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review 2018-04-11 05:24
TransAtlantic by Colum McCann
TransAtlantic - Colum McCann

Newfoundland, 1919. Two aviators—Jack Alcock and Arthur Brown—set course for Ireland as they attempt the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, placing their trust in a modified bomber to heal the wounds of the Great War. Dublin, 1845 and ’46. On an international lecture tour in support of his subversive autobiography, Frederick Douglass finds the Irish people sympathetic to the abolitionist cause—despite the fact that, as famine ravages the countryside, the poor suffer from hardships that are astonishing even to an American slave. New York, 1998. Leaving behind a young wife and newborn child, Senator George Mitchell departs for Belfast, where it has fallen to him, the son of an Irish-American father and a Lebanese mother, to shepherd Northern Ireland’s notoriously bitter and volatile peace talks to an uncertain conclusion. These three iconic crossings are connected by a series of remarkable women whose personal stories are caught up in the swells of history. Beginning with Irish housemaid Lily Duggan, who crosses paths with Frederick Douglass, the novel follows her daughter and granddaughter, Emily and Lottie, and culminates in the present-day story of Hannah Carson, in whom all the hopes and failures of previous generations live on. From the loughs of Ireland to the flatlands of Missouri and the windswept coast of Newfoundland, their journeys mirror the progress and shape of history. They each learn that even the most unassuming moments of grace have a way of rippling through time, space, and memory.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

This novel open in 2012 but before the final page ends up spanning two continents and three centuries. Though considered a complete novel, TransAtlantic ends up having more the feel of interconnected short stories, the first being of two former WW1 pilots, Jack Alcock and Arthur Brown, in Newfoundland in 1919, who are attempting the first nonstop transatlantic flight after modifying an old bomber plane.

 

Days of welding, soldering, sanding, stitching. The bomb bays were replaced by extra petrol tanks. That's what pleased Brown the most. They were using the bomber in a brand-new way: taking the war out of the plane, stripping the whole thing of its penchant for carnage. 

 

 

Their destination: Ireland. The project is riddled with setbacks. Just the attempt to fly from London -- when they're SO close to the finish line! --  to Clifden, Ireland causes the plane to basically crumble apart at times, nearly killing them more than once! 

 

From there, the story stays in Ireland but jumps back to the year 1845. Former slave / abolitionist Frederick Douglass is visiting Dublin while on a European tour to promote his memoirs (and thereby his abolitionist message). It is during this time that author Colum McCann paints a picture of what the era of the potato famine might have looked like to someone who had likewise known extreme hardships such as Douglass. 

 

Douglass writes to wife Anna about his impressions of Ireland and its people, initially noting that he finds himself quite at ease, as the people are incredibly friendly and respectful, not an n-word hurled at him once. That, the reader will find, is short-lived. Douglass starts doing joint speaking engagements with "The Great Liberator" Daniel O'Connell. People start calling Douglass "the black O'Connell". As the tour continues, Douglass starts to notice his own publisher (international, that is), Webb, treats him more and more like a specimen or a roadshow attraction. Webb becomes noticeably more stingy with covering Douglass' travel expenses. That slur usage Douglass thought was absent in Ireland ends up rearing its head in Cork as Douglass is simply walking down a street one day. It is during this time that author McCann also works in the storyline of Douglass making plans on how to officially negotiate his freedom while in England. 

 

Douglass (at least McCann's portrayal of him) does describe a moment of PTSD while being fitted for a suit while overseas, a moment in the experience throwing him back to his days as a slave. 

 

The reader is also given a more modern story, comparatively, involving Irish-American senator George Mitchell, based in NYC, who heads to Belfast in 1998 to try to help promote peace talks in Northern Ireland. (Colum McCann himself, per his author blurb, was born in Dublin but now lives in NYC). When it came to this portion of the book, the bits about the senator being so in love with his wife were very sweet but overall I found myself a bit bored by his storyline.

 

Have I mentioned how much this book jumps back and forth between all these different eras? Yeah, if you like your fiction strictly chronological, TransAtlantic might prove to be a challenge for you. Comfortable in that 1990s setting? Too bad! McCann will slingshot you over to Civil War era and back again. A heads up regarding that, if you are a sensitive reader: much of this book is pretty tame (low violence factor), but the Civil War portions do contain some crude, graphic descriptions that may possibly turn your stomach. 

