A Cultural History
by Susan Owens
Pub Date 03 Oct 2017
I really enjoyed The Ghost A Cultural History by Susan Owens. This nonfiction book examines the history of the ghost or apparition. Ms. Owens, the author, was interested in how much Dickens's ghost have in common with what we define as ghosts today. How did ghosts change as technology was introduced, like the earliest shadow shows and then film? Also what is it about Britain that creates the fertile ground for ghosts? Is it the long history? The wet, foggy weather?
In early Christian history, ghosts were believed to be the souls of the dead suffering in purgatory come to warm those left behind to clean up their act. When the Protestant Reformation hit England, purgatory was edited out of their theology. The ghosts that were previously the souls of the dead now became demons and apparitions from hell. The book traces the history through each different phase or interpretation of what a ghost was, including the words used to describe them.
There is an excellent bibliography at the end of the book. It has given me a whole new list of writings from the classics that I want to read. The Ghost A Cultural History by Susan Owens is readable, entertaining and enlightening. It is releasing on October 3rd, making it the perfect Halloween present for yourself or a fan of spirits.
By Mercedes Lackey
Read by Amy Landon
The Hunter Series: Book 3
8.81 Hours unabridged
Courtesy Audiobook Jukebox
The Hunter trilogy, by Mercedes Lackey, is just as much fun and page turning action from the first book to the last. Each of the three books has its own mystery with an over reaching story arc for the series. The books feature a very strong female character, Joy. She does not need men saving her. In fact, she does pretty much all the saving.
The universe this series constructs is amazing. It is rich and complex, built on the ashes of our world. Our world went through a series of cataclysmic events that tore a hole through reality. This hole allowed monsters to come through, monsters from all of earth’s mythologies as well as some that no one can identify.
Along with the monsters come the “hounds”. The "hounds" are not normal dogs. Some can fly, some are the sizes of ponies and some are made of smoke. When they come through to our world they bond with an individual who have the ability to use magic. They become a team of hunters, one human with uses magic and their "hounds". Most hunters have two to four hounds. Joy started with seven. Through the events in the first and second books, she gains four more.
The other beings, besides hounds and monsters, from the otherside, as other reality is called, are the folk mages. They vary from a feral type to a sort of nobility. Some want to wipe out all humans while others are more concerned with their own affairs. The mages, of all kind, play a major role in Apex.
The character development is excellent. Joy is a believable young lady. She feels happiness and sadness and despair and desperation. Yet she continues to fight. I really like her. I like the way she has developed and grown through the three books. She has learned so much about herself that allows her to make her own decisions instead of being a tool in the hands of others. This is a young adult novel so the romantic action is described as “making out” or kissing. This would be appropriate for a teen. It is also appropriate for adults. I am fifty-four and really enjoyed it.
Amy Landon is an excellent narrator. I have enjoyed her narration through all three books. She gives Joy a realistic voice. Her male voices are good. She does a nice job on the attitude of the characters. I really enjoyed Ms. Landon’s narration and will definitely check out other books she has narrated.
I am trying to learn the correct language to discuss issues that are outside my own experience. Hopefully I got them right in this piece. If not, please help educate me. I appreciate it.
My Statement of Belief
Emboldened, public racism--from the ‘rally’ in Charlottesville, to the refusal of the White House to label it as terrorism and racism--is unfortunately not a collection of isolated incidents. They’ve been happening--literally--since before this country was formed. Despite legislation, despite stellar leaders, despite promises of a new day dawning, this is not our past; it is still very much our present.
I feel that the time has come to be as open and clear as possible about my beliefs. It is the only way I think I can deal with the climate in our society. I cannot march, I cannot donate huge amounts of money in support, I do not possess a public pulpit or any meaningful way to support social justice. What I can do is publicly state my beliefs and support for those who need allies.
Everyone has the same rights as a human. Period. There should be no distinction between race, ethnicity, creed, or gender. People who say that one is superior to another have issues with their own inadequacies.
Everyone has the right to define themselves. This includes gender and ethnicity. If someone chooses to be fluid in either gender or ethnicity, that is their right. My daughter who is Native American, African American and Caucasian was raised to define herself. She has the right to decide whether she will define as African American or biracial or any combination she chooses. She can change this definition day to day or hour to hour. It is her choice. Just as it is the choice of an individual to define themselves as one gender or none. It is their choice.
Everyone has the right to love who they choose. I support same sex marriage. I support hertoersexual marriage. If you love each other and are both consenting adults, then I believe that is your business, not the government’s or anyone’s church.
Everyone has the right to believe in a higher power whether that is a god, gods or their own conscience. Whatever they choose to as their compass for their morality.
