Ghost Box: Voices from Spirits, Ets, Shadow People & Other Astral Beings by Chris Moon, Paulette Moon

Ghost Box: Voices from Spirits, Ets, Shadow People & Other Astral Beings by Chris Moon, Paulette Moon

ghost boxGhost Box is Chris Moon’s collection of paranormal investigations that he has conducted using electronic voice phenomena (EVP) and his own intuitive skills.

There is little to no science presented in this book so if you’re interested in the tech-side of paranormal investigation, you’ll have to keep looking.

Readers who want concrete information about the afterlife may grow a tad frustrated with this book. The majority of Moon’s investigations are conducted through feelings and feedback from the people he’s interacting with.

That’s not to say that he doesn’t have some solid hits. Occasionally, the information that he receives through his “ghost box” is absolutely spot on. It gave me the chills.

I watched a documentary once about Mario Bacci, an Italian man who has been receiving other worldly voices through an old radio for years. He has a group of devoted followers that gathers around him to hear his sessions with his own “ghost box”. They claim to hear their deceased family members through Bacci’s radio.

That documentary convinced me that this phenomena is real because of how the people reacted when they heard the noises coming through the radio.

Moon had his doubts at first too. When he first receives the box, he doesn’t think it will work. But, through using it and the evidence it provides, he becomes convinced that it is the real deal too.

“The machine facilitates real-time two-way communication with the spirit world and, as soon as my dad and I experienced it in action, we knew it would revolutionize the paranormal investigation field.” loc 95, ebook.

He receives this machine from Frank Sumption- an electrical tech who claims to have completed Thomas Edison’s ‘Telephone to the Dead.’

I didn’t even know that was a thing. “Apparently, Edison’s mother was a Spiritualist and he was very close to her. After her death, Edison started to re-examine his views on the afterlife. He realized that since energy could neither be created nor destroyed and that it could only change form, we humans (being energy) had to go somewhere.” loc 224. Fascinating.

The rest of the book, including aliens speaking through the ghost box and sightings of shadow people, I didn’t connect with as much. But, if you’re interested in that type of information, Moon’s book might be something that you’d really enjoy.

Thank you to NetGalley and Llewellyn Publications for a free digital copy of this book. Reminder: the brief quotations that I pulled for this review may change in the final printed version.

Thanks for reading!

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Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed

Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed

gatherthedaughters<i>Gather the Daughters</i> is about a small community that lives with no electricity or modern conveniences on an island. They have a church made of stone that sinks into the ground and a holy book written by “the ancestors.” These ancestors are saint-like founders who, according to tradition, fled the wider world to preserve the human race during an apocalypse.

Traditions are dark and strange on the island, but not questioned because they were written by the ancestors.

The tale is told from the viewpoint of four girls: Vanessa, Caitlin, Janey and Amanda.

<i>”From the fires of wickedness we grew forth, like a green branch from a rotten tree,” he reads. “From the wastelands of want came the hardworking men of industry and promise. From the war-striken terror came our forefathers to keep us safe from harm.” Like everyone else, Vanessa mouths the words along with him.</i> loc 122, ebook.

Because of the small number of people on the island, everyone has an assigned job- that they keep for life. Reproduction, meetings and courtships are also controlled by tradition.

Sometimes the way things are done seem irrational or cruel, but the community does not change. Take the perpetually sinking church: <i>”Every ten years or so, when the roof is almost level with the ground, all the men on the island gather to build stone walls on top of it, and the roof becomes the new floor. Vanessa asked Mother why they couldn’t just use wood, but Mother said it was tradition, and it would be disrespectful to the ancestors to change it.”</i> loc 229, ebook.

Similar to <i>The Handmaiden’s Tale</i>, <i>Gather the Daughters</i> is ultimately about what happens when society dictates and controls relationships, sexuality and education through religious doctrine. It is also examines the male/female balance of power.

<i>Gather the Daughters</i> is a gripping read. But not mysterious. It was fairly clear in my mind from the start where this story was headed, but I cared about the main characters. They have heart and I couldn’t help but want them to live in a better world than the one they were born into.

I could see this being a great choice for book clubs. There’s plenty to talk about, especially with character motivations and the structure of society.

Reader warnings: survivors of childhood sexual abuse could be triggered by this read. There are also some domestic violence scenes.

Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for a free advance reader’s copy of this book. Reminder: the short quotations that I pulled for this review may vary in the final printed version.

Thanks for reading!

