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Lora's Rants and Reviews


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Kevin Hearne, Lev Grossman, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Daniel Abraham, Shawn Speakman, Jennifer Bosworth, Mark Lawrence, Blake Charlton, Peter V. Brett, Geno Salvatore, Robert V.S. Redick, Michael J. Sullivan, Eldon Thompson, David Anthony Durham, Peter Oru
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Favorite Halloween Bingo Authors

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, Snoopy - Charles M. Schulz SLEEPY HOLLOW: Rise Headless and Ride (Jason Crane) - Richard Gleaves Faerie Tale: A Novel of Terror and Fantasy - Raymond E. Feist A Christmas Tale - Austin Crawley White Lies - Jeremy Bates The Elementals - Michael Rowe, Michael McDowell The Moonspinners - Mary Stewart The Magic Cottage - James Herbert High Moor - Graeme Reynolds Dead Sea - Tim Curran

This is kind of repetitive from favourite books of past Bingos but these are some of the authors I either discovered as a result of Halloween Bingo or watch for possible new books for the next Bingo.


No doubt I'll be discovering more new ones from trying to fill whatever squares I get. :D

Halloween Bingo Pre-Party: second group of prompts!

Reblogged from Themis-Athena's Garden of Books:

Since we are coming to the end of the first round of pre-party prompts, I thought I'd better get the second round up and ready!


Favorite Seasonal Covers

Dread Night (The Legacy Series) - Ryan Attard Hallowe'en Party - Agatha Christie Trick or Treat: A Peanuts Halloween - Charles M. Schulz Halloween Night - R.L. Stine Pumpkins in Paradise (Tj Jensen Paradise Lake Mystery Book 1) - Kathi Daley Autumnal Tints: A Classic Essay - Henry David Thoreau Festival of Lights - Andrew James Pritchard The Red Garden - Alice Hoffman Lord of the Wings - Donna Andrews The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Graphic Novel) - Bo Hampton, Tracey Hampton, Washington Irving

Today's prompt is about book covers so I'm making no attempt to choose books I've read, but have consulted various lists to find Autumn themed book covers that would make me look to see what a book is about. Pumpkins definitely feature!


Trees with Autumn colours get a few places as well, and maybe a spooky Halloween theme or two.


Actually I just ordered samples of two of these. I've read Charlie Brown of course.

The Ancient Magick of Trees

The Ancient magick of Trees - Gregory Michael Brewer

by Gregory Michael Brewer




This is a very informative book, presented in four parts. The first part covered lore about trees in different cultures. It seems well-researched, but I found the tone reminiscent of children's textbooks. Still the information was interesting.


The second part is the books greatest strength. A list of trees with attributes and detailed drawings to show leaves, bark and any other identifying characteristics of the tree. These entries would make identification very easy and I may well take it out on my walks to get to know my local trees better.


The third section details tree correspondences in various systems, followed by part four which suggests activities to work with trees magically. These were written in a tone more in keeping with other new age books and the actual content seemed well thought out and appropriate for the target audience with an interest in paganism and nature magic.


Overall a very worthwhile book on the topic.

Halloween Bingo Pre-Party: Favorite Series with Supernatural Elements

The Witching Hour - Anne Rice Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien The Crystal Cave - Mary Stewart Dance of the Goblins  - Jaq D. Hawkins

This one took a little thinking for me because I don't follow many series. When I do they tend to be Fantasy genre and the supernatural aspect is magic or shapeshifting. Horror tends to have more stand alones. So for what it's worth, these are the series that came to mind.

Halloween Bingo Reads from Years Past

SLEEPY HOLLOW: Rise Headless and Ride (Jason Crane) - Richard Gleaves Dracula and Other Stories by Bram Stoker. (Complete and Unabridged). Includes Dracula, the Jewel of Seven Stars, the Man (Aka: The Gates of Life), the - Bram Stoker Letters To The Damned - Austin Crawley Faerie Tale: A Novel of Terror and Fantasy - Raymond E. Feist Dead Sea - Tim Curran Cabal - Clive Barker End Times: Rise of the Undead - Shane Carrow White Lies - Jeremy Bates The Last Werewolf - Glen Duncan The Magic Cottage - James Herbert

Now I'm glad I kept shelves for Bingo these past 3 years because I can just look at them and mention the ones that really stood out for me.


