September 28, 2011

Video Game Review: Alice - Madness Returns

Alice: Madness Returns is a version of Alice in Wonderland like you’ve never experienced before. It is a gothic tale set in a nightmarish Wonderland where Alice isn’t so nice. If you’re a fan of the series, this is one game you want to play.

Game Description
Alice: Madness Returns delves deep into the dark and violent side of the imagination, creating a nightmarish Wonderland where Alice must face the demons that haunt her visions. Visit the grim reality of Victorian London and then travel to the beautiful yet ghastly Wonderland to uncover the root of Alice’s madness and discover the truth behind a deadly secret, kept hidden for years.

Eleven years ago a horrific fire took Alice’s family from her and left her mind horrifically scarred. Afterwards she was confined to Rutledge Asylum, where she struggled to confront her demons by slipping further into her fantasy world of Wonderland. Now, after ten years, she has finally secured her release—yet she still bears the heavy psychological burden of that tragic event.

With her mind in tatters, she is unable to resolve the fear prompted by her strange memories, dreams, and visions. Perhaps she’ll do better in Wonderland. She always has. She travels there, seeking what the “real” world can’t provide: security, knowledge, and the truth about the past. But in her absence, Wonderland too has suffered. Something has gone horribly wrong, and now a great evil is descending upon what once was her beautiful refuge. Can Alice save Wonderland—and herself—from the madness that consumes them both?

• Intense 3rd person action: Use multiple upgradeable melee weapons, including the explosive Teapot Cannon, the punishing Hobby Horse, and the classic Vorpal Blade.
• Explore a dark and shattered Wonderland: Encounter familiar but now strange characters, including the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar and the Red Queen.
• Magical abilities: Obtain peculiar abilities in Wonderland such as floating with Alice’s dress, shrinking, or growing to towering sizes in order to crush enemies.
• Interactive puzzles: Intuitive and rewarding puzzles such as transforming obstacles, musical memories, chess, and picture blocks.
” – Alice: Madness Returns

My Thoughts
Alice: Madness Returns is the sequel to the original game, American McGee’s Alice. I played that game about ten years ago, and was quite excited to play the sequel. I love the story of Alice in Wonderland, and these games really add to it.

My biggest annoyance in the game is maneuvering around in the world. It seems like the game was really meant to be played with a controller for the PS3 or Xbox 360. Moving around with the controls on a keyboard and using the mouse is not fun. Most games that I play on the PC don’t have all the issues this game has with it, so I’m not really sure why they made it so difficult.

The graphics in the game are so beautiful, and the storyline is quite interesting. These two things really pushed me to play the game and not give up on the controller issues I was having. It is a very fun game, and I enjoyed playing it. I do hope to be able to play it on a console version sometime in the future though, because I am sure that it is much more enjoyable on there.

Overall, this is a really great game that was well designed (with the one exception of the controller issues). The scenery, locations, characters, and items are highly detailed and quite amazing for the game. This is one game that any fan of Alice in Wonderland would enjoy playing just because of the storyline and graphics. I highly recommend giving it a chance, even if you also have the issues I had with moving around, it is worth it to push through – it is well worth it!

* Thank you to the publisher of Alice: Madness Returns, Electronic Arts, and Gamers Gate for providing me a digital copy of this game and allowing me to review it. All experiences and opinions expressed are my own.

September 27, 2011

Help! for Writers by Roy Peter Clark

Help! for Writers by Roy Peter Clark is an essential tool for writers to use when working on a project, or trying to work on one and experiencing some form of writer’s block. If you’re a writer, this book should be on your desk or in your bookshelf.

Book Description
The craft of writing offers countless potential problems: The story is too long; the story's too short; revising presents a huge hurdle; writer's block is rearing its ugly head.

