Saturday, 20 August 2016

Book Review: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Nora is invited to a hen (bachelorette) party, but it’s been ten years since she’s seen or talked to the bride-to-be, Clare. After contacting Nina, the only other person she knows on the invite list, Nora begrudgingly agrees to go to the party, only to find out that Nora’s ex and the groom-to-be are one and the same.

As Nora tries her best to appear happy, her old friends and anew acquaintances remind her of why she left town after graduation without looking back.

  • Clare – Nora sees, after only a few minutes, that Clare hasn’t changed much from her stuck-up, popular days
  • Flo – very high strung, intense, and trying to become a replica of Clare; appears as the most psychologically unbalanced member of the party
  • Nina – outspoken and uncensored Nina still hasn’t learned to watch what she says before she says it; the part of her that was once envied is now seen as her downfall 
  • Melanie – too wrapped up in her six-month old to enjoy anything or be a team player 
  • Tom – seems to fit right in as one of the girls 
  • James – Nora’s first love that she thought she’d gotten over, and now he’s to marry Clare

In a Dark, Dark Wood is very readable with lots of suspense and thought-provoking moments slipped in throughout the story. It is very well crafted and I will definitely enjoy returning to it.

I wish to thank Simon & Schuster Canada and Ruth Ware for providing me with a review copy for an honest review.

Cross-posted on Goodreads

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Book Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Louisa Clark, aka Lou, comes from a close but poor family, is in an okay long-term relationship with her boyfriend, has a steady job that helps contribute to the family finances, and lives in a close-knit village where she has lived a cozy life. But is her life too cozy? Is she really as satisfied with her life as she thinks she is?

When the diner where she waitresses closes its doors for the final time, Lou wonders where she can turn to get a job. She lives with her mom, dad, grandpa, sister, and five year old nephew. They have barely made it with the added wage and tips that Lou helped bring in, and now her sister wants to spread her wings and needs money to do it. No formal training or a strong career path, Lou is left worrying about what she’s going to do.

Will Traynor is wealthy, educated, and pissed off at the world. So when Lou begins work as his caretaker, Will does nothing to hide his cantankerous, ill-humoured, and disparaged self. He has been resentful of still being alive since the day a motorcycle ran him over in front of his house and left him a quadriplegic from a spinal cord injury. Beside themselves with worry about his deepening depression, Will’s parents have hired Louisa to clean around his house, keep him company, and try to cheer him up. But Lou finds she has a lot more to deal with than Will’s negative self-image the longer she stays into her 6-month contract. In the end, will Lou be able to figure out what Will really needs to be happy? Does she even know what her own happiness looks like?

Jojo Moyes takes some very emotional subject matter, two very opposing personality types, and one helluva plot line, dumps them all into her magical writing blender, and produces the most outstanding, tear-jerking, heart-pounding emotional ride that I have read in quite a while. From the snazzy outfits Lou wears that make you laugh to the vulnerable moments at the bedside that bring tears, you will fall in love with these characters as they find out what loving each other really means.   

Cross-posted on Goodreads


Thursday, 3 March 2016

The Boy Who Died and Came Back by Robert Moss

In The Boy Who Died and Came Back by Robert Moss, we learn how Robert’s three near-death experiences affected who he was at the time, how he came back from the brink of death, and why each death made him who he is today. This personal narrative takes us through previous life investigations, shamanic journeying, travelling through time and space, and stepping into the world of conscious dreaming. This is a book that teaches beyond what the past was and what the future will be. Robert brings definition to how we can live in the now and why it can be so important.

Robert praises those who have influenced him throughout his work. From Carl Jung, Psychiatrist and father of Analytical Psychology, to Michael Harner, Anthropologist and founder of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies; from Tom Porter, Bear Clan elder of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, to Jane Roberts, author and voice to the spiritual leader, Seth. Robert also met with great storytellers through his dreams where he was educated that the recollection of past lives can heal, and contemplating suicide can “exile a part of our soul to a realm of the dead.” Travelling deeper through the veil of time and place, he met people or characters that meant something to the story that was yet to unfold. He was taught through other languages, signs, and people in the dreams that he was the storyteller of their stories. After the death of his father, he received messages from his father’s spirit to help those left behind. It became Robert’s calling to teach others what he learned through his dreams.

