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LoraM

Lora's Rants and Reviews

My own unapologetic opinions on books and writing. I DO NOT accept review requests but only review books I choose to read and I don't post reviews on Amazon. I'm also persnickity about genre and plot. DO NOT FOLLOW ME IF YOU'RE HERE TO ADVERTISE, ESPECIALLY NON-BOOK PRODUCTS. I WILL BLOCK YOU!!!

Currently reading

The Amulet Thief
Luanne Bennett
Hippie
Paulo Coelho
Foundryside
Robert Jackson Bennett
The Monk
Matthew Gregory Lewis
White Lies
Jeremy Bates
Progress: 31%
The Magic Cottage
James Herbert
Progress: 27/394pages
Loch Ness Revenge
Hunter Shea
Progress: 84%
The Second Sister (Amendyr Book 1)
Rae D. Magdon
Dark Ride
P.G. Kassel
Progress: 26%
SLEEPY HOLLOW: General of the Dead (Jason Crane Book 3)
Richard Gleaves
Progress: 14%

Halloween Bingo Update 22 September

White Lies - Jeremy Bates Hark! The Herald Angels Scream - Christopher Golden Loch Ness Revenge - Hunter Shea The Labyrinth of the Spirits - Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Well, I have a special talent. So far I've managed to dodge my finished reads between called squares and haven't got a single completed square!

 

However, I do have 4 books in progress for called squares. New release, Modern masters of Horror, Cryptozoologist, and Diverse Voices. Two of these should be finished soon. The last one is a brick, over 800 pages, but I got it from Netgalley so I won't change it.

 

I didn't want to win anything this year anyway, as I won a prize the first time and am happy to let others have a turn. I'm just bemused. Maybe weird kitty doesn't want his face scratched!

 

 

New Release - Hark! The Herald Angels Scream edited by Christopher Golden

(384 pages)(N)

 

Darkest London - A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (336 pages)

                                   

Country House Mystery - The Magic Cottage by James Herbert (400 pages)

 

Modern Masters of Horror - White Lies by Jeremy Bates (292 pages)

 

A Grim Tale - The Second Sister by Rae D. Magdon (212 pages)

 

---

 

Genre: Suspense - The Moor by Sam Haysom (224 pages)(N)

 

Terrifying Women - The Last Man by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (512 pages)

 

Gothic - Unsettled Spirits by J. Matthew Saunders - 2 stars

 

Romantic Suspense - Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart - 3 1/2 stars

 

Dead Lands - Incubation by Adrienne Lecter (312 pages)

 

---

 

Cryptozoologist - Loch Ness Revenge by Hunter Shea (150 pages)

 

Fear the Drowning Deep - Dark Voyage by Helen Susan Swift (260 pages)

 

Free Space - Dark Ride by P.G. Kassel (116 pages)

 

Classic Horror - The Monk by Matthew Lewis (416 pages)

 

Baker Street Irregulars - Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab by Columbkill Noonan - 3 stars

 

---

 

Amateur Sleuth - Pieces of Her by Karen Slaughter - 4 stars

 

Ghost Stories - Trapped in Room 217 by Thomas Kingsley Troupe - 4 1/2 stars

 

Genre: Horror - The Hermits Creepy Pet by Terry M West - 3 1/2 stars

 

13 - No. 13 Toroni: A Mystery by Julius Regis - 3 stars

 

Shifters - The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan - 5 stars

 

---

 

Diverse Voices - The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (832 pages)(N)

 

Terror in a Small Town - General of the Dead by Richard Gleaves (608 pages)

 

Supernatural - John Peters In The Land Of Demons by A.H.Matai (372 pages)(N)

 

Relics and Curiosities - The Amulet Thief by Luanne Bennett (325 pages)

 

Doomsday - Doomsday Anthology by Samie Sands 3 stars

Doomsday Anthology

Doomsday - Samie Sands

edited by Samie Sands

 

Fourteen stories all on the theme of the world coming to an end. Of course such an idea intrigued me! I had never read any of the authors before but part of the idea of anthologies is to discover new voices. Like most anthologies, some stories appealed more than others. It's well edited and I don't remember tripping over any typos at all.

 

There were just three of the dreaded present tense stories and a couple of others where the writing wasn't up to scratch or the plot went nowhere, but also a few notable stories with interesting ideas stood out.

