Book Review: The User’s Guide to Spiritual Teachers

New Book Explores the Virtues—and Dangers—of Spiritual Teachers

A spiritual teacher isn’t an ordinary member of the clergy. They are a perceptive, caring, trustworthy human being who provides one-to-one, in-depth spiritual direction.

Celebrities such as Madonna and Russell Brand, and writers such as Elizabeth Gilbert and Deepak Chopra, have all worked with spiritual teachers. So have millions of people from almost every major religious tradition—as well as millions of others who are spiritual but not religious.

A new book, The User’s Guide to Spiritual Teachers, provides invaluable guidance for anyone who is curious about spiritual teachers—or who wants to work with one but doesn’t know how or where to begin.

This user-friendly book also offers practical wisdom for anyone who already has a spiritual teacher, and wants to make the most of that relationship.

Still more important, The User’s Guide to Spiritual Teachers helps readers spot and avoid the predators, narcissists, charlatans, and cult leaders who call themselves spiritual teachers—and who have ruined many people’s lives.

The book’s author, Scott Edelstein, has studied happily and productively with spiritual teachers for the past four decades. He has also served as editor and literary agent for several spiritual teachers. A longtime practitioner of both Judaism and Buddhism, he is a committed proponent of serious spirituality in all forms and traditions.

The User’s Guide to Spiritual Teachers was published on March 21 by Wisdom Publications. Wisdom also published Edelstein’s previous book, Sex and the Spiritual Teacher, which examines the all-too-common problem of sexual misconduct among spiritual teachers.

Edelstein’s website on spiritual teachers, http://www.thespiritualteachersite.com, provides more information on the subject, as well as book excerpts, related articles, and links to media interviews with Edelstein.

The User’s Guide to Spiritual Teachers
By Scott Edelstein
Publisher: Wisdom Publications, Somerville, MA
ISBN-10: 0861716108
ISBN-13: 978-0861716104

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Publishers Weekly: “In this short handbook, Edelstein guides readers through choosing and working with spiritual teachers. Drawing on his four decades of experience working with spiritual teachers as an editor and agent as well as a student, Edelstein addresses a surprisingly wide range of topics to help readers make the most of their relationships with spiritual teachers.”

Kathleen Dowling Singh, author of The Grace in Living: “A small book with a big message.”

David Rynick, author of The Truth Never Fails: “A wonderful resource. This guide is down-to-earth and offers a broader perspective about what to expect and not expect from spiritual teachers.”

Tim Burkett, author of Nothing Holy About It: “Finally, a well thought-out, easy-to-read guide to help folks assess whether a given teacher may be prone to abuse his power over them or is genuinely interested in empowering them.”

James Ishmael Ford, author of If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break: “Scott Edelstein’s guide is simple, practical, and useful. It cuts through most of the confusion in seeking a spiritual guide with the clarity of someone who has been through it all. I recommend it to anyone embarking on the spiritual path, or thinking maybe they should be looking for a spiritual guide.”

Book Review: The Ice Merchant by Dr. Paul Boor

A Century Ago, When Dead Bodies Were In Demand For Medical Research, Scientists Called On The Ice Merchant


The Ice Merchant
, the latest riveting thriller by Dr. Paul Boor, goes back in time to 1889 Galveston to explore the dark history of trafficking in corpses to be used in the medical schools that were popping up across America. In a tale that combines the perfect blend of intrigue, thrills, romance and human weakness, this plot makes for one heck of a page-turner!

Nicolas Van Horne, a shrewd Yankee ice merchant, is happy with his profitable side business. On this particular trip, his first delivery for Galveston’s new Medical School, he’s carrying human cadavers wedged between huge blocks of ice deep in his ship’s hold. When he becomes enthralled with Galveston’s lady scientist Rene Keiller, he makes the gruesome discovery that he’s been trafficking in murdered boys!

With Rene’s help, Nicolas eventually solves the puzzle behind his grisly cargo. But it’s not quite that simple; he must first overcome his addiction to morphine, even as he becomes completely enmeshed in Rene’s experiments on the most dreaded killer of their time…Yellow Fever.

Dr. Boor’s vast background as a scientist and professor at Galveston’s Medical School lends added realism to an already thrilling plot. Also home to the highest-level, infectious Bio-Lab in the nation, Dr. Boor put this experience to work in his first novel, The Blood Notes of Peter Mallow ― a modern biomedical thriller acclaimed as “real, raw and on the edge.”

