The Ghost: A Cultural History by Susan Owens

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Synopsis: Ghosts are woven into the very fabric of life. In Britain, every town, village, and great house has a spectral resident, and their enduring popularity in literature, art, folklore, and film attests to their continuing power to fascinate, terrify, and inspire. Our conceptions of ghosts—the fears they provoke, the forms they take—are connected to the conventions and beliefs of each particular era, from the marauding undead of the Middle Ages to the psychologically charged presences of our own age. The ghost is no less than the mirror of the times.

Organized chronologically, this new cultural history features a dazzling range of artists and writers, including William Hogarth, William Blake, Henry Fuseli, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, Susan Hiller and Jeremy Deller; John Donne, William Shakespeare, Samuel Pepys, Daniel Defoe, Percy and Mary Shelley, Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Henry James, Thomas Hardy, Muriel Spark, Hilary Mantel, and Sarah Waters.

My review: A fascinating book regarding the history and culture of ghosts in the UK. Well researched and written. I really enjoyed reading about how the perception of ghosts has changed throughout the centuries from angry, fully visible ghosts to barely there apparitions.. Excellent read

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The Long Siesta by Nick Sweet

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Synopsis: Summer,1998, Seville.
An elderly priest is found horrifically murdered, and Inspector Velazquez assumes at first a junkie is responsible. But when a second man of the cloth shows up in the Guadalquivir River and a Russian gangster is murdered, the Inspector realizes he has a puzzle of major proportions on his hands. Are the three murders politically motivated? And are they linked? And if so, how? His boss, Comisario Alonso, is breathing down his neck and wanting answers, fast. Then danger begins to creep a little too close to home… In a bullfight, the bull sometimes wins.
The question is, who is the bull–Velazquez, or the murderer?

My review: I have mixed feelings on this one. It started out interesting but then we get lots of things I don’t like – gangsters, pedophiles, sodomised priests and bull fighting. It starts as a standard murder mystery but when Inspector Velasquez girlfriend is kidnapped the murders get forgotten about for a good chunk of the book while he tries to rescue her. Luckily all the loose ends are fixed as the book ends. 

I did like the speed of the book and I’m not sure I’ve read nay detective series set in Spain so that was a nice change of scenery for me. And the same for heroin addict cops. Usually they’re alcoholics. I’m intrigued as to how that will play out in future books. 

It’s a fast paced thriller. If we take out the gangsters I’d have enjoyed it more but overall not a bad book

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Holy Crap! The World is Ending!: How a Trip to the Bookstore Led to Sex with an Alien and the Destruction of Earth (The Anunnaki Chronicles #1) by Anna-Marie Abell

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Synopsis: The president has announced that Earth is going to collide with a rogue moon, and in the process, our entire planet is going to be smashed to bits. As one would expect, upon hearing this news, humans went ballistic. It was as if every sports team in the world lost their championship game at the same time. No car was left unrolled—but oddly enough, Taco Bell remained open and made unfathomable profits in the last days. Apparently, Doritos Locos® Tacos were a popular last meal.
Autumn (who for the purpose of this retelling asked to be portrayed as drool-inducing hot with kick-ass ninja skills) has just been handed the task of saving all of humanity. With the help of her unbelievably sexy alien boyfriend and her kleptomaniac friend with fire-retardant hair, Autumn races to save her fellow humans by using the Ark of the Covenant. Along the way, she discovers how sheltered people are from the truth of extraterrestrials and their power to either protect us or destroy us.

My review: This is a fun book about the end times with an original storyline fully of crazy theories that turned out to be genuine theories (lots of extra info in the glossary at the back). I do like it when you read something that no matter how crazy has something actually going for it. 

This book is full of sexy aliens, food, weird vomit-inducing relationships (in the literal sense), bad guys, Indiana Jones style adventures but in space ships, and so much more. There’s a lot packed into this book. It has a sense of humour running through it and is quite an easy read. I loved the chapter titles – almost as long as the chapters! I loved Devon’s attempt’s not to swear. 

”Well, slap me upside the head and color me zebra,”

There’s quite a fast pace to the book which is good when you think it’s about a race to save the world.

