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Lora's Rants and Reviews


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Bone China
Laura Purcell
Progress: 25%
The Little Book of Drawing Dragons & Fantasy Characters
Cynthia Knox, Meredith Dillman, Michael Dobrzycki, Bob Berry
I Am Legend
Richard Matheson
The Mermaid's Sister
Carrie Anne Noble
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Margaret Atwood
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J. Esker Miller
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Minor Rant

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood The Mermaid's Sister - Carrie Anne Noble Bone China - Laura  Purcell

Suddenly I'm reading three, count them THREE! books written in present tense!




The problem is, the first two are such popular books with high ratings that I feel like I might miss something if I DNF, and the third one was a Netgalley request. I can't escape!


I can, however, moan about it in every single review. Consider yourselves warned.


And any writers reading this, don't write whole books in present tense. It's just wrong!

And on that note... Bingo!

Yay! Finally got my second Bingo, center row down.


Reaper Man

Reaper Man - Terry Pratchett

by Terry Pratchett


I've read Mort twice so decided it's time I continued this series. Admittedly I enjoyed Mort less on the second reading, but the character of Death is one of Pratchett's most interesting ideas so I still wanted to carry on.


As Pratchett books go, I found it a little slower in parts than I expected. The overall story was interesting in itself, but some of the digressions went on a little longer than interest demanded. The humour was certainly there and the unique concepts of Death as an entity who might take a holiday or even die himself. How he interacts with people is definitely a strength of the book.


The wizards tended to witter on a bit too long to keep my attention, but the inception of The Death of Rats makes the whole book worthwhile! I'm unlikely to re-read this one, but I'm glad I've read it now and I'll continue with Soul Music before too long.



Thor - Wayne    Smith

by Wayne Smith


This is an original take on a werewolf story. It's told partly from the pov of a German Shepherd dog who belongs to a typicaltm American family. The father is a lawyer, the mother appears to be a housewife and there are three children. They all love their dog and he loves them and instinctively protects them, referring to them as "The Pack".


Sometimes he protects too well and gets in trouble with Dad. It's interesting looking at things through his eyes. The author seems to know a lot about dogs and his perspectives come over as fairly realistic. The first few chapters of this would make a nice, wholesome dog story if it weren't for the intimate moments between Mom and Dad getting a bit too graphic for very young readers.


When Thor senses an unknown danger coming and starts to catch the scent of an unidentified wild animal in places and on belongings associated with a relative of The Pack, we see his confusion as he tries to work out where the threat is coming from and how to protect his family.


Some dramatic werewolf action happens in the last quarter that had me breathless. It was very well done! Though a couple of challenges to belief (besides, you know, werewolf) kept it from quite reaching that fourth star.


Still, a worthwhile story and watching the change in consciousness in one transition to werewolf was more than intriguing.


Halloween Bingo Update 10/10/2019

Still only one Bingo but it's getting so nearly any square I have will fill a called row. Reading is similar. Shifters is the next book I'm likely to finish so it's just a matter of waiting for the calls on that part of my card.


Three books haven't even been started yet but which one comes next will be affected by the upcoming calls. Failing that, if the next few calls are for squares I don't have I'd really like to start my book for Magical Realism. Gothic, Cryptozoologist, Paint it Black are all in progress and Dystopian is sort of started.


There's a chance I might achieve blackout by the end of the month, though I'm into the longer books now.



Surviving The Evacuation, Book 2: Wasteland - Frank Tayell

by Frank Tayell


This is the second of the Surviving the Evacuation series of zombie books by Frank Tayell. I'm not generally a fan of zombie stories, but the first one, London, was so good I decided to try this one and see how far I end up going. The writing is well above average and keeps my interest so that the subject matter becomes background to a well-told story.


The characterisation of the main character, Bill, holds up well and a lot of new personalities enter the story. They are distinct and believable, as are the details of the plot, as long as you can believe in zombies. The writing is, overall, excellent.


The only thing I would complain about in this one is the ending. Like too many series, it was more like the end of a chapter than the end of the book. I prefer series where each one comes to a definite conclusion. As it happens I do have the next book so I will continue, perhaps next year. After that we'll see. As I said, zombies are not my favourite subject. I would certainly read something else by this author.