 

Part of what kept me reading was trying to figure out how all these characters were connected ... I assumed there must be at least some link, even a thin one... it wasn't always immediately evident what those connections were. But in the case of Douglass's story, there was a character there that comes back around years later and links stuff up for the reader in Part 2. This character's story, with her connection to Douglass... in a way it saddened me, but there was something there that leaves a feeling of optimism for the future. 

 

In general, the plots going on within the various storylines were mildly interesting, but nothing really deeply hooked me as a reader. Also, the jumping around seemed to lack finesse, instead giving me a bit of a headache trying to keep up and make sense of all the details being tossed about. 

 

_____

 

EXTRAS

 

* In his acknowledgements section, Colum McCann gives a shout-out to Irish actor Gabriel Byrne as part of the "TransAtlantic Crew"... makes me wonder if a movie adaptation was ever in the works? I can't find evidence of this anywhere online... later on he also gives nods to fellow writers Michael Ondaatje (of The English Patient fame) and Wendell Berry.

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url 2018-04-10 12:40
Chinese Alchemy in Fiction and Nonfiction
Conscious Parenting: Mindful Living Course for Parents - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Art of 4 Elements - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Tree of Life - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Chanting Mantras with Best Chords - Nataša Pantović Nuit
A-Ma Alchemy of Love - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Mindful Being - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Conscious Creativity: Mindfulness Meditations - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Spiritual Symbols - Nataša Pantović Nuit

The Secret of the Golden Flower

Spiritual Symbols Book ExcerptSelf-DevelopmentSpiritual DevelopmentSpiritual QuotesConscious MindSymbols and Signsmeditation

 

What is Alchemy?

The Secret of the Golden Flower

Chinese Alchemy

 

qian_kun 13th century Chinese Alchemy

The ancient science of alchemy still influences the contemporary spiritual theories, and stays shaping the spiritual philosophies of our time. 

The whirlpool of its magic at one point became madness for the alchemists who tried to decipher its secret language of symbols and signs, and for the ones who managed to just bath in the beauty of its images, it stayed full of blessings.  The desire to knock on the door that promises eternal life and eternal youth returns through centuries to haunt the alchemists with their quest to know the lapis philosophorumthe philosopher's stone - the legendary alchemical substancecapable of turning base metals into gold.

 

Chinese Alchemy, Secret of Golden Flower - Merge of Male and Female Energy

It is the merge of male and female that fascinates us so much, it is the White Queen and the Black King that unite to give a birth to a child that is perfect and immortal.  It is  Yin and Yang that when circling in perfect harmony create balance and harmony within a Human Being, on Earth and in Universe.

It is Male that is our Collective Consciousness, that is Sun, Reason, Science, Law & Order.

It is Feminine that is symbolised by Moon, or Earth, that is the Ocean of our Collective Sub-Conscious, it is our Dream Consciousness, our shadow existence, trance, dragon and the snake, siren and medusa, that is Life that creates and destroys itself.

Source: www.artof4elements.com/entry/79/the-secret-of-the-golden-flower
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url 2018-04-07 15:36
All 9 Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training Books Free today! Spiritual fiction, Personal Development, Symbols 2018-04-07 {WW}
Conscious Parenting: Mindful Living Course for Parents - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Art of 4 Elements - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Mindful Eating with Delicious Raw Vegan Recipes - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Tree of Life - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Chanting Mantras with Best Chords - Nataša Pantović Nuit
A-Ma Alchemy of Love - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Mindful Being - Nataša Pantović Nuit
A Guide to Mindful Eating - Nataša Pantović Nuit,Mirjana Musulin

All 9 Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training Books Free today! Spiritual fiction, Personal Development, Symbols 2018-04-07 {WW} #Kindle #freebie #freebooks #amazonbooks

 

We have just launched the 24 hours of FREE downloads for all of our Mindfulness Training Books on the 7th April 2018. Download and enjoy any of our 9 books! Explore and do let us know your thoughts. I would love to read your reviews.

The Mindfulness Training Series of 9 fiction and non-fiction books by 7 authors focusing on spiritual growth, creativity and mindfulness. A series of many genre's, including poetry, personal development, true story novel, historical fiction, the world of ''Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training'' explores numerous self development themes. 