In HELP! FOR WRITERS, Roy Peter Clark presents an "owner's manual" for writers, outlining the seven steps of the writing process, and addressing the 21 most urgent problems that writers face. In his trademark engaging and entertaining style, Clark offers ten short solutions to each problem. Out of ideas? Read posters, billboards, and graffiti. Can't bear to edit yourself? Watch the deleted scenes feature of a DVD, and ask yourself why those scenes were left on the cutting-room floor. HELP! FOR WRITERS offers 210 strategies to guide writers to success.” – Help! for Writers

My Thoughts
Help! for Writers has 210 different problems and solutions to writing. If you’re a writer, you know that many things can “block” you from doing what you should be doing – writing. You might not have an idea to write about, you might be bad with deadlines, or you might be experiencing many other things that happen when trying to write. This book has solutions to most of the problems that writers experience when writing, so if you’re stuck and unable to write, just grab this book and try out some of the ideas suggested to get you writing again.

Overall, I think that this book is a must read for every writer. Roy Peter Clark gives many great ideas on getting inspiration to write, and how to overcome the dreaded writer’s block. This book should really be on the desk, or in the bookshelf of every writer’s workspace. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Help! for Writers, Little, Brown and Company, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

September 24, 2011

The Little Book of True Ghost Stories by Echo Bodine

The Little Book of True Ghost Stories by Echo Bodine is a perfect book to read in time for Halloween. It is all about ghosts, and has some very good real life ghost stories inside. If you think you might have a ghost, there is even a checklist included, as well as examples on how to get them to leave.

Book Description
“Barroom brawler ghosts, a ghost prayer group, Peeping Tom ghosts, a ghost who hates children, and even a ghost who didn’t know he was dead are just a few of the wild assortment of characters in Echo Bodine’s delightful new collection of true ghost stories. A psychic who has been hunting ghosts for 40 years, Bodine shares her story of how she became a ghost buster along with the stories of ghosts, hauntings, and possessions she encountered along the way.

Wondering if those flickering lights, jangling door knobs, and mumbling sounds in the middle of the night mean you have a ghost? Bodine offers step-by-step instructions for getting rid of them along with clearing and protection prayers to keep them away. These funny, sometimes unnerving, and always entertaining stories will provide reassurance to anyone who has ever encountered things that go bump in the night.” – The Little Book of True Ghost Stories

My Thoughts
The Little Book of True Ghost Stories is written by Echo Bodine, who is a psychic and also a ghost hunter. She collected the stories for this book over many years of doing what she does in the field. Included in the book are many ghosts that each have a different personality, and are probably not the type of ghosts you might think one would encounter.

Some ghosts want to leave, and some just want to stay. Echo Bodine explains how she was able to make some of the ghosts go to the light, while others she wasn’t asked to get to leave, and some wouldn’t go if she tried.

As a ghost hunter myself, I found this book to be really interesting. I don’t see the ghosts like she does, and being able to read about it from her perspective was really quite fascinating. I also learned a few things about ghosts that I didn’t know before, and even learned a few new ways to get them to leave, and move on to the other side.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. If you are looking for a good spooky book for Halloween, or if you think you might have a few ghosts in your home, this is a great book to read. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Little Book of True Ghost Stories, Hampton Roads Publishing, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

September 22, 2011

Video Game Review: Fate of the Pharaoh

Fate of the Pharaoh by Layernet is a simulation game that is very affordable and perfect for casual gamers that like playing games loosely based on history. If you are tired of playing games on social networking websites, and actually want to play a game that doesn’t require friends sending you items, this is one to check out!

Game Description
“The greedy enemy wanted the treasures of Egypt. Long time attacks exhausted the magnificent realm of Pharaoh. Days of glory are far behind now, wrapped in dust of endless deserts. But, there's hope! The enemy finally fled!

Take the role of brave young Pharaoh's adviser and raise the golden cities of Egypt once again in this fun and beautiful strategy/management game.

Construct homes for your people, set-up production, trade, please gods, fight crocodiles and dangerous cobras while build monuments and famous wonders of Egyptian realm. And, be visited by aliens from space that will teach you secrets of how to build the mighty pyramids! All this, and much more in Fate of the Pharaoh!

• Re-build the Egyptian towns and make the realm glorious once again
• Build wonders and pyramids while fighting crocodiles and poison cobras
• Please gods and make your people live in peace and prosper
• Win many different achievements and claim the throne
• Enjoy the spectacular graphics and effects in high resolutions
• And meet aliens who will teach you how to build Great Pyramid!”