The Mapmaker’s Daughter by Katherine Nouri Hughes

The Mapmaker’s Daughter by Katherine Nouri Hughes

mapmaker's daughterA fascinating peek into the 16th century world of the Ottoman Empire. The story is told through the memories of a woman who is dying and recalling the circumstances that brought her to where she is now. Her extraordinary life included being kidnapped by pirates, educated with a prince and joining the royal family of Suleiman “the Magnificent.”

All of this as a female in the 1500s! Katherine Nouri Hughes, the author, admits that there are so few records of her life that Cecilia Baffo Veniero, called Nurbanu, was a blank slate.

But, Nurbanu actually existed. Hughes gives her a life of mystery, dizzying highs, lows, and riches beyond imagining. I loved it.

And, I learned so much from this story. Admittedly, my historical fiction preferences seem to run towards the Roman Empire or Tudor England. Perhaps it was time I branched out.

For example, did you know that there was a law for when the heir to the Sultan took the throne, that all of his brothers were killed? This was to protect the dynasty from civil war. “And to whomsoever of my sons the Sultanate shall pass, it is fitting that for the order of the world he shall kill his brothers. That law has held us together; secured our Empire; made us who we are…” loc 127, ebook.

Beyond the obvious reasons, this was particularly awful because the Sultan tended to have scores of kids. There were the usual threats of illness and the plague to consider.

Suleiman himself was a legend in his own time. “A man like no other. His titles alone told the story. … Sultan of the Two Continents, Servitor of the Two Sanctuaries, Warden of the Horizons. Suleiman the Magnificent- man and legend combined. … Imperial, mirthless, deadly pale.” loc 463, ebook.

He ruled an empire and his children. According to Hughes, he was heavily influenced by his favorite wife, Hurrem, who is a colorful character in this story.

Nurbanu is fortunate because, when she is captured, she was already well-educated. “I’d been assigned to the Head Scribe herself without question because I was educated. That was what Barbarossa had said at the presentation. ‘She can read.'” loc 482. That saves her from more gruesome fates within the harem.

But it doesn’t make her life easy. After all, she’s still a slave in the palace of Suleiman.

“I know how awful the end of fantasy is- for it steals into parts of the heart and mind where nothing should be able to go. It is driven by the heat of what we long for, and it melts all that is in its path until it comes out into the open and is exposed for what it is: something that was never true.” locs 3250-3268.

Recommended for readers who like historical fiction with a large cast of character, an exotic locale and a heroine with a quick mind.

Thank you to NetGalley and Open Road Integrated Media for a free advance reader copy of this book. Reminder- the short quotations that I used in this review may differ in the final printed version.

Thanks for reading!

Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman by Mary Mann Hamilton

Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman by Mary Mann Hamilton

trials of the earthTrials of the Earth is Mary Mann Hamilton’s memoir about her hardscrabble life in America during the late 1800’s.

She uses period speech to illuminate a life of struggle and hard work. If certain anachronistic and racially insensitive terms bother you, especially the casual use of the N-word, you may want to chose another memoir. It was shocking but I kept reminding myself that Mary was a product of her times.

On top of the constant struggle of putting food on the table and keeping a roof over her head, it seems like she was perpetually pregnant and her husband was an alcoholic.

But Mary lived up to the challenges, raised and buried children, nursed her husband through his hangovers and illnesses- she was a survivor. That is mainly what Trials of the Earth was to me- a survival story.

“Nevertheless, this is not a book of repining; it is a tale simply told of what one woman has lived through in the Mississippi Delta. I say ‘lived through’ because at times this history reads like a record of the extreme limits of human endurance.” loc 75, introduction

So many of the modern conveniences that we take for granted didn’t exist. Mary moved around a lot and notes with relief every time her husband manages to install a pump in her new house so that she didn’t have to haul water from the river.

Mary’s relationship with her husband, Frank, isn’t a fair deal. She is a very young woman when she gets married and from the start he’s controlling- telling her what they will eat and what friends they will have. He even tells her what books she can read.

That would have been the last straw for me. But again, she was a woman of her times.

“To me he seemed like a man that had taken a silly child to raise rather than a wife. … As time went on I found there were plenty other things I didn’t know, too. The first thing I found out was that he drank.” loc 226, ebook.

In addition to the inequality in their relationship, Frank is from England and has a secret past. He won’t tell Mary, his own wife, his real name or talk about his circumstances or the family he left behind. But, Mary doesn’t let it bother her too much. I suppose she was too busy with everything else they had going on. That lack of trust would have driven me bonkers.