The titles of the Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training Series include:

 

Art of 4 Elements

1. Art of 4 Elements: Discover Alchemy through Poetry, Spiritual Poetry Book, Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training #1, Year: 2014, by Nataša Nuit Pantović, Jason Lu, Christine Cutajar, Jeni Caruana, Publisher: Artof4Elements. Size: 266 pages. 10"x10". The spiritual poetry and art book with 120 poems written by Nuit. These acted as an inspiration for the work of 3 other artists. The book explores alchemy and 4 elements, 4 stages of life, 4 magic directions ISBN: 978-9995754006

Mindful Eating: Mindful Eating Exercises with Delicious Raw Vegan Recipes

2. Mindful Eating with Delicious Raw Vegan Recipes, Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training #3, Year: 2015, by Nataša Pantović Nuit and Olivera Rosic, Publisher: Artof4elements. Size: 120 pages.6"x9". Mindful Eating book is designed with the best Alchemy of Love Mindful Eating Exercises and a collection of Delicious Raw Vegan Recipes. Mindful Eating Exercises help with over-eating, eating too often, eating too little, eating junk food, food allergies, etc. Vegan cooking book. ISBN: 978-9995754020

Mindful Being

3. Mindful Being towards Mindful Living Course, Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training #4, Year: 2015, by Nataša Pantović Nuit, Publisher: Artof4elements. Size: 192 pages.: 8"x10". Mindful Being is a 12 Modules Course full of self-development and mindfulness exercises that combine meditation, mindful living exercises, soul’s diary, spiritual diary, relationship contracts, and many other daily spiritual transformation tools to help the reader live the highest potential. The Mindful Being examines: Nutrition, Core Beliefs, Emotions, Mind Power offering 100s of self-development tools to increase Mindfulness, Creative Thinking, Joy and Love. ISBN: 978-9995754037

Conscious Parenting: Mindful Living Course for Parents

4. Conscious Parenting: Mindful Living Course for Parents by Nataša Pantović Nuit with a consultant Ivana Milosavljevic, Year: 2016, Publisher: Artof4elements. Size: 226 pages. 8"x10". Conscious Parenting Course is a Mindful Living Training designed for parents with mindfulness exercises and various creativity tools. Inspired by Waldorf educational model, Finland educational system with personal-development tools to look into parenting goals, dreams and priorities. In a video interview Nataša Pantović Nuit explains how Conscious Parenting differs from other types of parenting ISBN: 978-9995754044

Chanting Mantras with Best Chords

5. Chanting Mantas with Best Chords by Nataša Pantović Nuit, Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training #6, Year: 2016, Publisher: Artof4elements. Size: 8"x10" 77 pages. This guide is a chanting mantras manual designed to help within the mantras meditation journey. With more than 50 mantras from all around the world, their spiritual meanings, lyrics and chords, it explores: Hindu Sacred Mantras; Buddhist Mantras; Sufi Chants; New-Consciousness Mantras in English. ISBN: 978-9995754150 At the moment AVAILABLE for FREE

Tree of Life: with Spiritual Poetry

7. Tree of Life with Spiritual Poetry by Nataša Pantović Nuit, Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training #9, Year: 2017, Publisher: Artof4elements. Size: 265 pages. 6"x9". Tree of Life in various interpretations, within myths, and as a mystical concept represents the interconnections of all life on our beautiful planet. The book starts with an invitation to a Tantric Ball within the Field of Dreams. It is a journey of many true life stories interwoven into a question: What is our soul’s yearning, and do we live it authentically living our Highest Potential as Human Beings? We journey through Scotland, and visit Findhorn, a spiritual group that during the last 40 years experiments with more enlightened community living. We travel from Serbia to Cambridge to Maltese temples, from Nairobi to Addis Abeba in Ethiopia. Visit Lamu in Kenya that full of rich drug addicts, and find out why Nuit chose to define the humanity’s strongest limiting belief as: “We need suffering to grow.” What happens when your country collapses, when you stay without your soul-mate and when your soul’s quest is against your life path! How to listen to inner messages that at times feel completely irrational? The Tree of Life is a true story of a woman, a poet, a yogi, a spiritual researcher following an inner voice discovering the true goals, and entering the path of parenting, as a single mum adopting two kids from Ethiopia. ISBN: 978-9995754136

A-Ma Alchemy of Love

8. A-Ma Alchemy of Love Spiritual Novel by Nataša Pantović Nuit, Year: 2017, Publisher: Artof4Elements. Size: 244 pages 6"x9". A-Ma is a historical spiritual fiction book set in the 17th century Macao, China. The main protagonist is Ama, an African alchemist, Goddess, a guru, a lover, a story-teller that inspires and gathers artists, preachers, priests, philosophers from all around the world within the magic settings of her coffee house. ISBN-13: 978-9995754198

