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review 2018-03-18 20:48
That Hideous Strength
That Hideous Strength - C.S. Lewis

This is the third volume of the Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis, which fulfilled his end of a deal he made with J. R. R. Tolkien. Finding a dearth of books they actually wanted to read, they set out to write them. Lewis would write about space travel and Tolkien about time travel. Alas. the latter only began the sadly short The Lost Road and the much longer but also unfinished The Notion Club Papers (both found within The History of Middle-earth series). I wish he had finished both, not to mention The Fall of Arthur. I hope I don't die with books unwritten. But I digress...


Lewis began his Trilogy with Out of the Silent Planet, continued it with Perelandra (loved this! especially Ransom's struggle, so like Frodo's, to fulfill his vocation), and concludes it here. In the previous volumes, we spent time on Mars and Venus. In this tale, we are back on the silent planet, our own Earth.


Newly married Jane Studdock is troubled by nightmares she later learns are actual event and is a gift (or curse) powers around her wish to use for good or ill. Her husband, Mark, is a professor at Bracton, an English college more than 700 hundreds old. He desperately wishes to be considered part of the Progressive Element at the school.


Bragdon Wood on the school's property is even older than it, with ties to the time of Merlin. N.I.C.E. (The National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments) wishes to buy the Wood for their headquarters. Even though I have only read this classic for the first time this year, I already knew N.I.C.E. was not nice, but the college is in financial distress and the money offered to purchase the wood proves irresistable.


Mark attends the meeting that decides upon the sale, while Jane lunches with Mr. and Mrs. Drimble. Mr. Drimble was Jane's tutor in school and an expert on all things Arthurian. Jane's strange dream intrigues the man. That night, Mark attends a dinner where he hears of N.I.C.E.'s vision of the future, which is truly frightening to anyone with sense (and unfortunately still alive and well today in the real world). But Mark readily agrees to help the organization implement their plans and so begins his slow slide into hell.


Upon recommendation from Mr. Drimble, Jane goes to see Miss Ironwood. She hopes to get a cure for her nightmares, but the woman tells her she cannot cure her because she is not sick. She has not had nightmares; she has received visions of reality which Miss Ironwood hopes Jane will use to help save the whole of mankind, which is in great peril. If Jane tells anyone else of her dreams, she could place herself in terrible danger. But if she places her visions in the service of Miss Ironwood and her unnamed cohorts, she would be a tremendous boon to the entire human race. Jane says she wants nothing to do with anything like that. She just wants her nightmares to end.


But the dreams do not stop. Jane and Mark are soon caught up in a great battle between light and darkness and on opposite sides. Who wlll prevail?


I liked this book overall, It is chilling how accurate it still is, more than 70 years later, about how the so-called Progressive Element operates with the manipulation of the media to misinform the public, their goals to eliminate undesirable elements of the human race, and their work toward making man immortal. It gets rather too strange shortly after the appearance of Merlin (though not because of his appearance). Before then, the strength of Lewis' writing shows through. Let us heed the warnings he gives.

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text 2018-03-08 03:48
Cute Childrens' Book
The Gesture Grin - D. B. Lewis,Anthony Jones

Cute book for children about Grin who is a magical creature called a Gesture and is the originator of thoughts. It is the tale of the Yawls who are cave people afraid of the dark, stumble around, and bang their heads. Tall Yawl believes there must be a solution to this problem, but what could it be? He ponders, and wonders, and then one night lightening flashes and strikes a tree, setting it on fire. He puts a stick to the fire and, Viola! a torch and no more darkness in their caves.
My granddaughter and I enjoyed this story and found many of the illustrations humorous. The entire story is told in rhyme and we thought it was reminiscent of Dr. Suess, and then on the back, there it was: "Inspired by Dr. Suess".
Here is the blurb from the back:
"Join Yawl Tall as he seeks a way,
To end the darkness that comes each day.
Just when it seems no answer is near,
Tall uses his thinker and Grin Appears.
Grin is a Gesture, a creature of thought,
Rewarding with an answer when all seems naught.
Be it Snap, Nod, Grin, or Wink,
A Gesture appears every time you think.
Will Yawl Tall find the answer he desperately seeks:
Turn the page and take a peek."

My thanks to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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text 2018-03-04 09:24
Fevered with Love's Anxiety: "Phantom Thread" by Paul Thomas Anderson


This movie made think on one of Saint John of the Cross' poems.


