Dec. 30th, 2016

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59. The Historical Atlas of the Celtic World by John Haywood

You might be thinking this sounds a bit basic for me. However, the take-away from my two visits to the Celts exhibition was that any knowledge I had was 20 years out of date. This was on sale at the Edinburgh exhibition and it's full of lovely colour illustrations and interesting maps so I grabbed it.

It's made up of lots of short chapters so I've been dipping in and out for a couple of months. It covers origins to the present day. It filled in a lot of new developments in the early centuries and covered a fair amount I'd never got round to finding out about medieval Scotland and Wales. It is pretty basic, in parts to an extent where even I was going "I think you'll find it's more complicated than that". But as a re-introduction it was a visually pleasing start. At least I have an up to date basis to make further investigations, should I choose to do so.


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60. Dead Bad Things by Gary McMahon

I picked up an early novel of his about a decade ago, and enjoyed it but never followed up. I found this one lying on the freebie table at BristolCon and nabbed it.

The prologue is a bit naff, but the main book grabbed me right from the start. A young police woman and her partner are called to investigate a disturbance in a posh part of Leeds and find a grisly murder has taken place. Her father, also a police officer and truly nasty person, has recently died and she finally works up to tackling all of the evidence he left behind. Meanwhile, a psychic called Thomas Usher (who I understand is a recurring character in McMahon's work) is living in a "grey area" (area so haunted it's left derelict) in London trying to lie low, but keeps getting messages from a supernatural force trying to manipulate him - or help him, he doesn't know which.

I greatly enjoyed this book - the murder mystery is interesting, the Thomas Usher bits are malevolent and disturbing and the solution is fairly satisfying. Will definitely looking for more of his in the future.


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61. The Mind in the Cave by David Lewis-Williams

I've been meaning to read this for years. It was, I think, the first popular book setting out the theory that Upper Paleolithic cave art in Western Europe serves a religious, shamanic purpose. The argument is persuasive. Basically, anatomically modern humans all have basically the same response(s) to stimuli which bring on altered states of consciousness and Lewis-Wiliams takes the reader through the various reasons many scholars now believe that cave art is an expression of a shamanic society. I've read a few other books on the subject but this is the only one I've read that focuses on the neurobiology.

This is another book I got a lot out of, it's given me lots to think about and needless to say, now I want to learn more.


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