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LoraM

Lora's Rants and Reviews

My own unapologetic opinions on books and writing.

Currently reading

The Rules of Magic
Alice Hoffman
Progress: 6%
Russian Hill
Ty Hutchinson
Progress: 24%
Shiver
Maggie Stiefvater
Progress: 54%
Don Quixote
Roberto González Echevarría, John Rutherford, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Progress: 45%
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, Rebecca Lacy, Douglas G. Clarke, Mike Boggia, Sylvia Stein, Gail Harkins, Glenda Reynolds, Lynette White, Randy Dutton, Joyce Shaughnessy, Amos Andrew Parker, Laura S
Progress: 68%

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld - Patricia A. McKillip

by Patricia McKillip

 

Old style medieval Fantasy with wizards and dragons, magical animals and a child who must be hidden.

 

The narrative reeks of fairy tale, yet doesn't come over as a children's story. Although it has the usual patriarchal society, the main character is a strong female.

 

I can see why Patricia McKillip is so well-known and highly regarded. How I've missed reading her before is a mystery to me! She weaves magic and drama together artfully so that the impossible feels perfectly believable and I found it easy to care about the characters, especially Tam.

 

She addresses hard choices and issues of human nature in a way that engages the reader in the lives of the main characters rather than preaching. Though her style is definitely for my fairytale-like Fantasy moods, I will definitely be reading more of her work. This was apparently one of her early ones, now re-issued.

 

There were some surprises and a lot of conflict near the end that I couldn't see a way out of, so kept me interested and gave me a resolution that I didn't see coming. Highly recommended for Fantasy fans.

Holiday Cookies

— feeling dribble
Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season - Elisabet der Nederlanden

by Elisabet der Nederlanden

 

The introductory chapter tells of the author's Swedish background which bodes well for great cookie recipes. Then before we get into the cookie recipes, we get some technique pointers to make them come out well and the icing recipe that works best for decorated cookies.

 

The cookie recipes start with classics. Gingerbread men, decorated shortbread, swirl cookies and a few less familiar.

 

We then get regaled with the author's ideas for a Cookies Exchange Party, which sounds great fun and a chance to make some fancy cookies like Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies, Almond Ricciarella Cookies, Espresso Thins or especially tasty selections like Malted Milk Chocolate Cookies.

 

The third chapter gives us some warm holiday spice or fruit and traditional holiday cookies from several countries. Eggnog Madeleines, Cinnamon-Sugar Palmiers and Swedish Pepparkakorare are included among the International treats.

 

Then, speaking of treats, Holiday Confections is our next chapter and includes ideas for fancy wrapping gifts of cookies or confections along with recipes for holiday themed treats like Peppermint Bark and Apple Cider Caramels, as well as less traditional treats like Chocolate-Hazelnut Fudge and Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch Squares.


Chapter 6 is all about decorating with cookies. The classic Gingerbread house and Christmas tree shaped sugar cookies with decorative icing are featured along with cookie tree ornaments and Candy Cane Cookies. If you really want to impress, the 3-D Christmas Trees made of stacked cookies and the Stained Glass Snowflakes would add something special to any holiday decorations.

 

There are resources for finding speciality equipment or ingredients in the back for the Americans, thought the rest of us will have to do our own sleuthing.

 

The color pictures throughout the book could entice any occasional baker to make the extra effort to do some extra baking this holiday season. The attention to detail in gift wrapping makes baking a present for the relative you never know what to buy for a definite attraction, as long as they aren't diabetic! Overall this is an excellent holiday baking book and probably the only one you'll ever need for cookies.

Yay! They picked me this month.

Bye bye June, Hello July!

Reblogged from BookLikes:

 

Six months checked and six still to go. Have a look at BookLikes bloggers June reads and let us know how are you doing in your 2017 reading challenge. Click the blogs' headings to visit the blog pages and follow the reviewers.

 

Scroll down to view more June reading relations from BookLikes book bloggers. 

Happy reading!

Five months checked. Seven still to go. Have a look at BookLikes bloggers May reads and let us know how are you doing in your 2017 reading challenge.

 

Click blog's headings to visit the blog pages and follow the reviewers. Scroll down to view more May reading relations from BookLikes book bloggers.

Happy reading!

Five months checked. Seven still to go. Have a look at BookLikes bloggers May reads and let us know how are you doing in your 2017 reading challenge.

