Novella with Protagonist of Color

Sorry, y’all! I’ve been trying and trying to read another book that has great reviews but I just can’t get into it. I decided to take a break from it and discovered this gem of a novella! Books come to you when the time is right, and the time was right for me to meet Binti.

Let’s talk about Binti, the accidental heroine of our story. (Aren’t they all accidental heroines in some form or fashion? I digress…) One of 10 kids, Binti is a 16-year-old Himba girl who leaves home in the dead of night to fulfill her dream of attending the renowned Oomza University. She boards a transporter that will take her to an interplanetary ship on its way to University.

Family is everything to the Himba and they are known for being reclusive, not mixing with other races or communities. Desert dwellers, the Himba love their land and go so far as to use it to cleanse and purify their bodies, continually marking themselves with the red clay of their region. Binti quickly feels conspicuous for the first time in her life, never having been away from her home city before. Her hair is thick and wild and plaited, dressed in the sweet oil and clay mixture from her land; she jingles from the steel rings she wears around her ankles (protection from snake bites); her clothing is different and suited for hot desert terrain. She experiences disdain and lots of side-eye from the others she while on her journey to her transport.

What would push Binti to leave home in such a devious manner? Her planetary exams score was so high in mathematics that she was admitted to Oomza University with a full scholarship no less. Even though she would be the first of her people to venture out and attend the University, her family is up in arms and don’t consider that to be an option. Knowing that pleading and reason are useless, Binti steals away in the dead of night to make her way through space to search out a new future for herself. Binti heartbreakingly knows her family will be furious and probably never accept her again, but she boldly follows the path she feels is best for her. You get a real sense of Binti weighing options that are not ideal and trying to make the best decision that will be true and honest and just, which bodes well for future events in the story

As Binti journeys with a space ship full of professors and other students to the University, she makes friends and learns to make her way in such a different culture. As she’s sitting in the lunch hall with her squad, admiring her crush, she is suddenly covered in a spray of blood. Her companion has just been killed by a member of the Meduse race who have surprisingly transported onto the ship. Everyone is killed but Binti (for reasons I won’t disclose here), and she is terrorized for several days as she hides in her room. Turns out, the Meduse race have a huge grudge to pick with Oomza University – an event that really has nothing to do with Binti and the other passengers. They are unfortunate collateral damage in a plan of revenge and possible war.

Binti and the Meduse finally find a way to communicate and Binti has to decide if she can rise above the need for revenge for a greater good or if the loss of her new tribe of people is too heart-wrenching to overcome. Either decision will come at great personal cost to Binti.

I really liked this book. I listened to the audio and the narrator has a lovely accent and inflection that drops you right into Binti’s point of view. The math and science emphasis is huge. Binti’s hair, for example, is braided according to a mathematical code that was designed by her father and identifies her place in the lineage of her family. Binti is a brilliant mathematician and comes from a long line of people who study the secrets of the universe, although the Himba study the universe from an internal rather than external perspective. It also has a feel of Star Trek about it with the disparate groups of people trying to come to terms with each other and live companionably, if not exactly friendly.

The book is short (the audio is only two and a half hours), so it can easily be finished in an afternoon, and is the first in a series. The shortness of the story by no means impacts the depth and is winner of both Hugo and Nebula awards for best novella. The author, Nnedi Okorafor, is American with Nigerian roots. No moss grows under her feet, and she has an impressive list of works before and after Binti. She has a Ted Talk here about sci-fi stories and the imagining of a future Africa, and also has a new comic series coming out about Black Panther’s Shuri. Another novel, Who Fears Death, has been optioned as an HBO series. It’s been in my TBR pile for awhile and may have to now move to the top!

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Cookbook (As A Literary Work)

I’m working on a few books right now, as I often do, which is probably why it takes me so long to finish anything! However, I was wandering through my local library and came across a very well-used cookbook I couldn’t resist. As many libraries do, there was a display of books and materials on recent-ish cultural events and Appetities: A Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain was smack in the middle.

I know, I know. I’ve recently written about Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and don’t really need to add another title of his so quickly. But, here’s the thing. I’ve already said that I love cookbooks that tell a story (see my other cookbook post) and Bourdain’s does just that. I wasn’t really planning to post about Appetites here, but changed my mind after I had the time to sit down and look through it. The back cover touts the book as a repertoire of Bourdain’s personal favorites cooking and entertaining at home that are “translated into an effective battle plan that will help you terrify your guests with your breathtaking efficiency.” Who could resist that?

