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text 2017-12-30 14:51
December Wrap-up
Old Celtic Romances - P.W. Joyce
Sigil Witchery: A Witch's Guide to Crafting Magick Symbols - Laura Tempest Zakroff
Fairies:: A Guide to the Celtic Fair Folk - Morgan Daimler
Dreamtime Dragons - Nils Visser
The Grand Phantom - Harold Cloninger
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
Plum Dandi Knits: Simple Designs for Luxury Yarns - Alicia Plummer,Melissa Schaschwary
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock - Imogen Hermes Gowar
The Toy Makers - Robert Dinsdale
About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution - Paul Davies

Yes, there's one more day but although I'm getting close to finishing Uprooted by Naomi Novik, I definitely won't be finishing any other books before January 1st.

 

I seem to have given myself a lot of non-fiction to read this month. Mostly from Netgalley.

 

I expect to finish Uprooted between today and tomorrow so I'm counting 11 books for the month. Not bad for me!

 

The stand out ones besides Uprooted (which I'm really enjoying) would be The Toy Makers and the Dreamtime Dragons Anthology. Both have given me a lot of reading pleasure. I enjoyed the re-reading of A Christmas Carol too. 5 of the books are non-fiction so only a couple of meh books.

 

I also got through some of the samples backlog again. I've only got about 80 left. I collected a LOT over Halloween!

 

I still have some non-fiction reads in progress so that may slow me down for January reading, but I seem to be averaging more in a month than I used to. I blame all of you.

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review 2017-12-28 14:52
Old Celtic Romances
Old Celtic Romances - P.W. Joyce

by P. W. Joyce

 

This is a lovely collection of old traditional tales from the Irish tradition like The Children of Lir, that many of us have grown up with. Most of these tales are told in prose, though some in poetry.

 

The Irish tales have always had a lyrical quality to them even in prose and have been the basis for many later stories that build on the tales of both ancestors and the fairy tradition that weaves its magic through this style of storytelling.

 

This book gathers several of these romance tales into one volume for easy reference and would be a lovely gift for someone who enjoys all things Celtic.

 

The commentaries are also very interesting and explain the background of the tales. Some readers might have a little trouble with pronunciation of some names and names of places, but there is some help for that in the back.

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review 2017-12-16 11:00
Fairies
Fairies:: A Guide to the Celtic Fair Folk - Morgan Daimler

by Morgan Daimler

 

Non-fiction

 

This book is about the folklore and fairy tradition of Ireland. It may well be the most down-to-earth book on the subject on the market to date. Rather than the airy-fairy Victorian ideas of pretty little girl fairies that popular culture has spread, this is about the original tales and beliefs that are still prevalent in a mostly Christian Ireland.

 

The book is well researched. Tales from many places in the British Isles and Europe are cited and the folk beliefs are given context. Actual belief in fairies isn't required to enjoy the relation of the stories, though the author is mostly directing the information at a Pagan readership where some degree of belief is relevant.

 

There is a lot of repetition. Perhaps it was needed for context but I've seen the same information about fairy behavior in three different chapters and that gives the impression of padding. My only other complaint is that in an early chapter there was a promise to explain the difference between fairies and nature spirits, but only a passing reference to the latter later on. I pretty much understand the difference but would have liked to see it put into words to clarify.

 

Overall a good reference for anyone new to the subject, although the classic reference books are cited so often that I wonder if someone with more than a passing interest should just reading those works. Mostly well written, though it meanders in the last couple of chapters.

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review 2017-08-13 00:00
Kingmaker's Sword (The Rune Blade Trilogy, Book 1)
Kingmaker's Sword (The Rune Blade Trilogy, Book 1) - Ann Marston

Mouse knows no other life than as a slave in this alternate Celtic-Scottish land, but there is more to him than that. He has strange dreams in which he takes lessons in sword fighting. His waking life is harsh, but it does not crush his heart and soul. Fortunately he has the gift to heal himself of the beatings he receives.

 

One night though Mouse finds his opportunity to escape such brutalities. A new world opens up for the young man after a mysterious stranger rescues him from a bounty hunter.  Mouse appreciates the kindness but wonders who this man is and why he aided him. The man, by name of Cullin, slowly reveals the answers to Mouse's many questions. Cullin tells him what Mouse already intuitively knew: he was not born a slave. Cullin tells him of the life he had before that a head injury robbed Mouse's memories of. 

 

After Mouse learns his true name, Kian, and his relation to Cullin, he takes up the man's trade with him as a guard of merchant caravans. He also learns he can use his healing gift on others when he aids a young girl.

 

Several contented years pass with Cullin, as the man sharpens Kian's skill with a blade. The young man uses his natural abilities to help even the score of a lone boy fighting against three men, only to discover the boy is no boy at all, but a young woman, Kerri, who is not at all pleased Kian intervened on her behalf. They argue so well you know they are just made for each other.

 

Kerri is on a mission to find a missing grandson of a Prince of her people. Her father sent her to seek Cullin's aid. Kian's blade, taken by him from the bounty hunter who tried to kill him, intrigues her mightily. She wonders how he got such a special weapon and because he has it, wonders if indeed he is the one she seeks. She does not know the name or appearance of this mystery person, but she is certain she will recognize him once she finds him. She also awakens him to the unwelcome knowledge he has magic in his blood. This he is loath to contemplate as exposure to it makes him nauseous or actually ill.

 

Kian continues his vivid sword fighting dreams with an added twist of fighting an enemy who can cause him true harm. After he wakes, his arm still bears the wound he received.

 

To help Kerri in her quest, Kian challenges the sword he carries to show him where the prince is. Though he thinks it ridiculous to talk to a weapon as if it were alive, it answers him in no uncertain terms. He, Cullin, and Kerri must now keep ahead of their enemies, who seek them and the Prince as well.

 

During Kian's adventures, he saves a young boy's life, whose father is an enemy of Kian, Cullin and Kerri, and who tells Kian, the boy will grow up as his enemy as well. The young man acknowledges he knew this before he rescued the boy, yet he still chose to do it. I loved that. 

 

Many more perils await Kian, where he meets both grief and joy.

 

I loved this great book, especially the bantering and the bond between the main three people. I definitely recommended it if you want to read a wonderful fantasy with a solid plot and marvelous characters. You wouldn't want to meet the bad guys in a dark alley though, unless the good guys with their swords were at your side. As this is just the beginning of Kian's story, I look forward to reading more about him!

 

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review 2017-07-21 22:23
The Grey King: The Dark is Rising Sequence Book Four
The Grey King - Susan Cooper

The fourth volume of The Dark is Rising series begins with Will traveling to Wales to stay with a cousin of his mother's, so he can recuperate from hepatitis. The young man is troubled because there is something important he forgot. On the way to the cousin's home, he sees clouds around a mountaintop, which helps him remember one part of a prophecy spoken at the end of the third book, Greenwitch. The woman's son, Rhys, says the clouds are the breath of the Grey King, a legendary figure whose home is there.

 

Another clue to the gap in Will's memory is Cadfan's Way. As he explores the church of St. Cadfan and searches for this lost road, he has a curious encounter with a dog. All his memories come back. He meets a boy, Bran, who knows his true identity as an Old One and who says he has awaited him. The Dark awaits him too. "All around, throughout the countryside, he [Will] could feel the malevolence of the Dark growing, pushing at him." 

 

But this time, the Light is not there merely to defend all from the devouring Dark. This time, it is actively on the attack against it.

 

This series is much more interesting when it focuses on Will, as this one does. I love through the series how descriptive the author is. It is no wonder these are classic fantasies. 

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