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text 2019-12-26 23:04
24 Festive Tasks: Door 16 - St. Lucia's Day: Task 4
Was It Murder? - James Hilton
The Apothecary Rose - Candace Robb,Derek Perkins
A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales - Terri Windling,Ellen Datlow
How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child - Sandra Uwiringiyimana,Abigail Pesta
Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle - Daniel Stashower
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher,Matin Durrani
Sorcerer to the Crown (A Sorcerer Royal Novel) - Zen Cho
Below the Clock - J.V. Turner
Kill the Queen - Jennifer Estep
Death from a Top Hat - Clayton Rawson

Most of my books of course come from sellers in Europe (chiefly Germany and the UK), but a fair few this year did also end up traveling here from North America, when all told the American offer was better than those by European sellers.

 

Bought in 2019 and already read:

From Seattle, WA:

James Hilton: Was It Murder?

Candace Robb: The Apothecary Rose (Derek Perkins audio CD)

 

From Houston, TX:

Ellen Datlow & Terry Windling (eds.): A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales

Sandra Uwiringiyimana: How Dare the Sun Rise

 

From Mishawaka, IN:

Daniel Stashower: Teller of Tales

Frederic Raphael & Kenneth McLeish: The Book of Lists

Matin Durrani & Liz Kalaugher: Furry Logic

 

From McKeesport, PA:

Zen Cho: Sorcerer to the Crown

 

From Coral Springs, FL:

J.V. Turner: Below the Clock

 

From St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada:

Jennifer Estep: Kill the Queen

Clayton Rawson: Death from a Top Hat

 

Bought in 2019 and still on my TBR (don't even comment, please):

From Seattle, WA:

James Thurber: Writings and Drawings (LoA)

Agatha Christie: Rule of Three

 

From Tucson, AZ:

Stephen King: 11/22/63

 

From Richmond, TX:

Charles Dickens: Bleak House (Paul Scofield audio CD)

 

From Houston, TX:

Dorothy Dunnett: The Game of Kings

 

From Mishawaka, IN:

Penny Le Couteur & Jay Burreson: Napoleon's Buttons

Mercedes Lackey: Arrows of the Queen

Lois McMasterBujold: The Curse of Chalion

Christopher Hibbert: The Borgias and Their Enemies, 1431-1519

Ted Widmer (ed.): American Speeches: Political Oratory from Patrick Henry to Barack Obama (LoA)

Robert Barr: The Triumphs of Eugene Valmont

C. Daly King: The Curious Mr. Tarrant

Eden Philpotts: The Red Redmaynes

Matthew Pritchard (ed.), Agatha Christie: The Grand Tour: Letters and Photographs from the British Empire Expedition 1922

 

From Windsor, CT:
Elie Wiesel: Night  / Dawn / The Accident (aka Day)

 

From Frederick, MD:

Samuel Johnson; E.L. McAdam, Jr. & George Milne (eds.): A Johnson Reader

 

From Kennesaw, GA:

Christopher Isherwood. A Single Man (Simon Prebble audio CD)

Sebastian Junger: The Perfect Storm (Stanley Tucci audio CD)

 

From St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada:

Otto Penzler (ed.): Bibliomysteries

 

(Task: The historic (3d century AD) St. Lucia was Italian; yet, like those of many other saints (including, e.g., St. Andrew and St. Nicholas), the most important celebrations of her holiday don’t occur in her place of origin but somewhere else in the world.

List or create a stack of favorite books (minimum: three) featuring a character’s move or transition from one part of the world to another one (or from one end of a large country, e.g., U.S. Canada, Russia, China or Australia, to the other end.)

Alternatively, tell us: Which book that you acquired this year had to travel the farthest to get to you (regardless whether by plane, sea, or whichever other way, and regardless whether it was a purchase of your own or a gift from someone else)?)