At 3am the dragon set forth along the Caparica beach and stared out over the water, lit only with the full moon:


In an obscure night, Fevered with love's anxiety (O hapless, happy plight!), I went, none seeing me, Forth from my cave, where all things quiet be,” said the dragon, to no one in particular. But someone was there, creeping around in the shadows. Arthur, Arthur Scargill the vampire, twiddling his strangely long thumbs.


'Zombies! Zombies everywhere!' Cried the Dragon. 'Quick!' Said Arthur, 'Get in my futuristic looking Ford Sierra. Don't mind Stig he does that.' 'What's that thudding sound?' Said the dragon, 'Don't mind them. That's me killer robots.' Said Arthur as they crashed through some barriers and narrowly missed going over a cliff. 'What am I sitting on?' Said the dragon gloomily. 'That's just big bird.' Said Arthur.


Vampire Arthur Scargill wasn't in the mood for a moody Dragon, and had come to look up to the Beast, through the sunroof, as a source of inspiration. "You just turn that frown upside down, Laddie."


He stopped the car and told the Grumpy Dragon to look behind them; nothing but chaos, dust, and a shed on a tow-rope.

'Go and look in't shed, eh? I've got Mr. Sheen in there.' The Gloomy Dragon flapped his great wings, and whooooosh was half-way out of the sunroof in a second. 



If you're into stuff like this, read on.

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text 2018-02-28 22:30
February 2018-That's a Wrap!
October - Michael Rowe
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere 1) - Meg Elison
Vision (2015-) #10 - Tom King,Gabriel Walta,Mike Del Mundo
Tarnished City (Dark Gifts) - Vic James
Daytripper - Fábio Moon,Gabriel Bá,Craig Thompson,Dave Stewart,Sean Konot
Edging - Michael Schutz,Michelle.Thompson
The Night Child: A Novel - Anna Quinn
West Cork - Audible Originals,Jennifer Forde,J.H. Bungey
All the Names They Used for God: Stories - Anjali Sachdeva
March: Book Two - Andrew Aydin,Nate Powell,John Robert Lewis

I've read 16 books this month!


Graphic Novels

March: Book Two by John Lewis 4*

The Vision: The Complete Series by Tom King 5*

Saga: Volume One by Brian Vaughan 5*

Saga: Volume Two by Brian Vaughan 4.5* 

Daytripper: Deluxe Edition by Fabio Moon 5*

Total: 5



October by Michael Rowe 4.5*

Total: 1



The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison 4.5*

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel 3*

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modern Day Bestiary by David Sedaris 3*

West Cork by Sam Bungey and Jennifer Forde 4*

Total: 4



The Night Child by Anna Quinn 4*

All the Names They Used For God by Anjali Sachdeva 4*

Tarnished City by Vic James 4.5*

Zero Day by Ezekiel Boone 3.5*

Total: 4


Random Reads

Corpse Cold: New American Folklore by John Brhel 3.5*

Edging by Michael Schutz 4*

Total: 2




Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge:

Challenge: Read 40 Books Already on my TBR

1. City of the Dead by Brian Keene

2. The Warblers by Amber Fallon

3. October by Michael Rowe

Status: 3/40


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review 2018-02-27 21:24
A Very Prophetic Novel Subject to Interpretation!
It Can't Happen Here - Sinclair Lewis,Michael Meyer

