It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #103

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey meant to highlight books you read in the past week, and what you’re planning on reading this week.

Phew, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. Baby steps.

Finished:
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Cartwheel by Jennifer Dubois

Continuing to read:
American Afterlife: Encounters in the Customs of Mourning by Kate Sweeney

Hoping to finish:
The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan
Vampires, Bones and Treacle Scones by Kaitlyn Dunnett

What are you reading this week?

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Review: Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums: Inside Abandoned Institutions for the Crazy, Criminal & Quarantined by Jamie Davis

haunted asylumsPublished by  Llewellyn Publications
Released September 8, 2013
240 pages
Where I got it: E-galley received from publisher via NetGalley
[stars:1]

Description (from Goodreads):

The Shadow Man haunts penitentiary cell blocks.A chilling wind runs through the Death Tunnel.The Red Eyes Apparition lurks in abandoned hallways.

Explore frightening ghost stories and true paranormal encounters at ten well-known, haunted institutions across the United States. This unique collection of investigations is filled with terrifying photos, spooky highlights from on-site tours, and historical information about each location.

Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums explores the country’s scariest institutions, including the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, West Virginia Penitentiary, and St. Albans Sanatorium. Discover creepy conversations between the authors and restless spirits, interviews with facility staff and knowledgeable ghost hunters, and helpful tips gathered from each investigation. You’ll also enjoy an introduction to basic ghost hunting equipment and detailed information about organizing your own visits to these haunted establishments.

Wow, did I expect more from this book. The thought of hearing all about haunted asylums, prisons, and sanatoriums made me internally squeal with anticipation. Those are places that are scary enough when filled with the living–who knows what kind of dead would be contained inside. I’d still like to read a book about those places, because this book really did not deliver.

My main problem was the writing, which was very poor. For a book from a well-established publisher, I would have hoped that there would have been much more editing. Davis tries to express her enthusiasm for everything she has done and seen. Sadly, however, exclamation points do not equal exciting writing. The words and sentences themselves need to convey that, not a piece of punctuation.

I had also hoped there would have been more of an emphasis on the history of the sites visited. The bulk of the book gives a play by play of Davis and Queen’s experiences doing ghost hunting in these places. I don’t find that sort of thing interesting on television, and I find it even more dull in writing. Page after page includes transcriptions from “flashlight sessions,” where Davis and Queen ask some spirit questions and hope that a flickering flashlight will indicate an answer. Unlike a Ouija board, there are no letters to spell out independent thoughts. It’s entirely up to the living to create a narrative and interpret the answers.  In court, this kind of questioning would be called leading the witness. It might be fun for Davis and Queen, and they’re entitled to their fun, but it makes for a pretty lame book. After a while, I started just skipping these sections entirely, which made the book fly by.

Possibly the only worthwhile part of this book was the section of each chapter that outlines ghost hunting parameters and costs for each of the locations. If you’re into that sort of thing, it could save you some research time. Other than that, I found very little redeeming content here. What a pity.

Buy it on Amazon
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2014…When Did That Happen!?

No, I’m not dead. I’ve just been very, very busy.

I’ve been working, yes. I also had my sister visit in October.

We went to the afternoon tea service at the Boston Public Library. Highly recommended!

We went to the afternoon tea service at the Boston Public Library. Highly recommended!

I’m still on two ALA RBMS committees, and will be going to ALA Midwinter in Philadelphia in less than three weeks.

I’ve been taking Latin at Harvard Extension. While fun and not harder than I can handle, it does require HOURS of studying a week, in addition to the evening spent in class and the commute home.

Harvard is quite beautiful in the snow.

Harvard is quite beautiful in the snow.

I’ve been playing a lot of music. In addition to being in multiple community bands, I’m also now on the Board of the Sharon Community Bands and am spending time on that. I was the producer for our last concert.

2013-12-14 19.26.30-2All in all, it’s been a very busy few months for me. I had to really struggle to finish my Goodreads challenge of 144 books in 2013. I had to resort to listening to an audiobook at 2x speed on the final day!

This isn’t meant to be excuses. Rather, please take it as explanation for my absence. I’m going to try to start writing reviews again. Now that the winter is here, I’ll be indoors more often and feeling snuggly. But who knows. I’m still going to be taking Latin this spring, so that will be quite a bit of time, and I’m planning on applying for jobs once there are more posted.

I hope you’ll all be patient with me as I try to get back into this thing!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #102

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey meant to highlight books you read in the past week, and what you’re planning on reading this week.

I had another super busy week, but what else is new? I started Latin on Wednesday, and then had a 3 hour jazz band rehearsal Thursday night. On Saturday, I went with some of my band friends to the University of Massachusetts v. University of Maine football game (I went to neither school, so I was neutral). We tailgated and barbecued and walked to Gillette Stadium from my friend’s house.

Me with my friends at the game (I'm the girl).

Me with my friends at the game (I’m the girl).

Today (Sunday), I drove down to Providence, RI with my boyfriend to watch Evita. It was incredible! It was the very first show of the new national tour, so I recommend seeing it if it comes to your city. All of the cast was amazing, the sets were the best my boyfriend said he’d ever seen, and the dancing was also gorgeous. Something for everyone :-)

Finished:
I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids by Jen Kirkman
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Fire and Ash by Jonathan Maberry

Continuing to read:
The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman (my egalley expired, so I’m waiting for it to come out)
Dexter’s Final Cut by Jeff Lindsay
Haunted Asylums, Prisons, and Sanatoriums: Inside Abandoned Institutions for the Crazy, Criminal & Quarantined by Jamie Davis

Hoping to finish:
Allison Hewitt Is Trapped by Madeleine Roux
Asylum by Madeleine Roux
When Will You Rise: Stories to End the World by Mira Grant

What are you reading this week?

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Latin Time

Being the crazy woman I am, I am going to start Beginning Latin on Wednesday nights at Harvard Extension, after work. I’ve never taken Latin before, and it wasn’t offered at my high school. However, since I’m a rare book cataloger, it’s really something I should have on my resume. Some jobs require it.

Beside helping me master the English language, which contains many Latinate words, there’s something inherently sexy about knowing a language that is so old and so widely used. There’s a reason rare book catalogers need Latin: a ton of books, mostly pre-1750s, are written in it.

Latin has played an important role in many of the books I’ve read in recent years. For example, in The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. Not only do the boys take Latin in school, but Ronan’s dreams are in Latin.

Holly Black wrote about a Latin club that has an unexpected dark side in the short story “In Vodka Veritas” (in vodka there is truth), which appeared in her book The Poison Eaters and Other Stories. I remember reading it and really longing to learn Latin. Then the story took a strange turn. You’d need to read it to know what I mean.

Robin Wasserman’s The Book of Blood and Shadow features a protagonist who is a Latin whiz. That’s the reason she gets set on the path she does. Without Latin, there wouldn’t be a plot in this book.

Have you taken Latin? Is this going to be intellectual torture for me, or something magical? What books have you read that feature Latin as a plot point? Let me know in the comments!

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