My Thoughts
Fate of the Pharaoh is a real time simulation style of game. It isn’t as in depth as other simulation games, but it is still fun and really directed more towards a casual gamer. It can easily be played for a half hour each day, or for many hours in a day. It really just depends on how long a person wants to play for, or how many levels they want to complete in a day.

As you progress through the game, you move along the Nile, building your civilization. You will even build famous structures, such as pyramids, with the help of the aliens. I found this to be a very fun feature to the game, because I think that we had a bit of help building pyramids back then too.

There are two types of game styles that you can play the game with: Adventure or Relaxed. Depending on which style you prefer, you will earn rewards that will display in your achievements.

The system requirements are also quite low on this game, so you don’t need to be a hardcore gamer with one of the high powered computers to play this game at all. It was really designed for the casual gamer that enjoys simulation games.

Fate of the Pharaoh is a fun game that is value priced right now at Gamers Gate for only $6.99. There aren’t many games that have this much playability for such a low price. So, if you are thinking about trying this game out, go for it! It is well worth the price, and will keep you entertained for many hours! I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Fate of the Pharaoh, Layernet, and Gamers Gate for providing me a digital copy of this game and allowing me to review it. All experiences and opinions expressed are my own.

September 15, 2011

The Llewellyn Complete Book of Psychic Empowerment

The Llewellyn Complete Book of Psychic Empowerment by Carl Llewellyn Weschcke and Joe H. Slate, Ph.D. is a definite must have book for everyone that wants to improve their psychic skills, or just learn more about it.

Book Description

Embark on the journey of a lifetime—master the psychic tools and techniques required to develop your highest potential and enjoy success beyond your wildest dreams.

Psychic empowerment is a continuous process of growth and self-discovery. When we are psychically empowered, we become increasingly aware of the boundless power within ourselves and the unlimited possibilities and opportunities around us and beyond. Through psychic empowerment, we can unleash vast inner sources of new growth potential and achieve new levels of personal fulfillment. We can lift our consciousness to a higher plane and add depth and greater meaning to our lives.

Written by Carl Llewellyn Weschcke and Joe H. Slate, Ph.D., this is the most comprehensive psychic development guide available anywhere. It is richly supported by detailed tables, charts, and developmental exercises. Incorporating the latest discoveries in quantum physics, it organizes the concepts of psychic empowerment into a progressive, cohesive plan that features straightforward instruction on a wealth of psychic empowerment methods and practices:


Each technique strengthens the divine spark of greatness existing in everyone—and leads to better health, happier relationships, greater financial success, and enhanced spiritual growth.” – The Llewellyn Complete Book of Psychic Empowerment

My Thoughts
The Llewellyn Complete Book of Psychic Empowerment is an extremely well written and easy to follow book about a large amount of subjects in the esoteric field. Not everything is included, but it is already over 600 pages, so including everything just wouldn’t be realistic. That is okay though, because what is included in this book, is quite detailed and explains what you would want to know about it (for the most part), and also gives examples on actually using it to help with your growth in that area.

This book was co-written by a professor and it at times does read and look like one. I like to think of it as a Psychic Empowerment 101 course. The only difference is that you can read it, and use the tools detailed in it at your own pace. Plus, it is much cheaper than a college course or textbook would be!

My favorite parts in the book included the aura reading, astral projection, tarot reading, crystal gazing, and meditation sections. I learned new types of exercises to use with these areas that were quite effective and enjoyable.

Even though this is a very large book, and might be a little bit intimidating for some to pick up and read, trust me, it is well worth it! This is one of the best books I have ever read about the subjects included in it, and I highly recommend it for everyone to read.

This will be a classic book used for generations to come. Consider it a must have resource or textbook for everyone that wants to expand their psychic skills.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Llewellyn Complete Book of Psychic Empowerment, Llewellyn, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Stained Glass Hearts by Patsy Clairmont

Stained Glass Hearts by Patsy Clairmont is an interesting look at areas of our lives and how we view them. Using this type of artwork as a way to look at situations is really a very unique way of dealing with the things that life throws at us.

Book Description
Much like stained glass, life's broken pieces become the prism through which God's grace shines most brightly and beautifully.

