Book Review: Cassandra’s Field Guide to Ghostly Encounters by Cassandra O’Shaughnessy and Jalynn Venis

Hi all!

Ghosts. Whether you believe in them or not, their existence is being proven and disproven nearly every day on television these days. Popular shows such as Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures send out teams of experts to investigate claims of hauntings at various sites and attempt to gain evidence.

Regardless of whether they exist, ghosts are and have been a hot topic for quite some time. Author Jalynn Venis has joined the fray with her latest book Cassandra’s Field Guide to Ghostly Encounters. Cassandra O’Shaughnessy offers a friendly and knowledgeable persona through which readers can explore these strange phenomena. In this 57 page eBook, Cassandra shines some light and educates the reader in the ways they can not only wrap their heads around but appreciate and cultivate a relationship with or banish all together.

To start, Cassandra defines what ghosts are – “simply non-physical beings.” These beings have not been able to make the transition to the next life, held back by a fear of the unknown. Instead, these spirits hang around in our world because that’s easier than a leap of faith.

She then begins to examine how the living come to interact with the dead. Ghosts evidently take notice when we somehow notice them. It’s the classic temperature drop when a ghostly presence is in the room or simply the slight perception that you’re not alone. Cassandra says these feelings happen when the energy field of the living comes into contact with the energy field of the dead. This happens more frequently for some people than others evidently as some folks are more in tune with their senses or more intuitive in their grasp of their surroundings.

Cassandra goes on to talk about the various forms and behaviors ghosts take. Typically it’s the little things that are easiest for them, from opening and closing doors or making footsteps echo in an empty hallway. And “the stronger the spirit, the more impressive the manifestation.” Some may even be able to manifest a full visage so you could see minute details.

Through the next few chapters, we learn about why certain places are haunted. Typically the nicer the place, the less the ghosts really want to leave! Or sometimes, lonely spirits may gather in social places once filled with life. And other times, perhaps the ghosts are bound to the place where they lost their lives or watched loved ones pass on…

Ultimately the book offers some interesting and practical suggestions on how to find, interact with, and live with ghosts, friendly or un-. Spirits were people too, and typically either want to communicate in some way or simply be left alone. With a little time, observation, and research, you can usually investigate the history of a place and learn more about the spirits themselves.

The tone of the book is one of a pleasant conversation or lecture from someone knowledgeable in the field. Cassandra comes across as a person deeply experienced with spiritual matters and shares that experience freely. I also really appreciated the photographs included in the book demonstrating various manifestations captured on film.

Cassandra’s Field Guide to Ghostly Encounters offers an entertaining glimpse into the supernatural world. If you like reading about ghosts, I’d definitely check it ou. Perhaps you might be the first person to get detailed knowledge of what it’s like after death if you can chat with the dead!

To buy the book in PDF form or learn more about Cassandra O’Shaugnessy and author Jalynn Venis, be sure to check out CassandraO.net. The book is also available at Amazon.com for the Kindle and at Barnes & Noble on the Nook.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Here’s the link to the Kindle version:

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Movie Review: Rio (2011)

Hi guys!

Last weekend we had an opportunity to go see the new Dreamworks Animation movie Rio at the theater. We didn’t see it in 3D simply because it wasn’t playing in 3D at the time we wanted to go. But good old 2D CGI animation works just as well in my book, so I can’t say I was disappointed.

Rio is about Blu (Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network and Zombieland), a blue macaw living in small-town Minnesota with bookstore owner Linda (Leslie Mann, Knocked Up and Funny People). When ornithologist Sylvio (Bernardo de Paula) comes from Rio de Janeiro and tells Linda that Blu is one of the last of his kind, he implores her to fly to Rio with Blu to see if Blu and the last known blue macaw female would be compatible and possibly keep the species alive.

Of course, when Linda and Blu get to Rio, things aren’t quite that cut and dried. When Blu meets Jewel (Anne Hathaway, Love and Other Drugs and Get Smart), sparks fly but not quite in the way Sylvia and Linda might have hoped. When a boy breaks into the facility to steal the rare macaws, Blu and Jewel have to work together to survive…

Honestly, this movie was cute and probably one of the better animated features from Dreamworks. I don’t think it quite has the emotional pull of the first Ice Age movie and doesn’t come close to Pixar’s Up or Wall-E, but it was fun. The addition of Jamie Foxx (The Soloist and Dreamgirls) and Will i Am (The Black Eyed Peas) as birds Nico and Pedro was fun as they sang many of the musical scenes in the film. And George Lopez (TV’s Lopez Tonight and the George Lopez show) as the toucan Rafael and Tracy Morgan (TV’s 30 Rock) as the slobbering dog Luiz added quite a bit of humor as well.

Beyond that, though the movie was very colorful and cute, I just don’t get the fascination. That said, I don’t know that it matters. The target audience was families and my wife and daughters loved the film. So I’ll count it as a partial success.

The animation was smooth and gorgeous, so that wasn’t my problem. And the characters seemed to have good chemistry together. I just wasn’t all that sucked in by the story I guess. It was very family friendly however and had a number of positive messages.

According to IMDb, it’s already made nearly $40 million domestically in its first week, so I would expect it to quickly earn a profit on its reported $90 million budget in the next few weeks domestically and abroad.

If you have kids, Rio is a fun way to spend an hour and a half at the movie theater together. Have fun and let me know what you think!

–Fitz

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Sneak Peek: HBO’s Talking Funny with Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Louis C.K.

Hey all!

Personally I think we all need to laugh more. Without laughter, life is damn depressing. And sometimes, even when things are down in the dumps, it’s the simplest things that are funny.

Ricky Gervais

Image via Wikipedia

Talking Funny airs on HBO Friday, April 22 at 9pm ET. It features four very funny guys – Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Louis C.K. – sitting around and talking about what got them into comedy in the first place and what they think is funny. It’s like taking a peek into the mind of a professional comic!

Somehow based on these clips, I think this show will have some hilarious bits. And how can you go wrong with any one of these guys? Putting them all in the same room to shoot the breeze is genius!

Here’s a few glimpses:

I actually recently signed up for HBO so we could watch Game of Thrones, but now I have even more reasons to watch!

–Fitz

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