Read for Dead Lands

Also suitable for:

Genre: Horror




The first book would also be suitable for Darkest London


Mistletoe - Alison Littlewood

by Alison Littlewood


This starts out pretty depressing. Leah has bought a house her husband wanted, but the husband and children are dead. The first chapter doesn't reveal how that happened, but focuses on Leah and her internal processing of her grief.


The writing in this one is poetic, just beautiful. The early plot progression reminds me of Stephen King. Mysterious voices, snowballs thrown by invisible entities, mysterious visions, etc. A strange toy found in the barn adds a creepy factor.


Leah meets her closest neighbours, a divorced woman and her son, as well as a brother, and starts to feel like she can make new friends now who don't remind her of her previous life. Only other things do keep reminding her. A child's shape on the wall, the sound of a boy's laughter. Is it the ghost of her lost son or the spirit of a child who was killed on the property generations ago?


To make things more disturbing, Leah starts having visions when she touches objects that have some connection to the past. Not her past, but that of the house itself. About halfway through we learn what happened to her family and the mistletoe begins to feature strongly. The orchard is dying, but the mistletoe somehow keeps creeping into the house.


Lots of ghostly happenings in this one. The time slips are well done and there's an unexpected twist near the end.


My First Bingo!

This one actually sneaked up on me. Diagonal from upper left to lower right.


Yay me!


Bingo update 3 October 2019

Well, as of yesterday I have a row with all called squares! I've read 4 books and just have to finish my Terry Pratchett book to get my first Bingo!


The thing is, I was taking my time with that one reading 10-20 pages at a time. I'm getting close on several other rows. The right calls could give me Bingos much sooner if I finish the books I'm reading fastest. My books for Dead Lands and Shifters won't take long at all to finish.


I think I'll carry on as normal because my card is getting to a point where nearly any call of a square I have will fill a row. Except at the bottom. Things are pretty sparse there.


The Widow Of Pale Harbour

The Widow of Pale Harbour - Hester Fox

by Hester Fox


In a small coastal town, a widow is a recluse and the townspeople call her a witch, accuse her of murdering her husband, and tell the new minister to avoid her. The new minister is not really a minister, but in homage to his dead wife, took an opportunity to fill the shoes of the man who was supposed to be the new minister but died in transit. Of course after all the warnings, he goes straight up to visit the reclusive widow.


It doesn't take long before an attraction forms between him and the widow, portending the romantic nature of the tale ahead, but it is also a mystery with various parts of the widow's history coming out in drips and drabs and reports of her by her staff that conflict with what the townspeople have to say.


I have to admit that this story balances between Romance and Mystery genres. I'm not a big fan of Romance for exactly many of the elements included in the plot, especially the sudden reveals at the end that had no real foreshadowing and the absolute stupidity of some of the choices the main characters make.


From a Mystery point of view, it has some strong merits, especially in that guessing who the culprit is could keep a Mystery reader's mind busy, as the whole town hates the widow and it could literally be anyone. There's also a secondary mystery about what exactly happened to the widow's husband. The reader gets a lot of teasers about this before it is finally revealed.


There was a lot to like about this story, but it lacked subtlety in both the romance and mystery aspects. The detailed clues were too sparse and the blossoming romance feels rather contrived. The connections at the end reminded me of an American soap opera, where suddenly you learn things that had no build up of any kind.


Having said that, it was easy to be sympathetic with the characters and there was good pacing to the plot and some drama at the end which while fairly predictable, kept my interest.


This story is a Gothic Mystery, but the storm it starts with carries throughout so I've put it on the Dark and Stormy Night square. Also suitable for:


Terror in a Small Town

Romantic Suspense


Genre: Mystery

New Release

September 2019 wrap-up

Force of Chaos: The Coming of Age of the Antichrist - Lin Senchaid Earth - Anthology Stranger Things Have Happened - Thomas Gaffney The House by the Cemetery (Fiction Without Frontiers) - John Everson Brian Helsing Mission One: Just Try Not To Die - Gareth K. Pengelly Till Human Voices Wake Us (Till Human Voices Wake Us #1) - C.S.  Johnson Carnival of the Night - Nicholas Carey The Haunted Hardware Store (The David Morgan series Book 1) - Frank Roberts Deeplight - Frances Hardinge The Shapes of Midnight - Joseph Payne Brennan

Wow, 14 books this month. ALL for Bingo, Yay! Admittedly two were very short, but it's been a nice selection ranging from the silly to the really enjoyable.


