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Lora's Rants and Reviews


Currently reading

The Ancient magick of Trees
Gregory Michael Brewer
The Awakening Aten
Aiden K. Morrissey
An Act of Faith
Oliver Sacks
Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames
Lara Maiklem
Mustard Seed
Laila Ibrahim
Progress: 100%
My Time Among the Whites
Jennine Capo Crucet
V.E. Schwab
Progress: 10%
Kevin Hearne, Michael J. Sullivan, Lev Grossman, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Daniel Abraham, Shawn Speakman, Jennifer Bosworth, Mark Lawrence, Blake Charlton, Peter V. Brett, Geno Salvatore, Robert V.S. Redick, Eldon Thompson, David Anthony Durham, Peter Orull
Progress: 18%

I'm melting!



to write



I only hope the White House air conditioning breaks down.

He was wondering where all that global warming is you see.

It's hotter than it's ever been in the UK!!!

Alaric the Goth - Marcel Brion Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates - David Cordingly Morning of Magicians - Jacques Bergier, Louis Pauwels The Secret History of Ancient Egypt - Herbie Brennan History of the Goths - Herwig Wolfram,  Thomas J. Dunlap (Illustrator) Beneath the Pyramid - Christian Jacq The Advance Man: A Journey Into the World of the Circus - Jamie MacVicar Original Magic: The Rituals and Initiations of the Persian Magi - Flowers,  Stephen E.,  Ph.D. The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft - Ronald Hutton A Brief History of Chocolate - Steve Berry, Phil Norman

1. Alaric the Goth by Marcel Brion. Biography that reads like a great Barbarian story.

2. Under the Black Flag by David Cordingly. Real pirates!

3. Morning of the Magicians by Jacques Bergier, Louis Pauwels - history of magical practice

4. The Secret History of Ancient Egypt by Herbie Brennan

5. History of the Goths by Herwig Wolfram

6. Beneath the Pyramid by Christian Jacq

7. The Advance Man: A Journey Into the World of the Circus by Jamie F. MacVicar

8. Original Magic: The Rituals and Initiations of the Persian Magi by Stephen Flowers

9. The Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton

10. A Brief History of Chocolate by Steve Berry, Phil Norman



Yellow Crocus

Yellow Crocus - Laila Ibrahim

by Laila Ibrahim


This book took me away from all my other reads and now the sequel is doing the same. The setting is pre-civil war Virginia, a large tobacco plantation with, you guessed it, slaves. The main character is Mattie, a slave woman who is forced to hand her son over to family in 'the quarters' because her services as a wet nurse are required for the master's new baby daughter.


The writing is good and it really shines a spotlight on what life was like for black slaves in that time and place. Husbands, wives, children or parents might get sold at any time, work was hard (I knew that part) and legal status was pretty slim. What I didn't know was that a law was changed to enable plantation owners to use slaves as free labour. Originally, indentured slaves (whether black, Irish or whatever) were to work for a set amount of time, then be entitled to freedom and making a life for themselves. But that wasn't cost effective so they changed it to make black slaves less than human in the law.


I'm so glad my ancestors never owned slaves!


Anyway, the story has many levels, including Mattie's growing affection for the child in her care as well as her increasing ability to see her own family, including her son, as the baby grows less dependent. The family dynamics of the rich landowners is thrown into stark exposure for the fake and dysfunctional mess that such families tend to become when they get too full of their own imagined importance.


The character development was very well done and the history realistic and poignant, showing the reader how important it is that we never let our species fall into this level of inhumanity again.

Tokyo Mindscapes

Tokyo Mindscapes - Misaki Matsui

by Misaki Matsui


This is a beautiful, full color travel book showing some of the real beauty of Tokyo. I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone about to travel there for the first time.


The parks and temples are more than pretty! The book gives background and significance of places, trees and everything a traveler really needs to know to fully appreciate visiting these places.


It would also make a great remembrance book for someone who has seen these places and might want to remember their significance. The photos are much better than post cards!

More Historical Fiction for the list

Alaric the Goth - Marcel Brion David Copperfield - Charles Dickens, Nina Burgis, Andrew Sanders Great Expectations - Arthur Pober, Charles Dickens, Eric Freeberg, Deanna McFadden Dracula and Other Stories by Bram Stoker. (Complete and Unabridged). Includes Dracula, the Jewel of Seven Stars, the Man (Aka: The Gates of Life), the - Bram Stoker The Crystal Cave - Mary Stewart Shogun: A Novel of Japan - James Clavell

Alaric the Goth by Marcel Brion

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Dracula by Bram Stoker

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart (+series)

Shogun by James Clavell


DNF at 60 pages

Changeling - Roger Zelazny

Just bored. Life is too short. I love Zelazny's Amber series but haven't got on with others of his I've tried so far. The concept was good, but the kid from the tech society automatically having this trend that direction and mechanical aptitude to work it all out isn't ringing true.

The Cold

The Cold - Rich Hawkins

by Rich Hawkins


This is the sort of monster story that I don't see enough of these days. Lessons in what it's like to be at the bottom of the food chain!


It's the middle of summer but a freak snowstorm makes visibility from inside a train almost nil, then there's a crash! But Seth, a young survivor, is sure he saw something very strange outside the windows. Was the crash natural? From the conditions?


So starts an adventure that will change everything. This is the sort of alternate world story worthy of writers like Tim Curran and I expect to read many more from this author. Apart from a small segment when I noted too much 'telling' of Seth's emotions, it's well written and keeps the reader in a dark place where it feels like nothing will ever be normal again.


Plenty of monster action and some good character development, apart from a little too much religion in one of them. Very creepy, full of surprises. I'm wondering if there will be another book. I'll read it if there is.