 

We had aliens, zombies, vampires eating zombies, people who melt, mythological gods, dystopia, dead people who stay animate long enough to testify against their murderers, WW3, immortality whether you want it or not and a fairy world dying. Quite a variety of approaches!

 

The stand out stories IMO are From Strange to Indifferent by Katie Jaarsveld and Nightmare Rising by McKenzie Richardson. Both of these are well written and explore some interesting ideas. The latter will be of particular interest to Fantasy fans.

 

Not too bad as such collections go and it's given me two more authors to pay attention to.

 

Rose Cottage

Rose Cottage - Mary Stewart

by Mary Stewart

 

This one starts out without as much description as previous Mary Stewart books I've read, but by the end of the first chapter exactly what Rose Cottage is has been explained. Much of the first half of the book feels like ordinary things going on, but a mystery presents itself when a hidden cupboard in Rose Cottage is discovered to have been uncovered.

 

The time period is after the war in the UK when rationing was still in force. A lot of Stewart's use of language fits into the era and creates that dreamy sort of old movie atmosphere.

 

Mary Stewart has an engaging style and despite waiting for a long time for anything really significant to happen, the story kept my attention. It isn't what you would call high action and it skirts the Women's Fiction category, but a mystery gets solved in the end and there is that touch of romance that Stewart's Mysteries always have.

 

Halloween Bingo Update 16 Sept

See how artfully I've managed to finish books interspersed BETWEEN the calls? It takes a special talent.

 

 

I sort of think I should target the top row, but there's no guarantee that one of those squares won't be the very last call.

 

Just keep reading Just keep reading Just keep reading Just keep reading Just keep reading Just keep reading Just keep reading Just keep reading Just keep reading Just keep reading

 

Scores so far:

 

New Release - Hark! The Herald Angels Scream edited by Christopher Golden

(384 pages)(N)

 

Darkest London - A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (336 pages)

                                   

Country House Mystery - The Magic Cottage by James Herbert (400 pages)

 

Modern Masters of Horror - White Lies by Jeremy Bates (292 pages)

 

A Grim Tale - The Second Sister by Rae D. Magdon (212 pages)

 

---

 

Genre: Suspense - The Moor by Sam Haysom (224 pages)(N)

 

Terrifying Women - The Last Man by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (512 pages)

 

Gothic - Unsettled Spirits by J. Matthew Saunders - 2 stars

 

Romantic Suspense - Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart (234 pages)

 

Dead Lands - Incubation by Adrienne Lecter (312 pages)

 

---

 

Cryptozoologist - Loch Ness Revenge by Hunter Shea (150 pages)

 

Fear the Drowning Deep - Dark Voyage by Helen Susan Swift (260 pages)

 

Free Space - Dark Ride by P.G. Kassel (116 pages)

 

Classic Horror - The Monk by Matthew Lewis (416 pages)

 

Baker Street Irregulars - Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab by Columbkill Noonan - 3 stars

 

---

 

Amateur Sleuth - Pieces of Her by Karen Slaughter - 4 stars

 

Ghost Stories - Trapped in Room 217 by Thomas Kingsley Troupe - 4 1/2 stars

 

Genre: Horror - The Hermits Creepy Pet by Terry M West - 3 1/2 stars

 

13 - No. 13 Toroni: A Mystery by Julius Regis - 3 stars

 

Shifters - The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan - 5 stars

 

---

 

Diverse Voices - The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (832 pages)(N)

 

Terror in a Small Town - General of the Dead by Richard Gleaves (608 pages)

 

Supernatural - John Peters In The Land Of Demons by A.H.Matai (372 pages)(N)

 

Relics and Curiosities - The Amulet Thief by Luanne Bennett (325 pages)

 

Doomsday - Doomsday Anthology by Samie Sands (183 pages)

Unsettled Spirits

Unsettled Spirits - J. Matthew Saunders

by J. Matthew Saunders

 

Workers at a tractor and farm supply company play a common prank on Bobby, a new guy, by having him go into the factory after hours on a ruse, but things go wrong. There is genuine gossip about the factory being haunted and when Bobby hears a child laughing just before the lights go out, he is terrified. A subsequent unfortunate accident brings the incident under investigation.

 

Zed & Penelope make such investigations their business and are called in. They also consult an associate, Charles, who is an adept magician. The company owner brings in a magician of his own, but won't say who.

