Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Review: Playing House by Fredrica Wagman



This is a narration of a woman’s movement in and out of various stages of madness, linked to both choice and circumstance. The key factor in her descent is her incestuous relationship with her older brother. There is also a history of familial mental illness, and instability. It is a complex and multilayered tale where the main character tells of the many convoluted and morally questionable reasons why she has “lost her grip with reality”.

The story is told in the first person where the narrator never really names herself and is not sequential and moves back and forth through time. As the narrator clearly loses her contact with what is real, the writing becomes a free association of emotions, metaphors, and actions. 

Originally published in 1973, this issue is the 35th anniversary of its primary printing. The book was an international best seller at the time, and has a forward by the award winning American author Phillip Roth as well as a reader’s guide at the end of the book for groups and discussions.

My Thoughts:

Critically looking at Playing House, you can see why in the early 70s it was a best seller. On the “tail end” of the sexual revolution it was just addressing another sexually taboo subject,  but beyond what was and still is considered socially unacceptable. Today with a swing to a more conservative view this subject becomes even more difficult for many modern readers to digest.

In a purely intellectual and academic sense this novel includes many literary, metaphorical, and psychological  elements which can be of interest to those who desire to discuss them. Some of these themes/issues include:

  • monogamy  and the image and involvement of the swan
  • marriage partners chosen for security rather than passion
  • the nature of dominance and submission and their role in sexuality
  • religious stereotypes and metaphors and a link with madness
  • morality seen as grey vs. black and white
  • the shadow of ill-made choices
  • madness and memory
  • apathy/depression as a indicator to the beginnings of madness
  • women and madness – hysteria
  • art and writing as catharsis
  • mythology and fables i.e.. the golden archer and the turtle
  • Stockholm Syndrome where the abused over time empathizes with/loves the abuser

All in all this novel is not one that most readers will “like” or even enjoy. It is a difficult, intense, and emotional read, dealing with subjects we would mostly likely choose to ignore, but one where the reader will be affected. There is no doubt that Ms. Wagman captures madness well, and within the main character’s ramblings little nuggets of insight are revealed.

The Turtle couldn’t stand lies, he didn’t understand them, not a bit. To him a lie was just that, something untrue, evil, or wrong. But lies aren’t always, you know. Sometimes lies are art too, sometimes lies are creating, sometimes lies are wonderful, they can lift and soar and take you all away.

Highly recommended for book group discussions whose interest are of an intense level. As stated above there is a lot to discuss. I did not “like” this book but give it 4 stars because of it’s metaphorical connections, its intense emotional content, and its ability to make the reader feel some very difficult emotions.

Here are some links to other reviews and perspectives of Playing House:

Fredrica Wagman has written 6 novels – Mrs. Hornstien, The Lie – A Novel, His Secret Little Wife, Playing House, and Peachy, and Magic Man, Magic Man. She lives in NY with her husband and has 4 grown children.

For more information and to purchase this book from Amazon please see Layers of Thought’s Preview of Playing House.

Please stay tuned for an interview with Fredrica Wagman. Which could be very enlightening considering the subject matter she addresses in her two books reviewed here.

Oh No! I Have Been Tagged – Now you get to see what’s on my desk, as well as the sad old chair.




I have been “graciously” tagged by the snickering Laurel – the author of several books that I would love to read and review, and a blogger with a bunch of blogs (an amazing 11 I think?) that you can follow – I will let you decide which. This is her comment that she left me to let me know I had been tagged:

Hey, Shellie, I apologize for tagging you! LOL
For Sassy Brit's "What's On Your Desk?" meme.
Check mine out on:

Note her apology? lol…now all Layers of Thought’s readers have the pleasure of seeing  that Shellie has been banned to the dining room table because the working from home hubby has confiscated the desk next to the window.

These are the meme directions copied from Sassy Brits Blog -  a very fun blog with a touch of girly spice and the old country. The meme badge below links directly to her site.

What's on your desk Wednesday? is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Sassy Brit of . You don't have to be tagged to play, just join in when you fancy. Check her blog out each Wednesday for the post titled What's on your desk Wednesday?
You can do one of two things or both!

  1. Grab a camera and take a photo of your desk! Or anywhere you stack your books/TBR pile. And no tidying! Add this photo to your blog.Tag at least 5 people! Come back here and leave a link back to your photo in comments.
  2. List at least 5 BOOKISH things on your desk (I'm thinking your TBR pile or books you haven't shelved...) List at least 5 NON BOOK things. (I'm thinking some of some of the more unusual items on your desk/table?) Tag at least 5 people to do the same. Come back here and leave your link, so we can come and visit your blog. Or add your answers in the comments if you don't have a blog.

Feel free to grab the above picture to place on your site - as a way of showing you are participating, and of course to spread the word! Have fun!


Here is the normal boring stuff on my desk:

Five (actually 6) bookish things on my desk are a a bunch of books:

  • Playing House – Fredrica Wagman (review and author interview coming soon)
  • The World According to Twitter by David Pogue (review coming soon)
  • Soul Survivor by Bruce and Andrea Leininger (review coming soon)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (review coming soon)
  • Wait Until Twilight by Sang Pak (to be mailed to my neice)
  • Nibble & Kuhn by David Schmahman (to be previewed soon)

Five non bookish things on my desk are (sorry - I hid the gun):

  • Water Cup
  • Tea Cup
  • Ornamental Peppers – they are fresh and I love them
  • Plant – mother in law’s tongue
  • Papers Galore

So who to tag????? *evil grin*

So there we have it the next victims. Please come back and link your post within the comments, or I will tag you again. ;)

Monday, September 28, 2009

100th Reader Give Away Contest – Our First Give Away and its not a book!

Posted by Shellie written and composed mostly by JD.


To Celebrate our 100th reader you can win a Radiohead CD!

We have almost reached a milestone – 100 readers (which is 11 more.) When it happens, due to unforeseen circumstances (a.k.a. John’s bad memory and a disorganized music collection) we have a brand new copy of Radiohead’s Kid A to give away – still wrapped in cellophane to send to one lucky reader.

For the uninitiated, Radiohead are one of the best groups to come out of England in the last 20 years – innovative, powerful, moving and unique. Kid A was their fourth album, released in 2000. Despite it being a big departure from their acclaimed previous album, OK Computer, Kid A became their most successful release to date and topped the album charts in the UK, the US and many other countries. It also appeared on various “best of” lists for the year and won a Grammy award for Best Alternative Album. Suffice to say, it’s a pretty neat album.

What do you have to do to try and win the CD?