 

Click blog's headings to visit the blog pages and follow the reviewers. Scroll down to view more May reading relations from BookLikes book bloggers.

Happy reading!

 

 

A Court of Mist and Fury - Sarah J. MaasThe Hate U Give - Angie ThomasHim - Elle Kennedy, Sarina Bowen Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) - Lauren Graham, Lauren Graham

9  books

31 total  

9  audio

2  ebooks 

1   library  book ... read more

 

 

A Morbid Taste for Bones - Ellis Peters The Circular Staircase - Mary Roberts Rinehart Nightshade for Warning - Bailey Cattrell Storm in a Teacup - Helen Czerski

12 books read in June.  Not my highest month, but respectable by any measure.

5,332 pages read for a total of 37,037 pages read so far this year.  At the halfway mark of the Reading Challenge I've read 144 books out of the 200 slated for the year.  My second half of the year is always a slower reading time, so I feel like I'm actually right on track.

Just the one 4.5 star read this month: Storm in a Teacup by Helen Czerski... read more

 

 One of Us Is Lying - Karen M. McManus If I Fix You - Abigail Johnson Dodge The Girl from Everywhere - Heidi Heilig Underwater - Marisa Reichardt

This year, June has been a month from hell...It started out with my birthday/Open House for my daughter, then a few days later her graduation ceremony, that all went okay...just very hectic.  Two days after my oldest daughter graduated high school, my youngest daughter and I went up the road a mile to Subway and came home and a car had driven into our house.  Like, seriously, drove through the front porch and the garage...then proceeded to go through the wall of the garage into the woods behind the house, where he hit a tree.  

Anyway, my reading hit a bit of slump (as in I found it hard to concentrate on reading and listening at all), with everything going on lately... read more

 

How to Stop Time - Matt Haig Ghost Box: Voices from Spirits, ETs, Shadow People & Other Astral Beings - Paulette Moon, Chris Moon The Show-Off Monkey and Other Taoist Tales - Mark W. McGinnis The Furthest Station - Ben Aaronovitch

I can't believe June is over already! Where does the time go? I must be getting old. Or working too much.

I finished 5 books this month. 4 of them from Netgalley, oops! I seem to have lost control again and have 6 more from them to keep me from my A-list reading, but 3 are cooking and craft books and they go fast... read more

 

June was an excellent month of great books, and my second 5.0 Star read this year!
With all the activity going on this month in real life, I hadn't been sure if I'd have much time to read.  Lots of excitement with relatives visiting and a wedding... life was pretty hectic.  And then, on top of that, I STILL haven't gotten back into my normal sleep schedule.  Everything is off, I'm waking up at weird times, sleeping at weird times... not getting enough sleep...
And it probably doesn't help that I've been reading mysteries before going to bed... read more

 

If you've missed June wrap ups by other BookLikes bloggers, have a look at the following posts, and feel invited to read and join :) If we haven't included your post link, let us know in the comment section below.

 

June Wrap-Up by Tannat ->

If you've missed May wrap ups by other BookLikes bloggers, have a look at the following posts, feel invited to read and join :) If we haven't included your post link, let us know in the comment section below.

 

 

BookLikes book bloggers' previous 2017 reading challenge posts:

Book Bloggers May Reading

Book Bloggers May Reading->

April in books ->

2017 March Reads ->

Look back at the February books->

January wrap-ups! ->

BookLikes book bloggers' previous 2017 reading challenge posts:

Embroidered Garden Flowers

Embroidered Garden Flowers: Botanical Motifs for Needle and Thread (Make Good: Crafts + Life) - Kazuko Aoki

by Kazuko Aoki

 

This is a lovely needlecraft book with advice on how to draw flowers with colored threads, in embroidery. It is loaded with full color pictures that show what can be accomplished with a few well-chosen stitches.

 

Hints are given about how to keep the shapes and colors in the artist's eye so that the image can be closely depicted in the stitches. About halfway through the book, instructions are given for how to embroider the beautiful flowers. Materials, stitches, everything you need is covered. Even the color numbers for DMC embroidery silks is included.

 

Detailed instructions are laid out for the specific flower designs in the pictures, but the reader is encouraged to use the same methods for embroidering flower designs from their own gardens or a field guide. There isn't a lot of text, but the little there is explains everything you need to know!

 

Overall an excellent tutorial on making these lovely designs.