Not that she felt like anything was wrong with their relationship. “Women can stand more work, more trouble, and more religion than men.” loc 528, ebook. She accepted the hardships because she knew that she could. I admire her gumption but I also felt sad for her too. I felt sad because she didn’t have the option to live any other sort of life.

Frank is always talking about the sin of Eve and all the baggage that comes with it to Mary. There is a lot of mansplaining that goes on too. Parts of this book were infuriating to me.

Recommended for readers who enjoy memoirs that read like historical fiction. Ability to tolerate the bleak role that women occupied in society in the late 1800’s is a must.

Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for a free advance reader’s copy of this book. Reminder: some of the quotations in this review may change in the final printed copy.

Thanks for reading!

Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry

Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook  by Christina Henry

lostboyChristina Henry, author of the chilling Alice, which is a brilliant re-telling of Alice in Wonderland, has shifted focus to a new fairytale. In Lost Boy, readers get to experience the story of the boy-who-never-grew-up through the origin story of his arch-nemesis. And what a story it is.

“Peter will say I’m a villain, that I wronged him, that I never was his friend. But I told you already. Peter lies. This is what really happened.” loc 85, ebook. Goosebumps? Yeah.

Fans of the original tale will need to prepare themselves for having beloved characters shown in a new and sinister light. Think Longbourn, but worse, much worse. “I had been with Peter longer than I’d been in the Other Place, longer than I could count, anyway. The seasons did not pass here and the days had no meaning. I would be here forever. I would never grow up.” loc 146, ebook. The others in Peter’s group call the narrator, Jamie.

He is a fierce fighter- the best. And he protects the younger and weaker members of those lucky few that Peter brings back from the real world or in this tale, the Other Place. This protective instinct is sneered at by Peter who accuses Jamie of “babying” or “mothering” the boys. In truth, there is no worse insult in Peter’s arsenal. Grown ups either abuse you or take your stuff or both. They’re pirates.

“(Peter) had invited us there, had promised us we would be young and happy forever. So we were. Unless we got sick, or died, or were taken by the pirates.” loc 257, ebook. So, Neverland is not the paradise that it is portrayed as in the original tale. There are also monsters called Many-Eyed that eat the boys alive, if they catch them.

“Was this, I wondered, what it felt like to be a grown-up? Did you always feel the weight of things on you, your cares pressing you down like a burden you could never shake? No wonder Peter could fly. He had no worries to weight him to the earth.” loc 1971, ebook.

The stage is set. Love and hate intertwine with magic, blood and, of course, a little bit of fairy dust.

If you enjoyed this tale, you may also want to explore some other Peter Pan re-tellings like Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson or All Darling Children by Katrina Monroe. The last, a horror-filled offering, may really appeal to those who want to delve more into the potential shadows of Neverland. There’s a price to pay for never growing up. In that tale, as in this, Peter pays it without a qualm.

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for a free advance reader’s copy of this book. Reminder: the short quotations I cited in this review may vary in the final published version.

Thanks for reading!

I Hope I Screw This Up: How Falling in Love with Your Fears Can Change the World by Kyle Cease

I Hope I Screw This Up: How Falling in Love with Your Fears Can Change the World by Kyle Cease

ihopeiI Hope I Screw This Up is a part-diary, part-spiritual evolution manual and 100 percent the Hippie Librarian’s type of read. Kyle Cease shares his thoughts and personal path towards becoming his best self. I didn’t find it to be as funny as promised in the blurb, but I do think it has worth as, “another finger pointing towards the moon,” as Eckhart Tolle would say.

The beginning of this book is hard to get through- for the writer and the reader. Kyle explores his fears and inability to get started. But, he slowly gets into his groove and, boy, does he begin flowing. Here’s the start of the turn-around: “You would have sensed my inauthenticity immediately if I was feeling fear in every ounce of my body and I just overlooked it in order to write the “right” thing. Instead, by baring my soul and telling you what I’m actually experiencing, I’m freeing myself from the pain I would otherwise be hiding and holding on to. Something I’ve learned is that sharing my deepest truth, no matter how scary it is in the moment, is freedom.” loc 48, ebook. And he’s off to the races.

“Just because I haven’t done this before doesn’t mean that I can’t access the ability to write the most amazing book that has ever been written. We all have the exact same level of ability to access the unlimited creativity available in every moment.” loc 158, ebook. I believe that too-
humanity’s ability to access unlimited creativity every moment. I suppose I believe that Kyle could write the most amazing book that has ever been written. Does he do it in this tome? I guess that depends upon how well you’re able to connect with what he’s done.