Appetites (2016) certainly tells a story. Bourdain’s story, but also the culinary story of many of us. High end and exotic options and ordinary church supper favorites. You read that right. Bourdain talks you through things like ‘Octopus Stock’ and ‘Malloreddus with Wild Boar Sugo’ (you got me!) and ‘Halibut Poached in Duck Fat.’ He also includes tuna salad, chicken salad, macaroni and cheese, chicken pot pie and deviled eggs. Impeccably presented, but basic fare by anybody’s standards. And, Thanksgiving! Bourdain has a section on Thanksgiving complete with turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry relish, and an assortment of sides.

The dark yet witty humor is there. ‘Chicken Satay with Fake-Ass Spicy Peanut Sauce’ is one of those “lowbrow items that even the most discerning guests go crazy for at catered parties…” as Bourdain states (or laments). He also includes the humble ‘Sausage and Pepper Hero’ that he admits he can’t resist at food trucks and festivals, even though he says “…within an hour of consumption, I’m shitting like a mink.” He knows this and proceeds anyway.

There are quirks, too, which are part of Bourdain’s don’t-give-a-rat’s-ass attitude. Exactly one page is devoted to desserts. The page has no recipes, but does have a diatribe on how much Bourdain does not like dessert. The first line is “Fuck desserts.” Basically, he says he could care less about desserts and prefers a cheese plate most of the time. That’s it. And then we move on. No fucks or recipes given.

The book includes short vignettes of Bourdain’s life and includes photos of Bourdain’s wife at the time of publication, their daughter, and his good friend, Eric Ripert. The book is sweetly dedicated to Bourdain’s daughter and he makes no bones about being delighted with fatherhood in the introduction of the book. He stresses that what we are about to read is a family cookbook and that cooking together is really a father – daughter experience for him at home. Bourdain also laments not being born Italian American, the “yelling and smacking” at the dinner table and getting “physically involved with your food.” Burgers are sacrosanct and should include a potato bun, no tomato or lettuce, thinly sliced onion, mass produced ketchup, maybe a slight bit of mayo, and definitely bacon. Don’t ask him if he wants ketchup made in-house – that harkens a fear that “Mumford and Sons suddenly emerge from the kitchen and begin playing tableside…” Breakfast is something he didn’t cook for a long time, equating it with his low times of working as a brunch cook; “the smell of breakfast to me will always be the smell of defeat…” But he got over it because he had a kid and kids like to eat breakfast.

Bourdain’s best advice for cocktail parties is, “Always keep some pigs in blankets in the freezer.” People love them and, when you start to run out of the high-end hors d’oeuvres, you can pull these out in a pinch. He is also a surprisingly considerate food planner for said cocktail party, including planning a menu around food guests have to eat standing up, will women ruin their lipstick eating these foods, can the food be eaten without making a mess? Most importantly, items like onions and garlic and lutefisk (yuck!) should wisely be left off the menu. After all, “…some of your guests will be having sex after the party. Hopefully with you…” and a good menu planner should be considerate of foods that would give negative “residual effects.” Advice that I’ve never seen in Martha Stewart’s books. It’s a good thing.

This book reminds me how much I miss this dude being in the world. Sure, there’s the occasional photo of dead or butchered animals that make me thisclose to being a vegetarian, and some of the recipes are things I would never try, but it’s also an interesting look at one man’s life based on his palate and reminds me of how much you can tell about a person from the foods they eat. I found an interesting review of Appetites when it first came out which you can read here.

Appetites is a hodgepodge but in the best possible way. There’s a photo in the book of the inside of a fridge that includes a pig’s foot, various meats and stocks, tomato paste, dressings, champagne and… a Fanta. Something for every appetite!

Book About A Bookstore or Library

Ummmmm…I am kind of at a loss for words on this one. The Bookshop started out as something I normally really like. A widow decides to open a bookstore in her tiny English village. I thought it would have some humor, some quirky characters, some very British perseverance in the face of adversity – and it did. It also had an overwhelmingly sad ending that I really didn’t expect and, as it turns out, I learned that people are just mean and you shouldn’t bother trying to bring some light into people’s worlds because they simply won’t appreciate it. Does that sound dark? It’s how I felt after listening to this book.

