An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence by Barry Spivack and Patricia Saunders

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence” is not your casual mid-afternoon read. It is a thought-provoking and in-depth presentation of a still-controversial topic, Transcendental Meditation (TM). The authors, Barry Spivack MA and Patricia Saunders Ph.D. have created a monumental piece by critically analyzing decades worth of scientific research on the social effects of the practice. After a careful evaluation of evidence, the authors conclude that there is indeed an antidote to violence.

This universal antidote is accessible to all and completely free. While this might sound like oversimplifying a vastly complex and far reaching issue, that is not necessarily so. While researchers have linked group meditation to measurable growth in social welfare (under different forms), they do not consider the TM effect the sole cause of these measures. Rather, they view it as part of a complex web of forces which govern the world and life as we know it, yet, often fall beyond our regular conscious grasp.

To those less familiar with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his teachings, there is ample opportunity to acquaint yourself throughout the pages of the book. Barry Spivack and Patricia Saunders take a peek behind appearances and explore the science behind this elusive phenomenon. They gradually walk the reader through different scientific experiments and statistical analyses of growing complexity to answer a set of questions and consequently ask new ones.

By bringing to the forefront a series of socio-psychological experiments that offer perceivable proof of decrease in violence and increase of social welfare, “An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence” aims to attract the attention of both individuals and governments to this feasible antidote. Organized groups have ventured into volatile war zones to bring outer peace through their inner tranquility. And they seemingly succeeded time and time again.

The authors discuss in-depth the implication of paradigms in the history of ideas, mainly paradigm shifts. Discoveries and systems of thought that did not conform to the mainstream view of the time were often first ostracized before being accepted as groundbreaking leaps. The historical contextualization outlined by the authors acts as a possible explanation of why the TM continues to be met with resistance by so many. It simply does not comply with our modern Occidental view on reality and the self.

An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence” is somewhat similar to a meta-analysis, in that it collects a vast body of academic literature and analyzes the data and results presented. However, it is far from being a sterile statistical account, as it is deeply infused with the passion of the authors. Although starting from different fields (Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and Music respectively), both Barry Spivack’s and Patricia Saunders’ life journeys merge in the blossoming universe of Transcendental Meditation.

Saw the Forest: A Novel by Patrick L. McConnell

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

A read which keeps your heart as invested as your mind, Patrick L. McConnell’s Saw the Forest explores life through a multi-faceted lens, bringing attention to aspects of the human condition, wrapped in layers of emotion and motive through the experiences of life. Presented with a grove of eclectic characters, each on their own life’s journey but whose paths cross in dynamic and life-altering ways.

A deft storyteller, author Patrick L. McConnell, captures the attention quickly with his literate narrative, which features a well-drawn cast of characters, each as interesting as the next to meet, as well as somehow entangled within the same web of a diverse community collective. Moreover, the story divulges uniquely posed aspects of human nature, exemplified through the characters, inclusive of traits like love, bravado, religion, violence, as well as politics. Moreover, skillfully presented amidst relatable interactions which create an interwoven mosaic of human frailty and strengths, making exciting fuel for this evocative, character driven read.

Immediately, this literate, detail focused narrative brings into view the Right family; father, Artemus a doctor, Mother Taniaz, and their sons, Philip and Adam. The brothers are a unique pair, in that, younger brother Adam takes care of his elder brother Philip, who is considerably larger and stronger than him, but his mind is that of a child. As the family dynamic changes over time, after having lost both parents, the pair of brothers live humble lives as adults, still sharing a close bond. Adam, quietly stalwart, socially awkward, even reticent but well-meaning remains his brother’s faithful keeper who at times can become an unintentionally aggressive and intimidating handful.

The Living Room: A Lung Cancer Community of Courage by Bonnie Addario with Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

“It’s not treatable,” one doctor said told Bonnie Addario in 2004.

As you’ll learn in THE LIVING ROOM: A Lung Cancer Community of Courage, though, the book’s author Bonnie Addario is not one to give up. Diagnosed with stage 3B lung cancer at age 55 in 2004, the hard-charging Addario, a genuine force of nature, took on the disease with the moxie and resolve of an underdog boxer facing down the champion in the center of the ring.