I managed to slip some Fantasy books in 2016 but I'll stick with the Horror/Mystery/Suspense criteria.


Rise Headless and Ride was an interesting take on the Sleepy Hollow theme. The subsequent books got too complicated, but I really enjoyed the first one.


2016 was the year I finally read the original Dracula! It was sooooo atmospheric!


It was also the year I discovered a new favourite author, Austin Crawley. Still watching to see what he comes out with next.


2017 stand outs included Faerie Tale by Feist and Dead Sea, making Tim Curran another new author for me to watch! I read a few Classics that year and finally read the book that was the source material for one of my favourite movies, Cabal by Clive Barker.


2018 I found another zombie book that didn't suck, Yay! White Lies by Jeremy Bates was another stand out by an author I've enjoyed many books by now. Two books have really stayed with me from that year: The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan and The Magic Cottage by James Herbert. Those who have read it will know who Rumbo is and why I look at squirrels differently now.



Halloween Bingo Pre-Party Day 3: Favorite Ghostly Tales

The Haunted Hardware Store (The David Morgan series Book 1) - Frank Roberts A Christmas Tale - Austin Crawley A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings - Charles Dickens, Michael Slater Ghost Box: Voices from Spirits, ETs, Shadow People & Other Astral Beings - Paulette Moon, Chris Moon Trapped in Room 217 - Thomas Kingsley Troupe Ghost Story - Jeff Brackett SLEEPY HOLLOW: Rise Headless and Ride (Jason Crane) - Richard Gleaves Ghost Boy - Stafford Betty Angel Manor  - Chantal Noordeloos The Elementals - Michael Rowe, Michael McDowell

I LOVE a good ghost story! I also have an interest in real ghost legends and ghost hunters. Not the scream queen silly television ones but serious investigators.


Nice ghosts, tricksy ghosts, scary ghosts, evil ghosts... they're all good!


One of my favourite kinds of Horror.

Mystery or Horror?

Letters To The Damned - Austin Crawley The Catacombs - Jeremy Bates Frankenstein - Mary Shelley, Maurice Hindle Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Tales - Bram Stoker, Kate Hebblethwaite Dark Spirits: A Man Terrorized by the Supernatural - Stephen Lancaster Bats by Johnstone, William W. (1993) Mass Market Paperback - William W. Johnstone SLEEPY HOLLOW: Rise Headless and Ride (Jason Crane) - Richard Gleaves Leviathan - Tim Curran

Missed this yesterday so I'm catching up!


For me, it's Horror! I'm not a big Mystery reader. Why? Because I don't like murder. Give me a Mystery where there isn't a body and I'm more interested.


Horror I like most sub-categories except slashers or serial killers. Again, murder. Werewolves ripping people limb from limb, no problem. What I really love is occult or supernatural Horror.

Halloween Bingo Pre-Party: Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies or other?

Interview With The Vampire - Anne Rice High Moor - Graeme Reynolds Surviving The Evacuation, Book 1: London - Frank Tayell Dead Sea - Tim Curran The Cold - Rich Hawkins Surviving The Evacuation, Book 2: Wasteland - Frank Tayell Dinosaur Lake - Kathryn Meyer Griffith

If I had to choose from these, Monsters wins hands down.


I used to love vampire books, but then Twilight came along and vampire fiction turned into teenage wank fantasy. No thanks.


I love a good werewolf book. There are more bad werewolf books out there than good ones, but the good ones are ace!