Everyone has a right to evolve and change their opinions through their life. That does not mean they have to change to match your opinions. My own beliefs evolved through my life experiences, especially from being a parent. When my children asked a question I had to be able to explain my answer which led to me questioning my own beliefs. Secondly as my children attended college and were exposed to new perspectives, they shared what they learned with me. It helped me grown as a person and better understand what I did truly believe in.
Everyone has a right to health care. There should not be a difference in coverage between physical and mental illnesses. People with chronic illness should be supported whether or not those illnesses are visible to others. Good healthcare should note just belong to the wealthy or to our law makers. Stigma towards addiction, mental illness or any illness should be eliminated. Without open discussion, awareness and research funding will not happen.
Everyone has a right to their own opinions but not from the consequences of how they choose to express those opinions. For example, I define myself as a Roman Catholic. How do I square my beliefs with those of the Catholic Church? I don’t. I do hope when the time comes my children can find a priest to give me a Catholic funeral Mass because that is important to me.
Finally I believe
Everyone has the potential to affect positive change. Everyone can do something to make each day better. Whether supporting a friend who is dealing with illness or lending your talent as a writer to helping job searchers develop resumes that work for them, small things can make a difference. For some, like me, that is all we have to give. For others with more talent or time or treasure, they can help
I have to believe that the people who have goodness will make life better for everyone. Currently, there’s a huge shitstorm raging. Getting through it is not going to be easy or quick. It has to start with those like me who enjoy white privilege acknowledging we have this privilege, and attempting to use it to aid those who do not. The first step in support is listening. We need to start today.
In Distant Lands
A Short History of the Crusades
Author Lars Brownworth
Narrated by Joe Barrett
Publication date July 11, 2017
Running time 8 hrs
Courtesy Tantor Media
I have never read anything directly about the crusades. Whenever I encountered them, they were the backstory or window dressing of another story. For example the legend of Robin Hood centers around Richard the Lionheart being held for ransom when returning from the third crusade. I knew there were several crusades but not exactly how many. I knew some of the main characters like Richard, Eleanor of Aquitaine when she was Queen of France, Saladin and Suleiman but I did not really know how they all fit together. I knew there was seriously messed up stuff involved like the Children’s Crusade and the crusaders sacking Constantinople, their own ally. In Distant Lands A Short History of the Crusades helped fill all those gaps in my knowledge of an incredibly complex subject that continues to have relevance even today.
Mr. Brownworth begins the book by explaining which characters go with which crusade. I found that extremely helpful. So many of the names are not familiar, like Alexius I Comnenus, who was the emperor of Byzantium and whose request for help set the first crusade in motion. The book then lays out the logical order of events that created the need for the Byzantine emperor to seek help from the Roman Catholic Pope. He also then shows how events spiraled out of control until there was absolutely no hope of stopping the disaster that followed.
The book does a wonderful job of balancing events and people. The significance of the events, what led up to them and what their consequences were are all told in a very readable fashion. At the same time the people involved in the events are discussed in a way that gives them depth and life. Nothing happens in a vacuum and the author does a great job of illustrating the people who created the events.
Joe Barrett did an excellent job narrating In Distant Lands. His voice is very pleasant to listen to. He enunciates clearly and the production quality is excellent. He never stumbles on any of the foreign words whether French or Arabic. I would not hesitate to choose another book he narrates.
In Distant Lands has kindled an interest for me in this period of history. I have two other books picked out for my next trip into this time period (God’s Wolf by Jeffrey Lee and The Templars by Dan Jones). I will also be looking into more of Mr. Brownworth’s work. I found In Distant Lands to be very accessible while not oversimplifying a complex subject.
Red Sister: First Book of the Ancestor
CD - unabridged
Audio (16 discs)
Length: 19 hrs and 21 mins
Author: Mark Lawrence
Narrator/s: Heather O'Neil
Publisher: Recorded Books, Inc.
Courtesy Audiobook Jukebox
“It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure you bring an arm of sufficient size.” When I saw this sentence listed as the first sentence of Red Sister by Mark Lawrence in a tweet, I requested the e-book through my local library system. I enjoyed the book so much, I requested the audiobook through Audiobook Jukebox to review. I am thrilled to report that the audiobook enhances the experience of reading the book.
Red Sister involves a wonderful character named Nona. The book starts with her as a young child, under ten years old, and tells her story for several years as she approaches adulthood. Nona is from a very poor family. She is sold to a man who buys children from rural poor families and sells them to various organizations or institutions in the capital city. Some are sold to churches and some to be trained as basically gladiators. The buyer is determined by their gifts. Nona is originally bought by a trainer to eventually fight in the ring. She is saved at the foot of the scaffold from hanging (read the book to see why) by the abbess of a Convent of Sweet Mercy. Nona’s exploration of why she was saved, who the nuns are and the mysteries of her world are fascinating and so intriguing I did not stop reading/listening until I had to.
