The Gnostic Prophecy by Mike Vasich is a mystery thriller with spiritual undertones. The story begins when Dr. Russell Kellar meets with a potential client to appraise an ancient scroll. During the meeting, Kellar realizes that the scroll could contain important religious connotations. After he texts a photo of the writing to his girlfriend, Professor Cerise Davenport, a mysterious being attacks. From that moment, Cerise is embroiled in a deadly mystery. Along the way, she meets an enigmatic little girl who seems to appear and disappear at will and enlists the help of an old friend who has a death wish.
Vasich’s writing is superb. The plot is intriguing, and the characters are interesting. The style and detail in the prose invokes an emotional response to the material. It is easy for the reader to sympathize with the characters and become involved in the action. The book is formatted and edited well, making it easy for the reader to appreciate the prose, the detail, and the story. The cover fits the novel well, using striking colors and images.
Readers will be sucked into this story easily. The mystery is an interesting one, with a variety of different players, all with their own roles to play. Who are the super strong figures that show up every time the scroll is mentioned? Where did the little girl come from? Is Russell still alive? The questions keep popping up, none with ready answers. Even agnostic or atheist readers can enjoy the depth and beauty of this tale.
Many many many Gods of Hinduism by Swami Achutananda is a comprehensive guide about Indian culture, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Achuthananda begins his text with a note to the reader about the importance of asking questions about who we are and why we are here on the planet. He posits that Hinduism is key to addressing these issues as the literature is vast and represents thousands of years of spiritual experiences.
First, Achuthananda addresses key aspects of Indian culture, such as the idea of karma, the life of Buddha, and the relationship between India and Pakistan. For Achuthananda, to understand Hinduism, one must understand the cultural and linguistic background of the religion.
Next, Achuthananda discusses key concepts of the religion itself. He points out the many different scriptures and talks about important symbolism. Mostly, he compares Hinduism with most Western religions to show the differences between the two and to highlight the essence of Hinduism.
Finally, he addresses some controversies in the religion itself. A big one being that some Hindu scripture hints that man created God. While this seems blasphemous to a Westerner, Achuthananda explains that the Hindu concept of God is so hard to wrap one’s head around, that people needed some concrete form of reference—thus the many Gods, which are actually multiple facets of one God.
This text is all-inclusive, interesting, and educational. Anyone who wants to learn about Hinduism should pick up this book, as it is informative about the religion and the culture from which it stems. The one thing that would make this book easier to read would be more concrete examples from the culture and the scriptures. Some of the concepts are hard to understand and examples would help illuminate the ideas.
The Scent of Rain and the Road Home by Dan Solomon charts his life experiences and his spiritual journey up to the present time. He documents some of the traumatizing events in his early life to show that God’s love can help a person overcome and have a fulfilling existence.
Early on, Solomon’s life was full of pain, abuse, and heartache. One of his first memories is being at the funeral of his twin brother and sister. His father drank and gambled, making home life unhappy. His mother finally left when his father broke her arm. On top of all that, the teenage boys in the neighborhood were molesting Dan and all the latchet key kids because their parents had to work to support them and could not be there when they got home from school. Even though things started to get better once they began to attend church, Dan still struggled with anger issues, so much so that, at one point, he stabbed his brother with a knife.
The hardships in Dan’s life continued sporadically during his time in the Reserves and even after marriage, but after he truly gives his life over to God, he is able to deal with them more easily. Solomon tells the reader about his difficult life to illustrate that God’s love can heal all wounds.
Solomon’s memoir is both interesting and inspirational—even to the reader who does not believe in God to the extent that he does. After all of the abuse Dan suffered in his life, he could be bitter and abandon all others. Instead, he uses that hardship to spread love and acceptance. The reader will enjoy learning about how Solomon was able to overcome anger and make his life meaningful by helping others. The only thing lacking is detail and a sense of closure.
Grim by Joseph Spencer definitely lives up to its name: the tale Spencer tells paints a grim picture of murder, suffering, and moral corruption in the town of Prairieville. It begins with Heath Grim awakening naked and covered in blood, performing a bizarre ritual while staring into a mirror at his reflection with demonic eyes. Immediately, the reader knows that the tone of this story will be bleak and terrifying. This terror continues as the scene shifts to Detective Adam White as he investigates a crime scene at Marino State Hospital; the murders are so gruesome that they cause White to vomit…and he has been on the job for over ten years.
Over the next few chapters, the reader gathers the back-story for the main cast of characters. In the town of Prairieville, the Marino crime family used to run the show with The Reaper doing their dirty work. Now, the Black family is in charge, The Reaper is supposedly dead, and the mayor is in Cyrus Black’s pocket. In addition to the seedy deals of Cyrus Black, two years ago gruesome murders started happening again in the same place that The Reaper did his work.
This story raises numerous questions for the reader: who is Heath Grim? Is The Reaper really dead? Are the gruesome murders and Cyrus Black connected or are they two separate evils? In order to answer these questions and more, the reader must continue down the path of terror and suspense to find the truth.
Ultimately, the murders are solved in a period of less than two weeks; the short time frame of the novel adding to the overall suspense. Readers will be amazed at the amount of detail that Spencer uses as he weaves a tale about numerous characters that all have elaborate back-stories. By the end of the novel, the reader questions what he thought he knew as new details are brought to light about past events. Up until the very end, the mystery is maintained as to how all of the murders are related. Grim is for readers who enjoy elaborate stories full of terror and suspense; the mystery is not just about who is committing the murders, but also about the human condition overall – what causes people to develop a taste for blood? Is anyone immune or does every person have their breaking point?