 

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review 2019-09-08 17:15
Halloween Bingo 2019: The First Week
Was It Murder? - James Hilton
Siebengeschichten - Nina Blazon,Isabel Kreitz
A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales - Terri Windling,Ellen Datlow
Wine of Violence - Priscilla Royal
Sorcerer to the Crown (A Sorcerer Royal Novel) - Zen Cho
Gods of Jade and Shadow - Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories (Hercule Poirot) - Agatha Christie
The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories - Agatha Christie,Hugh Fraser,Joan Hickson,David Suchet,Isla Blair,Simon Vance
Hawksmoor - Peter Ackroyd
Earth-Shattering: Violent Supernovas, Galactic Explosions, Biological Mayhem, Nuclear Meltdowns, and Other Hazards to Life in Our Universe - Bob Berman

So, on the plus side, despite serious RL interventions progress on my card is well under way, with four squares (including the centre / free / raven square) marked "called and read"; three of these in a row -- plus reading for the remaining two squares of that row also in progress -- and several more options in place to go for a bingo, depending how the next couple of calls come out.

 

On the downside, I seriously hope my book selections are going to improve.  Except for Priscilla Royal's Wine of Violence, which delivered all that I had hoped from it and then some, most of the first bingo week's books fell well short of my expectations.  It's not that they were awful (with one significant exception), but they could have been so much more, and that's obviously what I'd been hoping for.  I hope with yesterday's spontaneous revisit of Agatha Christie's Regatta Mystery and Other Stories and the book I started (also yesterday) for the Gothic square, Peter Ackroyd's Hawksmoor, I've finally turned that corner.  (Ditto my planned read for today's call, Black Cat -- Jim Butcher's The Aeronaut's Windlass.) 

 

Still, apologies if the tone of some of the below should rub anybody the wrong way -- I'm moderately miffed with my bingo books so far.

 

N.B.: Below I am, with one exception, using the relevant audiobook covers, as with most of these books I either went back and forth between the print and the audiobook version or I listened to the audiobook throughout (even though I do also own the print version).

 

The Books

 

James Hilton: Was it Murder?

My 2019 pre-bingo read and actually a fairly decent start into the game.  And yes, this is "the" James Hilton of Goodbye Mr. Chips and Lost Horizon -- actually, in a number of ways this book was probably Hilton's dry run for Goodbye Mr. Chips.

 

Hilton's protagonist jokingly describes writing a novel a young Oxbridge graduate's rite of passage, and that may very well have been what was at work with Hilton himself here, too, tapping into the interwar period's craze for mysteries to boot.  It's a good thing he eventually decided to leave the "mystery" bit behind -- but what really does stand out in this book is the very well-crafted public school atmosphere.

 

(For those who are interested, this book was originally published under the pseudonym Glen Trevor, and later also republished with the somewhat spoilery title Murder at School.)

 

 

Nina Blazon: Siebengeschichten

A collection of short stories featuring ghosts and other supernatural elements, set in places ranging from Ireland, England and the U.S. to Sweden, Iceland, France and Japan.  (Perhaps a minor point, but why not also in the author's own Germany and Slovenia?  Indeed, in some -- though not all -- of the stories the choice of the setting feels entirely random.) 

 

The title literally translates as "Sevenstories" and turns out to be merely a fancy way of saying "this is a collection of seven stories"; it's not an allusion to any particular feature of the book.  Based on the fact that the entry that's obviously intended as a tribute to Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray manages to get the core element of Wilde's novel only halfway right I'm not wholly confident about the author's research into the supernatural elements from other cultures she uses and with which I am less familiar (especially those from Japanese mythology and folklore), but that aside, I've spent a few moderately entertaining hours with this book.  The two standout entries are probably a fairly well-crafted Stephen King-type "Christmas horror" story and a tribute to the Icelandic troll folklore; followed by a story (randomly set in France) playing on mirrors and on the question what is real and what is perception.  By and large, though, it's not a major loss to the non-German speaking public that so far this collection doesn't seem to have been translated into English.

