, I am sure it will have its relevancy for some reader. The author labeled herself several times throughout her writings as being "melancholy" and this is precisely the way most of her stories come across. Nothing exciting, always a challenge, but the good part out of it all was the patterns of growth that she shares. I can't really say that the stories were inspiring, but I can say they were real, which might just be what someone needs whose looking to develop awareness.

The cover has a strange design that reminds me of an old lady learning to paint, so I can only imagine that book sales are going to be word of mouth and not because of an eye catching cover. I think that healers sharing their stories is very nice, but sometimes it can be a hard sale unless you already have an audience and this book being a memoir doesn't have enough substance to make me want to talk about it. The author comes across as a random thinker and writer, and I found it a little confusing tying ideas together in some of the more lengthy stories like, "On Believing", where she takes you on a plane ride with an imaginary story about San Francisco disappearing.

One of my favorite saying is, meet people where they are, which is also the title of one of the chapters. This chapter held my attention most because Ms. Rode gave some good suggestions related to the Law of Allowing, but I experienced confusion once again on the really good information about calcium. It's like a scientist popped up out of nowhere with a lecture on how calcium works in the body.

The "Fostering Peace Within" story is the best in the book because it is a good personal example of the courage it takes to find peace. In fact the one quote that I can give you that made the book worth my time comes from this chapter. "It is almost natural for me to choose thoughts and attitudes that bring me peace." Also, in the "How My Money Reality Changed" story, she brings forth a thought provoking question that will make you say, hmmm. "What do I love about not having money?" Cute.

The Answers Are Within: A Collection of Personal Stories Volume 1 - Developing Awareness is not a bad book, however, its presentation and writing could stand some improvement. With that, my rating for this copy that received in the mail for an honest review is 3 ankhs. I hope this helps Ms. Rode with the writing of Volume 2. 

K. Akua Gray
September 20, 2017
Houston, TX

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Book Review from the Archives [koyal dark, mango sweet by Kashmira Sheth]

I plan to visit India one day and walk the mall of the Taj Mahal to see this beautiful monument dedicated to what must have been a dynamic woman of her time. I also like to get to know the culture of a people in the far away places that I intend to visit and my favorite way of doing that is through reading the writing of those who are natives of the land. So, since my trip to India is coming up soon I started my readings with a beautiful book I have had in my library for at least seven years. koyal dark, mango sweet by Kashmira Sheth was a very nice place to start.

It was a good look into some of the traditions and ways that some families live in the urban areas of India.  Jeeta the main character is my kind of girl, strong willed, genuine and sharp.

Sheth writes for the young reader so the language is simple and straight to the point. The story carries you along with a little mystery, pleasant surprises and hints to let you know what you're thinking about that's going to happen next is what happens next. I like this type of simplicity in reading fiction. Sheth takes you into the inner world of a modern Indian family who is neither rich or very poor. In fact, it was news to me to have a servant to care for a one bedroom apartment that six people share. 

I also like the kind bigheartedness that was shone in the story especially among the educated men in the families. However, it was disheartening to know that the disdaining behavior of some mothers towards their daughters are prevalent all over the world. It goes to show that people are people, no matter where they are.

I don't want to give away the plot because if you have some leisure time and want to read a nice story about budding love, arraigned marriages, Indian weddings, and family life in Mumbai then this is a good start. Enjoy!

K. Akua Gray
September 12, 2017
Houston, TX

Monday, August 7, 2017

Book Review [Holding Space by Amanda Dobra Hope]

Holding Space: A Guide to Supporting Others While Remembering to Take Care of Yourself First by Amanda Dobra Hope is an excellent book by all my review standards. This unique realm of existence is a part of the innate nature of every true healer and an awesome reminder to maintain balance for both the higher good and the highest good of everyone. If you are not familiar with the term 'holding space", Amanda Hope gives this wonderful definition:

     "A spaceholder is a person who holds an energetic container for themselves, others, or a situation, while allowing organically whatever needs to arise out of the situation for the highest good of the person or situation. It is a state of allowing."

The author also writes a lovely Preface that nurtures the understanding of how space holding is a feminine energy and how it must be present to create balance in all endeavors.

