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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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Some thoughts on how to read:

These are really just my comments – you may like what I have written or you may not.. but they are ideas that have helped me when i was ‘blocked’ on what to read next.

  1.  Start by looking at some recommendation sites and work out which ones are closest to your interest. Some good ones are: For Books Sake which specialises in women authors; opening the book.com/which book; bookreporter.com send a regular email with reviews and details from author events such as talks they go to. US oriented but…
  2. Join GoodReads and then look further at any sites they recommend. In GoodReads you will find a large number of sub-groups which are chatty or specialise in particular genre. You can find friends to discuss books with and also lots of book reviews. Some groups pair you up with a buddy to read a set book with over a month or two and then you can swap ideas.
  3. If you are confident you can read fairly fast and can write a review of each book you read – then join NetGalley as a reviewer. You will be given free books – as document downloads – some of which as proof copies and thus will have spelling/grammar or formatting mistakes. Ignore all of these and concentrate on the story, style and general quality of the writing in the book. They have some information about how to review a book well also. If you can manage to write good reviews – not necessarily praising the book, but explaining and justifying your comments, and are prepared to post onto Amazon and GoodReads, then you may be auto authorised by some publishers, which means you will always obtain their books.  Note: you will not always be given the book you ask for. Check out what the publisher says they want from a reviewer and see how your bio agrees with it.
  4. Build a reputation as a reviewer, if you want to read free books. Start a WordPress blog that has lots of book reviews on it. Look at other WordPress sites for book reviews and how they do it and what they are reading. You  will find lots of people writing about books on WordPress and Tumblr so ensure you look through them as you will find lots of ideas for books for you to read also.
  5. Try and have a mix of genres when you are reading and try and read some non-fiction as well as fiction (or vice versa of course). Stretch yourself into genres you wouldn’t have first thought of – keep that mind active! You may surprise yourself.
  6. Don’t force yourself to finish every book you start. Read around 40-50 pages or 1/3 of the book. If you still don’t like it. Put it aside – delete it from your electronic book store but try and think why you didn’t like it – you can build up a review of pet hates in books that way!
  7. Join a book club. Physical or Virtual – or more than one. You may hate what people have chosen, but you will be forced to try new things.
  8. Look at the Bibliotherapist at the School of Life where you can get recommendations for reading for ‘what ails you’.
  9. Follow authors. Read their blogs and comments.
  10. Finally. Ensure that you are warm, comfortable, and have your favourite tea/ coffee and biscuits/cake near at hand. Get your cat to sit on your lap and start…

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Fearing evil? Ghosts , Ghoulies and Debbie Johnson

I love my crime fiction, especially lady sleuths like Kinsey Millhone and VI Warshawski, as well as more comedic heroines like Stephanie Plum. But I am a child of the Hammer era, and also grew up fascinated by horror, by ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night. I’d never found a book that combined all of them – humour, investigation and goosebumps – so I decided the best thing to do was write one! I have a girl crush on my lead, Jayne McCartney, and love her humour, and toughness, and intelligence – I wanted to write a heroine who I’d like to go to the pub with! I also really wanted to create something set in Liverpool, where I live, that reflected both its glories and its problems.

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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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