Zipacana’s Legacy

Zipacana’s Legacy Fifth Dimension Books, cover and Interior design by Rick Palmacci, copyright and written by Cindy Davis.

Jade French, a highly successful marketing specialist soon to be promoted to the top position in her California-based company, has received notice that she has inherited a ‘hotel’ in a small town in Mexico. Because she somehow feels that this is where her future lies, she resigns, permanently breaks off with her boyfriend and leaves with close friend Mari Anderson (a totally high maintenance city girl) to move to take possession of the property. They arrive and find the well-designed structure fronted by a large porch heavily overgrown with tangled vines, and other obvious signs of neglect as it has been empty since grandfather’s death. From this point on, the reader embarks upon an intriguing journey where Jade discovers that her birth name was not Jade French, but Jade Sacniete Waempo IX, that her grandfather had been a practitioner and teacher of a form of Shamanism, that her inheritance resulted from her grandfather’s recognition that she was a person with already developed, but unrecognized, understanding of many Shaman powers and that she had arrived to fulfil a predestined position as a prominent leader. The story is a fascinating unfolding of the manner in which Jade gradually learns of her legacy, the trials encountered as her new life gradually opens, her acquisition of new friends as well as inexplicable enemies and ultimate understanding of formerly unanswerable questions relevant to her mother and father.

Discussion/Summary: The author opens with an Author’s note telling the reader that “the spiritual situations that happen to Jade in the story are things that can happen to anyone, Telepathy and self-healing are not fantasies. They are available inside each of us.” She also explains that shamanism has existed for thousands of years and that ancient times the local Shaman was the physician, psychologist and Spiritual Healer to his community. Purportedly shaman are “connected to earth. They are healers of the earth and the human body; intermediaries between our world and the spirit world.” Further, this former 23-year editor and mystery writer, now has been “awakened” and with her “also reformed husband” Rick Palmacci, present “talks on positivity and spirituality” as well as providing “a bi-monthly blog and short stories featuring characters from the Jade series.” She also has provided a well-selected Bibliography of some publications pertinent to the basic subject of the mind/body/spirit and shamanism, Native American Religions of Central and South America and similar thought patterns. In Summary, a truly intriguing story providing captivating features of a subject rarely encountered when perusing reading choices.

5* Highly recommended read for all.

Secret Diaries of Juan Luis Vives

The Secret Diaries of Juan Luis Vives ISBN: 9780228834380 Tellwell Talent, a novel copyright and written by Tim Darcy Ellis.

This is a novel based on the history of the early Renaissance when Europe began stumbling out of the Dark Ages. It is an era replete with numerous contributions to different areas of science, art, architecture, religions and to a more humanistic approach to the persons living within it. It is a period that elevates to the highest level the scholar, the man of letters and Classical learning. The protagonist is Juan Luis Vives, a Jew of Valencia, Spain, whose family had converted to Catholicism to avoid the Inquisition but still for many generations secretly maintained their Jewish faith and rituals. Pressure on the family increases that his father ignores because he still remained a man of the golden age of Muslim-Christian-Jewish concord and the fact that Jewish money kept the monarchy in power. Juan Luis, with a growing reputation as a scholarly teacher and writer, decides to escape to Flanders where his reputation continues to grow, Regrettably in Flanders, the Duke of Alba and Louis de Praet also are Jew hunters, and with aid from one of Juan’s brilliant students, constantly are attempting to trap Juan Luis. However, he meets Álvaro de Castro, with secrets of his own, but is responsible, through a special relationship with the Cardinal in charge of the Catholic Faith in England to meet. The reason, Álvaro is responsible for introducing him to Sir Thomas More who in turn, has been sent to discover any reason why he should not be appointed the teacher of Henry VIII and Catherine de Aragon’s only daughter, The story gradually unfolds as the reader follows Juan through what seem to be excerpts from discovery of a secret Diary by an electrician making repairs in an old building in Bruges built years before the Nazi occupation. He shows the box to Linguist Professor Benitez. He swears Jacques, the electrician, to secrecy and spends the next 2 months in isolation at the Museum Brugge. The box contains a manuscript, a sketch and a ring He studied the work, much requiring a magnifying glass and it was written in code as well as some in Spanish, Latin, Arabic, and Greek with the last part almost all in poor English. After 2 months he realized he was examining the secret writings of one of Bruges’s great men. It details his life among the literati and important people of the time, including the Boleyn sisters in the Court of King Henry VIII – his life, loves, his family and his attempts to please both the King, who is leaning away from Catholicism and Catherine of Aragon, the double action leads to his apparent unmasking.

