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Lora's Rants and Reviews

My general opinions on books & occasionally other stuff.

Currently reading

She has a Broken Thing where her Heart should be
J.D. Barker
The Last Refuge of the Knights Templar
William F. Mann
We Germans
Alexander Starritt
The Art of Lucid Dreaming
Johnson Maureen, Res-Brennan Sarah Clare Cassandra
Progress: 26%
Wild Irish Heart (The Mystic Cove Series Book 1)
Tricia O'Malley
Progress: 16%
When the Changewinds Blow
Jack L. Chalker
Progress: 56%
Children of Stone: Voices in Crystal
Mary R. Woldering
Progress: 2%
The Pillars of the Earth
Ken Follett
Progress: 8%
All the Weyrs of Pern
Anne McCaffrey
Progress: 61/478pages
P.J. Blakey-Novis
Progress: 119/206pages

Leaders of the Pack

Leaders of the Pack - Graeme Reynolds, Graeme Reynolds

An entire anthology of werewolf stories from mostly known werewolf authors, what's not to love?


I've read several of the authors included before, most notably Graeme Reynolds and Jeff Strand. Their stories, Blood Relations and Ivan's Night Out respectively, had a connection to the novels I've read; The High Moor series by Graeme Reynolds which holds first place for great werewolf fiction IMO, and Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand which was a fun read, gore and all.


Other highly notable stories included are The Dead Brother Situation by Glenn Rolfe, The Great Storm by TW Piperbrook, The Original by David Watkins and Hunter's Moon by David Wellington which was a slow burner but with a payoff at the end.


Hybrid: Bloodlines by Nick Stead and Lifeline by Paul Kane were also very worthy. There was only one story written in the dreaded present tense and apart from a couple of them bordering on erotica more than I want to read, it's a great collection.


Highly recommended for anyone who likes werewolf stories.

Night's Gift

Night's Gift - Camilla Ochlan, Carol E. Leever

by Camilla Ochlan, Carol E. Leever


I think this one is best suited for Middle Grade quest fantasy readers. Omen, a young prince with psionic powers he struggles to control, goes out where he isn't supposed to be without his guards, resulting in his bracelet that helps him keep control getting pick-pocketed. His attempts to retrieve it lead to finding an unlikely friend, a night dweller prince from another kingdom with magical powers and fighting skills of his own.


One thing leads to another and the young princes get in over their heads and end up in battle games. The world building in this is very imaginative and varied. There are well-written battle scenes and a plethora of different species of characters. Tormy, who comes in late in the story, has an irritating speech pattern, yet he's endearing all the same. Like many of the older quest fantasy books, there is a lack of female characters.


It was a fun read and would appeal to readers of Ender's Game and similar stories directed at young, male readers. No squicky romances here. It was a fun adventure, if a bit 'young' for me. Book 1 of the Of Cats and Dragons series. I probably won't continue the series but wouldn't hesitate to give it to a nephew in the 10-13 age range.

The Healing Powers of Essential Oils

The Healing Powers of Essential Oils: A Complete Guide to Nature's Most Magical Medicine - Cal Orey

by Cal Orey


It's encouraging that the Foreword of the book was written by someone with a Ph.D in Biological Science. I could warm up to this idea of essential oils having healing properties.


I just finished reading a book on essential oils that warns against ingesting them, so I was a little surprised to see an emphasis on ingestion and using them in recipes! The tone of the author's writing struck me as a little new age and trying too hard to convince, but the information was good. As much as I love the scent of Lavender, I have no interest in eating it, considering I don't even like Parma Violets, but I found the information on olfactory sense and how it affects the mind and body of interest.


The second chapter is about the history of essential oils, or at least starts out that way. It gives more of a time line than a comprehensive history and delves into usage and cautions by the end. The book as a whole is a little scattered and non-linear in relation to most non-fiction books and often goes into the autobiographical before getting to more general information.


The weight loss chapter had an interesting concept about scents diverting us from eating fattening foods which bears some personal research. I did wish the author would quit going on about the Mediterranean diet and giving us health food recipes, as I didn't choose this book for food or lifestyle advice, just to learn more about essential oils. The idea of using cinnamon or ginger oils in a recipe where you could use the actual spice didn't sit well.


There was a long medical uses segment which I will refer back to and try as needed. It's mostly for things like colds and skin ailments, what you would expect to treat with this medium. This flowed neatly into Aromatherapy and Spa treatments, followed by a chapter on scenting cosmetics with some recipes that bear testing.


Next is a chapter called 27 Essential Oils for a Healthy Household, but there is no list of these 27 oils. There is, however, some very interesting ideas for scented household cleaning products made with things like baking soda rather than harsh chemicals.


The book goes over trends, making scented candles, and to my alarm, a chapter on using oils on babies and cats which were strictly warned against in other books on the subject and this makes me very uncomfortable.


Then it wraps up with food recipes that I won't be trying. As I said, I'd rather use the spices than a concentrated oil. Resources for obtaining oils are provided, but all American.