Dr. Boor is a world-renowned, Harvard-trained pathologist and scientist whose contributions to science are highly respected. He was the recipient of both a Young Investigator and an Established Investigator Award from NIH’s (National Institutes of Health) Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Passionate about writing, the credibility he brings to his riveting storytelling is making Dr. Boor a hot contender in the thriller and suspense genre.

For more information, please visit: www.theicemerchant.com.

The Ice Merchant
Publisher: Argo-Navis
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0786754931
ISBN-13: 978-0786754939

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Excerpts from reviews on Amazon.com:

“This book is a true gem… Well written throughout …it is quite different from most books I have read and tells a haunting tale with the story happening in Galveston, TX, and upstate New York, written with great authority and historical insight. The story is realistic for the time (the end of the 19th century) and the language has the right tilt for the time. And last but not least, the book kept my interest from the first to the last page and offered a number of unexpected twists and turns.”

“Here’s a book to ‘sink your teeth into!’ I thoroughly enjoyed the story partly set in Galveston in 1899. Intriguing premise about procuring bodies for a medical school – very believable. The characters were believable and I cared about the welfare of the protagonist and others who were struggling to find the cause and cure of yellow fever. A ‘must read’ for Galvestonians and anyone interested in the history of the Gulf Coast prior to the devastating 1900 storm.”

“This book is extremely good. The plot is very intriguing and suspenseful. The subject is one that I have never read about …Be aware that once you start reading The Ice Merchant, you should be prepared to not get anything else accomplished. The book captures you. I highly recommend this book.”

“Great book. I hope there is a sequence in the making. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and didn’t want it to end.”

“A colorful story of the moral, legal, and scientific challenges of a century ago.”

Book Review: The Thruway Killers by Harvey Havel

Buckle Up For The Thruway Killers:
A Rollicking Commentary On Greed, Murder And Mayhem

When values collide and money is thrown in the mix, anything can happen. Author Harvey Havel is back with The Thruway Killers (America Star Books), a delightfully fast-paced crime novel that also points out the absurdities of our times.

Havel does not shrink away from touchy issues of race and religion. Droogan McPhee is the eldest son of a prosperous businessman, and he lacks his father’s sense of propriety and drive to succeed. To his father’s horror, the unemployed, overweight, crack-smoking Droogan becomes romantically entangled with one of the family’s African-American maids. His father uses money to put a wedge between the couple, and Droogan is motivated to act.

A botched murder plot follows, and Droogan and his beloved Angela begin their odyssey up the iconic New York Thruway, pursued by Agent Roderigo Rojas of the FBI and a mercenary named the Spartan. When Droogan slips into a shadowy religious cult, his problems begin to multiply. Havel, with an outsider’s perspective and a keen sense of fun, explores American cultural and political fault lines and whether crossing lines leads to ruin.

Havel, born in Pakistan with family ties to India, is a prolific writer. His third novel, Freedom of Association, was published in 2006.Other novels include Charlie Zero’s Last-Ditch Attempt, and The Orphan of Mecca, Book One. He is formerly a writing instructor at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey. He also taught writing and literature at the College of St. Rose in Albany as well as SUNY Albany. Copies of his books and short stories, both new and used, may be purchased at and by special order at fine booksellers everywhere.

The Thruway Killers
America Star Books
Available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon
and other online retailers
ISBN: 9781635080384

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Reviews:

BN 5 starsTexas Book Nook
Harvey Havel has great attention to detail and makes everything from the setting, to the characters feel very real. It makes for a wonderfully written and very suspenseful novel. Definitely not for the faint of heart as this one definitely left me looking over my shoulder. Fast paced and filled with surprise moments.

Kirkus Reviews: “…Police chases and social commentary come together in this rollicking murder story about an affluent family torn apart by greed, prejudice, and its own foibles….Havel packs a good deal into his novel, which at first glance may appear to be a simple crime story. Themes of interracial or interreligious marriage predominate, from both a black and white perspective…a lot of fun.”

Novel News Network: “I liked the diversity of the novel. It pulls together different elements, all of which are executed well and come together seamlessly….I couldn’t put it down. I really enjoyed the fact that Harvey Havel was able to surprise me a couple of times. I always like a novel that keeps me guessing.”

