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Ghost Canyon

Book Reviews
Burn, Beautiful Soul
By: William J. Donahue - Cosmic Egg Books, $19.95

Description: Basil the demon king has come to a crossroads. He has grown tired of life underground and regretful of the atrocities he has committed to maintain his hold on power.

Wanderlust leads him to the surface, to live freely among humans.

Considering the state of the world, most humans seem unfazed by his arrival - but not all.

A religious zealot with murderous intentions and a vengeful biker gang seek his end!

Verdict: Wow! Simply wow! Burn, Beautiful Soul is a book that not only reads well, but lends itself to providing the readers mind with some rather vivaciously described levels of detail; ones that not only provide said reader with a vivid picture of what is happening on the page, but instills it into the psyche so that they stay with you throughout the thoroughly engrossing read.

Chock full of gorgeously created, all be they horrific demons living in the underworld just below us ordinary, everyday folk, the life in the small town up above where Basil, the Demon King, escapes to for a short break from his boredom is (much like us mere human mortals) same shit, different day!

Donahue’s portrayal of darkness and the horrible and sheer horror that exists below us at all times, lay in deep contrast with the very normal, uber mundane day-to-day living that the town of Beak, NE is noted for.

Sure, I understand that for the detailed analysis of shock and awe to exist when talking about both states, that some form of pure perfection has to co-exist for both sets of entities (albeit that one is unknowing of the other), but here Donahue separates the two to picture perfect perfection.

Not to give too much away, but now that Basil has joined the living, so to speak, and many of the human characters he now interacts with are brought to the fore of the narrative, is it going to be possible that such a horribly demonic entity could become somewhat likable, to both the townsfolk and the readers alike?

I mean, maybe, just maybe he’s not that much more different than the rest of us? That said, the author also does a splendid job of coloring in some of the human characters so hazily that you might start to despise a few of the much more than the actual real demons!

About the Author: When he’s not writing fiction, entertaining his cats, or wandering quietly in the woods, William J. Donahue works as a full-time magazine editor and features writer. He lives in a small but well-guarded fortress somewhere on the map between Philadelphia and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

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Selected Letters: Nicholas Hagger’s Letters ...
By: Nicholas Hagger / O-Books, $57.95

Description: Nicholas Hagger’s literary, philosophical, historical and political writings are innovatory. He has set out a new approach to literature that combines Romantic and Classical outlooks in a substantial literary oeuvre of 2,000 poems including over 300 classical odes, two poetic epics, five verse plays, three masques, two travelogues and 1,200 stories.

Verdict: What Nicholas Hagger has done here is create a new philosophy of Universalism that focuses on the unity of the universe and humankind and the interconnectedness of all disciplines, and challenges modern philosophy.

Furthermore, he has presented an original historical view of the rise and fall of civilizations, and proposed - and detailed - a limited democratic World State with the power to abolish war and solve all the world’s problems.

His new book, the weighty, yet thoroughly engrossing page-turner Selected Letters draws together those of his letters (written over 60 years) that aid the interpretation and elucidation of his works.

Many of his correspondents are well-known figures within literature, philosophy, history and international politics, and Hagger is in the footsteps of Alexander Pope in editing his own letters, which are in the tradition of Pope, Wordsworth, Keats, T.E. Lawrence, Ezra Pound and Ted Hughes (one of his correspondents).

They throw light on all aspects of Hagger’s vast output, and are required reading for all interested in following the growth of his Universalism, his literary development and his innovatory approach to universal truth.

As we read through the pages, the chapters, the sections, the stories conjoining as a whole before our very eyes, it is beyond obvious that Nicholas Hagger is a poet, a man of letters, a cultural historian and, perhaps above all else, a dutiful philosopher.

I think we can all attest to the fact that it is very important to study history, but that it is perhaps even more important to know through which lens history is being viewed.

Facts matter, but historical accounts are always filtered through a set of ideological biases. No account of history is going to be completely neutral, of this we know, but establishment historians will generally emphasize the significance of events as they relate to their political beliefs.

Progressionally, libertarians and other historical revisionists are also analyzing history through the lens of fidelity to or deviance from their own ideological orthodoxies.

Thus what most conventional readings of American history via the philosophical, historical and political writings overlook is the fine detail, the honest, perhaps gritty truth behind the curtain, so to speak.

Ergo, as noted, Nicholas Hagger’s approach here in Selected Letters combines Romantic and Classical outlooks in a substantial literary landscape of 2,000 poems, drawing together those of his letters written over 60 years ago that aid the interpretation and elucidation of his works.

Coming in at a rather grand 937 pages, and weighing as much as a 5lb bag of sugar, Selected Letters is not only a genuine eye opener for those, perhaps, unaware of certain aspects being discussed, but is, without a shadow of a doubt, an especially fascinating and essential read.

In closing, Nicholas Hagger has lectured at universities in Iraq, Libya and Japan, where he was a Professor of English Literature and he has written 54 books, of which include an immense literary offering; most recently King Charles the Wise and Visions of England (both also published by O-Books), and innovatory works within history, philosophy and international politics and statecraft.

Thus, to miss out on such a genuine opus of collected works as which are lovingly contained within this welcomed collection from him today, would be one of the cultural, let alone literary sins of the century, my friends. Trust me on that.

About the Author: Nicholas Hagger is the author of more than 50 books that include a substantial literary output and innovatory works within history, philosophy, literature and international politics and statecraft.

As a man of letters he has written over 2,000 poems, two poetic epics, five verse plays, 1,200 short stories, two travelogues and three masques. His archive of papers and manuscripts is held as a Special Collection in the Albert Sloman Library at the University of Essex.

In 2016 he was awarded the Gusi Peace Prize for Literature, and in 2019 the BRICS silver medal for Vision for Future. He lives in Essex, UK.

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Harvest: The True Story of Alien Abduction
By: G.L. Davies - 6th Books, $16.95

Description: In 2009 one woman from Pembrokeshire believed she was abducted by aliens.

What followed was a terrifying ordeal of alien visitation, nightmarish visions, encounters with terrifying creatures, a connection to the past and a prophecy of destruction on the scale never before seen in Pembrokeshire’s peaceful history.

Should these events be true, then no one is safe. The harvest has begun!

Verdict: G.L Davies invites you to join him on his most terrifying investigation yet, is what we are informed going into this book and by golly if that statement isn’t one of the truest ever given!

Not exactly a true believer, as they say, but neither one who shuns the possibilities, thus fence-sitter entered unto this all-too-short book and never let it go until it was read in the one complete sitting!

Harvest is the tale of a young woman from West Wales, Pembrokeshire, United Kingdom, who believes she was the victim of visitation and abduction by aliens with, as she herself labels them, inhuman designs; those turning out to be the harvesting of her human body parts and organs.

Although we never get to know the true identity of the woman in question, we are given her name as just Susan (real or unreal, we will never know), and her story is told mainly through her own words, recalling each and every detail of the abduction moment by moment.

Having now read the book straight through, my guess is that Susan is a medical student of some kind, because her recounting of these highly in-depth alien encounters tends to veer occasionally into rather medical-eze territory.

From start to finish, Harvest captured my imagination and held my attention, the way the writer writes a pure, unadulterated joy to behold on the page.

Chock full of crackling imagery and investigative ideas and theories, al balanced out by the facts of the event and what came thereafter, Harvest is all filling, no fluff, that’s for damn sure!

At times Susan recalls her alien encounters having taken place in her own home, sometimes via some horribly vivid dreams, as she puts it, visions of Armageddon-like destruction all around her, whilst at other times she becomes somewhat of an informercial, linking alien abductions to the disappearance of thousands of people, especially females, who go missing every year.

Presenting the layered investigative groundwork upon a blanket of commonalities in alien-inhabited dreams, visions, and general experiences much akin, is an interesting angle to come at this case, albeit one that has be ridden before, just perhaps not so as assuredly than here.

About the Author: G. L. Davies is the author of the worldwide bestselling A Most Haunted House, and the creator of

With over 25 years in Sales and marketing, he prides himself on the work he does with his authors as marketing manager for John Hunt Publishing.

He has an abundance of positive energy and motivation to bring writers’ dreams to reality. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and studies hauntings in 19th century literature.

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Empathy for the Devil ...
By: Jerry Hyde / O-Books, $13.95

Description: In this three part book Empathy for the Devil: Make Your Demons Work for You. Without Selling Your Soul, Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll are all hot topics as Jerry Hyde yet again plunges into sex, psychedelics, hurricanes and heroes on a quest for the truth at all costs; whilst exploring issues of plant medicine and community through narrative.

Verdict: Having transitioned from an earlier life in music and heavy drug-use, Jerry Hyde may well continue to write books much like the one here in front of me, but he has also taken on the mantel of becoming a therapist; working with people individually and in men’s groups, taking people on vision quests in Nepal and other locations.

Ergo, and knowing that about the man going in, his new book Empathy for the Devil: Make Your Demons Work for You. Without Selling Your Soul reads as a much more ornate cluster of thoughts, memories, hopes, dreams and everything in between than if I had simply opened the cover and unknowing dived in.

Personally, and having now read the book in whole, and even having gone back to re-read certain chapters, Jerry Hyde is my kind of writer, for he not only peers into the glassy darkness that sometimes surrounds our souls, but subsequently himself dives head first into their labyrinthine subculture of sex, drugs and rock and roll in a way that resonates a set of deeply personal experiences.

