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review 2017-11-12 19:55
Ghostland
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places - Colin Dickey

I can't decide if I was mis-sold on this book or not. It was about what I expected to read, I suppose, but not in the way I expected to read it. I dunno. I feel a little cheated but can't quite put my finger on why.

 

Ghostland is an exploration of American history through some of the countries most haunted locations. Houses, hotels, graveyards, and even whole cities are discussed because really, if you look hard enough, everyone has a ghost story to tell. Locations discussed include The Winchester Mystery Manor, Danvers Mental Hospital, Gettysburg, and the entire city of Detroit. It's definitely a different way to look at American history, especially if you're interested in the paranormal.

 

I think the biggest reason I feel cheated by this book is it did end up being more of a review and critique of American history than a book about haunted locations, which was what I expected and haunted. Some chapters, mainly in the beginning, were what I expected. For example, I found the chapter on the Winchester Mystery Manor fascinating due to it going quite in depth into ghost stories and the spiritualist movement while also discussing their historical significance. That to me was exactly what I wanted to read. An annoyingly large part of the book though was more like, "slavery is bad" and "ghost hunters are ridiculous." I'll talk more about that in a moment but it was not at all what I wanted to read. 

 

This book was really interesting. It explored a lot of aspects of American history I was unaware of and when it did connect to ghost stories it was incredible. For example, in one chapter we learn how ghost stories in part inspired the formation of the KKK in that early members pretended to be specters of fallen soldiers to scare the newly emancipated slaves. That's something I never learned in history class. 

 

There were some chapters that even if they weren't connected to ghost stories per say the history was presented in a new way that was fascinating. I particularly liked the chapter on haunted asylums since, even though the ghost stories were few and far between, Dickey a) didn't demonize psychology the way many people I know do when criticizing past practices and b) explored a completely fresh angle of the haunted asylums: why they were built they way they were. As a psych graduate I find the thought processes behind their architecture fascinating and I'm glad Dickey focused so much on that element, rather than just going "lobotomies are bad" and leaving it at that. 

 

Also worth noting is the fact that Dickey explores ghost/creepy stories that don't always make it into the mainstream. I was particularly pleased to see that he included the stories of Elisa Lam and the history of the Cecil Hotel as well as the Lalaurie Manor in his explorations. 

 

The biggest critique I have of this novel is that Dickey comes across as being incredibly full of himself throughout the entire thing. His writing style came across very much so like those "I, an Intellectual" memes and it was obnoxious. I think what got me the most is he came across as VERY disparaging of ghost hunters and tourists. His condescension towards those groups was unbearable. Judging only by the way he writes, he reminds me of the bullies from my English classes who never hesitated to inform you of how enlightened they were and how beneath them you were for not being as enlightened. That was definitely not what I signed up for and it made getting into the book very difficult. 

 

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars. The book has a lot of interesting information, but the author gets in his own way with his ego. Would recommend for those interested in haunted history but check it out, don't buy it. 

 

Final thought: You can disagree with something without being a dick about it, Colin. 

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review 2017-11-01 19:37
An oldie but goodie
These Haunted Heights - Ally Blue

First off, that's a bad cover. Not the worst I've seen from MLR, but still bad enough to annoy me.

But this isn't about the cover, it's about the story.

 

Loved this. Poor Drew was so broken. And Ron was patient and understanding.
There was no doubt who the ghost was but that didn't matter, this was all about the relationship.


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text 2017-10-21 17:21
Halloween Bingo - Demons - Another Bingo!
Terror in Tower Grove - Samantha Johns

 

 

 

I read Terror in Tower Grove for Halloween Bingo on 3 September 2017.

 

This gives me a Bingo for the fourth row down going across.

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text 2017-10-19 20:03
Reading progress update: I've read 29%.
Ghost Hunting Diary Volume I - TM Simmons

Research material.

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review 2017-10-16 16:44
Confusing Book That Has Way Too Many POVs and a Sub-par Ending
77 Shadow Street (with bonus novella The Moonlit Mind) - Dean Koontz

I don't even know what to say. I was tempted to DNF but I really wanted something to get crossed off of my second bingo card so struggled through to the end with this one.

 

I don't know guys, I think that Koontz has flashes of brilliance in his books, but his later stuff is just him preaching via his characters about whatever he currently has a bug about. This one is just about how advances in technology can lead to the world being wiped out via our scientific advances.

 

I will say the initial part of the book (the horrific events that occurred at a Gilded Age home over the years) was great. When Koontz got into the characters and dialogue it just fell apart. What's wrong with just writing a straight haunted house mystery? I don't know why Koontz went from that to what this turned into.

 

"77 Shadow Street" follows a former home eventually turned into condos that every 37 or maybe it was 38 years an event occurs there that leaves all of the inhabitants dead. Now it's about to go through its cycle again. Now called the Pendleton, it is a home for it seems fairly well off people. 

 

I don't know what to say about the characters. We have a former Marine (of course we do) who is now an investment banker of some sort. Two elderly rich sisters leaving together, a former U.S. Senator, a country music writer and her son, and a woman and her autistic daughter. There is also a retired lawyer, a scientist, and shoot I know I am blanking on at least 4 more people here, but I can't even recall people's names at this point.


I can't even point to a favorite character since we spend so little time with everyone. You maybe get a paragraph or two before Koontz blithely skips to the next character. We also get an info dump via the retired attorney about the history of the Pendleton. I really hate info dumps and this one made no sense to me since who moves into a place where it seems murders keeps happening? 

 

If Koontz could have limited himself to a first person POV and just had that character introduce us to the other characters it could have worked. When I started reading the one kid's point of view I was just over everything. It doesn't help that we get some bad science via characters too when the happenings at the Pendleton start getting explained. 


Readers quickly find out though that Shadow Street is not what it seems. It appears to also connect to a man calling himself "Witness" and a narrator calling themselves "The One." It takes a while for all of this to sync up so you can figure out what is going on. However, the reveal to me was disappointing.  

 

The flow started off okay and than just got increasingly worse. The writing was atrocious (dialogue wise) too. I just kept going to myself, who the heck talks like this while I was reading. Everyone sounded like a bad fortune cookie. At one point I thought I was reading an Odd Thomas book since everyone in this book managed to sound like that character at one point or the other. 

 

The setting of the Pendleton at first was creepy. But when things got explained I found myself in disbelief about how this all got explained. It was overly explained and I called BS on what actions one of the characters did. I think it would have caused some paradox consequences, but I really didn't care at that point cause at least I had finished this book. 

 

FYI, I skipped reading the novella included since it was a prequel of "77 Shadow Street" called "The Moonlit Mind" and honestly should have maybe been put up front before you get into the longer book. Either way, I was glad to be done and refused to read that. This book ended around the 75 percent mark because of my skipping that read. 

 

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