The upset she ultimately scored is wondrously chronicled in THE LIVING ROOM, along with the stories of twenty other survivors of advanced stage lung cancer. I plunged into this book figuring it must be more fiction than fact. After all, other than the occasional miracle, no one ever beats lung cancer, right?

Wrong.

As we learn in THE LIVING ROOM, lung cancer has very much become a survivable and manageable disease—not always, but often enough to provide hope where none existed just a few short years ago. But that’s not the only surprise the book offers and not all of them are nearly as positive. Did you know more non-smokers get lung cancer than smokers? How about the fact that many of those non-smokers are under the age of thirty?

Neither did I. THE LIVING ROOM, named after a decade-plus in-person (and now virtual as well) support group Addario started, is a myth-buster of the highest order in that respect. And that’s mostly a good thing, as we get to know the survivors profiled as if they were long-lost friends.

Like Gina Hollenbeck, a not yet forty-year-old and the non-smoking mother of two boys, who looked the picture of health when she walked into the ER holding her X-rays under her arm and had to convince the doctors that something was seriously wrong with her. Or Matt Hiznay, a lifelong nonsmoker was only twenty-four when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Early treatment saved his life. Then there’s Juanita Segura, a 51-year-old healthy eater and active in a training regimen known as CrossFit. The first doctor diagnosed her with asthma and prescribed an inhaler. Then the wheezing turned into a horrible cough. The next doctor had to deliver the news that she had lung cancer.

“Dude,’ she told him, “I don’t even smoke.”

The positive nature of those profiled is truly mind-boggling, making this is the perfect book for someone living with cancer of any kind, not just lung, as well as those close to them—in other words, just about everyone. THE LIVING ROOM is a seminal triumph of storytelling that tugs at our heartstrings even as it brings a smile to our lips with its overriding message of hope over despair and triumph over tragedy. When it comes to books that matter and bear long-lasting relevance accessible to tens of millions, this one is off the charts.

Horde (Zombie Apocalypse: The Chad Halverson Book 6) by Bryan Cassiday

Reviewed by Daniel Ryan Johnson

Horde is clearly a product of the times. It’s a zombie apocalypse book written with a heavy influence from the COVID-19 pandemic. With people worried about things like face masks, quarantining, and social distancing, the zombie apocalypse sounds like an event with which we are all too familiar.

Bryan Cassiday takes on the oft overplayed zombie apocalypse novel. However, he mixes in current events to give the zombie tale a unique twist. He combines everything that this last year brought us. Most of the novel takes place in an encampment in Arizona, where mistrust runs high. The camp is filled with confusion regarding the nature of the plague. There is much debate on whether the zombie plague can be transmitted through spores released through the breath of zombies and if there are symptomless human carriers of the disease.

Horde does not limit its scope of yearly commentary to pandemic-related affairs, however. There is also a president who seems to be losing his grip on reality as he declares himself president for life and begins to nuke cities across the United States in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus. Not to mention, an attempted overthrow of the government by a group of armed vigilantes.

100 Seconds to Midnight: Conversations at a Seminar by Surendra Kumar Sagar

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

100 Seconds to Midnight: Conversations at a Seminar is the latest intriguing and eye-opening book by the often prophetic and always interesting author, Surendra Kumar Sagar. The provocative title references the so-called Doomsday Clock and how close the hands of it have moved towards midnight, the time when Doomsday will supposedly happen and all of mankind will potentially perish.

In 100 Seconds to Midnight, Sagar illustrates how close we have come to midnight and the roles he feels that the Trump administration and the Deep State have played in moving the hands ever closer to the fatal hour through a series of fictitious conversations held by Hollywood and Bollywood actors portraying famous dead intellectual personages such as Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrodinger, Leonardo Da Vinci, Diogenes of Alaska and himself, at a seminar. Though the topics and possible conclusions of the conversations at the seminar are, as the author calls them, “mind exercises,” they are meant to both enlighten the readers of 100 Seconds to Midnight and to urge them to get involved and do whatever they can to help ensure the continuation of intelligent life on Earth.