Easy, 1.) send us a list of your five favorite albums of all time, 2.) tell us which of the five is your absolute favorite, and 3.) explain in a paragraph why you think it’s so good or what makes it special to you. We will put all entries in a metaphorical hat and pick out the winner. Then we’ll send out the CD, a lucky person will have some very cool music on the way to them and John will get to feel a bit better about messing up! (By the way – a big thanks to Logan whose post about his favorite albums was the catalyst for this idea.)

The winner’s music selection will be included with the give away winner’s announcement post, along with a few other entries which are particularly creative.

And to help get things rolling, below are John’s top five favorites of all time, along with his thoughts on what makes his number 1 pick so special.

  1. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
  2. Jeff Buckley – Grace
  3. The Clash – London Calling
  4. The Who – Quadrophenia
  5. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible

(If you would like to listen to these artists, albums, and their songs we recommend Pandora.)

This was a tough exercise. Or, more accurately, picking my number one was easy but filling in the rest of the top five was extremely difficult. I’ve been a music nut for years and I like a wide variety of music – and there are many people whose music I love that I just can’t fit into the list. But the number one I chose without any hesitation. Since the day I bought it many years ago, The Dark Side of the Moon has captivated me. There are so many things about it I like – the overall sound, it has some great songs, its dramatic, it’s got a hard edge to it in places, there are some fabulous mood pieces, it’s got neat lyrics, it’s clever, it creates an atmosphere, it all builds up to a wonderful musical climax, and it’s just so different to everything else out there. 36 years after its release and I never get bored of hearing it. It still gives me a chill every time. For the perfect experience, get a glass of wine (or two), put the lights down low, turn up the volume, hit “play” and just listen undisturbed from beginning to end. Musical bliss.

This giveaway is worldwide, it ends when Layers of Thought hits 100 readers/followers. Please, all musical entries emailed to layersofthought(nospamthingy) – just remove the no spam thingy. Please don’t forget to include contact information so that we can notify you and get an address for mailing the CD.

Looking forward to your personal favorites. Good luck and thanks for reading Layers of Thought!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Review: Mistborn – The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

51E 7V-PDyL._SL160_

Book Stats:

  • Mass Market Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Fantasy (July 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765350386
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765350381

    Basic Plot Summary: (may include spoilers for some readers however the middle and ending are not revealed)

    Mistborn is the first book in a fantasy trilogy. It is a tale which takes place within an elaborate fantasy world. In it lives Vin, a 16 year old girl who is a member of a group of semi-heartless thieves. The abusive leader of this band is using her for her ability to persuade their victims remotely. This betters his chances of pilfering and cheating this wealthy subjugating elite class. This elite class have little compassion for their slaves whom are called the Skaa, of which Vin and the thieves are a member.

    This fantasy realm in which they live is constantly being rained upon by ash, plants have evolved to have brown leaves, and the sky is orange and red. At night the land is cloaked in a mist, which has mythical stories surrounding it and monsters stalking within it, holding the natives in fear. The kingdom is also dominated by an evil king called The Lord Ruler who is considered a god and is reputedly immortal. His kingdom is tightly ruled, controlled to his advantage, and is surrounded and protected by some very powerful, scary, and dangerous classes - the Ministry and Steel Inquisitors.

    Kelsier enters the story and saves Vin from a botched attempt at one of the band’s robberies, and consequently from their abuse. He is a noble thief. A Skaa of a more “elite nature”. A rebel leader whom has a gift which lends him 11 special powers involving the use of metals which is called Allomancy.

    As the story evolves and becomes more complicated, a plan for Kelsier and his band of thieves to overthrow this evil king develops. The group creates an elaborate scheme in which to evoke revenge and to return the planet back to “equilibrium”. Vin is to play a key role. She will also find out who she is in the process.

    My Thoughts:

    I loved this fantasy, and rate it as a highly recommended - 4.5 stars. The writing is accessible, it flows, and is highly addictive.

    Sanderson has created a complex yet relatable world with interesting and likeable characters (my favorite is Saze) and some amazing “bad guys” (remember the steel inquisitors – very cool.) There are also some important messages within the book one where he addresses the social and culture importance and significance of religion. He does this while supporting a perspective of acceptance and diversity – a great message. There is also a science fiction element to the book due to Allomancy but I would never the less categorize Mistborn as a fantasy.

    Mistborn has a strong female character (yeah!), some violence, and a light touch of romance. Even though classified as an adult book I would recommend it for advanced young adult readers interested in the genre because it has a “coming of age” feel to it.

    I am really, really, looking forward to the second and third of the series as well as his other books but am told that this book can be read as a stand alone.

    Here are two other raving reviews of this book from my corner of the blogosphere:

    David at My Little Corner of the World

    Logan at Rememorandom

    Links are for Amazon for each country respectively US/UK/Canada.

    The Final Empire (Mistborn, Book 1)/ Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn Trilogy)/ Mistborn: The Final Empire

  • Thursday, September 24, 2009

    Review: Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

    2nd Witch: By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes. [Knocking] Open locks, Whoever knocks! [Enter Macbeth]

    Macbeth: How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!
    What is't you do?      Macbeth Act 4, scene 1, 44–49

    something wicked this way comes audio

    Book Stats:

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio books; Unabridged (October 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786176261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786176267

    Mini Summary:

    This classic fantasy/horror tale was originally published in 1963. It revolves around Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade whom are the best of friends and live next door to one another. They are inseparable with Will being the down to earth easy going boy and Jim as the wilder and “darker” of the two.

    The setting is a small town in middle America and its October. A scary storm front moves into town along with a mysterious and creepy traveling circus/carnival. As things get a bit wild and go awry the two boys become inextricably involved in the traveling carnival's evil doings. As the story progresses the nature of good and evil and how evil itself may be combated are addressed.

    My Thoughts:

    I listened to this story in audio format, which was pleasant. I liked its lyrical, slightly poetic style which is characteristic of Bradbury’s signature style. Read by Stanley Kubrik with his deep and resonant voice, where he changes his tone with each character and their moods. It is close to perfect for this story.

    Recommended for Halloween/Fall reading for young adults, mature older children, and adults to read to children. Most significant it has the perfect solution for being scared - laughter/humor. There is little or no violence, mild language, yet it is very suspenseful. I give this audio version of the book 3.5 stars. (I liked it a lot.)

  • Links to GLBT:

    This particular book was read for a GLBT challenge and taken from a site which lists it as having these elements. The relationship is however not clear unless one is aware of such nuances – such as the community itself. Once aware it does become subtly apparent as the relationship between Will and Jim is revealed. The boys are obviously very close, and are fairly affectionate which could allude to the possibility of a budding romantic relationship.