It’s 1959, and Florence Green has decided to open the only bookshop in her little seaside town. She picks an abandoned property that’s been vacant for seven years and falling into decay. Oh, and it’s haunted, a fact which plays a minimal role in the story. Florence fixes the place up, orders her inventory, and opens her business. Her main nemesis is the local rich lady, Mrs. Gamart, who, some day, planned to use the same property for a center for the arts and begins to put the squeeze on Florence to move out and move on. Never mind that this property has been vacant the last seven years and no move was made before then to do anything with it, or that the entire small village knew for a few months of Florence’s plan to buy and refurbish the place for a bookshop business. Mrs. Gamart is peeved that her pet project has been snatched away from her. Jealousy is the crux of poor Florence’s downfall.

The book is really too short to give much more of the plot without giving every spoiler. I wanted this book to be one of those cozy English village stories where everything works out in the end and this was not that story. However, it was very well- written and had parts that made me laugh out loud. It was charming in many ways and the fact that it didn’t meet my expectations was no fault of the book. It did feel like it skimmed over much of the story and characters because of the short length, so it seemed more novella than novel. I would have like more depth. As a parable for spectacular failure despite one’s optimism in life, it hit its mark.

As I said, it’s a short book. Amazon lists it at 192 pages and the running time on the audio was just under four hours. It was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize back in 1978 when it was first published, but didn’t win. I’ve included this review from Publisher’s Weekly that lauds the book’s bleakness and social message and I found another great review/discussion here. Author Penelope Fitzgerald did win the Booker Prize the next year for her novel Offshore. You can read more about Fitzgerald here.

A movie is due out in August 2018 which I didn’t realize until I finished the book and was doing my research. I’ve included a trailer here. It has already been released in other parts of the world and the reviews for the film are as mixed as reviews for the book. This link is to an article in Variety and I’ve included a few reviews below from Rotten Tomatoes.

I didn’t dislike the book and plan to explore some of Fitzgerald’s other titles. She is a new name to me. I’ll also catch the movie at some point to see how it holds up. I would recommend this book overall, just beware that it’s not what you might expect! Really, though, when is life ever what we expect? And that is the crux of this story.

Book Based on the Cover

Never judge a book by its cover, right? But we do. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but we still do it. In this book, they also judge a person based on their cover – tattoos on the skin, to be more exact. An appropriate book for the category, now that I think of it! It’s hard to see the details of the cover in this photo, but it’s flooded with coppery foiled images all over, much like a variety of tattoos. It’s really gorgeous and, honestly, what drew my attention to a book in a genre filled with imaginative covers.

Ink is a young adult dystopian fantasy, a genre I’m already over in so many ways. The protagonist, Leora, has just suffered the loss of her father. She and her mother are grieving but still have to forge their way through everyday life. Leora is about to graduate and has missed quite a bit of school while caring for her dying father. Her best friend, Verity, helps her with her studies and the two graduate with high marks, allowing them to obtain the jobs they’ve dreamed of for so long – Verity in the government, and Leora as an inker (aka tattoo artist in our world).

So, what’s so fancy and important about being a tattoo artist? In the world of Ink, people are marked with tattoos to recognize the events of their lives. Some tattoos are mandatory, like a name at two days old, a family tree on one’s back, lines and other symbols for accolades, accomplishments, or crimes. Other tattoos are self-chosen by individuals to reflect personal events or interests, and the inkers have to be talented and intuitive to bring all of these images together so that one’s life story can be read on the skin. It’s a really unique idea and I like that part a lot.

This is where it gets weird for me and I couldn’t shake the creepy factor for the rest of the book. When a person dies, like Leora’s father, the body is taken to a Flayer. This Flayer removes the tattoos carefully from the body and the skin remnants are stretched and bound like a page, and compiled in a book. So, the family has a book of the life of the deceased person and can remember them through the tattoos on the skin. The book as a whole is judged by the government and, if the person lived a good enough life, the book is placed in a library to be remembered. If the judgement doesn’t come out well, the book is burned and the person is forgotten. Turns out, Leora’s father is not who she thought he was and his book is brought up short in the judging process and burned. Leora finds that many people in her life are not who they seemed and she spends the remainder of the book trying to sort things out.