All in all, completely bonkers but I  enjoyed it

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The Zombie Gospel: The Walking Dead and What It Means to Be Human by Danielle J Strickland

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Synopsis: What can zombies teach us about the gospel? The hit show The Walking Dead is set in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by mindless zombies. The characters have one goal: survive at all costs. At first glance there doesn’t seem to be much the show can teach us about God or ourselves. Or is there? Author and speaker Danielle Strickland didn’t expect to be drawn to a show about zombies, but she was surprised by the spiritual themes the show considers. In The Zombie Gospel she explores the ways that The Walking Dead can help us think about survival, community, consumerism, social justice, and the resurrection life of Jesus. After all, in the gospel God raises up a new humanity–a humanity resuscitated and reanimated by the new life of the Holy Spirit. Fans of the show will resonate with the book’s exploration of spiritual themes, and can follow along with the episode discussion guide included within. And even if you haven’t yet encountered The Walking Dead, you may be surprised to find another, greater story within the show’s story.

My review:  I was a bit worried when I started this book as I’m no fan of the church and religion however this book compares the days of Jesus and the early gospels rather than Christianity itself. In fact at one point the author says she doesn’t care what faith someone is as long as you have something and try to be a good person.

The books a bit short, I think some of the comparisons could be extended even further as she makes some really good points about being rock bottom whether through addiction or because the world has ended through a zombie apocalypse and the ways people chose to deal with it. Not everyone is perfect and we all deal in different ways. There are some other stories in here such as that of Nelson Mandela who chose to advocate love and forgiveness rather than hate during his incarceration.

I’m not overly keen on the end with the little list of things to do that will make us a greater person. Volunteering and looking after other whether through giving time or money to good causes is perfectly fine and is something I’ve done many times in the past but it’s the only part of the book that comes across as a bit preachy. She does so well not to do that in the rest of the book.

I was really hoping of a comparison or discussion on TWD’s Jesus and the man himself but sadly it’s not in here. I think the book stops before he’s actually in the show. oh well maybe a sequel??? 🙂

Overall I think the idea is great in principle. The show & comic books creators have said before it’s a story about humanity rather than zombies so this book ties in well.

Not a bad little book

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Watch For Me By Moonlight (Choc Lit) by Kirsty Ferry

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Synopsis: “It was the first full moon since that night. She waited and watched by moonlight, as she had promised …”
When her life in London falls apart, Elodie Bright returns to Suffolk and to Hartsford Hall, the home of her childhood friend Alexander Aldrich, now the Earl of Hartsford. There, she throws herself into helping Alex bring a new lease of life to the old house and its grounds.
After a freak storm damages the Hall chapel and destroys the tomb of Georgiana Kerridge, one of Alex’s eighteenth-century relatives, Elodie and Alex find a reconnection in the shocking discovery brought to light by the damaged tomb.
Through a series of strange flashbacks and uncanny incidents, they begin to piece together Georgiana’s secret past involving a highwayman, a sister’s betrayal and a forbidden love so strong that it echoes through the ages …

My review: One of my favourite authors, I’ve been looking forward to this new series and the book didn’t disappoint. Elodie Bright (a friend of the characters in the Rossetti series of stories) returns to her home in Hartford and attempts to restart both her life and that of  Hartsford House. A freak storm damages the tomb of one of the house’s ancestors where it is discovered that the tomb is empty. The story unfolds in flashback and strange happenings to all living in the grounds. The flashbacks of the Georgian lovers run parallel to the modern day love story as Elodie and Alex attempt to re-build their relationship after a disastrous teenage fling. 

The characters are perfectly written and so easy to imagine but I also really enjoyed the descriptions of the old house and grounds – it almost becomes another character. The writing is excellent with a really good pace and I love the way the two stories intertwine as Elodie and Alex race to solve the centuries old mystery. 