    Wikipedia link for the novel.

    Amazon purchasing links for this audio book are US/UK/Canada respectively (book only for UK):

    A Sound of Thunder / Something Wicked This Way Comes /Something Wicked This Way Comes/ Something Wicked This Way Comes/A Sound of Thunder

    Wednesday, September 23, 2009

    Preview – Across The Endless River by Thad Carhart


    Book Specs from Amazon:

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385529775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385529778

    Book Info by the Publicist:

    Across the Endless River a historical novel about Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Sacagawea, and his intriguing sojourn as a young man in 1820s Paris.

    Born in 1805 on the Lewis and Clark expedition, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, known affectionately as “Pompy” to his mother’s tribe, was the son of the expedition’s translators, Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau. Carried on a cradle board as an infant, Baptiste crossed the Rocky Mountains on Sacagawea’s back, a now legendary image.

    Across the Endless River imagines this mixed-blood child’s mysterious and unique boyhood in Missouri among the Mandan tribe and his time as William Clark’s ward in St. Louis. With unparalleled language skills and his ability to slip between and co-exist within two very different worlds, Baptiste proves indispensable to the explorers and scientists he meets through Clark. 

    Baptiste, caught between worlds, reflects the common struggle of those who find themselves at an intersection of multiple cultures, languages, and ways of life.  Spanning the wilds of America to the European court, Across the Endless River is a haunting exploration of identity, passion, and love. 

  • Links here for Wikipedia information on Sacagawea , Baptiste, and Charbonneau.


    Author Bio:
    Thad Carhart, author of Across the Endless River, is a dual citizen of of the United States and Ireland. He lives in Paris with his wife, the photographer Simo Neri, and their two children.

  • An article written by the author on the changes which inevitably occur in a location – specifically Paris here - as time progresses.

    Imagining the Past in Paris
    By Thad Carhart,
    Author of Across the Endless RiverTo walk in Paris is to walk through multiple layers of the past, more than 900 years of built history that awaits any stroller. Having lived here for twenty years, I've seen the city change with new roads and bridges, new museums, new rows of apartments. And yet the deep respect that Parisians have developed for what they call their patrimoine, their inheritance, ensures that old buildings are regularly restored and preserved, integrated into the flux of daily life. The look of the city changes subtly, as it has throughout history.

    The biggest transformation in modern times was simply the cleaning of the stone edifices of central Paris, initiated in the 1960's by de Gaulle's Minister of Culture, André Malraux. No change could have been more surprising, or more deeply satisfying. When I was a very young boy living in Paris, I was convinced that all of the buildings were made from the same stone, black as night and so softened by centuries of wood and coal dust that the surface was a felt-like matte whose edges looked as if they would soon crumble. This was the "atmospheric" Paris of all those voluptuous black-and-white photos (what blacks and grays there were on every side), the ponderous Paris of Buffet prints and countless tourist posters.

    Then the government started to clean the major monuments one by one -- Notre-Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre -- and the transformation was shocking, almost troubling in its strange newness. The buildings of Paris weren't black after all, but very nearly . . . white! It took almost two decades of careful cleaning and restoration, but Paris emerged from the process the albino twin of its former self. To appreciate the contrast, buy a vintage postcard aerial view, dating from 1970 or earlier, at one of the bouquiniste stalls along the banks of the Seine, then compare it with the present-day aerial shot: the era of dirt and grime looks like a photographic negative of the light and airy Paris that current tourists will recognize as the "real" Paris.

    Walking, however, reveals just one facet of the landscape. Recently, in researching a historical novel, I needed to imagine Paris as it would have appeared in the 1820s. The first stop for any such endeavor is the splendid Musée Carnavalet, the Museum of the City of Paris, whose collection documents in elaborate and fascinating detail every step of the city's past. As I consulted paintings, prints, and manuscripts, many of the differences were obvious: in 1825 the Champs-Elysées was already a broad, fashionable avenue, but the Arc de Triomphe did not yet grace its rise; the Eiffel Tower wouldn't appear until 1889; and, of course, Beaubourg, the Pyramid of the Louvre, and the Grande Arche, all sturdy Paris fixtures today, would only appear within the last four decades.

    Another clear difference was the absence of cars, though factoring them out mentally also involved imagining the presence of horses . . . lots of horses. As I examined the numberless paintings at Carnavalet, I thought a lot about the look, the sound, and the smell of tens of thousands of horses plying the streets of Paris close to 200 years ago. Merely disposing of their manure -- and Paris was very well organized in this department -- was a Herculean task daily. And, just as in our day, when playboys often drive Porsches and tradesmen more likely use vans, the paintings reveal fancy thoroughbreds ridden solo by dandies, sturdy draft horses pulling huge wagons, and bony nags hitched to battered carts.

    Perhaps the biggest surprise that comes with seeking the past in the Paris landscape, especially after examining the documentary record, it to realize how little the scale of buildings has changed over the centuries. With two exceptions on the Left Bank (the Tour Montparnasse and the university's Tour Jussieu), no high-rises spoil the illusion in the center of Paris that the modern age has yet arrived. Individual facades, a modern infrastructure, and hordes of cars all tell a different story, but the look and feel of many quartiers -- the Marais and the Latin Quarter are simply the best known examples -- would feel appropriate to a Parisian of the early nineteenth century. This tenuous, heady relationship to the past is often seductive, and yet it can also feel weighty, old-fashioned, and artificial. How long it can prevail in the face of change is anybody's guess.     ©2009 Thad Carhart, author of Across the Endless River

    Author’s website which has the first chapter available to read online, additional information about the author, as well as notes and pictures of artifacts regarding some of the cultural and historical research he has done surrounding this novel.

  • Amazon purchasing links are listed respectively by country – US/UK/Canada

    Book received from Anna Suknov at FSB Associates. Thank you Anna.

    Review coming soon!

  • Preview – Defining Twilight by Brian Leaf, M. A.


    Book Stats from Amazon:

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Cliffs Notes (July 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470507438
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470507438

    Coming from a background in education (I earned a teaching credential for kindergarten through 12th grade in California) I support any way in which a learner can make the experience fun. Which is in fact one of the most significant pedagogical methods used to help anyone process and remember information at a higher rate and just good old common sense.

    Defining Twilight has been highlighted on both MTV and Teen Vogue.

    Product description for enticing the learner: 
    Can you resist the allure of Edward’s myriad charms—his ocher eyes and tousled hair, the cadence of his speech, his chiseled alabaster skin, and his gratuitous charm? Will you hunt surreptitiously and tolerate the ceaseless deluge in Forks to evade the sun and uphold the facade? Join Edward and Bella as you learn more than 600 vocabulary words to improve your score on the *SAT, ACT®, GED®, and SSAT® exams!

