stacking the shelves

Stacking the Shelves #1

Stacking The Shelves is a meme hosted by Reading Reality all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks! And audiobooks.

I finished reading Angels & Demons a couple of days ago and realised I wanted to know more about the Illuminati and the church. I finally made it to the library this morning, still found the place completely overwhelming but managed to speak to a librarian, tell her what I was looking for and she helped me find a couple of books.

Henry Makow – Illuminati: The Cult That Hijacked the World
Bizarre and incredible as it sounds, humanity has been colonized by a satanic cult called the Illuminati. This cult represents Masonic and Jewish bankers who finagled a monopoly over government credit which allows them to charge interest on funds they create out of nothing. Naturally they want to protect this prize by translating it into a political and cultural monopoly. This takes the form of a totalitarian world government dedicated to Lucifer, who represents their defiance of God. Thus, the people who hold our purse strings are conspiring against us. To distract and control us, they have used a vast occult network (Freemasonry) to infiltrate most organizations, especially government, intelligence agencies, education and the mass media. We are being re-engineered to serve the Illuminati. They undermine institutions like marriage and religion, and promote depravity, dysfunction, corruption and division. They have orchestrated two world wars and are planning a third. Henry Makow describes this conspiracy and shows how human history is unfolding according to Illuminati plan.
I think this is going to be a little more conspiracy than I was looking for, but it was the only book the library had in. I was hoping for more factual/information based but I’ll see how it goes. I said this to the librarian and she did say if it wasn’t right, she’d help me research to find something closer to what I was looking for, even if they didn’t have it in stock

Diarmaid MacCulloch – A History Of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years
How did an obscure personality cult come to be the world’s biggest religion, with a third of humanity its followers? This book, now the most comprehensive and up to date single volume work in English, describes not only the main facts, ideas and personalities of Christian history, its organization and spirituality, but how it has changed politics, sex, and human society.

Taking in wars, empires, reformers, apostles, sects, churches and crusaders, Diarmaid MacCulloch shows how Christianity has brought humanity to the most terrible acts of cruelty – and inspired its most sublime accomplishments.
I know very little about the Christian church and this sounds like it should be a really interesting read.

Dan Jones – The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors
A faltering war in the middle east. A band of elite warriors determined to fight to the death to protect Christianity’s holiest sites. A global financial network unaccountable to any government. A sinister plot founded on a web of lies.

Jerusalem 1119. A small group of knights seeking a purpose in the violent aftermath of the First Crusade decides to set up a new order. These are the first Knights Templar, a band of elite warriors prepared to give their lives to protect Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. Over the next two hundred years, the Templars would become the most powerful religious order of the medieval world. Their legend has inspired fervent speculation ever since.

In this groundbreaking narrative history, Dan Jones tells the true story of the Templars for the first time in a generation, drawing on extensive original sources to build a gripping account of these Christian holy warriors whose heroism and alleged depravity have been shrouded in myth. The Templars were protected by the pope and sworn to strict vows of celibacy. They fought the forces of Islam in hand-to-hand combat on the sun-baked hills where Jesus lived and died, finding their nemesis in Saladin, who vowed to drive all Christians from the lands of Islam. Experts at channeling money across borders, they established the medieval world’s largest and most innovative banking network and waged private wars against anyone who threatened their interests.

Then, as they faced setbacks at the hands of the ruthless Mamluk sultan Baybars and were forced to retreat to their stronghold in Cyprus, a vindictive and cash-strapped King of France set his sights on their fortune. His administrators quietly mounted a damning case against the Templars, built on deliberate lies and false testimony. Then on Friday October 13, 1307, hundreds of brothers were arrested, imprisoned and tortured, and the order was disbanded amid lurid accusations of sexual misconduct and heresy. They were tried by the Pope in secret proceedings and their last master was brutally tortured and burned at the stake. But were they heretics or victims of a ruthlessly repressive state? Dan Jones goes back to the sources tobring their dramatic tale, so relevant to our own times, in a book that is at once authoritative and compulsively readable
This one was also recommended by the librarian when we were talking about the Illuminati and Freemasons. I know I’ve heard of the crusades and the Knights Templar but again, don’t know anything about them. I’m definitely curious and can’t wait to read, it sounds quite exciting for a history book

This is how we fall down rabbit holes of random, niche, interests isn’t it?

