Category Archives: Religion/Spirituality

The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life: Two Survivors Reveal the 13 Golden Pearls They’ve Discovered by Dr. Allen Lycka and Harriet Tinka

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life by Dr. Allen Lycka and Harriet Tinka is a very inspirational and thought-provoking book written by two people who lived through extremely traumatic and trying experiences. The authors learned from those experiences and grew to understand that they did not have to allow what happened to them to influence the rest of their lives negatively. Instead, they both chose to move on and have successful careers and happy lives, and decided to collaborate and write a book to help others also live “fantastic lives.”

The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life is subtitled “Two Survivors Reveal the 13 Golden Pearls They’ve Discovered.” Those “golden pearls,” or life lessons, aided them to get past the traumatic events in their lives and to move on. The self-help book that they wrote, detailing what those 13 golden pearls are, is full of revelations that the authors hope will inspire readers of the book. The negative things that everybody experiences in their lives, to one extent or the other, do not have to define who we are as people.

I really liked it that Dr. Allen Lycka and Harriet Tinka opened up in The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life and revealed the nature of the traumatic experiences they went through. Dr. Lycka was diagnosed as having Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) and he was told he only had six months to live. Harriet Tinka was a fashion model and a Woman of Distinction who lived through the terror of being kidnapped by someone she knew, stabbed by the man, and left for dead. Dr. Lycka and Harriet Tinka could have let these things embitter them and alter the course of their lives and careers for the worse. Instead, they moved on, grew, and didn’t let the negative things they went through define them.

What are the 13 golden pearls that the authors discovered and relate to their readers in The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life? Being an author myself, I don’t want to reveal too many “spoilers.” I’d rather that potential readers of the book get the pleasure of checking out what the pearls are on their own, by reading Dr. Lycka and Harriet Tinka’s book. They reveal what the pearls are in a captivating and entertaining manner by both telling stories from their own lives and also by utilizing a myriad of quotes from famous authors like Ralph Waldo Emerson and celebrities like Sir Paul McCartney, Christopher Reeve, and Bruce Lee.

I will mention a couple of the pearls that I loved reading about the most, though, and those are the importance of forgiveness and laughter. I will talk more about a few of the other pearls with Dr. Lycka and Harriet Tinka in an interview that they graciously agreed to do with me, which can be read elsewhere at this same site.

Acts of Faith: Part 1 of The Inquisition Trilogy by Martin Elsant

Reviewed by Ray Palen

The British Jewish historian Cecil Roth, who was educated at Oxford, wrote a book that was of special interest to author Martin Elsant. The book was entitled History Of the Marranos and of the many figures covered in it was one Diego Lopes of Pinancos in Coimbra, Portugal. Ironically, Mr. Elsant is a former radiologist living in Jerusalem and Mr. Roth died in Jerusalem in the year 1970.

While much of ACTS OF FAITH is dedicated to the descendants of Diego Lopes, Martin Elsant includes two quotes prior to his Author’s Notes from different sources. One in particular I found quite interesting: “Folded under the dark wing of the Inquisition…the influence of an eye that never slumbered, of an unseen arm ever raised to strike. How could there be freedom of thought, where there was no freedom of utterance? Or freedom of utterance, where it was as dangerous to say too little as too much? Freedom cannot go along with fear.” – William H. Prescott, The Age of Phillip II and the Supremacy of the Spanish Empire, 1858.

It is easy to pick up a history book or click on Wikipedia to find out about Diego Lopes. I prefer, whenever possible, to read historical fiction — an infusion of actual history within the opportunities that allow for creativity when re-examining historical events. I believe that this is what Martin Elsant is doing with ACTS OF FAITH, retelling historical events during one of the most difficult times in human and religious history — The Inquisitions — in such a way that it feels as if the reader is enjoying a book of fiction, filled with all the expected plot twists and turns.

