‘The Top 5 Longreads of the Week’

This week, we’re sharing stories from Nicole Lewis, Omayra Issa and Ify Chiwetelu, Patricia McCormick, Tobias Buck, and ‘Cúagilákv.

Book Review

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This week, we’re sharing stories from Nicole Lewis, Omayra Issa and Ify Chiwetelu, Patricia McCormick, Tobias Buck, and ‘Cúagilákv.

1. How We Survived Covid-19 in Prison

Nicole Lewis | The Marshall Project | April 22, 2021 | 3,610 words

“At the start of the pandemic, we asked four incarcerated people to chronicle daily life with the coronavirus.” Bruce Bryant, Jennifer Graves, James Ellis, and Christopher Walker “reveal what they witnessed and how they coped with the chaos, fear, isolation and deaths.”

2. Black on the Prairies

Omayra Issa, Ify Chiwetelu | CBC News | April 25, 2021 

A multimedia, interactive exploration of Black life in on the prairies of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.

3. The Girl in the Kent State Photo

Patricia McCormick | The Washington Post Magazine | April 19, 2021 | 4,535 words

“I believe that one of our most important roles as teachers is to provide authentic opportunities for young people to heal.”

4. Herman and the Serpent

Tobias Buck | North & South | April 13, 2021 | 4,100 words

“How a retired diplomat in Wellington brought a notorious murderer to justice.”

5. Thriving Together: Salmon, Berries, and People

‘Cúagilákv | Hakai Magazine | April 27, 2021 | 2,000 words

“Western science is a curious little sister on this coast, mapping ideas and observations in spaces where Indigenous science has been foundational to kinship-building and ecological balance for millennia.”

AceNewsDesk report ……..Published: May.01: 2021:

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#books-2, #longreads, #review

Ghosts: A Word About Possession #BookEmJanO!

I read a story today, a first hand account, which the contributor described as a daemonic presence. I wasn’t so sure:  it appeared to actually be a ghost or poltergeist. Scary, yes.   But  she was able to dispatch it with relative ease.  Usually such cases are complicated, and take a long time to sort.  It was with her only a couple of months, did no actual harm, and was got rid of simply with a blessed cross and being told to leave. Daemonic cases are much darker.  And they take a very long time and highly trained, specialized experts to dispel.
I’m clergy, and also worked in hospital chaplaincy for many years.  I’ve only once (thankfully not more!) encountered something I thought might well be a case of daemonic possession.
One day, I was called to the hospital ER. The Catholic priest was already present.  A patient had been brought in on a mental health hold: that is, he was considered “a danger to himself or others” and would be held at the hospital until a bed at a mental health facility bed became available.   These holds are quite routine, as a rule.  But this case was different.
In the room, three large male nurses were struggling to get the patient (who was scrawny and small) back into three-point restraints, out of which he had inexplicably slipped.  Once he was secured, I joined the priest and the patient in the room.
This patient was very, very strange. Not at all like any mental hold patient I’d ever encountered.  What was different about him?
1. As described, his unusual physical strength
2. His eyes.  I have never before (and hope never again) to see what so looked like “dead” eyes.  They were devoid of expression or humanity.  In clinical work we look for “affect,” or nonverbal signals that can be observed about a patient. This man had the strangest, scariest affect I’ve encountered before or since.
3. The patient spoke in several languages (not gibberish: both the priest and I were well-educated and recognized Hebrew, Latin and Greek, among others).
4. It felt cold around the patient, as it does around ghosts.  We spoke with him briefly. I left.  Frankly, I felt fortunate that something didn’t follow me out the door.
5. It was an extremely uncanny experience for both me (an Episcopal priest) and for my Catholic colleague.

We both concluded this was no ordinary case of mental distress, but something paranormal, dark, extremely creepy, possibly daemonic – and convincing. Maybe “you had to be there” – but trust me on this.
While many cases of possession have been debunked, there are also many that have not. William Friedkin, who directed The Exorcist, has recently filmed a real exorcist at work and he evidently found the footage quite compelling. Here’s a link to more information about his experience: http://variety.com/2017/film/festivals/venice-william-friedkin-on-shooting-a-real-exorcism-1202546386/
Copyright © 2019 Bookemjano – All rights reserved.

