Two spiritual travelers set out to uncover one of the greatest mysteries of all time and discover as much about the meaning of life as they do about themselves.

Trying to uncover a deeper meaning in religious texts such as “The Ten Commandments” has led many scholars on an adventure of the soul and mind; after meeting at Paris’ Sorbonne University more than 30 years ago, authors Seraya and Haldane (Angel Signs, 2002) undertook such a quest. In their new book, they use their vast collective expertise to craft a story tracing a linear thread from “The Ten Commandments” across all belief systems, science and metaphysics. The authors are the main characters in the book, along with their guide, a seraph angel named Yeliyael, and a friend of theirs. By sojourning through history and to other galaxies via space-time travel, their adventure leads them to a plateau of greater understanding of humankind. As real-life experts in fields such as philosophy, religion, metaphysics, linguistics and many historical and ancient texts, the authors have a vast reservoir of knowledge from which to create this story. The tale begins as the authors summon the angel to help traverse history, time and space to visit historical sages to guide them on the path of discovery. Meeting up with great philosophical minds such as Moses, Lao Tzu, Buddha, Benjamin Franklin and many others, they receive guidance to decipher the true nature and meaning of “The Ten Commandments,” uncovering a complex series of coded messages in the text that could change the meaning of life as we understand it. In spite of the complex, heady nature of this tome, it makes for a smooth read. Although the basis of the authors’ overarching theories is scholarly in nature, the writing is accessible. Great care is taken to explain certain motifs and topics early on in the story so the reader may follow along easily later. Using their philosophies to uncover plot points is an ingenious method of storytelling, and the tone of the story is always at an even keel. Even when several major revelations are uncovered, the writers' reverence for the subject matter and their historical characters is always managed with great care.  Equal parts Dan Brown and Quantum Leap; an arresting, fun read, even for those with no deeper interest in religion.


Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2011

ISBN: 978-0983710202

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Manakael MasterWorks

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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