    Use this workbook side-by-side with your own copy of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight!

    • Each chapter of the workbook gives you eight words taken from Twilight, with page references for you to read the words in the context of your favorite novel

    • Define the words on your own before turning back to the workbook for their actual definitions

    • At the end of each section you’ll take SAT, ACT, GED, and SSAT drills and quizzes to review and integrate what you’ve learned

    • Plus, you’ll learn synonyms, Latin word parts, and memorization tools throughout the workbook


    About Brian Leaf

    Brian Leaf, M.A., is the author of five books, including Defining Twilight and the four-book SAT and ACT test-prep series McGraw-Hill’s Top 50 Skills. He is Director of the New Leaf Learning Center in Massachusetts, and has provided SAT, ACT, GED, SSAT, and GRE preparation to thousands of students from throughout the United States.
    Brian graduated from Georgetown University in 1993 with a B.A. in Business, English, and Theology. In 1999, he completed a Masters through Lesley College specializing in Holistic Therapies for Attention Deficit Disorder. Brian is a member of the American School Counselor Association and the Massachusetts School Counselors Association and works with the Georgetown University Office of Undergraduate Admissions as an alumni interviewer.  Brian is also a certified yoga instructor and avid meditator.

    Here is the author’s website with further information in his book as well as the upcoming sequel to Defining Twilight, Defining New Moon.

    Since the SAT and ACT are tests within the US the link is only for the US:

    Defining Twilight: Vocabulary Workbook for Unlocking the SAT, ACT, GED, and SSAT

    This book was received from the author for review. Thank you Brian.

    Review coming soon!

  • Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    A First Day of Fall Seasonal Decoration Theme with The Raven

    All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream. ~ Edgar Allan Poe


    Although the temperatures here in Scottsdale aka “Hotsdale”, AZ are still in the low 100’s and high 90s outside and air conditioner blasting inside, I still have this Fallish feeling coming on.

    I found these gorgeous placemats and runner at Gaelsong, which helped further the idea for this post. It is a site with Celtic style stuff, some very tasteful some not. I’m not much of a seasonal decorator but these are easy – just my style. And since I did not win the cute raven decorations at Stainless Steel Dropping’s RIPIV giveaway these will have to serve as a substitute.

    They are not in stock but I ordered them anyway. Perhaps a raven theme will be nice for Christmas?


    Now for a picture of Edgar as a decoration on the dining room wall, some music from Alan Parson’s Project and the fall seasonal theme will be set. Kind of creepy but very cool. Well I think so anyway.

    I loved this album when I was a preteen, and adored this particular song. APP did a whole album based upon Edgar Allen Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination with each short story/poem having a song. And in case you did not realize the above song is on this album is based on the poem of the same name – Wikipedia link to The Raven and actual poem link at the House of Usher.

    Amazon link below for US/UK/Canada:

    Tales of Mystery and Imagination / Tales Of Mystery And Imagination / Tales of Mystery and Imagination

    Welcome to Fall everyone where ever you may live (except you Aussies where its welcome to Spring.) Its one of the four of my most favorite of seasons. Yes, I love them all!

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Review by JD – The Masonic Myth by Jay Kinney


    Book Stats:

  • Paperback: 288 pages

  • Publisher: Harper One (September 8, 2009)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0060822562

  • ISBN-13: 978-0060822569

  • Note - Refer to Preview for basic book details author and purchasing info.

    A week ago Dan Brown released his much-hyped new novel, The Lost Symbol, which will no doubt jump to the top of the best sellers list. It is a follow-up to The Da Vinci Code, but this time focused on Freemasonry, Masonic secrets, hidden history and arcane Masonic-related symbols. It will no doubt cause a big spike in interest in Freemasonry, so this should provide a boost to Kinney’s book, released just three weeks ago.

    Freemasons have been the target of suspicion, wild speculation and accusations for some three hundred years now, with supposed links to the occult, satanic rites, The Knights Templar, the American and French revolutions, a shadowy network of elite power brokers and so much more. It’s a movement which is clouded in secrecy and this has helped to fuel the fires of the conspiracy theorists. Kinney’s book is subtitled “Unlocking the Truth About the Symbols, the Secret Rites, and the History of Freemasonry”, and it aims to set the record straight about Freemasons.

    Does it achieve that? Well, maybe, kind of, but not really.

    One trouble is that Kinney is himself a practicing Freemason. That gives him direct access to a wealth of historic material and documents and rites that others cannot see, so it can be argued that what you get from him is the real story. But if you are a conspiracy theorist or someone with grave doubts about the purpose and methods of the movement, then you are very likely to discount everything he says. Why believe a member of a secretive society when he claims he’s telling you the truth about that secret society? There’s something wrong with that picture.

    Personally, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I have no reason to doubt Freemasonry and I am just a little bit curious about them. So I decided to read the book and I think I approached it with a free mind. But here’s the next problem. According to Kinney much of the history of the movement is lost in the mists of time. No-one is quite sure where they came from, how they started, what influenced them, what led to the complex rites and ceremonies, where the complex symbology came from, how it ought to be interpreted, and why they are so secretive. This is exacerbated by a code of secrecy which means that many things are not written down and can only be passed on verbally. Paradoxically, it is further exacerbated by the fact that a huge amount has been written about the Freemasons, most of it apparently highly speculative, poorly researched, guesswork, or flat out deceptive. Much of this “history” is of course contradictory, and it seems that whatever accusation you want to throw at Freemasonry, there are likely documents you can point to that appear to support your views.

    Here Kinney does a good job of debunking a lot of the outrageous claims and theories. He provides context and logical arguments that serve to show how silly many of the claims are, and throughout he undermines the silly claims by pointing to a total lack of evidence supporting them. The trouble is that when he comes to laying out his own beliefs about the organization and its history, he can’t point to much evidence either. So what he writes comes across as eminently plausible, but ultimately it seems like it’s just his view which is based on his personal logic and his interpretation of a mess of documents and possible alternative “histories”. This wasn’t very satisfactory for me. I feel like he’s effectively chopped out a lot of the outrageous stuff, but we’re still left with a wide range of possibilities and what he postulates is credible but still just one possible viewpoint.

    Moving on from the history and the whacky claims, what do Masons actually do and how are they organized? Here the book is informative, although some of it was tough to fathom and other bits were just a bit difficult to accept. What was the book like to read? The jacket claims “the excitement of a thriller with the benefit of being factual”. I’m not sure which thrillers the writer of that sentence reads, but I hope I don’t have to read them! Thrilling is one thing this book is not. I started going a bit glassy eyed about a third of the way through, but I stuck with it and got through to the end. It was kind of interesting though. I’d give it two stars.

