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review 2018-04-25 15:59
Slow Moving Book That Doesn't Deliver
The Distant Hours - Kate Morton

I kind of laugh at this book being marketed as Gothic. It's really not. I mean there's an old castle, but the book itself is so far from Gothic it's not even funny. This is a slow moving book that doesn't pick up any speed. When the book comes to the reveal at that point I just shrugged about it. There is ultimately nothing to say in the end except what a waste of many lives we get to read about in this book.


"The Distant Hours" has a long lost letter being delivered many decades after it should have gone. One of the characters in this book, Edie, is displeased (maybe that's too strong a word) that her mother may have secrets that she has never heard. Deciding to force herself into her mother's past, Edie goes hunting and goes to a castle her mother stayed at during the war years in England (Milderhurst) where the three Blythe sisters still live. Edie's mother (Meredith) has her own reasons for not wanting to revisit her past. However, Edie is given the opportunity to learn about the author of the mysterious "The True History of the Mud Man" and goes to learn more about the Blythe sisters. 

 

Eh, Edie bugged me. Sorry. I just could not get over her sneaking and even reading her mother's private letters. Yes her aunts sucks for giving them to her (and seriously though) but Edie feels entitled to know everything about her mother. She also pries about the Blythe sisters since she also feels as if they should just open themselves up to her. Edie feels sorry for Juniper, likes the one twin, Saffy (Seraphina) and fears Percy (Persephone). 

 

The secondary characters are barely present in this book. You read about the Blythe father and his madness, but you don't get to see it. You hear about it for the most part. We hear about how Juniper has been broken since her long lost fiancee left her, but you don't really get it since she is portrayed as vaguely confused. Juniper is also supposed to be a wonderful writer, but once again we don't get to "see" that, we just hear about what a genius she is. Same issue when we get the reveal about Percy's love life. I don't know why Morton decided to cut out things that would make these characters come to life, but she did. I absolutely loved "The Forgotten Garden", felt meh about this one, and just down and out disliked the last two books of her that I read. 

 

The writing was okay, I just found myself bored. Honestly nothing much happens in this book until the very end. And the ending was not worth slogging through this thing. 

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review 2018-04-25 15:31
A Wonderful Book to Read During the Winter Months
The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield

So I read "The Thirteenth Tale" eons ago. This book came out in 2006 and I recall starting it around Christmas time that same year. I fell in love with the book. Too bad I could not get into Setterfield's follow-up "Bellman & Black". I can't even tell you much about that second book except I fell asleep reading it and just took it back to the library the next day. This was back before I posted reviews about books I DNFed.

 

Back to "The Thirteenth Tale" though. This book has everything. You got a Gothic style mystery with all kinds of twists and turns about a family called Angelfield.  For me the best parts of the book are the ones in which Vida Winter tells her story. Margaret who has been brought to write a biographer of Vida Winter I found to not be interesting in the least little bit. She has her own story, but it's honestly not as intriguing as Vida Winter. 

 

I tend to re-read this book every year or so, and I just finished it again when I was on my vacation to Seattle/Portland. I don't know why on a flight to Seattle I said to myself that I must read a Gothic mystery novel, but there you go. I did. 

 

The book begins with Margaret getting a request to come and learn about Vida Winter's life and write her life story. Margaret is vaguely familiar with Vida Winter and goes and reads a copy of Winter's book called "Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation" the only issue is that there are only 12 stories, not 13, which led to many in the literary world to wonder about the so-called 13th tale. 

 

I liked that in the end the only thing that kept Margaret on to listen to Vida's tale was for her to promise to tell her a ghost story. And there were many ghosts in her story. 

 

The secondary characters in this one do frighten at times and what you learn about them and what they have done, you can see why Vida Winter has stories featuring ghosts.

 

I really loved the writing. I could picture all of the characters and Angelfield in my mind.  

 

There is a twist in the end that I did not see coming. I remember being gobsmacked in a good way when all is revealed. I don't know if older me would have picked up on it or not though. I like to think not, I love books that genuinely surprise you. 

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text 2018-04-17 00:11
Taxes and stuff -- and 43,025

In amongst everything else, I put together my tax returns the past couple of days.  There weren't any surprises, because I've kept my bookkeeping up to date.  I knew my liability was going to be modest, with no panic at the last minute.  All I have left to do is make copies for my files, then seal the forms and check in an envelope to drop in the mail tomorrow.

 

Yay!

 

My studio is still a complete and total disaster, but I did get some time on the rock saw, and slightly diminished the inventory.  (We're talkin' a dozen or two rocks out of thousands, so it's not a whole lot.)  The slices from Friday and Saturday are cleaned up and the first batch is in the tumbler.  More will be started in the next few days.  If the weather cooperates, I may even get more time on the saw later this week.  This will be a good thing.

 

Depending on how many I end up with, the stones will basically take most of the summer to process.  I already have lots of other stones to work on over the next six months before the 2018-19 show season, so that will keep me busy building inventory.

 

Having finished my taxes, I have a really clear picture of my 2017 income -- as well as 2016 -- vis a vis both the jewelry and art shows on one hand, and my writing on the other hand.   Bottom line is I need to write more.

