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review 2016-11-01 10:04
Obsession & Possession...
Burnt Offerings - Robert Marasco

This was one of the best haunted house stories I've ever read! I just loved it! It's about The Rolfes- Marian, Ben & their son David. They live in a noisy apartment building in Queens so in order to get some peace they rent a house in the country for two months for their summer vacation. The house turns out to be a huge mansion that has fallen in disrepair. They find the renters, Roz & Brother, to be very eccentric and in the back of their mind they know that something isn't quite right. They present them with an offer they can't refuse though so they move in and take possession of the house but they'll come to find out that the house has taken possession of them; and as Marian's obsession with the house intensifies and her will to choose her family over the house is slowly taken from her, the house comes back to life...


Sometimes I find the endings to haunted house stories can be kind of hokey but I thought this one was very satisfying. The entire story was very atmospheric and I really enjoyed the sense of dark foreboding that overcast their stay. Seeing the house take possession of the family was very eerie and nicely written by the author.


If I absolutely 'had' to pick something that I didn't care for, it would probably be Marian & Ben's lovey-dovey dialogue. It was kind of sweet at first, and to give the author credit where credit is due, it was pretty realistic but I really don't care to hear couples baby talk in real life so I definitely don't care to hear it in a book either. That's really just a personal preference though and it didn't bother me enough to sway my rating.


On a side note, my 'obsession' with books 'possessed' me to buy a 1973 first edition of this but I'm so glad I did! It was totally worth it and I know I'll go back and reread it one day. For now though, it's going back in its Brodart and I'm going to find a copy of this movie that I'm dying to see!

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review 2016-07-24 18:41
A captivating apocalyptic tale!
The Last Ark: First Omnibus Edition, Parts I-IV (The Fatima Code) Is The Antichrist Already In The Vatican? - Jack Sky


The Last Ark, penned by author Jack Sky, is a twelve-book apocalyptic series based on the Third Secret revealed by the Virgin Mary to the children at Fatima. The books are available as individual volumes or in three omnibus editions, each one containing four books. This review is for books I-IV.


The first book, The Vision, begins with a disturbing vision that comes to Marian Pope Petrus Romanus in the form of a dream. Once awake, he prays fervently for guidance. Through the protection and intersession of the Virgin Mary, he and his trusted team get the skilled workers and the funds they need to organize and build the refugee camps known collectively as “Mary's Ark” or, in short, “The Marks.”


While Pope Petrus Romanus and his crew are preparing to protect the refugees, an Anti John the Baptist called The General is working on a more sinister project. The General’s job is to pave the way for the Antichrist. He and his team of Exterminans, vicious demons disguised as humans, are supervising the construction of the Drozdov underground cities to protect the world’s ruling elite and their allies and for the stockpiling of nuclear missiles --- all with the goal of causing a global catastrophe that would lead to the reign of the Antichrist. As part of the “Plan” they are charged with implementing, they will assign a demon to each human subject so that the people could easily be enslaved for the benefit of the ruling class.


The saga continues with True Devotions, where the forces of evil continue to make arrangements for the fulfillment of prophecies by implementing a new world order with its man-made religion and doctrines. Meanwhile the Catholic Marians are rushing to establish the Marks worldwide before the appointed Blackout day as revealed to Pope Petrus Romanus.


In the third book, The Blackout, chaos reigns everywhere in the aftermath of nuclear-missile explosions. The Marks and the Drozdov underground cities are fully operational, and their leaders are receiving the survivors as planned. Worldwide, electronic devices are non-functional, except in Russia, the Operations Center for the Plan.


After the blackout, Russia arises as the world's savior with a ruling body comprised of the General with his six subordinate Exterminans, Russians militia, six Chinese oligarchs, and American and European elite.


As part of the Plan, Vatican City is fully annihilated while the Cardinals are in a secret conclave to replace Pope Petrus Romanus, who was accused of misconduct. After the proceedings against Pope Petrus are over, he and a trusted group of Cardinals leave the room. At a small chapel, they elect Pope Petrus II. After the election, they go to the Mark located outside Rome to wait for refugees. At a top of a mountain from which he could see Vatican City, Petrus I performs an exorcism. Afterward, he and his loyal and fervent group die as martyrs. That scene is based on the Third Secret revealed to the children of Fatima.


The omnibus edition concludes with The Consecration, in which the properly elected Pope Petrus II must fulfill Mary’s wish to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. In order to succeed, the Marian Catholics will have to face the General and his evil forces, whose goal is to enslave the human race and prevent that consecration. However, the General himself is confronted with a series of unfortunate events that makes him reconsider his strategy --- they come about because now both Heaven and Hell are at war on Earth!


Shortly before concluding the story, the author will give the readers a glimpse of Hell, the orchestrated hierarchy and dominion of Heaven and Hell, and, as its culmination, the release of the Beast as prophesied in the Book of Revelations.