    Friday, September 18, 2009

    The Seasonal Challenge from Goodreads – Fall 2009


    Ok I am a certified nut, not your standard nut but a nut never the less. I have another challenge that I’m posting for your personal enjoyment. A warning too - I have two more on their way.

    This particular challenge is fun and it keeps me slightly more focused but there is no way I am going to finish every task by November 30. Not even close. Although quite a few people do. Here is the link to the actual contest tasks, in case you have an inkling for the impossible.

    This should have been posted September 1 so I am only a little behind (17 days not too bad). I have already finished several and started 4 more. The list will be changing as more books come in from various sources and my needs change. I have based my list mostly within the speculative fiction genre and for overlap on other challenges.

    Beyond that its just another book challenge list. So perhaps skim through it real quick or skip it altogether and if you do see a book  that you think is absolute garbage or have written a review let me know.

    5 Point Tasks

    • 1. Book with child/children/kids/son/daughter in the title: The Children of Dust by Ali Eteraz
    • *2. Apple on cover or in title: White Apples by Jonathan Carroll (in progress)
    • 3. Columbus - Sea Travel: Fast Ships, Black Sails by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer
    • 4. Adoption Story: Elfland by Freda Warrington or The Baby Merchant by Kit Reed
    • 5. School Re-Read: Hiroshima by John Hersey or 1984 by George Orwell
    • 6. Terrifying Title - Scary Adjective in Title: Prince Harming Syndrome by Karen Salmansohn
    • 7. What I am Thankful for: My Stepchildren – Stepmonster by Wednesday Martin PhD (11/23/09)
    • 8. Book with two authors: Soul Survivor by Bruce and Andrea Leninger (read 10/1)
    • 9. Coming of Age Novel: A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar – finished 11/22/09
    • 10. Fall Back - Time Travel Book: Kindred by Octavia Butler

    10 Point Tasks

    • 1. Book Published in Buddy Holly's Life Time - (1936 - 1959): The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
    • 2. River Phoenix Overdose - A Character with an Addiction: Playing House by Fredrica Wagman; (completed 10/1)
    • 3. Berenstain Bears - Read a book with the word Bear in the Title: Bear Daughter by Judith Berman
    • 4. Hispanic Heritage Book: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer or Bless Me, Ultima by Ruldolfo Anaya
    • 5. Oktoberfest - A Book that takes place in Germany: Fatherland by Robert Harris or The Witches Trinity by Erika Mailman
    • 6. Native Heritage Month: Across the Endless River by Thad Carhart
    • *7. Christopher Reaves Birthday - Superhero: The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Petersson (in progress)
    • 8. Noah Webster's Birthday - 9th, 10th, 11th Random Word Book: dying/advice/mission - Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg or Advice from the Mouths of Elders by Mark Elliot Miller
    • *9. Gone With the Wind - Civil War Book: Wings to the Kingdom by Cherie Priest (in progress)
    • 10. Cat's Meow - A Book with Cat in title or on cover: Tribe of the Tiger by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

    15. Point Tasks

    • 1. Brush up on your Grammar – Homophones (to/too): The World According to Twitter by David Pogue and The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett (Twitter read 10/1 – Too Much  posted Nov 6)
    • 2. Rewriting History - Alternative History Book: Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble
    • *3. Math a - Addition author's name and my name are the same number of letters (11): Lost Horizon by James Hilton b - Subtraction a title with 29 letters in it The Traveler, Fourth Realm Trilogy by John Twelve Hawks c - Division the second in a series: Young Mile - Omnibus by Lois McMaster Bujold (Bujold in progress)
    • 4. Science Fiction/Fact: Read a Science Book watch Sci Fi Film: The Superstress Solution by Roberta Lee MD – fact book; Sci Fi movie was Sleep Factory (read and watched by 10/20 review coming)
    • 5. Study Abroad - Read 2 Books written in the same Foreign Language (Italian): The Inferno by Dante and The Drowned and the Saved by Primo Levi
    • 6. Creative Minds: Read a book about Music, Art, Drama: Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman – fantasy about wine making
    • 7. P.E. listen to a book while exercising: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (10/9/09)
    • *8. Geography Lessons: Read two Books from countries which correspond with your intials: (S – Sweden) The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo by Steig Larson or (South Korea) - Tongue by Kyung-Ran Jo (N- Norway) Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder
    • 9. Homework - Read a book with Home or Work in the title: The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier
    • 10. Teacher/Student - Read two books with the word or about a student and teacher: The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa and Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder or The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

    20 Point Tasks:

    • 1. The Importance of a Faith Centered Life: The Sparrow by Mary Russell Doria
    • *2. ABC - Read Three Books which begin with Three consecutive letters of the alphabet: R – The Recipe Club by Israel and Garfinkel; Release by Nicole Hadaway  S – Stepmonster by Wednesday Martin  T -  The Recipe Club by Israel and Garfinkel; The Magic Warble Victoria Simcox; Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan; To Ride Hells Chasm by Janny Wurts; Three Seeds by Gabriel Madison (in progress)
    • 3. Group Read: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

    25 Point Tasks

    • 1. Rhyme Time: tba
    • 2. Two Authors Related by blood or marriage: tba
    • 3. Harvey Milk - Positive Gay Character: Middlesex - by Jeffrey Eugenides or Ethan or Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold
    • 4. Movie Book Combo - Book written within 10 years, movie made within 5: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowland
    • 5. Fortune Telling - A Book about of with Fortune or Prophecy in the Title: The Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink or Memoirs of a Fortune Teller by Gary Turcotte
    • 6. Curse of the Tippecanoe: (skipping this one)
    • 7. One, Two, Three - Read one book each with a title that is one, two, and three words: Serena by Ron Rash; Three Seed by Gabriel Madison; Health Beyond Medicine by Scott Paton;  ( Serena completed 10/08; TS complete 10/15 HBM completed 10/20 review only posted on Goodreads)
    • *8. Noun - Read three books one with a Person, a Place, and a Thing in the titles: Person - Serena by Ron Rash; Place - To Ride in Hells Chasm by Janny Wurts; Moonlight in Odessa by Janet Charles Skeslien; Thing –The Recipe Club by Israel and Garfinkel; The Magic Warble by Victoria Simcox; Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan; Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman
    • 9. Self Improvement Month - Read one Nonfiction on self help, Read one where the character self improves: Now What: 90 Days to a New Life Direction by Laura Berman and Dancing with Ana by Nicole Barker (finished 9/10)
    • 10: Halloween - Read a book with Devil, Witch, Vampire, Zombie in the title: Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice or The Witches Trinity by Erika Mailman

