Touching and funny, this paranormal Mary Poppins story requires a big leap of faith.

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HADDIE’S IN OUR CLOSET!

Life takes a supernatural twist when the 150-year-old ghost of an African-American slave follows a family home to Los Angeles.

When Soeder and his family attend his brother-in-law’s wedding at a former plantation home near New Orleans, he encounters more than the usual festivities. Staying in a cottage that was once slave quarters, Soeder comes in contact with the irrepressible Haddie—the 150-year-old ghost of an African-American slave who has haunted the cottage since her death. Haddie can speak to Soeder and read his thoughts, and she promptly makes her opinions felt. Her ability to ice a room, literally, with her disapproval leads to many amusing moments, as do her nonstop questions about a world that she cannot physically touch. Although it may read like fiction, this is, according to the author, a true account. No one else can see or hear Haddie, including Soeder’s wife, Nadine, who accepts this supernatural visitor and seems remarkably unalarmed when Haddie follows the couple and their two young children home to Los Angeles. There, Haddie takes up residence with the family, sleeping in the couple’s closet and caring for their children—which essentially involves putting thoughts in their minds that persuade them to behave. Much of the book follows Haddie’s gleeful discovery of modern technology, from airplanes and alarm clocks to cars and computers. But there are also darker moments, as when she recalls the horrors of slavery and observes the ways in which the world has “grown both better and worse.” Haddie brings a fresh perspective to Soeder’s life, raising intriguing questions about the meaning of life and death. And yet it’s never clear how or why the author feels so at ease with this otherworldly turn of events. His lack of skepticism might make more sense if presented within the context of his previous experiences with the supernatural, described in his other works but only briefly mentioned here. Nevertheless, if you’re willing to suspend disbelief, this is a charmingly quirky ghost story.

Touching and funny, this paranormal Mary Poppins story requires a big leap of faith.

Pub Date: July 19, 2011

ISBN: 978-1463716172

Page Count: 162

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2011

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LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS ON LISTENING TO MAHLER'S NINTH SYMPHONY

Late night thoughts have a foreboding, and thus it is with Thomas: in his third compilation of magazine and newspaper pieces, he saves the title essay for last. It is a foreboding about the bomb and the foolishness of governments. "I am old enough by this time to be used to the notion of dying," he says. Now, hearing the cellos at the end of the Mahler pick up fragments from the first movement, "as though prepared to begin everything all over again," he remarks that he used to hear this as a wonderful few seconds of encouragement. Instead, with a pamphlet on MX-basing in front of him, the cellos "sound in my mind like the opening of all the hatches and the instant before ignition." Several of these essays—including the first, "The Unforgettable Fire"—are eloquent dark statements by a somber Thomas who sees little hope except perhaps from enough people reading the documents and writings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In other essays, of a more familiar sort, Thomas eyes nature with his special vision. A favorite, "On Smell," will appeal to all who have savored autumn leaf bonfires, now succeeded by "great black plastic bags, set out at the curb like wrapped corpses." The range of delights may be gleaned from the titles: "On Alchemy"—about the emergence of the "soft," or behavioral sciences; "Altruism"—some amusing turns on sociobiology. Other pieces of a scientific sort include one on dementia; a personal chronicle of the installation of a pacemaker; and, inevitably, one on language. And there is Thomas' list of the new seven wonders of the world (solicited by the New York Times)—where he has again found a miraculous symbiosis between two distinct species, as well as some very grand wonders indeed. Any Thomas is worth reading. These essays, with their theme and coda on nuclear holocaust, add a note of gravity that is new.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1983

ISBN: 0140243283

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1983

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The Awakening of a Warrior

PAST LIVES OF A NAVY SEAL REMEMBERED

An autobiography of sorts that explores the author’s past lives in several historical time periods.
In his present life, Jaco (The Intuitive Warrior, 2010) is a retired Navy SEAL with an interest in past-life regression. He writes about his past incarnations, ranging from people in important positions in ancient Egypt to inhabitants of the lost continent of Atlantis, focusing not only on who he once was, but what he has learned. Whether sailing with the Argonauts or riding with the Knights of the Templar, he writes that his experiences taught him important lessons in spiritual fulfillment. He represents reincarnation not as a meaningless cycle but as a process for the advancement of one’s soul and for realizing one’s purpose in life: “The way I see it, realizing the divine purpose that is waiting to unfold within us and devotedly allowing that objective to evolve…is the most fulfilling aspect in life we can ever experience.” Aware that many of his statements may seem far-fetched to skeptics, the author maintains a positive tone as he encourages readers to explore their own past life regressions. The fact that such encouragement comes from a former member of an elite military organization will certainly open concepts to readers who might not normally explore them. Whether readers will be interested in some of the more fantastical statements, such as that the pharaohs were “descendants of extraterrestrial races,” will depend greatly on readers’ own preconceptions. It’s unlikely that skeptics will be persuaded that telepathy was a form of communication in the time of Siddhartha, for example, simply because the author says it was. Those who are interested in the ambiguous possibilities of ancient history, however, will find the book worthwhile.

A collection of one man’s past-life experiences that will intrigue readers who believe that ancient history contains much more than we currently understand.

Pub Date: July 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-1497521261

Page Count: 368

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2014

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