Tag Archives: book reviews

The Book of Lost Fragrances by MJ Rose

book-of-lost-frag

I wanted to read this book immediately after I read the premise.

Jac L’Etoile is a successful author and TV personality who hosts a show about myths. She comes from a long line of famous French perfumers, but she’s walked away from the business. It’s not until the business is in trouble and her brother goes missing in Paris that she returns to confront her past. Her mother’s suicide, a father suffering dementia, and troubling visions all connected with scent threaten to derail Jac from finding her brother.

Jac learns her brother has resurrected a family legend tied to an ancestor who discovered a scent created in Cleopatra’s time that could induce memories of past lives. Of course, Jac is highly skeptical of the idea, but as her own visions intensify bringing her closer to her dead mother, images of ancient Egypt and the French Revolution begin to emerge all calling her sanity into question. Evidence comes light that forces Jac to consider whether her brother may have been killed for Cleopatra’s secret scent. An esoteric society along with the Chinese government all have designs on the powerful perfume her brother was protecting. Interestingly, the brother’s only wish is to get the scent into the hands of the Dalai Lama who can use the memory tool as possible evidence for reincarnation.

I found the idea of scent as a possible device for unlocking past life memory original and irresistible. The visions/past life memory segments of the book were well done. The book reads like a thriller and that’s a plus for me. There is a romantic element woven in that’s kind of cliché but necessary for Jac to resolve her karmic past. I appreciate the author’s research into scent and the history of the perfume industry and did not find it distracted from the plot. I love that kind of detail! Unfortunately, two little details irked me. The Dalai Lama wears burgundy robes not saffron (saffron is worn by Southeast Asian Buddhists). There is also a lot made out of the Dalai Lama being inaccessible and unreachable by Jac’s brother which is not true. His Holiness travels and has a full calendar. He meets groups wherever he goes and he holds meetings in Dharamsala. I know people who have met the Dalai Lama so he is far from unreachable.

Overall, this is an interesting book that moves fast and keeps the reader’s attention while introducing a little known industry. While I didn’t realize it at the time, this book is part of a series on reincarnation by MJ Rose. Some of the reviews for this book indicate she’s hit her stride with this one.

Advertisements

12 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Can You Still Be a Post-Materialist?

coins

Some time ago I wrote about post-materialism and it sparked a lot of interest. Some things have changed. My son has graduated and is struggling like most young people today. A generation that grew up believing they could do anything, be anything, is discovering that truth my generation sold them was wildly over-blown. Maybe even a lie. And a good lot of the twenty-somethings did everything we told them to. They went to college, got their degrees, took on debt when necessary, and tumbled full force into the real world. Young people with so much potential and so much to offer are stuck in minimum wage jobs, if they can get those. Many have bounced back home. Never have we seen so many twenty and thirty-somethings living in their parents’ basements. Never!!

This situation has become a topic I return to again and again, and it’s with a very heavy heart. I look at my daughter and son, friends, family, and neighbors where no one in this generation is thriving. Some are doing better than others, but when compared to the opportunity available to my parents and my own generation, it’s obvious it’s a different world. The recession is supposedly over and unemployment low. But we have not gone back to what we were, and sadly, we probably never will.

In the current reality, I think it bears asking is post-materialism valid? Valid only for a few?

Ronald Inglehart developed the idea of post materialism in the 1970s as a sociological theory to explain an ongoing transformation of individual values within a society. He argued that as western nations achieved a level of economic prosperity and physical security, its members transformed their values seeking more autonomy and self-expression. Ah, this sounds a lot like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. As people meet their basic survival requirements, we move up the pyramid until we are striving for self-actualization. Maslow confined his theory to how individuals are transformed and Inglehart wanted to see how societies as a whole might be transformed.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, created by J. Finkelstein, 2006

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, created by J. Finkelstein, 2006

So to be a post materialist, you must first meet your basic survival needs (food, shelter, security). OK, done (for me). But not for young people who are living paycheck to paycheck without benefits.

Once your basic needs are met you move up Maslow’s hierarchy and as you do, you start to realize you’re no happier than when you were struggling. This brings to mind Daniel Gilbert’s book, Stumbling on Happiness. I believe it was in that book I first learned American happiness peaked in the 1950s. BEFORE I WAS BORN! Sixty plus years later, we have higher incomes, higher levels of education, better health care, bigger houses, more cars but we are less happy overall. Remember when we were told (and believed) that he (or she) who has the most toys wins? We played the game, we toed the line, we consumed and bought all the right stuff, we competed with the Joneses, and we became… less happy. Maybe we were even miserable because the promise of happiness slipped away as we had to go looking for a storage shed to rent for all the loot that was supposed to make us positively giddy.