"The feminine art of spaceholding is entered before any masculine action is taken, projects, relationships, and situations can be entered into consciously and with presence, providing a space for the highest outcome." She also goes on later to include that, "Know that the world is trying to get back to homeostasis, to balance, and to a center-point. To go back to the indigenous ways of honoring the feminine and going to those energies first, before bringing in the masculine, is the only way to right how far we've gotten out of balance."

For any healer, this strategy of love and support would be very beneficial to internalize and perfect. The book has an easy to follow format and takes the reader through the journey of space holding in an order that is in alignment with the true way of any healing process. Being a guide for others always begins with self-healing.

The author offers unique concrete suggestions on how to achieve success in clearing yourself to become an effective space holder with excellent processes for change such as, "Fear Sitting and Get Some Energy or Body Work." She also makes a very good point that all healers, therapists and any one who must remember to maintain balance. She says:

"Those people and activities that you need to pull away from may not initially understand your reasons and could very well feel hurt, but for the sake of everyone's highest good, it is best to do what is highest and best for you and not recoil out of guilt or shame. When we are able to honor ourselves and our needs without shame or guilt, we are better able to hold space for others and provide the same to them."

The space holding journey to perfection then goes into your personal relationships and I must agree with the author once again in the step by step process. After you take care of your own mental, physical, emotional and spiritual self, the next best step is to learn to hold space for those closest to you. This is a true test of your skills because your folks know you and you know them, the good, the bad and the ugly. Can you make it through the letting go and allowing with your parents, children, spouse, siblings, close friends and lovers? If that's a tough one, Amanda shows you how.

Those who seek to become professional space holders will find great advice in these pages also. The author provides a tactical guide for individual clients, groups, and emergency space holding.

I did hit a snag in the Manifesting Your Destiny section where after all of the good advice and well laid out plans for holding space, there were a couple of self-defeating comments that let's you know there is always room for improvement even for the seasoned healer. However, the author gets back on track quickly with "The Wisdom Keepers" section that helps define what genuine space holders look like. 

I love it when an author finishes strong! Holding Space has by far one of the strongest endings I have read in a while. In the section, If You Become a Parent, the mother bear comes out to protect here cubs! This advice should be read by every parent, it's short, truthful, to the point and has a no nonsense approach in nurturing these beautiful souls that come through for life's journey. This is hands down the best section in the book for me. 

I highly recommend this book to all those who are interested in balancing personal health. I know I will be reading Holding Space again and again, as well as spreading the good news to other potential "space holders". Holding Space by Amanda Dobra Hope is a real 5 ankh book that is sure to become a timeless classic in health and wellness. I was giving a copy of this book for an honest review.

K. Akua Gray
August 7, 2017
Houston, TX

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Book Review [Residue: Surviving and Overcoming the Stains of Generational Curses and Soul Ties]

I realize that the world is a dysfunctional place on many levels. People experience horrible things sometimes in their lives and when they overcome them they want to share their triumphs with others, however, Residue: Surviving and Overcoming the Stains of Generational Curses and Soul Ties by Debbie L. London has made me also realize that it's not always meant to be shared in a book.  I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review. At first glance the book cover is eye catching but upon reading the contents, it is clear that a large audience will pass by the white collar button down. 

I had a hard time getting through this book because from the very beginning I had hopes that something in the writing would emerge besides the recaps of hurt, pain and the misery of growing up in a dysfunctional family. The author goes off on several tangents about family members, personal attacks, episodes with "demons" and spiritually immature lines about "pissing God off." 

As an indie publication the layout and flow were poorly done, for example chapters 1 and 2 would have been better as just the introduction. The headlines of the book, generational curses and soul ties were also poorly defined and vaguely used throughout the book. The author stated several times that she was not religious but started the book and ended the book with prayers to a "Heavenly Father". Huh?

The book was also filled with rhetorical "solutions" with no substance and a lot of cliches which does no one in need of healing any good. Chapter 9 Types of Soul Ties was particularly disturbing. The author instructs readers to "not reproduce with someone you know has issues." In the world of reality everybody got something, but I'm thinking how do these instructions translate over to a young women who is pregnant already. If she took the authors advise she would terminate her pregnancy. Huh? I would think that with all of the human dysfunction that is revealed about the author's family, friends and acquaintances, that some concrete solutions would emerge. Again the author gives no instruction that supports the mental, emotional, spiritual or physical health of people who may be going through the same situations, just rhetoric and cliches. "...unforgiveness does not hurt the person who hurt you; it only hurts you." Yes, we have heard that before but what else. I would recommended that the author lives a little longer, learn a lot more about writing and try again.

