My own unapologetic opinions on books and writing.
I had another book picked out for this square about a scary circus, but it reached DNF by page 2. Not only was the story promising to be crap, but the author called circus people carnies, which is a cardinal sin with me. Do some research! Don't write in a setting if you can't be bothered to learn something about it. Circuses are not carnivals and carnivals don't have big tops. What's so hard?
Anyway, I decided to select another book for the square. At first I thought I might peruse through my folder of Horror stories looking for women authors, but there were rather a lot of male authors so I took another tack. I Googled women Horror authors.
This of course took me to Classic authors like Mary Shelly, but it also revealed that some Classic women authors known for other genres have also written Horror stories! This includes Louisa May Alcott and Edith Wharton.
So, I now have The Abbot's Ghost, or Maurice
However, I wasn't on computer at the time and could get Edith Wharton's ghost stories for free from Amazon, so that's the one I'm reading for the square. I do love a Victorian ghost story.
I'm not a big fan of YA Romance, but this is shaping up to be pretty good!
There's a bit of world building involved with rules for magic and prejudices that make witches keep quiet about their abilities, plus it's written from the boy's point of view which is less common.
In a lot of ways it is just another sweet Romance directed at a young audience, but it's enjoyable enough to continue reading. I might even read the sequels, though I might save them for future Bingo reads.
It doesn't count as Bingo because the squares haven't all been called, but I have a row completed. :D
Now the question is, which to target next? The diagonal row or the second across row? Both have three called squares. So I'm doing one from each that are fairly short and we'll see what happens next. I really want to start Dead Sea by Tim Curran for Monsters square, but it's nearly 600 pages!
by Jeremy Bates
This is the third book in the World's Scariest Places series, which is a series of stand alone books all set in real places that have some sort of creepy folklore about them. I've read two others and they were really good, so I had high hopes for this one.
Helltown is about a place in Ohio that has effectively disappeared now, but had a reputation for meetings of Satanic groups, ghostly sightings and strange occurrences. It seemed like a great set-up for me as I love a good occult story, but unfortunately it let me down. This was mainly a problem with the characters. There wasn't anyone I could feel sympathetic for and the Satanists just weren't believable. It was like someone tried to do Dennis Wheatley and failed.
I can't fault the writing, except for a few passages that make me wonder if Bates might have written this one when he was less experienced. A run-on sentence that gave an info dump on a new character to open chapter 16 made me actually check to see it was the same author!
It's otherwise error-free and very effective writing. Admittedly using the most unlikely group of people possible for the Satanists put me off and effectively made the story lose all credibility, but I might have overlooked that if I could have cared about even one character and whether they would live through the experience.
There is some pretty nasty violence and a shocker at the end, so as a Horror book it ticks all the boxes, except for the occult aspect that might have made me enjoy it more. Slasher readers might love it.
by Camilla Ochlan & Bonita Gutierrez
This took a while to settle into because it was dialogue heavy and I felt there wasn't enough description or exposition to easily grasp what was going on right away, not to mention a few names beginning with X raising questions about pronunciation.
Eventually I caught on that all the chatter about make-up and wardrobe was preparation for a television appearance, wherein the werewolf whisperer was expected to give a demonstration. What could go wrong?
The author's note at the end also pointed out that this was related to a series. My feeling is that the Christmas add-on expected a certain amount of familiarity with the original story.
To me the plotting didn't really hold together, although I started to get to know a couple of main characters. I do have the first book of the series and will attempt to read that soon, but if it's as disjointed as this one, it might become a DNF.
We did get a werewolf transformation, but the strands of story were such that I couldn't tell you how that came out.
I nearly have a row and the square I need to finish it just got called. :D
Unfortunately that and the Free Square are the only ones with the blue frame, but I'm more than half though the book filling that space!
The called squares at the moment are favoring a diagonal top left to bottom right. I'll just make sure those books get some priority for a while. ;)
Reading this makes me feel like I'm watching a 1940s black & white movie with Lauren Bacall flipping her hair.
by Madison Kent
I have mixed feelings about this book. The prologue was pure info dump and there were many signs of an amateur writer; shoehorning too many subplot lines into the first chapter, showing a limited knowledge of Victorian convention, dialect, British English or proper use of apostrophes, yet the writing was strangely engaging and I took a liking to the main character, Madeleine, early in the story.
