More Hot Summer Reads!

More Hot Summer Reads on audible, as we have ramped up our audio listenting this Summer while we do yard work, jog, and lay poolside!

Last month we shared our recommendations on Audio book for Audio book month and we received some pretty positive feedback. That being said, this month we decided to share a few more of our reads/listens from Audible. The books below were all good and recommended by us. From dark fiction, to young adult fiction, and also some non-fiction made the list this month. Our two top picks would have to be “Remote Control,” and “City of Death.” Which will you listen to first?

Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton

Summer Reads include Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton
Summer Reads include Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton

The year is A.D. 922. A refined Arab courtier, representative of the powerful Caliph of Baghdad, encounters a party of Viking warriors who are journeying to the barbaric North. He is appalled by their Viking customs – the wanton sexuality of their pale, angular women, their disregard for cleanliness…their cold-blooded human sacrifices. But it is not until they reach the depths of the Northland that the courtier learns the horrifying and inescapable truth: he has been enlisted by these savage, inscrutable warriors to help combat a terror that plagues them – a monstrosity that emerges under cover of night to slaughter the Vikings and devour their flesh….

Eaters of the Dead was adapted to the screen as The 13th Warrior, starring Antonio Banderas.

If you are enjoying this article on Hot Summer Reads, we have bookstacks worth of Literature related content at the Ritual Blog.

City of Death by Ephraim Mattos: Hot Summer Reads

Summer Reads include City of Death by Ephraim Mattos
Summer Reads include City of Death by Ephraim Mattos

After leaving the US Navy SEAL teams in spring of 2017, Ephraim Mattos, age 24, flew to Iraq to join a small group of volunteer humanitarians known as the Free Burma Rangers, who were working on the front lines of the war on ISIS. Until being shot by ISIS on a suicidal rescue mission, Mattos witnessed unexplainable acts of courage and sacrifice by the Free Burma Rangers, who, while under heavy machine gun and mortar fire, assaulted across ISIS minefields, used themselves as human shields, and sprinted down ISIS-infested streets – all to retrieve wounded civilians.

In City of Death: Humanitarian Warriors in the Battle of Mosul, Mattos recounts in vivid detail what he saw and felt while he and the other Free Burma Rangers evacuated the wounded, conducted rescue missions, and at times fought shoulder-to-shoulder with the Iraqi Army against ISIS. Filled with raw and emotional descriptions of what it’s like to come face-to-face with death, this is the harrowing and uplifting true story of a small group of men who risked everything to save the lives of the Iraqi people and who followed the credence, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. 

The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M. R. James – Volume 1

An award-winning collection of four ghostly tales inspired by M. R. James.

Casting the Runes, adapted by Stephen Gallagher
—2019 New York Festivals Radio Award winner (Silver)

Summer Read include The Conception of Terror by M.R. James
Summer Read include The Conception of Terror by M.R. James

When academic Jo Harrington (Anna Maxwell Martin) is sent a paper—The Truth of Alchemy, by Anton Karswell—for peer review, she pulls no punches. Jo writes that the paper has no place in a serious academic publication and that Karswell is a half-bright fool. When the editor writes a rejection note to Karswell, he inadvertently includes Jo’s entire email. Occultist Karswell (Reece Shearsmith) doesn’t take kindly to criticism.

On the tube home with her partner Edward Dunning (Tom Burke), Jo spots a poster with her name on it. It reads: “In memory of Joanne Harrington, MLitt, PhD, died September eighteenth, three days were allowed.” Is there anything that Edward can do to save Jo from this curse?

Lost Hearts, adapted by A. K. Benedict

Teenager Stephanie Elliot (Rosa Coduri) is taken to Aswarby House to be fostered by Mrs. Bunch (Susan Jameson). Stephanie strikes up a friendship with Ben (Bill Milner), the adopted son of charismatic community leader Mr. Abney (Jeff Rawle). He tells her that Mr. Abney is a good man—he even took in a child refugee last year, but she stole from him and ran away. Stephanie is troubled by voices and visions of a dead girl clutching at her chest, and when Ben disappears she begins to suspect that all is not right in Aswarby House.

The Treasure of Abbot-Thomas, adapted by Jonathan Barnes

When former Somerton school pupil Greg Parsbury (Robert Bathurst) meets history teacher Mika Chantry (Pearl Mackie) at a memorial service for schoolmaster Sam Abbot-Thomas, he begs for her help. Greg has been sent a postcard by the estate of the mysterious and charismatic Abbot-Thomas. On it is a strange inscription in Latin, which he believes to be an inaugural clue in a treasure hunt much like the elaborate treasure hunts Abbot-Thomas used to set back in the 1970s. There were rumors that Abbot-Thomas possessed a hidden fortune, and Parsbury and Chantry set out to find it.

A View from a Hill, adapted by Mark Morris
—2019 New York Festivals Radio Award winner (Gold)

Comedian and podcaster Paul Fanshawe (Andy Nyman) and his wife, Sarah (Alice Lowe), visit the Cotswolds on holiday, trying to rebuild their lives after the death of their young son, Archie. While out walking, they spot a beautiful abbey across the valley on Gallows Hill, but when they reach it, they find the building is little more than rubble. While Sarah explores, Paul records commentary for his podcast. Sarah thinks she hears children’s laughter, but there’s no one there. Later that night, she listens to the recording and hears a child’s voice whisper, “Mummy.” Sarah is convinced that Archie is trying to reach them and wants to return to the ruins. But something far worse is waiting for them on Gallows Hill.

If you are enjoying this article on Hot Summer Reads, we have bookstacks worth of Literature related content at the Ritual Blog.

What The Hex by Alexis Daria

Summer Reads include What the Hex by Alexis Daria
Summer Reads include What the Hex by Alexis Daria

When Catalina Cartagena returns home for her older sister’s wedding, she’s shocked to discover that her soon-to-be brother-in-law is possessed by a demon. To make matters worse, everyone else seems to be under the demon’s spell—except for Diego Paz, younger brother of the groom and Cat’s childhood rival.

With only three days until the wedding, Cat must join forces with her sexy nemesis to break the spell and defeat the demon. If they fail, demonic forces will control two of the most powerful witch families on Isla Bruja.

There’s only one bed at the magical B&B, and it’s time for these witches to get wicked…in more ways than one.

The Republic of Pirates by Collin Woodard:Hot Summer Reads

Summer Reads include The Republic of Pirates by Collin Woodard
Summer Reads include The Republic of Pirates by Collin Woodard

In the early eighteenth century, the Pirate Republic was home to some of the great pirate captains, including Blackbeard, “Black Sam” Bellamy, and Charles Vane. Along with their fellow pirates—former sailors, indentured servants, and runaway slaves—this “Flying Gang” established a crude but distinctive democracy in the Bahamas, carving out their own zone of freedom in which servants were free, blacks could be equal citizens, and leaders were chosen or deposed by a vote. They cut off trade routes, sacked slave ships, and severed Europe from its New World empires, and for a brief, glorious period the Republic was a success.


If you enjoyed this article, we have bookstacks worth of Literature related content at the Ritual Blog.

On Writing Horror Willy Martinez

  • On Writing Horror amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of fear resides. An anthology of works studying the way in which writers evoke fear and how they may affect us. On Writing Fear is an index of terror, drawing from Aristotle, Longinus, Edmund Burke, Che Guevarra, Wordsworth, Foucault, H.P. Lovecraft, Todorov, and many more.

    Chapters include digital illustrations created by the author.

    Also available at the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

    A must have collection of research on the power of Horror- a tormented treatment of the human passions!