Stumbling on Happiness

We looked around and saw it wasn’t working. We stopped playing the game. We got rid of the excess stuff and looked inside to see what would fill the void. We began to talk about “downsizing”. The value shift from possessing things to experiencing and self- expression took hold.

Inglehart recognized that younger people (raised in economic security) were more likely to identify with the values of post materialism. But older people who were raised with the struggle of material existence may or may not shift out of that paradigm.

So given the current environment, we’ve essentially taken an economically secure generation and thrown them into struggle. We’ve kicked the chair out from underneath them. Inglehart probably didn’t see that coming. Values, I believe can be molded in adversity. I would expect today’s younger people to begin to identify with materialistic thinking because they will struggle to obtain the basics in life. Post-materialism as mainstream probably can’t happen if the majority of younger people haven’t met their basic needs. Post-materialism may now be relegated to a minority, elitist idea. Or, perhaps the younger generation can strike a new path to balance. It remains to be seen.

PLEASE HELP ME MAKE THE MINIMUM THRESHOLD FOR THUNDERCLAP! Need 32 volunteers.

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/30885-a-book-is-born

9 Comments

Filed under Books, economy

FOR THE GRADUATION SEASON

 grad

That time of year is here again. May and June are key months to celebrate this milestone event in the lives of young people. Whether it’s high school or college graduation, now’s the time to rejoice. To celebrate real world, material accomplishment. Next month, my husband and I will travel to Vancouver to celebrate and take great pride in our son’s graduation from Simon Fraser University. As an individual, he has grown under the weight of many challenges, learned more about who he is as a man, and he’s ready to launch himself into the real world (fingers crossed- I’m a parent).

Congratulations

And as it would happen, I just saw a segment on the Colbert Report about a new book by a professor at Syracuse University, George Saunders. In 2013, he was asked to give the commencement address. It turned out to be a popular video on YouTube because, I think, it’s a little unusual. That speech has been turned into a book called Congratulations- by the way. Saunders took a risk. A lot of commencement talks center around the accomplishments of the individual and challenge graduates to go out into the larger world to contribute their unique gifts. Essentially, they reinforce the ego. Saunders looks back on his life to realize what he regrets most are those times when he failed to be kind. He challenges graduates to begin now to overcome selfishness, the idea of separateness and permanence. To become kinder, now. It’s a simple and powerful message.

The speech on YouTube:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruJWd_m-LgY

14 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Books

Part II: THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT

Sir Robert Ottley, Royalist

Sir Robert Ottley, Royalist

 Continuing with JH Brennan’s, Whisperings: The Secret History of the Spirit World, I wanted to mention the research conducted by Dr. A.R. G. Owen a few years after Bacheldor’s work. A Canadian research group led by Owen wondered if they could create a ghost.

Working a lot like fictional writers, the group created “Philip” and gave him a whole history. Philip had been a Cavalier officer during the English Civil War and had resided at Diddington Hall (a real place). The story of his life was a fabrication and went like this. Although Philip was married, he had an affair with a gypsy girl which had enraged his wife. The wife managed to have the girl denounced as a witch and burned. So distraught was Philip that he threw himself off the battlements of the hall committing suicide. Poor Philip!

Diddington Hall. Photo: John Evans

Diddington Hall. Photo: John Evans

The group held séances for a year trying to contact the Cavalier with no luck. I think it’s pretty amazing they’d keep at it that long with no result. One of the group eventually read Bacheldor’s work and wondered if a lighthearted atmosphere might make a difference. Giving it the old college try, they sang and told jokes, and oddly enough, after a few more séances, things started to happen. They heard their first rap and the table slid across the floor. Success at last! Encouraged, someone asked if Philip was doing it and was answered back with a loud rap. Having contacted the entity, the group used the one knock for yes and two for no method, to go on to communicate with Philip. Phillip affirmed the basic facts of his fictional life story and went on to reveal additional details the group had not created. The séances also produced various physical phenomena. The most spectacular was recorded for a television program. A table climbed a set of steps joining the panelists being interviewed.