Because of who Leora’s father turned out to be, certain factions have been waiting for her to grow up and be used as a political pawn. The neighboring “enemy” are the Blanks, a group of people so full of shame and deviousness that they refuse to have anything tattooed on their skin and are surely working at this very moment to take over Leora’s world. So claims the government, anyway. There are the usual tropes of a young girl being plucked from obscurity and used in the name of rebellion and a 1984-style government that has fooled the people into believing everything they say. It’s done to death at this point. While I liked the idea of the ink telling the story of a life, the peeling off of the skin to be preserved in a book is just something I couldn’t get over. The end of the book was also very rushed and jumbled to me, with Leora vacillating very quickly from hating everyone who had deceived her and turning pro-government, to rebuking all of that and landing on the side of the rebellion. I just didn’t buy it and really never got on board for caring for Leora as a character. This is the first in a new series and one that I probably won’t be revisiting.

As always, read it for yourself and make your own conclusions. There are other reviews here, so you can see what others like and dislike about it. I found his link to an interview with Alice Broadway in The Guardian where she discusses her split with her faith that inspired Leora’s story, and another interview here where she discusses her writing process. I’m also including a link to some of the best in he YA dystopian genre. A few of them have been on my radar for awhile, and I’ll probably go ahead and read them despite being burned out on the category. You never know when the next great read will present itself!

Celebrity Memoir

I was flipping channels one night and came across the most delightful episode of a television show. I didn’t know whose it was or what was happening, but I was mesmerized and stayed with it until the end. The setting was the Philippines, at Christmas, and there were cover bands and office parties and booze and the loveliest people you would ever want to meet and right in the middle of it all was this tall white dude calling himself Bob from accounting. That’s how I came to know and be charmed by Anthony Bourdain.

I knew who he was, of course. I knew he was a chef and had a few TV shows and I kind of thought he traveled the world and ate weird stuff like a couple of other television shows that I refused to watch. They seemed to be gross for the sake of being gross. I took a hard pass and hadn’t given poor Tony a chance until I happened upon the above-mentioned episode of Parts Unknown and then I was hooked. I delighted in his smarts and his dark humor, but also in his compassion and his insightful storytelling. He did eat weird stuff, but it wasn’t the focus of the show. He shared his love of food with people around the globe and they, in turn, shared their souls.

At some point, I discovered Bourdain had risen to fame after the publication of Kitchen Confidential, a book that looked behind the curtain and under the tables of the restaurant industry. While it had been on my radar to read at some point, it jumped to the top of the list after Bourdain’s tragic suicide just last week. What else could I find out about this fascinating man who left us way too soon? Celebrity memoirs are a dime a dozen; some shallow, some deep, some inspirational, some funny. Considering Bourdain wasn’t yet a celebrity when the book was published, this choice seemed unique in the genre and would give me some insight to where his journey began.

Kitchen Confidential came into being after the publication of Bourdain’s article, Don’t Eat Before Reading This, was published in The New Yorker. He sent the article unsolicited, and it was published anyway. It’s an eye-opener and has made me rethink every meal I’ve ever ordered! Interest in the article spawned the book and a reluctant star was born. In Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain gives us his earliest memory that starts his love of food and it’s not a shabby one. He and his family were on a trans-Atlantic voyage on the Queen Mary to his father’s home country, France, and a young Bourdain, fresh out of fourth grade, ate vichyssoise. According to Bourdain, it was the first food he “really noticed.” He also recounts the story of a neighbor, once they arrived in France, who took the whole family out in his little boat. Monsieur Saint-Jour, an oyster fisherman, reached into the water and brought up oysters for the family. Bourdain was the only one who, defiantly, would eat a raw oyster, much to his family’s disgust.

This is where Bourdain thinks the spark of his adult persona started all those years ago. “I frequently look back at my life, searching for that fork in the road, trying to figure out where, exactly, I went bad and became a thrill-seeking, pleasure-hungry sensualist, always looking to shock, amuse, terrify and manipulate, seeking to fill that empty spot in my soul with something new. I like to think it was Monsieur Saint-Jour’s fault. But of course, it was me all along.”

From that trip, Bourdain guides us through his early years and to Provincetown, Massachusetts, where he had his first job in a restaurant. The rivalries were fierce, the drinking was hard, and the sex and drugs were plentiful. This was the 70s, after all. Just after the Age of Aquarius and anything goes. His first summer in a restaurant was exhilarating and he was eager to come back again the next year, puffed up with a little experience and a lot of hubris. He was smacked down hard by the new owner and crew at his old restaurant and decided to go to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) to exact his revenge, to become better and faster and more skilled than these guys in a Provincetown seafood house. We’re all the better for it. Imagine Anthony Bourdain as a Vassar student, wearing nunchucks in a holster around his hip; at the CIA taking advantage of the naïveté of his younger fellow students in card games and drug deals; a CIA graduate with “…field experience, a vocabulary, and a criminal mind”; a young entrepreneur basing his catering prices in relation to the going price for cocaine. It’s all there, every glorious, scurrilous detail.