An amazing piece of this book is in the telling of Robert’s joining with his first animal spirit. It is a moving description, and is helpful for those who may not have experienced Shamanism for themselves. He also speaks of “anamnesis,” or soul remembering, which was the recollection of his memories of his past lives. This helped him become prepared to meet with all of his guides and teachers who would take on the physical form of what he was able to mentally receive. Robert tells us that the ego only allows through what makes sense to us in this reality. It blocks other time and space communications which is why we tend to forget our dreams. Through practice and training, we can learn to open a portal to the multiverse and learn from what our “outside” experiences can teach us now. From what we learn and create within our dream world, we can manifest and recreate our life in this reality. 

The time between deep sleep and coming awake, the hypnapompic state, and when just about asleep, the hypnagogic state, is the place of our communication and adventures between multiple universes. Robert speaks of how you can learn to achieve this state while awake and with purpose. He teaches his students to consciously dream so they can work out how to dream better, and take what they learn from those dreams and manifest them into reality. He tells us of the positive attributes of dreaming in groups or communities where several people can meet up, share, and learn by consciously dreaming together. By setting intentions, sharing dreams can help to create positive outcomes for individuals and communities.

This entire book is an adventure in knowledge and seeking answers, from the simplest to the most difficult questions of life. Robert mentions that the most important teacher or guide to life for each of us may be “a self on a higher level.” We can rise to our higher self to watch a slow motion movie of our situation to give us the time we need to make the proper decisions or take the right route to our destinations. In reality we are on a constant pace that is almost impossible to keep up with. With a little help from our wiser and somewhat removed self, we can learn to see our options in life from a clearer view.

Robert tells of his own connections with his higher spirits. He heard enlightening tales and stories that gave him understanding and a desire to find out more. There is much to learn from the communication between dreams, old songs, folklore, and the many simple messages each day that we miss or take for granted. Throughout his life, Robert learned that it was important to listen to what goes on around us each day, and that dreams are a form of communication with our past and present about the more important time of now. We can also learn so much from other cultures. The ancient and indigenous people before us shared dream webs within their communities to create change and healing amongst their people. What worked in the past can be something that helps better our future. 

I learned so much by reading The Boy Who Died and Came Back. It was my first time touching on the subject of Shamanism so it was a whirlwind of information and crazy adventures for me. But the further I read, the more questions it answered. I enjoyed hearing that the guides I have met in my meditations will be with me always. And as we hurry along our fast-paced lives and forget them in the back of our minds, our guides, spirits, and fellow dream consciousness will be waiting to give us signs that it is time to slow down, take notice, and listen to the messages all around us. It is comforting to know I am not alone on this long journey of life, and I look forward to practicing conscious dreaming and walking with my guides. I am also thoroughly excited to read some of the other spiritual books that Robert Moss has written. Why stop now when I can learn more from such a great conduit of knowledge.

Originally Posted in the May 2014 edition of Becoming Psychic Magazine
Cross-posted on Goodreads

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

The Magnificent Truths of Our Existence by Daniel F. Parmeggiani

In The Magnificent Truths of Our Existence, Daniel Parmeggiani takes us on a journey of self-discovery to find the key to unconditional love, inner peace, lasting happiness, and real freedom. This key, as Daniel states, is within each of us. We don’t need external pleasures to create our happiness for us. It is all about how we see ourselves within our world. Walking our own personal path to become more in touch with our spirituality will allow us to uncover the guilt, shame, judgment, and condemnation that each of us harbours on some level. Daniel will help us find and release what weighs us down so we can manifest unconditional love for ourselves as well as all others.

At a young age, Daniel Parmeggiani lost his older brother to a horrible accident. Through this tragedy and the inescapable grief and depression that claimed his parents, Daniel also lost any support system, guidance, and link to pleasure in his life. After exploring other avenues of support on his own, Daniel experienced his emotional epiphany at the age of seventeen. “I am always doing the best I can with what I know.” This statement gave Daniel the base to start his search for who he was and what he wanted to be. He realized that how we feel at any given time and in any given situation is all based on how we see ourselves within our world. We are all working towards the same place with the same end desire. Daniel calls this “destination happiness.” Anything we do, whether for ourselves or for others, is done so that we can gain the most pleasure or least pain from it. This is called “The Law of Pain and Pleasure.” “We are always striving, behind every thought and action, to feel better.”