Kudos to the author for including the topic of COVID-19 in his book, and the ramifications the rampant spread of it and its variants, as well as the fatality rate of the virus, has had upon the entire world. The response that the countries of the world, and the somewhat initial delayed response of the United States, has pushed the hands of the Doomsday Clock somewhat closer to midnight, though it is heartening that vaccines have been invented to combat the disease, and that they are fairly effective against it.

Politically speaking, Surendra Kumar Sagar does not appear to take any side, as far as if he leans more towards Republican or Democrat points of view when it comes to who is more at fault in advancing the hands of the Doomsday Clock. Both sides are at fault, along with the Deep States and political leaders of the other countries of the world. What is more important than who is at fault is what can be done to reverse the trends and actions that have caused the hands to steadily approach Doomsday. While there are numerous disconcerting things that the fictitious versions of famous historical figures discuss in the seminar that Sagar depicts in 100 Seconds to Midnight, the author is not all gloom and doom. There is still a chance to reverse some of the deleterious trends and slow down the Doomsday Clock’s steady ticking towards midnight.

The Unopened Letter: A Dose of Reality Changes a Young Man’s Life Forever by RW Herman

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Richard William Herman was dealing with challenging life situations, which led him to drop out of college and reevaluate his life. Not long afterward, he received a draft notice. The year was 1965 during the Vietnam War Era. Rather than serve his time in the Army, he enlisted in the Navy for a four-year stint. The Unopened Letter is about the experiences that RW Herman went through as a young man who made a commitment to the United States Military at the age of nineteen. Herman attended boot camp in San Diego, California, where he demonstrated an aptitude for leadership. He volunteered to be the company yeoman and excelled at the job. After successfully graduating from basic training, Herman received his orders and found out he would be going to school for training as a radioman. At the end of training, Herman attained the rank of Radioman Seaman (RMSN) and was ordered to report for duty on the naval vessel USS Cambria stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. While serving his tour of duty, Herman became a tremendous asset in the communications division and got quick promotions. Although Herman never saw combat, he not only participated in a number of training exercises that prepared Marines for deployment to Vietnam, but he also experienced historical moments and life-changing events.

Lines in the Sand: An American Soldier’s Journey in Iraq by F. Scott Service

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

F. Scott Service extends an open invitation to step into the mind of a soldier at war. “Lines in the Sand: An American Soldier’s Journey in Iraq” is based on the journal entries kept during the author’s service in Iraq. It offers a unique and very intimate look into the thoughts and emotions brought on by a world falling apart.

The memoir was triggered by F. Scott Service being deployed with the US Army to the Iraq war. He was stationed at Camp Anaconda, where he served as a specialist in hydraulics mechanic, mainly focusing on repairing helicopters. At camp all daily activities are strictly regimented by the greater power of the US Army. The few days off that soldiers enjoy offer very limited display of freedom. However, in parallel, he followed his calling and passion as a writer, tirelessly documenting the daily life of a soldier.

A recurring theme of the book is the concept of conscientious objector and its repercussions. Scott is faced with this questions once at the beginning of his story and once towards the end. Each time the answer would be a major turning point for future events. However, what is truly intriguing to follow is what happens in the meantime; how his experience of war consolidates his theories and belief system. During his deployment, F. Scott Service faced an internal war of his own. Relentlessly he tried to reason with the seemingly unreasonable Iraq War, hoping to attribute some meaning to complete chaos.

Araya by E. Detorres

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

An elite team of Gundogs has been trained by Ellis Fast to hunt down and kill Gluttons for their armor. Gluttons are the deadliest and most ferocious creatures in Hell’s Heart, a Black Forest filled with trees that can influence people through music and lyrics and cause them to lose their sanity. While on a mission, one of the team members is killed in a particularly heinous way by a Glutton. The remaining members make the trek out of the forest before they lose touch with reality. After returning to their mountain abode, they are hired to retrieve an asset that the military believes could change the tide of an ongoing war, and the secretive weapon is located deep in the Black Forest. Ellis along with team members Alex Bright and Smug embark on a mission fraught with threats from sadistic creatures that live in the forest, the trees that invade people’s minds and cause horrifying reactions in behavior against themselves and/or others, and soldiers from warring factions. Will the team find the asset and make it out of the forest to safety or will they succumb to the call of the trees and/or be killed by the minacious life forms before they can complete their mission?

