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review 2018-07-19 10:53
Ghost Boy
Ghost Boy - Stafford Betty

by Stafford Betty


Sometimes a book starts a little awkwardly, like the author was trying too hard to make a start and to get too many things in too soon or to make a special effort to mention some 'agenda'. I had to make a few allowances for this one because the story I was expecting to read, about a protagonist who sees ghosts, was worked into that crucial first chapter smoothly enough to hope for some good flow to the rest of the story.


It did flow well after, though I felt the narrative was 'young' for my taste, but it's targeted at YA and middle grade and I would say appropriate for the middle grade age group, apart from the diversions into conversations about 'God' that don't quite fit in and come across as if the author is laying ground to push young readers towards religious beliefs.


Ben Conover is a boy from a religious family, but he sees ghosts, especially a girl ghost who he calls Abby. His parents don't believe what he sees is real of course and try to get him to stop making comments about it. The story covers interactions with other kids, both friends and foes, as well as family members. There are a few lessons about following the lead of older kids, especially relatives, who do things you know aren't smart and about dealing with life in general from a 12-13 year old's perspective.


Overall I did enjoy the story, but it didn't really progress in a central theme and I thought the ending left some inconclusive loose ends. I liked Ben as a character, but I did think some of the situations could have been better developed or followed up.

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review 2018-07-17 10:47
The Ghost Slept Over - Jason Frazier,Marshall Thornton

How do you get close to and start a relationship with someone when you have the ghost of your ex literally following your every move?

Cal is trying.

Surprised to learn that his ex left his entire estate to him, he travels to the small town of Marlboro to meet up with Mac’s lawyer, Dewey, to discuss the details. Cal plans to stay a couple of weeks to take care of everything and during this time, both Dewey and the town and its people start to grow on him.

Unfortunately, Mac’s ghost is still around and none too happy about Cal’s plans to sell the house nor his growing relationship with Dewey.

The story was OK but it was Jason Frazier’s portrayal of Mac as a grumpy narcissist that really sold it. I did not particularly like Mac, but he was done absolutely perfectly to the point where he pretty much stole the show completely.

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review 2018-07-17 00:23
The Ghost of Follonsbee's Folly by Florence Hightower
The Ghost of Follonsbee's Folly - Florence E. Hightower,Ati Forberg

A charming story about the Stackpoles, a lively family of six and their housekeeper/cook Angela, who moves into a gothic Victorian pile in the country. 'Follonsbee's Folly' has been empty for a long time, but some members of the family discover that it isn't as empty as they thought.

This was great. A new house is a classic launch for any kid's book, and this one follows several paths successfully. Everyone in the family is delighted with the house except for Angela who has cared for the two older children all of their lives and continues to look after the infant twins. She was willing to go with the family to their new home, but there are many reasons why a crumbling old house is no place for young children, especially if you have to be the one to take care of it all. She treats the children like her own, and often talks to them about her own son who was lost in World War II. The house is in poor condition, but the adults set to renovating the house while the children explore. Elsie is entranced by the discovery of an enormous doll house, the Folly itself in exact miniature, and decides to restore it. Tom discovers the bucolic wonders of the great outdoors and even finds his own project in an abandoned rowboat. It isn't long before Tom meets a young black man out in the woods who, though a little put out about new people finding his fishing spots, is friendly and willing to show Tom around the river and help fix up the boat so they can fish together. The young man, Joe, asks that Tom not tell anybody else about him as he doesn't like to be bothered on his vacation.

Hightower fills the book with descriptions of nature and the happy bustle of a family. The descriptions of the speaking tubes in the house and the underground railroad were great additions. The children have plenty to do with their respective story lines and have some dubious babysitting tips. I was pleasantly surprised at how central of a role Angela plays in the novel. She is sympathetic and well drawn and a vital part of the family. By the end of the book, Angela is the central character of the book and it is gratifying to see how it all works out.

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review 2018-07-10 03:26
Ghostland - where we all live
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places - Colin Dickey

Disclosure:  I accessed this book through my local public library's digital collection.  I do not know the author nor have I ever communicated with him about this book or any other matter.  I am an author of romance fiction and assorted non-fiction.



I truly enjoyed this book, and found the author's perspective both interesting and ultimately respectful of believers and skeptics alike.


It would be impossible, of course, for a single volume to catalogue all the thousands, perhaps millions, of alleged hauntings in this country.  Dickey can probably be accused with some justification of cherry-picking the examples he used to best illustrate his theories: among them that whether ghosts -- as the more or less embodied spirits of the dead -- are real or not, we need them.  And so we would have created them anyway even if they weren't real.


The aspect of the book that fascinated me the most was the way he deconstructed some of the most well-known and even well-documented hauntings, as evidence that it's in the creation of a ghostly narrative that fits what we collectively as a culture want the haunting to be that it comes alive, pun of course intended.


Because I'm not a fan of horror fiction -- it's all I can do to get through the least horrific Lovecraft for Halloween Bingo -- I can't say if the creation of a fictional haunting narrative follows that theory.  I do, however, think it applies to the gothic romance.  The haunting, the ghostly presence, has to integrate with the living characters in an organic way for the two stories to work with each other.





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text 2018-07-09 22:05
Reading progress update: I've read 253 out of 401 pages.
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places - Colin Dickey

This is proving to be one of those books that brings together a lot of old friends.  There are references to James W. Loewen and Frederic Jameson and Walter Benjamin.


Loewen, of course, is contemporary and accessible.  I can't recommend enough his Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America.


Jameson is less accessible, but then he is a theorist more than a commentator, imho.


Even before Dickey mentioned Walter Benjamin, I distinctly felt his influence -- his spirit? -- from The Arcades Project, a good portion of which I read in grad school.  I still have his Reflections, one of the texts for that particular (and particularly annoying) class, because the texts were far better than the instructor.  (Yes, I'm lookin' at you, Arthur Sabatini.)


I've reached the part in Ghostland that deals with haunted cities, and it's almost impossible not to have a slideshow of abandoned Detroit buildings running through my imagination.




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