Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Shelf Control No. 4: The Summer of the Barshinskeys, by Diane Pearson



Welcome to Shelf Control!

This wonderful book meme is hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies! It features books that are sitting right on our shelves or e-readers, that we want to read, but have just not gotten to as yet.
For the guidelines, just click HERE!


Here's my pick for this week!


The Summer of the Barshinskeys
Hardcover, 465 pages
Crown, First Edition
August 22,1984
British Literature, HIstorical Fiction,
Romance

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13112847-the-summer-of-the-barshinskeys



From the Goodreads Synopsis

"Although the story of the Barshinskeys, which became our story, too, stretched over many summers and winters, that golden time of 1902 was when our strange, involved relationship began, when our youthful longing for the exotic, for the fulfillment of dreams not even dreamed, took a solid and restless hold upon us."

So recounts Sophie Wolloughby as she remembers that magical English summer afternoon in the season of King Edward VII's coronation and at the end of the Boer War; that dreamlike lull in time when the hedgerows were smothered in elderflowers and the meadow air was sweet with haymaking. With her brother, Edwin, her sister, Lillian, Sophie listened to the seductive strains of the wild Russian violin tune Mr. Barshinskey played and watched spellbound as the ragtag Barshinskey family-Ivan, sullen and dirty; Mrs. Barshinskey, pale and withdrawn; and Galina, sensual, wanton, beautiful-made their way across Tyler's meadow and into the Willoughby's world.

The delighted Willoughby children could not know that this day and the Barshinskeys' arrival would change their lives forever-much as a breathless Europe could not anticipate that in a few short years, winds of revolution and war would whip across continents, sweeping away the old familiar way of life.

It is at this enchanted moment that The Summer of the Barshinskeys begins. A beautifully told, compelling story that moves from the small village of Kent to teeming London, from war-torn and revolution rocked Moscow to St. Petersburg, this is the unforgettable saga of two families whose destinies are fated to entwine in endless combinations of friendship, passion, hatred and love.



How I Got It
I've tried to remember, but I really can't....I've had this book sitting on my shelves for at least 15 years!! I must have gotten it at some used books bookstore.

When I Got It
I don't remember the exact date, either. All I know is that it's been sitting on my shelves much too long, waiting to be read!

Why I Want To Read It
I really need to read more historical fiction, as this is one of my favorite genres. However, I've allowed paranormal romance and urban fantasy to take control of my reading to such an extent that I haven't read historical fiction for the longest time....I HAVE read historical romance, but that's not quite the same thing. This particular novel strikes a chord with me, for some reason. Perhaps it's because there are Russian characters in it. I've been fascinated with 19th-century Russian culture for the longest time....Hopefully I'll get to this book soon!! 





What do you think of this book?
Have you read it, and if so, 
did you like it?
Please leave a comment and 
let me know!







Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Shelf Control No. 3: Storm Warning, by Mercedes Lackey



Welcome to Shelf Control!

This wonderful book meme is hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies! It features books that are sitting right on our shelves or e-readers, that we want to read, but have just not gotten to as yet.
For the guidelines, just click HERE!


Here's my pick for this week!


Storm Warning
Hardcover, 403 pages
DAW Books, Inc.
August 1,1994
Fantasy, Science Fiction


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1073104.Storm_Warning




From the Goodreads Synopsis

In war-ravaged Valdemar, Queen Selenay struggles to overcome years of hatred, hostility, and superstition to forge an alliance with Valdemar's long-time enemy, the neighboring kingdom of Karse, to combat a mutual enemy from the mysterious Eastern Empire.


How I Got It
From the bargain book section at Barnes & Noble. The price was $5.98 + tax.
The original price was $21.95 + tax!

When I Got It
Gosh, I really don't remember.....
All I know is that I've had it for a couple of years now -- maybe 4 or 5.

Why I Want To Read It
This author's work has been compared to that of J.R.R. Tolkien. That automatically makes a book worthy to join my collection! Also, I think that this cover is one of the MOST beautiful I've ever seen!  I really need to get this one under my belt pretty soon.....





What do you think of this book?
Have you read it, and if so, 
did you like it?
Please leave a comment and 
let me know!







Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Shelf Control No. 2: Toward The Gleam, by T.M. Doran



Welcome to Shelf Control!

This wonderful book meme is hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies! It features books that are sitting right on our shelves or e-readers, that we want to read, but have just not gotten to as yet.
For the guidelines, just click HERE!


Here's my pick for this week!



Toward The Gleam
Hardcover, 481 pages
Ignatius Press
March 1, 2011
Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mystery


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11035421-toward-the-gleam?ac=1&from_search=true




From the Goodreads Synopsis

Between the two world wars, on a hike in the English countryside, Professor John Hill takes refuge from a violent storm in a cave. There he nearly loses his life, but he also makes an astonishing discovery — an ancient manuscript housed in a cunningly crafted metal box. Though a philologist by profession, Hill cannot identify the language used in the manuscript and the time period in which it is was made, but he knows enough to make an educated guess — that the book and its case are the fruits of a long-lost, but advanced civilization.

