Tag Archive | historical

Going Clear – Examining Scientology

So I was a little torn about even reviewing this book on my blog. Not because of the story itself, it is marvelous, but the subject matter is a little off of what I generally share here. I am a born and raised Lutheran who has in turn (thus far) raised our 5 kids in the same faith. Ken is less committed to a particular strain of Christianity or religion really, than I am but agrees Sunday School (or Jesus School as Echo calls it) is a marvelous way for our kids to not only socialize in a school like environment but learn some wonderful classic moral structure. In saying all of that I AM a Religion and Philosphy major (joint concentrations with a Bachelor degree graduating with distinction) who spent a large portion of her education looking into world religions. There is something amazing in seeing more opinions and faiths. Add in the philosophy portion and I have never lost my wish to simply know more.

Now with Scientology I have to admit my only knowledge came from the media. John Travolta, Tom Cruise… though my exposure through Tom Cruise was such to make me LESS enthused about the ideology honestly… and more recently Lea Remini’s leaving and Haggis’ impassioned letter of resignation after the treatment of his openly gay daughters and homosexuality as a whole within the organization. In fact, I was originally looking for the new HBO documentary about Scientology when I came across the link for the book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright.

I figure the best way to review is to be honest… I absolutely LOVED the voice of the author. His writing was clear, and had an unbiased feel (as unbiased as any one person can be). This was a man determined to find as much factual statements as he could, and with religion (or a closed community such as Scientology seems to be) that is never a simple black and white. The back of the book is full of notes and acknowledgement of source. Surprisingly a large portion of his resources came from the University of Alberta. (the university that has bought Augustana where Ken and myself got our degrees) This is not a book thrown together without an attempt to corroborate material. Though there are multiple places where the official Scientology account differs from other sources…

I PERSONALLY found the history of the creator of Scientology (L. Ron Hubbard) and the early history of the organization to be the most interesting. Though the more current step by step growth and evolution of a society working to be declared a formal religion was also gripping.

The entire book walks you through first the life (birth onward) of L. Ron Hubbard on through to the creation of Scientology the written work and organization, past his death and into the more current status of the “church.” Wright has multiple sources including defectors and what information he could glean from the internet, other reporters and texts, the published writings of Hubbard and what Scientology would officially confirm or deny. There is a bit of a taboo on writing about Scientology, especially in the 80’s and 90’s where it is documented that authors have been sued, harassed and potentially blackmailed.

Now there is some dogma in the book, a lot of personal experiences (often collaborated with at least another person) and what has been released in the media. All in all it combined to be a read I simply could not put down. I was very grateful for the long weekend.

Now I would consider this book a wonderful peek into the inner workings and beginnings of Scientology based on the accounts of insiders AND the author who is in no way affiliated with the community. I am sure this is biased on some levels but I feel the author really tried to back the claims, histories and philosophy with text and numerous accounts. I think that this book has given me some insight into what some consider a cult, others a church and still others simply an organization based on a money making scheme. What you draw from it is your own. It definitely held my interest. So check it out if you want to know more about Scientology and for sure, let me know what YOU thought about it! o-GOING-CLEAR-facebook

Ghost Ship… A Book Review

Now for a change of pace. Ghost Ship by P.J. Alderman is a fun murder mystery. In fact multiple mysteries are solved as the main character Jordan also delves into the mysterious death of a ghost from times long past. This is the second book in the Port Chatham Mystery series.

Jordan is newly moved to the seaside town of Port Chatham in Washington State. With this move has come a large house she is renovating and a bunch of resident ghosts only Jordan seems to be able to see. Added to this already interesting character list is the resident hotty and pub owner Jase, close friend and Sheriff Darcy and the newest corpse… womanizer Holt Stillwell.

What I love about this series is that it alternates between the contemporary and historical mysteries. You not only get to know Jordan and her friends and townsfolk but the ghosts and their community. There is a rather interesting look into the opium trade of the 1890’s that connects to the murder in the current day.