"Life is no doubt full of difficulties, but it is also filled with promise and possibility," says best-selling author and WOF speaker Patsy Clairmont. In Stained Glass Hearts Clairmont guides readers to view the difficult experiences of life through the lens of God's grace. Using art as a theme, and likening people to stained glass windows, she shares that it's when we're surrounded by darkness that His healing light shines most brightly within us. Encouraging women to step back and see life from this new perspective, Patsy offers help and hope for the dark places of life.

Along with character studies of women in Scripture, and modern-day, relatable stories, each chapter includes:

Chalice—memorable quotes
Mosaic—recommended music
Spires—scriptures and readings
Litany—sample prayers

My Thoughts

Stained Glass Hearts has a powerful message that gives encouragement and inspiration to everyone that needs it. Clairmont does a brilliant job of weaving the stained glass theme into each situation that she goes over in the book, and compares it to relatable stories.

Even though it is a rather deep book, it is an easy read that will have you stop to think about what you’re reading. Not all books can do this, but Clairmont does a very good job with this.

Although the music and other things suggested for further listening and reading I probably won’t look into further, it is there for others to read or listen to, if they choose.

The overall message that I got from the book is to be more grateful in all things. This is something that most of us don’t do enough of, and it is through gratitude that we can all really live a life of joy.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and learning from it. I highly recommend it to everyone who enjoys reading religious books such as this, especially those of “Women of Faith.”

* Thank you to the publisher of Stained Glass Hearts, Thomas Nelson, through the BookSneeze program, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

September 13, 2011

National Celiac Disease Awareness Day

Today, September 13, 2011 is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day. The U.S. Senate has made today the day to become aware about this disease. This is the second year that it has been an official day, so in case you don’t know what it is… check out Gluten Freely for information about the disease. I could explain it all here, but that would be a very long post.

As someone who has this, I hope that you do go check out the symptoms, learn more about it, and really understand just how bad eating gluten is if you have this disease. If you know someone who has this, please make an effort to become more understanding about the disease. It isn’t easy to live life with this, especially in social gatherings. So, take some time out today and learn more about it.

Today I’m going to eat a gluten-free pizza made from the Bisquick pancake mix that is gluten-free. It is really quite good and the only type of pizza I’ve eaten for over a year. I only have it on special occasions, and I think today would qualify.

What are you doing for National Celiac Disease Awareness Day? Do you also have celiac disease? Share some stories with me about it, I’d love to hear it.

Is Your House Haunted? by Debi Chestnut

Is Your House Haunted? by Debi Chestnut reveals the types of ghosts that could be inhabiting your home, or explain why it could be something normal and not paranormal. If you think you might have some invisible invaders in your house, this is the book for you!

Book Description
A door slams shut by itself. The scent of pipe tobacco drifts through an empty room. You hear your name being called, even though you know you're home alone. It seems as if your house is being visited—or invaded—by someone or something, and you're terrified. Is there a logical explanation, or do you have a real-life ghost on your hands?

There's no reason to live in fear. This friendly beginner's guide offers reassurance and practical advice on identifying, and putting a stop to, any paranormal activity that's creeping you out. Discover how to rule out any earthly explanations for strange phenomena. A comprehensive overview of all kinds of hauntings and ghosts-from harmless family spirits to aggressive poltergeists to malevolent demons-will help you understand and identify your unearthly houseguest. If you still want to banish your ghost, you'll find plenty of simple, effective techniques to get the job done, and guidance on when it might be necessary to call in paranormal experts.

Is Your House Haunted? also includes a paranormal FAQ and advice on how to talk to children about ghosts.” – Is Your House Haunted?

My Thoughts
Is Your House Haunted? helps those who think their home might be haunted. It doesn’t go into too much depth on any certain subject, but that is okay because it wasn’t meant to do that. This is a book for those who don’t know very much about ghosts, ghost hunting, or de-bunking things that might scare you, but are actually normal.

As a ghost hunter myself, I did enjoy reading this book as a refresher to things I knew, and I even learned a few things that I’d never read or encountered in the paranormal field before too. Debi Chestnut does a great job giving a large amount of information about ghosts, in an easy to read, and un-scary manner.