Throughout The Magnificent Truths of Our Existence, Daniel Parmeggiani gives us many good analogies and examples to explain his point of view. He reminds us that humans are the only creature to dwell in the past and present and to judge themselves negatively. Animals do what they must in the moment and if they fail, they do it again without judgment. We have a tendency to become harsh with ourselves for something that didn’t turn out as expected or for the choices we made leading up to it. But as Daniel reminds us, we are only doing our best with what we have access to in that moment. If circumstances were different our choices, and therefore the outcome, would have been different as well. Our inner judge prevents us from enjoying life in the same innocent manner as that of a child.

Not all of Daniel’s analogies were ones that I could agree with. He consistently shows us how we are all working towards the same realm of happiness as equals, including those like Jesus, Buddha, and Krishna. “Even Mother Teresa sacrificed herself for the sick and destitute in India because her own feelings were on the line.” I have a tough time seeing myself along the same path of spirituality as this company. “But rather than demeaning us, this insight lifts us all to the same level as the most revered spiritual icons.” Daniel lets us know that the only difference was how they went about finding their own happiness. “They just happened to know the way.”

The Magnificent Truths of Our Existence lets us see the difference between life and death. Pleasure points the way towards integration and harmony (life), and pain points the way towards separateness and chaos (death). Daniel Parmeggiani believes that to choose pain, and in essence death, is not possible as we only choose what will bring us pleasure. As a species of free-will, “…we are free to choose what we want; it just so happens we always want exactly the same thing.” That would be destination happiness.

Another statement I had some questions with was this: “Any wrong turns along the way only reflect our ignorance of what is takes to get there, and those who navigate straighter do so only because their view of the return home is less compromised.” Leaving out all the negative connotations that have been associated with the word ignorance in the last 30 years, the basic meaning is lack of knowledge. With that in mind towards the statement, I wonder why Daniel sees it as ignorant to make a wrong turn? Is it not considered a life lesson and possible knowledge that will be useful later on in life? Learning from what we experience shouldn’t be presumed a wrong turn since it may very well lead us down a road we were meant to go. How can this be ignorance if it may lead to our destiny? And those who have a straight path may just have been there at the right moment and not have learned a lesson that may lead to a more enriching chance. I feel that this part of the book may have been making it too easy to go down the right path in life and be questioning why we didn’t choose it to begin with. With this in mind, I continued on reading and found that Daniel believes we are ignorant as children because we aren’t aware of the possibility of good or bad, beautiful or ugly, success or failure. I have found that children see clearly and it is the extra debris that sways our beliefs as we age that can create ignorance.

Daniel Parmeggiani states that “we are incapable of being anything but innocent.” He goes on to note that “virtually all of history’s most notable enlightened masters and gurus all recognized that God’s divine quality of innocence was present in all creation.” Daniel tells us that we are all innocent as we are and we have the ability to live in complete harmony. Society has over thought the complete ease to which we can all get along. Guilt is a society-created entity as we are all born innocent. There are some communities in the world that are able to live in harmony and peace without the use of shame and guilt to keep people in line. Eastern philosophy tells of karma teaching necessary lessons and bringing balance to those who have made unwise decisions. Are we ready to live without the negativity and see ourselves as innocent entities?

The second part of The Magnificent Truths of Our Existence is filled with excellent exercises on how to free people of guilt and shame, seeing ourselves as perfect spiritual beings just the way we are with self-acceptance and self-love. Each moment of each day we live is a search for our own inner peace. If we stop fighting within our own selves and surrender to the concept that all things happen as they are meant to, we can live with harmony, love, and oneness within ourselves and our world.

I was unsure of what to expect when I began reading The Magnificent Truths of Our Existence. How could every being on the earth be trying for exactly the same thing? And how could happiness be the one goal of every soul? The further I read in this book, the more that Daniel Parmeggiani made the struggle within each person and the desires we all have make sense. Guilt and shame are killers to the soul and this book helps release that negativity. Lifting the weight off your shoulders and learning to find the beauty in life is a precious gift. That gift is what Daniel Parmeggiani wants to help you find.
Originally Posted in the April 2014 edition of Becoming Psychic Magazine
Cross-posted on Goodreads