 

 

Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (eds.); Various Authors: A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales

Considering that according to the preface the authors of this collection are supposed to be exploring "the dark side" of fairy tales, most of the stories here come across as unexpectedly light and fluffy.  Maybe this is due to the fact that I actually grew up with the real thing -- the Grimm Brothers', Hans Christian Andersen's, Charles Perrault's and Wilhelm Hauff's original tales, instead of their Disney versions (which the authors of this collection's preface blame for the modern-day bowdlerization of fairy tales and our perception of them) -- but even today I find those original tales decidedly scarier (and also more interesting) than most of the stories in this collection, even if I do credit the authors' frequently original approach in giving them a contemporary context.  If it hadn't been for the Garth Nix's Hansel's Eyes and Patricia McKillip's update on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, both of which are truly superb (and do deliver on the "dark side" premise -- in spades), this would have been a three-star read for me at most.

 

 

Priscilla Royal: Wine of Violence

The first book of Priscilla Royal's longstanding medieval mystery series focusing on Eleanor, Prioress of (fictional) Tyndall Priory in Norfolk.

 

This is a series I've long wanted to start and that I had penciled in as a "definite" for this year's bingo.  In fact, by the time I began reading this book, I had already started Zen Cho's dismal Sorcerer to the Crown (see below), and coming after two so-so short story collections and looking at a book (in Sorcerer to the Crown) that I'd definitely have DNF'd if it hadn't been for Halloween Bingo, I decided a change of pace was more than called for.

 

As I was / am new to the series, of course I didn't know for sure this was going to be the book that would deliver the goods, but I'd seen and heard enough about it to be reasonably confident, and Ms. Royal essentially won me over with her preface, where she sets out her approach -- as well as the series's real life background -- and which shows just how much research she'd put into it.  And after the first couple of chapters I knew for sure I'd hit on a winner: The period atmosphere is finely crafted, the characters are fully rounded and believable (even if Eleanor -- period allowances notwithstanding -- sometimes comes across as a bit too worldly-wise for her age), and the mystery plotting is solid, never mind that it did peter out a bit towards the obvious towards the end.  But for a "first in the series", this was a very satisfying read and exactly what the doctor ordered at the time.

 

 

  

Zen Cho: Sorcerer to the Crown

As indicated above, I knew early on that if it hadn't been for Halloween Bingo I'd have DNF'd this book, and I was tempted to do just that right until the very end.

 

When I began composing this post, I didn't think I was going to write much more than "infantile drivel" in my summary of Cho's book, but as I've since had an exchange with BT on it here, I might as well copy over what I said in that conversation (with a copy of minor add-ons to round out the picture):

 

The premise of this book sounded really good -- and this shall teach me (again) not to buy into hype.  Essentially, it turns out that this is fanfiction for Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (and probably also for Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, though I haven't read those books, so I can't say for sure), written by an author who wouldn't even know how to craft ordinary adult communication if hit over the head with it (way above and beyond "mere" TSTL behavior), and whose idea of (1) politics (both domestic and international, including and in particular early 19th century British politics), (2) power (including the thought processes, actions, responses, strategies and priorities of those wielding it, in politics, business / civil society associations, and elesewhere) and (3) not least, magic (!) is strictly kindergarten level.  Add to that plot holes and inconsistencies big enough to drive several carriages through and a complete lack of Georgian society atmosphere (note to the author: absent a coherent whole, the description of ball gowns and interiors or the mention of carriages does not replace the creation of period atmosphere), against which the use of isolated speech patters obviously copied from Austen (such as "do not you" / "is not he" interrogative constructions) comes across as nothing short of gimmicky.

 

The only reason why I am rating this 1 1/2 stars (instead of 1/2 or even 0) is that Cho makes the attempt to address both race and gender issues in the context of her book.  Unfortunately, however, that alone is by far not enough to salvage the decidedly less-than-workmanlike execution of the whole.