I enjoyed this discussion about the limitations of the mind: “Your mind is constantly putting you in survival mode all day so it can protect itself from what it thinks will be death, and unfortunately, your mind thinks almost everything is death.” loc 224, ebook. Isn’t that the truth.

And he touches on some of the problems with the New Age movement: “I know it sounds weird to say that sadness is actually a good thing, but the societal lie is that it’s better to be happy than to be sad. That’s just a belief that our mind created. … one of the strongest things you can do is to actually feel the emotions that you’re experiencing.” loc 510. Every emotion has a time and place. The insistence upon positivity at any cost, doesn’t work. Serenity now, insanity later… yes?

He also goes into the life-changing benefits of meditation, which I also agree with. By slowing down and taking the time to go within, your inner being speaks to you and gives you guidance: “Every single one of us has this calling within us, but most people are so locked into the habits and distractions they’ve created in their life that they can’t hear it. It doesn’t take anything special to discover what that calling is or what it wants you to do; all you have to do is turn down the volume of your distractions and listen.” loc 706. It may sound weird if you haven’t experienced it yet but it’s true.

For the most part, Kyle keeps his book in this dimension of reality and doesn’t dip into the far-out. But, there is a part where he briefly jokes about a picture of himself and how, at the universal energy level, we’re all the same. So, technically, you’re looking at a picture of yourself in the book that you wrote, even though it seems that you’re looking at a picture of him in a book that he wrote. That could be a bridge too far for some readers, but the Hippie Librarian took it all in stride.

Enthusiasts of Eckhart Tolle and Abraham Hicks will probably enjoy Kyle Cease. He’s authentic in the way that spiritual teachers are, understandable and amusing. He also makes a good case for falling in love with your fears. Now, the hard part, to practice it.

Thank you to Netgalley and North Star Way publishing for a free digital copy of this book. Reminder: the brief quotations that I pulled from the advance reader’s text may differ slightly in the final printed version.

Thanks for reading!

Bringing the Tarot to Life: Embody the Cards Through Creative Exploration by Scott Martin

Bringing the Tarot to Life: Embody the Cards Through Creative Exploration  by Scott Martin

bringingthetarotBringing the Tarot to Life is a unique tarot manual that invites the reader to use her own imagination in assimilating and interpreting the cards. I’ve never read anything quite like it.

Scott Martin was an actor and theater teacher for many years. “It struck me that just as an actor delves into his character, so a student of the tarot can explore the archetypes that are represented in the seventy-eight cards in the tarot. He can develop his intuitive abilities by participating in the written and performance exercises an actor uses to hone his talent and to create his role in a play.” loc 112-128, ebook.

He based the first two sections of the book on that idea and created a series of theater-inspired games and exploratory exercises to be played in groups or alone.

The last portion of the book consists of Martin’s interpretations of the cards. I found that section to be the least interesting, but there could be descriptions in those pages that others may not have heard. So, don’t let me deter you.

There was also some trivia included for tarot enthusiasts. Something that I didn’t know was that before Paul Foster Case helped to form The Golden Dawn, he was in theater. Paul Foster Case became interested in tarot in 1900 when someone asked him where he thought playing cards came from. … Prior to that, he was actively involved in the theater. He was the musical director on a showboat and later worked in musical theater and vaudeville.” loc 128, ebook. But old man river, he just keeps rolling along…

I agreed with Martin’s thoughts on improving your intuition: “How does one develop his intuition? One obvious answer is to expose the mind to more creative and imaginative ways to thinking and looking at the world. Creativity and intuition are inextricably linked.” loc 164. Indeed.

My favorite of the exercises presented in this book is “I Am What I Do” loc 231, ebook. It encourages readers to assign jobs to the different cards. “Many people in life, as well as characters in plays, define themselves to a great extent in terms of what they do. … the possibilities are virtually limitless: The Ten of Pentacles- a family counselor. The Five of Swords- a crooked hedge fund manager. The Knight of Cups- a poet.” loc 231. I thought that was hilarious. And, I was looking at the cards in ways that I never had before. Talk about ‘Bringing the Tarot to Life’!

Recommended for beginners or advanced practitioners of tarot cards. Every reader will most likely find an exercise or two to their liking because of the huge variety Martin offers.

Thank you to NetGalley and Llewellyn publishing for a free digital advance reader’s copy of this book. Reminder: the brief quotations that I cited in this review may change slightly in the final published version.

And, thanks for reading!