    30 Point Task

    • 1. Real Job and Dream Job: Read a book which pertains to each: (wife) The Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick and (book reviewer) Dragon House by John Shors

    50 Point Task

    • *Minding the World - Read 3 Books:
    • 1. Senses - Searching for Whitopia by Rich Benjamin  or The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Petterssen
    • 2. Emotions – Stepmonster by Wednesday  Martin; Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious by Gerd Gigerenzer or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
    • 3. Memory – Defining Twilight by Brian Leaf – it involves memory and reminds me of my teaching credential

    Completed 11/30/09 Total Points Below

    Total Points: 130 /690
    Tasks still in Process:  8

    Completed Tasks: 9/45
    Books Read for Completed Tasks: 13/60 

    Books still in Progress 10

    Pages Read for Completed Tasks: 3738 completed challenge pages

    Precarious Changes Under Way


    I am going to attempt to put another column on my blog.  Yikes! With no safety belt or net I feel like this fellow here. So fingers and toes crossed (Charlie’s words) that it works out.

    Over and out.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    Movie Rate Your Blog – Layers of Thought is PG Rated

    OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets 

    This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

    • dangerous (2x)
    • bastard (1x)

    Wow! I would have thought this blog would have been Rated G.

    Clicking on the rating box above should link you to the site, and If you include a link of your results in the comment entries I will post them in the update. This could be tremendously entertaining.

    I wonder if we could up the rating here a bit, and if the words below will actually be picked up?

    • Damn
    • KKK
    • Hitler
    • Animal Abuse
    • Sex, Sex, Sex
    • ménage a trios
    • decapitation

    Too bad they can’t see the naked woman reading in the bathtub on the header at the top of my blog.

    Updated rating coming soon!

    I found this very intriguing link at Fantasy Dreamer’s Ramblings. Its an advertisement gimmick for a dating site (and if your single perhaps find the mate of your dreams.) Hey… It’s fun!

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    BBAW Giveaway – IREX eReader


    Kevin Hamilton CEO of IREX is offering a give away for one of his eReaders. To enter to win the eReader post about this giveaway on your blog and then link back to the site through Mr Linky.

    Below are the technical specs for this reader, as well as reviews and comparisons of the latest eReaders on the market from a reputable source – Wired.

    Wired compares this reader to Sony, Kindle, and others in the article. One problem with it, they stated, is that newer book titles are not accessible from the larger sellers. However, from the post linked above it looks like this reader now has access to the Barnes and Noble eBooks catalog. This changes everything. I would love to own an eReader, and based on this new knowledge the ILIAD (cool name too) would be my choice.

    ILIAD is wireless, has a wireless internet connection, weighs under 1 lb, has an expandable memory, audio capabilities, as well as a way of scribbling notes in the text.

    Technical specs for the IREX ILIAD Book Edition - Price $599

    8.1-inch (diagonal) Electronic Paper Display
    768 x 1024 pixels resolution, 160 DPI.
    16 levels of grey-scale
    Touch sensor input
    Integrated Wacom® Penabled® sensor board
    Stylus (Wacom® Slim Pen)

    Processor and memory - Intel® 400MHz XScale™ processor
    64 MB RAM
    Storage and expansion - 256MB internal flash memory of which 128MB accessible to user. Expandable via USB, MMC or CF cards.
    Power and battery -Built-in rechargeable Lithium Ion battery; Charging via Power Adapter ; Charging time: about 3 hours
    Audio - Built-in stereo speakers 3.5-mm stereo headphone mini-jack
    Communication - USB to computer; Optional external 10/100MB Ethernet networking via Travel hub.
    Size and Weight -Height: 217mm (8.5 inch)
    Width: 155mm (6.1 inch)
    Depth: 16mm (0.63 inch)
    Weight: 435 grams (15.3 ounces)
    Supported Formats - File formats supported : PDF / HTML / TXT / JPG / BMP/ PNG / PRC (Mobipocket)
    Interface Languages - Dutch, English, German, French and Spanish.
    Environmental Requirements - Operating temperature: 0°C to 50°C; Storage temperature: -20°C to 70°C
    Here is a link to the sites where you can download books from and some are free.

    Think happy thoughts for me and if you fancy enter as well. Good luck!

    Monday, September 14, 2009

    Review: Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction by Laura Berman Fortgang


    Mini Synopsis:

    This is a user friendly book with out any new age “mumbo jumbo”. It systematically and realistically addresses the issues a person will invariably have when they are confronted with the inevitable occurrence of a life’s disruption. With the subsequent need to make rational and realistic decisions when faced with loss of a job, divorce, death of a partner, or just plain old dissatisfaction with life it is a useful resource which is relevant during these unstable economic times.

    This book addresses the issues and questions through direction, real life examples, important questions, and activities at the end of each progressive section. For a few examples, ask yourself what you hate about your life, the importance of letting go of the past, and referral to a psychologist if issues cannot be addressed within the series of questions and activities in the book. There are further references which are helpful in the back which give more information on resources such as starting a business, inspiration, and for making contact with the author or another life coach and more.

    My Thoughts:

    Myself being no stranger to life’s disruptions, various career changes, quandaries of various natures around which direction to take in my life, and one who has searched a great deal for ways to find more meaning in it, I have read a bit on the subject. I have taken career counseling courses at both the junior college and the university level. I am no expert but am familiar with the subject and the path, and yet still do not know what I want to be when I grow up. Perhaps a life coach would be the answer? ;)

    My personal opinion is that this is an organized over view of a logical process. A starting place to make a move toward a change. I think it will help the seeker see many of the elements which will be needed for a logical quest which the author is suggesting. I however feel that if this books is your only resource, a commitment to following the path outlined in this book will be difficult. Hence the importance of the ability to contact the author or another life counselor or coach. From reading the book I would say she is an excellent option. I give this particular book 3 stars.


    Links to the author’s website. or the Now What? Coaching site.

    For book stats, purchasing information, as well as author information and an article by the author with some realistic tips on life changes please see the preview of Now What? at Layers of Thought.

    Review: Dancing with Ana by Nicole Barker


    Mini Synopsis:

    This slim book is a story about a group of high school teenagers whom in an attempt to be more like the “prettiest” girl in school, who is very thin, go on a group diet. Two of the girls in particular with abandonment issues have unhealthy responses and take their distress to an extreme and use anorexia/bulimia and self injury as coping mechanisms – acronyms Ana and SI.

