Categories
Book Reviews

Neil Olson-The Black Painting Book Review

“A riveting psychological thriller, a serious dissection of a dysfunctional family and an exploration of the power of art to change lives.” —Associated Press
“A fast-paced psychological thriller with a fascinating set of characters. … A real page-turner.” -B.A. Shapiro, author of The Art Forger


An atmospheric literary mystery about an infamous painting rumored to be cursed—and the family torn apart by its disappearance.
There are four cousins in the Morse family: perfect Kenny, the preppy West Coast lawyer; James, the shy but brilliant medical student; his seductive, hard-drinking sister Audrey; and Teresa, youngest and most fragile, haunted by the fear that she has inherited the madness that possessed her father.


I love books dealing with art and I have to say, books dealing with art collectors are a strange lot. New York writer Neil Olson’s The Black Painting discusses a very spooky work by Francisco Goya that supposedly exerts powers that drive viewers bonkers — in this instance, various members of a wealthy East Coast family. “Black Painting” purportedly belongs to a series of gruesome works created by the Spanish genius near the end of his life.

  • The Black Paintings stand out in art history for their dark composition and themes.
  • The biggest mystery, though, is that Goya painted them directly onto the walls of his home and never told anybody about them.
  • By 1819, the painter Francisco Goya had been through quite a bit. He had witnessed the chaos of war when Napoleon invaded Spain and the chaos in Spain as its government bounced back and forth between a constitutional monarchy and an absolute monarchy. He had become deathly ill a number of times, occasionally fearing he was going mad. One of these illnesses had left him deaf. Increasingly bitter about humanity, afraid of death and madness, Goya withdrew into a villa outside of Madrid called la Quinta del Sordo, or the Deaf Man’s House.

Back to the book. Before its theft years earlier, the Goya painting had hung, shrouded, behind the desk of elderly collector Alfred Arthur Morse. When the four Morse cousins are unexpectedly summoned by their grandfather, they all show up: Kenny, the successful lawyer; James, the psychologically fragile medical student; Audrey, the wild divorcée; and Teresa, the shy art student subject to seizures. Complementing the cast are foggy pines, rocky cliffs, a crumbling estate and the ghost of a vanished painting.

 “Last night she dreamed of the house on Owl’s Point,” reads the first line, echoing Daphne du Maurier’s timeless thriller, Rebecca. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Make way for strange happenings in a mansion on the sea, managed by a cold housekeeper with an agenda of her own.

Kenny tells Teresa about his meeting with their grandfather: “Go to the place that’s most private to you. Most humiliating. You know what I mean? That tender spot. That’s right where he would have put his finger.” Only Grandpa didn’t have the chance, since Teresa discovered his corpse when she arrived at Owl’s Point.

So, we have grandfather in the study, but who did it and why? If death came naturally, how to explain his horrified expression? Motives abound: money, family secrets, simmering hatreds. Luckily gloom takes a lighter turn with the arrival of P.I. Dave Webster, a latter-day Philip Marlowe. Hints that all will be resolved appear when Dave is hired to resume the poking around he began years before with the original theft. Get ready for a thrilling ride through the worlds of the unhappy rich, whose acquisitions can prove very dangerous indeed.

3/5

Categories
Dean Koontz

Night Chills – Dean Koontz

There are some books by Dean Koontz which are well researched and well ahead of their time when published. Even in the Author’s note, there is an entire section dedicated to why “Night Chills” is not just another novel.

Once entertained, however, they will be tempted to dismiss Night Chills as quickly as they might a novel about demonic possession or reincarnation. Although this story is intended primarily to be a “good read,” I cannot stress strongly enough that the basic subject matter is more than merely a fantasy of mine; it is a reality and already a major influence on all our lives.

Based strongly on research regarding Subliminal Messaging and Advertising modes in the 21st century, “Night Chills” takes the premise of a mad scientist developing a drug that can allow people to be hypnotized easily and controlled via very succinct messages.

Categories
Book Reviews

Spare Room * Dreda Say Mitchell

Title: Spare Room
Author: Dreda Say Mitchell
Narrated By: Kristin Atherton
Duration: 10:23:17

Home is where the nightmare is. The number one international best seller everyone can’t stop talking about.

Beautiful double room to let to single person.

Lisa, a troubled young woman with a past, can’t believe her luck when she finds a beautiful room to rent in a large house. The live-in owners are a kind and welcoming couple. Everything is fine until she finds a suicide note hidden in her room. But when the couple insist this man didn’t exist and that Lisa is their first tenant, Lisa begins to doubt herself.

Compelled to uncover the secrets of the man who lived in the room before her, Lisa is alarmed when increasingly disturbing incidents start to happen. Someone doesn’t want Lisa to find out the truth.