 

I'm not the biggest fan of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell -- the beginning, the end, and the world building are superb, but for me it seriously dragged in the middle -- but I'll be the first to recognize that it really does accomplish something new and original.  If there has to be fanfic for it, at least let it be something that at least halfway stands up to the original.

 

That said, I've given the audio version an extra half star and promoted Jenny Sterlin straight to my "you can read me the phone book" list of narrators, as she essentially did just that and still managed to make at least bits of it actually sound more interesting and "alive" than taken straight off the page.

 

 

 Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Gods of Jade and Shadow

A (largely) modernized retelling of the Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Mayas, set in 1920s Mexico.  The beginning easily draws the reader in, Casiopeia is a likeable enough (and well-drawn enough) heroine, and the book has an -- albeit somewhat sketchy -- recognizable 1920s atmosphere with an initial rural Yucatán setting that likewise rings true.  What does eventually drag the book down significantly, however, is its absolutely casual treatment of the supernatural elements of its story and more particularly, the elements of the specific context in which it is set.  Let's make no mistake: Casiopeia moves among the gods of the Mayan underworld; i.e., in a world that was, at least to the extent that the Mayas had integrated part of the Aztec and Toltec beliefs and rituals into their own religion, controlled by an absolutely merciless, cruel and bloody death cult; and it is precisely this cult that plays out in the Popol Vuh.  And yet we're to believe that our heroine not only zips back and forth across Mexico alongside the supreme ruler of just that world without the slightest bit of fear but she actually talks back to him out of nothing more than spite without ever incurring his wrath (and I mean wrath, not some sort of minor dislike) -- and without suffering severe personal consequences as a result?  Not on your life. 

I can buy some of the scenes and exchanges towards the end of the book, because we're told he becomes progressively more human, weaker and more vulnerable (and "of course" he falls in love with our heroine), but at the beginning and, say, during the first half of the story?  Nope.  Just -- no.  Not in a million years.  (Also, the descent from all-powerful deity to something at least approaching mortality should be absolutely enormous here.  Instead of which, it barely registers.  No, nope, and no again.)

(spoiler show)

Ditto, to an only marginally lesser extent, the other creatures endowed with supernatural powers that Casioipeia encounters.  Ditto, also, the final conflict arising out of the two protagonists' changing nature, which is only partially developed and ultimately resolved in a way too convenient fashion.

 

As a side note to those who are planning to read this book for the Creepy Crawlies bingo square: Don't despair -- the justification for this square does eventually show up, even if you have to wait quite a while for it.  Fortunately (for me at least) it's not the nightmare-inducing sort.

 

 

Agatha Christie: The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories

I decided I needed a palate cleanser towards the end of the week, and there's nothing better than a book by Agatha Christie to serve that purpose.  (Since she is also one of my quintessential "go to" bingo authors, it seemed only fitting to use this collection for the center / raven square.)  I know both this collection as such and have also listened to all of the audio recordings of each of the stories collected here, but that didn't take away in the slightest from the joy of revisiting them.  Here's to finding more along similarly solid lines for the rest of my bingo reading!

 

 

Peter Ackroyd: Hawksmoor

In progress since last night -- off to a phantastic start.  Fingers crossed.

 

 

Bob Berman: Earth-Shattering

The Flat Book Society's September 2019 read.  I haven't progressed very far yet (so far, it seems to be along the lines of "astrophysics for total beginners"), but if it's done one thing already, it's demonstrated that the forces involved in the Big Bang (and similar cosmic cataclysms) more than justify its use for the Truly Terrifying bingo square.

 

 

The Card

... as of today:

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review 2018-09-09 22:05
A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales - Terri Windling,Ellen Datlow
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I love retellings, especially fairy tale retellings. I have a whole shelf on Goodreads dedicated to retellings and parodies. However, this one was kind of a let down. With big names like Neil Gaiman, Nancy Farmer, and Gregory Maguire, I thought I was in for an amazing trip into fairy tale retelling-dom. 