Power to the Papal: Exposing Public Enemy #1, the Red Diamond, and Churchx by Ilise Sorele

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Power to the PapalIlise Sorele’s book Power to the Papal is dedicated by the author herself to all the truth seekers from around the world. Falling into the category of religion and conspiracy theories, it could actually be a treat to anyone who is interested in either of these topics. This book is the result of 10 years of Bible research which eventually lead to a coherent personal line of thought that remains strong throughout the pages.

The book covers the coming of the end times, as deciphered from the Bible. While systematically going through the prophecies, the author does not only present her interpretation of the events, but also showcases paragraphs of the original text. Above all else, we are warned by the peril posed by the rise of Papal Rome. In this context, the author turns a hopeful eye towards ChurchX, identified as the true church of our times and of times to come. However, she uncovers aspects well hidden by members which contradict the goal and doctrine on which the religious foundations were built. Confrontation with a harsh truth can often bring on an awakening which was also the case here. Driven by a desire to move closer to the truth and salvation, Ilise Sorele dwells deep into the realm of prophecies.

Chanting the Feminine Down by James C. McCullagh with Roy McCullagh

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Chanting the Feminine DownOddly enough, when an author subtitles his book it is often more about the author then the book. However, McCullaugh here declares this to be a “Psychological, Religious and Historical Novel,” he is not being disingenuous.

This story is well researched and well documented. It is a tribute to the author’s dedication and abilities in research and correlation of large amounts of data and information. The author provides source references and other interesting information at his website, Chanting the Feminine Down.

Exhumation: An Epic of Existentia (Acts of the Sojourner Book 1) by S. A. Chapman

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Exhumation – Acts of the Sojourner – Act 1, An Epic of Existentia Chapman is writing an epic series about a mystical land of creatures, humans and many beings in between. The premise is worked out in the Act 1 of the Acts of the Sojourner.

Pious is an officer and head of the organization that provides some of the warriors for one group of the large city, Sanctuary. Act 1 is apparently all about his adventures as he sees his life changed from one of order and structure to one of chaos, trouble and loss.

Sanctuary’s politics are very subtle, stressed and with many machinations going on in all levels of existence for the people who abide there. There are Four Focal Towers that rise above Sanctum the center of Sanctuary. There are many factions, many of which are basically at war with each other in and outside of the houses of government and throughout the districts of this city.
There are numerous maps, illustrations and sayings that flesh out a campaign environment. All of the action and plots come from almost random directions. The plots interweave and twist and turn without apparent guidance. This goes on throughout the book and this is the first Act. There can only be a sense of wonder at the imagination that spawns such a complex and convoluted tale.

Mock My Words by Chandra Shekhar

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Mock My WordsMock My Words is comprised of three storylines. Each one of them is interconnected with a plot that involves a renowned author by the name of David Tan, who left China to live in the United States. The main storyline not only revolves around David’s struggles and challenges as a new teacher at John Steinbeck University in Northern California, but also portrays the stress and anxiety that David experiences while trying to survive a rough patch in his marriage. The secondary storylines involve David’s wife, Laura, and Melissa, a student at the university.

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David is worried and nervous about whether or not the students in his writing course will accept and respect him. This dilemma is due to the disconnect between his writing and his speaking. Although David writes beautiful prose, he speaks English very poorly, which makes it difficult to communicate with people. Even though he wants to share his love of classical literature with his students, they are ill-mannered and rude towards him. It does not get any easier for him when some of his colleagues rebuff him. In addition to work issues, whenever David is at home, he always feels that he has to tread carefully around his wife’s feelings in order not to upset her and possibly ruin any chances at intimacy.