 

The story is fairly short, yet has a lot of strands. I thought it had too much description of minor characters and sometimes seemed unclear what was going on.

 

Apart from the beginning, I can't say there were a lot of scares and the story falls more into a detective story than chilling Horror, until near the end. There is even some doubt cast on the legitimacy of the hauntings.

 

Some interesting supernatural shenanigans happen towards the end, but then the story just stops. No explanation, no resolution. Presumably it's a serial, but there is no warning in the description to say so. There were some interesting ideas involved and the writing was fairly good, but the plot didn't have me riveted enough to compel me to read another book to tie up all the loose ends left hanging.

 

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab

Barnabas Tew and The Case Of The Missing Scarab - Columbkill Noonan

by Columbkill Noonan

 

There's something about Victorian era book settings that brings out the use of language to fit within that setting and gives the story a certain flavour.

 

Barnabas Tew wants to be like his hero, Sherlock Holmes, but so far it's not going too well. He isn't nearly as clever and pretending to understand things when his assistant, Wildred, gets a reference that he doesn't does him no favours.

 

They've been given a case by Anubis to find a missing god. The trouble is, searching for clues in the underworld requires being dead! Traversing a landscape where they have to learn the rules as they go along leads to a constant state of confusion for the detectives.

 

This is a light, fun story. The journey through the realms of Egyptian gods added an interesting touch, although purists will wonder how the author assigned personalities to some of them, especially Maat and Hathor, who seemed way out of character.

 

It was a little slow moving in parts and had a sort of comic feel to it, but was overall enjoyable. The obvious set up at the end for a next book in series was actually rather well done, but the story works fine as a stand alone.

 

Halloween Bingo Update

I finished reading a row! No calls on any of the relevant squares but at least they're all read. I'm sort of targeting the 3rd row now and sort of targeting first row down. Still putting Netgalley books on first priority but picking off the shorter books as well.

 

In other words, complete chaos, Yay!

 

The Hermit's Creepy Pet

The Hermit's Creepy Pet (Single Shot Short Story Series Book 10) - Terry M. West

by Terry M. West

 

The title of this is a little misleading because the featured creature isn't actually a pet. An aspiring writer lives in a small rural town where most neighbors are renters and not long term residents, except for the man who keeps to himself and has No Trespassing signs all over his property.

 

One day the old hermit knocks on the writer's door and insists he has to show him something. He needs a witness. Curiosity wins over caution and they hike up to the hermit's property to see what he's caught. What could go wrong?

 

It's a short story dealing with fortean creatures with a Horror twist. The writing was fairly good and the characters well drawn, including the creature. Nothing too original in the plot, but a nice, quick read for the Monster Horror enthusiast.

 

Trapped in Room 217

Trapped in Room 217 - Thomas Kingsley Troupe

by Thomas Kingsley Troupe

 

This is a children's Horror story, targeted at age 8 - 12. I'd say it's appropriate for that level, yet the writing is very good! It's part of a series of real life ghost stories, set in places where ghost sightings have actually been reported.

 

Jayla and Dion have to accompany their father, a landscaper, for a job in Colorado. It turns out that the hotel they stay in has a reputation for being haunted. Jayla is in seventh grade, her brother is a little younger.

 

As it turns out, the room they stay in has a resident ghost. When the children experience a sighting of the ghost, they set out to investigate.

 

I'm no expert on children's literature, but I think this was extremely good for the age group. The writing doesn't 'talk down' to the children's level so I was able to appreciate Jayla and Dion's adventure and concerns about getting into trouble for various things.

 

While the fear factor would be considered tame for the adult Horror reader, I think it pushed the scary parameters just enough to keep a child interested while not giving them nightmares, unless they're overly sensitive. It's still a ghost story and the dark can be frightening!

 

This would be an excellent choice for the sort of kid who enjoys Goosebumps or children's adventure stories.

