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Lora's Rants and Reviews


Currently reading

African Cowrie Shells Divination: History, Theory, and Practice
The Hearth Witch's Kitchen Herbal: Culinary Herbs for Magic, Beauty, and Health
Anna Franklin
The Great Wizards of Antiquity
Guy Ogilvy
The Taste of Different Dimensions: 15 Fantasy Tales from a Master Storyteller
Alan Dean Foster
Kevin Hearne, Michael J. Sullivan, Brandon Sanderson, Lev Grossman, 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: 10%
Templar Silks
Elizabeth Chadwick
Progress: 43%
The Kingdom of Copper
Suman Chakraborty
Progress: 68%
Keeping Her Keys
Cyndi Brannen
Progress: 12%
Don Quixote
Roberto González Echevarría, John Rutherford, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Progress: 71%

Snakes and Ladders roll 4

Templar Silks - Elizabeth Chadwick

So, I rolled a 5.


Which lands me on:

85. Written by an author who has published more than 10 books


Muahahaha! As it happens, I'm reading Templar Silks by Elizabeth Chadwick for Netgalley. I looked at her books on Amazon and stopped counting soon after 10, but she definitely qualifies.


A Conjuring of Light

A Conjuring of Light - V.E. Schwab

by V.E. Schwab


Third in the series. I had a time gap between reading the second book of this series and this one, so jumping right into action that effectively continues from the second book took me a little while to settle into.


It all started coming back soon. Book two left us on a cliffhanger with Kell in peril! I was so displeased about the cliffhanger that I didn't even bother to review it. But a few chapters into this one and I was desperate to see him escape.


I found this one stressful. Too many tempers, too much hopelessness in the situation that arises. Many times I wanted to just stop so I wouldn't have to go back into this imaginary world anymore, so unlike the first book that made it rather fun. It also meanders a lot and it took me quite a long time to read it because it didn't always hold my attention and seemed overly long.


But with the first two books of the series demanding continuity, I persevered. I'm glad I did. The last third of the book had me doing late nights. I was really gripped! All I'll say about the end is that it all gets tied up neatly, though I do wonder who will inherit the kingdom in the next generation.

Snakes and Ladders next roll

A Conjuring of Light - V.E. Schwab

Roll 10!



I was sort of hoping one of the three squares that would fit my most need-to-finish Netgalley book would come up, but I can't complain.


Square 80. Main character is a man


Okay, I've been trying to finish A Conjuring of Light since Halloween Bingo. I'm so glad the rule is to finish a book and that ones started before the game count. :P



Any Witch Way You Can

Any Witch Way You Can (Wicked Witches of the Midwest #1) - Amanda M. Lee

by Amanda M. Lee


This one has a YA feel to it, but the characters made it a fun read. There's a sort of amusing snark among the members of a witch family. Three cousins and their four aunts have some love/hate family dynamics than lean towards the humorous.


It's also a murder mystery. A body is found in an Autumn festivities corn maze and as one of the cousins can see and talk to ghosts, the mystery of how and why this person was killed becomes the central theme to the story.


A lot of things were predictable. I spotted the killer almost as soon as they were introduced and an elusive character was also a bit obvious, but the dynamics between characters really carry the story. While I don't feel a compelling need to read more of the gazillion stories written by this author, I did really enjoy the read.

Reading progress update: I've read 30%.

Any Witch Way You Can (Wicked Witches of the Midwest #1) - Amanda M. Lee

Another light, YA level with predictable romance. And it turns out to be a murder mystery, something I generally avoid. But there are witches who can talk to ghosts so the victim gets to help work out what happened. That makes it interesting. I just don't get why characters in these stories always act like American sitcom teenagers. FFS! I was never like that as a teenager, not that they are teenage characters. The main one is a reporter. At least it's a fast read.

Snakes & Ladders - Up the ladder!

Any Witch Way You Can (Wicked Witches of the Midwest #1) - Amanda M. Lee

So, I finished my book for square 20 and now I can go up to square 70:

70. Something related to fall/autumn on the cover


This was a challenge for me but after going through my entire collection of 300+ free books, a Halloween cover did it for me. I got a start on it and it's only 270 pages of what looks like fast reading.


There are 3 squares among the probable next roll squares that would fit the one Netgalley book I really need to finish so fingers crossed!


One Summer in Paris

One Summer in Paris - Sarah Morgan

by Sarah Morgan


I don't read many Romance books but I did enjoy this one. I'm always drawn to stories set in Paris.


The chapters alternate between the pov of two protagonists: Grace, a mature woman whose daughter is about to travel in Europe before going off to college and Audrey, a girl the same age as Grace's Daughter. Grace likes her life planned and ordered. She thinks she has the ideal life, until it all comes crashing down. Audrey has spent her life looking after her alcoholic mother and is used to complete chaos, but looks to Paris as her escape.


