Book Review of "Kabul Beauty School"

If you thought you knew everything there is to know about beauty schools, you haven’t seen anything like this. In “Kabul Beauty School”, author Deborah Rodriguez-Turner with Kristin Ohlson shares one journey you wouldn’t even imagine. It’s not an adventure I would want because I am too afraid to ever leave the United States but a fascinating one to read about from a woman who has guts.

At the age of twenty-six, Deborah divorced her first husband. She had two kids and couldn’t quite put her finger on it but she always seemed to be restless. She tried college. She tried being a correctional officer. She tried partying. She tried religion. Without a religious background, she jumped right in to a Pentecostal church and married a traveling preacher who turned out to be abusive.

Her second marriage tuned out to be a bad situation. Deborah sent her boys to live with her mother and started trying to find the safest way to escape this relationship. She began going on mission trips, convincing her husband that she would be a good helper to him when he traveled. Then, she also got involved with relief efforts of humanitarian agencies and really enjoyed it.

On her first trip by herself to Afghanistan, she felt a little awkward because all the other volunteers were educated medical professionals. To her pleasant surprise, when she was introduced as a hair dresser, everyone was ecstatic because she could help them feel refreshed in the ditsy desert.

When she returned home, she began brainstorming about how she could make a difference in the lives of Middle Eastern Women by opening a beauty school and teaching them to become hairdressers.

Deborah collected product donations, found someone to ship the product and made contacts to actually make the dream happen. Someone put her in contact with a lady who already had started a school and suggested they join forces so she agreed. She just wanted to help.

Deborah’s husband was very controlling and began making threats in attempt to stop her from leaving him. She had her mind made up and left.

Once she opened her school, friends convinced her that if she planned on staying permanently, she would need a husband. She agreed to enter an arranged marriage as the second wife.

Much of the book introduces the reader to the lives of the women at the school. Sadly, she discovered that she couldn’t help everyone because there were so many sad stories and cultural differences beyond her control. She learned to be grateful those the differences she could make. As of the publishing if the book in 2007, she was still married to her Afghan husband and remains living there. The school had many obstacles to overcome but she did make a difference.

I think the main point of the book is that you have something to offer wherever you live.

Book Review of "The Templars"

There are so many stories about Templars, Knights and Masons. Some are fact and some are fiction. You have to know a little about history to sort through them. Barbara Frale is a historian who gives the reader the history background collected from her research.

The warrior-monks were put together to protect Jerusalem from being taken over by the Muslims. There were multiple countries involved. France and England were two of the major ones. They led the crusades for centuries but were eventually defeated. In the end, between kings and the Catholic Church, they were disbanded. It was a sad ending to their history. There was an inquisition and they were killed.

Much of the book was beyond my knowledge and I kept my laptop nearby to lookup time periods I needed background on. It was very interesting.

From what I comprehended, they began as an honorable group of men who in the end were used as scapegoats, pawns and murdered in the end.

Many people interested in these topics are into the whole conspiracy theories that make for movies.

I’m not into all that but do enjoy learning about history. What I got out of it is that I do not want to support death penalties or torture in any circumstance. Throughout history, there has been so much wrong done to innocent people by deceit or fanaticism. Even for heinous crimes, I would rather just incarcerate and rehabilitate than chance unjustly murdering or harming someone who was innocent or who didn’t submit to an idea.

We have seen these scenarios throughout history from the Templars, to witch hunts, to those refusing to convert to religions, to military revenge. I know in my heart that is not what God would want people doing to each other in his name.

I do believe the military is a necessary part of life that will always be needed. One group will always be trying to take over another and countries need to be able to defend themselves. I am thankful that I have never to to experience war and pray I never do. I am thankful that I live in a country with freedom of religion, democracy and in the age of peace. I am thankful I was born after freedom for slaves, rights for women and civil rights equality. I am thankful for all those before I was born who sacrificed their lives for those freedoms.

Review of All Gays Go to Heaven

All Gays Go to Heaven is the third book from the now dubbed “New Gay Author of 2010” from, Reece Manley. Dr. Manley’s first two books included a slew of professional initials after his name, but this one simply credits him Reece Wyman Manley. It shows the author’s shift from teaching to simply telling in this his first wide appeal work.

All Gays Go to Heaven follows Reece’s life from the point of making a decision to have surgical weight loss interventions which go horribly awry to his life as it is today. In the retelling of his story, he follows the ancient story of the hero’s journey with all the elements included in his true to life journey. What makes the book stand out is that Reece holds nothing back. All of the ugliness of a life – incest, beatings, abuse, addiction – to all the beauty life can hold – love, friendship, spirituality and an authentic life.

The nemesis of Reece’s life comes in the form of an injury during his bariatric surgery, slimming him from 414 pounds to 170 pounds. However, the injury disables him with a neuropathy which delivers chronic pain to his feet. The pain takes the form of a giant black bird in one graphic passage from the memoir, which delightfully feeds on his exposed feet. It’s an image hard to shake as one progresses through the pages.

Soon, there are plenty of smiles served up by his companions and the exploration of a gay life apparently quite lively in the city of Lubbock, Texas. His friend, Jeff, delivers the best lines of dialog in his simple task of answering his phone. “Jeff’s House of Coffins, our prices are to die for!” The pithy becomes the lovable. In addition, a mentor appears in Reece’s life full of an advising wisdom on all the matters of his life. The balance between the characters is tense at times, and a bit choppy, but the overall effect is intriguingly readable.

All Gays Go to Heaven’s title comes from a conversation Reece has during his inpatient treatment for the trauma of his near death experience. He simply reveals his new Truth that there is a loving, omnipotent Source which we all eventually reach after we pass on. The story ends with his hopeful grip on both his life path, his sanity and the containment of the pain which still haunts from the corners.

All Gays Go to Heaven is a hefty 189,000 words, but a rich, easy writing style makes the journey not only enjoyable, but inspiring as well.

Five Stars.

Craig Williams, PhD