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LoraM

Lora's Rants and Reviews

My own unapologetic opinions on books and writing.

Currently reading

Scattered Souls
Erica Lucke Dean
Progress: 30%
The Goblin Emperor
Katherine Addison
Progress: 2%
EMP: Heading Home
Wilson Harp
Progress: 1%
Don Quixote
Roberto González Echevarría, John Rutherford, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Progress: 30%
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, Joyce Shaughnessy, H.M. Schuldt, Christian Freed, Randall Lemon, Lynette White, Joyce Shaughnessy, H.M. Schuldt, Christian Freed, Randall Lemon, Lynette Whit
Progress: 56%

DNF at 15%.

— feeling bad egg
Within the Glass Darkly - William Gareth Evans

I was reading this with a group, but I can't go any further. The plot idea was interesting, but the sentence structure screamed amateur at the beginning and has been getting significantly worse. Mostly over use of 'as' and 'had'.

 

A really gruesome scene at the end of a chapter badly told was the last straw. No impact because of the structure. I'm bored out of my mind and throwing in the towel on this one.

Traitor to the Throne

Traitor to the Throne - Alwyn Hamilton

by Alwyn Hamilton

 

After reading the first story in this series, I really wanted to continue. The first chapter of this second volume recaps some of what went on in Rebel of the Sands and reminds the reader of the most important characters from that book. Then we're quickly into new adventures.

 

There is continuity in that the rebellion is still striving to overthrow Ahmed's brother and the beautiful mythology begun in the first book continues and expands, but the action is turned up a notch and some new perspective comes into Amani's adventures. In many ways this story is even better than the first one! It also recaptures the exotic, mock-Arabic atmosphere of the first book and the fascinating variations on Djinni magic are very imaginative.

 

Amani is put in one situation after another that looks like she may not be able to get out of this time, and some old friends and acquaintances reappear with new significance. The story had me gripped and wanting to just keep reading all the way to the end, apart from one very dramatic scene that was so powerful that I had to put the book down for a few minutes to assimilate the rush of emotion.

 

The story gave me a real roller coaster of emotions from joy to tragedy. It also had me constantly wondering who could be trusted and who couldn't and was full of surprises!

 

The end wraps up the current situation, but leaves us in a place where there is definitely more to tell. I often complain about that in first books but I don't mind it so much in a second book because I've committed to the series of my own free will then. The next book is predicted for 2018 and I will have to wait

 

This series is some of the best Fantasy I've read this century. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Hell's Gate

— feeling confused
Hell's Gate -  'Jane Aitken (Translator)', Laurent Gaudé, Emily Boyce

by Laurent Gaudé

 

This story is translated from French and set in Naples, which could be an interesting combination, only the translation seems a little dry. Part of this is because some chapters are written in present tense, which I assume is true to the original. It might work better in French, but I had a very hard time getting into the plot.

 

Sometimes it would start to get interesting, then I would lose track of what was supposed to be happening. Eventually it became clear that a child had been killed and his mother wanted the father to track down the killer and murder him in revenge, but killing a man in cold blood is not as easy as it sounds.

 

In the process of trying to satisfy his wife's need for revenge, Matteo, the father, meets some interesting characters and finds himself examining some of life's deeper questions. An invitation from an unusual priest to visit the underworld leads Matteo on an adventure he didn't bargain for.

 

Although it took a while to get into this story, it certainly had some interesting aspects. Depictions of the underworld are always of interest and the characters were a strong point. The ending comes full circle and everything fits into place eventually, but it's the sort of story you would have to read twice to get the full benefit of what's going on.

So Netgalley made me an offer I couldn't refuse

Scattered Souls - Erica Lucke Dean

I must be flavor of the month, they keep sending me emails to entice me with free book offers!

 

Most of them I'm talking myself out of. One was tempting, but I refused.

 

Then this one was on an email. Second book in a series that I recently read and enjoyed the first one. It did stop on a cliffhanger and I wondered what would happen.