To learn more about real ghosts, please see About Ghosts: A Useful Handbook. For some great ghost stories, please see Death Be Not Loud, Rest In Fleece, and Sepia Seepage. To learn about ghosts in modern fiction, please see Infectious Ghosts. And so much more, at: Jan’s Amazon Page

Mob Haiku: The Modfather #BookEmJanO!

Santino always wore the latest:  from nineteen seventy seven.   Photo: Daniel Hartwig / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) Copyright…

Mob Haiku: The Modfather

Book Review – The Darkness We Hide by Debra Webb @HarlequinBooks #BookReview #BlogTour #suspense

Many thanks to Lia and publisher Harlequin Books for my spot on this Blog Tour. An action packed suspenseful book which gripped me in most parts. But…

Book Review – The Darkness We Hide by Debra Webb @HarlequinBooks #BookReview #BlogTour #suspense

#blogtour, #bookreview, #suspense

FEATURED: The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope

Buckle your swash…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Owing to the indiscretion of an ancestor, the Rassendyll family shares heredity with the ruling family of the small Germanic nation of Ruritania. Every now and then a Rassendyll is born with the red hair and long nose common to the Ruritarian Kings. Rudolf is one of these red-haired Rassendylls and, being a young man with a plentiful inheritance and time on his hands, he decides he will visit Ruritania to witness the coronation of the new young King, another Rudolf. When he gets there he discovers that everyone is startled by his appearance – he doesn’t simply resemble the King, they are almost identical. So when King Rudolf is incapacitated before his coronation, our Rudolf steps in to take his place in order to prevent the King’s jealous half-brother, Black Michael (so called because he hasn’t inherited the red hair), from carrying out a coup and stealing not just the throne but the beautiful Princess Flavia, destined to be the wife of the King. But when the King is then kidnapped, suddenly Rudolf finds the impersonation will have to go on until the King is free…

Short novel or long novella, this is a swashbuckling adventure full of drama, sword fights, high romance and chivalric honour. And it’s great fun! Rudolf tells us the story himself, and it reminded me very much in style of John Carter in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom books, where the first person narrator self-deprecatingly repeats the many compliments bestowed upon him by everyone he meets, so that we know he’s wonderful in every way without him having to tell us so directly. A great swordsman, a flawless linguist, a natural leader of men, and an irresistible wooer of women, Rudolf is also a man who puts honour above his own desires, even when faced by overwhelming temptation. But he lets us see his internal struggle to do the right thing, which stops him from becoming insufferable. The King is a weak drunkard and Black Michael is a hissable villain, so that the reader can only agree with the growing number of Ruritarians who begin to think that the impostor is an improvement over the real royals.

Ronald Colman as Rudolf and Raymond J Massey as Black Michael in the 1937 film.

Although Black Michael is the chief baddie in terms of the plot, it’s his henchman Rupert of Hentzau who becomes Rudolf’s main adversary. Rupert shares most of Rudolf’s manly attributes, but turns them to wickedness rather than good. So where Rudolf is not above stealing a kiss from an innkeeper’s daughter, Rupert is more likely to kidnap the girl and “ruin” her – such a useful euphemism! And while Rudolf will do the right thing even if it hurts him, Rupert will cheerfully sell his loyalty to the highest bidder. They are a little like Jekyll and Hyde – two extremes of the same personality, one good, one evil. And Rudolf recognises this himself – although he finds Rupert morally reprehensible, he still admires his spirit and bravado, and finds his outrageous behaviour amusing.