Fantastic start to the new series and can’t wait for the next one 

Thanks to netgalley and Choc Lit for the free arc

The Siren Chronicles, Book 1 by Douglas J. Sloan

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Synopsis: While leading the clean up of the worst oil spill in California history, Marine Biologist Elias Courtney stumbles upon the unthinkable. The beautiful young woman, washed up on the desecrated beach, tangled in the black seaweed, is still alive, but barely. What would possess someone to enter these black poisonous waters, the cause of so many innocent creatures’ demise?!! For that matter, how IS she still alive? How long has she been under the water? As Courtney would soon find out — her entire life. In fact, this was the young mermaid’s first time on land.
Lorelei with companions, Seanne and Millisine, has travelled a long way to walk these scarred shores. Now separated by the horrific oily mess that only humans could have caused, the three sirens must struggle to stay alive as they attempt to navigate this strange new world. They must reunite and begin the “Earthquest” that is their reason for being on land. Their underwater home is sick, dying off at an alarming rate. And whatever is causing the near extinction of the last remaining mermaid colony, clearly originated from exactly where they find themselves.
Edward Titan had waited decades for this moment. All three have arrived, hopeful and innocent, completely unsuspecting. Soon the ocean’s strongest, smartest and most intuitive sirens will find themselves up against years of festering anger and hatred. Titan’s retribution will be swift and brutal. And it will mean the end of an entire civilisation. The Sirens’ Song will soon be no more.

My review: I picked this book from netgalley as I wasdrawn to the mermaid angle. I was a bit disappointed with it. It’s a fairly short book and with three female leads and the points of view of several other characters the book ended up losing a lot of description. The mermaids are washed up on the Hollywood shores and are split up. Lorelei ends up befriending a supermodel, Milissine a marine biologist son of a recording-mogul and poor Seanne is arrested and thrown in an asylum. 

This is the character where the book confused me most. The book opens with a prologue of her being on land and along with her parents fleeing some bad people (this is then ignored until quite near the end of the book) but despite being the initial focus the story then ignores the entire set up and as mentioned  she shares time with so many others. 

I did finish the book and it’s fairly quick but I found it hard to have any connection to the characters without descriptions beyond they were beautiful.  The premise has been done before but unfortunately for this book, done in a better way

Not for me. 

Seven Steps Into Angel Light: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Spiritual Empowerment by Chrissie Astell

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Synopsis: With the current decline in traditional religious practices, there is a surge in a more personal search for spiritual development. This book caters to this need, providing a valuable balance between the mainstream search for spiritual development and the ongoing interest in angels, which are universally acknowledged in all cultures and religions, and can help anyone who believes in them on the path to enhanced spiritual understanding and self-healing.
Inspired by and based on Chrissie’s popular seven-module home-study course ‘Educating Heart & Soul: A Journey in Spiritual Self-Discovery’, this book engages with the powerful energies and qualities of the seven Archangels with which angel expert Chrissie Astell has been working for over fifteen years: Gabriel, Jophiel, Michael, Raphael, Chamuel, Zadkiel and Uriel.
These are the Archangels from the Seven Rays as taught by the Theosophists in the early twentieth century, which represent the seven major types of Light or divine qualities that make up the universe

My review: I’ve seen Chrissie at a number of Mind Body & Spirit shows now but this is the first time I’ve got to read one of her books. I really enjoyed it. I’ve been working on my own development for a few years now and this book for me is an excellent accompaniment for anyone on a similar journey. For those who are much further along the path it offers some reminders and ways to keep that journey going.

It’s filled with affirmations, meditations and exercises as each angel chapter helps you work on healing yourself and learning to heal others in what ever way is closest to your heart. 

There’s so much information in here it’s amazing to read that it overlaps with a course Chrissie runs by just 25%. I got so much from the book I might have to put the course on my bucket list!

The book itself is lovingly written, it has an easy flow to it and is easy to understand for even an absolute beginner. The exercises allow you to open your mind and really think about your life. 

If you have any interest in this field I would highly recommend it. 

