Voodoo or Vodou or is it Vodu?

The Offering

by Desiree Bombenon

Voodoo or Vodou or is it Vodu? A syncretic religion which combines various thought and belief systems with different schools of thought on practice. It has spirits and gods and blood sacrifices – maybe or maybe not.big_bad_voodoo_by_exphrasis-d489rid

This novel is set on the Big island of Hawaii with a veritable TV cast of Hawaii-Mapcharacters – a naive and vulnerable teenager; a family split with a new boyfriend who was the father’s cop partner; a ‘mad’ villain looking to cleanse himself through a religious sacrifice; some billionaires who double as private investigators; and a gut instinct – which helps find the real path to the villain.

It has it all. And would make a great TV series if you could believe in the storyline.

To me, there was just too much and very reminiscent of the TV series with Jennifer and Jonathan Hart. [See more at: http://coffeetimeromance.com/CoffeeThoughts/13-private-detective-couples-in-books-and-film/#sthash.XqKdNetB.dpuf] or Macmillan and Wife.

A NetGalley Review

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Screaming Out from a Fire

The Summer of Fire

by

Kitty Pilgrim

A Netgalley review

In March of 2015 – this year – it seemed that Iceland’s largest volcanic eruption for 200 years ended.

It was the Bardarbunga volcano that was causing a lava field to form in Holuhraun. The eruption had lasted 6 months. This lava field was 8 times bigger than the 2010 Eyjafjallajökul eruption that is showcased in this book but still very much smaller than the 1783 Laki eruption which was the one that caused mass famine and death.

Volcanic eruptions cause our skies to change colour and it was noted by Turner and other great artists as they painted in the 1780s.  Eruptions made the sky redder [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2588838/How-19th-century-art-painting-picture-Earths-polluted-past-Turners-sunsets-reveal-volcanic-ash-gas-sky.html] and it is claimed that Turner’s  famous picture of The Lake was a good example of this. The 1815 Indonesian volcanic eruption demonstrated how this could happen as the particles scatter sunlight and the effect can be seen in Europe for some 3 years afterwards.

Also, the famous painting The Scream by Munch was meant to depict a volcanic eruption. – it was originally called The Scream of Nature. This was painted after the Krakatoa eruption of 1883. painting eruption hawaii erupts

This book not only has volcanology but also archaeology and oceanography within it for the scientist to explore further.

We learn some science along the way including that in psychopaths, the amygdala area of the brain is markedly less active than normal people and that the frontal cortex where the receptors for emotions such as empathy and remorse are contained are impaired.

 

Included in the characters that take part in the story are an Italian Gang boss aka Mafiosa; naive young boys; brave photographers; royalty; billionaires; and English country gentry. Was there any stock character that the author left out?

And just when you think that nothing more can happen because all the baddies have been killed off – they turn up again and something new and nasty happens!

I wish that I liked it more, but it all seemed a little too contrived and a little too full of the stock characters of crime novels. We didn’t explore the characters sufficiently as there were just too many of them…

 

3/3.5 stars.

 

 

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Must You Go?

by

Antonia Fraser

A diary and reflections on a privileged life with an exceptional man for a husband and luvvies for friends – not to mention six children!

So this is Antonia Fraser writing about her own life for a change rather someone else’s and using her diaries as the mainstay of the book. And this to me is where the book fell down. When Antonia Fraser writes her historical memoirs she researches them in great depth – too much depth for me in some of them – but here she relies on her notes and scribbles to tell the story. For me, it doesn’t. Perhaps because the initial sets of content seemed mainly to consist of who they went to dinner with – which doesn’t interest me as I am not one of those celebrity followers. And for me, seems to be a form of bragging even if it was her life at the time. antonia

However, I did find out some good things, which I hadn’t known before:

  • Harold Pinter (her husband), acted, directed, and wrote screen plays as well as poetry and theatre plays;
  • Harold was extremely left-wing and championed those who were fighting dictators;
  • The couple were fiercely anti the Iraq war (and thus not friends with Tony Blair);
  • Antonia Fraser has written a crime series as well as historical biographies; (just where does she find the time!!?;
  • There was an incestuous crow of luvvies who found work for each other – there was an in-crowd.

