Reign: A Guide to Ruling Your Inner Kingdom of Self with Grace, Power, and Authenticity

“Archetypes in Action”

A Review by Joey Madia

Let’s face it. There are more books available about developing the self through spiritual disciplines than any one person could ever hope to read in a lifetime, with more being published every day. In these times of crisis, I have read and reviewed several good books on this important subject, and each has a little something to offer to this popular and ancient genre, although, at their core, much is just a repeat.

And when you think of the luminaries in the field, including my favorites—Brené Brown, Wayne Dyer, Joseph Campbell, Caroline Myss, Joe Dispenza, Ram Dass, Elizabeth Gilbert, Gay Hendricks—one again has to wonder if it’s all been said already, and better than anyone else could ever hope to say it.

In partial answer to these challenges, I suggest you read (and actively work with) Mary Krygiel’s Reign. When you do, you’ll see that perhaps the best books—or at least, the most compelling and helpful for our times—are still being written.

To begin with, the subtitle contains two concepts—Authenticity and Grace—that I hold to be the core practices of a life well lived. I actively work with them every day.

As to the author, Mary Krygiel is “a board-certified, licensed acupuncturist, classically trained in the Law of Five Elements.” This background, coupled with core Taoist principles (e.g., “work with the flow of nature’s transformations rather than against it”) make her wonderfully well-suited to the framework within which she works. Continue reading

Haunted Queen of the Seas: The Living Legend of the RMS Queen Mary

“A Truly Haunted Vessel”

A Review by Joey Madia

As much as I enjoy writing book reviews, some are more special than others. Not only is this my two-hundredth; it’s on a subject near and dear to my heart—the art and craft of paranormal investigation. Factor in the additional aspect of it celebrating one of the most haunted places in the world—meticulously and dare I say lovingly documented by a true professional in our field—and this review is very special indeed.

Keeping in mind that this is book one of a trilogy that Strickland has written over the past decade about the Queen Mary, and that she is a frequent walker among Mary’s hallowed and haunted passageways and decks, it’s hard to do the length and breadth of Strickland’s work justice in a two-page review, so I’ve decided to highlight the methodology of the book, which overlaps with best practice for any long-term investigation of a haunted place, such as the two-year exploration of the Webb Memorial Library my wife Tonya and I undertook from 2016 to 2018, which also culminated in a book.

As Strickland often reminds us, hauntings are tied to place—be it land, a building, or a luxury liner. With this truism in mind, the author treats the reader to the history of the ship, from her builder, Cunard, to her sister ships; to her careful design and construction; to her impressive history in times of war and peace. This is essential reading to have proper context for the stories behind the hauntings she reports later in the book—experiences that are both her own and others’ (an essential mix when looking for parallels and patterns and evaluating anecdotal evidence). The scholarship’s impressive and the details rich (the final part of the book provides lists of famous passengers, ship captains, number and roles of the crew, room lists, and other details for the reader wanting to go deeper). Strickland has an energetic narrative style that keeps the pages turning as she unfolds the history of this mammoth of the sea in the prewar and war years of the 1930s and 1940s. If you love films, TV shows, and documentaries about the fabled Titanic, this book will open up for you a whole new window into the luxury liner industry. Continue reading

Nothing Good Happens After Midnight

“Once the Clock Strikes 12”

A Review by Joey Madia

Anthologies are a lifeblood of the publishing industry. At any given time, I’m usually reading at least one. They are a great way to explore a certain genre (in this case, Thrillers) or to learn about new authors whose works you might enjoy.

Author–editor Jeffery Deaver has assembled a notable group of writers whose accolades as far as bestseller lists, awards, number of different languages in print, and sheer productivity most likely equal any current anthology’s on the market, and there’s plenty to highlight among the dozen stories in this brand-new collection, so let’s dive in.

Editor Deaver eases the reader into an eclectic mix of stories with one that treads along a tried and true trope of this genre: serial killers. [Subsequent stories also use this and other tropes: teen pranks turned bad; murderous rampages in snow storms, ala The Shining (notice the title of the anthology echoes King’s Four Past Midnight); and grizzled PIs with a heart.] The cleverly named Stephen Raye Vaughn (“no relation to the famed musician”) is readying to be executed as midnight fast approaches—having ensured his legacy in the annals of agents of big body count through his son. The author, Alan Jacobson, “spent over twenty-five years working with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, the DEA, the US Marshals Service, SWAT, the NYPD, Scotland Yard, local law enforcement, and the US military,” which shows in the details of his tale.

Tale number two, “Cell Phone Intolerant,” by Kevin O’Brien, is a fun “if only I could exact my revenge…” romp through a cantankerous inventor’s seeking of justice for all of us who have suffered the sights and sounds of a rude cell phone user as we go about our day—in grocery stores, public restrooms, on buses, and in traffic. A line from this engaging cautionary tale provides the title for the collection. Continue reading

“For the Page as well as the Stage, #3”

A review by Joey Madia

There’s nothing like a pandemic to adjust one’s perspective and beckon new ways of being.

Since April, I’ve added a few select, exquisitely written and constructed plays to my review list. All have been solicitations from the playwrights. Having a theatre company that is indefinitely mothballed as far as presenting plays for live audiences and being a playwright myself, I have great sympathy for these works without a home, without a mechanism to reach an audience, as well as for their creators.

So I am doing what I can to make a case that certain plays can offer almost as much to a reader as they can to an audience. After all, that is how good plays get produced… they are read by a dramaturg, director, or producer and, if the strength of their vision, the weight of their words, the complexity and authenticity of their characters, and the energy of their narrative are sufficiently compelling, the playwright’s work is lifted off of the page and onto the stage.

A reader can do this work of engaged, discerning reading just as well as most directors or producers because all you need is inherently already there. Continue reading

Falling Open in a World Falling Apart

“Growing Beyond the Practice”

A review by Joey Madia

As I type this review—my 198th—I do so in the midst of an America (and a world) in crisis. We are in day three of a contested, contentious election. England has locked back down for at least a month, and people were leaving Paris in droves ahead of a second lockdown because the pandemic is once again spreading at alarming, and in some places unmitigated, rates.

Colleagues, clients, and just about everyone I talk with feel a Pressure. A dark, invasive Cloud of Worry, Fear, and Stress.

We don’t yet understand the extent to which the world has changed in the past seven months. Let’s start with the hundreds of thousands dead, and those who have survived COVID-19 but will live with its effects for the rest of their (potentially shortened or diminished) lives. How about the many industries, businesses, and livelihoods that have been irreparably damaged or people displaced from their homes? How many twenty-somethings have moved back in with their parents, their lives put on hold, as have our son and his closest friend?

We must have something New. New Voices and Visions. New Stories. The stakeholders of the current Systems, which are slowly bleeding out and dying, are screaming out their stories through a handful of International Multimedia Companies and massive manipulation. Continue reading