If you think that your home is haunted, I think that this book should definitely be read before calling in a paranormal investigative team to investigate your home. After reading it, you might find that the things you think are ghosts actually aren’t. If you can’t debunk the possible ghosts, then you will at least be prepared to know what having a team coming to your home will entail.

Overall, I think that this is a great book about haunted homes and ghosts. It would be an extremely helpful tool for those that think their home is haunted, and also a fantastic guide for those starting out in the paranormal field. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Is Your House Haunted?, Llewellyn, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

September 12, 2011

Money Magic by Frater U∴D∴

Money Magic by Frater U∴D∴ is an interesting esoteric look at how money is used, and also thought of in our society. To change your relationship with money, you’ll need to change your thoughts of it too. This book attempts to guide you on this not so easy task.

Book Description
“Let’s face it: you need money!

Maybe you need money for things you’ve always wanted. In these challenging times maybe you need money just for the essentials. No matter the reason, you need Dollars, Euros, Pfennigs, Pesos, Lire, Rubles, Yuan, or Shekels—you need money!

You’re not alone. It’s surprising how many magic practitioners have trouble meeting their financial needs and desires. Shouldn’t magicians use their magic to do something about their poor state? Shouldn’t you?

Now, one of the world’s most famous magicians reveals a variety of magical ways to greater wealth in his eagerly awaited new book. In it you’ll discover:
• Why your money magic has failed
• Why your attitudes and beliefs have kept you from wealth
• How the fifth element can bring money to you like bees to honey
• Practical exercises, rituals, invocations and more that will bring you wealth
• How to design powerful and effective magical money rituals
• How to use Austin Osman Spare’s sigil magic to end your poverty
• How to alchemically turn psychological lead into gold and cash
• How to become lucky when money is involved” – Money Magic

My Thoughts
Money Magic is a book about money and magic. If you have never worked with magic before, this really isn’t a very good book to start with. Although Frater U∴D∴ goes over the concepts, and explains things throughout the book, it isn’t easy for a beginner to follow. He does direct you to other resources to read more about it to be able to do so, such as his other books.

This is a highly interesting book that really challenges you to change your thoughts about money. This is the key to really being able to do any type of Money Magic, or just use it as with the Law of Attraction. Once you can change how you think about it, then the rest should be able to flow much easier for you. It isn’t easy to do though.

The exercises, rituals, and invocations detailed in the book, are detailed enough to be able to follow – for the most part. Again, if you are new to this, you probably want to read more about it and practice before doing them. Some such as the sigils are easier, which is what I used. To each their own though.

Overall, I think that this book would be a great resource for people that are already practicing magic. It isn’t a starter book, but some information from it could easily be used by people that haven’t done any magic before.

* Thank you to the publisher of Money Magic, Llewellyn, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

September 6, 2011

The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds by Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough

The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds by Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough is a go-to reference book for saving seeds, and then growing herbs, vegetables, and flowers from seeds.

Book Description
Learn how to collect, save, and cultivate the seeds from more than 300 vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers, trees, and shrubs. It’s easy, and it’s fun! Authors Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough thoroughly explain every step in the seed-saving process. Descriptions of seed biology; tips on how to select plants for the best seeds; and advice on harvesting and cleaning, proper storage and care, and propagating and caring for new seedlings are all presented with clear, easy-to-follow instructions. Chapters dedicated to individual plants contain species-specific directions and detailed information. Gardeners of any experience level will find all the information they need to extend the life of their favorite plants to the next generation and beyond.” – The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds

My Thoughts
The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds is a really extensive guide for learning about saving and storing seeds. The authors don’t just explain how to save seeds though; they also explain how to use these seeds to grow herbs, vegetables, and flowers in your own garden.

If you just want to learn how to save seeds on a certain type of plant, you can easily find it in the reference portion of the guide. Not everything is listed, but the majority of the type of plants that you’d want to grow is included.

This is an easy to read and follow guide. If you have a love for gardening already, or you want to get started, this is a really great book to read and reference back to often. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds, Storey Publishing, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day!

