Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for July, 2018

Stop Running

41ShJnUqNdLSilence Speaks by Paul Goldman, MS.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

This is an intimate, internal observation of life from the inside out. Silence Speaks is airy, open, liberating, freeing, and relatable. Want to look at the world (inner and outer) with different eyes, and breathe in the moment fully? If so, I’d invite you to read this collection of poems by Paul Goldman. There were times that his words reminded me of prose by Hugh Prather, Rumi, and Thoreau. Here’s an excerpt.

EYES WIDE OPEN

Seeing all before me
with eyes wide open now.
I see the depth of indescribable
beauty revealed.

How I simply ‘got by’ before
I do not know.
For in seeing the sheer power
of what is existant right here,
this moment, I am startled
alive anew.

Nothing will stand
in the way of this forever grace,
though in forgetting I maybe
momentarily blinded to bliss.

Only to find an immeasurable
substance again revealed
in each single breath
and the next.

The titles for each poem are as revealing as the poetry itself. Headings include, “Flip Your Mind”, “Run No More”, “Surrender”, “Atoms Tremble”, “Behind the Bars of Illusion”, “Our Moment”, and “Change the Music”. Silence Speaks is not silent, nor loud. It is more like a whisper, reminding us to wake up NOW; to not wait until tomorrow; to see what is before us. The words are meant to remind us to stop trying to “become”, and simply “be”.

 

A Torturous Affair

The Glass Mask: Monsters Lurk Beneath by E. L. DuBois.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

516I5azkDzLThe Glass Mask is a painful book to read. It is an important book to read. It is a well written story about partner abuse, and the intimate torture that often takes place in abusive relationships. If you’ve experienced anything remotely similar in your own life, you will identify with the protagonist, called “Beauty”. If you’ve been fortunate to not have gone through any such trauma, you will be rooting for her survival, and insight into how to escape “The Beast” that threatens to destroy everything she loves, and life itself.

Ms. DuBois notes in the beginning that, “It was Hell. Let me reiterate… a living Hell. Nothing was sure then, except fear. Life was uncertain, death always loomed, and instability was the norm.” She is not exaggerating. It is apparent that the author has lived through many of the scenes described herein, and they are conveyed with honesty, agonizing detail, and perspective. All the mental and emotional things victims believe, and tell themselves (which are reinforced by the abuser), make sense and come to light.

The chapter headings also match well with the contents of that section. For example, “I knew who I was this morning… But I have changed a few times since then.” Happiness is displaced by despair and fear. Loving acts hide brutal retaliation and control at all costs. Someone believing they “own” you, and can do whatever they want with you, are not a fantasy, but too often a reality. Beauty’s boyfriend is aptly named The Beast, and his sister (The Drama Queen). Beauty’s daughter is appropriately known as The Princess.

Anything awful you can think of happening to another human being, is inflicted on Beauty. When you think that there is no way she can keep going, she meets a man (Mr. Knight). Thus, some light returns. Or does it? Not everyone is able to escape, let alone meet a supportive, loving person to help. It is possible, but rare. Many people are killed, or reduced to ruble before they are set free. Others take solace in drugs, or other numbing acts. You’ll have to read The Glass Mask to find out what happens to Beauty.

P.S. A similar book you may find of interest is Kellsey, by Stacy Kells. The primary difference is that Stacy’s is nonfiction, and The Glass Mask is fiction. At times, it is difficult to tell them apart. Read my review of Kellsey. It’s called A Gradual Awakening.

I Almost Fell Over

513qrbXXhOLWhere We Belong by Fox Brison.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Hope you don’t think I’m an eejit, as a bi-sexual wanna-be lesbian Yankee (22% Irish I recently discovered with DNA), when I say how much I fawned over Where We Belong by Ms. Brison. What is their not to like about this story? It takes place in one of my favorite parts of the world (near Westport, Ireland), is about family, helping kids, and has two beautiful narrators who fall deeply in love. There are so many twists and turns, I almost fell over (and I was sitting in a chair while reading). Oh yeah, the love scenes and romance are also very hot, and intricately interspersed throughout.

Bri (who thinks she’s straight), finds out she’s adopted, and takes a construction job in Ireland to get away from her ex-boyfriend and look for her birth mother’s family. Upon arrival, she meets the administrator of the new home being built for dis-advantaged children, Elisha. Elisha falls for Bri (short for Brianna) upon first sight, but doesn’t want to cross the line of hitting on a straight woman. In the meantime, Bri’s feelings for Elisha are running rampant, but she doesn’t know what to do with her knew found urges, and attraction, or how to tell Elisha.

