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LoraM

Lora's Rants and Reviews

My own unapologetic opinions on books and writing.

Currently reading

The Rules of Magic
Alice Hoffman
Progress: 19%
Russian Hill
Ty Hutchinson
Progress: 33%
Don Quixote
Roberto González Echevarría, John Rutherford, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Progress: 45%
Lava Storm In the Neighborhood (Giant Tales Apocalypse 10-Minute Stories) (Volume 1)
Paul D. Scavitto, Sharon Willett, Stephanie Baskerville, Robert Tozer, Shae Hamrick, Christian W. Freed, Rebecca Lacy, Douglas G. Clarke, Mike Boggia, Sylvia Stein, Gail Harkins, Glenda Reynolds, Lynette White, Randy Dutton, Joyce Shaughnessy, Amos Andrew Parker, Laura S
Progress: 68%

Shiver

Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater

by Maggie Stiefvater

 

This is a YA story but very well written so I didn't feel like I was reading children's literature, as is often my problem with YA.

 

Grace has a fascination with the wolves around her rural home, but when she is dragged off her swing and attacked by the pack, she makes a connection with one of them that saves her life. From then on, her wolf comes to visit her every winter, though he also watches her in summer, but in human form.

 

This was a sweet romance story with a paranormal twist. It is written in alternating points of view so we see both Grace and Sam's thoughts about the developing bond between them and the effects when a local boy is bitten and becomes one of the shapeshifter pack.

 

Despite the high school age concerns which is something I don't usually care to read about, I enjoyed this one al the way through, though I thought the ending was a little too abrupt and left the last events unexplained. Some loose ends are expected though as it's a series.

 

YA Romance readers who like a little paranormal should enjoy this one.

More Bingo Choices

The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham The Abyss Above Us - Ryan Notch Stalking Jack - Madison Kent Faust - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Walter Kaufmann The Elementals - Michael Rowe, Michael McDowell Vampire - In the Beginning - Charmain Marie Mitchell Demon Lord - T.C. Southwell Goblins - David Bernstein Circus of Horrors - Carole Gill The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett

Well, I went through my A-list and B-list and snagged one free book off Amazon, so now my list if full! I also made another change for Classic Noir so I could participate in the group read.

 

So, here is my list now! Still subject to changes if I start to read something and decide it's a waste of my time. Only one re-read this year! I think I kept it down to two last year.

 

Classic noir: The Thin Man by Dashiel Hammett

 

Amateur sleuth: this mystery will have a main character who is not a member of law enforcement. A Spark of Justice by J.D. Hawkins re-read

 

Serial/spree killer: Normally this would have been first on my exclusions, but I've been wanting to read Cabal by Clive Barker

 

American horror story: Children of Chaos by Greg Gifune

 

Genre: horror: The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

 

Gothic: Unnatural Creatures by Neil Gaiman

 

Darkest London: Stalking Jack by Madison Kent

 

Modern Masters of Horror: Helltown by Jeremy Bates

 

Supernatural: Faust by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

 

Ghost: The Ghost of Guir House by Charles Willing Beale

 

Haunted houses: The Elementals by Michael McDowell

 

Vampires: Vampire - In the Beginning by Charmain Marie Mitchell

 

Werewolves: The Werewolf Whisperer by Camilla Ochlan and Bonita Gutierez

 

Witches: The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

 

Demons: Demon Lord by T.C. Southwell

 

Classic horror: I've read rather a lot of these since last year! But I found one I haven't yet read, The Monk by Matthew Lewis

 

Chilling children: The Doll by J.C. Martin

 

Monsters: Dead Sea by Tim Curran

 

80's horror: Faerie Tale by Raymond Feist

 

In the dark, dark woods: Into the Woods by Thomas Washburn Jr

 

Terror in a small town: Goblins by David Bernstein

 

Magical realism: Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

 

Terrifying women: Circus of Horrors by Carol Gill

 

Diverse voices: One Blood by Qwantu Amaru

 

Free square: The Abyss Above Us by Ryan Notch

First substitution

Goblins - David Bernstein

For the Terror in a Small Town square. I had forgotten I had this one waiting to be read! Part of the theme of the story is that it's happening in a small town.

New Bingo Marker

I changed my mind about using last year's Bingo marker. May I introduce,

 

WHITE WALKER KITTEH!!!

 

Yay! I have a Bingo card!

Made specially for me by Moonlight Reader. Thank you!

 

 

I've been choosing some of the books, though any of them are subject to change up until I read a few pages and decide to continue.