Madeleine Donovan is a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and fancies herself an amateur sleuth. She lost her family in tragedy and in the process of looking for purpose, travels to London. All the papers are full of stories about Jack the Ripper and a group of English ladies whom she meets shipboard become concerned about a niece who has gone wayward in Whitechapel and could be in danger. Madeleine vows to find her, despite the danger.
The premise is actually rather unlikely in Victorian England and the author uses American English for English character's dialogue, but the story itself is engaging and I ignored the occasional cringe and let myself enjoy the story. I think a few words didn't mean what the author thought they meant and the idea of finding bourbon in a 19th century Whitechapel pub just boggles the mind, especially contrasted with an almost encyclopedic history of the nationalities and religions of people who settled in the area shoehorned into a conversation, but I liked the main character and with Alternative History being a popular genre these days, I started treating this as Fantasy and ignored anomalies like decent women casually going out for a drink in a pub in that era.
Of all the things technically wrong with this novel, the thing that bothered me most was the attempt to have lower class characters talk in dialect. It read like something out of the hills of Arkansas rather than anywhere in all the history of England. Old ladies wearing pillbox hats (invented in 1930) in 1888 London pales by comparison. Other dialogue was sometimes stilted too. Yet despite all the historical inaccuracies and other problems, the characters were brought to life skilfully and the plot moved along in a way that kept me interested.
The editorial mistakes increased later in the book, yet the story itself took on relevance, looking into issues of obsession and addiction in a Victorian setting where opium use was rife. Madeleine is a headstrong character and I found it easy to feel sympathy for her, yet she walks into trouble on many levels and I felt needed rescuing from her own impulses.
I actually liked the way the story ended. The explanation of what happened to Jack the Ripper was as plausible as any of the popular theories and there was a wonderfully poetic passage about the way London leaves its mark on a person's soul. Just before the poinsettias all bloom in November English weather (poinsettias are native to Mexico and an old association with Christmas travelled to America when the plants were first cultivated in the U.S. in the early 1900s, long after this story takes place. The tradition never travelled to England and the plants don't survive in under 58 degrees Fahrenheit.)
Apparently there is a series and Madeleine becomes a female detective in her native Chicago, but the ripper's story is finished so I won't be following the other books. Perhaps someone who likes detective stories would enjoy them. Hopefully they'll be set in America where the language and cultural references will fit!
My only re-read this year and my previous review stands.
This is like a guilt-free trip to the circus and the big cats are supporting characters and add some of the humor. The circus people messing with the investigator makes it fun, though there are some tense moments.
Werewolves square got called so I decided to go ahead and start this. It's a short one so I'm already 25% through.
I love a good werewolf story so I have several among my freebie acquisitions. This was one of them and I admit I was drawn in by the title. Like my Noir read, it's dialogue heavy which I find make a story difficulf to settle into. I need some exposition to get the wider picture of what's going on! But there's time yet.
I think it's a translation too, so it might work for Diverse Voices square too, but that would have to be verified.
As werewolf stories go, I don't think it will be one of the greats but the concept is interesting so I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes.
I have to admit, this is a genre I've never read! I was going to try The Maltese Falcon because it's a very well known story, but a consensus for a group read of The Thin Man diverted me in that direction. I might read Maltese Falcon at a later date.
I've only just started but my first impression is that it's heavy on dialogue +and I feel like I've come in the middle of a story, but hopefully it will take shape as I get further in. Meanwhile, Halloween Bingo has once again pushed my boundaries into a genre I hadn't experienced yet, Yay!
I read this last year for Halloween Bingo. My review is at http://loram.booklikes.com/post/1478462/letters-to-the-damned
I saw on Twitter that it's on .99 this weekend so sharing.
I just finished a mediocre demon book for that square and today Netgalley has offered me one that sounds really good!
Librarians, I tried to add a record but the system wouldn't let me upload the cover photo and wouldn't take the entry without it!
by Martin Kee
This one had a little of everything; ghosts, vampires witches, anything Horror related, but the main focus apart from the protagonist being a witch was on demons. A teenage witch sees the demons get her mother and has to hide not only from them, but from the local people who would burn her house down.
It started out very good, then got slow enough that I considered abandoning it, then got better again and kept alternating like this. It had an odd mixture of elements; religion, a gollem, soul eaters and even airships! The protagonist, Skyla, was okay but her name irritated me.
All things considered it was an okay read but inconsistent and the demons weren't really scary.
― C.S. Lewis