    Table of Contents for On Writing Horror

    Ch 1. Fear and War: Crafting the War on Terror Using Fear Appeals Ch 2. The Art of the Coup D'etat Ch 3. The Feminine Supernatural versus the Male Supernatural Writers Ch 4. Projecting Ghost Children to Find Identity Ch 5. The Supernatural Power of the Sublime in Wordsworth's Poetry Ch 6. Disorienting Characters with Haunted Spaces and Auditory Hallucinations Ch 7. Modern Ghosts Ch 8. The Fantastic in Fear Ch 9. The Fun Side of Fear: Faustus' Tricky Imp of Satan Ch 10. Glorifying Satan

    Some of the art included:

    [caption id="attachment_4846" align="alignnone" width="188"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignnone" width="200"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4848" align="alignnone" width="194"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption]

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The 10 Greek Orators From Athens

The 10 Greek orators from Athens were said to have been the most influential orators of ancient Greece during the 5th and 4th century BCE by Aristophanes of Byzantium.  These writers of judicial history are what follow after the great literature of legends such as the Iliad or Homer.  They are labeled as the Attic orators because of their regional locale and births; the state of Attica in Greece, in which Athens is located.  Many of these orators worked as logographers (speech writers), teachers and some were said to have written their own treatise on rhetoric.  The ten orators are: Antiphon; Andocides; Lysias; Isocrates; Isaeus; Demosthenes; Aeschines; Lycurgus; Hyperides and Dinarchus (Edwards). 

The 10 Greek Orators From Athens
On Orators: Photo from the Iliad

Understanding that Aristophanes wrote the histories about these  “Alexandrian Ten”, is what leads modern historians to call it that because the group came about during the reign of Alexander.  The work of the Attic orators inspired the later rhetorical movement of Atticism, an approach to speech composition emphasizing a simple rather than ornate style because they were against the “excess of Hellenestic Prose style” (Kennedy 330). 

When Dionysius of Halicarnissus introduces his work On the Ancient Orators, he mentions six out of the ten “Alexandrian” orators, three of which will be studied specifically here: Lysias, Demosthenes and Aeschines.  Although Dionysius does not agree with the grouping, Quintilian and Plutarch follow in the tradition of the Ten.

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The Greek Era of the Attic Orators

The 10 Greek Orators From Athens
Orators: Demosthenes Practicing his Craft with pebble in his mouth

During the Greek era where the “canon of ten” was dubbed, there were no differences between political and judicial oratory in the courts. The ecclesia was the principal assembly of the democracy of ancient Athens during its Golden Age (480–404 BCE. The assembly was responsible for declaring war, military strategy and electing magistrates.  Classical Athenian courts are said to have numbered up to 500 members for the average jury, and there was no specialized training required to be a juror.  This being said, the jury was thus more easily persuaded by emotional appeals (Edwards 4). 

Every citizen had the right to bring a wrongdoer to justice publicly by means of a public suit.  These different cases were assigned to the magistrate which acted similar to the way a judge would act today; they set abide by city laws to suggest fines and punishments.  The “idealist claim” that a decision of major importance -such as going to war, or choosing magistrate – would have to meet a quorum of 6,000 men for issues dealing with the “political core”.  But the everyday criminal case was much smaller, reflecting the average of 500 noted above in the work of Edwards.  

Greek Women in Ancient Greece

The 10 Greek Orators From Athens
Homer wrote about the Greek Orators

The living Greek women during the fifth and fourth centuries were not always respected and honored as they once were during the era of the Iliad, we learn that “during the age of Pericles and later, [women] were regarded and treated as altogether inferior beings, incapable of asserting themselves or of exerting any influence for good in the home” states Charles Savage in his Dissertation “The Athenian Family: A Sociological and Legal Study” (22).  It is unfortunate to report this backwards trend in knowledge, but it is necessary to understand who was accepted and not accepted at court and who rhetoric was taught to. 

Savage notes that nowhere in the works of Greek authors are there references to educational facilities for women.  Women were thus only allowed to attend court if they were needed as a witness or in support of the litigant’s weakness.  As far as living situations go, we also know that the men and women slept in different quarters.  A testament to this occurs in Lysias first speech (On Killing Eratosthenes) in which the litigants claimed to be oblivious to his cheating wife because she slept in the downstairs quarter with their child (Savage 30).  Women at this time were not even considered full citizens. 

If you are enjoying this article, we have similar content studying communication from discourse theory, here.
The 10 Greek Orators From Athens
The Orators were famous for their philosophal and legal debates.

Only adult males were “empowered to make decisions in the assembly”  after having served at least 2 years in the military, and therefore the orations would be aimed at addressing “ideas about manhood”, contributes author, Joseph Roisman in The Rhetoric of Manhood (1).  And this ideology of manhood was built from their moral ideologies and opposing contexts for the differences between a good and a bad man.  The good Athenian is a positive leader, courageous in war, competitive, as well as helpful to friends.  The bad Athenian is of course the opposites of these. 

The Greek word for instilling discipline and self-control is “Sophrosyne” (7,8).  Self-control and moderation was a virtue that all Athenian praised and strived for.  A Greek remained a boy until about the age of fourteen.  He would be considered a youngster until he was twenty-one.  As a young man, he was expected to join the military until he reached adulthood around thirty (11).  After his service to the country, he was allowed to attend courts and argue for positions within the Senate. 

If you liked this article, we have similar content studying communication from discourse theory, here.

The probable process for hiring a logographer would of course begin with a consultation.  The speech would then be written by the speech writer.  The writer would create an argument dressed in appeals and rhetorical devices.  The client would then attempt to learn the speech if possible.  Memory was a prized art during this era so it was not uncommon.  The litigant would also “be supplied by his speechwriter with various commonplace please, contrasting his own inexperience, and retiring character with perverted cleverness” to win over the jury (Usher 32). 

During Athenian court, there were two presentations, one for each side.  No litigant or plaintiff was allowed to speak during the other’s speech and as a “way of monitoring the time, a water-clock would drip until it ran out” (Wolff 98).  Any evidence was interjected into the performance as well as the questioning of witnesses.  Immediately after the case, the jury voted (Wolff 98).  The typical speech arrangement was said to follow the following four part division:

  1. introduction/proem
  2. narrative/diegesis
  3. proof/pisits
  4. conclusion/epilogos

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On Writing Horror Willy Martinez

  • On Writing Horror amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of fear resides. An anthology of works studying the way in which writers evoke fear and how they may affect us. On Writing Fear is an index of terror, drawing from Aristotle, Longinus, Edmund Burke, Che Guevarra, Wordsworth, Foucault, H.P. Lovecraft, Todorov, and many more.

    Chapters include digital illustrations created by the author.

    Also available at the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

    A must have collection of research on the power of Horror- a tormented treatment of the human passions!

    Table of Contents for On Writing Horror

    Ch 1. Fear and War: Crafting the War on Terror Using Fear Appeals Ch 2. The Art of the Coup D'etat Ch 3. The Feminine Supernatural versus the Male Supernatural Writers Ch 4. Projecting Ghost Children to Find Identity Ch 5. The Supernatural Power of the Sublime in Wordsworth's Poetry Ch 6. Disorienting Characters with Haunted Spaces and Auditory Hallucinations Ch 7. Modern Ghosts Ch 8. The Fantastic in Fear Ch 9. The Fun Side of Fear: Faustus' Tricky Imp of Satan Ch 10. Glorifying Satan

    Some of the art included:

    [caption id="attachment_4846" align="alignnone" width="188"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignnone" width="200"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4848" align="alignnone" width="194"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption]

Mad Men

  • Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature. [caption id="attachment_4742" align="alignleft" width="188"]Mad Men eBook Mad Men eBook at Mind on Fire Books[/caption] Mad Men begins with Matt’s tale, a thought-provoking thriller which causes the reader to question his reality and what he fears within himself. The second tale explores the grotesque juxtaposed with beautiful nature, where the ending unfolds into a horrific dream, waking in even more terrible pain. The third tale is by seasoned horror writer, A.R. Braun – and his diabolical creatures never disappoint!  A.R. Braun’s goal is to be on the banned book list; we think this tale may just be evil enough to be considered. A must read before it does get banned! Mainstream Horror Shorts don’t always satisfy us in the way they should. They don’t open conversations about what it is that we fear or why we fear such things, they focus mainly on pop culture and gore. The writers in the Mad Men anthology understand the need for literate horror, opening discussions of man’s psyche. When these writers set out to tell a story, they are less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, the sublime, and the infinite strangeness that drives all man and woman. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults. The Mad Men anthology published by Mind on Fire Books. Written by Willy Martinez, A.R. Braun and Matt Lavitt. No part of this book shall be copied without permission from the publisher.