Overall the book had some very interesting information, but it wasn't organised as well as it could be and the safety of using oils in food, on babies and on cats is something I feel is just wrong here.



Reblogged from Hol:

Top 10 Reads of 2019

Terror on the Tundra - J. Esker Miller Force of Chaos: The Coming of Age of the Antichrist - Lin Senchaid Yellow Crocus - Laila Ibrahim Little Darlings - Melanie Golding Remember the Future (The Chronicles of the Harekaiian #9) - Shanna Lauffey One Summer in Paris - Sarah Morgan The Binding - Bridget Collins To Kill the President: The Most Explosive Thriller of the Year - Sam Bourne Empire of Sand - Tasha Suri

Have to manually add this one because despite having a book page, the search won't find it on title, author, or even ASIN. It's on my shelf!



Anyway, since I've seen several people post their top 10 reads of the year, I thought I would add mine. I've left out anthologies and non-fiction because I think they need to be separate categories, so just novels and novellas for this post.


So there we are, Fantasy, Horror, Time Travel, a little Historical Fiction and some Adventure. These are the 4.5-5 star books mostly.


I've discovered a few new authors, been disappointed by one I usually like, and am chewing my knuckles waiting for the final book in th time travel series that's really had me on the edge of my seat in the last episode.


Not a bad year. This year I'm going to try to resist Netgalley temptation and read a lot of the books I already have. We'll see if that holds up.


December Wrap-Up 2019

Hogfather - Terry Pratchett Essential Oils For Beginners - Kac Young Relativity Reborn - Amrit Srecko A Wizard of Earthsea  - Ursula K. Le Guin

Just 4 books finished in December. Surprised it was that many considering how much time all the holiday fuss kept demanding. I even baked cookies!


Of these, the one I found most interesting was actually the non-fiction about essential oils. Especially in comparison to another book on the same subject I'm reading now, it was really good and well-organised!


I did get through a few samples. They're easy to read when you're surrounded by family who actually want to talk to you.


Hopefully I'll get more reading time this month!

Reading progress update: I've read 3%.

The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett

This one has a massive page count! It's going to take a while.


Hogfather - Terry Pratchett

by Terry Pratchett


This was a weird concept, even for Pratchett. The Hogfather has ceased to be and Death thought he would just fill in for him, with the expected series of misunderstandings of human antics.


The daughter of his adopted daughter, Susan, gets caught up in things, much to her chagrin. She tries so hard not to see things other humans can't and to forget about he childhood as Death's granddaughter. She works as a governess and kills monsters for the children, of course.


There are a lot of metaphysical antics in Pratchett style, with assassins attempting to kill the Hogfather despite the fact that he's an immortal and Death himself coming under threat. There's also a trigger when a character casually mentions drowning a kitten.


I've enjoyed Pratchett's later books a bit less than some of his classics like the Guards and Witches series. Death is actually one of my favourite characters, but towards the end of this story it got a little too convoluted and 'out there' for my taste. Of course then Death comes out with some amazing philosophical statements about humans that are worthy of great literature, just to confuse the issue.


I'm glad I read the story but this is a read once for me. It also loses a star for the kitten.

And wine, don't forget the glass of wine. Maybe some nice chocolates.


Reblogged from Hol:

Reading progress update: I've read 264 out of 285 pages.

Hogfather - Terry Pratchett

Even Pratchett can't casually drown a kitten and not lose at least one star for it. >:(

Reading progress update: I've read 149 out of 285 pages.

Hogfather - Terry Pratchett

Sometimes I think I'm getting jaded on Pratchett, but he can still make me laugh.


Essential Oils For Beginners

Essential Oils For Beginners - Kac Young

by Kac Young, Ph.D


I liked the fact that cautions are in the introduction to this book about allergy testing and about not putting oils on children and pets, but I would have taken it a step further and pointed out that pets lick foreign substances off their fur and some things perfectly okay for humans can be lethal for pets.


The first chapter gives a history of essential oils going back to Ancient Egypt and is followed by a chapter about what essential oils are and the various methods of extraction. There's a lot of repetition about how good they are for health, balanced against the usual legal warnings, but there is also good information.


The third chapter really impressed me. Rather than vague safety warnings, it went into detail about how oils affect the body and which can be potentially dangerous, exactly what can happen if you don't dilute properly and ratios of essential oils to carrier oils for safety in different age groups. I haven't seen this kind of information in previous books I've read on the subject.


Next we learn about carrier oils in more detail than I've ever seen. This is followed by segments about each of 20 popular essential oils, covering their scent, their uses, what they mix well with and any special cautions. This is where this book excels, giving the reader a real feeling for the oils and carriers that could only be improved by waving a bottle of the stuff under your nose. It has given me the confidence to try some experiments and see how close I can come to duplicating some very special oil mixtures that I can no longer find for sale.


The author did get a little airy-fairy when talking about Melissa Oil, but a lot of good information is included in these segments and she seems very knowledgeable.


I was especially interested in the chapter on how to actually blend oils! She goes over details of the technical side as well as information on top notes, middle notes and base notes. She also explains how to use the scents in perfume, cologne, hand sanitiser, roll on or inhaler, as well as various forms of diffusers and room sprays. Using it in jewellery to diffuse was an interesting approach. Adding to cosmetics, like moisturisers is also included.