 

Free Horror Book Haul

The Amulet Thief - Luanne Bennett Mothman Dynasty: Chicago's Winged Humanoids - Lon Strickler Darkness - Brandon Faircloth The Lighthouse -  Ron; Ripley Surviving the Fall - Stephen Cross Sker House - C.M. Saunders After Party (Life After Life, Vol. #1) - Domino Greensmith Girls: Supernatural Witch Cozy Mystery (Lainswich Witches Series Book 1) - Raven Snow Disquietly Vol. 1 - James G. Boswell The Hermit's Creepy Pet (Single Shot Short Story Series Book 10) - Terry M. West

So, with the category Genre: Horror to fill, did I go to my Kindle folder for Horror and choose one of the 53 books waiting to be read? Noooooo...

 

This time of year it's more fun to go to the top 100 Free Books in the Horror category on Amazon and start loading up more! There are certain authors always there that I've learned to skip past because they don't write well or their stuff always turns out to be Romance. Nothing against Romance, but it's not what I look for under Horror and I resent spaces being taken up by inappropriate genres. Advice to writers to get their books listed under as many categories as possible actually harms their reputation.

 

So, I've acquired all those pictured. The Amulet Thief might take over the Relics and Curiosities square to relieve me of an 800+ page book and one of these will fill my Horror genre square. I'm leaning towards Creepy Pet, just my sort of thing.

 

I think I may need to keep a folder for possible future Bingo selections. I even found a cozy that looked fun. I seem to be finding a lot of anthologies this year. That could be an interesting category for a future Bingo.

 

If you're into zombie dystopia, The Fall series is all up for free today. Grab them quick because free offers often end after the weekend. I can't vouch for the quality of any of these but you can't beat the price.

Bingo strategy adjustment

So, yesterday I worked out one of my Netgalley books could move from Genre: Horror to New release. This has changed the Netgalley spread on my card a little.

 

 

I've been targeting the 4th row across. 3 are finished and the other two *were* well in progress, which is why I think I had a blind spot for that row when I was trying to see if anything could move. So now 1 is in progress and likely to be finished today while the new selection for Genre: Horror is now going to be a new selection. I was going to put White Lies by Jeremy Bates there but it's already on Modern Masters of Horror! But it's a general enough category that it should be easy to fill.

 

This change makes my next target glaringly obvious; 1st row down has 4 Netgalley books! Of these 1 is finished and 2 are in progress, so the next two books to start are easy to choose. The only drawback is that the Diverse Voices choice is over 800 pages!!!!

 

Can't be helped though. I expect I'll start it and finish off the others in the row, then carry on reading the long one while I choose the next target row. We're getting close to having enough calls to bring that into the equation by then. But then I'm also being pulled to second row down because it includes two of the books I most want to read!

 

Here is my adjusted reading list:

 

New Release - Hark! The Herald Angels Scream edited by Christopher Golden

(384 pages)(N)

 

Darkest London - A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (336 pages)

                                   

Country House Mystery - The Magic Cottage by James Herbert (400 pages)

 

Modern Masters of Horror - White Lies by Jeremy Bates (292 pages)

 

A Grim Tale - The Second Sister by Rae D. Magdon (212 pages)

 

---

 

Genre: Suspense - The Moor by Sam Haysom (224 pages)(N)

 

Terrifying Women - The Last Man by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (512 pages)

 

Gothic - Unsettled Spirits by J. Matthew Saunders (128 pages)(N)

 

Romantic Suspense - Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart (234 pages)

 

Dead Lands - Incubation by Adrienne Lecter (312 pages)

 

---

 

Cryptozoologist - Loch Ness Revenge by Hunter Shea (150 pages)

 

Fear the Drowning Deep - Dark Voyage by Helen Susan Swift (260 pages)

 

Free Space - Dark Ride by P.G. Kassel (116 pages)

 

Classic Horror - The Monk by Matthew Lewis (416 pages)

 

Baker Street Irregulars - Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab by Columbkill Noonan (274 pages)(N)

 

---

 

Amateur Sleuth - Pieces of Her by Karen Slaughter (480 pages)(N)

 

Ghost Stories - Trapped in Room 217 by Thomas Kingsley Troupe (136 pages)(N)

 

Genre: Horror -

 

13 - No. 13 Toroni: A Mystery by Julius Regis (60 pages)

 

Shifters - The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan (352 pages)

 

---

 

Diverse Voices - The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (832 pages)(N)

 

Terror in a Small Town - General of the Dead by Richard Gleaves (608 pages)

 

Supernatural - John Peters In The Land Of Demons by A.H.Matai (372 pages)(N)

 

Relics and Curiosities - The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (816 pages)

 

Doomsday - Doomsday Anthology by Samie Sands (183 pages)

 

As you can see I've added page counts and put (N) on the Netgalley books. The only one I might yet change is Eye of the World. I really want to read the book, but a second book over 800 pages is scary! So I'll keep an open mind on that one and peruse the suggestion list and other sources for something appropriate that I won't still be reading after Christmas!