Afghanistan Literature: Memoirs, Poetry, Non-Fiction and Fiction

With the media attention being on Afghanistan’s situation, we can’t help but feel worried for the future of the people of Afghanistan. Literature helps us learn empathy; empathy for other human beings living in remote areas of the world under strict, horrifying conditions that we as readers, only dare read about in books. We know that books can only do so much, but as bibliophiles, trying to understand the struggles that these Afghanistan people go through, is the least we can do.

While many are familiar with “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” and “The Kite Runner,” there are many other books worth mentioning that share the culture via Afghanistan’s Literature. Below, we have listed some books, from poetry, to fiction to non-fiction, to memoirs. We hope to shed some light and empathy during their struggles.

Fiction – Afghanistan Literature

Born Under a Million Shadows by Andrea Busfield

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

Andrea Busfield is a British journalist who traveled to Afghanistan in 2001 to report on the decline of the Taliban. During her many trips there, she met children who earned for their families by catering to tourists in profusely creative ways. One of these children, Fawad, was the mischievous but charming devil after whom she named the protagonist of Born Under A Million Shadows.

Through Fawad’s vibrant vision, Busfield transports us to a country that lives in perpetual fear of an apparently dismantled organization, and yet rises above the gloom to somehow keep its humanity thriving.

A Bed of Red Flowers: In Search of My Afghanistan byNelofer Pazila

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

As a young girl growing up in 1970s Afghanistan, Nelofer Pazira seems destined for a bright future. The daughter of liberal-minded professionals, she enjoys a safe, loving and privileged life. Some of her early memories include convivial family picnics and New Years’ celebrations overlooking the thousands of red flowers that carpet the hills of Mazar. But Nelofer’s world is shattered when she is just five and her father is imprisoned for refusing to support the communist party. This episode plants a “seed of anger” in her, which is given plenty of opportunity to grow as the years unfold.

A Bed of Red Flowersis a gripping, heart-rending story about a country caught in a struggle of the superpowers – and of the real people behind the politics. Universally acclaimed for its astute insights and extraordinary humanity, Pazira’s memoir won the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize for 2005.The Winnipeg Free Press writes: “Powerfully written, A Bed of Red Flowers is a rare account of a misunderstood country and its intrepid people, trying to live ordinary lives under extraordinary circumstances.” The Gazette (Montreal) describes the book as “an outpouring of passionate non-fiction that captivates like the tales of Sheherazade.… It’s a remarkable journey. An inspiring read.”

Earth and Ashes by Atiq Rahimi

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

At fewer than 70 pages, Atiq Rahimi’s book charts a story of great magnitude on a small canvas. The author is an Afghan exile living in Paris, and this intricate first fable of his was thunderously received in France. It tells the story of Dastaguir and his grandson, the only survivors of a vicious Soviet attack on their village, and their subsequent journey in search of the boy’s father.

If you are enjoying this list on Afghanistan Literature, check out some of our love of literature content at the Ritual, here.

Although the book was criticized for being unidiomatic and too detached, its film adaptation, directed by the author himself, was the recipient of numerous accolades, including an award at Cannes.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one…Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Abdullah, Pari – as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named – is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their heads touching, their limbs tangled.

One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand. Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways in which we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.

Above Us the Milky Way by Fowzia Karimi

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

Above Us the Milky Way is a story about war, immigration, and the remarkable human capacity to create beauty out of horror. As a young family attempts to reconstruct their lives in a new and peaceful country, they are daily drawn back to the first land through remembrance and longing, by news of the continued suffering and loss of loved ones, and by the war dead, who have immigrated and reside with them, haunting their days and illuminating the small joys and wonders offered them by the new land.

The novel’s structure is built around the alphabet, twenty-six pieces written in the first person that sketch a through-line of memory for the lives of the five daughters, mother, and father. Ghost stories and fairytales are woven with old family photographs and medieval-style watercolor illuminations to create an origin story of loss and remembrance.

Non-Fiction – Afghanistan Literature

Dancing in the Mosque by Homeira Qaderi 

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

In the days before Homeira Qaderi gave birth to her son, Siawash, the road to the hospital in Kabul would often be barricaded because of the frequent suicide explosions. With the city and the military on edge, it was not uncommon for an armed soldier to point his gun at the pregnant woman’s bulging stomach, terrified that she was hiding a bomb. Frightened and in pain, she was once forced to make her way on foot. Propelled by the love she held for her soon-to-be-born child, Homeira walked through blood and wreckage to reach the hospital doors. But the joy of her beautiful son’s birth was soon overshadowed by other dangers that would threaten her life.

No ordinary Afghan woman, Homeira refused to cower under the strictures of a misogynistic social order. Defying the law, she risked her freedom to teach children reading and writing and fought for women’s rights in her theocratic and patriarchal society.

Devastating in its power, Dancing in the Mosque is a mother’s searing letter to a son she was forced to leave behind. In telling her story–and that of Afghan women–Homeira challenges you to reconsider the meaning of motherhood, sacrifice, and survival. Her story asks you to consider the lengths you would go to protect yourself, your family, and your dignity.

The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg

An investigative journalist uncovers a hidden custom that will transform your understanding of what it means to grow up as a girl.

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

In Afghanistan, a culture ruled almost entirely by men, the birth of a son is cause for celebration and the arrival of a daughter is often mourned as misfortune. A bacha posh (literally translated from Dari as “dressed up like a boy”) is a third kind of child – a girl temporarily raised as a boy and presented as such to the outside world. Jenny Nordberg, the reporter who broke the story of this phenomenon for the New York Times, constructs a powerful and moving account of those secretly living on the other side of a deeply segregated society where women have almost no rights and little freedom.

If you are enjoying this list on Afghanistan Literature, check out some of our love of literature content at the Ritual, here.

At the heart of this emotional narrative is a new perspective on the extreme sacrifices of Afghan women and girls against the violent backdrop of America’s longest war. Divided into four parts, the book follows those born as the unwanted sex in Afghanistan, but who live as the socially favored gender through childhood and puberty, only to later be forced into marriage and childbirth. The Underground Girls of Kabul charts their dramatic life cycles, while examining our own history and the parallels to subversive actions of people who live under oppression everywhere.

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Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse: The True Story of a Woman Who Risked Everything to Bring Hope to Afghanistan by Suraya SadeedDamien Lewis

From her first humanitarian visit to Afghanistan in 1994, Suraya Sadeed has been personally delivering relief and hope to Afghan orphans and refugees, to women and girls in inhuman situations deemed too dangerous for other aid workers or for journalists. Her memoir of these missions, “Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse,” is as unconventional as the woman who has lived it. This is no humanitarian missive; it is an adventure story with heart.

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

To help the Afghan people, Suraya has flown in a helicopter piloted by a man who was stoned beyond reason. She has traveled through mountain passes on horseback alongside mules, teenage militiamen, and Afghan leaders. She has stared defiantly into the eyes of members of the Taliban and of the Mujahideen who were determined to slow or stop her. She has hidden and carried $100,000 in aid, strapped to her stomach, into ruined villages. She has built clinics. She has created secret schools for Afghan girls. She has dedicated the second half of her life to the education and welfare of Afghan women and children, founding the organization Help the Afghan Children (HTAC) to fund her efforts.

