Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lifting the Wheel of Karma by Paul H Magid

This is an unusual review for an unusual novel.



It started a few months back when I browsed through Bees Knees reviews for a nice
interesting book. I came upon Lifting the Wheel of Karma by Paul H Magid and
liked the blurb. I signed up and minutes later received a notification that the
author will get in touch for a review. That is when it hit me. As a Christian, I
believe that I am always protected and that information and a difference in
opinion or point of view can't harm me. That said. How do I review a book that
might be in complete juxtaposition with my own belief system without offending.
With time I got to know the author a lot better and decided that such a good
noble man could never be an author whom would actively and purposefully offend
others.

By the time I received his novel I felt like a kid in a candy shop. I was so
excited and all my previous trepidations were gone.

I started to read his book, this novel but I gave up on reading it, and started to live it instead.
 It is not a book and it is not a novel. It is a profound spiritual journey. A very personal journey which the reader under takes with Joseph, Lahiri and Billy.  The trinity in my
point of view. 

Joseph undertakes a journey to India to receive a miracle cure from a Sage named
Lahiri. He has been fighting his own demons from the age of five and tragic
circumstances left his body as broken as his mind and subsequently his spirit.
He asks his brother to accompany him on this spiritual journey.

In India he finds Lahiri. The miracle cure however is not to be found without
extreme effort. Joseph, wrapped up in his own life and problems does not notice
much of the goings on around him.

It is soon apparent that Joseph is not the only person fighting inner demons.

Billy, Joseph older brother is according to me one of the unsung heroes in this
journey. He carries the burden of standing by impotently as he and the rest of
Joseph's family watches Joseph fight a battle he thinks he is fighting alone.
Typical of humanity, Joseph has convinced himself that his fight against his
inner demons are a solitary act and that it touched none but him.

[It might interest the reader to know that at this stage me and the author had
A difference of opinion.  He felt as if Joseph had a very good understanding of
what his family was going through.  He mentioned that Joseph left implicitly
with the aim to spare his parents and brother some further grief.

Although I concede with Joseph having some understanding of the anguish
his family must have undergone, I perceived Joseph as only partially and peripherally
aware of the suffering they went through due to his inner battle and later
his very real physical battle for survival.  It is amazing to read a book where
the author can relay a story in such a manner that I as a reader felt I could differ
from the author himself based on my own life experience]. 

Billy's constant support is however a testimony that the act of observing can be
An equally painful and isolating experience. Billy however never gives up on
Joseph.

Not only Joseph and Billy is fighting an unseen terrible force but sometimes the
savior turns out to be the one in need. This is definitely the case in this
journey. Were Joseph not so caught up in his own suffering he might have noticed
the suffering of those around him.

This journey tough me two very valuable life lessons. Although the book itself
is set against Eastern mysticism and Greek mythology the basic construct of all
religions soon become apparent. With relief I found that I need not defend a
different belief system to that of my own, rather I find myself overjoyed to say
that this journey has made it clear that the basic religious constructs of all
religions is echoed in the Physicians creed - first do no harm.

I seldom read a book twice. I simple feel that my memory of a story is of such a
nature that no real need exists for me to read any story twice or more when the
world is full of other great stories to be read. In Lifting the Wheel of Karma
this is however not the case. I feel the book has many other journeys it will
take me on if only I am willing to get on the ride. A ride I'm looking forward
to.

The story is beautifully written with a precise and linear construct line
throughout. The facts in the books are carefully researched and are interjected in
such a fashion that it serves to fill your journey with the same riches as that
of Indian spices and colorful Saris.

I again find myself with an inadequate rating system. On a scale from 1-5, I give this book 6 stars.
This is a book I will recommend to everyone and which I would gift to anyone with
pride and the knowledge that I helped them on a personal journey of their own.

It is impossible to read this book and not walk away with a feeling of coming
full circle. I, now am left wondering what my Dharma might be.
I hope that this book will get you dear reader to wonder about that as well,
What is your Dharma in life?
 
Interview
I asked:
How long did the research take and how much of it do you do yourself?
Paul replied:
Okay, so, first...research. This took me twenty-five years. No kidding. I knew nothing significant about India when I started and it would be fair to say that I have read 50 or more books on India. I had to learn so much about India in so many different areas, because I knew my novel needed to be accurate -historically, culturally, mythological, and even socially. India's history goes back over 5,000 years; I sought out sources of information that went all the way back to the original Indus Valley settlement.

I asked:
Have you been to India? If so share some of your impressions.
Paul replied:
After decades of research I finally visited India several times, even living there for several months, which was an adventure in many ways. I immediately connected with India in so many ways. Certainly it's completely different to my experiences of living in the U.S., but that was also a good deal of its charm for me. Expanding my horizons by seeing how other people live is always a priceless adventure to me.
I asked:
Your blurb says it is a mix of Greek mythology with Eastern mysticism. I found a lot of parallels with Christianity and shared belief systems. Was this intended?
Paul replied
o    The Greek Mythology connection is in the sense that I believe there are supernatural forces that affect, influence, and ultimately guide the course of our lives and journey, in the same way that Greek Gods interacted with humans, changing the course of their lives and of humanity, for example, in the way that Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals, thereby changing the course of humanity...at least according to Greek Mythology.