I hope everyone is having a safe and hopefully dry Labor Day Weekend. Mine has been rainy due to the tropical weather. I love rain, but tornado warnings and watches I can do without. I think I’ve seen enough of those for a lifetime!

So, how are you spending the Labor Day Weekend? Did you do anything fun? Tell me about it!

Woodland Style by Marlene Hurley Marshall

Woodland Style by Marlene Hurley Marshall is a magical photographic journey of nature. This is a photographic journey that will show you beautiful creations that have been made out of materials found in the woods.

Book Description
From a lakeside cabin to a hilltop farmhouse, from an urban brownstone to a suburban ranch — any house can be beautified with decorative pieces crafted from found bits of the woodland landscape, such as pine cones, moss, bark, twigs, and river rocks. Artist and author Marlene Hurley Marshall shows you how to use responsibly collected materials to create stylish wreaths, frames, furniture, collages, potpourri, birdhouses, garden pots, and much more. Featuring luscious photography by Sabine Vollmer von Falken, Woodland Style gives you the inspiration and instruction you need to enjoy the peace and beauty of the woods and meadows in your own home.” – Woodland Style

My Thoughts
Woodland Style is a visual delight. It isn’t really a how-to make kind of book. Instead, it is the type of book that will be cherished and looked to for magical inspiration on using the natural elements to create beautiful pieces of art.

Each of the photographs included are in full color and provides motivation for decorating your yard, and rooms in your home. You don’t need to use expensive items all the time, and mixing in elements of nature is visually stunning and helps your space to stand out.

Although I would have enjoyed more projects that could be recreated by novice artists, I still really enjoyed the book and reading more about each of the types of woodland art pieces definitely gives ideas and inspiration for other pieces. I highly recommend this book for everyone wanting to bring nature into their lives and their home.

* Thank you to the publisher of Woodland Style, Storey Publishing, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly is the conclusion to the Rose trilogy by the author. If you haven’t read The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose, this is still quite an enjoyable book that takes you to another time and place to escape while reading the novel.

Book Description
The Wild Rose is a part of the sweeping, multi-generational saga that began with The Tea Rose and continued with The Winter Rose. It is London, 1914. World War I looms on the horizon, women are fighting for the right to vote, and explorers are pushing the limits of endurance in the most forbidding corners of the earth. Into this volatile time, Jennifer Donnelly places her vivid and memorable characters:

  • Willa Alden, a passionate mountain climber who lost her leg while summiting Kilimanjaro with Seamus Finnegan, and who will never forgive him for saving her life;
  • Seamus Finnegan, a polar explorer who tries to forget Willa as he marries a beautiful young schoolteacher back home in England;
  • Max von Brandt, a handsome German sophisticate who courts high society women, but has a secret agenda in wartime London.

Many other beloved characters from The Winter Rose continue their adventures in The Wild Rose as well. With myriad twists and turns, thrilling cliffhangers, and fabulous period detail and atmosphere, The Wild Rose provides a highly satisfying conclusion to an unforgettable trilogy.” – The Wild Rose

My Thoughts
This is a historical novel that takes place during WWI in London. The historical details included are intriguing, and really does a fabulous job of making it feel like you are there. Books that can captivate me enough to lose track of time, and have me staying up late into the night to keep reading – is always a major plus for me.

Donnelly doesn’t just write a historical love story though; it also has suspense, espionage, seduction, and even murder. There are multiple plot lines throughout the book for the characters, and some you won’t see coming at all.

The main characters are enchanting, and have you wondering what will happen next. Aside from the main characters, there are also many sub-characters that are very interesting and could possibly have their own spin-off stories.

The Wild Rose is the third book in the trilogy. Normally, I wouldn’t have started with the third book. However, after having read this one, I plan on reading the first two books because I enjoyed this one so much. The author does a great job of telling the story for those who haven’t read the first two books, she will however, make you want to read the other two as well. So, if you haven’t read the first two, don’t worry – you can still read and enjoy this one too.

I highly recommend this book for everyone who has read the first books in the trilogy, and also for those who haven’t read them.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Wild Rose, Hyperion, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

September 4, 2011

Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse by Suraya Sadeed

Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse by Suraya Sadeed is an inspiring story about how much life can change, and what we can do about it to help. The author shares her story about the Afghan people, and in doing so, really shakes up what you probably once thought about the people there.