I picked up this next one on Kindle after the librarian recommended it. Their system said it should have been there but it wasn’t found on stock check.
John Dickie – The Craft: How the Freemasons Made the Modern World
A global history of the world’s most famous secret society, encompassing kings and presidents, writers and legislators, composers and entertainers, generals and entrepreneurs.

During the Scottish Reformation, when kings, princes, and popes were being toppled from their thrones, a new and secretive society was formed. The Freemasonry’s fixed rules, suggesting a connection to an ancient wisdom and known only to its initiates, attracted many antagonists, including the Roman Catholic Church, but also attracted a diverse range of members, from tradesman, merchants, actors, lawyers, Jews, and even people of color.

The Craft is a vibrant, revelatory history of the Freemasons, their core ideas, and its members, including revolutionaries (Giuseppe Garibaldi, Simón Bolívar, Motilal Nehru, and George Washington), rulers (five of England and no fewer than fourteen U.S. Presidents), and luminaries (Arthur Conan Doyle, Goethe, Mozart, Shaquille O’Neal, Harry Houdini, Henry Ford, Buzz Aldrin, and Walt Disney; the Duke of Wellington, Duke Ellington, and more). John Dickie captures the mystique of Masonic secrecy, and shows why its history is too important and too compelling to be the exclusive property of the initiated as Freemasonry has had a role in shaping the world for all of us.
Again, I’ve heard of the Freemasons but don’t really know anything about them and I’m looking forward to reading it.

This is definitely how we fall down a rabbit hole about secret societies and I kind of like it

I also have quite the large Amazon delivery of books coming today. After writing about some of my childhood favourites the other day, I decided that no, I really do want to re-read these and so I treated myself to:

Of course, this is going to completely screw my recommendations because both Amazon and Goodreads are going to think I’m circa 8 years old and love fantasy, neither of which are true. But I couldn’t not re-read these after writing about them the other day.

And I think my splurge next payday might have to be a bookshelf!

blogging · books

On Blogging

I know I’ve only been doing this for a couple of days again now, but I’m really surprised at how much HTML I’ve remembered. I haven’t used HTML since my days on Livejournal, way back in the late 90s/early 00s but I remembered straight off how to do paragraphs, bold, italic etc. I even remembered how to do a table.

I’m also really kind of proud of how quickly I’m figuring out wordpress. When I first looked at it at the weekend, I couldn’t make head or tail of it. But the more I’m using it, trying out different layouts and features, the more I’m liking it. I think for now I’ve found a layout that I like.

Next up to work on is going to be something of an ‘about me’ page, and figuring out what to include in my sidebar. I suspect I’ll be doing a lot of information gathering while I’m poking around the blogsphere – see what other people say/use, working out what I do and don’t like and then trying to write it

Speaking of ‘poking around the blogsphere’, especially the bookblogging corners that I’ve discovered – and those that I’ve been brave enough to comment on: Can I just say how absolutely lovely and welcoming everyone is! I’m the new kid on the block, I’ve just been pulling my chair up to the table, joining in with conversations and no-one’s questioned me, just welcomed me, responded and even come over to my little blog to comment and engage in conversations. IT’S SO NICE! – thank you!

On the subject of all things book related, I’ve almost finished reading Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons. I’m now finding myself wanting to go to Rome. I’m also starting to think I might need to start a bucket list. Bake Off this week made me want to bake my own pizza – nothing weird or bizarre like they were making – just a nice comforting pepperoni pizza. I’d forgotten how much I love getting lost in a good book, forgetting that I’m reading and just becoming one with the story. I think I might watch the movie at the weekend. Who can resist Ewan McGregor as a priest!?
Next up will be The Da Vinci Code which I’m really looking forward to reading again – I do remember absolutely loving it when I first read, but remember very little about the story, other than something to do with the Templars and the Holy Grail?

