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review 2018-01-16 20:46
Dark Mirror
In a Glass Darkly - Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

This was the Goodreads Classic Horror Lovers Tales to Chill Your Blood group read in October 2017. I listened to it on Kindle. This volume contains five stories: "Green Tea" "The Familiar" "Mr. Justice Harbottle" "The Room in the Dragon Volant" "Carmilla" I will go through and discuss each story separately.

 

"Green Tea"--I have read this story before. It's interesting, although the way it's written is a bit on the dry side. It's told with detachment, which I suppose makes sense as it's told through letters written by Dr. Martin Hesselius, a paranormal investigator. The interesting component was the concept of green tea as a substance that can cause a person's third eye to open and to allow them to see into the spirit world. The unfortunate clergyman who is the focus of the story is able to see a monkey that continues to haunt him until it drives him crazy. It could have been more suspenseful, honestly. 3 stars "The Familiar"--A psychological horror story about a man who is being haunted by a figure from his past as a sea captain. Another use of the trope of a person being driven mad by his perception of something no one else can see. I was not particularly impressed by this story. 2.5 stars "Mr. Justice Harbottle"--a story about a judge who is haunted by the spirits of those he wrongly condemned to death. Nice build of suspense. I think the writing is much better in this story than "Green Tea" and "The Familiar". Ironically, I read the original version of this story, "An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street" (1853) out of another ghost story volume I was reading in October. I like that it deals with the concept of spiritual consequences for the wrong that one does, even when the person seems to be powerful in this life. The judge was not just a corrupt official, but he was also a degenerate who treated those around him poorly. 4 stars "The Room in the Dragon Volant"--This is more of a suspense story. It reminds me of something Robert Louis Stevenson might have wrote. It's one of the longer stories in the volume, with some involved storytelling. It's not a ghost or horror story, although there initially appears to be supernatural elements. Lots of nice twists in the story that did impress me. 4 stars "Carmilla"--Another reread for me. A very famous novella about a female vampire with some very obvious homoerotic overtones. Carmilla chooses exclusively female victims and uses her allure to develop their attraction to her. Carmilla is a create of simultaneous seductiveness and repulsion to her newest victim, Laura. Readers can plot this story out and see over time that there is something very wrong about Carmilla. The story builds to an exciting climax as Laura's father and other concerned parties work to deal with the evil vampire. This is old school vampire horror. Carmilla is the bad guy. Readers who enjoy the romantic angle cannot escape the fact that Carmilla is a sexual predator who is endangering the life of Laura. This was written during the Victorian age, in which sexual values were highly pruritanical, so it couldn't have been written any other way without national outrage. However, it was a night springboard for plenty of later vampire stories that focused more of the erotic aspects and less on the evil monster component. First time I read this, I found the flowery descriptions tedious. I enjoyed this a lot more this time around, maybe because I listened to the narration. 4 stars. Overall, I would give this 3.5 stars, which is an average of my individual ratings. Le Fanu is a good writer, but his style isn't my personal favorite. He's not the most active writer and I don't find his writing particularly scary (other than a couple of moments in Carmilla). However, he has some interesting ideas and concepts and his storytelling has been influential to the genre of classic horror.

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review 2018-01-15 17:28
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue - Mackenzi Lee

It is impossible to explain how you can love someone so much that it’s difficult to be around him. And with Percy sitting there, half in shadow, his hair loose and his long legs and those eyes I could have lived and died in, it feels like there’s a space inside me that is so bright it burns.

 

This book is absolutely beautiful.  And for this to be on mainstream shelves makes me very happy.  I fell in love with all of these characters, and Monty's inner voice was heartbreaking and frustrating at the same time.  A character who for the most part grows into a man over the course of this adventure, despite the demons this boy carries. The writing is simply magnificient.

 

Perhaps he can’t understand it, the way that house will always be haunted for me, even if my father were gone from it. I can’t imagine living in it for the rest of my life, throwing parties in its parlors and filling the cabinets with my papers, all the while ignoring the dark spot on the dining room floor that’s never washed away, where I tore my chin open when my father knocked me to the ground with a single well-swung fist; or the hearth that chipped my tooth when I was thrown into it. There are bodies buried beneath the flagstones of my parents’ estate, and some graves never green.

 

 

I do wish we had also gotten sweet Percy's POV or a final scene between Monty and his father. I can only hope that we will get a third book to this series and perhaps a continuation of these boys as they grow further in their love for one another and continue to grow into the men they have become, standing on their own in a world so unaccepting of their love.

 

 

Felicity's story it seems is next. I am quite excited to see her continued adventures, perhaps with the "pirates" as she also looks to stand as a woman of purpose in a time where socially her worth has been predetermined.

 

 

 

Such amazingly developed fan art to accompany this beautiful journey.

 

Highly recommended.

