Walking with Elijah by Doobie Shemer

Walking with Elijah by Doobie Shemer is part memoir and part spirituality. Reading the book is a bit like sitting in an airplane on a short flight next to an unconventional, but still pleasant seat companion. The flight is short enough that you don’t mind giving the person your attention. When the flight is over you get up, say your goodbyes and then leave. Maybe on the drive home you smile thinking about your conversation. When you finally go through your front door, the time you spent with the companion is forgotten – or not. 
 
Doobie Shemer is an Israeli Jew, who grew up on a paradise-like kibbutz. His family were Holocaust survivors. At some point he leaves Israel, travels a bit and ends up building a life and career in the Mid-West of the United States. Unlike some middle-aged men who do cliché things like buy expensive sports cars and motorcycles, the author explains how he stumbled upon the vocation of being a shaman. Most of the book centers on his shamanic guides: Dolphin, Bear, the gorgeously exotic Hilla and the white-bearded old man, Elijah – as in the Old Testament Prophet Elijah. As hokey as this might all sound, Doobie Shemer is a good writer, so you just nod and go along for the ride as he journeys to and from different realms gathering knowledge. For what is a shaman but one who knows things.
 
A lot of the knowledge Doobie Shemer acquires is focused on love and death. He offers theories on why people die. And no, it’s not because the body goes kaput, or they get killed or get sick.  It’s a mind thing and a soul thing. Yes, this is all rather esoteric, but the author is so engaging the reader to passively accepts such truisms as : “In order for a soul to develop, the Creator has given it instruments to work with—the mind and the body, and a path on which to travel—the stages of a life cycle.” Or my favorite line is: “The mind is the controller, the body is the carrier, and the soul is the passenger.” Only when we learn to balance all three can we make the best progress in our lives.
 
The strongest parts of the book are when the author talks about growing up in Israel or the events leading up to shamanic journey. How well the revealed truths delivered by the Prophet Elijah standup to scrutiny depends on how receptive the reader is to the message. That said, the knowledge he gains from his journeys is consistent with his religious views. While some readers may embrace some ideas presented in the book, others may wholeheartedly reject them. Personally, I would have like the author to say more about the role of ego and the reality of pain and suffering. 
 
As I reflect on the author’s writing style, I am reminded of successful prime time TV shows in the 1980’s and 1990’s like Highway to Heaven or Touched by Angel. If the author were so inclined, I could easily see the book being the basis of a series called Shamanic Journeys. Oh well, if the commercial networks don’t bite, maybe Ira Glass from This American Life might do something. 
 
While I am tempted to recommend this book only to adherents of New Age lifestyles, I think just about any reader who is open-minded could find something to relate to in this book.  You don’t have to believe in life cycles, Akashic Records, angels, colored higher realms and soul journeys. Asking the great questions of life should be open to all and not just the exclusive province of Ph.D. graduates. 
I give this book 5 stars. It’s engaging. It’s easy to read. It is well-written and thoughtful. 

 

Coping Strategies by Collette Christopher

In Collette Christopher’s Coping Strategies, professional, London-trained counselor, Collette addresses the issue of coping with unusual stress. She gives real-life examples of how others have dealt with loneliness, death of family members, living in a foreign country, family disputes, and other such examples. The stories deal with such emotions as depression, suicidal thoughts, feeling of being alone, and other such emotions that run high when one is in constant conflict. After sharing each example’s coping strategies, she uses her 10 years of experience and insight to give the reader further coping strategies for dealing with similar stressful situations.

Collette’s expert insight is a wonderful addition to this book. As a professional counselor, she not only has good strategies that aren’t imposing, but knows which ones work for most individuals. I particularly liked that she included people from different areas of the globe, different walks of life, and the way she captured each one’s unique way of handling things.

The layout was easy to follow and quick to the point. She shared enough of their story for readers to get a feel for the person and what they were feeling without losing its scope. Her point of view was mostly objective. Although it’s possible she might have a bias toward her tried and true methods than other strategies that may work as well, I like how at the end she left an open-ended way for readers to send her their individual insights and coping strategies.

My favorite part of the book was that she added possible underlining issues into each story. Although these may or may not exist with each individual, it helps the readers to dig deeper into their own issues to try and find the root of their stress.

My only complaint was that the stories, though each unique, tended to fall in the same typical categories. Although these situations tend to be the most stressful, it would’ve been nice to see a little more variety.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the insight it helped me to see in my own life. I appreciated the non-imposing, open-ended format of the book and would highly recommend it to people who are having a hard time dealing with stress or know someone who is.

Collette Christopher has been married for 20 years to her husband, 10 of which she’s been a student counselor at Christ University Bangalore. On her vacations, the couple travels to Ireland and other countries, where people often share their problems with her.
, professional, London-trained counselor, Collette addresses the issue of coping with unusual stress. She gives real-life examples of how others have dealt with loneliness, death of family members, living in a foreign country, family disputes, and other such examples. The stories deal with such emotions as depression, suicidal thoughts, feeling of being alone, and other such emotions that run high when one is in constant conflict. After sharing each example’s coping strategies, she uses her 10 years of experience and insight to give the reader further coping strategies for dealing with similar stressful situations.

Collette’s expert insight is a wonderful addition to this book. As a professional counselor, she not only has good strategies that aren’t imposing, but knows which ones work for most individuals. I particularly liked that she included people from different areas of the globe, different walks of life, and the way she captured each one’s unique way of handling things.