    My Thoughts:

    Anorexia and SI are painful subjects for me. I have a beautiful sister whom has “body image issues”. As a teen she dieted extensively, only eating salads and drinking large quantities of carrot juice until she was very thin and turned carrot orange on the soles of her feet and palms. We all assumed that this was due to an overdose of beta-carotene. The issues continue even now into her 40’s with different manifestations. Although humorous for me on a certain level - as a teenager watching my sister turn orange,  it is a serious issue. This particular example helps one to understand the obsession surrounding being thin for some girls. Even more disturbing, I have a close family member whom has been using “cutting” as an emotional coping mechanism. It is very disturbing when someone you love uses these unhealthy means to deal with their emotions or to try and fit into an unhealthy model of beauty.

    When reading this book, I could imagine young girls, and teens relating to the life issues which surround the main character and her friends. The story line and emotions felt real and normal within the text. This is important because it is young people the book needs to reach.  Conversely, I found it frustrating and became annoyed when there was no mention of a character named Ana in the text since the title is Dancing with Ana. (Silly me.) It took some thought to figure out that Ana is a “code” young women use to address this issue and a means to keep it secret.

    Consequently, through my search about these subjects I found there is a “cultish” behavior surrounding them. I have included links here to sites that may be of interest to parents, teachers, caretakers, and girls themselves to become aware of these scary actions. Sadly, in real life things don’t always end happily and healthily as the author has depicted in her book.

    That this book could be used as means for important conversations and that it is very relevant in my life is the reason why I have given it 4 stars. We cannot prevent children from being subjected to these issues which are a part of growing up in today's world so guiding them is the key and perhaps this book can be a catalyst.

    Links for Ana: Pro-Ana Wikipedia definition ; Proanamia ; Pro-ana-nation ; House of Thin .

    Links for SI: Wikipedia Self-injury definition ; ; ; self help .

    To purchase the book, book stats, and for further information on the author Nicole Baker please see the preview posted for Dancing with Ana at Layers of Thought.

    Friday, September 11, 2009

    Preview: Three Seeds ~ by Gabriel Madison



    Three Seeds ~ by Gabriel Madison

    An unnatural cold front grows each day, bewildering world leaders and scientists, while leaving people across the world in a state of panic. All of North America is covered in snow. Earth is slowly reverting into a frozen oasis, causing religious groups to scream of the end of days, while others believe it’s the beginning of a new and foretold era.

    About: Rosemary Anderson finds herself working as a receptionist, living on an old southern plantation and wishing for excitement. David, the man claiming to have rescued her from a car wreck three years earlier, has maneuvered himself into her life, but only shows up occasionally to ask Rose strange and cryptic questions about a past she no longer remembers.

    Rose’s desire for adventure comes true, when strange men arrives at her plantation, and suddenly assails her. Rose narrowly escapes with the help of her mysterious friend David. David flees to Atlanta as he leads Rose through a hidden and treacherous world filled with death, power, secrets and passion. While trying to protect her from immortals shrouded by shadows, an ancient secret society and antediluvian beings from a forgotten time determined to either capture... or kill her.

    Paperback: 290 pages; eTreasures Publishing (August 19, 2009)

    Amazon purchasing link is for US only.

    Gabriel Madison’s Personal Bio:   I started writing when I was in high school, mostly short stories and poetry, and then developed a passion for screenplays. I attended a private art University in Atlanta Georgia for Media Production. There I studied script writing and film making. I wrote a few screenplays, and made a few short movies, including a twelve-minute vampire movie, I adapted from a short story, called Midnight Diner. After leaving school, my passion shifted mainly towards writing stories, than shooting and directing them. I write short stories, novellas, screenplays, graphic novels and full-length novels. I was once asked to define myself; the only answer I could come up with was storyteller. I now live back home in Albany Georgia. I love anything that has vampires in it, which is odd because my first book isn’t about vampires. Although, at first Rose was a vamp, but I changed it after my cousin got me into the TV show Carnivàle. I started getting into secret societies and mythology and other paranormal stories. I decided to change the direction of Three Seeds from vamps, to beings that I came up with in my head.

    For more information link here to connect with Gabriel Madison link to his blog, website, and on Goodreads.

    As a new blogger how I got a copy of this book for review: 

    When surfing around various blogs I came across a blog called Midnight Moon Cafe via Fantasy Dreamer’s blog. Both of which I highly recommend. I found that MMC was giving away a copy of this book  and I won! It is the second book that I have won from MMC.

    When the author Gabriel Madison sent me an e-copy I  wrote him back to say I would send a link of my review when it was posted.  I am now giving you all a preview of the book and the author to intrigue you in his first book Three Seeds as well.

    I have read the first several chapters and it is very promising, with an easy to follow writing style, a unique premise, and a gorgeous cover.

    Review coming soon!

    Review by JD: I’m With the Band – Confessions of a Groupie by Pamela Des Barres

    Written by JD posted by Shellie


    I’m With the Band – Confessions of a Groupie, by Pamela Des Barres

    ISBN: 978-1-55652-589-6

    Pages 320; paperback

    Chicago Review Press, updated edition 2005

    This is an autobiography by Pamela Des Barres who was one of the original “super groupies” that rose to fame in the mid-to-late 1960s, and was a member of the infamous GTOs. She writes unabashedly about her life and exploits from her time in high school and on through the years when she became more and more involved with the rock music scene and some of the most famous rock stars. It’s a candid book which recounts her adventures and sexual exploits. As she says “this is a story of a young girl stepping into the brave new world of the free-loving, freewheeling ‘60s – an era where anything could happen and it always did”. It primarily covers the period from 1962 through to 1974, though in four short sections at the end of the book she fills in some details of what has happened since then.

    First of all, full disclosure time – I’m a total music nut who loves a lot of the music from the mid-60s onwards, and I spend a lot of time listening to music and reading about it. She was involved with some of my favorite groups of all time, so I was bound to be fascinated by this book. What is more, this was a time before paparazzi and concerns over privacy and security, so getting direct access to the stars was relatively easy. In here you’ll read about the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Who, the Doors, Frank Zappa, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Byrds and many more. She was also striving to become an actress for much of the time, so through the book you’ll also encounter several movie stars.

    All of that being said, I didn’t actually enjoy it as much as I thought I would. It was certainly extremely interesting to get some insights into many of the famous and not-quite-so-famous musicians of the time and she writes engagingly about events, her life, her thoughts and her desires. I think the main problem for me was that so many of the people in here just don’t come across as very likeable, and I was often struggling to understand what the attraction was and why she felt such a strong bond with people who acted like jerks and treated her so badly. Famous - yes; fun to be with - sometimes; likeable and trustworthy – heck no. Not being able to understand many of her motivations and actions, I was having a bit of a hard time relating to her story.