A man whose approach to life, let alone the writing of his books, that ensures strong statements are brought forth on every page, can either have you warmly embracing his pathos or repelling those unsure in an instant, but what Hyde does do with aplomb here in Empathy for the Devil is powerfully attract the mainstay into his world, ensuring that he always has plenty of new and open eyes and minds allowing him the opportunities to become vividly entertained.

As noted, filled with deep and challenging transformational exercises, Empathy for the Devil is more than a book, it’s an experience, a call to arms, an invitation to embark on a self-inquiry so profound that if accepted can only leave you changed forever!

In closing, when it comes to self-development, this is as Gonzo as it gets, but as Hyde carefully, and clearly exhibits, his creativity was born from the flip side to his multiple addictions and thus what we read, what we learn, what we absorb here in this new book are psychologically imbibed paragraphs of knowledgeable power.

And thus what we then choose to do with those pockets of information after swallowing them is completely down to us!

About the Author: Jerry Hyde has worked in film, theatre, TV, and the music business. After retraining as a psychotherapist he has had a fairly conventional career, until losing the plot and rebranding himself in the somewhat out-there style for which he is become known. He lives in London, UK.

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The Unwelcome
By: Jacob Steven Mohr - Cosmic Egg Books, $12.95

Description: Kait’s volcanic temper has already scared most of her friends away, and a bad breakup with her college boyfriend Lutz has left her crippled by guilt and painful memories.

So, when she learns that her best friend Alice is planning a three-day sabbatical in a secluded mountain cabin, Kait jumps at the chance to tag along, convinced that rekindling their fractured friendship is the key to fixing whatever’s breaking down inside of her.

She should have known ... Lutz would never let her go so easily!

Verdict: To say that The Unwelcome is a page turner of the highest order is doing it a disservice as Mohr’s book is as engrossing and as succulently addictive as any I have had the pleasure to read this year!

Combining a quietly rural, yet heaving ornate setting together with some rather overly strained relationships, adding in the threat of imminent danger all around, and with a dash of the unknown thrown in for good measure, The Unwelcome beautifully unveils itself page after page; whilst unknowing the reader is moved to their very edge of their seat!

Having to know what happens next is the epitome of a page-turner, sure, but the pure fact that the writer has created prose that lead you seamlessly from chapter to chapter, as if you had no real sense of it being your choice, is just magnificent.

Embodying some dark, heavy themes along the way, the robust and visceral characters are aplenty and the writers distinct writing style abounds crisply on each and every page.

OK, sure, The Unwelcome does follow along the most well-loved horror setting tropes, but as you read deeper, and as things start to swerve slightly from where you assumed they would, should even, go, you quickly realize that this is far from your usual cabin in the woods, teens get slayed for no good reason story!

About the Author: Don’t buy the hype: Jacob Steven Mohr was not raised by wolves. Feral children are capable of many things, but weaving wild words into flesh and fantasy isn’t one of them!

Lucky us. If it were, we’d all be speaking Wolf. Mohr’s work has previously appeared in Outrageous Fortune, Aurora Wolf, Liquid Imagination, and Body Parts Magazine, as well as on the stage of the Browncoat Theater in Wilmington, NC. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.

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We, The Wanted
By: Matthew Schultz & Jordan LePore - Cosmic Egg Books, $13.95

Description: When famine emigrant Patrick Gallagher, secures passage aboard a transatlantic coffin ship from County Cork, Ireland, to the Grosse Île Quarantine Station, Canada, he finds himself prey to a very different sort of hunger.

Meanwhile, Angèle Paris D’Arcantel, a Vodou priestess, flees slavery and impending Civil War in New Orleans. She rides the Underground Railroad north along the Mississippi River to an abandoned lighthouse forsaken in the remote Adirondack wilderness at the brink of a vast, cursed forest and the harrowing bluffs of Lake Champlain.

Verdict: We, The Wanted is a sparingly illustrated novel charting the unverified and unverifiable mythologies of seemingly disparate folklores: Irish, Haitian, and Native American, that converge beneath the beacon of the Split Rock Lighthouse as a way of exploring the contemporary phenomena of disenchantment.

Shining a light upon the mysterious and tragic history of the American Northeast and across the tortured generations who weathered its storm, We, The Wanted is a gothic tale of grim isolation, the consequences of (dis)belief, and the monsters that continue to lurk beyond the pale of civilization hoping to lure us into their darkness.

Set in 1847, this quite breathtakingly vivid story combined with some rather fantastic illustrations brings forth the story of Patrick Gallagher, a stocky Irishman who sets sail aboard a ship bound for America.

As we now know, his journey does not go according to plan for instead of trying to make his way to New York City to secure work with a distant relative of his, he soon finds himself in a forest full of mythical creatures (as you do!)

Hitching a ride with another group of travelers who have had their own brand of unforsaken encounters with such creatures, and worse, up until that point, the newcomers band together for safety in numbers.

In a story that plays out like a reading of historical accuracy layered with dense mythology and sprinkled with gloriously created fables just for the prose, We, The Wanted tells the fascinating tale of a group of outsiders risking their very lives, in the hope of securing freedom for all.

About the Author: Matthew Schultz is the Director of the Writing Center at Vassar College where he teaches courses on literature and writing.

He earned his B.A. and M.A. in English Literature at John Carroll University and his Ph.D. in Literature from Saint Louis University. His previous novel, On Coventry is available from Harvard Square Editions.

Matthew lives, teaches, and writes in the Hudson Valley, New York, with his wife, son, and Great Dane.

Jordan LePore received his MFA in Visual Arts degree from Lesley University in June of 2017. He currently resides in New York City, USA.

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By The Feet of Men
By: Grant Price - Cosmic Egg Books, $18.95

Description: WANTED: Men and women willing to drive through the valley of the shadow of death.

The world’s population has been decimated by the Change, a chain reaction of events triggered by global warming.

In Europe, governments have fallen, cities have crumbled and the wheels of production have ground to a halt. The Alps region, containing most of the continent’s remaining fresh water, has become a closed state with heavily fortified borders.

Survivors cling on by trading through the Runners, truck drivers who deliver cargo and take a percentage.

Verdict: A road trip akin to Mad Max, this expertly well written, and graphically detailed post-apocalyptic novel may well run deep with a thick vein of hopelessness (for both the characters and the reader), but do not let that bog you down in what the underlying content has in store for you.

Our lead character here is Cassidy, a Runner who embodies this new landscape and its now-created direction for a civilization that has not come to terms, in the slightest, with what the entire world has suffered.

As with all post-apocalyptical scenarios, it is a scary world out there, boys and girls, complete with the prerequisite scarce amounts of food, water, gasoline, and finding reliable transport is as an ambitious task as just staying alive!

Anyway, as Cassidy himself knows, Runners do not last long in this world, but with some wits about them together with a whole lot of luck, they can proceed and get to strive for a little while longer.

The crux of this, and Cassidy’s story is that he and a handful of other runners must join together to transport vital cargo far beyond where they have ever traveled before, to a place that might not even exist!

Price writes the ensemble in such a way that you not only get to know each member of this group, but start to care about certain ones, hoping that they can at least make it to the end.

None of the are superheroes, but it will take a superhuman strength and endeavor to fight their collective way to survival on this most deadliest of terrains.

About the Author: Grant Price (b. 1987) is a British-German author currently living in Berlin, Germany. After spending years translating texts and writing copy, he made the switch to writing fiction full time in 2015.

His work has appeared in The Daily Telegraph and a number of magazines and journals. His first novel, Static Age, appeared on Kindle in 2016. His second novel, By the Feet of Men, is due to be published by Cosmic Egg Books in September 2019.

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The Scars of Eden
By: Paul Wallis - 6th Books, $14.95

Description: Do our world mythologies convey our ancestors’ ideas about God? Or are they in reality ancestral memories of extra-terrestrial contact?

How do ancient stories of contact, adaptation and abduction relate to people’s experiences around the world today?

The Scars of Eden will take you around the world to hear first-hand from ancestral voices alongside contemporary experiencers and world-renowned researchers.

Recent revelations from US Navy, the Pentagon, and French Intelligence bring the reader right up to date in examining what has been forgotten and remembered, hidden and disclosed.

Verdict: If world mythologies, including the Bible, have confused the idea of God with ancient ET visitations, what difference does it make? How does it impact society today? And why is this cultural taboo so widespread and, for the author, so personal?

OK, for my money, Paul Wallis is an exceptionally talented writer and this new book, The Scars of Eden is a majestically written work of literary art, for sure, but that all said, the book will most definitely not be for everyone; especially the closedminded, shall we say.

For yes, an open mind what is needed here, for as much as Ufology can be seen plainly evident throughout our history, those who are not welcoming of the evidence can, to say the least, poo-poo such books and their collective findings.

That said, moving on and this follow up, of sorts, to his Escaping from Eden book, does the right thing from the off in challenging the readers to broaden their understanding of our world mythologies.

Never one to lay it on too thick, always allowing us to feel comfortable at our own investigatory pace, so often we like our world to exist in a neat box, but the real world is anything but that.

Indeed, we hold on to beliefs because they make us feel safe, and sometimes we do so at the expense of truth. That is how Wallis details such posturing and goes into more detail about how we can look outside the box, so to speak.

Trust me, when a person having spent 30 years as an Anglican minister and teacher of Biblical text, and it’s interpretation, and who also studies world mythologies asks you to seek truth, seek understanding, ask difficult questions and be open to receive the answers, you do as you are asked!