The book is presented in four parts. Part One’s opening chapter “The Eyes and Ears of the King of Spain that explains that Bruges, Flanders is in the hands of the Catholic King of Spain but Martin Luther, with the peasant rebels would change all of that” with Parts Two and Three continuing with the body of the story and Part Four, End of Days where one of his worst enemies throughout the story, Louis de Praet, barges into his home in Bruges and tells him since they’re both exiles – Cardinal Wolsey kicked him out just as the King had done to Vives –  they should be able to help each other. He already had built a hospital so maybe the poor-boy school could be next. Thus he could get the credit and Vives would be the silent voice that steered that change and Juan’s initial desire to help humanity in general was within sight, as well as a closure to his family situation.

Discussion: The author has provided a fascinating hint of what this period of turmoil must have been like as well as the never-ending persecution of the Spanish Jews in particular. With respect to Juan Luis, it is difficult to envision a clear picture. He is described as having a spinal problem and a petit mal seizure and others of greater intensity, although the symptoms described appear to be associated with reactions to emotional problems or inability to cope with a situation more in line with psycho-physiologic reactions. The reader may find other relationships with which it is difficult to equate. In mentioning these problems this reviewer is aware that the manuscript discovered is difficult in the extreme to decipher. However, as a novel, it would seem that a little more descriptive material might have provided an even more enjoyable tale.

4* 5* -1* for reasons described.

AMORA

AMORA ISBN: 9780982150338 (paperback) Cleardtone Publishing, copyright and written by Grant J. Hallstrom.

Amore is a Roman aristocrat who at 17 years of age marries a somewhat older member of the same class who, as a result of having been sent to settle a problem in Egypt, has developed a significant business that he runs with his Roman Senator partners. The marriage is a happy one with the birth of a daughter greatly loved by both parents. Later, she gives birth to a boy who has a deformed leg, something that the unwritten rules of their society almost demand the child’s abondement. She persuades Leo to allow her to keep the child in spite of the act reflecting badly on his position. A position that includes not only his business partners, but his personal friend the philosopher Marcus Aurelius who becomes the Emperor. On the daughter’s 12th birthday, she is kidnapped, raped and killed. Both Leo and Amora are devastated, but instead of consoling each other, they begin the blame game. He finds more and more time to spend travelling and she finds herself completely alone. Gradually she becomes acquainted with increasing numbers of Christians, finally is caught with a group, and is sentenced to die in the Arena. Leo has been one of the men pushing for eliminations of all Christians and witnesses her destruction, as well as that of her faithful maid by wild Lions. The story continues with his gradual descent into debauchery and increasing drunkenness where he is betrayed by one of his partners. He is discovered badly beaten and barely alive by the son he has not seen in a long time and nursed back to health by him and his Christian friends. The tale continues with several interesting twists, well-described bits of gladiator combative techniques, captivating descriptions of Roman centurion battle procedures and a considerable amount of well- done proselytizing. All in all, a quite fascinating read as it wends its way to a conclusion not only as a novel but one containing most pertinent historical factual material and stimulating proselytization.

Discussion: A Preface explains the background material for this book. The author’s younger brother, Calvin, “despite some mental and emotional instabilities emotional problems”, married, worked three low-pay jobs to buy a home for his wife and three children. Unfortunately, the combination caused him to be difficult to live with, so while on a trip to California, his wife changed the locks and filed for divorce. Shortly thereafter, the eldest son moved out. The middle child came out as transgender. The youngest became socially anxious and spent most of his time playing video games in the basement. A few years later the transgender child committed suicide. Calvin’s ex-wife barred everyone from even knowing where the child was being buried. Calvin, through all of this heartbreak refused to let anyone speak negatively about anything concerning his family. Six months later he was ecstatic when his youngest son wanted to reconcile. He joined him, they embraced and the boy stabbed Calvin to death. His story of failing to blame or discredit anyone, is the basis for this story.

Summary: As described above, a fascinating tale on several levels, “Amora is a historical novel based on the true story of the noblewoman who inspired Justin Martyr’s petition to the Roman Senate” on behalf of Christians. It was denied and he, along with several others, was beheaded after refusing to deny their faith. Other important figures of the day – Marcus Aurelius, Crescens, the aristocratic woman’s husband Leo, who is a central figure in the book, and other non-fictional as well as fictional characters play significant parts in this appealing story. Thus, as stated above – a quite fascinating read as it wends its way to a conclusion not only as a novel but one containing most pertinent historical factual material and stimulating proselytization.

