“An Innovative Twist on Epic History”

Review by Joey Madia

It’s always interesting to read the end of a main character’s arc, rather than its start (David Chase’s The Sopranos). We meet in Immortal Alexandros an Alexander the Great whose cumulative battle wounds (including numerous blows to the head) lead him to paranoia, violence with staff, and a relentless march to the Mediterranean over seven years. As age, disease, harsh environments, and constant battles decimate his army, I reflected on the “Myth of the Great Man” that’s caused suffering and death throughout human history.

Immortal Alexandros presents a historically accurate physical world, with immersive descriptions of open-air markets, harems, battlefields, the Hindu Kush, and other locations. Equally immersive are descriptions of Zoroastrianism, military tactics, and medicinal techniques.

Like William Hurt’s accent in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, I found the language at first to be too modern and wondered if it was a clue. It was. The Ptolemaios of the series title is the narrator and Alexandros’s close advisor. He’s a time traveler who inadvertently changed history nine years prior. He saved the life of a teenager who should have died, who then saved Alexandros who should have died. Continue reading

Tainted Harvest (Simone Doucet Series Book 1)

“Ghosts Must Tell Their Stories”

Review by Joey Madia

If I’ve learned anything in my 11 years as a paranormal investigator, it is that a high percentage of hauntings are the result of a ghost—a sentient being with emotions, moods, and wants—who needs to tell their story. The reasons vary… unresolved issues, revealing a secret, acknowledgment, and the seeking of justice are the major motivations, with the last being the subject of this review.

Tainted Harvest is a ghost story in the grand tradition. It takes as its time and place (in addition to the present) the Deep South during the U.S. Civil War. Cities in the South (Savannah, Charleston, Harper’s Ferry) owe their atmosphere and personality to the aftermath of the war and the stain of slavery. Their navigation of the history of slavery and Jim Crow alongside the tourism industry has been the subject of countless academic studies. The ghosts of slaves and the oppressed are everywhere. In the North, Civil War–era hauntings tend to be contained to battlefields and nearby. Gettysburg comes to mind. Continue reading

Bald is Beautiful: A Letter for a Fabulous Girl

“An Inspiring Story for Us All”

Review by Joey Madia

Carola Schmidt, a pediatric oncology pharmacist and author of several children’s books, including others on cancer, brings hope and passion to all of her works. She has been on the front lines and has used both her expertise in the field (she also writes nonfiction for the scientific mega-publisher Springer) and her big heart to craft stories that inspire confidence and positive action.

Bald is Beautiful: A Letter for a Fabulous Girl reinforces the positive feedback and support that everyone needs—most especially youth battling cancer. Since the biblical story of Samson and Delilah, power and identity have been associated with hair. And, as we know from personal experience and film/TV, cancer treatment often leads to hair loss.

When the heroine of the story is faced with losing her hair, it is an opportunity, not to mourn loss, but to have a Hat and Scarf Shower to celebrate creativity and self-expression. Many of us have hat and scarf collections. They help to express our identity and can open wide the doors of possibility for the imagination. Continue reading

An Angel Told Me So (Volume 1)

“Divine Guidance”

Review by Joey Madia

Over the past eight months, I have reviewed several books produced in conjunction with a higher energy. Celestial beings, spirit guides, aliens, the Brotherhood, God… they go by different names, depending on the channeler or medium’s worldview and belief system. You’ll notice that what the receiver calls themselves also changes.

I am married to an acknowledged and publicly tested psychic medium, so I have a deep interest in this subject. I have studied Esther Hicks/Abraham, Darryl Bashar/Anka, and many others from the lens of my lifelong training in theatre. I study voice, mannerisms, vocabulary, syntax, and gesture. I mention Esther and Darryl because I believe they are true to their word. Many others are easily outed as frauds. Because I believe she has done much more harm than good, I’ll name one—JZ Knight, who professes to be channeling an entity called Ramtha. She isn’t.

It’s much harder to make a judgment—to apply the tools of the healthy skeptic—to those who channel by means of automatic writing (psychography) or typing. Is it the subconscious, and if so, how is that defined? Is it a form of mental illness? Perhaps only in a very low percentage of cases. Is it fraud? Again, it happens, although I do not believe it is often so. Continue reading