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review 2018-01-14 09:33
On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt
On the Night of the Seventh Moon - Victoria Holt

Helena Trant meets a handsome stranger on the Night of the seventh moon festival in Bavaria. She knows what he's up to, so she plays it safe, and returns home to England untouched...Only to go back to Germany wanting to meet the handsome stranger again.

She does, only to learn the stranger's name is Maximilian and he's royalty, but he's also utterly in love with her. They marry, live a week of bliss...And then she wakes up with everybody telling her her beautiful dream was all a lie, conjured up by her mind to protect it from the truth that what really happened to her was a true nightmare.

Back when I was younger, Victoria Holt was one of my favorite authors and I used to gobble up her books like they were life-sustaining. I liked the suspenseful and gothic elements, the twists and turns, the ambiguity of many of the characters (including the heroes), and I loved the stories kept me guessing what was real and what was a mere supposition on the heroine's part.
Yes, they're all written in the first-person POV, which is rather limiting, but it also serves to keep things interesting way beyond the point where we'd be bored with an omniscient narrator.

This was one of my VH favorites back in the day, but I must confess that while I still enjoyed the story, the length bothered me this time around and so many years later.
The pacing was plodding, dragging its behind in multiple places, the heroine was too gullible for my liking (and for her own good), and the whole thing was too wordy by half.

Does it deliver? Yes, it still does, pity it takes to long to get there.

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text 2017-09-28 01:50
Halloween Bingo 2017 | Short Book Rambles at Mid-game
Garden of Lies - Amanda Quick
Every Secret Thing - Susanna Kearsley,Emma Cole,Katherine Kellgren
On the Night of the Seventh Moon - Victoria Holt
The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman



It's closing in on the end of September and our Bingo game is at it's midmark!

For the sake of my own sanity, I've come to a compromise with myself.  I would like to write a review for every book I read for bingo... but we know that sometimes that just doesn't happen.  So I've settled for a short compilation of all the books I didn't get around to formatting a review for.

Instead, you get some random ramblings... which, if we know me by now, always end up becoming short reviews anyway.  But I had this vision of wanting to throw a few books together in one post, make it Halloween Bingo specific, had it all formatted and ready to fill in my opinions for each book I come across that I don't know how to review... and I'm not changing my mind.

Here it is!


Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick
audio book narrated by Louisa Jane Underwood
Rating:  3.5 Stars

I love Amanda Quick books, if only because they follow a specific formula, so you always know what you're going to get out of them.  Garden of Lies is the usual Amanda Quick historical mystery and romance, with great characters and fast-paced progression.  And I never have any idea how to review these books, because they are simply just as enjoyable as the last Amanda Quick book I read: witty, fun, entertaining... standard.

It's always a good bet I will enjoy them; though also a greater bet that the story line is the same as others by this author.  Garden of Lies was no different:  Feisty, non-standard, too-modern-for-her-own-good heroine; broody, intensely passionate alpha with some tragic history.  They meet for reasons, they fall in lust at first sight, they fight the lust whilst working together to uncover a mystery, sex happens, feelings happen, cue some kind of last minute danger scene... Happily Ever After™.

Though the overall details of the mystery weren't the usual, the main culprits were fairly predictable, as were a lot of events.  There might have been entirely too much going on in this book... but that's about it.

 Louisa Jane Underwood is a lovely narrator and gave the "reading" experience a nice boost!

I read this book for Halloween Bingo 2017, for the 'Darkest London' square, since the story is set in Victorian London.

This book could also count for:

  • Murder most foul
  • Amateur Sleuth
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Terrifying Women



audio book narrated by Katherine Kellgren
Rating:  4.0 Stars

This is one of the books that, after beginning, I started having doubts whether or not it would fit the Halloween Bingo square I chose it for.  While there are several deaths, as well as the MC wandering around trying to investigate the chaos that suddenly befalls her life, Every Secret Thing ended up reading more like an espionage thriller than a murder mystery.  I could classify it as suspense, I suppose, and the entire ordeal DOES start with the mention of an old murder, one still deserving justice.

Every Secret Thing wasn't what I'd been expecting when I started listening to the audio, if only because maybe I'd been expecting something a bit darker, or grittier.  Instead, this book gave me an almost old-timey type of story, as we follow Kate Murray's investigations, while simultaneously following some snippets of the now deceased Andrew Deacon's espionage lifestyle.  It was... charming... the entire experience.  At first it felt a bit dragged out, but once you get into the rhythm of it, the flashbacks to Andrew Deacon's story lines aren't so strange, and in fact, kind of intriguing.