Without giving anything away, here are some lines from the beginning of this book, when Bri finds a letter in her parent’s attic. “Intuitively I knew that this simple piece of stationary was about to take the very fabric of my being and tear it asunder, thread by thread, still I slipped a finger under the seal anyway.” Not only does the letter change her entire life, it prompts her to move to Ireland and throw everything she knew about herself out the window. The people she meets in Ireland, Elisha (and her sister and father) and her neighbors (Patrick and Bridget “Biddy”), become like family, and that’s just the start of it.

This book includes all the aspects that draw me into a story. It is written well, has believable and likable characters, lots of romance, a wonderful description, and sense, of time and place, and makes the reader feel like you know these people inside out. If I met the author (Fox Brison) in person, I’d give her a big hug and thank her for writing such an entertaining and heartfelt tale. There is a lot of lesfic fiction these days (at least a lot more than their ever was in the past), and like other genres, some of it is good, some bad, and some so so. Where We Belong is very good.

Keeping Your Nose Clean

The Golden Fleece: The Diary of a Scientology Warrior by Michael Priv. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

FINAL_THEGOLDENFLEECE_6x9_front_for_web_JPGDon’t runaway from this book because of the word “Scientology” in the title. It is not only the best personal, and in depth, view inside the world of Dianetics, as developed by L. Ron Hubbard, but also an exciting and insightful fast-paced memoir that reads like fiction. Though The Golden Fleece is written, as lived, by Mr. Priv, it feels as if one is reading a religious, self-help, political thriller. The author is a skilled storyteller and writer. He writes how people think, and talk, and is good at pacing.

Whether events happened exactly as portrayed, or not, becomes secondary to being caught up in the story. After escaping from being essentially imprisoned by Scientologists, upon his return from Russia, Michael calls his parents. His mother says, “Never mind that, you scoundrel! Are you in any danger? Are those Scientology bastards chasing after you?” Michael replies, “Bastards? Mom, listen, there is Scientology, which is good, and there is a Church of Scientology, which is… Never mind. I’m all right, I’m at a liquor store in LA. They won’t find me here.”

Michael Priv describes himself honestly in the beginning of the book. In short, he was a real asshole. As he gets taken into Scientology, and finds that it actually works for both himself, and others, some of the edge to his style gets rubbed off. Their remains an active, can-do, individual throughout, who at times reminds me of the lead character in The Bourne Identity films (minus killing people). This is especially true during his time in Russia, and his interactions with the KGB, Russian mafia, Scientology organization, and Russian government crap.

After explaining the benefits, and the downfall of Scientology, the author explains why he stayed in the elite part of the organization for 18 years, and why living an ethical, clear, honest life makes all the difference. “So, is it at all important to keep your nose clean, even if nobody is watching? You bet your sweet bahookie. But only if you want to soar among the stars and be happy. Otherwise, you can always find an excuse for any transgression you can ever imagine. We are smart. We can explain away anything we want and then some. After all, this is the alley-cat world and we are only human, right?”

The Golden Fleece: The Diary of a Scientology Warrior goes far beyond what one might think it is. In fact, the title acutely portrays a good portion of what Mr. Priv lived through for 18 years of his life, as a “Scientologist Warrior”. There are excellent explanations of the terminology used in Scientology, and the organizational structure which it deploys around the world. It isn’t all good, or all bad. Their “Components of Understanding” are relevant, and similar to some other belief systems, with Affinity, Reality (agreement) and Communication (ARC), being the key. This is a good book, written by an insightful and very smart writer, who is in a continual process of being a good man.

A Voddy a Day

The Magic Vodka Wardrobe by Sheila Patel.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

5148g32KOlL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_This story seems to have been written by somebody who was very drunk. That doesn’t mean that it is unintelligible, or not entertaining, but more like coming to consciousness every now and then and writing down what is happening. The Magic Vodka Wardrobe focuses on three sisters (Trace, Shaz, and Kristy), and their Aunt Sheila, who retreat to their magic wardrobe bar where bartender, Bachittar, provides the music they desire (a lot of disco from the 70s), the gifts they crave, and the latest gossip on what’s going on in the neighborhood. Sort of like your regular pub bar tender, but one with special powers. This is, of course, a secret bar that only the sisters and aunt are privy too.

It all begins and ends with Shaz celebrating her twenty-eight, and twenty-ninth, birthday (respectively). A cast of characters from home and community are intertwined, including the family dog (Snoop Dog), Lady Fatima (aunt Sheila’s sister), Sue Ellen (the Singh sister’s mother), The Ladoo Shop Twins (both big and hairy), Rajeer (the boy next door), Sheryl (who works at parents store), and Channing Copra (the handsome rich guy that Trace falls for). Oh yeah, the oldest sister, Kristy, lives in Australia and repeatedly Skype’s into the bar to hear the latest and give her advice.