As the four walls of this house and its secrets begin to close in on Lisa, she
descends into a hellish hall of mirrors where she’s not sure what’s real and what’s not as she claws her way towards the truth….

This room has already claimed one victim.

Is it about to take another?

Categories
Excerpts

Man’s Search for Meaning – Achievement Orientation Quote

“But today’s society is characterized by achievement orientation, and consequently it adores people who are successful and happy and, in particular, it adores the young. It virtually ignores the value of all those who are otherwise, and in so doing blurs the decisive difference between being valuable in the sense of dignity and being valuable in the sense of usefulness.

If one is not cognizant of this difference and holds that an individual’s value stems only from his present usefulness, then, believe me, one owes it only to personal inconsistency not to plead for euthanasia along the lines of Hitler’s program, that is to say, ‘mercy’ killing of all those who have lost their social usefulness, be it because of old age, incurable illness, mental deterioration, or whatever handicap they may suffer.

Confounding the dignity of man with mere usefulness arises from conceptual confusion that in turn may be traced back to the contemporary nihilism transmitted on many an academic campus and many an analytical couch.”

― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Categories
Book Reviews

The Gift of Fear – Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence

I read this book as it came highly recommended from different Reddit forums dealing with relationships, abuse and spotting possible stalker behaviour.
The book was indeed very good but I can’t say that the tagline “This book will literally save your life” is indeed applicable. It goes with a lot of common sense and helps identify possibly threatening behaviour, all the time putting an accent on the fact that living in permanent paranoia is not the key to survival but allowing your instincts to detect when something is amiss.

By using several examples and his extensive experience in the field, Gavin de Becker teaches us how to spot and how to respond to a possible bad situation.

Key Lessons from “The Gift of Fear”:

  1. Be Aware of Body Language and Forced Teaming
  2. There’s a Way to Tell If a Bomb Threat Is Real or Not
  3. Don’t Get Addicted to the Cycle of Abuse: Tell Someone
Categories
Book Reviews

Arrival: Film tie-in book by Ted Chiang

I have had this book in my bookcase to show that I’m not at all small-minded after hating on the Arrival movie that came out a few years ago. I carried an unpopular opinion that the alien encounter movie designed after the short novella by Ted Chiang called Stories of Your Life and Others was actually a big pile of poo. It should not have been released with a strong teaser trailer indicating a possible invasion when the actual subject matter was the use of linguistics in order to communicate with the alien species.

arrival-final-trailer-and-new-poster-arrival.jpg

Categories
Excerpts

Understand a novelette by Ted Chiang (Full Excerpt)

Ted Chiang writes…

The initial impulse to write “Understand” arose from an offhand remark made by my roommate in college; he was reading Sartre’s Nausea at the time, whose protagonist finds only meaninglessness in everything he sees. But what would it be like, my roommate wondered, to find meaning and order in everything you saw? To me that suggested a kind of heightened perception, which in turn suggested superintelligence. I started thinking about the point at which quantitative improvements — better memory, faster pattern recognition — turn into a qualitative difference, a fundamentally different mode of cognition.

Something else I wondered about was the possibility of truly understanding how our minds works. Some people are certain that it’s impossible for us to understand our minds, offering analogies like “you can’t see your face with your own eyes.” I never found that persuasive. It may turn out that we can’t, in fact, understand our minds (for certain values of “understand” and “mind”), but it’ll take an argument much more persuasive than that to convince me.

Categories
Psychology

The mystery of mimicking a person in order to get closer to them

When people communicate they use different methods of expressing themselves – gestures always accompany our words and help to express our feelings. Correct interpretation of gestures can tell us even more than words. Some gestures demonstrate partner’s unconcealed intentions, secret thoughts and hidden desires.

Categories
Book Reviews

Star Wars Psychology: Dark Side of the Mind edited by TRAVIS LANGLEY

A movie called Star Wars took our world by surprise. Four years before it would be rereleased with the subtitle A New Hope, George Lucas’s ambitious “space opera” combined many kinds of storytelling in a sprawling sci-fi setting and quickly became the most successful movie ever made to date.

This essay collection offers a fascinating psychological analysis of the compelling and complex universe of George Lucas’s richly rendered Star Wars series. A group of expert contributors examines such topics as family ties, Jedi qualities, masculinity, girl power, and the values embodied in both the “dark” and “light” sides of this psychologically spellbinding world.

Categories
Psychology

The science behind your choices and what happens when you defer your dreams

As you’re probably aware, the subconscious runs the general brain programs. When you’re using your conscious brain to think, plan, visualise or contemplate, the subconscious runs the rest of the show. It runs us on autopilot. That autopilot is in the ‘on’ position, about 95 percent of the time.

http___gobrandgo.com_wp-content_uploads_2013_11_succss-or-failure-your-brain-your-choice.png