I can't say that I one hundred percent enjoyed this book, and the truth is, while I loved Katherine Kellgren's narration, I'm almost wondering if this story wouldn't have been better experienced as a print book.

One thing is for certain though:  Every Secret Thing is beautifully atmospheric, and I loved the descriptions of many of Kate's scenic travels, even as we were constantly moving forward at a rather fast paced stride.  There's an obligatory bittersweet ending when you come to the end of Andrew Deacon's tale, and even though we kind of already know how his life ended up playing out, it still plucks at the heart.

So the truth is, this was more a book about learning Andrew Deacon's story rather than following Kate Murray's investigations.

I may or may not swap this book out for another better suited book for the 'Murder Most Foul' square.  For now, this is just a tentative completion.  I'm seriously contemplating moving this book to either of the following squares:


This book could also count for:  Terrifying Women



Rating:  2.5 Stars

This is my first foray into Victoria Holt, and keeping in mind a few cautions from fellow readers, I read this book with a bit of trepidation.  Certainly, the story and the characters--especially our main heroine--is as I'd been warned.  But even as I became frustrated with the insta-love, the over-dramatics of our heroine, and the fact that none of the characters are very likable, On the Night of the Seventh Moon ended up being somehow addictively engrossing.  Even the frustratingly over-dramatic romance didn't put me off too badly.

For one reason or another, I just couldn't make myself put the book down.  It's got a nice mysterious twist to it that makes you want to keep reading to find out what's going on, even while the story was fairly predictable.  What happened to Helena?  Was it really just a dream, induced by drugs?  Was it real?  If it were real, then why all the theatrics by her cousins?  Why did Maximilian never come back for her?  And what of the baby?

It's hard to say what truly kept me hooked on this book--certainly it wasn't the characters, whom I disliked for many reasons, especially Frau Graben's blasé attitude towards the disgusting behavior exhibited by all the nobility.  She talks about how it's their given right, when either a count or a duke ravishes a girl and then tosses her aside; that the attempted murder or even the deaths were simply a matter of "state affair"; the deceptions of mock marriages, the lies, the betrayals--all simply part of their country's culture...

I get that it's probably part of the culture, which lends some authenticity to a more historical aspect of life... but I don't have to like it.

As I've already said, I didn't find any of the characters likable, except maybe the boy, Fritz.  Or Aunt Matilda--she was amusing, for sure.

It's also kind of irked me that the conclusion wrapped up too easily, in a very tidy, non-confrontational, and unrealistic way.  I like my HEA's, but we should at least follow through the world's logic.  All the concerns and the possible backlash and the possible war scenario that Maxi and Helena worried about if the two of them were to announce their relationship and marriage didn't even surface.  Everything just settled, all was forgiven, Happily Ever After™.

Really, the only amazingly wonderful thing going for this book was the beautiful writing, the imagery, the description, and a lot of the lore and history laid within the book's world.  For this alone, I will definitely give Victoria Holt another read when I get the chance.

(Ahem.  So much for a short ramble, but I'm not changing this, and I regret nothing...)

This book could also count for:

  • Gothic
  • Terrifying Women



Rating:  3.5 Stars

I felt like Halloween Bingo wouldn't be complete without reading something by Neil Gaiman--last year I read The Graveyard Book and Coraline, both of which were very enjoyable, and one of them ended up being one of my favorites of the year.  Initially, I didn't have a book of his chosen for any of my Bingo squares (Yes, yes, I did; I just forgot I did).  I had originally only chosen a collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman for the 'Genre: Horror' square, which I've been putting off listening to the audio... well, because Horror.

And I was hesitant about starting The Ocean at the End of the Lane... well, because Horror.  But I'm glad I decided to give it a go--if only because you get to revel in Gaiman's wonderful, magical descriptions... and because I found a different book other than Amy Tan's Saving Fish From Drowning for this particular bingo square, because I just wasn't feeling Amy Tan at the moment.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a little difficult for me to get into at first; and it is equally difficult for me to figure out how I feel about it.  Outside of that magical, whimsical feel you get from reading a particularly good child's fantasy/adventure, I really can't pinpoint exactly what to say about it.  I've got a sort of bittersweet, wistful void after completing the book, but to be honest, I'm not entirely sure I know what the book was really about.

Certainly, there were a lot of though provoking lines and dialogue.  In the end, it's one of those books  you found enjoyment in, and it stays with you for some time, even as you can't quite pinpoint why.