 

Classic noir: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiel Hammett

 

Amateur sleuth: this mystery will have a main character who is not a member of law enforcement. A Spark of Justice by J.D. Hawkins re-read

 

Serial/spree killer: Normally this would have been first on my exclusions, but I've been wanting to read Cabal by Clive Barker

 

American horror story: Children of Chaos by Greg Gifune

 

Genre: horror: tba

 

Gothic: Beautiful Creatures by Neil Gaiman

 

Darkest London: tba

 

Modern Masters of Horror: Helltown by Jeremy Bates

 

Supernatural: tba

 

Ghost: The Ghost of Guir House by Charles Willing Beale

 

Haunted houses: tba

 

Vampires: tba

 

Werewolves: The Werewolf Whisperer by Camilla Ochlan and Bonita Gutierez

 

Witches: The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

 

Demons: tba

 

Classic horror: I've read rather a lot of these since last year! But I found one I haven't yet read, The Monk by Matthew Lewis

 

Chilling children: The Doll by J.C. Martin

 

Monsters: Dead Sea by Tim Curran

 

80's horror: Faerie Tale by Raymond Feist

 

In the dark, dark woods: Into the Woods by Thomas Washburn Jr

 

Terror in a small town: The Bank of the River by Michael Richan

 

Magical realism: Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

 

Terrifying women: tba

 

Diverse voices: One Blood by Qwantu Amaru

 

Free square: tba

 

Some of the more general categories I've left for now until I go through my A-list folder and maybe B-list too. It's easier to find something generally Horror than a specific ploy element, and I can always go on Amazon and just see what's up for free. ;)

Contemporary Cables

Contemporary Cables: Classic Aran Reimagined in Current Styles - Jody Long

by Jody Long

 

I love cable knitting and the sweaters that result.

 

This is a collection of patterns for twenty-one different projects, each of them interesting in their own way. As with most knitting books, patterns for women dominate, though two of the three men's patterns are particularly interesting! No children or babies in this one.

 

Measurements and all instructions are very clear, giving both US sizes for needles and metric. The description says medium to advanced knitters, but I didn't see anything too complicated. Cables are actually very easy!

 

The patterns diverge from traditional into some creative combinations and there are at least three of them that I'm looking forward to knitting for myself. Full color pictures of all the finished designs and extensive charts to show texture or crossover patterns.

The Green Mile

The Green Mile - Stephen King

by Stephen King

 

After watching and enjoying the movie made from this book many times, I had to read the source material. The story wasn't actually changed much for the film version apart from details about character's thoughts always being easier to convey in books.

 

I enjoyed the read a lot, but have one complaint. He kept giving spoilers for the upcoming chapters! It's something I haven't seen King do in any of his other books that I've read. He would finish a chapter with "and then X happened." All suspense was deflated, even though I knew what was coming because of seeing the movie.

 

Still, this is one of those not-Horror stories with supernatural overtones that King does so well. The story of John Coffey and his special ability to 'help' people is a King classic with good reason and translated to film well.

 

The last few chapters diverged a little more from the movie and went into more detail about what happened to various characters and that was interesting, although one issue was left unresolved unless I missed a detail.

 

As King books go, I think it's one of his best despite the spoilers along the way. I'm kind of glad I saw the movie first on this occasion though. I don't think the eerie supernatural scenes were depicted as intensely as I know King can do, or maybe I'm just spoiled because the movie did it so well.

Time Travel!

The Time Shifters Chronicles volume 1: Episodes One through Five of the Chronicles of the Harekaiian - Shanna Lauffey

Just a heads up, the first 5 episodes of my favourite time travel series is on Kindle sale. 1.99 for 5 books, not bad! https://www.amazon.com/Time-Shifters-Chronicles-Episodes-Harekaiian-ebook/dp/B01GEO6DVU

 

I'm anxiously awaiting the release of episode 8 now. Why does it take so long!

Wouldn't you know it...

Russian Hill - Ty Hutchinson

The first book I picked out from the free books slush pile turned out to be worth continuing. How many books am I reading at once now?

Original Magic

Original Magic: The Rituals and Initiations of the Persian Magi - Flowers,  Stephen E.,  Ph.D.

by Stephen E. Flowers, Ph.D

 

This book claims to reveal for the first time the origins of the study of magic, specifically Zoroastrianism. This origin comes from Ancient Persia, now Iran, the etymology given as Mazdan -> Magian -> Magician.

 

The author asserts that his intention is that Western students of magic will use this information as a basis to further explore their own methods, but with knowledge of a 4000 year old history that forms the basis of much of what has been filtered through many cultural influences over that time to develop into modern magic as we know it.