I've worked it out.

Hark! The Herald Angels Scream - Christopher Golden White Lies - Jeremy Bates

I got it worked out. If I bump Hark! The herald Angels Scream from Genre: Horror to New Release (30 Oct 2018), I can add White Lies by Jeremy Bates to Genre: Horror and my dance card is complete!

Et tu, Shea? I've read 7%.

Loch Ness Revenge - Hunter Shea

Since when does Hunter Shea write in present tense? I'll finish the book because it's short, I paid for it and I like Nessie stories, but I'm crossing him off my list of authors to follow.

Bingo Update

So, I've finished three books on my 4th row across and the other two are in progress, both Netgalley books.

 

Slash marks are called squares, weird kitty is read.

 

 

No called squares on that row but I figure the 3rd row will be next. I'm giving first priority to my Netgalley books because some of them had to wait for Bingo to start. Most of them are placed so that they fill 3 squares of a row down or across.

 

 

The odd one out, of course, is the one that has waited the longest, but at least it's on that 3rd row and the book for the first square on that row is in progress.

 

Still no New Release assigned. I KNOW Amazon had a button for new releases, but I can't seem to find it. Smashwords let me down. The filters for Free and Horror brought up books published too long ago. I'll keep watching Netgalley as I expect more Halloween release books will come out in October. Meanwhile I'll keep an eye on what others are reading as well.

Pieces of Her

Pieces of Her - Karin Slaughter

by Karin Slaughter

 

This started out sounding like something you would find under 'Womens Fiction' and I wondered if I had made a mistake. Andrea had chased her glamorous dreams to New York City and failed, winding up waiting tables. When her mother telephoned her with disturbing news, she leaves New York without looking back to go home to small town Georgia and help her mother through a fight with breast cancer.

 

After taking a job fielding 911 calls for the emergency services, her life looks very ordinary and at a dead end. However, when a crisis situation arises, some real drama enters the story and by the end of the first chapter, Andrea finds out there are aspects of her mother that she's never known and the story becomes very interesting indeed!

 

This is a Mystery story. I didn't like Andrea because she just freezes up in situations when a stronger person would react and she makes some seriously stupid decisions, like just kill her now and put her out of all of our misery stupid. The other female characters were also either pathetic or psychotic, yet for the most part it worked in the story. Paula got on my nerves pretty quick, not least of all because she reminds me of someone I met once, and Jane was too much like Andrea. To be fair, the male characters were mostly unpleasant as well, apart from Gordon, her step-father.

 

All this adds up to a pretty twisted situation that begins to get explained about a third through. There's a time flashback that takes us out of Andrea's story and gives us the background behind her mother's actions. Then it moves forward again to resolve the situation she manages to get herself into.

 

The characters do develop and the reason they had to be so weak becomes essential to the plot, so they're forgiven. I actually enjoyed the story quite a lot, despite the weaknesses in the main characters. I would read something else by this author.

 

The Last Werewolf

The Last Werewolf - Glen Duncan

by Glen Duncan

 

This started out with a different tone than I usually see in werewolf novels. More of a crime drama or conspiracy story tone as it's established that with the murder of a werewolf in Berlin, the protagonist is the last of his kind and an organisation that hunts down and kills werewolves will now be focused on him.

 

This was a very literary read. Despite a few descriptions of violence, the use of language made it a joy to read and the first person pov of the werewolf throughout felt very intimate and personal. I found myself wanting him to survive. It had a few very sexual references. Apparently being a werewolf sends the libido into animal rut. But both the sex and violence stopped short of becoming gratuitous, even if it nudged that parameter on occasion.

 

There was a lot of suspense well done and a few twists to keep things interesting. The last few chapters had me breathless!

 

The writing was so good that I went to see what else the author had written and found that this is actually a trilogy! I'll look forward to reading the next books. This was one of those stories that when it ended, I just had to sit a few moments, staring into space while processing the feels. It really had a strong emotional impact on me.