Unfortunately, most of the stories fell flat for me. Many of the authors took most of the magic out of the stories, creating a version of the story set in modern or quasi-modern times. This essentially took everything I love about fairy tales out of the actual fairy tale. I love reading about far off places in times long past with elements of strange magic. So these modern, realistic tales kind of took all the fun out of reading fairy tales. 

I did like a few of the pieces. Nancy Farmer's "Falada: The Goose Girl's Horse" was my favorite. I liked the changes she made to the original story. I also thought Michael Cadnum's "Mrs. Big" and Garth Nix's "Hansel's Eyes" had unique and interesting retellings. And Neil Gaiman's "Instructions" was a cute way of tying together a bunch of stories. 

But many of the stories just felt a little boring to me. Not enough fairies in said fairy tales. 

Not sure if it's because it was written 18 years ago or if the authors just tried simplifying their stories too much for their target audience, but I did not like this book as much as I thought I would. It was still decent with some interesting ideas in it so I still gave it 3 stars. Unique mash-up of sci-fi, fantasy, and realism.
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review 2018-08-19 21:11
Full of HOTNESS
Wolf Tales 12: Exposed Kindle Edition - Kate Douglas

Wolf Tales 12 concludes the erotic journey of the Chanku. In this final installment, the Chanku must all gather together in Montana after they have been exposed.

If you like the other books in the series, then you’ll love this story. It brings back some known characters and the story contains plenty of hot scenes while still maintaining a decent storyline. I recommend.

**I voluntarily read and reviewed this book

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review 2018-02-24 09:28
Book Review for Wolf Tales 12 by Kate Douglas
Wolf Tales 12: Exposed Kindle Edition - Kate Douglas
  •  
  • Wolf Tale 12 Exposed by Kate Douglas
  •  
  • Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 572 KB
  • Print Length: 437 pages
  • Publisher: Beyond the Page (January 23, 2018)
  • Publication Date: January 23, 2018
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B078YYDG29
  • Gene:Paranormal Romance,Erotica,Menage
  • Reviewed by Angels With Attitude Book Reviews
  • Arc copy provided from Netgallery
  • 5 stars from us
  •  
Blurb
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The final thrilling installment in the groundbreaking Wolf Tales series that captivated the world of erotic romance!

Even as their numbers have grown and they’ve spread out across the country, the Chanku have remained deeply connected by their mutual need for erotic pleasure and their unique shapeshifting abilities. Content to pursue their sensual way of life in relative anonymity, they’re stunned when their extraordinary nature is unavoidably revealed to the world at large—and fearful of the dangers they face from those who fear their differentness.

Realizing that the distance between them makes them vulnerable, they answer the silent call for all Chanku to come together at their pack alpha’s home in Montana. And in that setting, as they struggle to understand their new place in the world and defend themselves against suspicious and violent adversaries, they will discover a shocking revelation about their origins and their legacy. 

As the pack adapts to these new realities and reclaims their primal past, they will embark on a journey that will take them into uncharted territory and open up a spectacular, unimagined future . . .
 
 
 
 
Wow ! What an ending to a enjoyable series.The author did an amazing job ending her Wolf Tales series and we are going to miss so many of her amazing characters.
 
It's been sometime since I read anything from this author but, somehow I lost track of this book series and after reading this current book I need to revisit the series and start from the beginning again and finish up the books I missed as I forgot how much I enjoyed this series.
Although, when reading the ending of this story I pretty much new most of the characters that I had loved in the previous books in the series and it was nice to get reacquainted with them.
 
I always pick a favorite character in a story that I rave about but, this time around it was just to hard to just pick one so I am going to tell you all about the ones I loved the most.
 
Anton is the pack Alpha leader and just an amazing man who is filled with a abundance of love for all,caring,kind,smart,daring,sharp minded,sexy devious, an a planner but, most of all I loved the closeness and the amazing relationship he had with his his daughter Lily and his children.He melted my heart...I loved the amazing relationship he had with his wife Keisha and longtime lover Stephan.I loved how each and every night how he seeks out his pack mates and their children to make sure they were all safe and sound.If I wasn't a bit in love with him before I was totally in love with him when he took part in the birth of Liana and Adams third child being born.I was in total awe....
 