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Be a Unicorn: and Live Life on the Bright Side by Sarah Ford

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Synopsis: Escape the real world and enter into the magical realm of unicorns with this little book of positivity. Illustrated with adorable, adorkable unicorns, each spread comes with a funny or inspiring quote reminding you to follow your dreams, and always think unicorn.
Perfect for giving an inspiring boost to your day, or as a cheering up gift for a friend who needs a little more unicorn in their life, this cute and covetable little book is bound to spread smiles wherever it goes

My review: This is one of those fun boos full of colourful pictures, mindful/decluttering quotes that just brightens the day. And it did make me smile. If you love positivity and unicorns then this is a great addition to the bookshelf. It also makes for a cute gift. Now I know what to get all my team mates for Xmas 🙂

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Moonlit Waltz (Whispered Tales #1) by Kathleen Collins

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Synopsis: Once upon a time…
In a land of human and lycan alike, there lived a beautiful girl named Ella. She was adored by her family and loved by a prince. But Ella was a shifter which meant she could never bear children and a prince must have heirs. She believed herself resolved to her fate until her father remarried and his new wife brought his non-shifting daughters to live with them.
Josef has loved Ella since he was twelve years old, but he has an obligation to his kingdom that she can never fulfill. Deciding his son has delayed the inevitable long enough, the king gives him three days to name a bride or one will be chosen for him. On the last day Ella stuns them all and suddenly the prince has hope. Will they find their happily ever after with the help of the goddess herself?
A Cinderella Retelling

My review: Another short book picked to get my TBR pile down. This is an intriguing one that I managed to read in one sitting. It’s a retelling of Cinderella but with werewolves. The fun thing about knowing (or thinking you know) the story upfront is that it makes you keep reading long after you should have gone to bed is to see if it follows the tale you’ve grown up with. And it does keep the faith of the original as much as possible. 

I found the whole book enchanting. It read  like the fairytale that inspired it. The characters are richly described. The wicked step-mother is as horrible as you’d expect. I liked the supernatural twist – Ella can’t marry the prince as she is a shifter and therefor would struggle to provide an heir. We had the Luna Goddess in place of the fairy godmother and the happy ending these stories insist on. 

Re-tellings of Disney and fairytale stories seem to be big at the minute. I’ve read a few now. This is definitely one of the better ones. Highly enjoyable.

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Star Hero: A Star Series Novella (Star #4.6) by Susan Grant

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Synopsis: A Marine serving in the galactic frontier, Lieutenant Lukas Frank has a lot in common with a street dog named Bang-Bang; they both started off as scrappy orphans fighting to survive–and beat the odds. Things change when Bang-Bang leads Lukas to starpilot Captain Carlynn Riga. The tough war hero learns what it means to surrender–his heart. Lukas’s struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, threaten to tear the three of them apart, but nothing threatens them more than when Carlynn goes missing in action. Now the rugged, emotionally scarred Marine and his K-9 partner must find Carlynn and bring her home, or risk losing everything he has finally found worth fighting for. (Expanded from the novella “Stray”, originally published in the Pets in Space 1 Anthology)

My review: I’m deliberately picking all the short books in my huge TBR pile and as this is fairly small I went with this next. Plus I was intrigued by the idea of a series of books called Pets in Space. Animals, romance and space – what’s not to love. 

It manages to pack quite a bit into its 124 pages. Lukas is suffering from PTSD after trying to rescue a colony of stranded people and not quite managing to save them all. I liked this element. I thought it was handled quite well having worked with men suffering from mental health problems. Lukas attempts some journaling but has that annoying male tendency to not talk about his issues preferring the (not that) manly way of bottling everything up until he is about to lose everything he holds dear. 

Carlynn, unable to cope with this anymore takes herself off on a 2 month science programme to get some space and clarity, almost gets eaten by a giant mud monster and the whole team need rescuing allowing Lukas to realise he needs both his girlfriend and to start dealing with his issues. Short, to the point and it works. 

The Pet in this instance isn’t as strongly featured as I’d expected although his story starts and ends the book. He joins the rescue mission and pretty much saves the day. and I’m actually fine with that. It compliments the story rather than takes away from the romance angle. 

The novella is a stand alone story within the series so it didn’t matter that I haven’t read the first four. Based on this one alone I’ll probably go back and read the rest. Really enjoyable 

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