Battle of Marston Moor, 1644

Battle of Marston Moor, 1644

I’ll leave you to ponder the significance of the Philip research. As a fiction author, I’m already concocting plots about how the other side conspires to have a good laugh at Owen and the other sitters.

7 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Books

A NOD TO NEWTON, A HUG FOR EINSTEIN, AND THE NEW PARADIGM

We’ll never totally get over Newton. His system explains lots about daily life. But we will need to move forward and embrace new ideas and try new things that challenge our worldview. It is said that when a person has direct experience of reality (a metaphysical experience) things become blurry. Literally blurry. Welcome to that new reality.

The understanding of a solid, material existence is constantly being called into question by quantum physics. Quantum physics isn’t new and we only choose to believe that the question is still there. It’s not. We live in an energy filled world. Things aren’t solid, they just look that way. The universe isn’t empty, it’s filled with energy.

Enter a new paradigm for seeing yourself. Quite simply you are an energy being. Here’s one example. Your electromagnetic heart field extends 8 to 12 feet around you. When you walk into a room this field interacts with others. If you sat across from me, our hearts would act on each other. Scientific equipment could “find” your rhythm in my EEG recording and vice versa.

As we start to understand ourselves as energy beings a whole new way of thinking opens to us. We are energy and so is everything else around us. We interact with everything in our environment (and how big that is, is only constrained by how you define it), all the time energetically. These ideas have ushered in a whole new set of treatments and modalities of healing. To access these new methods, we must push forward fighting established ways just like Columbus pushed forward to pursue the idea of a new world. I’m working with two of these new systems currently.

The first is called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). Developed by Gary Craig in the 1990s, it is based on the discovery that tapping on traditional meridian points defined in acupuncture systems brings relief from pain, disease, and emotional issues. The other system called The Emotion Code brings relief with the use of magnets run along meridian paths. Both modalities rely on the idea that negative emotion disrupts the body’s energy system and is a major contributor to pain and disease. EFT is widely regarded as helpful in many kinds of cases. Recently there’s been a lot of successful work done with EFT with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Both systems are easily accessible through books and online training. There are also practitioners throughout the country who are trained to give these treatments.

On a personal level, I have had some success with EFT in aborting low intensity migraines. It’s sort of similar to my ability able to use bio-feedback to raise finger temperature to abort a migraine early in my cycle. The real test for the system will come as I see if EFT can help me avoid aphasia after an emotional trauma. I’m just starting with The Emotion Code but it is far more complex that EFT. If you’d like to learn more about either system, resources are found below.

The Subtle Body: An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy- Cyndi Dale

The EFT Manual- Gary Craig

www.garythink.com (FREE tutorials on how to do basic EFT)

The Emotion Code- Dr. Bradley Nelson

 

28 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Books, Energy medicine

How This Book Came Into the World

Several years ago I had a particularly bad year. My father died, my son was hospitalized, and I came face to face with my own health crisis. All in one year. My illness effectively took me out of the world and focused my attention inward. I returned to basics and found my interest in Buddhism waiting for me. Silent, I think, since at least my teenage years.

I began taking classes offered in faraway Dharamsala, India.  Thanks to the internet, I was able to study with a master who had fled Chinese-occupied Tibet to follow His Holiness, the Dalai Lama into exile in 1959. Listening to Geshe Sonam Rinchen’s patient lectures aided my understanding of Tibetan Buddhism. That along with my friendship with a young monk in India helped me to process and write, Into the Land of Snows.   The novel explores many of the themes I was exposed to as I learned Eastern concepts.

The process of the inward journey continues for me. Living in the material world is not easy. I know the majority of readers will read the book as an adventure in a foreign land, but I hope the book finds a few fellow spiritual travelers.

43 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Books, Story behind ITLS

Book Review: DUST (mg) by Arthur Slade

Here is a tale set in Saskatchawan, Canada during the Depression and Dust Bowl years. I really liked Slade’s sense of setting and the beginning of the book where a seven year old goes missing. At this point, the story is open ended and can go in many different directions. But this is a mid-grade novel and we need to ground it, so, well- the author chose magical realism to do that. We have a real crime, but it’s not framed like those missing children’s cases of nightly TV. Instead a mysterious stranger comes to town and offers the townsfolk the promise of rain. Only the missing boy’s older brother, Robert, is able to see through this charlatan. Mesmerism, butterflies, and a magical windmill all play a role in resolving the case of what happened to the area’s now numerous missing children. Overall, I’d give this a four out of five.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review