She then gives recipes for some of her own blends, while encouraging the reader to experiment and explaining how to do it safely. The medical uses give me mixed feelings. She makes a good point that anything you rub onto the skin is absorbed into the body and can even affect internal organs. I can definitely see how certain scents can help clear congestion. Some of the more internal healing claims hit my scepticism, but I'd try some of them. The important thing is that full instructions, including cautions, are in the book.


The psychological uses I find easy to accept as scent has such a mood shifting influence. I'd like to see if it actually does help depression and other major conditions, but certainly relieving stress and tension makes perfect sense. The book finishes off with a chapter on ritual where the woo comes out, followed by a glossary of terms.


Regardless of the reader's beliefs, from a purely scent oriented interest in the subject I've never seen a better instructional book on making essential oils. The descriptions of the different oils make me feel as if I'm familiar enough with them at least enough to know which I want to buy and the details about amounts of carrier oils and which to choose are unequalled in anything I've seen before. This may be one I need to buy in paperback to keep on my shelf for frequent reference.

Relativity Reborn

Relativity Reborn - Amrit Srecko

by Amrit Sorli Srecko




I knew this book might be over my head before I started, but I was interested in the subject so thought I'd give it a try and see how much I could follow. Having a general familiarity with Einstein's theories helped.


There's always a certain resistance to deviations from long established scientific theories, not just in the science community but also among laymen who have become used to an idea and then see an extrapolation that adds or changes something. The natural first reaction is to presume the author is being pretentious, but we're talking about someone with Physics knowledge far beyond my own and after that initial balking, the mind opens to the possibility that he might just see something through an educated researcher's eyes that has been missed by others.


Some of the statements the author makes come over as perfect sense, others a little harder to shift the mindset to believe. The writing gives the impression that English is not the author's first language, but it is easy enough to follow.


I've come out of this one with mixed feelings. I don't have the educational background to judge his theories and would love to see what someone like Brian Cox would have to say about it.

In case anybody hasn't seen this. Just quietly delete their posts from groups or threads, don't give them any attention whatsoever.

Some thoughts on dealing with Spam

Reblogged from Peregrinations:

(Updated 12/4/19 with additional thoughts shared in the comments)


I've been thinking about this.


Spam is the bane of our existence. We all hate it. We all want it to go away.


Spammers love our attention, whether it be positive or negative. The more we respond to spammers, the happier they are and the more they want to keep posting here.


In light of the fact that for all intents and purposes this community is entirely without moderators who can deal with spam and delete spam accounts, here is what we should do with spammers: We should make this place as uninviting as possible for spammers, a place where they are entirely ignored.



1. DO NOT respond to them. Do not add a comment to any discussion.Do not comment on any post. Do not engage. Period. (Yes, I know this is hard but don't do it! Not even to warn others that we have a new spammer; we are smart enough to figure it out for ourselves.) 
2. DO NOT block them unless they are following you, because to block them you have to follow them first and following is engaging. 
3. Check your follower page regularly and block spammers. 
4. The only reason to visit a spammy looking discussion is to change the notification setting to "no notifications" -- and then only when you receive a notification. Out of sight, out of mind. 
5. DO NOT keep returning to spam discussions. Do not add to the visitor count. Do not feed the spammer ego. Make this place as unfriendly as possible.
6. Report spammers here. It is not an official list but it can't hurt.  Do it without opening the blog you want to report; copy the link/URL that takes you to the blog. (Thanks to Themis-Athena for this addition to the list).
7.  The administrator of any discussion group can delete spam discussions & block spammers from the group. If you recognize the administrator of a group or discussion as a legit member (such as the admins of BL Bookish Bingo Club), use PM (private message) to report the spam to the administrators. Include the URL for the discussion and the post# for the spam. DO NOT respond to the spammers or plus/minus them; just report them. (Thanks to Moonlight for this addition to the list).


The more of us who follow the non-engagement plan, the less inviting we will become.


If you think this plan will work, please feel free to pass it along. The more times this is re-blogged, the more active members will see it --and maybe even a few spammers.




Reblogged from Hol:

A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea  - Ursula K. Le Guin

by Ursula K. Leguin


The first of the classic Earthsea series by Ursula LeGuin. I probably should have read it long ago.


It's a magical Fantasy about wizards and how they are trained in a land called Gont. Ged, the main character, distinguishes himself at a young age and comes to the attention of a mysterious wizard who starts his proper training.


Ged is a flawed character with too much pride and probably not enough maturity to keep up with his abilities, but he does develop after making some epic mistakes.


The pace of the story is generally relaxed and more poetic than exciting. I can see why it stood out in its time, though I'm undecided whether I want to continue the series or not. The action goes through what could have been high adventure, but isn't gripping. There is more of insight than of engagement.


I felt the end was rather predictable and flat. Not the most engaging story I've read in the genre but I'm glad I've read at least the first book of the series now so I know.