Book Review: Dark Associations by Marie Sutro

Get Ready For A Sleepless Night Or Two:
The Deadly Game Within Dark Associations

Dark Associations by Marie Sutro (Viper Press) is a compelling new work of crime fiction pulling readers into a chilling battle of wits between a sinister, twisted mind and a determined young detective.

Following the discovery of her protégé’s mutilated corpse, SFPD Detective Kate Barnes vows to capture an infamous serial killer known as the Tower Torturer. After years of silence, the psychopath has emerged from the shadows.

Young women close to Kate begin to disappear, as the killer taunts the detective, torturing his victims in various and unspeakable ways before displaying their corpses in macabre public tableaus. The predator always seems to be two moves ahead of the rookie investigator, despite her best efforts. As the body count rises, Kate struggles to apprehend the brutal mastermind before he resurrects history’s most insidious form of torture upon her.

Marie Sutro is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and a member of Sisters in Crime. A proponent of adult literacy, she volunteers with California Library Literacy Services, helping adults improve their reading and writing skills. Her great-grandfather, grandfather and father all served in the San Francisco Police Department, the collective inspiration for her debut novel. She resides in Northern California and is currently at work on the next Kate Barnes story.

For more information please visit www.mariesutro.com

Dark Associations
By Marie Sutro
Viper Press
Available January 10, 2017
ISBN: 978-1943957033

Pre-order on Amazon

Pre-order on Barnes&Noble

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Review

“Marie Sutro’s debut novel, Dark Associations, may just be this generation’s Silence of the Lambs. Erotic and frightening, it keeps the reader guessing until the last pages.”
– STEVE ALTEN, New York Times Best-Selling Author of Meg & Domain

“Dark Associations is a crime thriller extraordinaire that offers a deviously devilish mix of madness, murder, and mayhem. Marie Sutro’s finely tuned and polished debut effort channels the best of Thomas Harris, while serving up a serial killer who’d make even Hannibal Lecter blush… Grisly without being gratuitous, Dark Associations is like a literary battering ram, as relentless as it is riveting.”
– JON LAND, USA Today Best-Selling Author of Strong Cold Dead

“Dark Associations is a wickedly compelling debut by Marie Sutro, who presents us with a great cast of characters and a villain who’s as sadistic as they come. This one will keep you guessing right up till the end.”
– SPENCER KOPE, Author of Collecting the Dead

Book Review: Conquer Change and Win By Ralph Masengill

Conquer Change And Win:
Learn How To Embrace Change To Live A Happier,
More Fulfilled Life

Learn what 90% of Americans have no clue about.  Be the last person standing in the room by knowing how change affects our emotions and feelings.  Conquer Change and Win will show you how to control your reaction to those emotions and feelings that all change always causes. The result will be a happier and more fulfilled life.  This information will give you a leg up on making more money and having less stress in your life.

Every one of us is constantly affected by change. Change never stops, and no matter if it’s positive change or not, our first reaction is usually fear. The truly successful people of the world have a good understanding of change and how to make it work to their advantage. In his latest book, Conquer Change and Win, best-selling author Ralph Masengill gives readers an easy-to-read, fun book about the serious subject of change.

In forty-plus years as a consultant, coach, advisor and public relations strategist, Masengill has observed that successful people share two characteristics. First, they are willing to take a calculated risk and endorse positive change on a regular basis. Secondly, they have learned how change affects their emotions and how to overcome the fear of change.

“I believe the happiest and most successful people do not necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have,” Masengill says. He urges readers to choose change. “It is the path to true happiness and business success. Understanding how change works can alter your life for the better and give you a solid advantage.”

An advisor, coach, marketing expert, business consultant and public relations strategist, Masengill understands how companies work from within. He has the wisdom of one who has made the journey of sustained success himself, leavened by an ethics-based philosophy of helping others and the community around him. Masengill’s life story is one of personal challenge, tragedy, and triumph. His professional career has been defined by great success in both the private and public sectors. His agency, Masengill Marketing Associates, has won over 850 national and regional advertising and marketing awards.

One of the original change agents in the United States, Masengill and his team have been observing change and showing business leaders that embracing and understanding positive change is the sure route to effective quality improvement and substantial profit enhancement for decades. This extensive experience formed the basis for Conquer Change and Win, his second book.