I’m sorry I waited so long for this one. The writing is fresh and realistic and makes me want to drop everything and join the pirate ships that are restaurant kitchens. Bourdain’s journey is a crooked, blurry line and he takes us through restaurant after restaurant and character after character until the end of the book. It’s a wild ride and, as Bourdain says, “…I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”

You can watch several seasons of Parts Unknown on Netflix for an extended run. (The Christmas Philippines episode remains my favorite. Watch it for yourself – it will change your life!)

Blogger’s note:

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the haunting mental illness behind the suicides of Bourdain and designer Kate Spade in the same week. I suffer from mental illness, many people I know suffer from mental illness, and probably many more people I know suffer as well but are too afraid or ashamed to mention it. The battle is real and it’s uphill all the way. It’s a tough illness to face and the demons are hard to back down, no matter your lot in life. I can’t give you advice on how to fight your war, but I can assure you that you have allies. You just have to keep looking until you find them. Furthermore, if you know people who have a mental illness, help them find help. Listen to them, don’t shrug it off and tell them to toughen up. We would if we could and, hear me when I say this, depression does not discriminate. Get help or be help. That’s all.

Self-Published Book

Did you play Dungeons & Dragons in high school? Maybe you’ve seen Stranger Things and watched those boys play in the basement? Or you or someone you know has played Pathfinder or any of the numerous other role-playing games out in the tabletop gamer-verse? You and your friends take on the persona of a wizard or a fighter or some other hero, roll a bunch of dice, and do battle with any number of foes in an imaginary theater of the mind. The game is directed by a Game Master (GM) who tells the story, comments on what happens when, and tries to make the playing experience as realistic as possible. You go on quests, gather gold, and sometimes wreak havoc in imaginary towns with imaginary people. When you’re done, you take your dice and go home, leaving the NPCs behind, never giving them another thought until the next time you play.

What are NPCs, you ask? Allow me to explain. Non-player characters or NPCs are key to any good role-playing game but they’re always relegated to the background; not really key to the story but they provide goods and services and the occasional bit of information that helps move a story along. Think of them as extras in a movie or the residents (and old West bad guys) in Westworld. NPCs are the tavern keepers, the merchants, the gate guards, the port workers, the bandits, the stable boys – you get the idea. You interact with them as you need to throughout the story, usually just to get whatever supplies or information you need, and then move on to the next big adventure. The NPCs just kind of … disappear. Or do they? Here’s where we find out!

So, a few guys get together for some gaming one night, don’t listen to the big clues they get from the GM, and end up dead. Really quickly. They die in a tavern from accidentally poisoning themselves. The characters as a group are slumped over the bar, dead. No reviving, no spells to cast – just dead. Did I mention how dead they are? Time to roll new characters and start a new adventure, leaving this scenario behind.

Meanwhile, in the tavern, the bartender, a local guard, the mayor’s daughter, and the tavern owner are stuck with four dead bodies. What to do? These inexperienced adventurers are coming through the town all the blasted time, making a mess, getting killed – when will they learn and what are these four NPCs supposed to do with the bodies? How rude!

That’s where the plot of NPCs takes us. Not with the players, but with the game. The players have moved on, but the NPCs have to clean up the mess. While searching the bodies, the foursome realizes the the dead dudes were on a quest for the king (barely started, but still). Afraid of taking the blame for the inept dead adventurers and incurring the wrath of the king, the four NPCs decide to take up the quest and, at the very least, move the suspicious deaths away from their small village. After all, the writ is for a rogue, a paladin, a wizard, and a barbarian. Nobody has actually met or even knows the names of the dead, so subs can easily be put in place. And so the adventure begins!

*Modest spoilers ahead about things that happen very early on in the story!*

Meet Thistle, a gnome and the tavern owner, who decides to be the rogue because he’s used to making shady deals; Grumph, the half-orc, who bartends and intimidates with his brawn and is so obvious to fill the role of barbarian; Eric, the human guard and the son of a deceased Paladin who takes on that role now; and Gabrielle, a human and the daughter of the mayor who is highly educated and agrees to be the wizard. However, when the first big fight ensues, the devout Thistle sends up a quick prayer to his god as he uses his weapon; Eric, the Paladin, is more clever and agile in fighting without his uncomfortable armor; the brawny half-orc is able to cast spells from a found spell book; and Gabrielle rages into the midst of the battle swinging a mighty axe. Stop, rewind, switch places and our crew fits more comfortably into new roles they never knew they could fill.