 

You can't beat free. I succumed.

January wrap-up

Rebel of the Sands - Alwyn Hamilton Letters To The Damned - Austin Crawley A Tale du Mort - Jaimey Grant;Wendy Swore;Rita J. Webb;Paige Ray;Jeanne Voelker;K. G. Borland;Gwendolyn McIntyre;Katrina Monroe;S. M. Carrière Splintered Souls (Flames of Time Book 1) - Erica Lucke Dean Infernal Parade - Clive Barker, Bob Eggleton The Art of Leather Burning: Step-by-Step Pyrography Techniques - Lora Susan Irish The Doors of Perception/Heaven and Hell - Aldous Huxley Surviving The Evacuation, Book 1: London - Frank Tayell

Since I know I'll be working tomorrow and I'm not close enough to finish anymore books before the end of the day, I might as well get this done early.

 

8 books for the month, one of them a re-read because a group was reading it.

 

5 Netgalley books! I had a moment of weakness, but most of this batch have been really good! I even snagged the sequel to Rebel of the Sands, which I'll be starting very soon.

 

1 craft book and 1 from the Philosophy backlog.

 

1 Dystopian off my tbr A-list. Oh, I meant to read more from that list, but the Netgalley selections pushed in front again. No worries, only 2 left and one of those is the sequel I'm looking forward to starting.

 

I also got my samples organised and all the ones off my cloud downloaded to my Kindle folder so I can see how many I've got. I read loads of them but lost track of how many. I have about 130 still to read. I'm going to try to reduce that number every month.

 

I've had a very enjoyable reading month. I may have given into the lure of Netgalley, but I've learned to spot books I'm more likely to enjoy.

Rebel of the Sands

Rebel of the Sands - Alwyn Hamilton

by Alwyn Hamilton

 

This has the flavor of a mock-Arabic, Arabian Nights sort of story, including mention of genii and other mythological creatures that sound like they should be from that culture, but are actually original mythology invented by the author. The main character, a young person seeking to leave a difficult living situation where law and family tradition work against the rights of young people, puts everything at risk to use a skill for shooting to gain enough money to leave a small desert town and survive for a while longer than mere savings would allow.

 

Of course things never work out as planned in a good tale and unlikely alliances lead to adventure and plenty of action. It definitely held my attention! Enough that I was requesting the sequel before I had got halfway through the first book.

 

I'm marking this author as one to watch. She definitely has the skill of spinning a good story despite a few minor plot holes. I was actually surprised to see it categorized as YA and assume it's only because the protagonist is young. The story has enough intricacies to appeal to adults and an interesting twist to add even more magic to the tale.

 

Through the action of the story, the exotic atmosphere of desert towns and caravans where supernatural creatures exist becomes easy to believe and immerse oneself into, and learning who to trust and who is on which side at any moment can be unpredictable.

 

This was one of those wonderful stories that had me putting off real life responsibilities in the final chapters because I had to keep reading. I don't know how long the series is going to be, but I can see myself following this one, though I don't keep up with many series. Easy five star read and a wonderful aventure.

Oh Yay! I'm Approved!

Traitor to the Throne - Alwyn Hamilton

Asked for this one on wish list because Netgalley had archived it. I'm just about to finish the first book and have really been enjoying it, so now I can go straight onto this one afterwards!

 

Very atmospheric mock-Arabic Arabian Nights sort of setting and great characters, plus some supernatural elements to add color. I'm wondering how long this series will be, and I don't often go for series!

Letters to the Damned

Letters To The Damned - Austin Crawley

Reposted because my review disappeared!

 

by Austin Crawley

 

This one didn't waste any time with the creepy happenings! First scene and I'm already afraid to reach for my cat under the bed.