A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Masengill’s postgraduate work includes the Dr. W. Edwards Deming course on quality and quality management. He and his wife Dianne live near the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. They have four grown children, two dogs and a cat. Masengill enjoys woodworking, oil painting, sailing and helping with his favorite charities in his spare time.

For more information, please visit http://conquerchangeandwin.com

Conquer Change and Win
By Ralph Masengill
Available at fine bookstores everywhere, at the author’s website,
Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble
ISBN:  978-1515191872

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Reviews:

The Editors of CreateSpace, an Amazon.com company: “…As author Ralph Masengill Jr. observes, death and taxes aren’t the only things certain in life. Change is a given too. Understanding and managing change can help you succeed both at work and in your personal life. People who know how to deal with change are happier and less stressed out, and they make better decisions….In entertaining, jargon-free language…[Conquer Change And Win] demonstrates how to transform the way you think about change, become a better decision maker, and seize every chance for success.”

Richard H. Roberts, Tennessee Commissioner of Revenue, member of the Governor’s Cabinet: “…a valuable roadmap to the one thing in life that we are certain to experience….Change! The points in your book confirm my own experience; I wish I had been as organized in my thinking and understanding. The quotes and anecdotes were especially interesting, and kept the text moving….”

Chet LaFountaine, Retired, BASF Corporation: “…Ralph Masengill has truly captured the collective wisdom about ‘change’….Thinking back over my 35 years of industrial management experience, I quickly realize how this book would have been a tremendous help to me, personally, and to the process of our change efforts.  At whatever stage of life you are in, take time to read, enjoy and learn from this book.”

Raymond Clark, AIA, INCARB, KCP Architects, LLC.: “Human history, if nothing else, is a study in Change….yet we resist it, we fear it, we try to control it, we ignore it, and many times we try to pretend it doesn’t exist. This book, by Ralph Masengill Jr., takes us through all the fears and resistance and shows us how we can ride the waves of Change to the promised land of acceptance, success, peace and happiness.”

Brian Broyles, Director of Development, The University of Tennessee, The Haslam School of Business: “….Ralph is able to mix expertise, fact and even a little humor (some at his own expense) not only to teach, but to also tell a story to the reader. Time and time again I found myself having these ‘aha’ moments of clarity because Ralph was able to mold his principles into simple, constructive lessons. Each chapter builds on the previous ones, which makes for a simple, straightforward approach to implementing change – personally and professionally….[a] delightful read that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in improving their own life and/or their company’s well-being.”

Jeffrey C. Taylor, Lawyer and founder of Taylor Law Firm: “…Conquer Change and Win provides user friendly examples and models that inspire and equip the reader to be a Change Agent to enhance the lives of their families, employees and themselves.  Masengill’s approach to Conquering Change is articulate, well informed and when properly applied could yield enormous victory.”

Lynn Elkins, Retired educator, higher education administrator and former director of Tennessee College of Applied Technology: “….The truth is evident on every page. Anyone who wants to succeed with an organization or managing people would profit by putting into practice Mr. Masengill’s proven experiences and making them one’s own.….The message in this book provides the correct guidance to tremendous achievement at all levels of any organization.”

Earnest Walker, Ed.D, Director of Educational Leadership and Assistant Professor of Education, Carson Newman University: “….Even though change happens with every tick of the clock the vast majority of people still have difficulty understanding why it happens. Conquer Change and Win by Ralph Masengill presents helpful approaches to learning more about change, and provides interesting ways to successfully manage the change process.”

 

Book Review: Pianissimo by Lauren Shiro

Pianissimo

Pianissimo by Lauren Shiro

 by Lauren Shiro

Darryl and Corinne Richards purchase their first house. With Darryl’s army career coming to a close, they feel ready to settle down in Louisville, Kentucky. With impeccable timing, Darryl is sent on one final tour, leaving Corinne to live in this new house and new city alone.

Overwhelmed, Corinne becomes reclusive, living a quiet, boring life with her cats as she adjusts to her new surroundings. The problem is: someone or some thing does not want her life to be either quiet or boring. And then there’s the creepy piano in the basement…

There is more to that creepy, dilapidated piano and her new home than Corinne could ever imagine. Through highs and lows, twists and turns, she begins to understand that even the most softly played music is powerful – and that even soft realizations and quietly subtle changes can have a profound effect.