Suraya was born the daughter of the governor of Kabul amid grand walls, beautiful gardens, and peace. In the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, she fled to the United States with her husband, their young daughter, their I-94 papers, and little else. In America, she became the workaholic owner of a prosperous real estate company, enjoying all the worldly comforts anyone could want, but when a personal tragedy struck in the early 1990s, Suraya seriously questioned how she was living and soon sharply changed the direction of her life.

The Favored Daughter by Fawzia Koofi

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

The nineteenth daughter of a local village leader in rural Afghanistan, Fawzia Koofi was left to die in the sun after birth by her mother. But she survived, and perseverance in the face of extreme hardship has defined her life ever since. Despite the abuse of her family, the exploitative Russian and Taliban regimes, the murders of her father and brother, and numerous attempts on her life, she rose to become the first Afghani woman Parliament speaker.

Here, she shares her amazing story, punctuated by a series of poignant letters she wrote to her two daughters before each political trip-letters describing the future and freedoms she dreamed of for them and for all the women of Afghanistan. Her story movingly captures the political and cultural moment in Afghanistan, a country caught between the hope of progress and the bitter truth of history.

A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice by Malalai Joya

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

Malalai Joya was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2010. An extraordinary young woman raised in the refugee camps of Iran and Pakistan, Joya became a teacher in secret girls’ schools, hiding her books under her burqa so the Taliban couldn’t find them; she helped establish a free medical clinic and orphanage in her impoverished home province of Farah; and at a constitutional assembly in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2003, she stood up and denounced her country’s powerful NATO-backed warlords. She was twenty-five years old. Two years later, she became the youngest person elected to Afghanistan’s new Parliament.

If you are enjoying this list on Afghanistan Literature, check out some of our love of literature content at the Ritual, here.

Joya takes us inside this massively important and insufficiently understood country, shows us the desperate day-to-day situations its remarkable people face at every turn, and recounts some of the many acts of rebellion that are helping to change it. A controversial political figure in one of the most dangerous places on earth, Malalai Joya is a hero for our times.

Games Without Rules: The Often Interrupted History of Afghanistan by Tamim Ansary

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

Today, most Westerners still see the war in Afghanistan as a contest between democracy and Islamist fanaticism. That war is real; but it sits atop an older struggle, between Kabul and the countryside, between order and chaos, between a modernist impulse to join the world and the pull of an older Afghanistan: a tribal universe of village republics permeated by Islam.


Now, Tamim Ansary draws on his Afghan background, Muslim roots, and Western and Afghan sources to explain history from the inside out, and to illuminate the long, internal struggle that the outside world has never fully understood. It is the story of a nation struggling to take form, a nation undermined by its own demons while, every 40 to 60 years, a great power crashes in and disrupts whatever progress has been made.

Poetry – Afghanistan Literature

Load Poems Like Guns translated by Farzana Marie

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

Load Poems Like Guns is an important book. It gives an eloquent and wrenching witness to voices from another place and another poetry: voices with a unique mix of formal power and personal pain. Eight Afghan women poets are eloquently translated here by Farzana Marie, including the tragic and luminously gifted Nadia Anjuman.

This is a bilingual edition; the English and Dari are side by side, allowing us a glimpse of the mysterious and profound Persian poetic tradition. This is a book every poet and every reader of poetry should seek out. It amplifies our understanding. It broadens our sense of the identity of the poet. Above all, it makes available a rich and troubling narrative we need to hear.

A groundbreaking collection of poetry by eight contemporary Afghan women poets in English translation en face with the original Persian Dari text. These poets live in Herat, the ancient epicenter of literature and the arts.

Frazana Marie is a Ph.D. candidate in Middle Eastern literature at the University of Arizona. She served as an active duty officer for over six years including two years of deployed service in Afghanistan. She is president of Civil Vision International, a nonprofit focusing on influencing international relationships.

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Memoir – Afghanistan Literature

Opium Nation by Fariba Nawa

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

Afghan-American journalist Fariba Nawa delivers a revealing and deeply personal explorationof Afghanistan and the drug trade which rules the country, from corruptofficials to warlords and child brides and beyond. KhaledHosseini, author of The Kite Runner and AThousand Splendid Suns calls Opium Nation “an insightful andinformative look at the global challenge of Afghan drug trade.

Fariba Nawa weaves her personalstory of reconnecting with her homeland after 9/11 with a very engagingnarrative that chronicles Afghanistan’s dangerous descent into opiumtrafficking…and most revealingly, how the drug trade has damaged the lives ofordinary Afghan people.” Readers of Gayle Lemmon Tzemach’sThe Dressmaker of Khair Khanaand Rory Stewart’s The Places Between will find Nawa’spersonal, piercing, journalistic tale to be an indispensable addition to thecultural criticism covering this dire global crisis.

Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope by Shirin Ebadi

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

The moving, inspiring memoir of one of the great women of our times, Shirin Ebadi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize and advocate for the oppressed, whose spirit has remained strong in the face of political persecution and despite the challenges she has faced raising a family while pursuing her work.


Best known in this country as the lawyer working tirelessly on behalf of Canadian photojournalist, Zara Kazemi – raped, tortured and murdered in Iran – Dr. Ebadi offers us a vivid picture of the struggles of one woman against the system.

The book movingly chronicles her childhood in a loving, untraditional family, her upbringing before the Revolution in 1979 that toppled the Shah, her marriage and her religious faith, as well as her life as a mother and lawyer battling an oppressive regime in the courts while bringing up her girls at home.

She has been arrested and been the target of assassination, but through it all has spoken out with quiet bravery on behalf of the victims of injustice and discrimination and become a powerful voice for change, almost universally embraced as a hero. If you are enjoying this list on Afghanistan Literature, check out some of our love of literature content at the Ritual, here.


Her memoir is a gripping story – a must-read for anyone interested in Zara Kazemi’s case, in the life of a remarkable woman, or in understandingthe political and religious upheaval in our world.

My Life With the Taliban by Abdul Salam Zaeef

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

This book, authored by a founder of the Taliban, is a vividly informative work that offers a first-hand analysis of the ideological underpinnings of the sinister organization and a fascinating account of the author’s remarkable life. The Afghan ambassador to Pakistan in 2000, Zaeef was detained by American forces in 2001 and held at Guantanamo Bay for four years. He was a life-long moderate and was very active even after his release from the detainment camp, playing a significant role in secret peace talks between the Zardari government and the Taliban leaders.

However, in compiling My Life with the Taliban and detailing life at Guantanamo Bay, Zaeef leaves out crucial aspects – like a record of the organization’s own atrocities or the solution to the ‘Taliban problem’. As Nick Meo writes in The Telegraph, ‘This is a book that should be read by anybody with an interest in why Afghanistan has gone so badly wrong, even if it doesn’t say how to put it right.’

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The Fantastic Genre: The Best Fiction

It’s the uncertainty of the fantastic genre that draws me in. It’s the journey rather than the result itself; take me beyond the threshold.

Fantastic Genre
Fantastic Genre – (ART) THE HYPERSPACE COLORS OF PAUL LEHR

Borrowing from the European Gothic tradition, the American Renaissance morphs the gothic into a uniquely American form. In this blog, I will shine a light on the ‘fantastic’ genre, in hopes of uncovering the feelings or misperceptions we may have about the ‘dark side,’ or the obscure. 