This is one of the most amazing parts of Mr. Lawrence’s world building, the gifts. The world of Red Sister has four tribes. Each tribe originally had a gift of their own. One tribe was larger in body size. One was very fast. One could access minor magic. The last could access major magic and do what was called “walk the Path”. The world is divided by nobility and non-nobility. Nobility can be a matter of heritage or awarded by the emperor. May I just say thank you to Mr. Lawrence for putting his glossary and dramatis personae at the front of the book?
Oh, did I mention the moon is falling? The world is very much controlled by the moon. The entire land area is being trapped between two great ice areas. The ice areas are like huge glaziers with walls hundreds of feet high. The liveable area in between is call The Corridor. During certain phases of the moon, the nights get very warm, almost hot. There is still so much mystery at the end of the first book that I cannot wait for the next book.
Heather O'Neil does a very good job narrating Red Sister. I had only heard one other book narrated by her and frankly was not fond of it. Many years ago, my son and I listened to her narration of Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill. Neither of us cared for her narration of that book. Before I requested the audio version of Red Sister from Audiobook Jukebox, I listened to the sample and found I was enjoying it. Ms. O’Neil’s narration of Red Sister is very different from her earlier work on the Hill book. In Red Sister, she is clear. Her character voices are recognizable. Her accents are good. She does an excellent job conveying emotion. I highly recommend Red Sister audiobook, even if you have already read the book.
This review first appeared at Audiobook Reviewer:
Stirrings in the Black House was a fun haunted house story. When I say fun about a haunted house book, I mean thrilling, scary, nerve racking and had it been a movie there would have been several jump scenes. I enjoyed listening to it.
Emil is a washed up concert pianist. At twenty-three, he is living with his parents and being supported by them. His career as a pianist came to a screeching halt due to his addiction to Percocet. He is now clean but in the way of all addicts, still just one misstep from using again.
Everything changes for Emil when his uncle Gustav dies. Gustav was a world class concert pianist of the caliber to play with the London Symphony Orchestra. He was a composer too. Gustav had come once to see Emil play and then dismissed him as having no talent. Emil had not seen or heard from his uncle since. Why would Gustav leave him a house? A house that is across the country from where he and his parents live? Looking for a fresh start, Emil drives his beat up car with his meager possessions to Newberg, Oregon. To Weatherby House.
The story is told in the first person. It allows the listener to share the emotions and thoughts of Emil as he arrives and finds a large two story house empty except for a massive black Steinway Grand Piano. No other furniture. No light bulbs in any light fixtures and no electricity. With his limited funds, Emil sets up electrical service and buys a few light bulbs and basic foodstuffs and settles in.
The fresh start is going as well as can be expected for Emil when he meets Kelly, a local girl. Kelly, upon hearing he lives in Weatherby House, tells him of its sordid history. The house was constructed by a cult who believed they could possess the bodies of victims they tortured to give them eternal life. When one victim escaped, the cult leaders were caught and jailed. They all died before going to trial.
At this point, I cannot discuss the plot any further with spoilers. So to recap, we have a vulnerable young man, isolated from his family, in recovery from addiction. We have a town that openly shuns Weatherby House and refuses to acknowledge it. We have a house with a bloody and occult history. Even an optimist can see this is going to end badly.
Joe Hempel does a great job narrating. He conveys the tension and fear in Emil’s voice and thoughts very well. He also does a great job on Kelly and other characters. I really enjoyed his narration. I will be seeking out more of his work as well as that of the author, Ambrose Ibsen.
Stop by Weatherby House for a few hours. Just not with all the lights off.
Stirrings in the Black House by Ambrose Ibsen
Narrator: Joe Hempel
on 29 June 2017
Length: 4 hrs and 40 mins
Courtesy Audiobook Reviewer
Gork, the Teenage Dragon
by Gabe Hudson
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Sci Fi & Fantasy , Teens & YA
Pub Date 11 Jul 2017
Sci Fi, Fantasy, Teen and YA are just a few of the genres I read on a regular basis. When I came across Gork, the Teenage Dragon by Gabe Hudson at Netgalley, I decided to read it. I picked it up in late June and just finished it last night, just over a month later. I think it would appeal to a different type of reader than myself.
I found the first chapter to be the most enjoyable. Gork, the title character and narrator, complains about how humans how defamed dragons. He even names a few examples like Beowulf and The Hobbit. It is a very funny take from the dragon point of view. The rest of the book did not do as much for me. Again, I believe I am probably not the ideal audience. If you have a young person, teen or YA, in your family, you should check Gork, the Teenage Dragon out. As with all books for those age groups, I strongly suggest parents read the book first before handing it over to their younger family members. That is not a comment on Gork in particular but just a good practice for all parents to do. Besides the the value of pre reading for any content issues, there is a true joy to sharing books with your children, whatever their age may be.