Source: www.amazon.com/Nataša-Nuit-Pantović/e/B00TUA1528
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review 2018-04-05 19:03
Dubliners by James Joyce
Dubliners - James Joyce,Del Doughty

Although James Joyce began these stories of Dublin life in 1904, when he was 22, and had completed them by the end of 1907, they remained unpublished until 1914 — victims of Edwardian squeamishness. Their vivid, tightly focused observations of the life of Dublin's poorer classes, their unconventional themes, coarse language, and mention of actual people and places made publishers of the day reluctant to undertake sponsorship.
Today, however, the stories are admired for their intense and masterly dissection of "dear dirty Dublin," and for the economy and grace with which Joyce invested this youthful fiction. From "The Sisters," the first story, illuminating a young boy's initial encounter with death, through the final piece, "The Dead," considered a masterpiece of the form, these tales represent, as Joyce himself explained, a chapter in the moral history of Ireland that would give the Irish "one good look at themselves." But in the end the stories are not just about the Irish; they represent moments of revelation common to all people.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

As a woman of Irish heritage who majored in classic Briitsh Lit in college and now works in the book world, I'm just gonna come clean with this... this is my first foray in the works of James Joyce. I know! I know! You can pull up your jaw now, I can explain. He's just one of those writers that has always been on my "meaning to get to" list. And the horror stories of people that have tried Ulysses -- I at least have a copy of that one somewhere on my shelves -- can scare a girl off. So I thought I would start small with this little short story collection. 

 

I read the blurb on the back of the paperback copy I have that mentioned how Joyce started writing these 15 somewhat interconnected stories back in 1904 at the age of 22, and how he had them finished by 1907 but had to wait til 1914 to get them onto bookshelves thanks to the sensitive Victorian readership of the era. Joyce's publisher was concerned that the themes of the stories might be a bit too gritty for the prim general public. Also, as I understand it, Joyce makes some thinly veiled references to actual people of the time that I'm guessing would not have been received as a form of flattery so much... Well, naturally that made me curious as to what was in store for my modern reader eyes! 

 

As you might've guessed by now, for many of today's readers, this collection will read pretty tame. Yes, it does focus on the lower class citizens of Dublin, yes there are descriptions of squalor that sometimes include coarse language. But all in all, you've likely heard worse these days. A number of the stories focus on children or teens; the very first story being one of a boy processing news of the death of a beloved mentor, others describe two boys playing hooky from school who have an encounter with a creepy guy on a street, and one of a girl attempting to escape an abusive father. There are also stories with more adult themes, spotlighting the topics of promiscuous women, flat-out prostitution, women just generally worn down (physically and emotionally) by their husbands. There's also a story here and there that are less the underbelly of Dublin and more just a Upstairs / Downstairs style story (you know, the privileged & wealthy vs their estate staff). The very last story, "The Dead", was one of this style and ended up being my personal favorite. 

 

Oh, the husbands. Yes, many of them here are portrayed as alcoholics --- another shock, I know! LOL Also, we're talking about the Irish here, so it's somewhat inevitable that at least a little religion gets worked into the stories here and there. 

 

My impression of Joyce, in this instance anyway, is that while his stories approach risque themes, his writing style beats around the bush so much it was hard for me to feel much shock or offense. In fact, some of the stories featured quite sweet scenes of family bonding between parents and children or lively, jovial times between friends. It's not all grim and grit! But it did end up being largely blah for me. There, I said it. At the risk of offending my Irish ancestors, I'm putting it out there --- I found Joyce's writing here kind of dull! Meet y'all at the square in five for my stoning, hehe. 

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review 2018-03-29 18:37
Steal Away Home by Billy Coffey
Steal Away Home - Billy Coffey

Owen Cross grew up with two loves: one a game, the other a girl. One of his loves ruined him. Now he’s counting on the other to save him.Owen Cross’s father is a hard man, proud in his brokenness, who wants nothing more than for Owen to succeed where he failed. With his innate talents and his father’s firm hand guiding him, Owen goes to college with dreams of the major leagues—and an emptiness full of a girl named Micky Dullahan. Owen loved Micky from the first time they met on the hill between their two worlds: his middle-class home and her troubled Shantytown. Years later he leaves her for the dugouts and the autographs, but their days together follow him. When he finally returns home, he discovers that even peace comes at a cost. And that the hardest things to say are to the ones we love the most. From bestselling author Billy Coffey comes a haunting story of small-town love, blinding ambition, and the risk of giving it all for one last chance.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