As I sat there thinking about what genre of fiction most intrigues me, I noticed the pending cloud storm heading my way, looming over the close horizon.  I honestly don’t recall when I first began to succumb to the doom and gloom prescribed to horror.  In Highschool I was a fan of science fiction and nonfiction.  I would read Kurt Vonnegut, Hawthorne, books about relativity or about scientific theories about neutrinos in solar dispersion or other quirky components of our solar system.  Horror wasn’t a thing for me. Even when I began college I was engrossed by the literate and the science fiction.  Yeah, I studied English and writing, but horror wasn’t a dark spot yet. 

The thunderous calamity continued to engross on my area, yet no storm. 

I was uncertain about what it was that drew me to horror or dark fiction.  And then it hit me; it’s that very uncertainty that draws me in.  It’s the journey rather than the result itself, the anticipation or feeling I get when uncovering something.

Were you aware that the birth of the US nation incidentally coincided with the rise of fantastic fiction on the literary scene?  Some main stream examples of this type of literature begin in the 1800’s.  Authors such as Washington Irving, Edgar Allan poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Sarah Orne Jewett, Ambrose Bierce, Jenry James, and even H.P. Lovecraft in the 1900’s.

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So what is the fantastic?

Fantastic Genre
The Fantastic Genre was outlined by Bulgarin Linguistic, Tzvetan Todorov.

First, the text must oblige the reader to consider the world of the characters as a world of living persons and to hesitate between a natural and supernatural explanation of the events described.  Second, this hesitation may also be experienced by a character; thus the reader’s role is tso to speak entrusted to a character, and at the same time the hesitation is represented, it becomes one of the themes of the work.  Third, the reader must adopt a certain attitude with regard to the text: he will reject allegorical as well as “poertic” interpretations.  The first and the third actually constitute the genre; the second may not be fulfilled. (Todorov

Ultimately, what we are looking for is not the supernatural or only the instances in which the traditional gothic tropes are challenged.  As Todorov writes, “we might indeed characterize such events as supernatural, but the supernatural, though a literary category, is not relevant here. We want to find the crux – not between real and the supernatural, but in which ‘the hesitation occurs between the real and the imaginary” (Todorov).

The Magic of the Fantastic Genre is the uncertainty. 

It isn’t the uncovering of the mystery, the end of the long hallway, leading you to the obscure figure which turns out to be the deranged ex wife of a wealthy man (Jane Eyre).  The marvel is in the journey.  It’s the constant feeling of existing between this world and another, not being able to stay afoot in either one.  The second you set both feet in one world you have reached a mainstream genre; thriller, mystery, horror, humorous.  There is no punchline but to feel that thought unravelling in your head, only to be turned over to repeat itself.

The Fantastic Genre

“The fantastic, we see, lasts only as long as a certain hesitation: a hesitation common to reader and character, who must decide whether or not what they perceive derives from ‘reality’ as it exists in the common opinion. […] If he decides that the laws of reality remain intact and permit an explanation of the phenomena described, we say that the work belongs to another genre: the uncanny. If, on the contrary, he decides that new laws of nature must be entertained to account for the phenomena, we enter the genre of the marvelous.” — Tzvetan Todorov

The storm never came, the clouds continue to engross my position -leaving me with that ambivalent feeling.  Yet, I find solace in this uncertainty, and I hope you too, will enjoy being on edge.  

How Reading more Fantastic Genre Will Make You a Better Reader

Fantastic Genre
The Fantastic Genre
  • It will improve your imagination
  • It will make you more American
  • You can be original
  • It blends between two worlds – It’s not quite terror and it’s not quite fantasy
  • It’s almost like being supernatural but not quite there so you can still say it’s realism
  • The feeling will linger even after you finish the story since it doesn’t conclude or uncover any mysteries, monsters or close chapter like other genres do

Modern Writers in the sub genre of the fantastic Genre Would Be:

Fantastic Genre
The Fantastic Genre
  • Neil Gaiman
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Ralph Adams
  • Jonathan Carroll
  • Peter Straub’s “Little Red”
  • Stephen king’s “The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet
  • Melanie and Steve Rasnis Tem’s “The Man on the Ceiling”
  • Dan Chaon’s “The Bees”
  • Brian Evensons’ “Body”

You can download many fantastic genre stories printed prior to 1923 on Gutenberg.

If you like this article, we have similar content studying communication from discourse theory, here.

On Writing Horror Willy Martinez

  • On Writing Horror amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of fear resides. An anthology of works studying the way in which writers evoke fear and how they may affect us. On Writing Fear is an index of terror, drawing from Aristotle, Longinus, Edmund Burke, Che Guevarra, Wordsworth, Foucault, H.P. Lovecraft, Todorov, and many more.

    Chapters include digital illustrations created by the author.

    Also available at the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

    A must have collection of research on the power of Horror- a tormented treatment of the human passions!

    Table of Contents for On Writing Horror

    Ch 1. Fear and War: Crafting the War on Terror Using Fear Appeals Ch 2. The Art of the Coup D'etat Ch 3. The Feminine Supernatural versus the Male Supernatural Writers Ch 4. Projecting Ghost Children to Find Identity Ch 5. The Supernatural Power of the Sublime in Wordsworth's Poetry Ch 6. Disorienting Characters with Haunted Spaces and Auditory Hallucinations Ch 7. Modern Ghosts Ch 8. The Fantastic in Fear Ch 9. The Fun Side of Fear: Faustus' Tricky Imp of Satan Ch 10. Glorifying Satan

    Some of the art included:

    [caption id="attachment_4846" align="alignnone" width="188"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignnone" width="200"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4848" align="alignnone" width="194"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption]

Mad Men

  • Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature. [caption id="attachment_4742" align="alignleft" width="188"]Mad Men eBook Mad Men eBook at Mind on Fire Books[/caption] Mad Men begins with Matt’s tale, a thought-provoking thriller which causes the reader to question his reality and what he fears within himself. The second tale explores the grotesque juxtaposed with beautiful nature, where the ending unfolds into a horrific dream, waking in even more terrible pain. The third tale is by seasoned horror writer, A.R. Braun – and his diabolical creatures never disappoint!  A.R. Braun’s goal is to be on the banned book list; we think this tale may just be evil enough to be considered. A must read before it does get banned! Mainstream Horror Shorts don’t always satisfy us in the way they should. They don’t open conversations about what it is that we fear or why we fear such things, they focus mainly on pop culture and gore. The writers in the Mad Men anthology understand the need for literate horror, opening discussions of man’s psyche. When these writers set out to tell a story, they are less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, the sublime, and the infinite strangeness that drives all man and woman. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults. The Mad Men anthology published by Mind on Fire Books. Written by Willy Martinez, A.R. Braun and Matt Lavitt. No part of this book shall be copied without permission from the publisher.

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Acoustic Levitation Lecture

During one of our weekly Toastmaster meetings with the Marion VA Toastmasters Club, I delivered a lecture on Acoustic Levitation. It’s only about a seven minute lecture, check it out below. The links to the videos and research are also listed under the imbedded video.

Levitating droplets of water: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=669AcEBpdsY 

Another example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHAe4FFHtB0

Ultrasonic levitation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hE6KjLUkiw

Read the whole paper here: https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms9661

A few years ago, sonic drilling technology was developed by NASA as a means to mine materials from rocks and other hard materials encountered on space missions. This helped boost interest in the capacity of sound to generate force, including the power necessary to levitate physical objects.

Compared to stories of heavy stones lifted high into the air by chanting and drum-playing monks, the achievements of 21 st century scientists may not seem impressive. But they do show that sound waves can be used to accomplish amazing things, and controlled experiments are more authoritative than unproven anecdotes from the distant past.  

Acoustic levitation is real, and as scientists learn more about how it works their ability to harness it will likely advance by leaps and bounds. 