Stand outs include three anthologies, Elements of Horror: Earth, The Shapes of Midnight and Stranger Things Have Happened, and also Force of Chaos, The House by the Cemetery and surprisingly, Brian Helsing: Just Try Not to Die.


Only two books were disappointments, which isn't a bad ratio.


Got a good start on my Bingo reads and I've only got one Netgalley book I haven't started yet. I'm very close to finishing another.


So, overall, a good month.


Reblogged from Hol:

Bingo update 27 September 2019

Yay! Today's call means I have 4 called squares in two rows and both of them have 3 books finished. The common square between them, which was today's call, is a book I'm really enjoying so I'm glad of the excuse to focus my primary reading on that one.


The uncalled and unread square on each of these rows has a book assigned to it that I'm been looking forward to. The one for Dead Lands is started, though just at 4%. The one for Cryptozoologist isn't started yet, but it's the one I chose for the most looking forward to question on the pre-party.


No Bingos imminent but I'm closer and the reading is good. That's what matters most! :)



Finished books:


Snow White & Rose Red by Lily Fang 2.5 stars (A Grimm Tale)

Stranger Things Have Happened by Thomas Gaffney 3.5 stars (Stranger Things)

The House by the Cemetery by John Everson 4 stars (Grave or Graveyard)

Brian Helsing Mission One: Try Not to Die by Gareth K. Pengelly 3.5 stars (Vampires)

Elements of Horror: Earth various authors 4.5 stars (Read by Candlelight)

Till Human Voices Wake Us by C.S. Johnson - 3 stars (Supernatural)

Carnival of the Night by Nicholas Carey - 3 stars (Creepy Carnivals)

The Haunted Hardware Store by Frank Roberts - 2.5 stars (Ghost Stories)

The Witching Hour by Sevannah Jezowski - 3.5 stars (Spellbound)

Force of Chaos by Lin Senchaid - 5 stars (Fear Street)

Deeplight by Francis Hardinge - 4.5 stars (Monsters)

The Shapes of Midnight by Joseph Payne Brennan - 4 stars (Free square)

The Bottle Imp by Robert Louis Stevenson - 4 stars (Relics and Curiosities)

1408 by Stephen King - 4.5 stars (Film at 11)

Second Transfiguration Spell

Reaper Man - Terry Pratchett

I wanted to read this book this year as I've read Mort twice but not the further series and I have a hardback with the first three. It took me a while to see the obvious. Picking a square when I don't know the plot wasn't working. Then I went down the list of all the squares and it jumped out at me!


So, I'm still nowhere near a Bingo. But I only have one square without a book assigned. I'm sure I can find something for Halloween in October. I've got Decimus Croom as a possibility regardless.


Snow White & Rose Red: The Curse of the Huntsman

Snow White and Rose Red: The Curse of the Huntsman - Lilly Fang

by Lily Fang


This is a slightly cringe-worthy story about Snow White and Rose Red as magicians sent to a rich kingdom to investigate the sleeping spell on Sleeping Beauty and find a cure.


To be fair, on the technical side, if I were an English teacher grading this on spelling, grammar, punctuation and sentence structure, I would have to give it an 'A'. My issue is with the characters and plot.


The character traits could have worked well in a YA story with original names. Rose Red is a skilled fighter and that appeals to a lot of YA readers. However, superimposed onto fairytale figures just doesn't work for me.


Similar with the plot, it might have worked without the fairytale connection, even with a nod to the sleeping spell on Aurora. For me, well, I wouldn't have finished it if I weren't reading it for a challenge.


It might work well for someone else. Those whose reading tastes run to Hunger Games and that sort of thing. It definitely wasn't for me.


Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

Reaper Man - Terry Pratchett

Who has read this and what categories might it fit in? I still have a couple of squares I haven't assigned a book to and two transformation spells. I'd like to read this for Bingo so wondering what categories it could fit.