I never liked zombies. However, I got the first Frank Tayell book on a freebie for Bingo a couple years ago and it was really well-written. I actually enjoyed it! It's always on perma-free for Kindle and at the moment the next two books in the series are also on free. Of course I grabbed them. If there's a zombie square on my card this year, I'll be reading Wasteland.


Monsters now... especially those that fit in cryptozoology, really fascinate me. Even as a child I liked movies with monsters made from bugs or animals. I love dinosaur stories. Despite not liking anything about murder or human monsters in the serial killer range, I'm fine with a giant creature ripping people into bits. How does that work?


Spiders, rats, Nessie, massive bats... bring them on!


Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames - Lara Maiklem

by Lara Maiklem




This was a rather interesting book about an activity I hadn't known about before, though it seems an obvious thing to do now. Mudlarking is searching through he shore of a river, in this case the Thames, at low tide to find valuables and artefacts the higher tide might have washed along. This can include some fascinating historical pieces from buttons to jewellery in the Thames.


I enjoyed reading about the different segments of the river and how the patterns of the tides differ from one to another, as well as the bits of London history that are revealed from the various finds. The personal connection the author expresses about the river really adds character to the narrative and makes me want to get a pair of wellies and go see what I can find myself! Though I'm not sure I would be up to the task in the end.


A fascinating narrative about a too little known activity. I just hope it doesn't result in inspiring so many mudlarking tourists that the lifelong hobbyists get crowded out!

July 2019 Wrap-Up

The Awakening Aten - Aiden K. Morrissey Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames - Lara Maiklem My Time Among the Whites - Jennine Capo Crucet An Act of Faith - Oliver Sacks Mustard Seed - Laila Ibrahim Yellow Crocus - Laila Ibrahim Tokyo Mindscapes - Misaki Matsui The Cold - Rich Hawkins

Wow, a new month already? Where does the time go!


8 books finished this month. 3 non-fiction.


Stand-outs are definitely Yellow Crocus and Mustard Seed by Laila Ibrahim, and The Cold by Rich Hawkins. Anyone else notice there are a gazillion authors named Hawkins?


I don't expect to finish many books in August. Halloween Bingo is coming, so the plan is to finish the ones I have in progress and avoid requesting anything non-Horror from Netgalley. I have two Netgalley books in hand at present. One of them is a Horror short story collection so I'm saving that one.


I'll fill in any more available reading time with slogging through my backlog of samples. Hopefully I can clear them! Then there's the general slush folder of free books, some of which I got just after my first Kindle so who knows if there's anything worth reading hiding in there.


If this year is like last year, we'll get a list of categories sometime in August and I can amuse myself choosing books to fit them. :D

The Awakening Aten

The Awakening Aten - Aiden K. Morrissey

by Aidan K. Morrissey


I usually don't read character lists at the beginning of a novel because in a totally fiction novel, they're meaningless until they actually do something and I regard it as lazy writing. This one was an exception because the vast majority of the characters are really people from history, even the cat!


By the time I got to Part One I already could see that the author had done his research, and that's a big part of what makes a historical fiction novel enjoyable to me. I especially love books set in Ancient Egypt and though I found this one a little slow moving, I enjoyed having that era brought to life for me from a different perspective than I've read before.


Part of me wants to give this an extra star for the historical research, but the dialogue is stiff and the story just doesn't flow well. Still, it's worth persevering.

My Time Among the Whites

My Time Among the Whites - Jennine Capo Crucet

by Jennine Capó Crucet


I found this one very autobiographical. Certainly it was meant to be an account of the author's experience as a Cuban-American, but my first impression was that it was very insular, as if she didn't really engage with the world outside of her own bubble.


As it went along, there were some insights of what it's like to be a non-white American, specifically Cuban. I found her experiences of Disney parks very interesting and her wedding planning made me want to slap her mother, while what she did in her later apartment when the sound of receptions of other people's weddings blasted through the walls was highly amusing.


While it follows the experiences of just one woman, through college, through marriage and through a holiday at a ranch in Nebraska where she was subjected to Fox news and racist comments from the owner who perceived her as white, it provides a window into how these experiences are seen by a Cuban American from Miami.