About the Author: Paul Anthony Wallis is a researcher, speaker and author on spirituality and mysticism. He is a healing practitioner and has worked as a theological educator and as an Archdeacon for the Anglican Church in Australia.

Paul researches the world’s mythologies for how they speak to our origins as a species and our potential today as human beings. He lives in Canberra, Australia.

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Mission From Venus
By: Susan Plunket - Cosmic Egg Books, $18.95

Description: Higher dimensional light beings from Venus incarnate as humans to save Earth from a takeover by the Dark Lords of Orion.

The dark side has infiltrated many governments and much of the world of finance. The mission from Venus threatens their planned takeover of Earth.

Failing a takeover, the dark lords will cause the planet’s destruction through nuclear war, to prevent Earth from ascending to the fourth dimension on the path of light.

The volunteer wanderers are all that stand in the way.

Verdict: As it seems that the Earth is in grave danger, the beings of Venus cobble together a directive mission to send a group of wanderers to Earth to present a game plan to stop it from being destroyed and the entire population annihilated.

You see, Venus has the power to enable one to see and feel differently than we do here on Earth and these aforementioned wanderers are fifth dimension beings.

I hope you are keeping up with all this, as when these beings from Venus find themselves living on Earth, much of their powers will no longer be within them and they will be reborn as humans living as infants and experiencing life; from child through to adult ... as a human!

Furthermore, their collective memories will be erased, their so-named inner twin will be removed and their goal to hopefully find their twin and somehow reunite on Earth becomes their one and only prime directive.

All this is considered as the only hope to increase the positive energy on Earth for its population and eliminate the forces of the dark side as they progressively smoother the Earth.

For the most part, after being asked to join the mission, but warned of the pitfalls that they might befall, each character is paired at the beginning for what is, in all truth, nothing short of a very spiritual journey.

In short, along the way, they must fight battles and learn how to deal with humans, understand and help realign their collective faults, reboot and enhance their good qualities and oh-so much more!

Mission From Venus (of course, written by a clinical psychologist) is a quite glorious, page-turning, vividly descriptive, but also spiritually illuminating opus that brings us the story of whether or not these intrepid beings will be able to infuse the humans with love and positive energy, culminating in all of them finding their way back to each other come the end.

About the Author: Susan Plunket is a science fiction writer and psychologist. She received her doctorate at The New School for Social Research in 1989 has been in private practice in New York City for 31 years.

Her favorite part of her work is interpreting dreams using a Jungian approach. For the past ten years she’s been writing science fiction in which she explores the worlds of the 5th and 6th dimensions.

Her particular interest in is wanderers, higher dimensional beings who volunteer to come to Earth and incarnate as human to help us awaken to the reality of our own superpowers, our own divinity and oneness with all beings.

She is currently working on book three of her science fiction trilogy, Mission From Venus.

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Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest
By: G.L. Davies - 6th Books, $18.95

Description: Blissful beginnings for a young couple turn into a nightmare after purchasing their dream home in Wales in 1989.

Their love and their resolve are torn apart by an indescribable entity that pushes paranormal activity to the limit.

Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest is the prequel to the bestselling A Most Haunted House.

Dare you step inside ...?!

Verdict: For all intents and purpose, Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest is an account of a true haunt, with several people telling what happened to them during their stay in the house.

A majority of the text is written in interview format, which may give the account more credibility, but for some reason, fell a little flat for me, personally.

That is not to say that I wasn’t enthralled to keep reading along, it just made for slightly more literary reading pitfalls along the way.

I can see, and for the most part understand Davies kept it in this format, especially given his other books of the same ilk, but I just couldn’t get it to flow when silently reading it, as much as I would have liked, that’s all.

Anyway, moving on and it seems, via the related stories that what happened to these couples in the house was indeed very terrifying and for that alone this book kept my attention!

For, and as they are revealed to be, the unholy spirits that haunt this house are most definitely pissed at something, or someone, of course!

Now, in truth, Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest is a very intriguing book, chock full of spiritual wonderment and ghostly possibilities, but you will either be of the mind to run through it in the one sitting, or read bite size chapters each or every other day (it works both ways, trust me).

Embedded with working theories that delve into what could have happened in the house, ranging from mold to psychological to psychedelics and, of course, never leaving the possibilities of aliens to far out of the spectrum of possibility, the book takes you slowly down rabbit holes without you even realizing!

Sure, the research was most definitely done in trying to understand the possible haunting, but whether a genuinely satisfying, perhaps even believable conclusion is ever reached, well, I’ll leave that down to you to determine.

About the Author: Born in 1975, G.L. Davies lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is the author of A Most Haunted House and Ghost Sex: The Violation.

He is the creator of and his reports and investigations into the paranormal and the unexplained have made national and international news.

He is also the founder of the webcast The Paranormal Chronicles Network, on YouTube, presenting shows with Dave Dominguez on a number of paranormal subjects.

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Gray Matters
By: John Gastil - Cosmic Egg Books, $16.38

Description: Can the digital networks that record our footprints hold us steady when dementia threatens to push us off the path?

This question has real stakes for data analyst Charlie Sanders. His best hope for a father succumbing to Alzheimer’s comes from assistive technology that Charlie helps design for a scrappy startup.

Despite early successes, Charlie has growing doubts about the motives of each of his colleagues - the eccentric CEO in Seattle, the call center guru in India, and the Trump-loving Aussie transplant who keeps the books.

His worries grow when the company takes on a clandestine client who occupies the Oval Office. Will Charlie keep his father and his country on track, or turn a whole generation into glitches?

Verdict: As you may well be able to immediately ascertain from the title of this riveting book, author Gastil writes about our brains, or moreover, how they begin to fail us and come the end (much like the opening of the story being told) how aging has us seemingly focused only on where are youthfulness went, the upcoming pine box, and who we really were and are now.

From the off we see things through Barry, Charlie Sanders’ fathers eyes and still-cognate, for the most part, sometimes, mind. The son works as a data analyst for his own lowbrow startup company whose internet algorithm The Loop contains a newly-created app called The Walker Talker, and which is proud to state that it can help aging people suffering from dementia.

But trust me when I say that Gray Matters is oh-so much more than simply that, for it encompasses a collective myriad of other subject matters, that, if listed in full now, you would swear blind couldn’t ever become so connected to the throbbing nerve story line of a cure-all pill for dementia.

But that’s the beauty of this technological and political allegory-strewn book, for Gastil leads you graciously by the hand down each and every neural pathway, stopping only to open a door into a seemingly tangential subject matter, acting as if to close it, yet leaving it tantalizingly ajar, and then moves forward with the main plot thread; always knowing that a door subplot left ajar can, most always, in books at least, provide some elegantly crafted layers of prose to the subject matter at hand.

As we read on, we learn that so-called “smart devices” are connecting those entwinned with the startup (both receivers and suppliers) to a network that they can easily navigate through the plethora of seemingly endless choices and decisions, whilst providing acute personal guidance on what a person is supposed to do based on their medical history, of course.

But as we quickly discover, there is a glitch in the system, let alone within one of the main components of all this new technology, a chip called The Compass and which controls those very same devices, that ends up actually performing a form of brainwashing to those who use them.

A manmade algorithm that was built to supposed predict how people will think, act, and react, well, as they say, now has a ghost in the machine and without freedom of thinking, without self-awareness, what happens next?

Given that we actually do have those things, currently, Gray Matters will have you thinking What if? for quite a while after you have finished with it, and will, much like it did me, have you re-reading it to pull together the collective warning signs that life within the story had made clear; and that nobody had paid heed to.

Sure, it can be a little overwhelming at times, as Gastil goes deep within certain chapters to ensure that the reader is, quite literally, on the same page as the knowledge that he is himself trying to impart, but nonetheless, Gray Matters is a quite fascinatingly poignant read and will have you interested in reading seamlessly between chapters, the subject matter not only sweeping through you as you turn each page, but infiltrating your mind to make you yourself become more, well, self aware.

About the Author: John Gastil is Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Communication Arts and Sciences and Political Science at Penn State University, where he also serves as Senior Scholar at the McCourtney Institute for Democracy.

He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison but is now a loyal Nittany Lion. The National Science Foundation has supported numerous large-scale research programs in which Gastil served as a principal investigator, including work that led to the publication of Hope for Democracy (2020), The Jury and Democracy (2010), and dozens of peer-reviewed articles.

Gastil has worked on campaigns for federal, state, and local office in California and New Mexico, but his research and writing focuses on improving democracy, not winning elections.

In 2020, UK imprint Cosmic Egg Books published his debut novels, Gray Matters and Dungeon Party (available in all formats). Gastil resides in State College, PA.

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In The Shadows of Enigma
By: Alex Rosenberg - Top Hat Books, $19.95

Description: In this standalone sequel to The Girl From Krakow, the greatest undisclosed secret of the Second World War haunts the lives of four people across three continents and fifteen years.

Verdict: The only Second World War secret not revealed soon thereafter was that the Allies had broken the German Enigma codes.

This secret was kept for 30 years after the war. In the Shadows of Enigma is a 15 year-long narrative of how knowing the secret changed the lives of four people: Rita Feuerstahl, who learned that the German Enigma had been deciphered by the Poles just before she escaped a Polish ghetto, Gil Romero, her prewar lover whom Rita marries after the war, Stefan Sajac, the infant son Rita had smuggled out of the ghetto and lost track of, and Otto Schulke, the German Gestapo detective who apprehended Rita during the war and suspected that she knew the secret of the Enigma’s decoding.