Playing Soldier by F. Scott Service

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Playing Soldier” is a raw and masterfully written memoir by F. Scott Service. The book is dedicated to the personal experience of war. The author starts with the motivation that may lead someone to participate, takes us through a fragment of war, and ending his tale with the aftermath.
Our journey along Scott starts at the very beginning with his childhood. He was raised in a loving home, but not a perfect home. An only child, he finds refuge from daily life in fiction and play. One day he finds the old field jacket of his father which sparks a new narrative for him, playing soldier. Dressed up in his father’s jacket and armed with a BB gun, he shares the battlefield with the neighborhood kids. School fails to hold Scott’s attention; he would rather continue to explore the many worlds of fiction. He was dreaming of becoming a literary world-builder himself but was repeatedly pulled toward more practical career alternatives.

The next stage of his life slowly ushers in and Scott marries his college sweetheart, Rita with whom he raises Spazzy, their beloved cat. Hand in hand they were slowly building their future together. But the sparkly surface blinds Scott from a dark truth that lurks in the corner of his consciousness as there is no substance to this projection of life together. The I became lost in us, or just in her. So, when offered the chance to join the National Guard, Scott, with his wife’s blessing, decides to follow his inner child’s call to adventure. The military still has an almost magical hold on him; it is shrouded in romanticism and thrill. What is more, the recruiter also flaunts the perspective of good pay and better employment opportunities.

Fade Away (Myron Bolitar Novel) by Harlan Coben

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Myron Bolitar has been one of the main characters in several of Coben’s books and in Fade Away he again comes to the forefront. The last team Bolitar played for (he is/was a pro basketball player) was the New Jersey Dragons owned by Clip Arnstein. Clip now has called Myron and asked him to not only find Greg Downing, a top Dragon player, but he also wants Myron to rejoin the team in Greg’s spot. Myron had never actually gotten to play in any regular season games due to his injury.

Strangely enough Greg was the cause of Myron’s severe injury which caused him to quit playing. But now Greg is missing and Clip needs help. He feels Myron as an investigator could be a help in finding Greg but also help as a former player returning to the court. Myron decides to give it a shot although he is very leery of his ability due to the injury.

Hit the Road Jack by Willow Rose

Reviewed by Allen Hott

I thought that this was a follow up to Slip out the Back by the same author and it was. BUT it was not a good follow up. It is a terrible book all the way through. It had high spots and I thought I would keep at it but overall it was not a good read.

It was about Jack who is raising his kids with the help of his parents who own a motel right next to Jack’s house. He is a detective and is searching for someone who is killing women he assumes. Sometimes he finds bodies and sometimes not. But all the women turn out to be women who have lived their lives having affairs with men all around.

The book is too long, too many characters, and has too many loose ends.

Overall it is just a poorly written book as far as I am concerned.

Blue Moon: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child

Reviewed by Allen Hott

By now if you have read Jack Reacher stories by Lee Child you are aware of how they start out. Reacher is traveling (always) and going nowhere in particular but he doesn’t want to stay in any one place very long. As a retired military police officer he feels he has seen the world in that capacity and so now
he wants to see it as an individual. Never travels with someone, always alone, and never really trying to get somewhere in particular. He just likes to move around, meet people and see different locations.

It turns out that the area where Reacher ended up on this bus ride was a municipality that basically was split in two halves. One half was run by the Ukrainians and the other by Albanians. Each leader kept control over his area and didn’t mess at all in the opposite area. About the time Reacher got there it appears that there is about to be a blow-up of some type between the two groups but no one knows exactly why. And Reacher is completely unaware of the situation for the time being.

