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Books I stopped reading: An on-going list

This will be a set of reviews of books I have stopped reading because I stopped enjoying them.

My principle is to read either 40-50 pages or 25% minimum to give each author a chance to hook me into the story. The problem they have is – that as I read so many books each year – I am a picky reader. I will not waste much of my time reading books I am not enjoying when there is a veritable cornucopia of books out there to choose from which I may enjoy more.

Thus this blog will be updated as I stop reading any book and will become a list.

It starts with:

Hit and Run by Maxine O’Callaghan

I initially enjoyed this book but I then found that the story dragged once I was ¾ of the way through. So I stopped reading.

There was insufficient happening and too much re-iteration of the dire circumstances of the PI – we got it – it had been described in detail several times already..

I started by feeling sorry for the PI but ended up being irritated by her.

There was an interesting possibility of a story with the old man killed before he was ru over, but it was laboured. I rather liked the feisty shop-lifter though…

A NetGalley Review.


Dream Student by JJ DiBenrdetto

Bored by this book. I read 25% and gave up- as going nowhere fast – and thus obvious how they could make a series out of it – they really stretch the story-line out!

a book about two university students who meet up physically after they ;share’ a dream. The dream gives them an emotional connection – but after 25% of the book this is as far as they have got.

Just what the series could contain I cannot guess and definitely do not want to explore.


Carry Me Down by MJ Hyland

This was a book chosen for my f2f book club and is an Irish coming of age story.

I seem to be having a struggle at the moment with Irish writers. I have not really enjoyed any that have been chosen by the Book group. There is a dark atmosphere to most Irish stories that I come across recently with very slow action and under-currents that I find very disturbing. This book gets very disturbing as the discussion with the book club members showed. Just why did the boy sleep with his mother? And what did she do with him there? The grandmother was an interesting character too with her table manners and hiding important items – just why didn’t she trust the family to know when she won money. And then there was the father. Why wasn’t he working? why did he think he was clever enough to go to university now? And just what effort was he putting into preparing himself?

Irish family dynamics baffle me and thus I find these books very hard to understand and so stop. Yet I can read complicated law and crime and thrillers with no problems, so it isn’t the complications…

Suicide is for mortals

By Alyson Miers

I am afraid that this another book that will go on my ‘incompleted’ list.

I got to 22% but gave up. I just couldn’t get interested in the differences between predatory and non-predatory vampires and the mortals they are trying to protect. The story just didn’t seem to go anywhere after the author was ‘turned’. Just a lot of chat and wanting to go back to being mortal and so on…

What more can I realistically say except that it was very simple in style and storyline and I prefer things to be more complex and complicated – where I need to think and be challenged by the story.


 

 

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The Fairies are Faeries and Fae

I bought a set of ten Faery Realm novellas recently as something fairly light to read as the book club book was too depressing – but that’s another blog…

So here are some brief reviews of 10 books – some seriously as long as some novels and some just a few pages really with the idea for a longer story incorporated within the text if it could be extracted. Most of them come with 4 stars – and some are parts of series and some I have already bought and read the next book…

Book number 1 was by Rachel Morgan entitled The Faerie Guardian was about Creepy Hollow the place where guardians are trained to deal with nasties.

This is a YA with a kick-ass heroine – usually top of her training class in all areas including boxing and sword play, archery and martial arts who has serous ‘powers’. In this fairy story the fairies have very cool hair with streaks which match their eye colour, which is nice if your eyes are therefore blue, but not so good if your eyes are scarlet!

As with all teenagers there are some rebellious ones who like to flirt with danger and thus go to an ‘Underground’ club to dance and listen to the music. Not so bad you would think except that the Underground is where the seriously bad fairies live. And is definitely forbidden territory.

They have living plants above ground which for sure have a mind of their own. Especially Nigel the Vine.

Book 2: The Withering Palace by Alexia Purdy is about a ‘living’ palace and queendom (hardly a kingdom as never any kings only consorts) where the Queen is chosen by a duel with the previous Queen, usually her mother.  Another YA novel when it starts for sure but as the new Queen ages there is evidence that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The palace is also involved in this as it helps to choose who it considers to be the rightful queen and assists her in her duel and during her life.

Book 3: Dark Promise by Julia Crane and Talia Jager is the story of a changeling. This idea of fairies swapping human children for their own comes up and usually means something bad about the fairy child – they are evil or something. The human lives on without magic but in the stories about changelings we usually don’t hear much about them. In this story, as is traditional, the babies were swapped soon after birth. But we do find out what happened about the human child and we do find out that the fairy mother had a good reason. Though this doesn’t really endear her to her child overmuch and it takes a very long time for any sort of reconciliation to take place and then only because of some extreme circumstances.

Book 4: Feyland: 1st Adventure is by Anthea Sharp and is the prequel to the Feyland Trilogy – which I have read book 1 of already. Feyland is the computer based world that becomes reality when Jennet hacks in. A very dangerous world and of course a very precocious young heroine.