The translation of the manuscript and the search for its origins become a life-long quest for Hill. As he uncovers an epic that both enchants and inspires him, he tracks down scholars from Oxford to Paris who can give him clues. Along the way, he meets several intriguing characters, including a man keenly interested in obtaining artifacts from a long-lost civilization that he believes was the creation of a superior race, and will help him fulfill his ambition to rule other men. Concluding that Hill must have found something that may help him in this quest, but knowing not what it is and where it is hidden, he has Hill, his friends at Oxford, and his family shadowed and threatened until finally he and Hill face off in a final, climactic confrontation.
A story that features a giant pirate and slaver, a human chameleon on a perilous metaphysical journey, a mysterious hermit, and creatures both deadly and beautiful, this is a novel that explores the consequences of the predominant ideas of the 20th Century.



How I Got It
I purchased this book Amazon U.S.

When I Got It
I placed the order on August 25, 2013.

Why I Want To Read It
This novel reminds me somewhat of the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, who is one of my literary idols! The cover is not only GORGEOUS, but also has a very "Tolkienish" feel to it. The main character is a philologist, just like Tolkien was, and, also like Tolkien, he was fascinated by ancient languages. Of course, I find the plot totally fascinating, as well, with its mix of  fantasy, intrigue, and philosophy. I hope to be able to read this book before this year ends!



What do you think of this book?
Have you read it, and if so, 
did you like it?
Please leave a comment and 
let me know!







Book Review: Kabbalah: Key to Your Inner Power, by Elizabeth Clare Prophet


Kabbalah: Key to Your Inner Power
(Mystical Paths of the World's Religions)
Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Patricia R. Spadaro, Murray L. Steinman
Trade Paperback, 302 pages
Summit University Press
January 1, 1997
Judaism, Metaphysical, Mysticism, Nonfiction, Philosophy, Religion, Spirituality,Self Help, 
Theology, Theosophy

Book Synopsis:
This notable work explores the rich mystical tradition of Judaism, known as Kabbalah, and shows how to apply its extraordinary insights to one's own spiritual quest. It describes Kabbalah's Tree of Life and its theories on the creation, the origin of evil, the feminine aspect of God, the mysteries of the soul, and soul mates.



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1466307.Kabbalah



My Review

I've been interested in the Kabbalah for a very long time, although I have not read about it on a consistent basis. This book captured and held my interest throughout. The authors -- the main one being Elizabeth Clare Prophet -- quote from Kabbalistic texts such as The Zohar and the Sepher Yetzirah, as well as from the works of authors well-versed in the concepts of this fascinating mystical topic. The book is extensively annotated, which is something I greatly appreciated.

At first, I  wasn't sure about reading this book. Prophet was the head of a controversial New Age religion known as the "Church Universal and Triumphant", which is still in existence, although, from what I've read about it online, it does seem to be dwindling. It's basically been categorized as a cult. Even her own children have repudiated the church's teachings, and Prophet herself was mired in controversy during her lifetime, especially after her false prophecy about the coming of a nuclear strike on the U.S., back in the 90s. This so-called prophecy prompted the building of underground bunkers by the church, at the cost of millions of dollars.

I was therefore surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, in spite of the above, as well as in spite of some of the material included within its pages. 

Prophet doesn't limit herself to an analysis and explanation of the Kabbalah itself. She interweaves its insights with the teachings of her own church, which were heavily influenced by Theosophy. For those who are unfamiliar with this philosophical quasi-religion, it was founded by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, a 19th-century Russian mystic. She claimed to be in contact with "Ascended Masters" who regularly gave her messages, which became the basis for her books. 

Later on, Alice Bailey continued to channel the Ascended Master teachings, as did Guy and Edna Ballard, of the "I Am" Movement. Various so-called masters have been identified, such as El Morya, Saint Germain, Kuthumi, and even Jesus.  Prophet and her late husband, Mark L. Prophet, incorporated these masters, as well as some new ones, into their own religious philosophy.

Prophet does do a creditable job of making this bogus New Age "theology" fit in with the teachings of Kabbalah, but only to a point. I did not like her inclusion of these teachings, which assert that we all have a "Holy Christ Self", as well as an "I AM Presence". As a Christian, I would have to say that these teachings are totally heretical. They imply, or sometimes even state directly, that we are all gods. Paradoxically, Prophet sounds like a solid orthodox Christian in many parts of the book. However, she categorically denies that Jesus Christ is the "only" Son of God. Instead, she affirms, as many New Age gurus do, that we mere humans can someday attain "Christhood". Of course, I found this very offensive, as she's totally denying the work of Jesus as Savior of the world.

Still, something about this book called out to me, so I began to read it.

