A deeply philosophical novel that uses Sufism to examine the nature of humanity and the universe.

UNIVERSAL MYSTERIES

A man in search of answers about life and the universe is visited by an otherworldly being in this novel influenced by Sufism.

Jem, a philosophy teacher, has spent his whole life on a quest for answers. Studying different schools of philosophy and religious teachings, he was always dissatisfied with the so-called answers they offered. Late one night, there’s a knock on the door. Alph, an advanced being with no body, has come to complete his training by studying a human on Earth. The two, along with Jem’s wife, enter into a discourse on the essence of what it means to be human and discuss the great mysteries of the universe. Hulusi uses his novel as a vehicle to explore his own interpretations of Sufism, which mixes traditional concepts with scientific theories. He focuses on teaching his understanding of Sufism rather than constructing a full narrative; the novel has little plot besides the ten visits Alph pays to Jem, who serves as a surrogate for the reader as he embarks on a philosophical journey. As he is challenged by Alph to ponder complex, difficult ideas, so is the reader. At the heart of the novel is the notion that one must escape the earthly body and mind in order to connect to, and be a part of, the universal cosmic consciousness. Controversially, Hulusi posits that there is no one God, but a Universal Intellect that, in essence, we all are a part of. Through the lens of Sufism, concepts such as death and creation, heaven and hell are explored. The author expounds on the idea that one must be open to new knowledge and challenge accepted beliefs. In the end, Alph leaves Jem with more questions than answers. Hulusi’s prose is filled with complex terms and ideas and sometimes reads like a textbook. But his knowledge and understanding of Sufism is thorough and unique.

A deeply philosophical novel that uses Sufism to examine the nature of humanity and the universe.        

Pub Date: April 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615617756

Page Count: 178

Publisher: Universal Mysteries

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2012

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Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

NO REMORSE

Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.

Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.

Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0980806601

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Marq Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2012

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With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the...

OUT OF THE SHADOWS

Tragedy turns into triumph in Carlson’s debut novel about a young woman who regains her self-confidence after multiple losses and years of dejection.

Before readers meet 28-year-old Jamie Shire, she has already hit rock bottom. Jobless, she drinks away her days on her best friend’s couch as she wallows in loneliness. Among Jamie’s troubles: Her mother died when she was a child, the only man she ever loved wouldn’t reciprocate, her unborn daughter died, and she continuously feels rejected by her father and brother. After a chance encounter with a wealthy woman at a coffee shop, Jamie accepts a live-in job researching philanthropic causes at Fallow Springs Estate. Reaching out to the house staff and eventually working with Darfur refugees afford Jamie some valuable context for her own pain; she’s able to gain confidence as she learns to stop fearing rejection and start pursuing her dreams. Throughout the novel, the author skillfully creates mood. In the beginning, when Jamie borders on depression, her emotional touchiness and oversensitivity will create an uneasy feeling in readers. But as Jamie slowly regains confidence, readers will also feel increasingly optimistic. Alongside the main character’s emotional struggle is the struggle faced by Darfur refugees, although this plotline doesn’t advance too far; yet details from Jamie’s trip to the refugee camp in Chad—the types of beer served at the aid workers’ bar or a depiction of a young refugee sitting blank-faced and tied to a pole because he might run away—effectively transport readers to faraway places. Jamie’s story will interest readers, but, with a weak ending, the story leaves many unanswered questions. Who is Jamie’s wealthy employer? Does Jamie’s work in Chad help anyone but herself? And what of the conflict Jamie feels between herself and the refugees, between the haves and the have-nots?

With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the destination.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0984991808

Page Count: 389

Publisher: First Snow Publishing House

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

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