5* fascinating novel; pertinent historical facts; stimulating proselytization.

 

Eastbound from Flagstaff

Eastbound from Flagstaff ISBN: 9781642793369 Morgan James Publishing copyright written by Annette Valentine.

The story introduces Simon Hagan, a man in his late twenties, in his small apartment in Albuquerque. His present activities include washing dishes at the hotel, classes in acting and first year pre-med college courses at the university. He is waiting excitedly for the love-of-his-life’s arrival from Flagstaff in an hour. Thus he leaves a little early to drive his typical crank Model T. Ford. At the bus station he learns that there has been a disastrous accident. The story moves from here to follow Simon’s life from its beginning on a rather successful farm outside of Elkton, Kentucky. He is the oldest son of a growing family – God devoted father who is a mentally, as well as physically, a strong man – a loving mother, a two-year younger brother Alain and several other siblings. Although never quite happy with the life of a farmer, he functioned well while dreaming of some other path in life. When he was eighteen, his mother was mauled to death by a bear which he had slowed but not stopped with the family shotgun. Unnecessarily blaming himself for her death and stimulated by his desire not to be a farmer. He leaves for Detroit, Michigan where Ford Motor Company was hiring workers for the very excellent pay of $5.00/day. The tale continues with his ability to equate easily with new people, and his activity on an assembly line. Through a chance remark by one of his new friends, he is given a job as a rookie on the Detroit Police Force. Here he rises very rapidly, becoming a Police Captain within a very few years. Regrettably, he acquires tuberculosis and must resign to move to a sanatorium in Albuquerque. The entire sequence of episodes covers a 9 year period during which he encounters many devastatingly crushing personal blows. Many of which, as with his mother’s death, he blames himself and continues a struggle with attempting to accept the fact pounded into him as a child, that God was in control. All of this mental stress is exacerbated by the constant presence in his bedroom of his mother’s bible that his father insisted he take with him and read the numerous notes he and his mother had entered on various pages. His continuation to do so adds immensely to his tension. Specific details and their chronological order really need to be read to understand the deep feelings and emotional turmoil dealt with in this tale.

Discussion: The author, a well-recognized figure in other endeavors, has presented here a debut novel depicting a period in the early life of her father. An Endorsement recounted before beginning the story points out quite accurately, that this “powerful story of resilience and recovery is a quest filled with brutal tragedies that explores the depths one endures and the path that ultimately leads to redemption”. This reviewer heartily concurs with the summation quoted by the endorser. But most regrettably, as a novel, several features require a greater degree of attention. The protagonist has a self-accusatory problem initiated by his mother’s death, but employed to strengthen his desire to leave the life of a farmer. Subsequent catastrophic occurrences strengthen the belief as his life continues. Furthermore, he fails to recognize the importance of the good matters that so easily come his way – his easy arrival at a pleasant boarding house resulting from his enquiry at the wrong address; similarly his hiring as a rookie police officer; his rapid advancement; and more all are serendipitous. Seemingly he makes a number of wrong decisions, especially with respect to his love life. But then again, his character is so sketchily developed as are those of his loves that it is impossible to even conjecture adequately. Therefore, and most regrettably, from this reader’s perspective the author has set forth a story with all of the elements of a fine fictional biography providing a powerful message, but it does require considerable character enrichment to reach the powerful story latently existent.

3* 5* powerful tale of a tormented trail attempting to reach redemption.

When Life Doesn’t turn out the Way We’d Hoped It Would

When Life doesn’t turn out the Way we Hoped it Would Volume I ISBN: 9781974032822 Create Space, copyright and written by Tom Wick.

This autobiography is written by an individual who had been born into a family whose roots he had been able to trace to a particular tribe of some of the most “unrestrained and pitiless pagans and savages of all Vikings”. Thus, his particular family were a mixture of Scots, Pics, Irish and Manx who had ultimately occupied a small section of northern Scotland. Further extension of genealogical facts detail the intermixing of the family strains as they move into more recent history. Here it would seem, some of these early ‘unrestrained’ genes carried over to the future generations with occasional episodes providing vicious physical harm. Specific sordid details of the remarkably dysfunctional family’s interrelationships as well as their activity with others are presented along with lengthy descriptions of his personal activity. The protagonist enumerates the fact that by the age of six years he had witnessed people being killed, men beating women as well as other men. He relates seeing and participating in indiscriminate sex. He smoked tobacco and marijuana incessantly, drank liquor heavily, sniffed, inhaled, ingested and injected drugs. However, until later in life, he thought this just was the ‘normal way of life”. His mother had been diagnosed with “agoraphobia, paranoia, multiple personality disorders, and other mental and emotional ailments.” His father had been beaten mercilessly and repetitively by his grandfather. The author had been molested constantly by his older brother, participated in exploratory sexual activity with playmates and had sex with a ‘girlfriend’ at four years of age.

