I always knew Scientology had some strange beliefs. And just seeing the clips of Tom Cruise on Oprah and with Matt Lauer are enough to see that followers of the "Church" have some pretty strange ideas. But I had no idea how sordid a past Scientology has...and a present for that matter.
If what Mr. Wright has written is true, and based on his thorough footnotes I'd say he is certainly on solid footing, then Scientology was founded by a paranoid delusional and currently run by a dictatorial madman. L. Ron Hubbard made so many outlandish claims about himself that had no basis in reality that it is dumbfounding that anyone would follow the religious tenets the man "discovered." And if his leadership weren't bad enough, the current leader, David Miscavige, is a maniacal tyrant who stoops to physically attacking any person he perceives may be questioning his authority.
Scientology claims that those practitioners at its highest levels actually have the power to control matter, energy, space, and time. And at the same time they claim to be the only religion based entirely on true scientific principles. So guess what? Superheroes are no longer the realm of science fiction. You need only look to Tom Cruise and John Travolta to find men who can bend space and time to their will.
Well researched and written, "Going Clear" offers a fascinating and jaw-dropping view inside one America's strangest religions. The book is both eye-opening and terrifying. To know that in America there is still an organization who can hold people against their will and force them into slave labor is unnerving. I recommend this book to anyone interested in modern religious study and definitely recommend it to anyone who may have a family member being drawn into this dreadful cult.
The events that unfolded in Europe during July and August of 1914 would decide the fate of the world for the remainder of the 20th Century. The fall of the monarchies of Europe, the Russian Revolution and rise of the Soviet Union, the Second World War, and the Cold War - all these events have their root in the summer of 1914.
Barbara Tuchman's account of the opening days of the First World War is a great read, whether you are seasoned in the history of the period or coming to the subject cold. In fact, it is probably the best starting point for those with little to no knowledge of the Great War.
She begins the book with a description of European society at the dawn of the 20th century, the colonial and arms race of the preceding century, and the various treaties that tied the Allied and Central Powers to one another. Focus then shifts to the assassination in Sarajevo, the diplomatic mishaps that followed, and finally mobilization of the armies and the first shots of the war.
This book, along with "A Distant Mirror," "The Zimmerman Telegram," and "The March of Folly," make Barbara Tuchman one of the more remarkable popular historians of the last hundred years. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
As the header says...this book is okay. It's not particularly exciting but not entirely boring either. The characters aren't particularly captivating nor are they completely uninteresting. I can't highly recommend it but I know there are many out there that will like the story if the user reviews can be trusted.
If there is one bright spot in Krampus, it is the narration by Kirby Heyborne. His tonal shifts and accents are great and specific for each character. I would gladly listen to him in future audiobooks.
That's really all I can say concerning Krampus: The Yule Lord. I just don't have any strong reactions concerning the book, pro or con. It's like an action movie...not great but decent entertainment if there's nothing else to do.
Let me preface this with an admission: I am a Catholic, a practicing one, and I believe that the possibility of possession exists. That being said, I also believe the stories in this book are just that...stories. While possession by demonic forces is possible and has happened, I also believe that such cases are extremely rare and the vast majority can be explained by mental illness or deception.
As for Ed and Lorraine Warren, theirs may certainly be a case of chalatanism but I'm not convinced of this, at least not in all cases. It is possible that they began their career with the belief that they bore some esoteric gift for discerning demonic forces and that they could use this gift to help free people under the influence of such forces. This would certainly predispose them to see supernatural forces at work in what were, in fact, mundane events.
However, while they may have begun career with wide-eyed naivete, at some point they must have either seen the reality of the situation or else were so truly deluded as to see themselves as modern day crusaders in a personal army at war with Satan. If the first is true, then they are charlatans worthy of our scorn. If the second is true, then they are mentally unstable people worthy of our pity.
At one point in the book, Ed Warren asks a demon to describe himself. The demon says, and I am quoting:
"I have a horrible face, I have much gross hair on my body. My eyes are deep sunk. I am black all over. I am burnt. I grow hair. My nails are long, my toes are clawed. I have a tail. I use a spear."
This is such a cartoonish description of a demon, like something pulled straight from the pages of a cheap pulp or comic book. If Ed Warren truly believes such things, then he must truly be naive and simple of mind. Unfortunately though, he is more likely just giving us a portrait of the devil quite prominent in the 1970's and thus playing to the gullibility of the masses.
I bought this book after watching The Conjuring, whichis a great haunted house tale and succeeds as a horror movie. The main characters are Ed and Lorraine Warren and I wanted to get an idea of who these people were, or at least who they claimed to be. Unless you are similarly curious though, I would skip this book. It is wholly unbelievable.