There are nine rules in the bar. One of them is “In case of fire, pray.” Here’s an excerpt, to give an idea of the humor within these pages. When her sisters explain how worried Shaz is about her lost car keys to Aunt Sheila, she says, “Oh, you mean these?” asked Sheila, pulling a pair of keys out of her pocket. “Sue Ellen had them in her cardi; the pockets are so deep she found them in there with an old samosa, a pair of socks, a couple of scratch cards, and I’m sure there was an empty miniature Bells in there too! She was hiding them from Mad Mush Martha from the estate – she’s been taking selfies next to the new Audi.”

It would be pretty cool if you went to the pub and every time you walked in they knew exactly what you wanted to drink, started playing your song, and everyone got dressed up in costumes for the night, and danced their ass off. It doesn’t matter if you pass out on the floor, knock things over, throw up, or do and say the stupidest things ever. It’s all part of the magic. There don’t seem to be too many accompanying hangovers in The Magic Vodka Wardrobe. Of course, they’re better off left forgotten. One question from this naive reader in The States. Is “voddy” a British term for vodka, or something made up for this story?

If the Truth Be Told

The Story That Had No Beginning by Daniel Kemp.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

51eGvdQIgBLTom Collins, and his sister Alice (Alicia), are twins who were separated into foster homes when they were 8 years of age. As adults, they’ve taken different paths. Tom becomes a thug, in and out of prison, and Alicia is a famous photographer, care of the graces of her mentor and mother figure (Mary O’Donnell). The Story That Had No Beginning, takes a close look at these siblings as adults, and explores their lives together with friends, co-workers, and acquaintances, and the inter-connections that take place. What appears to be straight-forward, and obvious, may or may not be so.

Mr. Kemp has written a superb crime story, with the actions, thoughts, feelings, and consequences of the main characters being told by way of deceased Tom Collins, who can see into the past. Tom says, “All I can do is recount the story as it is shown to me without any interpretation, but bear this in mind as you continue to read. As I have been granted this ability to see the mistakes made in lives other than my own, are similar people such as I reading your thoughts and your hidden secrets as you indulge yourself with me? If so, then the skeletons in your past are being interrogated as I hold your attention.”

That is the rub, really. What is the truth? Who’s truth is it? Is what we think we know, what actually is? These questions are discussed in the beginning dinner party (that is not really the beginning), which includes Alicia, Giles Milton (Queen’s counsel – lawyer), Susan Rawlinson (national newspaper editor and novelist), and Rupert Barrett (owner of Bear Cave nightclubs). Tom returns to observe this dinner-party in the non-conclusion conclusion of the storyand learns about secrets, collusion, alternative facts, and circumstances that were not apparent at the time they occurred.

The Story That Had No Beginning is an intriguing, thoughtful, and intricate observation of how to write a good murder mystery. It is unique, complicated, and takes readers’ around the block for an insider’s eye view of cut-throat business, politics, sex, media, and the law. Everyone is suspect, and none are innocent. Like the best of a good soap opera, almost anything can, and does, happen to Tom and Alicia. There is order and insight behind the writing and the characters. I would think that this story would be easily adaptable as a four-part series for Masterpiece Mystery on BBC or PBS.

Talking Behind Our Backs

Private Eye Cats: Book One: The Case of the Neighborhood Burglers
by S. N. Bronstein. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

517t6UgzCvL.jpgCatwoman has nothing on these cats. They may seem like your everyday, ordinary felines, but there is something quite different about sisters Nugget and Scooter in Private Eye Cats: The Case of The Neighborhood Burglers. They aren’t superheroes, but it becomes apparent that they speak English (when humans aren’t around). Turns out cats all over the world speak their native language, and they’ve kept is secret, until now. That’s the author’s premise, and for all I know, S. N. Bronstein may have the real skinny.

This story reminds me a little of the film The Secret Life of Pets. In addition to the cats conversing when their people (Tony and Misty) are gone, as the animals do in the movie, it also has sharp dialogue and humor. Nugget shares some of their secrets. “We play the games that most humans fall for such as waking them up on weekends at 6:00 in the morning by knocking something over, or crying over nothing so they come running to see if we are hurt or in some kind of trouble.

While figuring out a way to catch some local burglars in their neighborhood, Nugget and Scooter accidentally let slip a few words out loud to a local English teacher (Tyronne Williams). After recovering from shock, Mr. Williams says, “And if I did write this all down and turned it into a book, who would believe it? Would they say it was a funny story but none of it could ever really happen?” Read Mr. Bronstein’s Private Eye Cats and decide for yourself. Are your cats talking behind your back, or just meowing around?

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