Adam & Logan just blew me away with their amazing healing abilities and what they can accomplish.They save lives of their pack mates,tried to heal a women who had been in a wheelchair their whole life as well as healing injured animals .All these men are affectionate,kind,loving,protective,sexual,caring and will do anything to protect their women and children above all else.Although, they a deadly as hell when the need arises.
 
Lily Antons daughter stole the show this time around.I loved this little girl from the onset of the story.Lily's abilities are astounding for just a little girl of six but when she sets out on a quest to save her people all on her own traveling between dimensions she just blew me away with her braveness and determination.I was on pins and needles just like her parents awaiting her return praying she was safe a sound.How could I not love her she was so sweet and a amazing little girl.This little girl made her fall in love with her character from the very first pages and she just broke my heart when she went missing.What a brave little girl she turned out to be!
 
I have to mention that these men of this pack would be lost without their women and their children.Their mates are their whole world.They make them the amazing men they are.Their women are strong,protective and as deadly as their men.I love these men and women and the love they had for everyone in their pack as it was so amazing to see as you actually feel the love they have for one another.You know in your heart they would give their life to protect and save one another.
 
We have to mention Sunny a new member to the pack who was lost to them and now saved.Sunny amazed me at every turn first for everything she had to overcome and accepted and grew in just a short amount of time adapting to her new life and surroundings.Overall though we loved all the characters with all of what they all have had to overcome as well as the capacity to love with their whole hearts and how each of them had some sort of amazing ability making them unique.And lets not forget the mind sharing which is totally awesome.
 
To sum up everything this story was an amazing read from cover to cover and once I started I could not put it down until I was finished with it.I loved how the author tied up any lose ends that we might of had on how the Chanku evolved over the years and how they originated and came to be.The story line was interesting and it had so many new things coming to light about their members and their children and as a race as a whole that just kept you glued to the pages to see what was going to happen next.
 
I have to say that we will be sorry to see these characters go but, that is what is so great about reading about them in books as you can revisit them anytime you want.We loved it !
 
I will be revisiting this series soon enough and catching up on a few stories we missed in this series.
 
Recommended real to all but , I would suggest you read the series in order though.
 
5 stars from us
 
 
 
 
 
Series order here !
 
 
Some people just seem to know they are meant to write, but it can still take a while to figure out exactly what their career will entail. Kate Douglas started out writing radio copy for a country western radio station in 1972, wrote and illustrated an educational cartoon strip for the American Mosquito Control Association for a number of years, was a newspaper reporter for a small town weekly where she covered everything from high school sports to drug busts, and then, in the mid-1980s, decided to write her first romance. 

Many submissions and rejections followed.

In 1998, she sold to a small ebook publisher before anyone knew what an ebook was, but it wasn't until 2005, a full twenty years after finishing that first romance, that she signed with a New York publisher.

In January 2006, Kensington Publishing launched their Aphrodisia imprint of erotic romance with Kate's Wolf Tales, a sexy paranormal series about a lost race of shapeshifters. She went on to write 21 novels and novellas in that series, then wrote three other series for Kensington before moving to St. Martin's Press.

She has two series with SMP--The Intimate Relations series complete with three novels and one novella of romantic suspense set in California's wine country, and an erotic paranormal series, Feral Passions, set in California's Trinity Alps.

She is also continuing her Spirit Wild series, the sequel to Wolf Tales, independently.

Kate and her husband of over forty-five years have two adult children and six grandchildren. They live in the small town of Healdsburg, California, in the heart of the beautiful Sonoma County wine country. 

www.katedouglas.com and www.katedouglas.com/eroticromance for full chapter excerpts of all of Kate's books. 

You can find Kate on Facebook at www.facebook.com/katedouglas.authorpage or on Twitter @wolftales
 
 
 
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