I liked the twist on the NPCs starting out in obvious roles but then changing places with each other into roles you wouldn’t normally expect them to play. It happens fairly early in the book, so it’s not a big spoiler. I don’t think people who haven’t played role-playing games will be lost in the story and people who do play will enjoy this immensely. One of the best early gags is that Gabrielle is kidnapped so frequently by goblins as a plot point for adventurers that she has become friends with the kidnappers. They’ve taught her to speak goblin and to hunt and track; they let her bring books along when it’s time to kidnap her again; and they have a particular horse they let her use every time they kidnap her. She looks forward to the “kidnappings” as mini-vacations from her ordinary life! Hilarious!

Again, the part of the book I described is very early on, and there is plenty of additional adventure for our crew. Who knows? It might even spark an interest for your own gaming! Drew Hayes, the author, has quite a few irons in the fire as you can read for yourself on his website. There are more books in the NPCs series, as well as some other works, podcasts, videos, etc. I’ve included an interview with Hayes here on a show called Nerdrotic that I found on YouTube and another interview on a broadcast about Sci-Fi and Fantasy marketing here. Enjoy!

Book About Death or Grief

This is one of those categories which I consider to be an interpretive category. If you want to delve into a nonfiction work on actual death and grieving, there are plenty of books out there. If you want a fiction book about death, go find the latest Nicholas Sparks. For me, I didn’t want either of those options. I mean, this book is kind of about death and grief. Ghosts and spirits who communicate from the other side, right? And those who communicate with them and pass on messages to loved ones? That counts. So says me.

Jenniffer Weigel of I’m Spiritual, Dammit fame has collected a series of interviews with some of the most noteworthy names currently in the field of spiritual beliefs. You can find out more about her at her website here.

Weigel interviews the cream of the current crop in the medium and psychic field: Rebecca Rosen, Caroline Myss, Linda Howe, Thomas John, Echo Bodine, Michael Bodine, Maureen Hancock, Concetta Bertolucci, Paul Selig, Margie Hughes, Denise Guzzardo, and Jorianne The Coffee Pyschic (really!). These folks deal in channeling spirits, ghost hunting, readings, psychic connections, and almost any other niche in this subject matter that you can think of. They are authors, speakers, teachers, and considered experts in their respective fields.

Each of the interviews is interesting and unique in its own way. Rather than ask the same series of questions to each person, the interviews have taken place on the podcast at different times or at an event where there is audience interaction. The interviewees talk about a variety of topics related to their specialty, including how some of them started out on this path. It makes for an interesting listen. I’m part skeptic but part wannabe believer, and many of the interviewees are very well-spoken and thoughtful in their answers. They get that people scoff at their work and often agree that it may not be for everyone. I’m not saying their aren’t a few eye-rolling moments in the interviews, but many of them communicate a belief in a higher power or the laws of attraction thinking where the energy you put out feeds the energy that’s is attracted to you (and whatever form that energy may take is another matter).

Death plays a big part in this type of work, right? Spirits can’t communicate with you unless they are … spirits. Am I right? Depending on your personal belief system about an afterlife, it may be comforting to you to know that your dearly departed can send messages or look after you and your family, that these spirits can guide you through life and are waiting for you when you cross over. But even if you are a skeptic, you might give this a listen, even if it’s only a few of the interviews. There are good points made about positivity and the kind treatment of others and other positive messages that are good for anyone to hear. Personally, death is a big question mark. What happens to the soul? Will I really be able to see my loved ones restored to a happy, healthy version of themselves? Or, do they die and that’s it, the spark that made them a human being is just gone, never to be seen again? I don’t like that scenario and I choose to think that, in some form of an afterlife, that I will be reunited with them. Therefore, I’m curious about all viewpoints on the matter and am drawn to subjects like this. I don’t want to know about the stages of dying or read a tear-jerker about someone’s death. I want to explore the pseudo-science and hope for more.

This is available in book form, but I listened to the audio version. I don’t know how the book reads, but, since we’re talking about interviews, the audio format was my preference. It’s like listening to a series of podcasts and a great choice for a quick fix on your daily commute.

There is an interview here with Weigel about this book and Weigel’s interview with psychic medium Susan Rowlan (not included in the book) here.