The Last Agent (Charles Jenkins Book 2) by Robert Dugoni

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Robert Dugoni is a good author and in The Last Agent he has continued (I would not say completed) the ongoing story of Charles Jenkins, former CIA agent. Jenkins is the type of person who accomplishes much but he does always seem to rely on others to give him lots of help. This story pretty much shows how Jenkins though retired and now living at home with his family, cannot stop returning those previous favors. A current CIA supervisor shows up at Jenkins’ door and after several conversations about the CIA and Russia the agent drops a bomb! Literally not figuratively. He explains that a Russian woman who worked with seven other women for the United States as spies in Russia is still alive and imprisoned by the Russians.The name of the woman. Paulina Ponomayova immediately gets Jenkins’ attention. Paulina is the person who helped Jenkins escape from Russia years ago.

Jenkins thought so much of Paulina and her assistance that he named his daughter after her. The thought of her now being held in isolation in Russia very much disturbs him. With the consent of his wife and her prayers Jenkins with help from the CI A heads back into Russia to see how he can somehow get Paulina out of isolation and to the United States or the free world. To make this work Jenkins begins not only working with the CIA but also certain Russians that he had known and worked with while over there. One of them is Viktor Federov who at one time was Jenkins’ arch enemy.

Widowmaker: A Novel (Mike Bowditch Mysteries Book 7) by Paul Dorion

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Mike Bowditch, a Maine game warden, notices an automobile pull up and park opposite his house which is pretty well tucked away in the deep outskirts of an off the road town named Sebago. Even though at first he is somewhat confused by why the driver parked there he becomes much more confused after her goes out to the car. At first the woman driving kind of puts off telling him why she is there by saying she needs to use a restroom.

But when she does actually begin talking sense to Mike she explains that she, Amber Langstrom, had some years ago had an affair with Mike’s father. Mike could believe this because he and his father never got along due to his father’s style of living. Now however she is looking for Adam Langstrom the son that came from that affair.

It seems that Adam is missing and his mother is hopeful that Mike will be willing to help find the person who appears to be his half-brother. As she explains more of the story it turns out that Adam had been sent to a minimum security prison for having sex with a fifteen year old girl when he was 18. He has since been released but she cannot find him as he has basically not only hidden from her but is probably living with the girl in some unknown hideaway.

She pleads with Mike to hunt for him and help her straighten Adam out since they are related (according to her). Mike explains that he cannot do anything full time since his work as a game warden more than keeps him busy especially in the severe winter that Maine is suffering. He does say that he will ask around and keep his eyes/ears open for possible information.

After Mike gets back to work and talks with his girlfriend, Stacey, it seems that Stacey thinks he should do more to help find his half-brother. However at about the same time Mike gets very involved not only with helping folks out with problems due to the terrific winter but he also gets word that a wolf has been spotted. Supposedly there are no wolves in Maine as they have been pretty well eliminated and are outlawed due to their demeanor and effect on other wild life. Turns out that Mike pretty well adopts the wolf that he went to check on since Shadow, the wolf, became very friendly with Mike.

That part of the story goes on while Mike now gets involved with other problems. These problems occur in the extremely mountainous wilderness of Maine. And they involve sexual predators who are actually living in a colony that is tucked away in the woods. However there are also vigilante-type folks

who want no part of the predators and work to not only keep them contained but also hopefully eradicated.

While Mike is doing all of his work around Widowmaker (the name of not only a monstrous mountain that is always covered in deep snow drifts but also a small town in the area), things get very involved with the predator squabble. And all of this goes on while Stacey has gotten herself quite mixed up in her daily life while working at her government job.

Overall a great read with lots of various plots, various characters, and some really great descriptions of what winter/snow is like in Maine. Doiron continues to write well with Bowditch as his main character who is always involved in various happenings!

This is How I Save My Life: A Lyme Disease Memoir by Amy B. Scher

Reviewed by Carol Smith

Summary

Amy Scher’s body and soul are wracked by the ruthless repercussions inflicted from late-stage Lyme Disease. Countless medications rule her daily regimen. Visits to renowned medical institutions such as the Mayo Clinic have proved futile. She is 28 years of age and has suffered for the past 7 years. She is blessed with loving, supportive parents.

Amy has arrived in Delhi, India inspired and reeling with high hopes for the stem cell treatment she is about to receive. Her dedicated parents accompany her. In Delhi, India, she meets the infamous Dr. Schroff. Amy is educated by Dr. Schroll on the complex system of embryonic stem cells. The discourse provided in this Memoir about Stem Cell treatment is delicate and beyond fascinating. Scher creates a simple code of syntax making reading pleasant and easy.