 

Bottom line really is I want to write more. 

 

I never seem to have time to read, let alone write.  When I read, I write.  I think I've written that more than once in the past, but it's true.  It's like a priming of the pump or something.  But the past several months especially, I haven't been able to gather sufficient reading time.  All those books on my "currently reading" wall?  For the most part, I'm still currently reading them.  I just can't find the time to finish . . . anything.

 

That has to stop.  And it has to stop now.

 

The Secrets of White Apple Tree Farm is currently at 43,025 words.  I have more in hand-written scribblings that I need to transcribe, but I have no idea at all how much is there.  There have been many nights when I've lain in bed and thought through some of the the plot lines, but can't find the time to write them down.  Are they forgotten?  No, they're cemented in my imagination, waiting for time/energy/discipline.

 

I want to write this book.  I want to write this book NOW.

 

 

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review 2018-04-13 18:30
WINTERBAY ABBEY by John Bladek and Javonna Duroe, narrated by Matt Godfrey
Winterbay Abbey: A Ghost Story - John Bladek,Davonna Juroe,Matt Godfrey

 

WINTERBAY ABBEY is a beautifully written Gothic style ghost story and I adored it, from start to finish!

 

When I saw this being compared to Susan Hill's THE WOMAN IN BLACK, I was a bit hesitant because, to be honest, I did not like that tale AT ALL. It was repetitious and I felt it lacked the Gothic, quiet horror atmosphere that I love so much. I needn't have worried because this book was much better than that one and it had the added advantage of Matt Godfrey's narration.

 

This is the story of a man and his wife, Will & Emily, getting over a recent accident where the wife nearly lost her hand. They've also just discovered that Emily is pregnant. Her damaged hand has affected her ability to contribute to the family's financial resources and times are tight. When Will's boss offers makes him take a job in Maine drawing up architecture plans to turn an abandoned abbey into a resort hotel, he jumps on the chance to secure his family's financial future. At the last minute, he decided to invite Emily to meet him there. Will their plans work out? Will they succeed in having a happy and healthy family? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I do love me a quiet horror story. What does that mean? For me, it means atmospheric, inspiring feelings of dread and fear, without spilling a lot of blood and guts. This must be difficult to write, because, to be honest, I haven't read that many good, quiet horror stories. This one is better than good, it's fantastic! There were a few instances where I thought Will made a bad decision or two, but overall, I also felt that it was realistic in the telling, and I was rooting for our couple to make it through.

 

With the always rich narration of Matt Godfrey, I felt this couple come to life. I hope that you give it a chance and let Will and Emily come alive for you.

 

Highly recommended!

 

Get your copy here: WINTERBAY ABBEY

 

*Thanks to narrator and friend, Matt Godfrey, for the audio copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it!* 

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review 2018-04-06 17:45
Someone Is Trying To Kill Me. I Think It's The Man I Love.
Nine Coaches Waiting (Rediscovered Classics) - Mary Stewart

I know, I know, that post title could apply to basically every single gothic romance ever. In fact, as Linda Hilton knows, as I actually cribbed the title from an essay she discusses in this post (which is well worth reading, so you should read it!).

 

Nine Coaches Waiting centers around Linda Martin, a young French woman who is hired as the English speaking governess for Count Philippe Valmy, the nine year old heir to the Valmy estate and fortune. There are a couple of "accidents" where Philippe is nearly killed, at which point Linda begins to wonder if they were really "accidents" at all, or if someone really is trying to get rid of the young count.

 

As always, Mary Stewart's descriptions are truly lovely and evocative. Linda meets Raoul Valmy, Philippe's much older cousin, who is dashing and handsome and oh so mysterious. He doesn't live at Chateau Valmy, rather he lives at one of the lesser Valmy family properties near by. As the conspiracy unfolds, Linda falls head over heels in love with the enigmatic Raoul, which she realizes after possibly the most epic first date ever set down in fiction.

 

I am not going to describe that evening in detail though, as it happens, it was desperately important. It was then, simply, one of those wonderful evenings … We stopped in Thonon beside a stall where jonquils and wallflowers blazed under the gas-jets, and he bought me freesias which smelt like the Fortunate Isles and those red anemones that were once called the lilies of the field. Then we drove along in a clear night with stars as warm and a waxing moon staring pale behind the poplars. By the time we reached Geneva – a city of fabulous glitter and strung lights whose reflections swayed and bobbed in the dark waters of the Lake – my spirits were rocketing sky-high; shock, loneliness, the breath of danger all forgotten.

 

OMG, can Mary Stewart turn a phrase or what? 

 

Linda realizes the truth about the so-called accidents and takes flight from the Chateau with young Philippe, and what follows is several chapters of suspense where the two of them are being chased, hiding, escaping and trying to make their way to safety, without really knowing who is behind the attempts to murder Philippe. As was true of This Rough Magic, Stewart has a definite talent for ratcheting up the reader's anxiety. As is de riguer with romantic suspense, there is a happy ending.

 

This is my fifth Mary Stewart, each one more delicious than the last. At some point, I assume, I will have to hit a clunker. 

 

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