Not recommended reading if you have young gamers as I might just encourage them to find out just what they could hack into! They just might like this idea too much…

Book 5: Blood Faerie by India Drummond. I really liked this book – it is based in Scotland – which is a favoured location for other worldly beings and is a really good story that introduces a series. O confess to already having read book 2 and having bought Book 3 to savour later.

An elf who has been banished for her unusual grasp of magic teams up with a somewhat unusual Scottish policeman to solve crimes.

Druids and the isle of Skye also feature, as well as dark magic that uses blood – as if often the case – to strengthen it.

Book 6: Hood and Fae by Tara Maya is a refreshing re-telling of a favourite fairy story – with a ‘hood’ that is fashion conscious.

As I have said before a good funny kickass heroine really makes a book for me – if I need a bit of a lift and the really dark and psychologically challenging are just a bit too much to cope with…

Book 7: Dark Fae  by the prolific Terry Spears  is another YA book. With a number of questions that arise. Who is the mystery girl? And who were her parents? And were they Royal? And is this a ‘take’ on Cinderella? Kidnap or worse?

Fae politics are very complicated indeed.

Book 8: Ehriad  by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson is about a monster hunting bounty hunter – looking for creatures from the ‘otherworld’. Portals in various odd places permit movement from one world to another.

In this story The Morrigan is the Celtic goddess of War and Strive.

Book 9: Once: A gypsy story by Dana Michelle Burnett – not really my cup of tea this one with gypsies and I skipped over very fast. Fog and Grandmothers and superstitions’.

Book 10: Fae Horse is a very short story by Anthea Sharp  is about  the nasty Night Mare – the horse that gives us bad dreams and if you encounter her – don’t ride her!

 

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Is it yet the End of Time?

A Review of Blood Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff.

For NetGalley.

This is a continuation of the huntress story of Hunter’s Moon – and the Reaper of course – it ends the Reaper’s story, but does it end Cara’s?

According to this book / story a blood moon is blue – but all blood moons are red – hence the name… so what is a blue moon?

[http://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/blue-moon.html] In astronomy, Blue Moon is defined as either the third full moon of an astronomical season with four full moons or the second full moon in a calendar month… Blue moon is a term that is used to describe the third full moon of a season that has four full moons.

I guess there might be a possibility that a blood moon could also be a blue moon, but don’t hold me to it!

Just to confuse everyone who is not either an astronomer or a folklorist – or an apocalyptic eventer – in other words me – there is also, as well as the significant blue moon and red moon (blood moon- see below) a black moon!

 There is no single accepted definition of a Black Moon. The term has been commonly used to refer to any of the following phenomena associated with the New Moon:

  1. Second New Moon in a calendar month: These Black Moons occur relatively often – once every 2.5 years.
  2. Third New Moon in a season of four New Moons: In a calendar, a year is divided into three New Moons. When a season has four New Moons, the third New Moon is called a Black Moon.
  3. A calendar month without a New Moon: This can only happen in the month of February. When this occurs, Januaryand March will have two New Moons, instead of the usual one.
  4. A calendar month with no Full Moon: About every 19 years, the month of February does not have a Full Moon. Instead January and March have two Full Moons each. The next Black Moon by this definition will occur in February 2018.

Having got thoroughly confused by blue and black moons now this is what a blood moon is:

According to the astronomical site Earthsky.org it would appear that a blood moon is a religious term [see John Hagee, 2013].

The full moon often appears red during a lunar eclipse because the dispersed light from all sunrises and sunsets fall on its face at mid-eclipse.

In folk-lore – Earthsky say – all full moons have a name. The Hunter’s Moon for instance is the full moon following the harvest Moon – which is at the autumn equinox.

Just to confuse matters, the Hunter’s Moon is also sometimes called a Blood moon.

The Book of Joel in the Old Testament has a prophecy that the moon will turn to blood before the End of Times – and is indeed the signal to begin it. Thus the End of the Earthers have taken this prophecy literally and claim that the four Blood Moons of 2014/5 signify that we stand at the edge of the End of Time. However, these types of tetrads are not uncommon and therefore the prophecy and Apocalypse theory are basically bunkum – substitute any word you like here!

Blood-moons

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Cherry Pie Island aka Eel Pie Island

“The Grand Reopening of the Dandelion Cafe” by Jenny Oliver

The Cherry Pie Island as used in this book, is a fictional version of the rather well known Eel Pie Island in the River Thames at Twickenham.

Eel Pie Island was earlier called Twickenham Ait and, before that, The Parish Ait. An ait or eyot is a small island. It is especially used to refer to river islands found on the River Thames and its tributaries.

Eel Pie Island is to be found on the ordnance Survey map of 1876 but was known by Dickens when he wrote Nicholas Nickleby in 1838-9. In the 15th century it was known as Gose Eyte and the Parish Ayte in the 17th century. This refers to the fact that it was either a nesting island for geese or was being used for geese being fattened for the  table perhaps. It was a popular island for picnics in the 19th century and was famous for eel pies! Yes, real eels… caught in the Thames and cooked in sauce and then placed in a pie. The traditional recipe was developed by Mrs Beeton and a version is given here.