The two meet in Paris and with a few hitches, become unlikely friends. Each have their own problems, but they support each other and find they have complementary talents.


So first the negative: Many plot points were easily predictable or really stretched belief. Near the end the moralising got rather thick and I didn't like the turn things took for Grace. My decisions would have been different.


However, as a complete fantasy romance story, it was entertaining. I did care what happened to both women and wanted them to find happiness in their own ways. The characters were well done, even if the plot hit me over the head with both moralising and obvious clues of what was to come.


On the bottom line, it was a fun story if you don't mind a little insta-love and unlikely human behaviour in favour of a light fantasy romance.

I shared a post about this the other day but sharing this one too. It goes until Saturday!

Smashwords Read and Ebook Week Sale

Reblogged from Passionate about Books!:

Just got this message in my email and wanted to share for those of you that are interested.

Smashwords is having their annual Read and Ebook sale from March 3- March 9th!

Go check it out...you might see a book you've been wanting for a really good price.


The Unicorn Anthology

The Unicorn Anthology - Henrnandez, Coville Bruce, Sara A. Mueller, A.C. Wise, Marina Fitch, Peter S. Beagle, Dave Smeds, David Levine, Carrie Vaughn, Karen Joy Fowler, Garth Nix, Patricia A. McKillip

by Peter S. Beagle, Garth Nix, Carrie Vaughn, Patricia A. McKillip, Bruce Coville, Carlos Hernandez, Karen Joy Fowler, Jane Yolen, Nancy Springer, Cailtin R. Kiernan, Margo Lanagan


How could I resist a collection of stories about unicorns, especially when I've actually heard of some of the authors!


A couple of stories were written in present tense but the one by Carlos Hernandez had a very interesting premise; unicorn poaching for their horns! Imagine, Americans not realising we've still got unicorns in England. *shakes head*


As you would expect with a themed anthology, there was a variety of takes on the subject. We had a unicorn rodeo and of course you have to be a virgin to handle one of the creatures! Unicorn hunters of various kinds, unicorns mating with human women and the subsequent offspring, unicorn magic and mythology that may or may not come from actual legends.


The stand out stories for me were Falling Off the Unicorn by David D. Levine and Sara A. Mueller, A Hunter's Ode to His Bait by Carrie Vaughn, A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan and My Son Heydari and the Karkadann by Peter S. Beagle, which had some excellent stoytelling.


I liked some of the others fairly well and only found myself skimming a couple of them. The compilation wraps up with some poetry, which feels natural for this particular theme. Not a bad collection as anthologies go.

How do you...

Easily get to a post that you want to edit with updates?

Snakes and Ladders roll 2

One Summer in Paris - Sarah Morgan

That's right, I'm only on my second roll!


But it was a good one.



This puts me on:

20. Set in a country that is not your country of residence


Easy peasy. As it happens, one of my current reads starts in USA and takes us to France, neither of which is my country. It also puts me at the foot of a ladder! So, I get to find something with an Autumn theme on the cover for my next S & L read. Nothing in my Netgalley books to fit, so I'll have to check on my Kindle.

Nation of the Beasts

Nation of the Beasts - Mariana Pavlova

by Mariana Pavlova


Another story written in present tense. Why do they do it? This one fooled me because the Prologue was in past tense and drew me in, but when the story proper starts, it's in present tense and sometimes switches to second person.


Elisse is a white boy who is used to living in a Tibetan temple in India, but he has been sent to New Orleans for his own safety when the Chinese raid the temples. His English is heavily accented and he has been in a refugee camp, where showers are a luxury. Culture shock is the first of his challenges.


The narrative sometimes changes mid-chapter, slipping from first person to second person. It's a little jarring, as is the sudden changes of tense or person and what looks like a misplaced chapter of a detective story that interjects into the story about Elisse without explanation, albeit set in the same city. This gets tied in a little later.


The writing itself is good, apart from the person and tense anomalies, but intermittent continuity made the early chapters rather difficult to follow. There's a supernatural aspect involved that kept me wanting to see where it was going to go. Elisse sees demons and explains away his occasional injuries as sleepwalking and nightmares, knowing that explaining the truth would land him in an asylum.


The plot itself is very interesting and Elisse is an easily likeable character. Things start heading towards explanations about a quarter through and I found myself wanting to keep reading at the end of each chapter.


All things considered, an unusual and original story worth reading, despite the tense and person changes that kept throwing me off.

Lots of books for free or .99 in all genres. They've got good filters too for price, word count, etc. Just choose the genre on the left first.