Book Description
From her first humanitarian visit to Afghanistan in 1994, Suraya Sadeed has been personally delivering relief and hope to Afghan orphans and refugees, to women and girls in inhuman situations deemed too dangerous for other aid workers or for journalists. Her memoir of these missions, Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse, is as unconventional as the woman who has lived it. This is no humanitarian missive; it is an adventure story with heart.

To help the Afghan people, Suraya has flown in a helicopter piloted by a man who was stoned beyond reason. She has traveled through mountain passes on horseback alongside mules, teenage militiamen, and Afghan leaders. She has stared defiantly into the eyes of members of the Taliban and of the Mujahideen who were determined to slow or stop her. She has hidden and carried $100,000 in aid, strapped to her stomach, into ruined villages. She has built clinics. She has created secret schools for Afghan girls. She has dedicated the second half of her life to the education and welfare of Afghan women and children, founding the organization Help the Afghan Children (HTAC) to fund her efforts.

Suraya was born the daughter of the governor of Kabul amid grand walls, beautiful gardens, and peace. In the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, she fled to the United States with her husband, their young daughter, their I-94 papers, and little else. In America, she became the workaholic owner of a prosperous real estate company, enjoying all the worldly comforts anyone could want, but when a personal tragedy struck in the early 1990s, Suraya seriously questioned how she was living and soon sharply changed the direction of her life.

Now, in Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse, she shares her story of passion, courage, and love, painting a complex portrait of Afghanistan, its people, and its foreign visitors that defies every stereotype and invites us all to contribute to the lives of others and to hope.” – Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse

My Thoughts
Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse is the kind of book that will keep you reading it until you finish it. Be prepared to have that kind of time when you start, because you won’t want to stop reading this once you get started.

Suraya Sadeed does an amazing job with telling her story about being an Afghan refugee, and then coming back to the country to find how much things have changed for the people she once knew there. Most Americans don’t get such a look into the lives of the people in Afghanistan, especially how the women there are treated. This book will change your views on people there, and give you much to think about your own life as well.

It is an inspiring tale that really shows just how strong this woman (and others like her) is that can go in and help make positive changes in the world. I highly recommend this book for everyone to read.

* Thank you to the publisher of Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse, Voice, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Encyclopedia of the Unseen World by Constance Victoria Briggs

Encyclopedia of the Unseen World by Constance Victoria Briggs is an A to Z guide for the realm of the unseen. If you want to know more about the paranormal, this book will help explain some of these things to you.

Book Description
Did you know that singer Tony Bennett had a near death experience, and that Mary Pickford, America’s sweetheart, regularly consulted a psychic? Have you ever experienced bilocation or wondered about the difference between clairvoyance, clairscentience, and clairaudience?

The Encyclopedia of the Unseen World delves into the world of the unseen and the unknown offering us an extensive A-Z explanation and exploration of the realm of ghosts, psychics, the afterlife, and more. From Sylvia Browne to visitations, gnomes and fairies to the devil and God, The Encyclopedia of the Unseen World offers a trip into the fascinating realm of the world beyond the known. Learn about prophets, mystics, and mediums past and present, key terms of the world beyond the veil, and the practices and divinatory arts that have been used for centuries to tap into that world.” – Encyclopedia of the Unseen World

My Thoughts
Encyclopedia of the Unseen World is an interesting look at the paranormal. The subjects are listed A to Z, which is only fitting because of the encyclopedia format. Nothing is explained too heavily though, instead subjects are just generalized to give the reader a basic amount of information on each topic. This format works well for the book for the most part though, and readers are always able to do further research on the subjects that stand out to them. I wish it would have explained some subjects in more detail, but I understand why the author couldn’t fit it all in for the book. Don’t expect more than a few paragraphs on most subjects covered.

This isn’t my favorite paranormal book, but it does a good job for what it is. If you are looking for a basic understanding of a broad range of subjects, this is a good reference book to do just that.

* Thank you to the publisher of Encyclopedia of the Unseen World, Weiser Books, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.