There are most definitely familiar patterns of Christianity in my novel, as well as eastern philosophy. I believe this is because all of the great religions of the world have common foundations -love, forgiveness, healing, and redemption.
I asked:
Do you believe in reincarnation?
Paul replied:
o    As for reincarnation, I most assuredly do believe in it. For me, it explains a great deal...but I don't want to give too much away.
After all is said and written, this is a must read for all.  I can't recommend it enough!
I again want to thank Denise Jones for all the trouble she has to go through to get this to sound as if I can speak the English language!  Thanks Denise.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Trivia day one

So here is THE first trivia question. Remember to respond and to vote for your favourite response as well:
Superman has kryptonite
Spiderman has bug spray called Doom
Were you a super hero what would be your kryptonite, what would lead you to your doom.
You have approximately 24 hours. The person with the most votes goes into the draw. Now go......

Energy by MJ Schutte

Energy by MJ Schutte.

Energy is a novel written within the fantasy genre.

Rating
I give this a book a 6/5 star rating.
How and why?
Simple.  Not only would I recommend this book to any fantasy reader. I would proudly buy it as a present for my dearest friends. Thus the 6 star rating.

Book synopsis:
Energy is the story of the boy next door.  Brighton, the hero of the story together with his one true love, Lillian. He was brought up in a secluded farming community cut of from the outside world. It takes the loss of Lillian to get Brighton to leave his childhood home to try and find her.

In her stead, he learns that what he is capable of, by means of the manipulation of energy, is not normal. In fact in a world where a select few can take energy from others by will, Brighton is truly exceptional. He need not take energy by force from other human beings. The Supremes and their offspring, the dark ones lead him back to Lillian and his first battle with evil.

But only in death comes true understanding of how to use his ability.

Review:
I loved the story of Brighton with Lily and their friends and foes. Velvet and Mischief, mother and son Panthers play such a large role in the story that it is unmistakable that MJ Schutte not only has a passion for nature and wild life, he has an uncanny ability to share this passion with his readers.

Other supporting characters such as Thomas, Adri and Brac are portrayed in such a manner that the reader can easily put titles to them such as my uncle, my sister etc.

The characterization of Brighton and Lilly is brilliant. MJ Schutte has a rare and true talent in that he can realistically age his characters. Upon first meeting Brighton and Lillian they are 16 and 13 respectively. The dialogue between them and other characters are indeed what one would expect of a 16 year old boy and a 13 year old girl. By the end of the book we leave the characters at the age of 21 and 19. After all they have been through and all they have experienced the childhood naivety is gone.

In the start of Energy I kept thinking of Brighton as being smart in a dumb kind of way. By the final battle in Energy Brighton has matured and his battle is against himself and his own sense of morality.

Any reader of Energy will soon fall in love with the world and the characters within the book. I was left with the impression that MJ Schutte truly loves this world and its inhabitants and that for him it’s not a creation or a product of his imagination but a story told of friends loved dearly.

MJ has a truly unique and fresh story line as well as writing style. He breaks with many a tradition in the fantasy genre. His defiance of tradition in this genre alone makes this a journey I would reco
mmend.
Interview:

Sorry guys, I did not realize I was this nosy.  I would have removed some of these questions but since I wanted to know the answers, I decided that you may want to know the answer to some of these questions as well.

I asked:
You break from several traditions pertaining to Fantasy. So here is my one and only question in this regard.  - Your time line in Energy is really fast paced, much more than what I as a reader is used to in Fantasy. Brighton and Lilly is put in several different scenarios and their lives play of more in "real time" than in fantasy time. Personally I found this a delightful change. What made you decide to break from tradition in this way?

MJ’s answer:
Although I love fantasy, I am also a realist. Things like time and distance have to make sense.
This is actually a small part of the "reality" of Energy. In my heart, I believe in magic but my logical mind says that it has to come from somewhere. Nothing can come from nothing.
If a wizard is going to do something magical, the power or energy to do that has to come from somewhere.

I asked:
Your love for nature and balance is clear through out Energy. What inspired this passion for nature?

MJ’s answer:
It probably comes from my parents. They love nature even more than I do! I am currently involved in a project with my sister called "Save Rhinos Today". It's a Face book page dedicated to fighting rhino poaching and raising money by means of a book auction for this noble cause.
The address is www.facebook.com/saverhinostoday

I asked:
What for you personally, is the scariest part of being an author?

MJ’s answer:
Putting my work out there and hoping the readers will like it.

I asked:
What is the single wildest thing (which you can share with us) that you have ever done?

MJ’s answer:
I went on holiday with a very good friend, Louis, when I was 18. We did not book any accommodation or have a specific plan in mind. We simply got in his Mini and drove. Some nights we slept on the beach or under an airplane wing, some nights we simply slept in the little car! We went down the Sani Pass (the Border between Lesotho and South Africa) with almost no brakes. At the top there is a sign that states "Four by Four vehicles only".

It was truly an adventure to remember!
I asked:
If you then what you know now, would you have started writing earlier in life? 