This book could also count towards:

  • Genre: Horror -- the book is tagged as 'horror' on GR, and certainly, there were a lot of horror elements involved
  • Modern Masters of Horror -- published in 2013
  • Supernatural -- which goes hand in hand with Magical Realism
  • Chilling Children (?) -- I don't think I saw this tagged as YA or MG, but the main time frame of the book takes place when the protagonist is only seven years old
  • Monsters



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/09/halloween-bingo-2017-short-book-rambles.html
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review 2017-09-03 22:24
Ending Ruins the First 2/3 of Book
On the Night of the Seventh Moon - Victoria Holt

I read this for "Gothic square". "On the Night of the Seventh Moon" by Victoria Holt.


So I just realized after finishing this book that I really can't write a very in-depth review, because if I do I'll be spoiling the entire book. So I'm going to try to keep this to just general things and then you can make a decision if you want to read this for Halloween book bingo.


On the night of the seventh moon is told from the first person point of view of a young girl named Helena. Helena is raised in a loving household, the only fly in the ointment so to speak is the fact that her parents are both desperately in love with each other and that doesn't leave a lot of love left over for her when they are in the same room together.


Helena's mother is from a Germanic country. The book doesn't really come out and say where she's from exactly and I couldn't guess and I was honestly not really in the mood to go do some digging about this. Helena's father is English and though many around them don't think the marriage is going to work, it does.


The only thing that Helena's mother really wanted was for her daughter to be sent away to learn Germany and French and other things and Helena is eventually sent to a boarding school that's near a town that her mother knows. So we find out pretty early on that Helena is sent away from home for four years and is being raised and taught by nuns.


Everything kind of goes sideways for Helena when she gets lost in a forest when mist suddenly forms. Helena meets some mysterious man and she calls him Siegfried. He takes her back to his lodge (as one does) and then goes about trying to seduce her. Long story short, everyone around can tell that Siegfried is up to no good, but Helena feels so excited by things. Blech. This little adventure ends up with her almost being raped (she bolts the door and is later awoken by the doorknob turning) but in the light of day is disappointed. 


Smack upside the head for Helena.


Cue Helena having to go home after her mother passes away and then her father does as well. Being forced to go home to her dreary little village and not be able to see her Siegfried again it's just making her sad. I on the other hand think that if she had any sense she would realize that Siegfried was not a cool dude and she should just move on but then we wouldn't have a story here if that's what the author chose to do what do we?


Fast forward to some relatives of Helena's mother showing up and when she's given the opportunity to return with them to be at a nearby Village that is close to her old school she jumps on it because of course all she's thinking of is seeing her Siegfried again.


And see him again she does. I'm not going to talk much after that because that's where the mystery lies and the entire rest of the book is Helena unraveling who's being truthful and who is lying to her. I do have to say that even when she does find out what's been going on I think that she took things way too laid-back for for what I would have probably have done. And I honestly wish that Holt had just decided to end the book in a different way because I never did warm up to Siegfried.


I have to say that I thought that the writing that Holt did in this one was very good. I love the descriptions of the town's and other locations that appear in this story. Holt really made me feel like I was Helena in a couple scenes as she becomes more and more thrilled with her surroundings. Everything sounds positively Gothic at times which was nice to read on an overcast day. 


The ending just turned into a mess though. Once again won't spoil for others, but it just didn't make a lot of sense at all. Then Holt does an epilogue that shows what happened to everyone and I ended up just feeling dissatisfied. 


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text 2017-09-03 21:53
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
On the Night of the Seventh Moon - Victoria Holt

Shame. The beginning started off so well. The last couple of chapters were ridiculous. Things are revealed, but I had a hard time believing them and I hated how Helena was waltzing around not caring what her return would do to some people. The hero was a jerk and I didn't get ever lasting love there at all. Tempted to read some more Holt.


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text 2017-09-03 19:51
Reading progress update: I've read 73%.
On the Night of the Seventh Moon - Victoria Holt

Now this book is dancing towards absurdity levels. I was enjoying it at first, but Holt always seems focused on making terrible dudes the heroes in this book. Helena is kind of on my nerves too. The truth has been somewhat revealed about things, and this fool is all okay about it. I would have been setting shit on fire. Once again why I'm glad I wasn't born in a different era. I would have been burned at the stake or something.


I am going to laugh at Holt a bit here. The plot just ran away here at this point and so she introduced something else for Helena to be worried about. Of course she's not worried about it cause she doesn't have the sense God gave a flea. Holt trying to link this all up during the events preceding Napolean and his I'm going to be the Emperor is not helping matters either. 



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