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

The Cold - Rich Hawkins

Review soon. It was worth it. *shivvers*

For the Romance readers.

Kindle Freebies (at least in US)

Reblogged from Chris' Fish Place:

The Summer He Came Home  (Romance)



Actually it likes like there are several titles from this imprint.  Go here  and scroll down.


When a Lady   (romance)


Drakon  (paranormal romance but features a librarian)


MEG CABOT   (this one is a short story that seems always free)


Spy games  (Romance)

25 Historical Fiction Books

Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen Daughters of the Dragon - William Andrews Go Ask Alice - Beatrice Sparks, Anonymous The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain, Guy Cardwell, John Seelye Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens Jack Dawkins - Charlton Daines London; the story of the greatest city on Earth. - Edward Rutherford Ramses: The Son of Light - Christian Jacq, Mary Feeney Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys - Louisa May Alcott, Elaine Showalter

Okay, here goes. In no particular order:


1. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

2. Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews

3. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

4. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

5. Oliver twist by Charles Dickens

6. Jack Dawkins by Charlton Daines

7. London by Edward Rutherfurd

8. Ramses: Son of the Light by Christian Jacq (+ series)

9. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

10. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

11. Pompeii by Robert Harris

12. The Bastard by John Jakes (+ series)

13. Legacy by Susan Kay

14. The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick (+ series)

15. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

16. Tai-Pan by James Clavell

17. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

18. Hawaii by James A. Michener

19. Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor

20. The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

21. The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley

22. Toby Tyler; or, Ten Weeks with a Circus by James Otis

23. Cry to Heaven by Anne Rice

24. A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

25. The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown

Free Horror Books for September Bingo?

Smashwords is having its July sale and a lot of authors cut their prices or make their books free for the month.


Here's the link for the Horror page https://www.smashwords.com/shelves/promos/883


All other genres are on the same sale, but I'm boosting signal on this because it's a good chance to grab some of the freebies that could make possible choices for Bingo. If they turn out to be crap, at least they were free.


Yes it takes a little time to wade through the slush to find anything worthwhile there, but many authors you see on Amazon and elsewhere also list their books on Smashwords. Occasional gems have been known to surface!

June Wrap-up

Witch Lit: Words From The Cauldron - Witches Who Write Little Darlings - Melanie Golding Haunted Rails - Matthew L. Swayne The Art of Jin Shin - Alexis Brink Walking to Aldebaran - Adrian Tchaikovsky Taking Up Space - Chelsea Kwakye, Ore Ogunbiyi Limited Wish (Impossible Times #2) - Mark  Lawrence The Immortal City - Amy Kuivalainen Dracopedia Field Guide: Dragons of the World from Amphipteridae through Wyvernae - William O'Connor

Nine books this month, four of them non-fiction and one field guide to Dragons.


The stars in fiction were Witch Lit and Little Darlings, and otherwise were Taking up Space and Dracopedia. I'm still deciding about the Art of Jin Shin. Have to try the techniques more but I'm not a sickly person so there hasn't been much opportunity.


Eight of the nine were from Netgalley, but I'm exercising control more this month because I have too many books in hand that I want to read! I had caught up for about 5 minutes and requested two more, now among my planned July reads.


I really need to spend some time catching up on samples in the coming month. They've got out of hand again!

Holy Horror Batman!

The Cold - Rich Hawkins

Every so often you get a book by an author you never heard of and suddenly three chapters later, it starts looking like a late night of reading.


Monsters, blood and a train wreck, what's not to love?


I've got an advance reading copy but it's on pre-order and out on the 22nd.  

Horror Fans

How did I not know about this? Free PDF e-zine with short stories, poetry, drabbles and some kick-ass artwork. Looks quarterly. I've just saved several issues for reading at my leisure.



Witch Lit: Words From The Cauldron

Witch Lit: Words From The Cauldron - Witches Who Write

Edited by Laura Perry


I enjoyed this collection very much. It's a compilation of fantasy short stories and poems about magical settings or characters written by writers involved in Wicca or Paganism in some form. I won't comment on the poems because I've never been a fan of poetry, but the stories were well worth the nominal price I paid and all proceeds go to a literary charity, Books for Africa, so I bought it on pre-order, only recognising a couple of the authors, knowing my money was well spent whether the stories held up or not.


I would say only three stories were really professional quality, but there were no duds. All of the stories were reasonably well-written and the editing was pristine. There was just a certain self-indulgence in the plotting of some of them that is common with Pagan writers turning to fiction, though thankfully not universal.


Overall the really good stories made it worth far more than I paid, so I can't complain. At least I've discovered at least one new good author and the first story, by one of the names I recognised (Nils Visser), has piqued my interest in a series connected to his story. A good result as indie anthologies go.

Little Darlings

Little Darlings - Melanie Golding

by Melanie Golding


This was a well written Horror story based on historical folklore from Ireland and other places in the British Isles about changelings. I love the way bits of actual folklore like superstitions for how to protect a baby from being taken by the fairies is placed at the beginnings of some chapters.


The story itself follows two women; one, a new mother of twins who believes someone is trying to take her babies and the other a female cop who has good instincts and doesn't swallow the psychiatrist's explanation that the woman is just hallucinating. There's a definite supernatural aspect involved causing the mother to doubt her perceptions and the cop to doubt the dismissal of the mother's concerns by hospital staff.


The story kept me interested, especially the last quarter. I even stayed up late reading because I had to know what happened next! The characters were well defined and I really hated two of them, though I liked both of the two primary women.


There were some plot points that I felt could have been further developed, but my only real complaint is the ending. Too many questions were left open and side plots unresolved. The evidence for whether the happenings were hallucinations or psychosis could have supported either way. Perhaps it's meant to leave the reader to decide.