I also enjoyed reading about the Miami attitude towards hurricanes, which I found similar to that of Californians about earthquakes. An interesting fly-on-the-wall look into a world far removed from my own experiences.

An Act of Faith

An Act of Faith - Oliver Sacks

by C.A. Oliver


This is a High Fantasy with an interesting concept. The characters are mostly elves of the Tolkienesque sort and apart from perhaps too many 'exotic' names to keep straight, I found the characters mostly distinctive and likeable. After all, who doesn't like elves?


The writing, while technically fine, felt a little forced, like someone trying too hard to become the next Tolkien. There was a fair bit of 'telling' in the first chapter and to my horror, footnotes to explain elements of the world building. This really killed it for me.


The plot varied in pace, but was overall typical of a quest story. Fantasy fans will know what I mean. Apparently there are to be twelve books, which I think might be overly ambitious. Definitely targeted to a Fantasy audience with the patience to unfold the greater story arc.

In case there is anybody following me that doesn't already know about this!

In which I briefly interrupt Booklikes-opoly

Reblogged from Moonlight Murder:

To talk about the FOURTH ANNUAL GAME OF


Halloween Bingo



For any prospective new players:


Halloween Bingo is the flagship reading game on BL - it's the first one that OB & I cohosted, all the way back in 2016, so this will be the fourth time that we've played! 


I am working on this years categories, which will be selected from the last three bingo games, along with - assuming that my creativity doesn't fail me - a few new ones! Some things don't change, though, and the seasonal focus on horror, mystery, supernatural, thrillers and suspense remains from year to year.


Autumn is the time that we break into our store of gothic tales, our books about witches and wizards and werewolves and zombies, ghost stories and haunted houses and dark, stormy nights. 


As we move into Halloween bingo season, if years past are any indication, you will see a lot of activity as this year's categories are revealed, the cards are created, reading lists begin to pop up again, and players start posting about their reading plans.


The planned schedule:


8/1/19: As I announced yesterday, I will be drawing the prize winners from last years game of bingo.


8/10/19: The last day of Booklikes-opoly.


8/15/19: I will reveal all of the categories for this year's game as well as any tweaks or changes to the rules and will open the thread to request bingo cards in the bingo discussion group.


8/30/19: Early reading begins. All players can pre-read one book.


9/1/19: First call and play officially commences


10/31/19: Last call and game ends


This is my favorite part of the reading year. Join us if you've not played before and I promise you will have fun! I can hardly wait!

Mustard Seed

Mustard Seed - Laila Ibrahim

by Laila Ibrahim


This is a sequel to Yellow Crocus. The fact that I read it right away after the first book says something about how captivated I was by the story. Yellow Crocus took place before the American Civil War. This one takes place just after. People who were children or babies in the first book have grown up into young adults. Slaves have been freed, at least in law.


Between the two books, I've learned two things about this period of history that I didn't know before. Originally, slaves were to work a set amount of time and then 'earn' their freedom. That law was changed so the land owners could make better profits. Sounds like things are very much the same in government then as now!


The other thing is that the thirteenth amendment didn't make a lot of difference to many 'former' slaves lives. I knew that many had nowhere to go and continued to work for their former masters. I knew that attitudes don't change overnight. What I learned from this book was that former slaves could be charged with vagrancy if they couldn't prove they were employed and leased out to work on the plantations, as if nothing had changed.


There's no candy coating in either of the books. The horrors of having children taken away and being treated like abused animals is brought home in the stories of people's lives. The 'N' word is used where historically accurate. But the main characters include white people too, some who are a product of their entitled environment and then there's Lisbeth, who rejects that attitude, having been effectively brought up by her black nurse and recognising the wrongs in how slaves were treated.


Both of these books had me putting aside all my other reads to see what happened. The writing wasn't quite as good in this one as the first one, but it still held my interest more than most books. Very highly recommended.