 

It also gets points for diversity for a Mexican protagonist. His wife has just died in a sporting accident and at the suggestion of his business partner, he goes away for a while so that his grief won't affect his work. He sees a tabloid story about a post box in an English village where residents send letters to their dead relatives and although he doesn't believe in ghosts or magic post boxes, the village is the sort of place his wife would have liked so he goes there and encounters the sort of strange village residents that make for good Horror movies. At first they just seem quirky, but then some weird stuff starts to happen in relation to the post box.

 

I liked the main character in this one. He has respect for women, despite the influence of a misogynist uncle, and he's generally a nice guy. The real strength of the book though is the supernatural happenings and the way the reader is smoothly drawn into an ordinary situation turning very strange. There are some genuine chills to be found here!

 

A blog post also says the main character's background comes from the author's own first hand experience, which I found interesting because a couple of people reading this with me the first time didn't think the cultural references were genuine.

 

Overall it was a really good read and left me thinking a lot. Things were explained, but not over explained so that it left me with a lot of contemplation. I am reading it again, for a group read this time and might do so on Halloween because those scary bits really had me going the first time!

 

I've read one other book and a short story by this author and already had him on my authors to watch list. I'll be interested to see what he comes up with next.

The best poster from the Women's March

Reblogged from Audio Book Junkie:

resistance

A Tale du Mort

A Tale du Mort - Jaimey Grant;Wendy Swore;Rita J. Webb;Paige Ray;Jeanne Voelker;K. G. Borland;Gwendolyn McIntyre;Katrina Monroe;S. M. Carrière

by Katrina Monroe

 

Where do I begin to write a review of this book? It's dark humour with quirky characters that cross the boundaries of the living and the dead from an 'Under' and 'Above' set up to Egyptian gods, one of which becomes an assistant mortician 'Above' when his job for millenia has been to guide the souls of the dead 'Below'.

 

It's like something Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker might have collaborated on with a touch of Terry Pratchett humour. Yet it has a distinctive voice of its own. Unfortuneately I couldn't quite connect with it. I've tried to work out what's missing for me. Plenty of dialogue, is it description? In some places there is very vivid description.

 

I think maybe I just failed to see progression and a point to the overall plot. I kept reading and waiting to 'get' it, but I never did.

 

Oh well, you can't win them all.

Reading Habits Tag

1. Do you have a certain place in your home for reading?

 

I do have a chair in the living room with a light behind it that is my default reading location, though I might read anywhere.

 

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

 

Both. I have some lovely bookmarks, but they never seem to be around when I need them!

 

3. Can you  just stop reading or do you have to stop read after a chapter / certain number of pages?

 

I prefer to stop at a chapter break. I can pick up mid-chapter if I go back a paragraph.

 

4. Do you eat or drink while read?

 

Not generally, with some exceptions. I won't notice what I'm eating if I'm reading.

 

5. Multitasking: music or TV while reading?

 

I tune it all out.

 

6. One book at a time or several at once?

 

LOTS! Different genres though.

 

7. Reading at home or everywhere?

 

Mostly at home, but if I have to wait somewhere, I want reading material.

 

8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?

 

Silently of course.

 

9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

 

No. It takes discipline sometimes, but I let the story unfold as it's meant to. It's only when I give up on a book that I might glance at the end before throwing it against a wall.

 

10. Barking the spine or keeping it like new?

 

As like new as possible.

 

11. Do you write in your books?

 

Blasphemy! Burn the blasphemer who would soil the pages of a book!

Splintered Souls

Splintered Souls (Flames of Time Book 1) - Erica Lucke Dean

by Erica Lucke Dean

 

The prologue in this one gets right into action. A historical backdrop with the conflicts from the time of Charles II is established. A woman is pregnant and fears that her child will be deemed the son of a traitor. Her husband is missing, perhaps captured. In desperation, despite the dangers involved, she turns to a local witch.

 

When we start the story proper, it is modern day. In many ways it reads like a typical YA Romance story about a girl about to start college. The father died, the family moved, and she's going to live at home while attending a small campus. She meets a few local girls, one of which takes an instant disliking to her and is really bitchy. So far ticking all the boxes, including spotting a cute guy.