Not to give too much away, but there are two secrets in In The Shadows Of Enigma. The first, hinted at by the title and then explained in the preface, is that Germany’s secret Enigma code had been cracked by the Polish intelligence service in 1942 and given to the western allies; but not announced for almost thirty years, leaving the Russians to assume, after they’d captured the code in Berlin, that it was still usable.

The second secret is that Rita, the novel’s primary protagonist, in 1947 found her son, Stefan, who she’d given to a woman in 1940 to save him from the Nazi roundup of Jews, and that Rita chose not to reveal that she had survived the Nazis, which would have led to Stefan’s return to her, his birth mother.

Luckily for the reader, Rosenberg expertly weaves together a complex plot involving its many characters and locations. During the years through which the story moves, many historical events are carefully included, such as the Hungarian uprising against the Russians, the Suez Canal conflict, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, which add an element of authenticity to the well-crafted plot.

Inclusive of wartime flashbacks, the plots and the characters cross paths repeatedly, but never confusingly, and their interspersed time lines develop an excellent suspense to the story.

Thus, and in conclusion, the characters here were all rather intriguing and well fleshed out, their lives and pulse-rousing predicaments enough to have you page-turning, which makes this a great spy novel for all fans of the genre and ilk.

About the Author: Alex’s last novel, The Intrigues of Jennie Lee explores the febrile history of 1930s Britain through the experiences - personal and political of a young woman elected to parliament at the age of 24 - five years too young even to vote for herself. It takes a real woman and slightly twists her life into a world changing thriller.

Alex’s first novel, The Girl From Krakow, explores how a young woman and her lover navigate the dangerous thirties, the firestorm of war in Europe, and how they make sense of their survival.

His second novel, Autumn in Oxford is a murder mystery/spy thriller set in Britain in the 1950s that takes the reader back to New York in the ’30s, the American south, France and Germany during the war, through cold war America to post-austerity England.

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Red Dress
By: Bridget Finklaire - Roundfire Books, $19.95

Description: Katy is a career mum in her 40s who is stressed out, time-starved, and disenchanted with her successful life!

She has a handsome husband, a house in London, and two teenage children. Her therapy practice in Harley Street is thriving, but she feels empty and lost.

She has forgotten who she is and what makes her tick. An impulsive decision sets in motion a domino effect that changes her life.

However, a series of events, a meeting with someone from the past, and a sequence of numbers, send her on a rollercoaster ride to finding herself.

With some trepidation, Katy embarks on a path of spiritual awakening and embraces a new way of thinking.

Verdict: In what is, quite easily, one of the most pleasingly quick-witted, funny, highly intelligent, and even spiritually insightful books to come out for many a year, Bridget Finklaire’s Red Dress is a book that perfectly embodies the phrase “page turner.”

A story that lends itself unerringly well to a lot of us these days, even more so than before due to the world we currently live in, Red Dress is an elegantly, free flowing tale of a woman feeling trapped within her expansive set of hourly and daily responsibilities.

Whilst also trying to figure out how to extricate herself from a bad marriage (albeit one spent with an admittedly handsome husband), our lead character Katy - a career mum in her 40s, supportive, as best she can be, of her two teenage children - has a thriving therapy practice in the prestigious London area that holds forth Harley Street.

I won’t give away the impulsive decision that she makes to suddenly set in motion a domino effect that changes her life forever, but what I will say is that if Katy can do it, and even details her road map (complete with pitfalls) here for you within this book, perhaps it could now become all the more easier for others (in the real world) to follow suit?

For that’s just how good Finklaire’s prose is, for it allows the reader to not only get within the layered textures of Katy’s unfolding, and at times unraveling life, but to learn along the way more about how they themselves feel; and possibly even match up in similar mannerisms alongside her.

Embedded throughout, for the most part, with a sense of spiritual development and self-awareness, Red Dress is an honest and extremely relatable book that breaks the, at times, spiraling tension with perfectly placed pockets of both wisdom and humor.

Trust me when I say that if you are anything like me, you will quickly become immersed in Katy’s life, her struggles, her bouts of self-evaluation, her search, coming out the other end with her as a changed, fresher, more confident and self-approved loving version of yourself also.

About the Author: Bridget Finklaire is an author, teacher and facilitator for change. She has a background and training in psychotherapy, hypnotherapy and healing.

Bringing together the threads of her spiritual and professional journey, she created "The Bone Circle" (c) - a training for women to access their highest potential and support each other in creating the lives they’d love.

As of 2021, The Bone Circle will be open to both men and women. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

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Dungeon Party
By: John Gastil - Cosmic Egg Books, $24.95

Description: When longstanding personality conflicts erupt, the volatile Randall Keller secedes from Alan Crandall’s gaming group. In pursuit of a coveted prize at an upcoming convention, Alan replaces Randall with two female recruits who reinvigorate the campaign.

Randall chooses a darker path by spreading infectious cynicism through the gaming community while plotting his revenge. When the Middle Mirth convention gets underway, Alan’s group must stop Randall and his avatar before they devastate worlds both fictional and real.

Verdict: In truth, I had zero idea what I was getting into here, as I picked the book up, loved the title and the intriguing cover art and simply settled in for whatever ride was forthcoming!

Little did I even come close to guessing that, and for all those others also unaware, Dungeon Party links a fantasy world and the people playing in it!

Now I have finished it, and taken a step away from it, I can say, hand on heart, that Dungeon Party is overwhelmingly and oh-so highly recommended for gamers, of course, but not just gamers.

For running through its prose of veins is a brilliantly layered, and cultured, sensitively of a book on friendship and how people grow apart, grow up, and make an even better community for themselves outside of the game.

Also managing to factor in a rather biting critique of some of the toxic elements that have made some gaming communities resistant to those changes, that said, it never shies away from also being a mighty fine celebration of why roleplaying is thriving in spite of those elements; helping us survive and improve.

In closing, and sure, some level of D&D/Tolkien style adventure playing is best to have on board before entering into this world - something I myself did not have, obviously, and thus found myself floundering at times in a mystically, mythical realm - but the hand-written sequences here by Gastil are beyond gripping and thoroughly enthralling (especially the last act!)

About the Author: John Webster Gastil is a professor at Pennsylvania State University who studies group behavior and has spent a large portion of his life playing games at tabletops and online.

His nonfiction includes Democracy in Small Groups and The Group in Society.

Dungeon Party is his first foray into fiction, and his second novel, Gray Matters, is also forthcoming from Cosmic Egg Books. John lives in State College, PA, USA.

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Where After
By: Mariel Forde Clarke - 6th Books, $18.95

Description: Where do our loved ones go After they die? This is the question that has traversed the universe for centuries and is considered one of life’s greatest mysteries.

While many of the world’s renowned philosophers, scientists, theorists, doctors, and great mystics endorsed the existence of the afterlife, no one book has been available to explore it all, until now.

Mariel Forde Clarke asserts that whether you believe in God or heaven, you can be comforted by the sense that an afterlife exists beyond the realm of one’s physical comprehension.

Drawing on the findings of patients who have had near death experiences and visions, and on those of renowned scientists and doctors, Clarke helps the reader chart the journey of the soul and navigate their grief.

Verdict: Simply put, Where After: Where Do Our Loved Ones Go After They Die? is a journey that will compel readers to view life after death in a completely different way.

With an opening Preface that quotes the old Irish cliché, Life is a bitch and then you die, from the off Forde Clarke ponders the thought that surely there has to be more to it than just that.

Forde Clarke’s very own quest for reasoning about why we are born, who we really are within the world and what happens when we die, began back in 1992 when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Facing her own mortality, she actually died on the operating table, and found herself floating up into a most magnificently light-filled space.

She relates that she had no fear and that all around her all she sensed was peace and tranquility as a Godhead energy of total bliss surrounded and then enveloped her.

Afterward, her surgeon told her she was one lucky lady to her survived such a (as it turned out) complicated surgery and that she must have had someone looking out for her, watching over her.

Thus, and ever after, Forde Clarke has dedicated her being to discovering more about a (possible) promise of a place to reside within after our time here on this mortal coil has ceased, a heaven (or spiritual haven) for our souls to then call Home.

Thus, Where After is one persons deeply meaningful and wholly heartfelt journey into having become a seeker of knowledge within these noted realms.

As the book unfolds, seamlessly moving from chapter to chapter, each more engrossing than the last with its ever expansive, and at times even exhaustive outreaches, we learn that her explorations also took her deep within different cultures - Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and many more - in an effort to truly peel back the layers of this spiritual onion.

From beginning to end, here After: Where Do Our Loved Ones Go After They Die? shares not only the human stages of grief in such a way as to allow you to open up your mind more to the possibilities within our own psyche, but also provides powerful affirmations.

Complete with most chapters also showcasing exercises intended to bring you closer to the world of spirit, in a calming, gentle way, it is obvious that Forde Clarke wrote this book to convey a new approach to thinking about death.

Interjected with scientific evidence to support the theory of an afterlife and to enrich the inner sweetness of our souls along the way, I simply cannot recommend this book highly enough.

For it is, quite easily, one of the best books written on the subject that I have personally read within the past few decades.

About the Author: Mariel Forde Clarke qualified as a serologist in veterinary science many years ago, assuming this was her career for life.