I’m not entirely sure how to write a book review though. So if anyone has any tips or good resources they can link me to
I’m also not really sure if anyone would even be interested in a review of a book that’s almost 20 years old and everyone has already read at this point. I can’t see myself ever really being one of the cool kids, reading brand new books, getting advanced copies from publishers etc. Hell I don’t even know what I like at this point! But part of me still desperately wants to make friends with everyone and become part of the community


A Bookish Child

I mentioned in my last post that I’d been a bookish child, always had my nose in a book (and to be honest I want to get back to being that person) and I’ve been thinking about the books I liked as a child. I don’t know that I necessarily want to go back and read any of them but maybe they’ll give me some inspiration for things I want try while figuring out what I do want to read.

I’m not sure that actually made sense – it did when it was in my head but it doesn’t feel like it did when written down.

Essentially, these are some of the books I loved when I was younger:

Enid Blyton – The Famous Five
I loved a lot of Enid Blyton’s books growing up but The Famous Five were some of my favourites. They’re a series of children’s adventure stories about siblings Julian, Dick, Anne their cousin George and her dog Timmy. They were set in the English countryside – there was lots of camping and hiking, picnics… and getting caught up in criminal plots or looking for lost treasure, secret passages and smugglers tunnels.
CS Lewis – The Chronicles Of Narnia
If absolutely forced to pick, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe would probably be my favourite of the series – I spent many summers trying to get through the wardrobe into Narnia and meet Mr Tumnus and Aslan et al – but I loved everything about Narnia.
JRR Tolkien – The Hobbit
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” I find it bizarre how clearly I remember that line. I would also still like to visit the Shire.
Enid Blyton – Malory Towers These, along with her St Clare’s series, made me want to go to boarding school. And inspired quite a lot of reading of other books all set in schools. Strangely, though, I don’t actually remember any details of either series, just that sense of how much I absolutely loved them.
Jill Murphy – The Worst Witch I saw a lot of Mildred in myself for a while – I was pretty clumsy for the first couple of years at secondary school, tall and gangly and all legs and no co-ordination. I loved seeing a character like me, again it was a school story which is a genre I was devouring at the time, and I quite enjoyed the witchyness. I adored the TV show as well, I can’t remember which came first to me though.
JK Rowling – Harry Potter
You probably saw this one coming, after I said I loved boarding school books and enjoyed the witchyness of Worst Witch. Being a bookworm and a bit of a know-it-all, Hermione was my favourite character and even as a teen I despaired of the adults in the books. I haven’t read the last two in the series or seen any of the movies and with everything surrounding Rowling’s behaviour lately, I don’t know if I do want to
E Nesbit – Five Children and It
My introduction to the Psammead was a 90s BBC TV adaptation of the story. I fell in love with the story and fell even more in love with the book. I have some recollections of trying to find a Psammead, digging in beaches as a child but never finding one. I’ve tried to read some of the sequels and reimaginings but none of them ever really captured the same sense of awe that this first book did for me.
Jacqueline Wilson – The Story Of Tracy Beaker
This book started a fairly lifelong – obsession is the wrong word but definite interest in – the foster care system and adoptive families. I remember begging my parents to give a home to a child who needed one (even though there was barely space for them, me, my sister and my brother) and I always thought that I’d end up as a foster or adoptive parent. Tracy had a story like nothing I’d ever heard before and it grabbed my heart
Judy Blume – Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
Possibly the strangest, most out of place of the books I loved as a young teen. But I remember the relief of reading about a character with so many of the same issues I was going through – changing bodies, bras, periods, boys, friends, relationships with parents. I didn’t really have any close friends to talk to these things about, and none of the teen magazines felt like that really reflected what I was going through.

As I’ve been writing and thinking about this, I’m finding I definitely want more adventure, puzzles, secret passages, solving mysteries type stories – and I’m re-reading Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon books and was planning on trying to find more things like this to read.