The physician administering the first dose of stem cells introduces a philosophy of awareness in the field of healing. Amy’s mind and spirit will play a vital role in the treatment. After the injection, Amy embraces the new cells in her body like a long lost lover.

The treatment experience in itself is invigorating her mental status. She is engrossed in a state of acceptance and alive with hope. Her physicians are very supportive and encourage her to nourish the stem cells with positive thoughts. The finality is rewarding.

Review

This Is How I Save My Life” by Amy B. Scher is a journey of self-discovery and our own healing power.

Her exposition is well written and creative with a smooth flow. It is a worthwhile read for folks suffering from pain or emotional illness, or just plain healthy people. Amy Scher writes about the threads and themes in her life with deep intensity from the onset of contacting Lyme’s Disease to the end of her journey.

I thought her diction was fitting for this type of memoir. She uses warm and sincere words that describe her innermost feelings. She tells us how to persevere and stay alive in the midst of suffering. Her journey of suffering and treatment teach her that life is about dealing with the pitfalls that are handed to us innocently or by our own misgivings. She shares with the reader how she learned to repair brokenness, plan new avenues, and rebuild the damage caused by the hurricanes of life just as the “stem cells” rebuild damaged nerve, tissue, and muscle.

Scher uses a hyperbole to illuminate her fight with Lyme Disease as she states “it is like climbing Mt. Everest, except your hiking boots are flip-flops and your flip-flops are broken”.

Toward the middle of her memoir, she is unmasked and shares an intimate experience with her readers; a reversal of character has developed, and she has fully embraced this change.

In her memoir, we are informed that her journey to Delhi, India for stem cell treatment inspired dozens of Lyme patients to follow in her footsteps. Her brave and bold adventure opened up a stepping stone of hope for others.

The stem cell treatment seems to be working; however, she is revisited with Medical problems that existed prior to contact with Lyme’s Disease.

The denouement is described as an act of further soul searching that opens up a new avenue of thought that empowers Amy. In an illuminated state of mental consciousness, Scher musters up a self-will that gives her the strength to conquer every fiber of her body. She begins to heal and enjoy a new life journey of health free from suffering.

The Assassin’s Trail by J.C. Fields

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Although this one is pretty long and has an abundance of characters The Assassin’s Trail is a very good read. It moves along pretty well and tells a story that, sad to say, could turn into a true happening in our world today.

As the title states there are assassinations and attempted assassinations throughout the story. However they basically are all somewhat a camouflage procedure to hide the real catastrophic event that is the end plan of those who are making the efforts.

Sean Kruger, a FBI special profiler, is called in by the time the second assassination occurs. He has a long excellent record with the FBI and those in charge feel it is necessary to get him involved to sort through all the events.

Strangely enough even though he is probably the top profiler at the FBI he is very dissatisfied with his job and his life. He has been doing it for over twenty five years and feels that there definitely is too much bureaucracy and politics going on over his head. Although not quite that old he has pretty much decided that he will be retiring soon and moving on to a marriage with a lady that he has been with for a number of years.

Kruger has a friend, JR Diminski, a computer genius, and the two of them work very well together. As the two of them begin doing their jobs to collect needed information, the assassin strikes again and this time in Kansas City. Kruger with the help of JR believe they have the culprit identified and Kruger goes to Alabama to arrest him.

And here is where the story gets involved. Everything goes wrong due to politics and mismanaging. Kruger however, even though he was told to wait, goes ahead with the arrest. When the whole situation explodes Kruger gets suspended by the FBI Director.

Working with JR and no help from the FBI Kruger continues to move ahead with his theory and plan. He is still after this assassin who it seems turns out to have much more than just assassination of several individuals but a major plot to do tremendous damage to the United States.

Kruger and JR manage to slow down the plot and actually disrupt it but there are still some horrendous happenings that occur. How all of this turns out and exactly what happens to the country, the FBI, and especially to Kruger and his future is what finalizes this story. Rather than give you all the final details I strongly suggest you obtain and read The Assassin’s Trail. You will not be sorry!