At the beginning of the book, Prophet ties together the theory of The Big Bang with Jewish mysticism. This is nothing new, however, as another author, Migene Gonzalez-Wippler, has done the same thing in her own book about the subject, A Kabbalah for the Modern World, which was first published in 1974, and has gone through several editions. Still, it was interesting to read Prophet's take on this correlation. 

Prophet also traces the beginnings of Jewish mysticism from what is known as "Merkabah Mysticism", which is based on Ezequiel's vision of the Throne of God in the Old Testament. 

She then goes on to discuss the Tree of Life itself, the Shekhinah (this is the feminine aspect of God), the three parts of the soul, and several other topics, all of which I found totally fascinating. She also correlates the Sefirot (the emanations of the Tree of Life) with the Indian system of chakras, something that was also fascinating

I found the last four chapters of the book very satisfying, in the spiritual sense. In Chapter 7, which is titled "The Practical Path of the Mystic, the authors (as mentioned above, Prophet co-wrote this book with two other people) describe the process of emulating the virtues of each sepfirah (this is the singular form of the noun "sefirot") in our daily lives. Chapter 8, titled "Prayer and the Power of God's Names", deals with the combination of prayer and meditation. Chapter 9, "The Mystic Ascent", and Chapter 10, "The Creative Power of Sound", are also very spiritually satisfying. These chapters discuss a method of "ascending" on the Tree of Life through prayers directed to each sephirah, which are all aspects of God.

In short, this book presents a very beautiful, elucidating, and engaging presentation of the Kabbalah, in spite of its (the book's) basic shortcoming, in my opinion -- the mixing in of Theosophical concepts of "the Christ within" and the Ascended Masters. 

As with all of the books Elizabeth Clare Prophet has penned, whether alone or with other authors, this one is not only well annotated, but includes an extensive bibliography, as well. She references such Kabbalistic authors as Moses Cordovero, Gershom Scholem, who is the most important modern scholar on Jewish mysticism, Aryeh Kaplan, author of The Bahir, Daniel Chanan Matt, a modern translator of The Zohar, and Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, a current teacher of the Kabbalah, who resides in England. 

For those interested in this ancient mystical philosophy and spiritual practice, this book offers much of value. Readers of different faiths can simply overlook those things they find jarring or even too ridiculous to accept, and plunge into the spiritual riches of the Kabbalah.

If I were to rate this book, I would give it four stars.




About the Author


 
 From Goodreads

Elizabeth Clare Prophet (née Wulf) (April 8, 1939 - October 15, 2009) was an American spiritual author and lecturer.

She was a modern-day mystic, author, lecturer and spiritual teacher. She has been featured on NBC's Ancient Prophecies, A&E's The Unexplained, and has talked about her work on Larry King Live. Her lectures and workshops have been broadcast on more than 200 cable TV stations throughout the United States.

Among her bestselling titles are Fallen Angels and the Origins of Evil, How to Work with Angels, Soul Mates and Twin Flames, Creative Abundance, Saint Germain On Alchemy, and Violet Flame to Heal Body, Mind and Soul.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet’s autobiography is entitled, In My Own Words: Memoirs of a Twentieth-Century Mystic.



Online Links


    
   



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Shelf Control No. 1: The Onion Girl, by Charles de Lint



Welcome to Shelf Control!

This wonderful book meme is hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies! It features books that are sitting right on our shelves or e-readers, that we want to read, but have just not gotten to as yet.
For the guidelines, just click HERE!


Here's my pick for this week!



The Onion Girl
(Newford #11)
Charles de Lint
Hardcover, 508 pages
Tor Books
October 2, 2001
Short Stories, Urban Fantasy


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/618172.The_Onion_Girl_Newford_Book_11_



From the Goodreads Synopsis

At the center of all the entwined lives in Newford stands a young artist named Jilly Coppercorn, with her tangled hair, her paint-splattered jeans, a smile perpetually on her lips--Jilly, whose paintings capture the hidden beings that dwell in the city's shadows. Now, at last, de Lint tells Jilly's own story...for behind the painter's fey charm lies a dark secret and a past she's labored to forget.
And that past is coming to claim her now.



How I Got It
I purchased this book on eBay.

When I Got It
Sometime back in 2006.

Why I Want To Read It
This writer is one of my favorite authors, even though I've only read one of his books, titled Dreams Underfoot, which is the first book in his acclaimed Newford series.

He's an incredible prose stylist, and creator of the most amazing fantasy plots! His characters are all memorable. I rank him right up there with Tolkien, although his brand of fantasy is of the urban type.

Charles de Lint is also a prolific writer, and I don't think I'll ever be able to get to all of his wonderful books in my lifetime! I would like to at least read his entire Newford series. Hopefully, I will!

You can visit Charles de Lint's 
website HERE.



What do you think of this book?
Have you read it, and if so, 
did you like it?
Please leave a comment and 
let me know!