The layout was easy to follow and quick to the point. She shared enough of their story for readers to get a feel for the person and what they were feeling without losing its scope. Her point of view was mostly objective. Although it’s possible she might have a bias toward her tried and true methods than other strategies that may work as well, I like how at the end she left an open-ended way for readers to send her their individual insights and coping strategies.

My favorite part of the book was that she added possible underlining issues into each story. Although these may or may not exist with each individual, it helps the readers to dig deeper into their own issues to try and find the root of their stress.

My only complaint was that the stories, though each unique, tended to fall in the same typical categories. Although these situations tend to be the most stressful, it would’ve been nice to see a little more variety.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the insight it helped me to see in my own life. I appreciated the non-imposing, open-ended format of the book and would highly recommend it to people who are having a hard time dealing with stress or know someone who is.

Collette Christopher has been married for 20 years to her husband, 10 of which she’s been a student counselor at Christ University Bangalore. On her vacations, the couple travels to Ireland and other countries, where people often share their problems with her.

Death’s White Horses by Marc Rainer Review – Latest Review

This book is the author’s 3rd Jeff Trask crime drama. The only negative thing that I can even remotely think of to say about this book is that I missed out on the other two books.

The story begins at the end of an afternoon tryst between the rich and powerful in Washington DC. He is someone whose vote on the Hill makes a difference and she is the daughter of a very wealthy oil baron who also happens to be the most powerful man in the Senate. Their afternoon together ends as it typically does, he leaves to head back to the Capital, covering his traces as he goes and she prepares a syringe of heroin. However this heroin is not the usual, this is a newcomer on the market “China White.” It is much more potent and pure than the usual and it also levels the playing field between the haves and the have not’s. It takes the life of Jane Britt Heidelberg, debutante daughter just as easily and quickly as it takes the lives of several women who work the track, the lowest rung on the DC prostitution ladder. Her father demands answers from the Office of the United States Attorney’s Office and their top officer, Jeff Trask is assigned the case. What seems on the surface to be an open and shut case becomes something much bigger, leading straight to the center of the violent war between Mexico’s most notorious drug cartels – neither of which are going to let anything stand in the way of their business.

In Mexico, Captain Luis Aguilar, seems to fighting a losing battle for the love of his country. He has witnessed more heinous acts of murder than any human should including those of some of the men in his unit, and even more horrifying their families. He lives in conditions considered well below poverty in the United States and feels guilty because his men have it worse. He has been shot at more times than he can count and shot more times than his wife can stand. He lives with the daily knowledge that every breath he takes could very well be his last and with the guilt that his wife, who is American could be living in relative safety, is always in harms way and wants nothing more than a quiet life together in their cabin on a Texas lake. But his love of country and his conviction that good will triumph over evil he is willing to put his life and that of his family on the line to defend his motherland.

Mark Rainer is a master at bringing the characters to life, as he should be. He is a former Air Force JAG circuit prosecutor and was a federal prosecutor in Washington DC. He uses bits and pieces of information from the hundreds of military and civilian cases he has tried including homicide, federal conspiracy and mafia and organized crime. Not all the characters in this story are based on actual people or situations but the most frightening and evil ones unfortunately are.

The author writes in his foreword that he writes to educate and entertain but the danger presented by the drug cartels to our south cannot be underestimated and he invites his readers to research the cartels he writes about. It is not for the faint of heart. The ruthlessness of these cartels is shocking, even in a time where little is surprising. He calls the “War on Drugs” nothing more than a catchphrase that helps politicians get re-elected and he is right. There will always be criminals and people who have the same feeling about decapitating a man that they do about twisting the top off a cold bottle of beer but there will also always be good guys. And as long as there is some good, we can continue to fight the evil.

 

Exhale and Reboot By Joss Landry

Candice Newman is a widow whose therapist tells her, after Candice confides she still sees and hears her deceased husband, that she needs to Exhale and Reboot.  While mourning the loss of her husband, she stays with her mother near the Chesapeake Bay.  She has a large family that includes her mother’s sister and her cousins one of whom; Lisa attends Johns Hopkins University where Candice had registered the prior spring for a degree in Graphic Design.     Her life changes the instant she steps foot onto campus.   In a series of seemingly random events she is instantly thrown head first into a large school project,  a missing person case, a possible love triangle and becomes a pawn in a campus wide wager.

Because Candice is new to campus she spends time with her cousin Lisa and her band of friends Marylyn, Sandy, Ike, Jake, Bob, Faye, and Richard.    She also quickly becomes entangled with two men whose motives for friendship are unclear from the beginning and then murkier still as they spend more time together.

The author does a wonderful job developing the story and weaving a large cast of characters throughout a variety of events from secret affairs, family drama’s large and small, breaking and entering, uncomfortable dinner dates, and the multiple surprise twists that clearly demonstrate most people are connected in ways they are not even aware of.

I enjoy a good mystery novel and I really love when I am surprised by the turn of events.  When a character is well written, they seem to come to life and Joss Landry does a great job here.  As I mentioned earlier there are quite a few characters in this story and I was able to easily picture them in my head.  The many people that comprise this story run the gamut of the human experience and I was a little surprised to discover that those I felt unsure of were the most upstanding and those I thought were trustworthy and honest were very far from either.   This made the story interesting, but it also gave me pause for reflection.   Things and people are not always what they seem and this book does a wonderful job capturing that.

This novel would be great for fans of mystery books mixed with a love story.