Regardless of whether you believe acoustic levitation was used to construct the pyramids of Giza, stone hedge, or the coral castle near Miami Florida, one thing is for certain. Acoustic levitation is real, and Scientists across the world are studying this phenomenon; even NASA, as I mentioned earlier.

Once again, blurring the line between science and fiction.

If you liked this article, we have similar content talking about Science Fiction, here.

On Writing Horror Willy Martinez

  • On Writing Horror amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of fear resides. An anthology of works studying the way in which writers evoke fear and how they may affect us. On Writing Fear is an index of terror, drawing from Aristotle, Longinus, Edmund Burke, Che Guevarra, Wordsworth, Foucault, H.P. Lovecraft, Todorov, and many more.

    Chapters include digital illustrations created by the author.

    Also available at the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

    A must have collection of research on the power of Horror- a tormented treatment of the human passions!

    Table of Contents for On Writing Horror

    Ch 1. Fear and War: Crafting the War on Terror Using Fear Appeals Ch 2. The Art of the Coup D'etat Ch 3. The Feminine Supernatural versus the Male Supernatural Writers Ch 4. Projecting Ghost Children to Find Identity Ch 5. The Supernatural Power of the Sublime in Wordsworth's Poetry Ch 6. Disorienting Characters with Haunted Spaces and Auditory Hallucinations Ch 7. Modern Ghosts Ch 8. The Fantastic in Fear Ch 9. The Fun Side of Fear: Faustus' Tricky Imp of Satan Ch 10. Glorifying Satan

    Some of the art included:

    [caption id="attachment_4846" align="alignnone" width="188"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignnone" width="200"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4848" align="alignnone" width="194"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption]

Mad Men

  • Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature. [caption id="attachment_4742" align="alignleft" width="188"]Mad Men eBook Mad Men eBook at Mind on Fire Books[/caption] Mad Men begins with Matt’s tale, a thought-provoking thriller which causes the reader to question his reality and what he fears within himself. The second tale explores the grotesque juxtaposed with beautiful nature, where the ending unfolds into a horrific dream, waking in even more terrible pain. The third tale is by seasoned horror writer, A.R. Braun – and his diabolical creatures never disappoint!  A.R. Braun’s goal is to be on the banned book list; we think this tale may just be evil enough to be considered. A must read before it does get banned! Mainstream Horror Shorts don’t always satisfy us in the way they should. They don’t open conversations about what it is that we fear or why we fear such things, they focus mainly on pop culture and gore. The writers in the Mad Men anthology understand the need for literate horror, opening discussions of man’s psyche. When these writers set out to tell a story, they are less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, the sublime, and the infinite strangeness that drives all man and woman. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults. The Mad Men anthology published by Mind on Fire Books. Written by Willy Martinez, A.R. Braun and Matt Lavitt. No part of this book shall be copied without permission from the publisher.

Ghost Children

  • The ghost children in “The Lost Ghost” and “The Wind in the Rose-Bush” are not restricted ghosts, and this is how these ghosts differ from the other ghosts of writers of Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman time such as Henry James, Sarah Jewett or Ambrose Bierce. These apparitions may seem cute, but think twice as these ghost children will leave you with goose bumps. This double feature of Mary E. Wilkins short fiction is creepy enough to leave you sleeping with the lights on.

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A History of Memes

In this post I would like to address the history of Memes through the lens of a discourse theorist, tracing their roots back to Western antiquity.

A History of Memes for Mind on Fire Books by Willy Martinez

A meme can be defined as an opinion given as judgment or advice, or as a contrived conclusion about what we all agree to be true. And it’s true that Aristotle once said that country folk are more prone to speak in Maxims or Memes and readily show themselves off. In the age of internet memes, does that make us all country folk in the eyes of Aristotle?

In classical Roman rhetoric the term “enthymeme” was used to describe a feeling, judgment or opinion.  But the word doesn’t begin with the Romans, the origins of the word and etymology of the word traces back to the Greeks as a tool analyzed by Aristotle.  Since the terms true sense varies from culture to culture, we can study rhetorical treatise to gain a more comprehensive view of how the word may have been thought of within a particular culture and audience.

Greek Roots

During the first sophistic, the Greeks made use of this term as being a ‘gnome’ or ‘maxim’.  Literally, gnome means “a thought,” usually an opinion given as a judgment or advice (Aristotle 1645).  To take a step back and look at the bigger picture, Aristotle says that there are two common modes of persuasion which can be used in all three species, and those two are the paradigm and the enthymeme.  A Maxim is actually a part of an enthymeme, or ‘meme’.  To Aristotle, a maxim serves as the conclusion to an meme.

A History of Memes for Mind on Fire Books by Willy Martinez
A History of Memes for Mind on Fire Books by Willy Martinez

There is a time and age requirement in order to deliver a successful maxim, as prescribed by Aristotle – “Speaking in maxims is appropriate to those older in years and on subjects with which one is experienced, since to speak maxims is unseemly for one too young” (167).  Aristotle follows up with the claim that country folk are more prone to speak in Maxims and readily show themselves off (1678).  Because these maxims touch upon ‘truths’ common to many, the orator sharing the maxim is revered as having a moral character.  The maxim reinforces persuasion on the speaker’s ethos.  In the footnotes, George Kennedy relays to us that it was tradition in Ancient Greece for sages, poetry and Greek tragedy for these gnomes or maxims to be used.  Aristotle provides a couple of examples below (165):

“it is never right for a man that is shrewd, to have his children be taught to be to wise”

“Best for a man is to be healthy, as it seems to me”

On Writing Horror Willy Martinez

  • On Writing Horror amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of fear resides. An anthology of works studying the way in which writers evoke fear and how they may affect us. On Writing Fear is an index of terror, drawing from Aristotle, Longinus, Edmund Burke, Che Guevarra, Wordsworth, Foucault, H.P. Lovecraft, Todorov, and many more.

    Chapters include digital illustrations created by the author.

    Also available at the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

    A must have collection of research on the power of Horror- a tormented treatment of the human passions!

    Table of Contents for On Writing Horror

    Ch 1. Fear and War: Crafting the War on Terror Using Fear Appeals Ch 2. The Art of the Coup D'etat Ch 3. The Feminine Supernatural versus the Male Supernatural Writers Ch 4. Projecting Ghost Children to Find Identity Ch 5. The Supernatural Power of the Sublime in Wordsworth's Poetry Ch 6. Disorienting Characters with Haunted Spaces and Auditory Hallucinations Ch 7. Modern Ghosts Ch 8. The Fantastic in Fear Ch 9. The Fun Side of Fear: Faustus' Tricky Imp of Satan Ch 10. Glorifying Satan

    Some of the art included:

    [caption id="attachment_4846" align="alignnone" width="188"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignnone" width="200"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4848" align="alignnone" width="194"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption]

Mad Men

  • Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature. [caption id="attachment_4742" align="alignleft" width="188"]Mad Men eBook Mad Men eBook at Mind on Fire Books[/caption] Mad Men begins with Matt’s tale, a thought-provoking thriller which causes the reader to question his reality and what he fears within himself. The second tale explores the grotesque juxtaposed with beautiful nature, where the ending unfolds into a horrific dream, waking in even more terrible pain. The third tale is by seasoned horror writer, A.R. Braun – and his diabolical creatures never disappoint!  A.R. Braun’s goal is to be on the banned book list; we think this tale may just be evil enough to be considered. A must read before it does get banned! Mainstream Horror Shorts don’t always satisfy us in the way they should. They don’t open conversations about what it is that we fear or why we fear such things, they focus mainly on pop culture and gore. The writers in the Mad Men anthology understand the need for literate horror, opening discussions of man’s psyche. When these writers set out to tell a story, they are less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, the sublime, and the infinite strangeness that drives all man and woman. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults. The Mad Men anthology published by Mind on Fire Books. Written by Willy Martinez, A.R. Braun and Matt Lavitt. No part of this book shall be copied without permission from the publisher.