Discussion: The material covered in this first book in the series presents, in quite explicit detail, quite lengthy descriptions of the repetitiously indulgent activities of the author, his family, friends and acquaintances as he moves among several locations. However, there is an overlying tone of a man somehow repentant of much of his activity and, as a result of some unnamed factor, ultimately realizing the ‘error of his ways and being ‘born again’ as a Christian. Although the causative factor is not mentioned per se, when he failed 1st grade a psychiatrist diagnosed him as having ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). This long-standing dysfunction, in combination with being brutally beaten, raped and suffering a degree of PTSD could have left him totally repentant for the meaningless sex, constant drug and alcohol abuse and the rest that caused him intense feelings of alienation, isolation, and loneliness.

Summary: A seemingly most honestly and completely told tale detailing the extent of dysfunctional behavior existent in the author, as well as sections of the general population, is set forth along with a series of factors that influenced change to a direction for resolution for the author. If the extent of explicit description of immorality can be accepted, the level of reader interest for members of the Evangelic religious faith should be high. That for general readership difficult even to suggest.

3* High interest level for some readers; difficult to determine for others.

Dreamwander in the Ruins of Eden

Dreamwander in the Ruins of Eden ISBN: 9780996305709 Kildaire Press copyright and written by Kildaire.

This is “Volume One of In The Ruins of Eden” and begins with the protagonist, Cillian Rysgaard, an old North Dakota rancher, travelling down a strange forest path where he encounters increasing numbers of strange, illusion-like ‘happenings’. Ultimately he meets an old woman whom he recognizes as Mórríghan, the ancient Irish Goddess who humans meet before dying. She informs him that it is not quite his time. He next realizes he is in a strange doctor’s office where a woman says the practitioner is ready to see him. He enters and here is informed that he has dementia that gradually will worsen although he may live anywhere up to another ten years. He then is ushered out through another door that becomes a long tunnel where eventually he encounters a stately young woman dressed similarly to a Roman Centurion. She tells him to mount her chariot and she delivers him to the ruler of the impossibly large assemblage of buildings crowded with huge numbers of citizens cheering him as he is honored by the ruling Imperator as the two time savior of the empire. Thus begins this strange tale that involves a parallel world inhabited by the Tuath Dé who have a physical body and a sex but actually are part of the fallen angels remaining from the revolt of the angels that resulted in Yewah splitting the revolutionaries into three groups – theirs, Satan and his followers to the dark nether region and retaining the third group of Michael and others of the ‘good’ angels with him in the upper regions. They are in a constant state of war with the Dread Queen who once was one of them, and both they and she, with her followers, continue living under an uneasy truce since neither has been able to defeat the other. The action swings among various, mostly fanciful activities in ‘other worlds’ with Cillian having the ability to pass unharmed among the different ‘civilizations’ because of an amulet he had received as a gift many years ago. The amulet had been fashioned by Satan and assures his safe passage between worlds because both sides need him since, through an error, he had released Loki, the God of Chaos from his chained position of eternal bondage.

Discussion: A weirdly fanciful tale that is difficult, at least for this reader, to describe. It begins interestingly with what appears to be an old man with some degree of advancing dementia wandering along a forest path. Assumedly, his formal/informal educational development includes a superior knowledge of Irish, Nordic and Christian mythology, although we are told that he simply is a North Dakota Rancher. Large sections of the story involve individuals who speak Latin and a Celtic dialect, and reference is made repeatedly to persons described in the written, and before that unwritten, mythology just mentioned and Roman Centurion-like uniforms are in abundance. There is much of interest set forth and the action at times generates excitement. However, the action sequences often are interwoven with considerable prose explanations of pre-occurring and/or predictive activity. Settings following each other occasionally are sufficiently far removed from each other enough to cause momentary need to re-arrange one’s thinking with respect to the tale’s continuum.

Summary: A strange tale that from this reader’s perspective requires dichotomous interpretation – extreme mental wanderings resulting from a knowledgeable individual’s advancing dementia, or, an equally strange Fantasy tale that devotees of the genre may enjoy.

3* difficult to describe and rate, as described.