Just had to reblog this one!
Reblogged from Obsession with words:
— feeling haha
"Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
--Mark Twain
"

The Xanth Novels, Books 38-40

The Xanth Novels: Books 38–40 - Piers Anthony

by Piers Anthony


I haven't read the previous Xanth Novels but had heard they were really good so thought I would dive in and see how it goes.

 

The first thing that struck me was that the writing seems directed at a very young audience, both in tone and word choices. Referring to a woman's genitals as her "whatever" was taking it a little far in my opinion.

 

The set up of the first story reminded me of many classic fairy tales. A woman makes a wish at a magic well and everything immediately goes spectacularly wrong. Check.

 

This of course leads to a question and off we go. Visit the mysterious local wizard, check.

 

This volume contains three separates stories; Board Stiff, Five Portraits and Isis Orb. Each story is self-contained, but I felt they were written to a younger audience and I felt as if I were reading children's fairytales. I think I would have enjoyed the stories more as a teenager. I would recommend them to someone who enjoys reading more YA, as the sense of humor is good but it just wasn't the sort of thing that could take me to deep pov.

Art on the Rocks

Art on the Rocks: More than 35 colorful & contemporary rock-painting projects, tips, and techniques to inspire your creativity! - Marisa Redondo, F. Sehnaz Bac, Margaret A Pericak-Vance

by F. Sehnaz Bac, Marisa Redondo, Margaret Vance

 

This is a colorful book showing what can be done with painting on rocks. The illustrations are beautiful and the designs reasonably simple so that anyone could probably create something of beauty with the tips given.

 

Like most craft books, it starts out with sections on tools and materials, how to prep rocks for painting and the best paints to use. The designs are offered in sections; Mandalas, Patterns, which includes hearts, feathers, dots, flowers and stars, Animals, and Nature, which includes various shapes like a leaf, raindrops and a butterfly wing.

 

It finishes off with a section about the artists.

 

Full color pictures illustrate the book throughout and step-by-step methods for achieving the designs make it easy. Techniques for color combination effects are made simple through example.

 

Graphs are included for design detail. The fox was my favorite, yet they made it so easy! This is a great, simple craft book good for children and adults who want to create something pretty with minimal drawing talent. Easy 5 stars.

June wrap-up

How to Stop Time - Matt Haig Ghost Box: Voices from Spirits, ETs, Shadow People & Other Astral Beings - Paulette Moon, Chris Moon The Show-Off Monkey and Other Taoist Tales - Mark W. McGinnis The Furthest Station - Ben Aaronovitch Broken Homes - Ben Aaronovitch

I can't believe June is over already! Where does the time go? I must be getting old. Or working too much.

 

I finished 5 books this month. 4 of them from Netgalley, oops! I seem to have lost control again and have 6 more from them to keep me from my A-list reading, but 3 are cooking and craft books and they go fast.

 

I've been downloading new samples like mad, but still got my collection down to 28. Yay! Soon I'll be making my way through that backlog of free books, though I think I'm going to make a point of having one of my A-list on the go despite the Netgalley selections. I've just finished a book so I'll pluck one from that list to start over the weekend. I have a BBQ to go to tomorrow so maybe start a new read on Sunday.

How to Stop Time

How to Stop Time - Matt Haig

by Matt Haig

 

This started out with a really pleasant tone, though there was a lot of 'telling'. Sometimes that can fit the story, putting background into context. It is not about time travel, as I presumed, but about a man who has a 'condition' that makes him very long lived, the opposite of the premature aging diseases we've all heard of.

 

Part of the story is about his quest to find his daughter who shares the condition, but he has much to learn from others of his kind. The story unfolds slowly in the first few chapters and blossoms into questions of the meaning of life and the importance of pleasures and especially of the power of music to move the soul.

 

I found myself captivated by the journey through time, seeing historic periods through Tom's eyes. He was a likeable character, though rather sad and world weary. The descriptions of what it was like to live through various times were believable and I enjoyed reading it very much.

 

A shock twist near the end didn't have quite the impact on me that I think was intended. I felt it was a little rushed and there was insufficient explanation of motivation. Apart from that, the story gave me a lot of enjoyment and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone with any interest in history at all.

