Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's In the Cards

A Sealed Fate by Lisa Gordon

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: Upbeat and contemporary in style, this riveting narrative features an eclectic mix of characters awash with local color. To escape the pain of failed relationships and careers, both Valda and Larissa take themselves to the exotic locale of Dubai, seeking not only success but a general purpose in life. Valda does indeed find fulfillment--and, to her astonishment, love--but all is threatened when she is introduced to a billionaire Sheikh. Her clandestine relationship with the Sheikh propels her into a murky web of deceit, and she turns to her friend for help. As an astrologer, Larissa predicts that Valda and the Sheikh's destinies were decided from the moment of their first meeting, but she keeps the dire outcome foretold in the charts a secret. Together, the two women soon find themselves gambling in a game of cosmic Russian roulette where the stakes are their lives and their adversary is fate itself. Bravely merging genres and sensitively embracing personal relationships, this spiritual and gritty thriller illustrates the complex theme of choice versus chance.

Review: A tale of destiny, fate, and the decisions we make.

This book bills itself as an example of fate versus choice. Personally, I do not believe in fate or destiny. I believe in chance and coincidence. I believe in making one’s own future. So I was interested to see how fate and destiny would be dealt with in this book. I can certainly see the consequence of choice when Valda decides to move to Dubai, gets a music gig, and then gets involved with the Sheikh. I honestly don’t understand why she got involved with him for she had to have known that once she started, she couldn’t stop.

A lot of this book focuses on Valda growing as a person and getting over her past, which was nice to see. Unfortunately, it takes up a lot of the book and detracts from the thriller aspect of the book. The tone of the book changes when Valda and Larissa become friends. Horoscopes come into play and they are used to help decipher Valda’s fate. I didn’t like this since it made it seem like free will didn’t matter. The ending was rather abrupt, unexpected, and downright sad. It does tie into the theme of fate and destiny.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to someone who is looking for a thriller with a fortune telling aspect.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Poignant, Political, and Powerful

The Empire of Things by C. J. Stone

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Summary: Politics, paganism and .... Vlad the Impaler. Selected stories from CJ Stone from 2003 to the present. Meet Ivor Coles, a British Tommy killed in action in September 1915, lost, and then found again. Visit Mothers Club in Erdington, the best psychedelic music club in the UK in the '60s. Celebrate Robin Hood's Day and find out what a huckle duckle is. Travel to Stonehenge at the Summer Solstice and carouse with the hippies. Find out what a Ranter is, and why CJ Stone thinks that he's one. Take LSD with Dr Lilly, the psychedelic scientist. Meet a headless soldier or the ghost of Elvis Presley in Gabalfa, Cardiff. Journey to Whitstable, to New York, to Malta and to Transylvania, and to many other places, real and imagined, political and spiritual, transcendent and mundane. As The Independent says, this is "The best guide to the underground since Charon ferried dead souls across the Styx."

Review: A collection of stories and articles ranging from legalizing of marijuana, Stonehenge, hippies, and the state of the British government.

With books that contain only a few stories, I can remember details easily enough. With books with more stories, it’s become harder for me to remember individual stories. So in short, I should have taken notes and I do apologize for that as I will only mention a few stories. I did enjoy this collection and I feel it contains enough of a variety that a reader should find something to enjoy.

The story I found most poignant was Requiem for a Dreamer. It really does show how alcohol can destroy a life. It’s easy enough to say it was a preventable tragedy, but reality is much harder to fix with words.

I enjoyed the article about Drug Problems or Drug Solutions? It’s a very polarizing topic and easily has people up in arms. I really liked the thoughtful and logical way the author approached the situation.

I also enjoyed the section about Stonehenge. It’s a fascinating place with so much unknown, including how it was built, why it was built, and what is was used for. Stonehenge can represent different things to different people.

My least favorite section was on the state of the British government. Perhaps that is because I am American and now too terribly familiar with British history in the 20th century. The author has very strong views towards Margaret Thatcher which might upset a few people.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy nonfiction stories about politics, drugs, and other current issues.