When I decide to review a book with theology and apocalyptic theme, I do some research to verify and discern truth from fiction. Although I am not an expert on theology, based on my research, I found the core basis for the story to be in agreement with the teachings of the Catholic Church. The author uses Pope Petrus I to relate what happened to Sister Lucia when she was ordered to reveal the Third Secret of Fatima and how the Church reacted to the message.


The story is captivating and full of Catholicism. Readers who are not Catholic but who enjoy this kind of book need to have an open mind in order to understand the story and its message. Names and numbers are chosen for their meaning and relevance to the story. For example: Pope Petrus refers to Saint Peter, the first pope, who was appointed by Jesus himself. The first four books of the series entail topics of interest today as well as reliable historical facts and events.


I found only two main issues that took some credibility away and made the story, at times, hard to follow. First, the use of military jargon was not always properly or immediately explained. Second, I found the explanation of quantum theology for children of ages 10 through 12 too complex for that age group. That discussion was extremely hard to follow. This book could have highly benefited from a glossary to explain all the jargon and abbreviations.


I highly recommend Jack Sky's apocalyptic series, The Last Ark, as an improved version of the Christian series, The Left Behind.


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text 2016-05-12 17:44
By Sharon Kay Penman A King's Ransom (First Edition) - Sharon Kay Penman

This is the sequel to "Lionhearted." In her author's note, Penman writes the first novel is about Richard the legend, this one about Richard the man Maybe that's why I enjoyed this sequel much more than "Lionheart" my least favorite among the almost dozen of hers I've read. Richard is at his most sympathetic as a prisoner of the Germans and dealing with his trauma in the aftermath. And after reading 9 of Penman's books dealing with the Angevins, I felt rather sad leaving them--especially her Eleanor of Aquitaine--I'm sure Penman does too.

In many of her books, there is a tension between two adversaries and Penman leaves you suspended in your sympathy towards both--whether it's Matilda versus Stephen or Henry versus his sons or even Richard versus Saladin. This wasn't this sort of book. Heinrich of Germany and Philippe of France are both thoroughly loathsome. Her Prince John though unscrupulous is fun to read and you do feel for him at times. I think though of all the more secondary characters my favorite was Raimond de St Gilles, the Count of Toulouse. Like Joanna, I fell in love with him and wished I could spend more time with him, although considering the tragic fate of Toulouse in the Albigensian Crusade, it's perhaps best we leave him where we did. He was a man sadly out of step of his time in his irreverence and tolerance. Penman is her best at recapturing medieval times from the foods to the deeply held beliefs and a mindset alien to us. It's to be transported to a world as alien as Mars.

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review 2016-01-25 16:54
Mourning the death of the Republic and the birth of the Empire
Bomb Power 1st (first) edition Text Only - Garry Wills
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review 2015-12-08 15:08
Good read but not worth the hype.
By Phil Klay Redeployment (First Edition) - Phil Klay

I had heard about this much heralded book, with its awards and popular acclaim. It did not seem like something that I cared to read (never cared much for military history, not really into wartime books, etc.) I also thought that it might be too graphic or uncomfortable to read. But I read some social media posts by the author and decided, 'Why not?' and wanted to expand my reading horizons a bit.


It's a series of short stories where none of the characters are connected (I don't think? If they are it's very slight). It's from various viewpoints: the soldiers who are in war, the ones who have come home, the ones who are preparing to be deployed, a chaplain, etc. We see war from their various viewpoints, plus the aftermath: how (and if) they readjust, post-homecoming, etc.


I hesitate a bit on how to rate it. When I heard about it I had been under the impression it was to make the military, etc. a little more accessible for the civilian. It both does and doesn't. It wasn't as graphic as it could have been (although certainly it's not sanitized either), but sometimes it was really difficult to understand. There's a chapter that's told almost entirely in military acronyms and there's no appendix or reference to decipher it. Other reviews will tell you how much people hated the chapter/didn't like that it was military jargon, but I thought that was somewhat the point. Civilians don't understand unless you've been through it (or perhaps know someone very closely). And I thought (as a civilian) that the takeaway was from the last lines of that particular story. But that was just my takeaway and I do understand the people who really hated it.


As written elsewhere the stories vary in quality. Some were very compelling reads, many were quite boring. None of the characters stand out, although I do wonder if that's the author intent (the military is just an entity for a lot of people, it's not composed of the individuals who serve). I somewhat don't understand some of the complaints about the profanity: considering what some of these people see, I was surprised there wasn't a lot more cussing and it wasn't a lot more graphic. It was also disappointing that it's not clear if any of the narrators are women. It can be hard to tell from the text and maybe it's deliberately left vague, but it would have been nice to have a story or two explicitly from the viewpoint of a woman (especially in light of the recent news about women and the military, plus talk of opening the draft to women, etc.)


Ultimately I don't regret reading it but I really don't think it deserves all the acclaim it has received. I wouldn't be surprised if military buffs/historians will add it to their shelves and maybe it's not a bad buy or borrow for military families or for a young person considering joining up. For someone like me, a civilian who has little to no close ties but wanted to learn more, I'd definitely suggest borrowing from the library instead.

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