But I’m also remembering how much I loved the magic of Worst Witch and Harry Potter so will have to look into whether there are similar books for adults. Whether I’ll brave the library to ask a librarian or simple keep using Goodreads as a resource for finding books, I’m not sure. But it’s definitely helped me figure even just one small thing out – I want to keep reading and starting to get an idea of what I want to read – and confirmed I’m doing something that feels good for me!

You gotta be strong enough to walk on through the night

The last 24 hours or so have been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster – mostly highs with some excitedness which I’m wanting to share

So I’ve started watching Great British Bake Off. I’ve seen the aired episodes of this years series and I’m planning on catching up on some previous ones. Last week was biscuit week and I wanted to try and make my own cookies. Baking – for no reason other than I wanted to make something nice for myself – isn’t something I’ve done before and I followed a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe. They weren’t particularly pretty looking (I certainly won’t be on GBBO anytime soon!) and some of them came out of the oven a little a little too brown around the edges.

And… I braced myself for what was going to happen when they weren’t perfect. Obviously, the punch I was expecting didn’t come. But that fear was there. I know it’s only been a few months, it’s going to take time. I’m going to still react. It’s logical, even if it’s horrible. There was also no-one to yell at me when the kitchen wasn’t cleaned and the dishes weren’t done straight away – and, a little secret: they’ve still not been done! They’re still sitting in the kitchen, and I haven’t cleaned up either!

The important thing is that they tasted nice. I took some to my parents, who enjoyed them. And I took some into work today and the guys all loved them. It’s definitely made me want to have another go – I enjoyed the process, I loved the eating and other people appreciated them which is a really uplifting feeling.

I also, yesterday evening, discovered that there is a community of people out there who are blogging about books. They are reviewing the books they’re reading, and sharing their love for books and all things literary. I’m kind of giddy and wanting to run up to them asking for a huge hug and please be my friend! My child/teen self would have been in her element, I was very bookish when I was younger but it wasn’t at all popular with my friends, reading wasn’t cool back then. I always had my nose in a book… and I’m starting to be that way again too. I spent a lovely couple of hours yesterday evening with a mug of tea, some fresh cookies, Take That singing to me and enjoying reading Angels and Demons

Speaking of Take That, for <b>Music Monday</b>, I thought I’d share my favourite of their songs:

about me

When You’ve Got Something To Say

I thought that writing was supposed to come more easily when you had something to say. I have so many things to say, and a few decades ago, writing and blogging were incredibly easy for me. I poured my pre/teen heart and soul on the pages of notebook after notebook, and on to my old livejournal.

But then life happened. No, it wasn’t even life. I wish it was.

Hi. My name’s Blake and at the beginning of this year, I escaped an abusive relationship. It’s been one hell of a 6 months, starting to heal, finding my feet. I now have my own flat, where I live with my adopted cat Nutmeg, and I work as a receptionist for a transport and logistics company.

I’ve now reached the point where I’m surviving, I’m starting to live and figure out who I am. Blogging was a huge part of figuring out who I am when I was younger, and I really enjoyed it so I’m coming back to it.

I used to love reading. I have no idea what books are out there, what genres I enjoy. I can’t even remember the last time I read a book. I do remember enjoying Da Vinci Code, so I’m starting with Dan Brown and seeing where I go from there – using goodreads to recommend books for me. I got so overwhelmed when I went into my local library that I had a meltdown, which was more than a little embarrassing.

As a teenager, I always had music on. I loved Take That, Robbie Williams and Boyzone. I don’t think I’ve listened to music I’ve chosen in more years than I care to remember. But I’ve got a new Spotify account and I’m looking forward to exploring boybands and pop music.

More than that? I have absolutely no fucking idea. It’s terrifying, exhilarating and exciting all at once – which is why I’m attempting to document it. This is probably/maybe/hopefully going to be part diary, part exploration, part brain dump as I work on figuring out who I am and on, once again, Becoming Blake.