November 20, 2014

Here we go again!

Ah the satisfaction of finishing up a book right on schedule! I'm flying out of NYC tomorrow and I had planned on a particular book for the flight and it's working out excellently. XD

Lily Dale: The Town that Talks to the Dead wasn't quite what I expected (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). As the author is a former journalist, I expected heaping loads of skepticism.There was a fair amount but there were also fleeting moments of unchecked belief. More questions were raised than actually answered which I believe is the point. Spiritualism (the main topic of this book besides the town itself) can not be definitively proven (what religion can beyond a shadow of a doubt? that's why faith exists...) and yet the people in this town have an unshakable belief. While immersing herself in their customs, Wicker observed and participated in events that she could not explain through rational means. Was this spirits communicating beyond the grave? Were these people really capable of reading a person's future? Is it all a big crock of bull? Or is there something else going on here? If you're intrigued by the supernatural and/or want to learn more about a religion that has been popular since the 1800s then this is probably the book for you.

And now to the book that I've been saving for my trip. I'm delving back into the genius mind of Russell Brand with his newest book, Revolution. If you're at all familiar with Russell then you'll know that he's very politically and socially minded. He stays abreast of current issues (anyone watch his YouTube series Trews?) and has an opinion on virtually everything. This book highlights his plan for a new kind of society in which the people are truly in control and The Man is just a distant memory from the past. I have no doubt this is going to be quite a ride.

November 15, 2014

Not every book is for every reader

It's important to remember that you're not going to absolutely love every single book that you decide to read. It's a mistake to force yourself to read a book that you're not totally invested in reading. Of course, if it's an assignment for school then it's unavoidable (which is a shame really because it discourages fledgling lifelong readers). However, if you're reading for pleasure then there's no reason whatsoever to read something that you're not finding thoroughly engaging. This is why I'm calling it quits on Jane Austen's England. Perhaps I'll try to revisit the book at another time but honestly it's been days since I picked it up and I don't see that changing anytime soon. That isn't to say that it was a horrible book just that it wasn't my cup of tea. :-)

So rather than dwelling on a book that I decided to abandon I've chosen a book on a completely different track. I'm going to be reading Lily Dale: The Town That Talks to the Dead by Christine Wicker. This book discusses the history of a town called Lily Dale in New York which spiritualists believe is ripe with ghosts. This is a true story of people who believe so strongly in the presence of the dead among the living that they travel from miles away to consult mediums there to talk to these figures from the past. I like that the reviews on the back are from lesser-known news sources such as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Fort Worth Star Telegram yet this is a national bestseller.

November 6, 2014

England: To infinity and beyond! OR I really like learning about England.

The Sherlock Holmes Handbook is a step-by-step instructional manual on how anyone can mold themselves into a consulting detective just like Arthur Conan Doyle's creation. More than that, Riggs provides the reader with trivia, factoids, and beautiful drawings of the detective in action. This book is excellent for anyone whether they're just being introduced to the famous detective or if they've been a diehard fan for many years. It's always fun to revisit old friends and bone up on the tricks of the trade. ;-)

Jane Austen lived during the Georgian era in England and her stories are a reflection of the time and the places she visited. She tended to focus on the areas she was most familiar with unlike many of her contemporaries who decided that far flung locations were much better suited for novels. Jane Austen's England: Daily Life in the Georgian and Regency Periods by Roy & Lesley Adkins takes a look at this time period and focuses on all aspects of the country. From wedding practices to the stratification of the classes this is a comprehensive look at all the minutiae not covered by Austen herself.

November 3, 2014

I spend way too long creating the titles for these posts

So as I mentioned in the last post I really love Agatha Christie (particularly her Hercule Poirot mysteries) so predictably I zoomed through The Clocks. This was written very differently and the plot development was unique also. For starters, the narrative voice changed several times from third person to first person (and it wasn't Poirot as first person either). I thought at first this might create problems like with time jumping but after a few chapters the transitions felt familiar and smooth. Secondly, Poirot never set foot on the crime scenes and he never spoke to any of the suspects. From what I've read, this is the only time Christie employed this tactic and it was mostly to show that it was possible for the Belgian detective to accomplish such a feat. As per usual, I thought I had the whole thing figured out only to discover that it was all a pile-up of red herrings and I'd been duped again. Oh, Agatha!

And because I felt like I just needed more Poirot in my life I checked out a short story entitled Wasps' Nest which I thought might keep me occupied for a few days. However, when it said 'short story' it meant incredibly quick. I finished that bad boy in about 15 minutes on the train home this evening. It was so short I have no idea how to even review it. Basically, there's a man named John Harrison (Star Trek Into Darkness, anyone?) who Poirot visits out in the country. He tells him that he's on a murder case...a murder that hasn't been committed yet. Dun Dun DUUUUUN. Yeah go and read it. It's a quick, delightful read (and I was still surprised by the conclusion because apparently Christie is a wizard).

Then I decided that I wasn't done with mysteries, detectives, and crime because I resurrected a book I had started a zillion years ago but got too distracted to finish: The Sherlock Holmes Handbook by Ransom Riggs (see Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children & Hollow City for more by him). This book is the Holmesian-How-To-Manual (that sounded ultra cool in my head) which explores the methodology of the fictional detective as well as current forensic science practices. Basically, if you're a Sherlockian then this is the book for you. We shall soon see!