It Can’t Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis, author; Grover Gardner, narrator The time is 1936. The Depression is a nightmare memory which has changed the mood of the country. There is political unrest, a charged atmosphere of distrust for government officials, anger at rich corporate giants, and a general somber malaise is hanging over America. Political candidates represent the people’s fears, and one in particular appeals to their emotions by stressing the idea of helping “the forgotten man”. Although there are those that find his diatribes unbecoming, because of his racist and anti-Semitic remarks, there are more who seem to be glomming on to his message of hope and equal, economic opportunity for those who feel left behind. Socialism, Fascism, Communism and Capitalism are on the radar of all voters. Which ideology will be chosen in this country overrun by opinion and nationalism, where certain groups of people are being vilified and ostracized and others praised as more worthy? Each major party accuses the other of wrongdoing, of being fascists. In the novel, Hitler is becoming more popular in Europe and in America where FDR is facing a myriad of other Presidential pretenders. When the Socialist Brezelius Windrip defeats him and is elected President, there is disbelief. Soon, all Hell breaks loose as he begins to change the face of the country. He wants to give everyone $5000 a year as a minimum, standard wage, (but he doesn’t. He makes promises to promote health care and provide free education. He offers pipe dreams that cannot be fulfilled, and when he is swept into office, with a country divided for and against him, he merely eliminates his detractors using his volunteer band of supporters called Minute Men. He immediately arms and begins to pay them. They eagerly remove those who defy him, by any means they choose. Congress and the Supreme Court Justices are arrested. The M.M.’s, as they are called, are thugs who indiscriminately and gleefully used their power to brutalize and abuse those who formerly had power over them. Windrip used old venerable institutions of education as prisons and created concentration camps. By eliminating those that would not acquiesce to his demands, by putting them into work camps or murdering them after using barbaric methods of torture to get them to confess to crimes or rethink their positions, he gained more and more power. Rebellion was almost impossible as it was easy to suppress. When some well known and respected citizens were arrested and killed for no apparent reason, few protested lest it happen to them too. Racist and anti-Semitic laws were passed. If one disobeyed, arbitrary punishment and horrific methods of torture were used. Windrip’s minion’s brutality rivaled Hitler’s. As people came to their senses, realizing that no one was safe from the whims or wrath of these ill equipped leaders and military men, some attempted to rebel. Journalists began to realize that they might have helped this man get into office and they tried to remedy the situation with editorials. They were quickly silenced, arrested and/or eliminated. No opposition was tolerated. An underground effort formed to help victims of the brutality escape from the country, but the borders were well guarded. Some got to Canada, which was predictive of a time decades later when resisters of the Viet Nam War crossed the border. Soon, there was unrest at the highest levels of government. After a little over two years, Windrip was betrayed and overthrown by his friend and confidante, Secretary of State Lee Sarason. A month later, Sarason was murdered by the new Secretary of State, Dewey Haik who took over and consolidated power even further and was even more ruthless. What kind of a country would the United States become after all was said and done? Which group would emerge victorious? Who were the culprits causing so much dissidence in the country and suspicion of the government? Was it the rich, the corporations or the ignorant who were hungry for power and equality even though they actually were not prepared to handle the authority given without abusing it? Sinclair Lewis never really provides an answer. The book condemns Fascism and Communism but really does not offer a better alternative when it ends, leaving the resolution of the rebellion unfinished. The book was prescient since WWII and its atrocities were not in full swing when it was published. Still, there must have been more of an awareness of Hitler’s vicious policies than I had believed, because many forms of cruelty and maliciousness used by Hitler were arbitrarily practiced in the concentration camps of Lewis’ imagination. Most of the current reviewers are saying this book describes a political climate like our own today, and they proclaim it laid the groundwork for the election of Donald Trump, a President they do not support. It is a well documented fact that the media is biased against him because of his unsophisticated and often immature retorts to their criticisms; also the publishing industry, as well, falls into that category of progressives who do not approve of his election. It is also a fact that these very same people supported one of his opponents, overwhelmingly. This opposition seems to be largely responsible for creating the same atmosphere today, that Lewis wrote about in 1935. They call for resistance to the President for the same behavior they are even more guilty of and are therefore hypocrites, hiding behind an emotional appeal to people who wish to remain ignorant, in the same way as Lewis’s characters did, at first. That said, anyone who followed our recent election would realize that Bernie Sanders, the Socialist Senator who represented Vermont, was more closely related to Berzelius Windrip than Donald Trump. Sanders offered free education to all and wished to impose a mandatory salary for everyone, as well. However, Sanders was against the power of big corporations, so in that way he veered from Windrip who used them to further his agenda. Sanders wanted to represent those who felt they were getting short changed. Trump wanted to represent those who were being ignored. The continued practice of presenting only negative views, without addressing anything positive about the President’s achievements, may very well set the stage for something like “It Can’t Happen Here” to actually “Happen Here!”, especially if people remain complacent or simply behave like lemmings, taking as doctrine the false statements made, simply because they fit their narrative. The book was excellent, but the reviews seem contrived in order to promote the particular political point of view of the reviewer, namely the progressive or socialist one of the extreme left. Just like in the book, our own cast of characters is blown this way and that by the different politicians and their speeches. Our most powerful and famous personages use their bully pulpit to make wild accusations, often without any basis in reality, just because they can’t deal with, or simply refuse, t,o accept the facts. Could someone, like Windrip slowly commandeer power by eliminating individual choice, speech and freedom? The media today has taken to pointing fingers at Trump to make him appear frightening. If they continue to sow dissent and discontent, perhaps there could be someone like that, but it isn’t Trump. His agenda is in no way like that of Windrip’s. Still, it is horrifying to contemplate how easily and quickly a country could be corrupted by a leader who harbored hateful, despotic plans and who had the support of a ready military organization behind him/her. Occasionally, it felt like there was a bit too much dialogue in the audio version, so I believe that, the book should be read in print in order to get the most out of it.

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