Timeless Travels: Tales of Mystery, Intrigue, Humor, and Enchantment by Joseph Rotenberg


Timeless TravelsWho is today’s American Jew? Joseph Rotenberg styles himself as a modern-day maggid (traditional Jewish storyteller), weaving tales from the everyday to the fantastic, each one bringing the reader a slice of the American Jewish experience. Just as Sholem Aleichem did more than a hundred years ago in his famous stories describing Russian Jewish life, these tales inform and entertain by uncovering little-known events and personalities that have impacted the American Jewish world. In the 1950s, the late Harry Golden, in his popular collections Only in America and For Two Cents Plain, introduced Jewish culture to many non-Jewish Americans. Joseph Rotenberg’s work updates that vision to depict the contemporary, modern American Jew who is today increasingly as much at home in the halls of the Ivy League, the corridors of power in Washington, the corporate boardroom, and the theater as he is in the beit midrash and the synagogue. You’ll laugh, cry, and wonder as you travel through Joseph Rotenberg’s incisive and at times laugh-outloud funny collection of tales.

Timeless Travels is a fascinating and thought-provoking account of the experiences and travels of Jewish people throughout history, by the talented author, Joseph Rotenberg. Timeless Travels will appeal to readers of all ages. I highly recommend this page-turning collection of short stories.”

Douglas R. Cobb – Reviewer for Bestsellersworld.com

A Tempered Faith: Rediscovering Hope in the Ashes of Loss by Jennifer Sands

Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

A Tempered FaithThere are so many stories regarding the events of September 11, 2001. Some are told by the family members who lost loved ones on this day and others are told by the survivors. The stories are very sad; but, at the same time, they are all unique and very intriguing. It’s difficult to imagine what the relatives and friends of people who were killed on September 11 went through at the time and for the years that followed this terrible assault on America.

Jennifer Sands tells us her personal story. She met her soul mate, Jim, through a dating service. The two were surprised that they went to the same school, lived in the same town, etc. but never met each other. They got married. Jennifer worked as a pharmacist and Jim worked for Cantor Fitzgerald at the World Trade Center. They enjoyed a few short, wonderful years together. They both had a love for Scuba diving in the Cayman Islands.

The Atheist and the Parrotfish by Richard Barager

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

The Atheist and the ParrotfishThere is nothing common with this novel. The characters are introduced and developed throughout the story because they change from what they were at the beginning into what they become at the end of the tale.

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Cullen Brodie is an accomplished and successful nephrologist. He has spent his life working to save people’s lives when their kidneys fail. He has helped hundreds of patients to live longer and also found replacement kidneys for many of those patients. He now encounters a specific patient that he has never encountered.

Thomas Lawson is the chaplain in the hospital where Cullen practices.

There is a problem with these two, because Cullen is an avowed active atheist. He is good at what he does and doesn’t believe that God is involved at all in the process.

Now comes into Ennis Willoughby. He is a patient doing dialysis regularly to prolong his life until, if and only if, a donor is found. He is 63 years old. He is a crossdressing transgender male trying to identify and reconcile with the female that lives within him all the time. Initially, he was considered ineligible for transplant because of psychological difficulties. But after counselling he is reconsidered.

The Proof That God Exists: The Solution to a Puzzle Spread through Sciences and Other Disciplines of Human Knowledge by Mauricio Mediano

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

The Proof That God ExistsThe Proof That God Exists by the highly talented author and scientist, Mauricio Riguette Mediano, Ph.D., takes a look at scientific evidence and explains in a way that laymen can easily understand that science can be used as evidence to prove the existence of God. Mediano organizes the book, subtitled “The solution of a puzzle spread through sciences and other disciplines of human knowledge,” into short, succinct chapters summing up the proof offered by various scientific disciplines that explains how the creation of intelligent life on Earth cannot be chalked up to simple coincidence. There must, Mediano argues, be a Creator, a God, behind science and behind the creation of humans on our planet.

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Everything involved in establishing the extremely specific conditions under which intelligent life can evolve and be created in the first place makes it almost impossible that it could happen without there being a God involved. Mediano makes the case that the conditions intelligent life occurred on Earth are unique, and he uses science to establish that the likelihood these specific conditions could have occurred anywhere else is very slim.