Ghost Children

  • The ghost children in “The Lost Ghost” and “The Wind in the Rose-Bush” are not restricted ghosts, and this is how these ghosts differ from the other ghosts of writers of Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman time such as Henry James, Sarah Jewett or Ambrose Bierce. These apparitions may seem cute, but think twice as these ghost children will leave you with goose bumps. This double feature of Mary E. Wilkins short fiction is creepy enough to leave you sleeping with the lights on.

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Roman Roots

A History of Memes for Mind on Fire Books by Willy Martinez

After Aristotle comes Cicero on our list of classical rhetoricians.  But Cicero and the Romans referred to maxims as sententia.  In book 2, of On the Ideal Orator, Crassus tells his audience that employing “sharp-wittedness, together with economy in [their] use of witty sayings will distinguish the orator from the buffoon” and that it will aim to “achieve something, while buffoons go on all day without any reason at all” (189).  Sententia/memes, can be defined as an opinion given as judgment or advice, or as a contrived conclusion about what we all agree to be true.  Both of these words are tied to wisdom.  The delivery of this wisdom continues to be arranged at the end of the statement.

Cicero suggests that the disposition of the orator should be quick witted humor, but only when appropriate, thoughtful and disguised.  An interesting understanding on where these witticisms lay in respect to other functions is repeated in the categories of the humorous when Crassus reminds us, “for as I said earlier, while the subject matter of joking and of the serious are different, [but] the system of their categories and commonplaces is the same” (195).  Blending of the commonplaces between the two also allows the Romans of the time to place humor and wisdom together as Sententia.  But before we blend the two, take a look at the table below to see where sententia fits in respect to its classification in the humorous.

Cicero goes on to break up the categories of the humorous: jokes either derive their humor from the words themselves or from the content. 

Jokes and Memes Categories

Jokes depending on words: seldom promote as much laughter (191)  Jokes depending on content: more numerous and more likely to be laughed at (196)
Slight alteration of a word ( from Mr. Noble to Mr. Mobile)Insinuation
Funny interpretation of nameIrony
Taking something literally on purposeCalling something disgraceful by an honorable name
 Mocking
 Censuring stupidity
 Inconsistencies
 Sententia (pointed remarks, Cicero 202, 203)
 None are as funny as the unexpected turn

Sententia is classified under the section of jokes depending on content.  The content in this case would have to be attached to wisdom or advice.  Usually this advice comes towards the end and it summarizes the conversation.  Below are some modern examples:

“if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it”, “actions speak louder than words”, “better safe than sorry”, “you can’t tell a book by its cover”, “too many cooks spoil the broth”                           

“If we could first know where we are and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do and how to do it. We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’”
                                                             — Abraham Lincoln, 16 June 1858

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After the Roman Empire

The next rhetorician to say something about memes is Quintilian in his Institutes of Oratory.  Since Quintilian plans out the education for a Roman male growing up, there are different lessons at different times of the pupil’s life.  Under his outline for his version of the progymnasmata, the retelling of fables and Maxims comes third on the list of a child’s education in oratory.  Subjecting children to the memorization of maxims may be as an ode to the Greek tradition of repeating maxims or sentential at public events. 

            Maxims become Sententia.  Sententia later become proverbs, and these sententiae can also be defined as aphorisms.  These are all, rhetorically speaking, tricky little devices.  Essentially though, the device is used to strengthen your argument; insert a enthymeme at the end of your statement to seem more credible since these sentential are already commonly accepted ‘truths’ and remember that “from all types of urbanity we must take bits of witticism and humor that we and sprinkle, like a little salt, throughout all of our speech” (93). 

If you liked this article, we have similar content studying communication from discourse theory, here.

On Writing Horror Willy Martinez

  • On Writing Horror amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of fear resides. An anthology of works studying the way in which writers evoke fear and how they may affect us. On Writing Fear is an index of terror, drawing from Aristotle, Longinus, Edmund Burke, Che Guevarra, Wordsworth, Foucault, H.P. Lovecraft, Todorov, and many more.

    Chapters include digital illustrations created by the author.

    Also available at the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

    A must have collection of research on the power of Horror- a tormented treatment of the human passions!

    Table of Contents for On Writing Horror

    Ch 1. Fear and War: Crafting the War on Terror Using Fear Appeals Ch 2. The Art of the Coup D'etat Ch 3. The Feminine Supernatural versus the Male Supernatural Writers Ch 4. Projecting Ghost Children to Find Identity Ch 5. The Supernatural Power of the Sublime in Wordsworth's Poetry Ch 6. Disorienting Characters with Haunted Spaces and Auditory Hallucinations Ch 7. Modern Ghosts Ch 8. The Fantastic in Fear Ch 9. The Fun Side of Fear: Faustus' Tricky Imp of Satan Ch 10. Glorifying Satan

    Some of the art included:

    [caption id="attachment_4846" align="alignnone" width="188"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignnone" width="200"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4848" align="alignnone" width="194"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption]

Mad Men

  • Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature. [caption id="attachment_4742" align="alignleft" width="188"]Mad Men eBook Mad Men eBook at Mind on Fire Books[/caption] Mad Men begins with Matt’s tale, a thought-provoking thriller which causes the reader to question his reality and what he fears within himself. The second tale explores the grotesque juxtaposed with beautiful nature, where the ending unfolds into a horrific dream, waking in even more terrible pain. The third tale is by seasoned horror writer, A.R. Braun – and his diabolical creatures never disappoint!  A.R. Braun’s goal is to be on the banned book list; we think this tale may just be evil enough to be considered. A must read before it does get banned! Mainstream Horror Shorts don’t always satisfy us in the way they should. They don’t open conversations about what it is that we fear or why we fear such things, they focus mainly on pop culture and gore. The writers in the Mad Men anthology understand the need for literate horror, opening discussions of man’s psyche. When these writers set out to tell a story, they are less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, the sublime, and the infinite strangeness that drives all man and woman. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults. The Mad Men anthology published by Mind on Fire Books. Written by Willy Martinez, A.R. Braun and Matt Lavitt. No part of this book shall be copied without permission from the publisher.

Ghost Children

  • The ghost children in “The Lost Ghost” and “The Wind in the Rose-Bush” are not restricted ghosts, and this is how these ghosts differ from the other ghosts of writers of Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman time such as Henry James, Sarah Jewett or Ambrose Bierce. These apparitions may seem cute, but think twice as these ghost children will leave you with goose bumps. This double feature of Mary E. Wilkins short fiction is creepy enough to leave you sleeping with the lights on.

Hottest Reads of the Summer

So far, it’s been a pretty fresh Summer. But that doesn’t mean the heat won’t hit us soon with walls of humidity and heat waves.

June is also National Audio Book month, and in honor of Audio Books, we have ramped up our audio book listening. Here are the books we have read and recommend for your list – the hottest reads of the Summer!

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

Hottest Reads: Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa—a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past.

Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks—alone, except for her fox companion—searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers.

But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion?

To listen to it on Kobo, click here. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award (audiobook version).

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Marakami

With Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami gives us a novel every bit as ambitious and expansive as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which has been acclaimed both here and around the world for its uncommon ambition and achievement, and whose still-growing popularity suggests that it will be read and admired for decades to come.

Hottest Reads of the Summer: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Marakami

This magnificent new novel has a similarly extraordinary scope and the same capacity to amaze, entertain, and bewitch the reader. A tour de force of metaphysical reality, it is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom. T

heir odyssey, as mysterious to them as it is to us, is enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerizing events. Cats and people carry on conversations, a ghostlike pimp employs a Hegel-quoting prostitute, a forest harbors soldiers apparently unaged since World War II, and rainstorms of fish (and worse) fall from the sky. There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle–yet this, along with everything else, is eventually answered, just as the entwined destinies of Kafka and Nakata are gradually revealed, with one escaping his fate entirely and the other given a fresh start on his own.