Owen Cross is a young boy from a lower middle-class family who just happens to have superior natural talent when it comes to the game of baseball. His father is a hard-working but embittered man nursing a broken spirit after a career ending injury brought his own professional sports dreams to a screeching halt. Now the father puts all the hopes on the son to bring pride and fame back to the family name. From an early age, Owen shows laser focus when it comes to his MLB dreams. That is, until the fateful day he comes face to face with Shantytown girl Michaela "Micky" Dullahan. From that day forward, professional baseball and Micky will play a constant tug-o-war on Owen's heart and mind. 

 

"Your love's all wrapped up in a thing that can't love you back,

and you'll only come to harm because of it." 

~ Micky

 

The time period of Steal Away Home alternates between grown Owen as a Minor League player in the early 2000s and his childhood spanning the 1980s and 90s. In the retrospective chapters, or "innings" as Coffey playful titles them here, we follow Owen from the first meetings with Micky, through junior high and high school up to the day he leaves his hometown of Camden, Virginia to attend college in Ohio. 

 

Owen always has to keep his relationship with Micky as secret. Though they go to the same school, they avoid any acknowledgement of each other beyond furtive glances. It's explained that because Micky is from Shantytown, socially she's basically considered the town's unclean, untouchable, too-poor-to-be-anything-but-pitied/reviled-from-a-distance population. Hard to make sense of this though, when you consider that Owen's economic situation wasn't really ALL that much better: his school clothes primarily come off the JC Penney clearance racks, his mom makes minimum wage at the town library and his dad works as the janitor at Owen's school. Owen flatly points out that his baseball skills are literally the only thing that keeps him from being socially ostracized himself. Still, he's all about keeping his seat at the cool kids' table. 

 

"People's just lost... It's like we don't even understand

what living is no more." 

~ Micky

 

It took me about half the book to realize it, but at that point it dawned on me that I did not like Owen. The guy was pretty selfish when you get down to it. It seems like Owen never hesitated too much to throw Micky under the proverbial bus whenever his social standing was even slightly at risk. Yet Micky continued to profess love for this kid! When Micky finds a dream she wants to pursue for herself and the good of her fellow Shantytown residents, he harps on her to drop it and do what HE wants if she TRULY loves him. Nope, this reader was not having it. Micky was clearly the better soul in my book. 

 

 

With the novel starting in the millennial era and periodically looking backwards, there is a mystery / possible crime story hinted at, clues to which are only given to the reader in the tiniest portions until at least the halfway point where the action on that front picks up a bit. Once Owen leaves Camden for college, we see that some characters from earlier in the story have gone missing in his time away, and certain clues hint that possible criminal activity may be linked to these characters.  Be patient though, because Coffey's holding some cards up his author sleeve and he's not going to let you make sense of it all til the closing moments! 

 

Of all of Billy Coffey's novels that I've read to date, this has not been one of my favorites. Many of the elements felt pretty underdeveloped, at least with the home drama storylines. It certainly can't be said he skimped on the baseball game sections, those portions actually dragged a bit for me. Just a lot of Owen in the dugout with his thoughts for pages on end, least until it was his turn at the plate... but it felt like he spent a lot of time on the bench for a catcher! LOL Speaking of the game though, Coffey notes at the beginning of the book that the game described here (the opening game, I think he's referring to) is actually inspired by an actual game that went down between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees in the summer of 2001. 

 

 

The romantic relationship between Owen and Micky did, at times, have a charm to it that I enjoyed. Theirs was a young relationship that was full of sweet, naive, intense promises that most of us can probably relate to on some level, remembering back to our first loves. But something there fell short for me, didn't quite hit maximum heartstring tug. 

 

One thing I will give this book though -- even if the plot had some missed opportunities (IMO), there were some undeniably great lines of prose I would tip my hat to, if i wore one while I read. If you're familiar with Coffey's previous books and wonder about his trademark light fantasy / magical realism touch he tends to weave into his stories, it is still present here but it's much more faint than in his previous novels. 

 

There is always tomorrow, until there is not. 

 

 

FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own. 

 

--------------

 

EXTRAS

 

 

*Musician Eddie Heinzelman composed a song entitled "Dandelion", inspired by Coffey's Steal Away Home! You can check out the song HERE.

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