All that changed in 1992, when she was faced with her own mortality and upon surviving, changed the direction of her life towards a more holistic and spiritual pathway.

She is certified in many healing modalities, from hypnotherapy, Reiki, crystal healing, shamanism, integrated energy healing, light body healing, mediumship, angel and ascension teacher, and spiritual counselor.

She runs a private practice where she lives in Galway, Ireland.

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Forever in My Veins
By: Lionel Friedberg - O Books, $31.95

Description: Emmy Award-winning producer and New York Times bestselling author Lionel Friedberg has spent 50 years making films as diverse as full-length theatrical features and television documentaries.

After growing up in South Africa during the troubled era of apartheid he began his career during the dying days of colonialism in Central Africa.

He eventually settled in Los Angeles where his work took him to the sound stages of Hollywood and to the most remote regions of the Earth.

His career exposed him to the extraordinary wonders of our planet and brought him into close contact with many unforgettable personalities from maverick scientists to politicians, and people who survived near-death experiences.

Verdict: His observations have taught him that life is far more complex and infinitely stranger than we can imagine. When he was struck by an unexpected life-threatening illness his efforts to find a way to save his life took him back to Africa where he encountered the age-old rituals and powerful healing methods of African shamans.

Their mysterious ways have much to teach us and are as relevant today as they were in ancient times.

Emmy Award-winning producer, and New York Times best selling author Lionel Friedberg’s new book is a quite mesmerizingly ornate memoir that encompasses the gripping, and wholly unforgettable story of his quest for healing that led him back to his childhood origins in Southern Africa.

Within Forever in My Veins, Friedberg recounts riveting and mysterious accounts of rituals he undergoes with Shamanic healers, and their various predictions.

Part exceedingly rich and wonderfully detailed autobiography and part meditation on the power of the spirit, if you, the reader, do not come away from finishing this book with a sense of having been lovingly dazzled by the sheer quantity of unusual and profound life experiences that are showcased here, well you need to read the book again!

Bringing a unique and ultimately heartfelt string of thoughtfulness and and honesty, all bonded together with a deeply probing perspective to all these experiences, the book also details the early history of South Africa, the events and political turmoil of the Apartheid era, and the author’s interesting life and career curve that took him to the four corners of earth.

A page-turner of the most distinctive highest order, Forever in My Veins will have you (or at the very least, should have you questioning our very existence on this planet we call Earth.

About the Author: Lionel Friedberg is an Emmy Award-winning Film and TV producer and writer. Lionel grew up in South Africa, and he began his career at the first TV station in Central Africa; Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, in 1961.

He has produced work for National Geographic, PBS and national broadcast networks and cable networks including the Discovery Channel, A&E and The History Channel.

He is based in Los Angeles, California.

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Bea’s Witch: A Ghostly Coming-Of-Age Story
By: Daniel Ingram-Brown - Lodestone Books, $13.95

Description: On the eve of her twelfth birthday, Beatrice Crosse runs away from her adoptive home only to encounter the ghost of England’s most famous prophetess.

The witch offers her treasure, but can she be trusted? Bea must wrestle her past to discover the witch’s secret and find her way home.

Verdict: This completely enthralling, literal page-turner of a book, complete with it wholly naturalistic writing spins a tale that is both highly enjoyable and yet at the same time deeply gripping.

With a tale that brings forth the story of the central character Bea and her adoptive mother, Denise, soon thereafter (and on the eve of her twelfth birthday, none the less), Bea runs away, only to encounter the deep, dark maleficence known as The Witch.

In truth, this dexterous blending of historical fantasy along with contemporary fiction, complete with a mysterious wishing well and the aforementioned Witch, has not just the one story to tell within its vividly drawn pages.

For it also addresses the adoption process - seen through the eyes of a twelve year-old - and thus allows the reader (of any age) to instantly become at one with the character and begin to understand her, her motives, her misjudgments and such, in what turns out to be a very enjoyable read.

Add to that some spooky, magical moments along the way, complete with personal trauma, reimagined forethoughts, and some highly impactful, and skilled prose (that pertains to the core of this rather heartwarming coming-of-age story), and author Ingram-Brown’s Bea’s Witch is a touching tale that you will find oh-so very hard to put down.

About the Author: Daniel Ingram-Brown is a First Story writer-in-residence for secondary schools in Yorkshire. He has a Masters in Creative Writing and Drama in Education, and is currently studying for a PhD exploring adoption through creative writing.

He is also a playwright and is Artistic Director of Suitcase and Spectacles Children’s Theatre. Daniel’s passion lies in writing stories which inspire readers and audiences to think and wonder.

Daniel is the recipient of the Taner Baybars award for original writing in the field of science fiction, fantasy and magical realism, awarded by the Society of Authors Authors’ Foundation. He lives in Yorkshire, UK.

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Looking Back on the Future
By: Chandra Sun Eagle – Moon Books, $16.95

Description: Looking Back on the Future takes the reader on a mystical journey into the Andean Cosmo-Vision, the ancient teachings of Andean spirituality, and their relevance for our current world.

As a bridge to awakening, and our collective evolution, this body of knowledge is timeless and essential in nature, holding keys to guiding our global family back into Ayni (sacred reciprocity), and harmony with each other, the Earth, Stars, and all Life.

Verdict: In this wondrously honest, open, personal and always heartfelt new book you will learn about the 7 Saiwas, Universal Laws that lead to the transformation of consciousness and reconnection with our origins.

Traditionally, these teachings and transmissions are passed down to the initiate and Paqo, (Masters of the Living Energy), during their training, which is how Chandra herself received them. Subsequently, she was given permission by her teachers to bring this timeless wisdom forward, and share these gifts with those ready to anchor the Light of the Golden Age here on Earth.

It what was one of the most fascinating and compelling reads I have had on this subject matter in many a year, Chandra’s woven life lessons are found seamlessly swarming paragraphs throughout, but amazingly they never weigh the subject matter down, nor do they become overly self indulgent.

Indeed, it is her prayer that this book assists you and all beings to attain Unity within and without as we pass through this portal and Shift of the Ages and thus here within these teachings of wisdom, each chapter, each page, each paragraph, each sentence read, understood, embraced and embodied thereafter becomes like a drop of medicine to soothe our troubled mind, body and souls.

A most encapsulating ode to recapturing our inner connections to all our culled potential, a read of pure and unadulterated mind enlightening, mind expanding, now and future transformative reaches within ourselves, in Looking Back on the Future: Timeless Wisdom of the Andes as a Bridge into the New Era Chandra has brought forth a book that should fast become a veritable must-have for all households, all across the world.

About the Author: Chandra Sun Eagle is a formally trained shamanic ceremonialist, healer and counselor, studying and working in the Andean Tradition since 2003. She is the founder of Sonco Via, Path of the Heart, providing shamanic intensives, retreats and spiritual journeys. She lives in Sedona, Arizona and can be reached at

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Contemporary Witchcraft: Foundational Practices...
By: Frances Billinghurst – Moon Books, $20.95

Description: Today there is much misunderstanding regarding the different forms of modern pagan witchcraft, from the initiatory traditions, to various eclectic paths that are often labelled “Wicca”.

In this book, Billinghurst addresses misconceptions and outlines the foundational history, beliefs, and practices that define the tradition of Contemporary Witchcraft, inherited from Gerald Gardner et al in the 20th century.

Verdict: By tapping into the essence of the teachings handed down by Gardner, and later Alex Sanders, Contemporary Witchcraft: Foundational Practices for a Magical Life provides the reader with invaluable tools and techniques that will enable them to set a foundation upon which to build their ongoing magical and spiritual practice.

Regardless of whether the seeker is interested in joining a coven or not, contemporary witchcraft is about dedication and devotion in order for the greater mysteries to be revealed.

Thus this book, without a shadow of a doubt, offers a keen insight into how the non-initiate can achieve this in their own practices, because all novices should know the difference between the pagans’ Wicca and witchcraft.

Scholarly researched and using examples of Billinghurst’s training and perception of ritual and magic, each chapter is an eye-opening avenue of revelations for the reader to immerse themselves within.

Personally, I found the sections here – and that fall under the term “contemporary witchcraft” – to be the most enthralling for me, personally. For, as alluded to, they describe the more traditional and initiatory practice of the Craft which can be traced back to Gerald Gardner and Alex Sanders, and thusly generally known as Wicca.

I mean, in all truth, if someone had realized back in the Sixties that they were a witch, I can say without hesitation that they would most likely have wished to conjure up a book much akin to this for not only tips on what to look out for, but signs to gravitate to!

Today, with the growing popularity of witchcraft/Wicca, it is perhaps even more important to have clear, precise guidelines to help the novice decide which path is best suited for them.

As we learn, Wicca came to the fore in the Seventies and Eighties and, with it, a tsunami of books covering every conceivable approach, all be they never too precise with their spiritual meanderings.

But here Billingshurst’s book gently leads the reader through the various paths and offers insights and workings that are safe and adaptable for everyone.

Ergo, Contemporary Witchcraft: Foundational Practices for a Magical Life is a great and highly informative read for a beginner that is easy to understand, easy to follow, and answers most all those pesky questions that lurk within the minds eye about such things!

About the Author: Frances Billinghurst is an initiated witch, ritualist and healer. She runs workshops on metaphysics, mythology and the occult. Frances is the author of several books, and she is the editor of Call of the God: An Anthology Exploring the Divine Masculine within Modern Paganism.