 

There are five chapters followed by seven appendices. The first chapter is entitled It's Time to Life the Ban and is about the basic training system for a Mazdan and the knowledge they are to accrue over a twelve month period. The chapter explains the significance of an initiatory path and defines terms for the purposes of the book, explaining the difference between magic and sorcery as well as various cultural terms. I really enjoyed reading about history of this culture from a philosophical perspective rather than a political one.

 

The second chapter goes into more detail about the history of Iranian magic. The ideas of Zarathustra (called Zoroaster by the Greeks) and the progression of religion all the way up to current Muslim prevalence in Iran is covered as well as the idea of magic as religion.

 

Chapter three is called Theories of Mazdan Magic. Here we go into cultural ideas of duality and cosmology that look rather a lot like the roots of Judeo-Christian religious structure and morality, but with Astrology providing a cosmological model. Then chapter four brings us to Initiation to Magic. The author emphasises the importance of initiation and lays out a twelve month process for accomplishing a self-initiation according to Mazdan practices. Here it is easy to see the basis for many systems of elaborate daily ritual using specific ritual equipment.

 

As a historical record, this is brilliant. The exercises themselves present a solid structure of discipline, but is culturally based in a basically monotheistic religion that is the basic for the Abrahamic religions. I can't imagine that Western practitioners would benefit much from reciting the formulae in the Avestan language. It's a strong academic work that would be of value in the reference library of anyone interested in the history and study of magic on a spiritual level.

 

The fifth chapter is on Rituals of Mazdan Magic. The author starts by stressing importance of using original languages for manthras and of both inside and outside environments for performing the rituals. These rituals are very ceremonial and steeped into the belief system of the Persian Mazdan.

 

After these chapters we have seven appendices. The first is a brief history of Eranshahr, which is basically cultural background for the beliefs and practices of what this book is about. In just a few pages, the author explains several hundred years of Middle Eastern peoples, migrations and empires in a straightforward narrative that I personally found fascinating, as someone who has an interest in history.

 

Appedix B is a pronunciation guide for the Avestan language, then Appendix C details the Three Major Avestan Manthras. Appendix D lists 101 names of God to be used in the manthras, then Appendix E explains basic Mazdan astrological lore. Appendix F is resources; addresses online to find further information.

 

The Appendices are followed by a glossary, notes, then a bibliography and reading list, and of course an index.

 

I found the book historically fascinating, though the belief system involved doesn't fit with my own beliefs. It is certainly well-researched and a gem of a historical record. A very interesting read.

Nadiya's British Food Adventure - SAMPLER

by Nadiya Hussain

 

I didn't realise when I requested this that it was only a sampler. What I was given for review was only 17 pages of a 288 page book.

 

There are some lovely full color pictures in the front including one of a bundt cake that drew my attention, then an introduction that explains that the author is British of Bangladeshi descent and what food means to her.

 

Only two recipes made it into the sample; Cheese Scones with Chive Butter and a divine looking Eton Mess Cheesecake.

 

The contents didn't list other recipes, so this is all I have to go on. It's a shame a recipe index was not included as the mixture of British and Bangladeshi influences intrigued me enough to request the book for review. Sadly, I don't feel I can make a judgement from the few pages and two recipes provided. It looks nice, though.

July Wrap-up

The Goblins of Bellwater - Molly Ringle A Duty to the Dead - Charles Todd Golden Age and Other Stories - Naomi Novik Crystal Magic: Mineral Wisdom for Pagans & Wiccans - Sandra Kynes The Forgotten Beasts of Eld - Patricia A. McKillip Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season - Elisabet der Nederlanden Embroidered Garden Flowers: Botanical Motifs for Needle and Thread (Make Good: Crafts + Life) - Kazuko Aoki The Xanth Novels: Books 38–40 - Piers Anthony Art on the Rocks: More than 35 colorful & contemporary rock-painting projects, tips, and techniques to inspire your creativity! - Marisa Redondo, F. Sehnaz Bac, Margaret A Pericak-Vance

It's close enough to the end of the month that I know I won't finish anymore by then.

 

So, 9 books finished this month. 4 of them non-fiction and 8 of them Netgalley. Ooops...

 

The good news is I'm on the last of my Netgalley books until more approvals come through and about to start another book off my A-list.

 

Speaking of which, the best book of the month was the one I read from that list, A Duty to the Dead. I really enjoyed that one.

 

More good news, my samples folder is empty! Yes, completely empty. There may be some more lurking on my desktop computer where I put back-ups for a factory reset once, but I'm up to date and can start vetting all those freebie books. They get the same treatment as the samples; grab me quick or it's the delete button. If I find one I want to read, the vetting goes on hold until I've got room to start another book. Just in case.