I would say that if you are rock bottom, so beaten down, and your life has been overwhelmingly dysfunctional on all levels, then you might benefit something from this book. Otherwise, don't waste your time. 1 ankh, The one good thing I can say about this book is the use of the slug on the cover was a clever idea, that is all.

K. Akua Gray
July 9, 2017
Houston, TX

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Book Review [When Your Heart Belongs to an Addict by Cyndee Ray Lutz]

When Your Heart Belongs to an Addict: A Healing Perspective by Cyndee Rae Lutz is an excellent 'get yourself together book'! The author writes from a solutions oriented point of view that is definitive and inspiring. You will find some truth about yourself in the stories she tells of her tragedies, changes and triumphs. The experiences she shares is very real and very human for the lives of people. As I stated in previous reviews, I love quotable books and Cyndee has written many to paste on your mirrors, doors, vision boards and to impress upon your heart to help you get a real look at yourself and the areas in life that would be beneficial to change. The one that did it for me in reading this book is found in chapter 5 on rethinking religion. She says:

 "As you will find along the way, your divinity is the most amazing thing about you."

The cover is very clever once you study it, however at first glance it didn't grab my attention at all. The title is what drew my interest when I received a free copy of this book in my p o box for an honest review. The author poured so much of herself into the pages of the book that by the end of the reading you feel like you know her or want to get to know her.

When Your Heart Belongs to an Addict is not just a book that talks about dealing with situations surrounding substance abuse, it is also a resource manual of check lists, A to Z steps of working through healing processes and it's filled with vital questions that penetrate and challenge your thinking and justifications. One example of a very thought provoking question that made me laugh out loud was, "Did you know you can fire your current God?" and Cyndee bellowed the answer with such confidence, "Yes, you can." Be ready for some excellent self reflection work in the pages of this book.
"True spirituality creates personal freedom instead of confinement."

The best part of the book by far is one section in chapter 6 called "DISCONNECT THE DRAINERS", "Are you putting your energy to good use?" This section is about all of the distractions that you allow to control your thoughts and take time away from manifesting the divinity and awesomeness in you. 

Ok, I haven't said much about the addict part because although that is what the book is titled, the subject does get lost in the great teachings offered in the book. However, that's ok because if you are able to get yourself together the way Cyndee suggests, you will have learned how to live in the light of change that fortifies you with enough self love to find peace with all those you love. I recommend  When Your Heart Belongs to an Addict to anyone who can relate to the words in the title and those that need to get yourself together so that you can move forward from negative mental conditioning and relationships.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I have to give it 4 ankhs. Cyndee's story was inspirational but not unique, the inspirational advice that she gave was encouraging but goes along with the common knowledge of today's inspirational motivators, and the book was rather lengthy with very small print. 

K. Akua Gray
June 8, 2017
Atlanta, GA

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Book Review [Gastric Girl by Nicola Travis]

Gastric Girl: Seven Plus Years Beyond Bariatric Surgery by Nicola Travis was an informative and very human introduction to weight loss surgery. Although Nicola's battle with obesity was not unique, I appreciated the courage it took to share the painful journey in writing. Knowing almost nothing about this type of surgery, my mouth flew open a few times with the illustration of what is actually done to the body and the permanent changes this type of body alteration makes in a person's ability to have a normal eating lifestyle ever again.

 I like indie writers because they bring such "character" shall we say to the writing process. The book has a very unusual beginning, the preface amounts to about a paragraph and then goes into bullet points that summarizes most of what she talks about in the rest of the book. There is no table of contents although there are many chapters, which is a clear indication that this book is indie published and really not meant to go very far. I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

I know a pity party was not the intention in any of Nicola's writing, but I often shook my head with pity as I read through the pages because of the side effects and suffering that so many people go through regarding obesity, dysfunctional relationships and poor eating habits. Nicola's stories would be helpful to anyone going through weight issues, food addictions, post surgery issues, depression and those who are still eating the standard American diet (SAD).