Not much that needs saying here. If you love Norm MacDonald's style of comedy then you'll love this. If you don't like then you won't.
I think it's genius.
I have been a comic book reader since 1985 and while I've always been more in the DC camp, I enjoyed reading this history of the "House of Ideas." The narrator was engaging which is a must with non-fiction books like this.
Going in, I feared that this would be a one-sided story portraying Marvel in glorious, technicolor beauty. The author did a good job of highlighting both the high and low-lights of the publishing giant's 70+ year history. Most importantly, he didn't gloss over the image of Stan Lee, Marvel's ambassador and editor emeritus.
Lee seems is too often portrayed as a genius who single-handedly saved superhero comics from certain demise in the early 1960's while Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, the true geniuses behind Marvel's core characters, get lost in the dust bin of history. Admittedly, Lee certainly contributed much to the rise of Marvel comics in the 1960's but his tireless self-promotion has gained him some undeserved credit in my opinion.
This book covers the history of Marvel from its founding as Timely Comics in 1939 through the first decade of the 21st century and does so "marvelously." I would highly recommend it to comics fans and those who wouldn't know Batman from Christian Bale.
I wouldn't say that I am an expert in the genre of spy fiction. I have read some le Carre and Clancy but I've read nowhere near enough to count myself as a master critic.
That being said, "The Company" is a great novel, whatever genre you wish to place it in. It is a wholly reasonable picture of what the life of a Cold War C.I.A. agent must have been like. There are no great sexual escapades like those in an Ian Fleming novel. The agents here simply do their duty without hope of public glory.
Whether or not you feel the spy genre worthy of your credit, this is a novel that transcends genre and is well worth the money. And at 40 hours you get a lot of bang for your buck.
I thoroughly enjoy the "Prey" series by John Sandford, starring Lucas Davenport. I find that I usually read these in clumps. I'll read a number of books that are more literary in nature and then desire something that I can just enjoy and have fun with.
For this purpose, Sandford's novels are perfect. The characters, Davenport in particular, are well developed and have all grown as the series has progressed. The stories are different than most detective fiction, in that we almost always know who the killer is early in the plot's development. It's not a whodunit but rather a how do we catch them.
I wholeheartedly recommend this and all the "Prey" novels as an excellent escape from mundane daily life.
I would give this 3 1/2 stars if I could and Eric Confer turns in his expected laudable performance. This is just a decent entry compared to Sandford's best, though.
That said, Mad River is superior to most police procedurals/mysteries that come out. I love John Sandford's books and find them a great, light reading experience. While this isn't his best, I'd still recommend it.
My bachelor's degree is in History, and I love studying military history, but I was never much interested in the Vietnam War. And, while most of the books I've read dealing with war have been non-fiction, I have read a few war novels that I would consider "great." All Quiet on the Western Front, The Thin Red Line, and The Killer Angels are all books I believe to be great works of fiction based on real events and Matterhorn is on par with all of them.
The author is a Marine who served in Vietnam so the book's authenticity is unquestionable. I can't recommend this highly enough. The story and characters are rich and engaging and the narration by Bronson Pinchot is spot on. Do yourself a favor and pick it up.
Somehow, no matter the medium, the third entry in any trilogy ends up being the weakest entry in the series--Return of the Jedi and Godfather III being the most glaring examples. So, while not near as bad as the final Godfather film, Solomon's Song is decidedly worse than its forerunners. That being said, it is still a 3 1/2 - 4 star book.
The story picks up after the events of Tommo & Hawk but the next 20 years are skimmed through very quickly. There are more problems between the two branches of Ikey's family, dealing with the brewing business, but the crux of the story deals with the First World War and its repercussion for both the Solomon family and Australia as a whole. We follow Mary's great-grandson and Tommo's grandson, Ben Teekleman, as he lands on the beaches of Galipoli and fights the Turks in the name of Great Britain.
Galipoli was to become the seminal event that gave the people of Australia their identity. After the Battle of Galipoli, they were steadfastly Australian, set apart from the English, much like their cousins in America after the War of Independence. It is a fitting end to Courtenay's "love song to Australia," portraying the moment at which a people whose identity has always been tied to the Mother Country become a seperate and unique nation of individuals.
I have read some reviews that say this book was unnecessary and that Courtenay should have finished the story with Tommo & Hawk. I wholeheartedly disagree. It is true that, compared with The Potato Factory and Tommo & Hawk, this book is decidedly inferior. However, it is still an important and fitting end to this historically fictional account of Australia--from penal colony to independent nation. And besides, while it may not live up to its predecessors, the book is still very good. If you have read the first two entries, it is well worth your time and money to finish the story of Ikey Solomon, Mary Abacus, and their descendants.
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