When she is not writing, Frances is attempting to replicate the Hanging Gardens of Babylon on her patch of Australian dirt, beading, and journeying between the worlds. More information about Frances can be found on her blog and at She lives in Parafield Gardens, South Australia.

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Expanding Reality: The Emergence of ...
By: Mario Beauregard - Iff Books, 19.95

Description: Reality is much more than the physical world before us. In Expanding Reality, Mario Beauregard examines a variety of phenomena investigated by the most open-minded and visionary scientists.

These phenomena provide the evidence that mind, consciousness, and spirit cannot be simply reduced to electrical and chemical activity in the brain.

Verdict: Mario Beauregard’s groundbreaking work on the neurobiology of mystical experience at the University of Montreal has received international media coverage over the years and thus here in this truly captivating new book Expanding Reality: The Emergence of Postmaterialist Science, he cleverly, precisely, and yet clearly presents his scientific belief that science itself is experiencing another paradigm change, where upcoming new and excitingly revolutionary implications may come to be resolved as immense.

Within its eight solid chapters, sandwiched perfectly between the Foreward Introduction (written by Gary E. Schwartz, PhD, and who also quotes Albert Einstein out the gate) and the Conclusion (featuring a quote from Freeman Dyson, the late English-American theoretical and mathematical physicist, mathematician, and statistician known for his works in quantum field theory, astrophysics, random matrices, mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics, condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, and engineering), Beauregard indeed tries to wholeheartedly consider all the research available to him on consciousness and mind-brain relationships.

At all times being open, honest, skeptical even of any and all results, but at no times does he derail from his grounded belief in what the science unfolds before him, sooner rather than later empirical evidence filters through.

Whether you yourself, come the end of this rather enlightening journey, choose to belief that the old materialist paradigm has become too rigidly restrictive and that a need for an expanded scientific model of reality is the acknowledged next step, will ultimately be left in your own hands (or head, of course).

About the Author: Dr. Mario Beauregard, PhD., is a neuroscientist currently affiliated with the Department of Psychology, University of Arizona. He has received a bachelor degree in psychology, and a doctorate degree in neuroscience from the University of Montreal.

He also underwent postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Texas Medical School (Houston) and the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI), McGill University.

He is the author of more than 100 publications (articles, essays, book chapters) in neuroscience, psychology, and psychiatry, and was the first neuroscientist to use neuroimaging to investigate the neural underpinnings of voluntary control in relation to emotion. He lives in Quebec, Canada.

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Death, Where Is Your Sting?
By: Robert Reiss - Christian Alternative, $16.95)

Description: Death, Where Is Your Sting? is about both the process of dying and the question of what, if anything, happens after death.

Robert Reiss knows the answers to his questions have eluded philosophers and theologians past, but he gives a compelling argument as to why we should continue to ask the question in light of new evidence from neuroscience and new interpretations of the New Testament.

Verdict: In paying close attention to the contested issue of assisted dying, here in the highly thought provoking new book Death, Where Is Your Sting? Dying and Death Examined, author Reiss shows that questions of life after death are not only eternal, but urgent, as lawmakers continue to use religion and religious ethics as a guide.

This thoroughly researched and illuminating exploration of a sensitive topic comes as seven chapters – albeit the last one is a Personal Statement from Reiss, where he explains he himself is in perfect health, and that he is writing this very same book at the height of Covid-19, knowing full well that he is within the “vulnerable” category of people – which trace the historical review of Christian man’s thinking on what happens when one dies.

Some might call it a little self-indulgent, others might term it as a challenging read, but either way no one is wrong, as these are one man’s thoughts alone, but what I can say, wholeheartedly, is that having read it now (twice through), it has most definitely helped me to move my thinking onward to a time that nobody likes to prepare for, let along fixate and dissect, of course.

Embodying both the process of dying and the question of what, if anything, happens after death, Reiss opens with theology and ends with an overview of the his own conclusions, thus ensuring that whether he is still amongst the living or has indeed passed on, he has presented the world with a thorough, and deeply thoughtful process of Death, the right to die and thus allows the reader an expanse of reflective musings on which to sink back and ponder on.

About the Author: Robert Reiss was born in 1943. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and Westcott House, and ordained in 1969. He is Canon Emeritus of Westminster. He lives in London, UK.

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Secrets of Angels on Earth
By: Allan J. Sweeney – O-Books, $24.95)

Description: Within the veritably electric new book Secrets of Angels on Earth: Life-Changing Clues to Liberate and Inspire, we quickly discover a new definition of love can inspire belief and faith for seekers, mystic teachers, and physicians alike.

Highlights include how love improves anger management and relieves depression, anxiety, sadness, fear, and emotions. Learn how love creates vitality and health in your mind, body and spirit.

Verdict: Within this thought-provoking new book, Sweeney addresses a select group of people, none more so than the Angels on Earth and, albeit occasionally, those beloved Angels to Be.

Not a stranger to having gazed upon an Angel or three in his own life, Sweeney – who in his early decades of life in the UK, had doctors registering him as 80% disabled, serious illness besetting him at every corner, when one day a lady unexpectedly placed her hands on him for 10 minutes and suddenly, substantially cured him enough that he soon thereafter travelled the world seeking other cures – also timidly estimates that only 0.25% of the population belongs to this former group.

In this first book to describe an earth angel’s journey from past lives, reincarnation, and pregnancy, through child and adulthood, to life after death, Sweeney delves deep into the evolution of human consciousness, a place where the learnt experiences of multiple incarnations, soul experiences within their Love and presence of God, formulate splendidly by incarnating as an Angel on Earth.

As we progress through the book we learn of how the steps to such a gracious beholding include an allegiance to an angelic mission, albeit one that – due to a life’s imperfections – that might face the limitations of this material plane, therefore creating a challenge to transcend in order to incarnate as a human; the unconditional Love in all its Angels on Earth potential, so to speak.

The book also refers to this so-called challenge of embodiment, examining each stage of the process, with suggestions and explanations to help these people overcome them, but at no time does Sweeney talk down to us, or even confuse the messages with overly convoluted paragraphs.

Thus, to me – and the person I gave it to for a second opinion – this new book from Sweeney is a beautifully unique examination of Sweeney’s very own garnered wisdom and the subject matter to hand, and in the level of detail and key points that are brought forth, he most eloquently describes all that he has learnt; and thusly, and concisely provides all that we need to choose to also embrace his theories as our own (or not, as the case may be, of course).

About the Author: Allan J. Sweeny has been R&D, implementation, training, and marketing of iCAM therapies specific to a condition or symptom, with effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, safety, repeatability, and permanency outcomes.

His innovative systematic approaches to healthcare provision uniquely bring research, bio-science, training, marketing and integrative medical practice to the bio-energy therapy world. He lives in Margate, UK.

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Laid Bare: What the Business Leader Learnt ...
By: Paulina Tenner – O-Books, $19.95)

Description: Paulina Tenner presents a unique perspective on emergent social change in the world of work, and a method to achieve a balance of wholeness and profitability in a commercial organization.

As the #metoo movement has swept over the globe, it’s time to begin a discussion of how feminine and masculine principles can be integrated together safely, in organizations of all kinds, and in commercial organizations in particular.

This book begins that conversation.

Verdict: In what is a rather jolly, highly informative, and business savvy new read, the brilliantly titled Laid Bare: What the Business Leader Learnt From the Stripper is not only a provocatively bold and tantalizingly thought-challenging read, but it also openly challenges the status quo of how companies are set up and scaled and proposes a radical alternative therein.

Best read with an open mind, and perhaps even a small snifter of something alongside you for good, buoyant measure, if you are seriously looking to make a change in your business this book should be at the forefront of your daily thinking.

Chock full of modern leadership techniques and sustainable forward conversations to be had, listened to, and even embodied for good measure, what you get here in Tenner’s new book is oh-so much more than simply a new take on an eternally old problem, but a way to break through the self-induced concrete wall of your own passiveness and finally get to unleash the once-quelled desire for more!

Thus, in this magnificently reimagined presentation for the masses, Tenner has translated her experience as a stripper into a very different kind of business book!

Ergo, and with one of many intended socially beneficial outcomes being normalizing sex work to be as accepted a career choice as doctor, lawyer, accountant, this refreshingly honest new book provides a fresh palate for every entrepreneur and business person - who welcomes a productive change within their structured reality – to paint their newly-envisioned future from.

About the Author: Paulina is a founder, a tech startup angel investor, a TEDx speaker and conference presenter. She has been featured in the press and TV interviews numerous times over the last few years. As a thought leader, she is committed to radical authenticity and bringing a new paradigm of organizational consciousness into the wider world. She lives in London, UK.

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Healthy Fashion: The Deeper Truths
By: Alyssa Couture – Ayni Books, $22.95)

Description: We all want more ways to feel and look healthy. Fashion can do just that, and Alyssa Couture is here to show you how. There’s so much pain and suffering in the world, but fashion can be the tool to promote and create healing, health, and overall balance and harmony.

Verdict: Simply put, if you are new to the ‘fashion for health’ concept, Alyssa Couture’s new book Healthy Fashion: The Deeper Truths is the perfect stocking filler for you this holiday season!

As we learn from the off, what Couture has written about here is a rather wonderfully fresh approach to fashion, an unwavering new concept, and one that could quite easily open up a whole new paradigm within the industries connected.