To listen to it on Kobo, click here.

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Hottest Reads of the Summer: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of two black families, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today.

Listen to it on Kobo, here.

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The Lurking Fear and Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft

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Hottest Reads: The Lurking Fear by H.P. Lovecraft

H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos is a primary influence of countless iconic authors, and even now, nearly a century after its publication, its themes of cosmic horror and madness remain at the forefront of supernatural literature, as well as being highly influential in the mediums of music, film, and video games. But Lovecraft’s expansive imagination didn’t stop there. This five-story volume contains some fascinating rarities outside the Cthulhu Mythos.

The Lurking Fear includes examples of Lovecraft’s earliest weird fiction including “Hypnos,” “What the Moon Brings,” “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs,” and “Memory,” (inspiration for the 2014 film of the same name) as well as the title story, “The Lurking Fear,” a traditional horror study commissioned by George Julian Houtain to be run as a serial in Home Brew magazine in 1923 that has served as the source material for multiple films and been adapted into a comic book.

Only H. P. Lovecraft could conceive the delicious and spine-tingling horrors you will find within the pages of this unique five-story collection.

Listen to it on Kobo, here.


The Ritual is our blog where we talk about books, art, film and occasionally, some pop-culture. Warm up your coffee, roll your medicine, kick up your feet, and elevate your thoughts as we cross through the threshold, and into the realm of the Uncertain.


American Sniper by Chris Kyle

The Hottest Reads – American Sniper by Chris Kyle

From 1999 to 2009, U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle recorded the most career sniper kills in United States military history. His fellow American warriors, whom he protected with deadly precision from rooftops and stealth positions during the Iraq War, called him “The Legend”; meanwhile, the enemy feared him so much they named him al-Shaitan (“the devil”) and placed a bounty on his head. Kyle, who was tragically killed in 2013, writes honestly about the pain of war—including the deaths of two close SEAL teammates—and in moving first-person passages throughout, his wife, Taya, speaks openly about the strains of war on their family, as well as on Chris. Gripping and unforgettable, Kyle’s masterful account of his extraordinary battlefield experiences ranks as one of the great war memoirs of all time.

Listen to it on Kobo, here.

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Book Review of “Human Alien” by Vika L. Coppens

A unique treasure, poetically written, “Human Alien” takes you into the soulful and creative depths of the narrator. This quaint tale of recovering from a break up, written by author, Vika L. Coppens, was visually captivating and woefully crafted to truly blend the feelings of isolation and humanity that we all feel at one point or another in our lives.

This book review of “Human Alien” scores this book a 5 out of 5 Coffees!

What I most enjoy about this work was how each chapter was able to capture a fleeting thought and/or emotion and how Vika is able to unpack such raw feelings and translate them into something relatable. “Without the reader, there wouldn’t be a reason for the author to continue a story. Every time your eyes touch my sentences or every time you blink while reading a chapter, my heart skips and my palms start to sweat. I feel connected with you, my dear reader. Do you feel the same? Can I take you on a trip with me, today?” – writes Vika, building on the thoughts of Samuel Johnson who wrote, “A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.”

This book really was a journey indeed. Because it reads poetic at times, there were periods where I found myself taking a break from the book so that I could absorb or better understand what I had just read. And there were times where I was in a different place personally, than where the character in the book was. I was able to continue reading when I felt I had a connection with the character, or when some insightful gems were being offered for me to grow and understand what I myself was feeling inside. I was connected.

To match her wonderful prose, the author, Vika, also shared with us her artwork. She illustrated the book cover as she designed visual glyphs corresponding with four major sections of this book. It turns out, Vika, is also a painter, illustrator, and more! I truly recommend this book as it really is one of the more unique books I have read in a while – and not just in story line, but in the way that it is structured and painted with a poetic paintbrush. Allow me to share my favorite quotes from the book below:

Favorite Quotes in Human Alien

Human Alien by Vika L. Coppens

“I mostly sit next to my window, watching the sunset and wondering what I did to deserve this pain, this never-ending shame for who I am, for my body, for what I did wrong. I blamed myself a lot, I still do. What did I do to provoke this, why was I there at he wrong time and place, why me? Why did it have to me be who carries the scars?” (pg. 87)

“The sun directly hid behind the clouds and a cold wind set. The trees started to shiver, the wolves howled in the distance. I dragged his heavy body to his bed and left some thorned roses on top of his chest. The dark, green ivy started to grow into every hole and through every window of the house. Fallen, brown leaves began to dance in every room as if autumn afternoon. Every color turned grey, mat and dark. I closed the wooden door as I left the house and brown thorns took over the whole house and garden like a living monster. They locked the door behind me, crawling over it like hissing snakes. I watched this magical moment while I put on my red hoody again.” (pg. 123)

“The lake chad been crying my name. For many nights in a row. I couldn’t resist the mermaid serenade anymore, so I walked hypnotized, without blinking, towards the lake. My wolf pack was walking in a long row behind me. A blue fog surrounded the whole forest and the moon lit our path. When we arrived at the lake, a huge ship was sailing towards us. I watched it break the phosphoresce in the water. Dragonflies were zooming around me, wolves were howling and mermaids were singing. The wind played with my hair while I waited for the ship to take me away.” (pg. 156)

If you are into Dark and Visceral fiction, check out our “Mad Men” anthology here.

“When you can’t sleep at night, read poetry. When your heart is broken, read poetry. When you need support, read poetry, and when you need to relax, read poetry. Poetry is the rhythm of our heart. It is the beat of life transformed into words. Poetry is the cure for everything. It’s the glass of water you drink at 2 a.m. in the morning after a horrible nightmare. What if poetry was illegal, would you still use it?” (pg. 194)

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” – Edgar Allan Poe

“I put a blanket around myself and walked outside on my bare feet. The snow burned my skin and I closed my eyes. I wished for once that the empty house behind me would be filled with my family, just like it had been fifteen years ago. I hoped that the table would be set, the fireplace crackle and chicken baked. I threw the blanket away and let myself fall into the snow.” (pg. 214)

Vika L. Coppens. Author and Artist

“In the end, I was sitting there, alone in the swamp, with the black pearl. The black coloured smoke that rose out of the pearl crawled upon my arms and turned my dress, my hair and my lips black. I cried black tears while I walked deeper and deeper into the swamp. Further away from humanity, looking for other pearls.

“I smiled back at her while she moved closer, to offer me a snake out of her hair. She crawled up unto my body and I felt the scales of her tail touching my legs. Carefully, she implanted a snake into my head and her eyes filled with tears. I slowly grabbed her hand and her whole body started to shake. she fell to her knees, she cried out. She crumbled to pieces in front of me and her desperation was shattered on the floor. I didn’t know what to do. I stumbled. I decided to sit down next to her, to hold her very close to me. I felt her tears in my lap, falling like little pebbles. While I tried to comfort her, I heard the ghosts of past warriors whispering my name and a shiver ran down my spine.” (pg. 147)

“A million stars twinkle in the sky every night. There are a million planets in this universe. A billion stars. A trillion of comets. It’s strange we don’t see them during the day. The world puts a blue blanket around its surface and we forget that we are only living on a grain of sand. At night, we hardly see a couple of the closest stars wink at us, but how often do we sit down to watch the night sky? When we look through the sieve of the Earth into the universe, we look into the future. We see everything that is still to come. We see stars that aren’t born yet. If an alien would look for us with their telescope, they would only be able to see the past.” (pg. 281)

If you want to read “Human Alien” by Vika L. Coppens, you can purchase it on Amazon, here.

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