MJ’s answer:
Honestly, I don't think so. I had to live through certain things, good and bad, to be the person I am today. I learnt the hard way to follow my dreams means a lot of hard work and
sacrifice. If I had written Energy ten years ago, I may have given up before the book was finished.

I asked:
Your second book "Birth of a Wizard is already with your editors. How many books do you plan to write in this series?

MJ’s answer:
From the start, I planned to write three books in the series. As soon as Birth of a Wizard is released, I am going to start writing the final book.

I asked:
Is there more Brighton’s and Lilly's dancing around in your imagination?  Can we expect another fantasy series by the soon best selling author MJ Schutte?

MJ’s answer:
Writing is something I enjoy immensely. Although I have not thought about more books once the Energy series is done, I cannot see myself never writing again.
Yes, I will continue writing as long as readers continue to read my work.

I asked:
If you could teach your children one lesson only. What would that lesson be?

MJ’s answer
Integrity. Always follow through on promises you have made.


I asked:
Describe for us your idea of the perfect day?

MJ’s answer
Writing 5000 words, having ice cream with my children and falling asleep with my wife in my arms.

Useless information:
Anybody that knows me knows that I love what I call useless information. You know the type. That information that would cost you the $1 million dollar question type of useless information: so here is a bit of useless information pertaining to two of my favorite characters in Energy - Velvet and Mischief. In real life they are cats living in the Schutte household. Velvet is apparently the queen of the neighborhood and no dog would dare to take her on in a one on one fight. Mischief is the house cat and scared of her own shadow!!!! Imagine that. Especially if you've read Energy!
Oh and ps.  I will be terribly remiss if I dont thank Denise Jones.  She checks my spelling and grammar on all of these reviews for me.  Any mistakes is mine.  I tend to send her a review to check and then when I get it back I change this sentence or add that.......
Thanks Denise.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Amelia Maylock series by Jason (Jay) Ellis

Book Blurb
Had the old hag made a mistake? This couldn't be what Amelia was supposed to meet here, could it? Why would she send Amelia to fight such a - whatever it was - without warning her first? Amelia didn't have time to worry any longer as the creature took another giant step forward, looming closer and lowering its huge head towards her, revealing its bright white eyes, sitting in slits in the skull. The light from the orbs at the side of the room glistened off of the black bone but it couldn't make the creature look anything other than terrifying. Hidden in the amethyst is the second book in the Amelia Maylock series.
History
In the first in the series Amelia Maylock the 12 year awakening Amelia finds out she is a witch.  And that her arch nemesis is her own twin sister.  Her evil twin however has had many a year honing her skill, whilst Amelia is new to interdimensional travel as well as to being a witch.

My review
In the second book Amelia is trained by the old hag and others to better her self in battle.  An impossible task is set for her in finding the second stone in a series of nine.  If these stones should fall into the hands of her twin all hope is lost.

I love the fact that these books have appeal to young and old.  Maylock has spunk and guts and is pitched into situations where wiser more experienced men and woman would fear to tread.  She however does not have much of a choice. 

While being a witch she is also still a human girl at the beginning of puberty.  Jay Ellis, the author does a great job in not only building the character of Amelia as a witch but also the Amelia a adolescent girl.

Lucy, Amelia's older sister in the earth realm also grows in the second book in the series and her love interest is used to enable Amelia the time to battle evil.  But as Amelia and the readers are aware, not all is as it seems.  The new girl at school?  Friend or foe?  The man on the corner?

I love this series and will definitely recommend it to the younger range of YA readers.  Although at the age of 38 I have to confess that I really enjoy the series and can not wait to start on the next book in the adventure

My rating
I give this a four star rating….. Buy it for your children and read it in secret. In which it will get a four and a half star rating.

Author interview

My question:
With 3 boys, what made you decide to write a series about girls?
His answer:
Well Amelia Maylock book 1 was finished just before my eldest was born so there isn’t a link or reason for it, really.  I just had an idea and went with it.  And Amelia had many different names before I settled on it.  I knew she was adventurous to begin with, that was the key.  A lot of the magical elements were added in later as the story progressed.
My question:
What is next for Amelia?
His answer:
Books 1 – 4 have been published already in the series.  I said I will write 9 books but that may or may not change.
My question:
What is the absolute wildest thing you have ever done?
His answer:
Hmm, wildest thing….. I’m not very wild.  Ha ha!  To be honest I am the quiet type. 
My question:
Tell us something about you we would probably not know?
His answer:
Aam…. I am studying for a degree at the moment -  varying subjects from science to psychology and neurology as well.
My question:
Anything else you want to share with us?
His answer:
This was asked but not answered.  But hint-hint, go look at Jay’s photos on his page.  Their might be a small Amelia in the house one of these days, or Armand, I’m not sure I don’t get these pics even if they are in 3D.

So in short.  If nothing convinces you this was a good read, listen to me beg Jay to allow me to review the next two books in the series!!!!!

Oh and some other trivia for you.  It is Jay's birthday the 9th November.  Go pester him and wish him good luck.  Better still buy a book of his by way of giving him a gift.....

Have fun or behave.  Which ever.
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