Ergo, and for all intents and appearances, a really handy guidebook that contains a veritable plethora of interesting fashion for health topics, I think we can all agree (one way, one stance taken or another) that there is most definitely an importance within fashion, for it is the true and (done right) definitive reflection of any one individual.

Here Couture discusses the many details of what fashion design/apparel for health really is and which is inclusive of a deep dive into sustainable fashion: fashion for the environment, and fashion and wellness trends therein.

To give you a little insight into the person who is trying to enlighten your fashion-sensed exposure, Couture started working as a fashion entrepreneur in 2015. In May 2016, she answered a question in an interview she had by The Heroine’s Journey.

She relates that within that interview she had said that she had wanted to write a fashion book. In 2017/18, she finally started writing the (this) book when she was the kitchen manager/cook for a monastery in West Virginia. The lead monk is an author of many spiritual meditation books.

She was in solitude at the monastery, to a degree, so it was the perfect time to start writing and so it was easy for her to start outlining the book in a notebook and picking out topics to write about.

Eventually, she left the monastery, but stopped writing again for a while, but then picked it back up when she moved to Mount Shasta, CA. The mountain there, Mount Shasta, is a large energy vortex and thus Healthy Fashion: The Deeper Truths was finally born.

Anyway, and getting back on track, this new book has obviously been meticulously researched for the thinking about fashion within it is as cultured, and as delicately examined as any fine line of clothing ever was, trust me.

It is obvious that Couture loves dearly what she writes, what she speaks about, and that having been able to include her own personal new fashion experiences to the book has resulted in a compelling and eye-opening read, complete with an inspiring, and ornately heartfelt back story that walks seamlessly side-by-side with her intriguingly grounded thoughts about the advancement (or not) of fashion.

About the Author: Alyssa Couture is an author, fashion designer, and fashion entrepreneur. She is currently focused on her fresh-inspired Healthy Fashion Campaign in conjunction with promoting her upcoming fashion book.

Alyssa is a fashion industry expert with over 15 years of fashion industry experience in a number of roles. Some of these include fashion business, fashion designing, creative directing, styling, merchandising, journalism, fashion retailing, and fashion show production.

Apart from fashion, she has a spiritually driven lifestyle, having previously lived in several ashrams and monasteries. She is currently writing and promoting her upcoming soon-to-be-released fashion book.

The book establishes an alternative, modern approach to clothing; Fashion deemed medicinal. She lives in Weed, CA.

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Earth is a School
By: William Wildblood - Axis Mundi Books, $18.85)

Description: Earth is a School presents the case for the material world as a spiritual school, specifically tailored to develop consciousness and bring the human soul closer to recognition of its divine source.

William Willdblood discusses how our planet serves as a training ground for the soul, with particular reference to the present time as one of decision and a kind of end of term examination. It can be hard to discern spiritual purpose behind the upheavals in many areas of contemporary life, but it is there if one knows how to look.

Verdict: Simply put, if Earth is a school, then there must be teachers all be these so-named teachers many might actually refer to as the ascended masters or gods who have graduated “The Earth School”.

Thus, William Wildblood’s new book Earth is a School vividly presents the case for the material world that we all live and breathe as a “spiritual school”, one specifically tailored to develop consciousness and bring the human soul closer to recognition of its divine source.

In what is a dedicatedly unique and wholly admirable read, Wildblood sets out his spiritual beliefs in a soft-natured, yet always nurturing, calmly tonal language that is all things interesting, engaging, at times derisive, and yet never bland nor uneasy to read.

Discussing along the way how our planet serves as a training ground for the soul, with particular reference to the present time as one of decision and a kind of end of term examination, Wildblood proposes that our apparently imperfect world is actually the ideal instrumental for perfection of human souls!

Furthermore, he suggests that it can be hard to discern spiritual purpose behind the upheavals in many areas of contemporary life, but it is there if one knows how to look.

In closing, Earth is a School delves into the aftermath of the devasting effects that 2020 left us all sheltering from, with Western Christians facing their toughest personal challenges to date.

It asks, amongst many, the question of How can the lone individual survive spiritually, when confronted by a worldwide materialistic bureaucracy determined to impose a system of inverted values?

That alone makes this a literal must-read for all interested parties, let alone all of us that are fearful for the future of not only ourselves, but our relative futures caught within the unheralded current state of urgency therein.

About the Author: William Wildblood was born in London. After a period working as an antiques dealer he left the UK to run a guesthouse in South India, where he stayed for several years. He later ran another guesthouse in France where he was also an occasional guide at the medieval abbey of le Mont Saint-Michel.

He returned to England at the end of the 20th century, working for several BBC magazines including seven years as an antiques columnist. William now lives in Epsom, Surrey, UK.

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A Guide of Spirits: A Psychopomp’s Manual ...
By: Chris Allaun – Moon Books, $16.95)

Description: Learn the magick (yes, that is spelt correct as it pertains to this book, trust me) of energy healing for those on their sacred journey into the land of the ancestors.

A Guide of Spirits teaches us how to guide the dying to the land of the ancestors in a way that is balancing and healing.

It teaches us how to help the person who is transitioning energetically and spiritually prepare for their final journey to the afterlife.

Verdict: Chris Allaun’s book, A Guide of Spirits is not only a truly refreshingly relevant expose, so to speak, on the subject to hand, but the way that he amiably blends the ancient wisdom of mystics with magickal practices of the ancient and modern worlds of magick, has enabled him to bring forth a quite compelling, eye-opening and genuinely cannot-put-down book.

Furthermore, Allaun allows the practitioner interested in exploring the possible calling to work as a psychopomp with framework, context and insight that could only be called “indispensable”.

But like his other masterful books, he makes finding one’s psychopomp teacher, understanding the Underworld, and learning the diverse tapestry of traditions that make up our spiritual practices around death more accessible, and therefore we quickly can become resonant with postmodern magickal practitioners.

Indeed, A Guide of Spirits is a refreshing breath of fresh air for those working with spirits of the dead or thinking about doing so. Both communing with them, but also helping in their transition into the next level of ethereal existence is obviously not an undertaking to be sought out lightly which is why Allaun’s book is a Godsend for all concerned looking for those experiences.

Also, the latter part of that is rarely touched on in any real depth by the experienced sorcerer or spiritualist, especially via the “re-adjusted” other books on the subject matter (as I think we can all attest to), so this especially is what makes this work well here; for it is just so beneficial, not only to the reader, but to the spirits being worked with. That, in and unto itself, makes this tome invaluable.

In closing, Allaun also shows the witch and healer how to escort earthbound spirits to the ancestral lands so they may find healing and rejuvenation which makes this must-have step-by-step ‘How to’ book (to help every witch, healer, and shaman lend comfort and compassion to the dying) one of those perfect holiday stocking stuffers for that one person in your (extended) family that would love you forever for having thought of them in such a caring, and understanding manner!

About the Author: Chris Allaun has been studying witchcraft and magick since 1992. He is one of the founders and ministers of The Fellowship of the Phoenix. He is an initiate of Traditional Witchcraft and the OTO. He is also carries the chanupa, the sacred pipe.

He teaches classes on shamanism, witchcraft, necromancy, and energy healing. He lives in Chicago, IL, USA.

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Kabbalistic Panpsychism
By: Hyman M. Schipper – IFF Books, $20.95)

Description: From a scientific and philosophical point of view, there is arguably no phenomenon as intractable as the origin and nature of consciousness.

This volume provides a comprehensive account of the Kabbalistic understanding of consciousness adduced from ancient Jewish mystical texts and the writings of key sixteenth-twentieth century Kabbalistic and Chassidic luminaries.

Verdict: If there was ever to be someone to talk about this subject matter, as in-depthly and as passionately as one could ever do, Dr. Schipper would always, and rightfully, be at the forefront of that discussion.

Dr. Schipper is a professor of neurology and medicine (Geriatrics) at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, a clinical neurologist at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital and the director of a neuroscience laboratory in the hospital’s affiliated Lady Davis Institute for biomedical research.

His research focuses on degenerative diseases affecting the brain and mind and he is the author of over 200 peer-reviewed papers on these and related topics.

Indeed, Dr. Schipper has long been interested in the interface between contemporary science and the Jewish mystical tradition (Kabbalah) and thus this book, Kabbalistic Panpsychism: The Enigma of Consciousness in Jewish Mystical Thought has always been a given for coming to be, one might say.

Having never personally heard about the theory of cross correlation between the particle-wave paradox and the will-preordained paradox before, and of which itself feels like a remarkable resonance within and unto itself, I found this book all forms of informative, structurally curious, eye-opening, informative, questionable and a whole smorgasbord of other feelings (which makes for a quite wondrous read, I think you’ll agree!).

For all intents and purposes, if you are still on the fence here, given what you yourself might already be spiritually aligned with, Dr. Schipper addresses a conspicuous gap in the literature, solidifying the notion that the primacy of consciousness in nature is far from a new idea, but one that juts back in time through Historical tradition; thus taking both the Kabbalah and science discourse to an entirely new level of conversation.

About the Author: Dr. Schipper is a clinical neurologist and neuroscientist at the Jewish General Hospital (McGill University) in Montreal. His research activities are in the fields of Oxidative Stress, Brain Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases. He has a long-term interest in the interface between contemporary science and the Jewish mystical tradition (Kabbalah). He lives in Montreal, Canada.

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The Gallic Cooking-Pot
By: Marie-José Astre-Démoulin – JHP Business Books, $14.95)

Description: Have you ever imagined that fabulous qualities could be hidden behind the moody exterior of the French? No? Then you have not discovered their full beauty.