The setting is lovely, characters vibrant and the romance a definite slow burn. I really enjoyed the fact that the book is not centered on people disbelieving the ability to see ghosts… in fact no one rails against it as hard as the woman herself! The mysteries were interesting right up until the end. I would definitely suggest this book and potentially this series to anyone who loves ghosts with their mysteries. I look forward to reading the first in this series as well as continuing on with the rest.mG2iU7HFOrhjsmeSa22CtoA

Seeking Philbert Woodbead

I absolutely LOVED Penelope by Anya Wylde (you can read my review HERE) so when I got the opportunity to read her newest: Seeking Philbert Woodbead I jumped at it!!! Our beloved quirky Penelope is now a happily married woman expecting their first child. With a string of unfortunate family illness on the Duke’s side his mother has had to leave to take care of the ailing extended family. 

Thus Penelope has no other recourse then to send for her stepsister Celine who, unlike those of the fairy tale variety is a loving younger sibling. Celine in turn brings with her her younger sister Dorothy (age 13) to enjoy the time in London looking after all of the household daily needs. And from there the story takes off… 

I will not recount for you more of the plot except to say there is a pirate, a theft, beautiful men, knitting needles, intrigue and romance. Celine is known to be completely sensible… except for her sneezes (5 in succession) and her name… but even in the most sensible heart there is a place for adventure and romance! For Celine is on the hunt for her poet… long missing and much remembered he is not the dashing Byron but a fat and rather… un-handsome young man of her humble acquaintance who has penned such gems as “The depressed cat who forgot to meow”…

Enter George the once disgraced second son of an Earl now reinstated after the rather outrageous words and actions of his older brother’ foreign born wife. It is he who remarks on the sensibility of (not)Celine…

“…we are hurtling away in a carriage being chased by blood thirsty pirates. I am not sure knitting is the appropriate occupation at such a time.”

She finished counting the stitches and looked up. “A lady must use her superior talents for the greater good. If I die, then at least I would have died making a bootee for some poor orphan child.”

I simply cannot help but share MORE tantalizing tidbits from this most humorous and outrageous historical setting romance… every girl must have a tome to refer to… and Celine lived by hers:

Mrs. Beatle’s book advised women to be prepared for everything. Never, she had written, depend on a man. Men, she wrote, were ornaments that one pulled out on special occasions or while spring cleaning. The rest of the time they should be safely stored away in either the library or the study depending on where they looked best. 

And then there is a wonderful impression of another woman by our beloved unique diamond Penelope when told to dig deeper to see the good in her:

“I spent all evening excavating with the best spade in all the country, and even after hours and hours of digging into Miss Leech’s head and heart, I found nothing. Nothing, Lord Elmer. The woman is made up of empty paper bags and cotton balls.” Penelope seethed

I just love how while Celine is our main character and the focal point of all the mishaps and adventures, Anya Wylde keeps Penelope as outrageous and hilarious as she was in the book prior…

“I am pregnant and that means mostly idle. I have been practicing all sorts of things in my spare time and pretending to gently snore while I am wide awake is just one of the tricks I have learnt. It is a talent worth acquiring.”

Not only is Penelope back in this newest installment but so is her husband the Duke and HIS grandfather Sir Henry, the nearly blind relic from a past time who demands ALL male visitors have a mustache at the dinner table! 

Seeking Philbert Woodbeard (and who wouldn’t want to know the truth about a POET with such a name?) is a period piece without all of the strict historical accuracy that you find in the more staid and strict romances. Instead you trade these fine details for hilarious and endearing characters, insane situations and a sense of humour that not only grows on you but is fun to share with others. I mean who wouldn’t want to relay the previous passages? And those are just some of my personal favourites. 

So if  you want the dry historical facts turn back, but this is the second in an amazing series of fun and strong characters, situations you can’t help but laugh at and romances they almost can’t see coming (but you see a mile away and cheer on!). I loved BOTH of Anya Wylde’s books and cannot wait for the next installment in The Fairweather Sisters Series! 

I absolutely LOVE this cover

I absolutely LOVE this cover