 

However, there's a mystery to the cute guy. It takes quite a while to get back to the historic part of the story or for the time travel element to come out, but when it does the title makes perfect sense and the concept is actually rather intriguing and original. The writing is also good so although I'm not really into college settings, it kept my attention.

 

The second part of the story really drew me in and got very exciting, but then it stopped on a cliffhanger ending. I presume another book is planned as some of the salient points were never explained, like how the time travel aspect works, though there was a good opportunity. Also, a few inconsistencies in the characters began to emerge so though the writing itself is very good, the plotting left a lot of holes and the ending was far too abrupt.

Infernal Parade

Infernal Parade - Clive Barker, Bob Eggleton

by Clive Barker

 

This was my first Barker read, though I'm familiar with his work through the film, Nightbreed. There is no denying that Barker has a wild imagination when it comes to creating monsters!

 

Infernal Parade is shorter than most of his books. It's a series of short stories that are tied together with a theme, preparation for the Infernal Parade when the dead and demented invade the ordinary world. The one thing that is missing is that the book doesn't take us through to the actual manifestation of this parade, only the individual stories about some of the people and creatures destined to take part.

 

Barker manages to strike a balance with some of the more gruesome scenes in his stories so that every bit of torn flesh, every drop of blood spilled is relevant to the story at hand and never crosses into the gratuitous. This is a rare skill!

 

The individual stories each had their own morbid fascination. There were no duds among them. As much as I'm sensitive to Horror stories that involve murder and gore, Barker's treatment of the material just makes me want to read more of his work. The plots were original and imaginative at a level seldom seen in this genre.

Reading progress update: I've read 7%.

Splintered Souls (Flames of Time Book 1) - Erica Lucke Dean

So far so good. I don't read many Romance books, but the time travel aspect of this one appealed to me. The first chapter has a lot of set up that looks too familiar in the genre, but the prologue was really good so I have some confidence that I won't regret requesting this one.

The Art of Leather Burning

The Art of Leather Burning: Step-by-Step Pyrography Techniques - Lora Susan Irish

by Lora Susan Irish

 

This is a very practical book and easy to follow. It covers everything from types of pyrography tools, adjustable settings and other materials to leather work and all the practical details that go into working with leather, types and methods for burning designs.

 

I couldn't resist looking ahead to the designs provided in the back, but in doing so I discovered a real strength of the book. It doesn't just show you how to trace lines, but goes into detail about how to achieve shaded effects that make a project look really professional.

 

The segment on working with leather sticks to basics and there are recommendations for more detailed books on that aspect of the craft. This book is about the decorating process and it really delivers. It suggests practice grids to get to know the different patterns and how different tips and temperatures affect the outcome and also covers different types of dyes and other colorings that a crafter might want to use after getting the burned design onto the leather.

 

Overall an excellent book that does what it says on the cover and does it well and in great detail.

The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell

The Doors of Perception/Heaven and Hell - Aldous Huxley

by Aldous Huxley

 

Non-fiction

 

This is a well-known treatise on altered perceptions and is loosely categorized as Philosophy.

 

The Doors of Perception is largely about the author's experience of mescaline and the altered mental perceptions of the world he experienced under the influence of the drug. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with the limited viewpoint as this could have been much more interesting with input by other people, especially native American people who have traditionally used Peyote for spiritual questing in their rituals.

 

The sequel, Heaven and Hell, goes more into the philosophical musings that I was interested to find. In this follow-up, Huxley discusses correlations between hallucinogenic drug experience, especially the heightened sense of color, and religious experience as well as the natural attraction our species has to gemstones and flowers with bright colors.

 

It made for dry reading, yet had some interesting points. The rock band, The Doors, named themselves for this book so curiosity made me want to read it. I wouldn't recommend it for deep Philosophy, but it was interesting in parts and blissfully short. Reading a few pages at a time worked for me to keep from letting the boredom mask the worthwhile insights.