Ghost Box

— feeling ghost
Ghost Box: Voices from Spirits, ETs, Shadow People & Other Astral Beings - Paulette Moon, Chris Moon

by Paulette Moon,Chris Moon

 

Non-fiction

 

This is the authors' relation of their experiments with a 'ghost box', literally a box that works like a radio transmitter to pick up the voices of ghosts. Spooky! But that's what attracted me to the book.

 

It requires a big leap of faith. Apparently much of the activity happens on a psychic level so you're basically taking the word of the author that anything was heard at all, although some recordings apparently produced voices. Putting belief aside, I found the book interesting. The incidents mentioned in relation to a few high profile historic deaths made for good reading, scepticism or not.

 

I did find the suggestion that the box picks up alien voices as well a stretch. It started ticking too many woowoo boxes at that point and I found it more difficult to suspend disbelief. I keep an open mind about spiritual activity, but this pushed it a little too far for me and I found myself reading with more scepticism after that part.

 

Despite this, some of the stories related towards the end appeared to be corroborated by real world evidence, if you take the author's word for it. I decided that belief is subjective and on the bottom line, I enjoyed reading the book. It was well written and provided some interesting food for thought. Would I try the spirit box if given a chance? Definitely. Like some of the other sceptical people who came into contact with the authors, I would ask questions that only the person I was contacting would know, but I would not hesitate to give it a go and see what happened.

 

The only thing missing was any information whatsoever about how it supposedly works. Maybe the authors will include that in their next book.

The Show-Off Monkey and Other Taoist Tales

The Show-Off Monkey and Other Taoist Tales - Mark W. McGinnis

by Mark W. McGinnis

 

This is a book of retold Chinese fables, based on the writings of the ancient philosopher Chang Tzu but written in modern language that any child could follow.

 

The tales are very short and each has a morale at the end to teach the reader something about the foibles of human nature.

 

The pictures are beautifully done and in full color in what looks like an oriental style. Overall the book is beautifully presented and would make a nice gift to a child, though adults would enjoy it too!

The Furthest Station

The Furthest Station - Ben Aaronovitch

by Ben Aaronovitch

 

This seventh book in the Rivers of London series is shorter than the others, just over 100 pages. I was pleased to be dealing with ghosts again as they have a lot of scope for interesting situations and glimpses of history.

 

I also enjoyed the return to dealing a little with river spirits, bringing it full circle. This one has an old fashioned Mystery element in that someone has been kidnapped and cryptic hints from ghosts are all Peter Grant and company have to go on to try to find the missing girl.

 

The book makes an enjoyable, short read and I feel returns to the vibe of the first book in a way that is satisfying to someone who has been reading through the whole series.

Broken Homes

— feeling doubt
Broken Homes - Ben Aaronovitch

by Ben Aaronovitch

 

This 4th book in the series started out differently in that there was no immediate connection to magic. As with most murder stories, a body is involved, but why Peter Grant would be involved isn't immediately apparent.

 

I don't know if it's the story itself or too many people yapping at me when I'm trying to read, but I never quite worked out the motivation of the Faceless Man, as he's called in this. It's also the first of this series that I felt ended without fully resolving. It wasn't quite a cliffhanger, but a significant and unexpected twist near the end left me feeling the story was unfinished.

 

The journey was enjoyable. As always, the characters were distinctive and some funny moments make it all good fun, but I'm marking this one down for leaving me feeling that it wasn't finished.

May wrap up

Whispers Under Ground - Ben Aaronovitch Moon Over Soho - Ben Aaronovitch American Gods: A Novel - Neil Gaiman

Three books finished this month. I'm obviously working too much and don't have enough reading time. How do some of you do it?

 

I've been working my way through the Rivers of London series because I have book 7 from Netgalley to read and review. I'm more than half through book 4 now. I do have book 5 on my Kindle, but unless someone tells me there are major spoilers I'm going to read book 7 next. I seem to have collected 3 Netgalley books again and am waiting to hear on one more... oops!

 

The samples collection has plummeted this month! I'm down to 32 despite new acquisitions! If I keep this up, I'll have it cleared by end of June and can start vetting those gazillion free books!

I resisted this one

Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: A Field Guide to the Most Dangerous People in America - John Nichols

On Netgalley now. I'm still waiting to hear back on Brexitland.

Kindle Unlimited for Horror and Suspense readers

http://www.brianrella.com/free-reads/

 

One of my newer favorite authors is participating in this. If you're a member of Kindle Unlimited and like Horror, Suspense and/or Dark Fantasy, some interesting choices here.