    But I’m glad I read it. She’s certainly an interesting person, and I particularly enjoyed finding out more about Keith Moon, Frank Zappa and Marlon Brando – three individuals who stood out in a book that is full of colorful people. If you like rock music from that era and want to find out more about the scene and some of the people who frequented it, I’d recommend this book. I’d rate it three stars.

    Pamela Des Barres has written several other books about  her life as a “groupie”. For more about them and the author here is her website and Goodreads.


    Amazon purchasing information is linked below US/UK/Canada respectively:

    I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie/ I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie/ I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    Preview: The Masonic Myth by Jay Kinney

    In the wake on Dan Brown’s newest novel The Lost Symbol this may be of some interest to a few readers. This book was sent from Anna at FSB Associates. Thank you Anna!

    John will be reading and reviewing this book.


    Book Stats:

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper One (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060822562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060822569

    Publicist’s Info:

    Freemasons have been accused of satanic acts and political sabotage, linked with the French and American revolutions, persecuted by the Nazis and targeted by Islamic extremists. They’re rumored to be everything from a secretive cabal of elite power brokers ruling the world, to a covert network of occultists and pagans intent on creating a new world order, to a millenia-old brotherhood bent on perpetuating ancient wisdom through esoteric teachings. Secret Masonic symbols, rituals, and organizations have remained shrouded for centuries and spawned conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory, and while their organization is widely recognized, it is also largely misunderstood.

    The Masonic Myth will finally set the record straight about the Freemasons, revealing that the truth is far more compelling than the stories. Written by Jay Kinney, a practicing Freemason, this book examines the myths of Masonry, details the inner workings of a typical Masonic lodge, and explores the impact the Freemasons have had throughout history.

    Among many other surprising facts, The Masonic Myth reveals:

    • Far from being a united, global network, international Freemasonry is splintered by competing lodges and orders.
    • Freemasons did not descend from the Knights Templar.
    • Freemasonry is not an arm of the Illuminati.
    • There was no universal Masonic stance toward the American Revolution, as Masons could be found on both sides of the conflict.
    • Masonic influence on the Great Seal of the United States is greatly overstated—the design by Benjamin Franklin, the only known Freemason amongst the committee members, was rejected.

    As the most dependable and accessible guide to freemasonry, The Masonic Myth also details the symbolic systems of the Craft, delves into its occultist connections, and explores whether or not it is truly a universal brotherhood. With the publication of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol this fall, interest in Freemasonry will be at an all time high, and The Masonic Myth will become the go-to guide for everyone who wants to get to the truth.

    "... a book which has the excitement of a thriller with the benefit of being factual. This is real-life (as opposed to "reality") Freemasonry. And it's a great story!" — Jim Tresner, 33° Grand Cross, Book Review Editor, The Scottish Rite Journal

    Author Bio:


    Jay Kinney is co-author of Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions. For fifteen years, he served as publisher and editor-in-chief of Gnosis Magazine, the premiere journal covering esoteric traditions and spiritual paths. In addition, Kinney is a member of Mill Valley Lodge #356 and Mission Lodge #169, F&AM, in California. He’s also a member of the York Rite, and a 32° KCCH in the Scottish Rite. He has twice been a speaker at the California Masonic Symposium, and is a recipient of the Albert G. Mackey Award for Excellence in Masonic Research. He has extensive contacts within Freemasonry and, as Librarian and Director of Research for the San Francisco Scottish Rite, has access to many resources and Masonic records that have eluded most popular writers on this topic.

    For more information on the author see his web site.

    Amazon purchasing links for US/UK/Canada are below respectively.

    The Masonic Myth: Unlocking the Truth About the Symbols, the Secret Rites, and the History of Freemasonry/ The Masonic Myth: Unlocking the Truth about the Symbols, the Secret Rites, and the History of Freemasonry/ The Masonic Myth

    Review coming soon!

  • Preview: The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett


    With an extremely interesting title, this book goes on sale September 17th. It looks like an interesting read for all of us who love books too much. It is a non-fiction suspense and I believe is the author’s first book. Please, welcome her with an add on twitter and Goodreads.

    This book was sent to me from Lydia at Penguin books – Thank you Lydia!

    Book Stats:

    • Hardcover: 288 pages
    • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (September 17, 2009)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1594488916
    • ISBN-13: 978-1594488917

    Publisher’s Blurb:

    In the tradition of The Orchid Thief, a compelling narrative set within the strange and genteel world of rare-book collecting: the true story of an infamous book thief, his victims, and the man determined to catch him.
    Rare-book theft is even more widespread than fine-art theft. Most thieves, of course, steal for profit. John Charles Gilkey steals purely for the love of books. In an attempt to understand him better, journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett plunged herself into the world of book lust and discovered just how dangerous it can be.
    Gilkey is an obsessed, unrepentant book thief who has stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of rare books from book fairs, stores, and libraries around the country. Ken Sanders is the self-appointed "bibliodick" (book dealer with a penchant for detective work) driven to catch him. Bartlett befriended both outlandish characters and found herself caught in the middle of efforts to recover hidden treasure. With a mixture of suspense, insight, and humor, she has woven this entertaining cat-and-mouse chase into a narrative that not only reveals exactly how Gilkey pulled off his dirtiest crimes, where he stashed the loot, and how Sanders ultimately caught him but also explores the romance of books, the lure to collect them, and the temptation to steal them. Immersing the reader in a rich, wide world of literary obsession, Bartlett looks at the history of book passion, collection, and theft through the ages, to examine the craving that makes some people willing to stop at nothing to possess the books they love.

    Authors Bio:


    Allison Hoover Bartlett is the author of The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession (Riverhead Books, September 2009). She has written on a variety of topics, including travel, art, science and education, for the New York Times, the Washington Post,, San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, San Francisco Magazine, and other publications. Her original article on John Gilkey was included in the Best American Crime Reporting 2007.
    Bartlett is a founding member of the writing group North 24th and works at the San Francisco Writers' Grotto, a collective studio. Bartlett has a B.A. in English literature from UC Santa Barbara and lives in San Francisco with her husband and two children.

    For more info on Allison Hoover and to connect with her – here is her  website, at twitter, and on Goodreads.

    Purchasing links for Amazon are here respectively – US/UK/Canada

    The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession/ The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession/ The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession

    Review coming soon!

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...