The introduction in my Oxford World’s Classics edition is by Nicholas Daly, Professor of Modern English and American Literature at University College Dublin. He tells us about the impact and legacy of the book, which spawned so many imitations they became a sub-genre all on their own, of “Ruritarian romances”. There were successful stage adaptations in both London and New York, and several film versions, and Daly gives many examples of later books and films that were inspired by it. Ruritania itself, although imaginary, has taken on a life apart from the book. Wikipedia gives a list of instances when it has been used in order not to offend real nations: for example, “Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer cited Ruritania as a fictional enemy when illustrating a security treaty between Australia and Indonesia”. Isaac Asimov apparently also used it if he wanted to tell a joke that was based on ethnic stereotyping, substituting it for the nation or people in the original joke.

Anthony Hope

The plot is very well done. It’s quite simple – how to free the King and restore order – but Hope uses the impersonation aspect to tie all three participants up in a tangle where each is prevented from taking the easy option without destroying his own plan. And he skilfully puts the reader in the position of not being sure what the best outcome would be. This gives it the suspense that keeps those pages turning – it’s hard to put down so it’s fortunate that it’s short enough to be read in an evening.

A thoroughly entertaining read, perfect for the next time you feel the need to buckle your swash! Or should that be swash your buckle…? Either way, recommended!

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Oxford World’s Classics.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link – This edition isn’t out yet in the US but can be pre-ordered here:

The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope

Ghosts: More Road Ghosts #BookEmJanO

Readers, here is a creepy tale of a strange ghost seen on Carbon Canyon Road in Brea, CA.  Read on for more, from Backpacker Verse, here: Another …

Ghosts: More Road Ghosts

Ghosts: We Have Company #BookEmJanO

Readers, here is an interesting post in which a witness shares his first-hand experience of ghostly sightings in his living room.  See what you think!  From Your Ghost Stories, here: We Have Company

Ghosts: We Have Company


Mob Haiku: Got Fired #BookEmJanO

Luca went wired to the sit down. When the Boss found out, there were sparks. Copyright © 2019 Bookemjano – All rights reserved   For more Mob Haiku, …

Mob Haiku: Got Fired

Ben H. English Author ~ Texas⚜️⚜️

AA Available on Amazon ⚜️⚜️ Available on Amazon ⚜️⚜️ Highly recommended


…“Things do change out here, don’t they?” Kate commented.

“Much has changed even over the past few years,” he agreed, “and much faster than most people might imagine. So much has been lost; I suppose it has to do with many of the people who decide to come here.”

Zacatecas was silent for a moment. “So many have been dreamers. There were many different sorts with different schemes, but most came to the Big Bend with a dream. This is a harsh, unforgiving land and so many of those dreams were shattered and then abandoned. Yet they sweated for them, cried over them and sometimes died for their fleeting visions of ideality. Beaten and defeated most moved on, leaving little or no trace of ever being here. In turn, that made room for other people with other dreams, and the cycle begins again.”…

I was on the back side of the Mule Ear Peaks, skirting along the eastern ridges of Smoky Creek that in turn lead to Smoky Spring. Greasewood, mesquite, prickly pear and assorted cacti crowded in from either side above. Along the banks was the ever-present catclaw, especially vicious this time of year due to being little more than thin, spindly branches that blend in so well with their surroundings.

But the time of the year belied the temperature reading on my battered Suunto, ninety-nine degrees on an early March mid-day. Sweat formed and trickled throughout my body, so much that when I licked my lips it was like kissing the top of a well-used salt shaker.

Rounding along the back side before heading into the lower desert, I stopped and surveyed the remains of a rock dwelling. So far from anyplace else, so isolated and now forgotten.

But at some time, in someone’s mind, there had been a dream here, too…

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas

Ben H. English Author ~ Texas⚜️⚜️

Ghosts: Miscellaneous Ghosts //Book Em Jan O

Readers, I ran across this fun collection of short ghost experiences:  take a look, enjoy this post from Cafe Mom, here: Miscellaneous Ghosts


Copyright © 2019 Bookemjano – All rights reserved.


To learn more about real ghosts, please see About Ghosts: A Useful Handbook.  For some great ghost stories, please see Death Be Not Loud, Rest In Fleece, and Sepia Seepage.  To learn about ghosts in modern fiction, please see Infectious Ghosts. And so much more, at: Jan’s Amazon Page



Ghosts: Miscellaneous Ghosts