The main sale link is https://www.smashwords.com/shelves/promos/1/any/any

#SALE - Read an Ebook Sale - 3rd to 9th March

Reblogged from Morgan Sheppard:
Today starts the 10th annual Smashwords Read an Ebook Sale, taking place Sunday March 3, 2019 through Saturday March 9, 2019. For these seven days only, thousands of Smashwords authors and publishers will provide readers deep discounts on ebooks. Discount levels include 25%-off, 50%-off, 75%-off and FREE.
Disjointed Lives and Marella are listed as #FREE, with the rest of the Wraidd Elfennol books at 50% off.

February wrap up

Black Wings - Megan Hart The Binding - Bridget Collins The Key to the Demon's Gate - Daniel Quilter To Kill the President: The Most Explosive Thriller of the Year - Sam Bourne The Age of Misadventure - Judy Leigh

I surprised myself by actually finishing 5 books this month. Not a vast amount but I haven't had as much reading time as I'd like and I've been reading samples as well.


The stand-outs of this batch are The Binding and To Kill the President. Black Wings had some interesting ideas but I hated all the characters, apart from the raven.


I have several books in progress that I'm hoping can fit into Snakes and Ladders. The one to leave the square I'm on is getting most attention of course.

Every word is true.

OFF TOPIC POST: Get ready to protect yourself from the Brexit Disinformation Wave

Reblogged from Mike Finn:

I believe we are about to be hit by a Brexit Disinformation Wave of tsunami proportions. It's designed not to persuade but to divide, demoralise and paralyse.

In the UK we're thirty-three days away from sliding into leaving the EU with no plan except how to control our own population once the job losses, shortages of food and medicine and increases in prices start to hit.


This is not an accident or a sign of incompetence, it's what Brexit was designed to do. The foreign billionaires who funded Brexit and the Russian troll factories who weaponised social media in support of it did so in order to create disruption and chaos.


The billionaires get a double benefit of destablising the EU at exactly the point where it was getting organised stopping tax evasion by the wealthiest individual and companies and by acting as Disaster Capitalist who make more profits from unstable and unregulated markets than they do from stable, mature markets.


The Russians benefit by using "soft power" to weaken the EU and undermine NATO as part of their Hybrid War with the west.


I know that may sound like the rantings of the kind of tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorist that we're all supposed to laugh at. Yet everything I've said can be checked by information available in the public domain. The challenge is, we've had our faith in publicly available information destroyed because all sources of news have been flooded with fact-free emotion-heavy messages targetted to appeal to our beliefs and pre-conceptions and push us to outcomes like sheep being herded by a sheepdog.


I believe we are about to be hit by a Brexit Disinformation Wave of tsunami proportions. It's designed not to persuade but to divide, demoralise and paralyse.

I think we will see the following beliefs supported.


"No Deal means we stay in the EU because we couldn't agree on leaving terms"


"No Deal means we'll revert to WTO terms and will be able to trade globally without tariffs."


"No Deal saves us money because we don't have to pay the EU a penny."


"No Deal is bad but it's been forced on us the EU. We've withstood aggression from Europe before and we're not afraid to stand alone now."



Test for yourself how many of these statements are believed by the people around you.


None of these statements is true. Most can be easily disproved with a few minutes of research.


No Deal means that we will have left the EU by 29th March but with no agreement on terms of trade or the settling of debt. No Deal is like slipping out of a hotel without paying.


We can't "revert to WTO terms" as we've never been in the WTO. It was invented after we joined the EU to provide a framework for countries to trade on who did not have the support of a large trading block. WTO rules REQUIRE us to set tariffs on all trade. So food imports would have to have a 10% tariff on them, making everything more expensive.



No Deal won't save us money. We may refuse to pay our debts to projects that we already promised to take part in but the price is having no agreement on how trade with the EU, our major trading partner, will work and creating an impression with future trading partners that we don't pay our debts.



The EU does not want No Deal. It will create huge amounts of disruption and uncertainty for the twenty-seven member states. They have consistently offered a wide variety of deals, some of which we have even committed to, but we keep changing our mind. It's as if our government doesn't want to come to a deal.


If these things are untrue, why are they so widely believed?


Because they are being marketed with great skill and strong funding across social media and news outlets and because each message provides some comfort for us which inclines us to want to believe it.


There will be many more message in the next few months. When you receive them, ask three questions:


Is this information from (preferably more than one) trusted source?
Who benefits if I believe the message?
Does it help me or does it divide, demoralise and paralyse


Finally, I strongly recommend that you take fifty minutes and watch this video on "Malware For Humans" by James Patrick.







Snakes & Ladders - First move

Nation of the Beasts - Mariana Pavlova

So, I finished my book for square 1 and rolled a 10.



This puts me on square 11.


11. Author's last name begins with the letters P, Q, R, or S


As it happens, another Netgalley book will do nicely, by Mariana Pavlova.