I also investigated the illness pemphigus as Harold suffered from  it. It seems it is an auto-immune disease that affects the skin and mucous membranes. There are 3 variants. It was first described I the 1960s and there are 0.68 people affected for every 100,000, so rare. It mostly affects women and the older population and Ashkenazi Jews are especially prone. It is triggered by environmental factors that include stress, tumours and nutrition. There is a mortality rate with treatment of 12& but age and frailty and the drug side effects can cause a higher risk of death.

Overall I gave the book 2.5/3 stars. The original rating was the beginning  of the book. It got better and more interesting in later sections but you did need perseverance to get to it. I only persevered because it was chosen for my book club.

 

 

 

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Owls, Hunting and Immigrants – what is the common denominator?

Night Falconer

by

Andy Straka

A Review for NetGalley

Another good book in this excellent series.

The bird of prey here is the long-eared eagle owl. which ranges across North America but is rarer in the UK – though I have seen them at falconry displays. They are quite large and impressive birds. owl

We also have a link to the Underground Slave Railway of the late 19th Century and then Prohibition too… both of which helped create tunnels and underground passages in the city especially New York.

 

One estimate suggests that by 1850, 100,000 slaves had escaped via the “Railroad”. (wikipedia). “Runtoon-station”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Runtoon-station.jpg#/media/File:Runtoon-station.jpg under station

We also hear briefly about the (semi-mythical) free slave village of Central Park in New York with parallels in the current story. This village – Seneca Village was a small village in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, founded by freed black people.[1] Seneca Village existed from 1825 through 1857, when it was torn down for the construction of Central Park. The village was located on about 5 acres (20,000 m2) between where 82nd and 89th Streets and Seventh and Eighth Avenues[2] would now intersect [wikipedia]. According to Straka’s story Obadiah Robertson, a slave, helped found this village and supported it through hunting with falcons.

Another interesting discussion is about the different styles of hunting in the West from Arabia. And the photo  Clearly shows the cylinder used as opposed to the glove used in the West.arab falcon

As with all these books the style is easy to read and we learn history and falconry along with our mysteries without heavy facts but in a way that helps the story along.

 

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The Irish Experience: Cork and Blarney

Well I guess Ireland lived up to expectations in that it was largely wet. And green.

We visited three towns whilst we were there: Cork; Limerick; and Dublin. Each town being very different in its culture and thus experience.

We actually stayed just outside Cork in a country hotel  set in a golf course with weddings every day – it was certainly wedding season! This meant that we had to drive to get to our experiences which included a wonderful wild-life park: Fota Wildlife Park. http://www.fotawildlife.ie/.  As you can see from the webpage they were great fun to visit. We saw herds of giraffes, flamingos, orang utans, tigers and other large beasties. and generally had great fun.

There was even a wallaby mum who brought her baby onto the general path and just lay there and sun-bathed.20150814_121632-1-1 20150814_120951 20150814_120958 P1030982 P1030949 P1030950

One of the more interesting areas was their newly laid out seal enclosure, where you could go downstairs to an area which was at water level to see the seals and penguins. it looked very weird from the path of course as they appeared to be in the water…

This wildlife park is only about rare and endangered species and breeding. Some animals have become incredibly rare in the wild due to habitat loss and poaching etc.

We also went to Limerick whilst in Ireland as well as Blarney and Dublin.

Blarney Castle is great. They have made a wonderful garden and generally a good experience for all the family especially those people who knit! Now why would that be you wonder?

And to explain you would need to see what the knitters have done – a group of ladies have wrapped the tree trunks in fancy knitted cosies, some embroidered, some crocheted and others just multi-coloured.

And then the kicker – they went into the garden and adorned an arbour with pom poms!

Apart from the pom poms the garden is really nice with a wetland area and other good features including a witch’s cavern and children’s activities and nice planting.

There is even a poison garden which sends you aware paranoid about what you are growing!

And no, none of us kissed the Blarney Stone!

 

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