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review 2017-12-31 12:24
Six Tudor Queens: Writing a New Story - Alison Weir

As I wasn't expecting much, I didn't think I could be disappointed. It was a free download and I thought it sounded interesting. I was hoping for some insight in to why she felt she needed to write the series and how she came across her 'new' information, that kind of thing. What I didn't expect was six pages of the usual blurb you get at the start of the book (publication information/ author biography) and the remaining ten pages just a very quick summary of history. I imagine that it could be quite a good place to start if you have never read anything about Henry VIIIs wives but if you have a basic knowledge then it just isn't worth it. Having said that it cost nothing and just a few minutes of my life so I am not complaining.

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review 2017-12-07 18:40
A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat
A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat - Roe Horvat

“I regret the wasted time and energy. I regret what you went through. I will forever doubt there’s more to life than a limp shuffling toward a grave with just a few bright spots in between…”

Matěj snorted at the last one. “That’s a neat way to sum it up,” he commented sarcastically, making Simon smile into his hair.

Simon breathed in and out, the warm scent coming from Matěj’s nape underlined by the crisp air around them. “But tonight, my beautiful boy, the light is so bright I might as well be blind.”

 

I am going to try very hard as I write this review not to completely fall apart.  It has been a while since a book has impacted me quite as emotionally as this one has.  And while the tears have fallen, behind them was such beautiful and heartfelt emotion for these characters.  The writing is quite captivating and like with all of Roe’s books, quite unique. The structure of this one drew me in from the start and while it is the journey of 2 characters, it is the story of a group of friends as well.  It is about finding Home, about finding YOUR family and about finding “happiness and peace of mind”.

 

This is not what I would call a traditional romance but it is a love story.  As the title indicates, this is in fact “A Love Song”.  For me music can be felt in your soul.  It can impact you with no words at all.  And like with this beautiful “Love Song”, not everything is said with words.  To end one section of a book and simply turn a page, only to find yourself so emotionally impacted takes a talent that is hard to fully understand.  This book does that.  You will feel every emotion.  Every act. Every touch. Every breath and every action.  There are small gestures which read in the context of the book, mean everything.  This is about darkness and light and the colors in between.  This is about finding the person who helps you see though the darkness to find happiness and joy, love…to see light.

 

Matěj treated life like delicious food, just like he appreciated Simon’s books and hummed around a beer bottle. The boy knew how to enjoy things, how to marvel at things, how to savor impressions, how to feast on a pleasurable moment to its maximum capacity. It was a singular skill, wildly to be admired. When Simon found himself at the center of the man’s attention, those were easily the happiest minutes of his entire life. Everything in between lost color.

 

Let me not forget all the little things (which are actually quite big things)…the stick figures (yes, I just caught my breath and shed a tear); Tom Waits (who alone can conjure the right feelings and emotional tone of this story); dear Simon’s black and white apartment, and one of the most memorable and heartwarming trips to an ER I have read.  Add to this a cover that alone captures so much emotion and relates brilliantly to the darkness that surrounds these characters.

 

I know I have not said what this book is about.  Honestly I can’t put it into any words that will make sense.  It is a Song that must be heard for yourself…because how can you describe music that touches your soul?  You can’t.

 

*An ARC was received from the Author in exchange for an honest review.*

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review 2017-12-02 15:42
Jared's Fulfillment
Jared's Fulfillment - Riley Hart

“How did I survive without you?”

The truth was, that’s all either of us had done without each other—survived. Now, we lived.

 

First let me say that this is not a story for every reader, just like BDSM is not something every person understands or participates in.  But what we can do as readers is be understanding, become more knowledgeable and push ourselves outside of our comfort zones at times and see that what may not be right for some is right for others. It is what makes us each unique.  Nothing should be wrong that feels right.

 

Riley Hart as an author went there with Jared and Kieran’s journey.  And after reading her note to her Readers at the beginning of this book, I gained even more respect for her as an author.  She took on something so different from anything else she had ever written.  She stepped outside of the normal MM Romance parameters or broke a few “romance rules”, as she states, and that takes such strength to do so.

 

“I followed my heart in this book. I stayed true to how the story came to me, no matter where it took me. Love is a universal emotion but there are no rules to it either. No matter how many people experience it, no one experiences it that same. As long as it’s consensual and between adults there’s no wrong way to love. This is their way.” – Riley Hart

 

What transpires within these pages is quite beautiful.  It is a journey.  It is discovery.  And while some acts in this story are still so outside of my realm of understanding and comfort zone, Riley did so with a commitment to these characters and what they needed. 

 

I am not about to spoil anything about this journey…it is one that should you choose to take on, do so with an open mind…with love and understanding.  In the end, I think you too will fall in love with these amazing men and their story.

 

I do desperately want more in this series and hope that we eventually get more of Marco and as Dana suggested on FB, perhaps Charlie’s story as well. 

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