Based on the original Mrs Beeton’s 1861 Recipe for an Eel Pie.

Ingredients: 450g eels 2 tbsp parsley, chopped 1 shallot, finely chopped freshly-grated nutmeg, to taste salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste juice of 1/2 lemon 100g fish forcemeat 150ml béchamel sauce 200g puff pastry

Begin by preparing the eels. To skin and gut, hold it down by the head on a solid work surface with a towel (an eel is very slippery). With a sharp knife, make an incision around the neck, just below the head. The thick filmy skin will separate. Grip the skin with a pair of pliers, and pull it down the length of the eel to the tail and cut it off. Make a slit down the length of the stomach and pull out the innards. Rinse the eel well under cold running water.

Cut the eels into pieces 5cm long then line the base of your pie dish with the forcemeat. Arrange the eels on top then scatter over the parsley and shallot. Season with the nutmeg, salt and black pepper then sprinkle over the lemon juice.
Cover with the puff pastry then transfer to an oven pre-heated to 180°C and bake for 1 hour. Heat the béchamel sauce in a pan, make a hole in the top of the pie then pour in the sauce and serve.

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-mrs-beeton-eel-pie
Copyright © celtnet

Now eels are still eaten and in my Doyle’s Fish CookBook recipes for them start with a little verse:

Strange the formation of the eely race

That know no sex, yet love the close embrace

Their folded lengths they round each other twine

Twist amorous knots and slimy bodies join.

Apparently this verse comes from another fish cookbook by Theo Roughley.

Doyle gives us  4 recipes for eel but none are a pie.

An eel is any fish belonging to the order Anguilliformes and is a predator.and includes conger and morays as well as the rather less fearsome variety that swims in the Thames – and although they are far from common now they were very common in the Victorian era hence the pies. mating eel

Coming back to the island it was not until 1957 that a bridge was completed. Today, the island has about 50 houses with 120 inhabitants, a couple of boatyards and some small businesses and artists’ studios. It has nature reserves at either end. So as you can see – from both this description and the photos  – that it makes a perfect Cherry Pie Island. It also has a famous recording studio named after it by Pete Townsend and is known for its bands and music too.

eelpie 1 eel pie veiw

The first picture shows the island in the large bend in the Thames and the small amount of habitation and the 2 areas of nature reserve on either end. The bridge to Twickenham can also be seen.

The second photo shows some of the habitations on the island – many of which are owned by artists – note that the whole island is actually private land.

 

 

 

See also the descriptions of the island in: https://littlelondonobservationist.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/exploring-eel-pie-island

So having identified the island we can now move onto the book.

It was a short but cosy read. Opening cafes is a genre that is as popular as opening books shops.  Is this because hidden in so many women is the secret desire to run a cafe and in avid  book readers to run a book shop? I know I wouldn’t mind either… and in fact only last night a friend said I should run a community book shop as I had so many ideas for how to do so..

Taking a run-down cafe /shop and filling it with antiques/upcycled/recycled/vintage  items is very popular too. My brother-in-law’s favourite cafe runs on donated vintage (not necessarily matching) cups and saucers.  And lots of cafes look like they’ve rummaged through a second-hand store for their tables and chairs. So very of the moment in how the cafe was fitted out even though it was done as a cost cutting exercise in the book.

Naming the poor boy ‘River’ was a shame – River Phoenix comes to mind and is so trendy of the pop star/film star variety – where children have names which seem cute when they are little  but are an embarrassment when they grow up.

Looking up the book I find that this is just the first of a series and it does have that feel – that there are plenty more stories of the inhabitants yet to come – which I might just read in due course.

So overall, it was an enjoyable if light reading experience and I give it 3 stars.

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Hunting Down the Moon

A Review of Huntress Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

A Netgalley book

I found this quite a sinister book.

I also thought it an interesting device to write the story over one week.

I do know about the BAU from many years of watching Criminal Minds on TV and the 2 types of female serial killers: the Black Widow and the Angel of Death, but there are more types it seems.

This female serial killer does have one signature though – when she kills with a razor – which is her preferred method – she first slashes the right of the neck and then the left. Forensic pathology can determine this. Assuming that they manage to put together all her kills and identify them as hers. – so they should look for the method of killing rather than the black sleeveless  turtle neck.angel of death

Checking out female serial killers on the Internet, I found that they tended to kill for 3 major reasons: money, revenge and / or insanity. That said Buzzle.com listed 8 reasons why females kill in order of occurrence.

  1. Angel of Death;
  2. Black Widow;
  3. Sexual Predator;
  4. Avenger;
  5. Partner in Crime;
  6. Profit motive or Crime;
  7. Insane possibility;
  8. Unknown – as unexpected or random.

I give this book 4 stars and have started reading the next book in the series.

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