It will be revealed to you in this highly entertaining yet informative book. The author, a French national, gives you the vital tools and tips on how to interact with her compatriots, should some situations turn a little ... tense - as they well might!

Verdict: They say that the only risk of putting this book into play is that, after reading it, you will not only appreciate culture, food, wines, and landscapes of France, but you will never again mutter shame about the French. Instead, you will be proclaiming: Vive la Différence!

In this short, just 119 page book, Marie-José explains – briefly sometimes, but yet more indulgently at others - why the world cannot get along with the French! Their reasoning simply equivalates to, as she puts it herself, Just as too much of any ingredient will spoil the taste of a dish, any personality trait used to excess might well spoil a relationship.

In what is obviously a heartfelt, and personal book for the author, they break down the French traits into four parts: 1) The spirit of the French revolution. 2) The age of enlightenment. 3) The logic of Descartes, and 4) Contradiction as an artform.

Then, and whilst giving examples of each of these along with what they term as quick fixes to work around them, this French author of some renowned esteem starts to truly revel in the books reasoning for being: which makes it fast become highly entertaining and at all times informative and educational.

About the Author: Marie-José Astre-Démoulin is a French published author and a conflict management specialist, with 20 years of experience within the United Nations. She also acts as an Expert for cross-cultural communication issues in the Museum of Communication in Bern, Switzerland. She lives in Geneva, Switzerland.

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A Brigit of Ireland Devotional: Sun Among Stars
By: Mael Brigde – Moon Books, $22.95)

Description: She is the gateway to inspiration, the eternal sparkling flame. A Brigit of Ireland Devotional – Sun Among Stars evokes this much-loved Goddess and Saint, drawing on her history, mythology, and traditions, and on the author’s intimate bond with her.

Thoughtful essays, a daily devotional practice, and extensive resources make it a useful reference as well as an inspiring text.

Verdict: Simply put, this book is a veritable must-have for everyone with an appreciation of beautiful poetry, prayer and love for and about Brigid; she as has also been known as Goddess and Saint (along with The Mother of Poetry), and is inspiration to Bards aplenty.

Just immersing yourself within her prose makes life oh-so much more tolerable, understandable, calm, and what’s more you can actually hear her voice speak through these collective poems.

I mean, everything in this new book A Brigit of Ireland Devotional: Sun Among Stars comes under the heading of either being verse, poetic prose, autobiographical, and so much more, and thus it speaks from such a deeply authentic, and spectacularly unique, highly personal viewpoint, which in turn provides a way into the lore and practice of those who are like mindedly devoted. As well as becoming an instant resource for those who have already had long practice in working with Brigit, of course.

A beautifully constructed, artfully created and wholly multifaceted book that is part devotional poetry, part mystical reflection, and part resource, this text belongs on the shelves of all who genuinely read with the heart, as from there such literary works can transcend to the intellect, alerting the aware seeker of the historical and mythical legend simply known as Brigit.

Obviously informed by the author’s years of devotion and study, thus giving it a deep authenticity that other books on her subject have somewhat skated over, A Brigit of Ireland Devotional: Sun Among Stars brings forth the poet’s consoling, empowering, keening, teaching, and singing vocal expressions as if they were being told from a comfy chair, by a roaring fire, alongside your very self, safe and cozy within your own home.

And so I ask you, what better way is there to connect with the goddess of poetry other than through her poetry itself? And, of course, this book is the ultimate reveal, to this juncture, of the beloved Brigit (or perhaps, depends where you come from, Brighid of Kildare), a woman dedicated to her service and creative work for women, children, poets and nuns alike.

About the Author: Mael Brigde is a devotee of the Irish goddess and saint, Brigit, and the founder of the Daughters of the Flame, which has tended Brigit’s perpetual fire since Imbolc 1993. She publishes a general interest Brigit blog, Brigit’s Sparkling Flame, and a Brigit poetry blog, Stone on the Belly.

She teaches courses and webinars on Brigit, including Journey with Brigit, Goddess of Poetry, an intensive class that explores reading and writing poetry as a sacred act. Mael Brigde lives in Vancouver, Canada.

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The Deceptive Brain: Blame, Punishment ...
By: Robert L. Taylor – IFF Books, $17.95)

Description: Preposterous as it sounds, we are not who we seem to be. Not even close. At the heart of this misperception is our deep-seated conviction of free choice. Based on emerging neurobehavioral science findings, The Deceptive Brain makes the case for human experience as a narrative illusion — an executive summary of sorts — that emerges from an incredibly complex brain.

Verdict: Given that The Deceptive Brain drills down on what this aforementioned finding means for the way we blame and punish, and therein presents a bold alternative approach to criminal justice based on blameless responsibility, you won’t be shocked to learn that author Robert L. Taylor, M.D. dives deep into examining how ideas and understandings that deviate from reality are now tantamount to being accepted and spread as truth and beliefs.

After the Preface (where we are told that central to our understanding of human experience is an unswerving conviction in mind that puts us in control and allows us to choose and will our way through life, and yet despite this deep-seated, and wholly universal belief, rigorous attempts to prove it have met with surprising failure), we then get the Introduction (subtitled Waning of Homo Grandiose, and featuring a Mark Twain quote), we then get 11 chapters (albeit the final one is solely Conclusions) that stream through the analyzation of the human cognition systems, how human perception and memory are not perfect, and, in part, how we humans fill in the gaps with our understanding of the world, thus creating a reality that is a combination of sensory input and our preconceptions.

With rational thinking only accounting for a small part of the overall thinking process it seems most of our day-to-day understandings and decisions are driven by an intuitive operation with our brains. Furthermore, the subconscious has tremendous influence in our thinking process where often we reach a conclusion subconsciously and only then, once now residing within the conclusion itself, provide reason and logic to justify the results.

Therefore, we need “meta-thinking,” i.e., self-examination of our thinking process to reduce undesirable bias and misconceptions, I would willing acknowledge and thus within these articulately creative, always thoughtful, never pandering, and yet always steadfast chapters we get titles such as Getting Blame Right, The Devil Made Me Do it and Other Defenses, The Astonishing Illusion, and both Deep Story Telling and the Self and Relocating Evil.

In conclusion, Neurobehavioral science is sending us an unexpected message. As preposterous as it sounds, we are not who we seem to be. Thus our deeply held conviction that we choose our way through life is being seriously challenged and this brand new book - based on relentlessly accumulating evidence – provides evidence that, in time, a radically revised version of criminal justice will be forced. Better it happen sooner than later, I think we can all agree.

About the Author: Robert L. Taylor, M.D. is a psychiatrist who has spent much of his career exploring the relationship between mind and brain. He is the author of six books and has been a consultant to several high-security state prisons and the U.S. Secret Service.

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Bringing God Up to Date
By: John Hunt – Christian Alternative, $20.95)

Description: Religion is an essential part of our humanity. We all follow some form of religion, in the original meaning of the word. But organized religion establishes definitions, boundaries and hierarchies which the founders would be amazed by.

This is perhaps more true of Christianity than most other religions, due to the short life of Jesus, his sudden death, the lack of any contemporary records. His teaching about the kingdom of God is great; it could see us through our time on earth. But his followers watered it down and soon lost it altogether. It became a kingdom in heaven for the few, rather than one here and now for everyone.

The Church, or Churches, that resulted became increasingly irrelevant, even a hindrance, to seeing it realized. Many will always find security and truth in the traditions that developed, and good for them. But for those who can’t, for those who have given up on religion or never thought it worth considering, the original teachings are worth another look.

If we could recover them and live by them, we could change ourselves and the world for the better. We could bring God up to date.

Verdict: In what is an extremely comprehensive book from author John Hunt, Bringing God Up to Date: And Why Christians Need to Catch Up is a 395-page outpouring of thought provoking challenges and epiphanies surrounding the way Hunt believes that the original message of Jesus has thusly been watered down (and, at some levels, even undermined) over the decades.

Most definitely a modern day religious book of some masterful creativity (albeit it one that the author freely admits is a rehash of a couple of books I wrote a couple of decades and more ago, now out of print for a while: Daddy, Do You Believe in Go? And Bringing God Back to earth”), and perhaps (as some have already suggested) a contender for compulsory reading for every budding theologian, the information and personal insight within these pages is strong, adamant, well thought out and presented and never once wanes from its pre-destined and chartered course.

”John Hunt is to liberal theology what Richard Dawkins is to evolutionary biology,” has been said by Christian Marketplace, and that is hard to argue with as the depth of inspirational context here provides a seemingly bottomless well of hope, of religious sustenance that anyone could ever hope for in these most desperate of times we all now face together.

This page-turner of a book (which, as I’m sure you are all aware, is hardly the term one would ever consider using for a religious book of any kind, save for perhaps The Bible, of course, but this one truly is) is profoundly wide ranging in its seven chapters: Why We Believe, How Credible Is Religion?, How We Became Christian, A New Religion?, The Early Christians, The Way Forward and Fanciful Thinking, which makes for a read that not only provides an abundant acreage of information and personal reveal, but shares its hopes and dreams about God and Christians for a better, more rounded informationally, better connected to one another future for all.

About the Author - John Hunt has spent his life in publishing. Semi-retired, he now works as a reader and advisor in his eponymous company, in between writing, sailing and bee-keeping. He lives in Hampshire, in the south of England.

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