Pianissimo di Lauren Shiro ora disponibili in edizioni italiane!
(Italian Edition)

translated by Alessia Simoni

translated by Alessia Simoni

5 stars

 Imagine a piano, once beautiful now old, that holds a secret to change a young woman’s life.

reviewed by Don Thorkelson

A fascinating concept revealed through letters and an ancient much abused piano. A young couple buys an old house . The man goes off to his last tour in a war zone and left alone, the wife discovers more than she expected when she enters the basement.
Secrets, an exquisite love story from another era are revealed as the young woman struggles to remove paint from the piano where beneath the ugly green lies mahogany. Pianissimo is a story of growth, understanding and love to capture the readers heart.

 

About the Author:

Lauren Shiro was published nationally for the first time at age fourteen. Since then, her work has been published in newspapers, magazines, literary journals, and even textbooks.

In 2006, she began writing fiction and she hasn’t stopped yet. From her set of intertwined short stories in Loving Her, to the powerhouse duo of Imperfect and Impeccable, Lauren has written stories that are sure to touch your heart. Lauren continues to write stories of love without boundaries.

She resides in Rochester, New York with her wife and their menagerie of furry and feathered friends.

buy links

Amazon

Barnes&Noble

KOBO

Smashwords

Book Review: Human Origins and The Bible

Human Origins And The Bible: Combining Current Science And Scripture To Avoid “Creation Wars”

by Myron G Heavin

It’s no secret that conflicting models exist to explain creation and the universe. Young earth creationists, old earth creationists, theistic evolutionists, and evolving creationists all differ from evolutionists. Author and aerospace engineer, Myron Heavin, compares the strengths and weaknesses of the various models and shares his conclusions in his new release: Human Origins and the Bible published by Redemption Press, August 2016.

While studying for his master’s degree in theology, Myron Heavin was struck by textbooks that failed to ground their viewpoints on creation in Scripture. Heavin takes a scientific approach to the study of human origins, saying, “Science simply cannot conflict with nature, as our creator God wrote the Bible. We use nature to help us understand Scripture.” He says God wrote the two separate books of science and Scripture, and “we must read them both.”

The book is of special interest to those struggling with how to resolve a literal reading of Genesis with the latest findings of science. Heavin also discusses whether God created by guiding evolution, the fossil hominid record, Neanderthals, DNA research, whether Darwin’s slow evolution is dead, and other subjects relevant to creation studies.

With careful scholarship he resolves the conflict of Adam and Eve living 8,000 years ago and humans migrating out of Africa 50,000-plus years ago. He says, “Adam and Eve, as the first humans to recognize sin, lived just a few thousand years ago. Due to their new knowledge of right from wrong, a few generations later we have cities, farming, metalworking, etc. It took a cultural change, religion, for all these things to happen.”

This up-to-date treatment of the current science is also designed for use as a Bible study for individuals and groups, and is a valuable contribution to the discussion of human origins.

Human Origins and the Bible: A Bold New Theory Relating Genesis Human Origins to Science
by Myron Heavin
Redemption Press, August 2016
Available at Amazon
ISBN: 978-1683140078

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Amazon Review

An engineer’s view of the Bible  reviewed by Thomas Law 
It is fascinating to read the Bible through the eyes of a scientist, particularly an engineer. I have discovered that engineers are precise and like for things to line up “just right”. As I read through the pages of this book, I could see the “wheels spinning” in the engineering mind trying to “make sense” of it all.

As scientist and particularly as an engineer, the author has a peculiar perspective on Scripture, the origin of humans, and science in general. This allows him to see things others might have missed and read the Bible with “new eyes”. These insights can help the rest of us gain new understanding of Scripture and science. I am sure that the author’s take on Scripture and science probably will perturbed many. But hopefully they will stay with him and hear his heart.

The author is concerned that those who hold a high regard for Scripture are turning off the younger generation and especially those raised in the scientific community. Although he admires those who have tried in the past to bridge the gap between science and Scripture he sees them as caving into one or the other camp and losing their audience. He feels that something is missing.

Although the author’s stated goal is to create a “bold new theory relating Genesis human origins to science”, it would seem his real passion is building a bridge between those who hold different views on the subject. The author seems to want to use his book to show those with different perspectives that there is common ground. You can both hold a high regard for Scripture and for science without either getting in the way of the other.

Unfortunately, some of the charts and explanations are lost on a more general audience. Additional clarity is needed on some of the issues, but overall he presents his arguments well.