It was refreshing in some parts of the book where the author shared her successes and new revelations about the gastric surgery journey. She did lose a good amount of weight, kept most of it off and started to become comfortable with her body. The author also made some good points of how the medical industry can improve the treatment for obese patients by increasing their knowledge, "about the challenges of bariatric patients".

The best chapter or section is titled "Anger", this is where the author's wisdom emerges about choosing a lifestyle of eating healthier and who should be held accountable for the epidemic of obesity. The later chapters in the book are a bit out of order and the repetition that new writers often get caught in begins to happen, which makes the ending of the book just she titles it, "Random Thoughts".

I would recommend this book to obese Caucasian women who can relate to Nicola's journey from a cultural point of view and who could benefit from knowing someone of a similar background has taken the journey of the gastric path and has made the best of it.  Gastric Girl gets 3 ankhs and I truly send light out to the world that others don't have to take this route in finding self-acceptance and self-love.

K. Akua Gray
May 18, 2017
San Ignacio, Belize

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Guest Post [The Last Faith]


Xenophobia as a primordial instinct, arose with the appearance of living beings on Earth as a natural response to the threat posed by other species, and even members of the same species who belonged to external groups. We have all witnessed a child between the ages of 1-3 start to cry when they are approached by a stranger.

The phenomena of racism, nationalism and patriotism exist among humans as a result of the kind of xenophobia that existed when primitive humans, gregarious by nature, could only survive and Preserve their Gene with members of their own tribe existing on the same habitat, considered the homeland. Exactly the same phenomenon can be observed in the animal kingdom only then we use different terms to describe it. This same behaviour can be clearly observed in a pack of wolves for example, who will fight other wolf packs as ferociously as other species of animal such as bear.  

Unlike xenophobia, neither racism, nationalism nor patriotism can be said to be biologically inherent in human beings. Take children’s pre-school groups for example. Children of different races will play together without it ever occurring to them that they are in some way different from their play-pals. All racial prejudices are adopted from by the child from their parents as they get older, who in turn adopted the prejudices from their own parents etc, going back to the era of race wars.

Aside from ethnic racism, other forms of discrimination exist in the world against religion, gender and class. Why do these forms of discrimination continue to exist in modern society? The answer is simple – apartheid. Wherever schools exist in which children are separated into groups on account of race, religion, sex or class, discrimination in all its forms will continue to exist. The adoption of desegregation laws in the USA more than half a century ago, represented a significant step forward in achieving the eradication of ethnic racism in America. On the territory of the former Soviet Union, class racism proclaimed by Marxism-Leninism that asserted the superiority of the proletarian class, receded into oblivion together with the Communist regime that fostered the ideology.

Whereas racism born of xenophobia is condemned throughout the world and nationalism disapproved of, patriotism is universally encouraged. Yet even this tendency is changing. In united Europe attempts are clearly being made to foster in children a feeling of pan-European patriotism in place of an ethnic, state-based patriotism. There is every reason to suppose that the consequences of xenophobia will be mitigated by examples of rapprochement between nations and increasing globalization as all these developments are accompanied by an increase in global Freedom of Choice driven by the Law of Human dynamics. And yet, it is still very early days.

The Last Faith
“The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer” provides a clear and convincing answer to all the questions listed above. The answer which will cause the reader to reconsider many established moral principles and notions about the world around us. The answer which will help the reader to understand the nature of human actions, dilemmas, dramas and passions, in their true light. The answer which will elucidate the current stage in the development of human civilization and offer unexpected predictions for its future.

“The Last Faith: a book by an atheist believer” is aimed at a wide audience and does not require any specialized knowledge. The author’s thoughts and reflections are presented here in the form of a fictional conversation with God which unfolds over the course of just two hundred pages. The author (PhD in Physics and Mathematics) gives concise and clearly expressed explanations and evidence for his ideas. He cites abundant examples from the world around us which are drawn from his extensive travels through Russia, America, Europe, Africa and Central Asia.

All this makes for an accessible and enjoyable read.

About the author: Karmak Bagisbayev was born on the shores of Aral Sea in Kazakhstan, graduated from Novosibirsk State University and currently holds PhD in physics and mathematics. He has worked and travelled throughout Europe, the United States, Africa and Asia. This is his first book.