 

Hopefully that will get me through all my stashes of backed up books eventually. I've got a folder on the desktop for Instafreebie downloads and such too!

 

I have 55 in my Ereaderiq folder, waiting for price drops. But I have plenty to read and a wide selection so I can afford to wait.

 

New samples will come in constantly no doubt, but now I can keep on top of them!

We have a winner!

The Green Mile - Stephen King

Starting tomorrow as I have things to do tonight. I've seen the movie a few times and it's a favorite, so I've been wanting to read this. I've even made a new shelf for 'supernatural' because it's not actually a Horror story, but has strong supernatural elements.

 

I also decided I'm only starting one off my A-list at the moment because as of today, I've cleared all my samples! That means I'm going to start vetting all those accumulated free books and when I come across one worth reading, I'll just continue it.

 

I now have 55 books in my Ereaderiq folder waiting for price drops. But, I have plenty to read while I wait. :)

What to read next...

Paradise Lost - John      Leonard, John Milton Wizard's First Rule  - Terry Goodkind Unnatural Creatures - Neil Gaiman, Maria Dahvana Headley Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater The Green Mile - Stephen King Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction - Joseph Conrad, A. Michael Matin The Flight of the Griffin - C.M. Gray Uprooted - Naomi Novik

Once again, I've got to my last Netgalley book, until more approvals come through. Only this one is one of those silly protected PDFs that I have to read on desktop, so it only gets 10-20 pages at a sitting before my eyes go squiffy. That's ok, it's an academic work anyway and not the sort of thing you stay up all night to read.

 

I plan to push myself to finish Don Quixote at last, but apart from that and a short story collection I ought to finish up, I'm free to just choose books from my A-list and enjoy!

 

I've gone through the 4 pages of books in that collection and the above are the front runners to start next. Too many to do all at once.

 

So, which should I read? I'll probably start 2 of them over the next couple of days.

The Goblins of Bellwater

The Goblins of Bellwater - Molly Ringle

by Molly Ringle

 

Modern fairytales seem to be a rising trend and some good stories are coming out of it. This one read much like a traditional fairytale as far as language and sentence structure goes, but it had some original elements like goblins using iPhones and other modern devices. I was finding it rather charming until near the end of the first chapter an F-bomb spoiled it for me.

 

I'm not a prude or easily shocked, but I had been thinking this would be a lovely story for adults and children alike up to that point and it served no purpose to the story except maybe to add some shock value. Was it worth making it unsuitable for children? I didn't think so until I saw the direction the plot would take.

 

The story continues in an enchanting style for a while, drawing the reader into the human interactions with the goblins. It takes a sinister turn just as the f-bombing starts again and then a set up for an apparent romance angle.

 

The significance of the human characters to the goblins all clicks into place by 20% and I started enjoying the original premise, despite the teenage-like relationships. It comes out that the characters are actually in their twenties and becomes decidedly sexual by about a third in, so any thoughts of sharing with children are out the window. I'll give it credit for stopping at 'sensual' rather than turning into graphic erotica, which I hadn't signed on for.

 

By this time the story has become about the humans and the goblins are left behind. They appear again periodically, but the fairytale atmosphere gives way to a Romance story. Readers of that genre may enjoy this more than I did. It went in a different direction than I expected and my interest waned accordingly.

 

The writing itself is good so I can't fault it, it just wasn't for me.

A Duty to the Dead

A Duty to the Dead - Charles Todd

by Charles Todd

 

This story caught my imagination when I read the sample. A nurse in WWI promises Arthur Graham, a dying patient, to take a cryptic message back to his brother Jonathan in Kent, memorised word for word. Having developed some unprofessional feelings towards Arthur, she hesitates to encroach on his family, but after a dramatic episode that threatens her own life she decides that it must be done as quickly as possible.

 

The small village in Kent, England where the family lives is depicted very well and the characters are all well-defined and realistic for the period. This story easily took me to WWI and the subtle nuances that define that period of English history.

 

It also presented a mystery. Slowly, a situation unfolds that brings questions about what the message was really about and some of the dark secrets hidden by Arthur's family. By the time I got about two thirds through the book, I understood the deeper meaning of the phrase, "The plot thickens." The mystery aspect had become multi-layered and all my guesses about who the killer really was kept changing as new information presented itself. I also got wrapped up in unexpected twists and turns and some tense situations.

 

I did guess who the real culprit was before the end, but I wasn't entirely sure until it was actually revealed. Along the way I was thoroughly caught up and really enjoyed the read. I'm not a big Mysteries fan but I'll probably try something else by this author sometime.