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review 2017-12-16 08:42
"Slouch Witch - The Lazy Girl's Guide To Magic #" by Helen Harper - tremendous fun
Slouch Witch - Helen Harper

I knew Helen Harper could write original, compelling, dark, angst-ridden Urban Fantasy, her Bo Blackman series proved that.

 

I didn't know that she could also write light, witty, laugh-out-loud, ever-so-slightly-RomCom Urban Fantasy.

 

I know it now.

 

"Slouch Witch" is a delightful piece of comedy that twists and tickles Urban Fantasy, odd-couple buddy movies and RomCom tropes until they collapse in a fit of giggles, while still managing to build a credible magical universe and deliver a satisfying whodunnit plot.

 

This is clever stuff that Helen Harper makes look completely effortless.

 

Ivy Wilde drives a taxi in Oxford, but it would be a mistake to think of her as a taxi driver. She's a witch. True, she's not in the Order like other witches, at least not anymore and her favourite occupation is watching "Enchantment" from the comfort of her sofa while eating food that has been delivered to her door, but she's still a witch who knows a thing or two.

 

A misunderstanding compels her to work with a senior witch in the investigative arm of the Order. He is everything Ivy is not. Although he is many things Ivy finds attractive.

As the two of them track down wrong-doers within the order, sparks fly, spells are cast, karaoke is performed and a great time is had by all (well, not the bad guys of course, but everybody else).

 

This is escapist fun at its best. I listened to the audiobook version, narrated by Tanya Eby. She's a talented narrator and does a great job but I'm puzzled as to why Ivy seems to have an American accent when the story is set in Oxford, is laced with English vernacular and where the other characters are given some form of English accent. I forgave this after a while because Tanya Eby's comic timing is perfect. I'm happy to listen to her perform the next two books in the series.

 

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review 2017-12-16 01:01
The Power of Narrativium
The Science of Discworld - Terry Pratchett,Jack Cohen,Ian Stewart

Murder by Death and BrokenTune have essentially summed up a lot of the points I'd want to make about The Science of Discworld.  (What a misnomer that title is, incidentally -- and not only because the science part is really concerned with "Roundworld," i.e., our world ... the science part in this book expressly negates what chiefly makes Discworld tick, namely narrativium, which is described here as the narrative imperative, but actually stands for so much more.  But I'll get to that in a minute.)  And there is quite a bit of more discussion in MbD's post here and in the comments sections of BT's posts here and here, so little remains for me to add. 

 

There is one point in particular that is bothering me about the assertions made by the scientist co-authors, though, and that is their constant poo-pooing of any- and everything that isn't scientifically quantifiable or measurable, even though (in one of their many contradictions) they do admit in the book's final chapters that the "How-to-Make-a-Human-Being" kit we have inherited and are, ourselves, passing on to future generations (both individually and collectively) includes "extelligence", which constitutes not only collectively shaped knowledge and experience, but also virtually every abstract concept known to mankind today ... as long as -- according to Stewart and Cohen -- a person's response to such a concept can be measured and recorded in some way, shape or form.  That, however, still doesn't stop them from talking down the concept of a soul (human or otherwise), or from insisting that narrativium doesn't exist in our world.  I disagree, and largely in lieu of a review I'm going to throw their co-author Terry Pratchett's own words right in their teeth (and incidentally, Pratchett was, for all I know, an atheist, so religion -- which seems to be a key part of Stewart and Cohen's objection to the notion of a soul -- doesn't even enter into the discussion here):

"I will give you a lift back, said Death, after a while.

'Thank you.  Now ... tell me ...'

What would have happened if you hadn't saved him?' [the Hogfather, Discworld's  version of Santa Claus.]

'Yes! The sun  would have risen just the same, yes?'

No.

'Oh, come on.  You can't expect me to believe that.  It's an astronomical fact.'

The sun would not have risen.

She turned on him.

'It's been a long night, Grandfather!  I'm tired and I need a bath!  I don't need silliness!'

The sun would not have risen.

'Really?  Then what would have happened, pray?'

A mere ball of flaming gas would have illuminated the world.

They walked in silence.

'Ah,' said Susan dully. 'Trickery with words.  I would have thought you'd have been more literal-minded than that.'

I am nothing if not literal-minded.  Trickery with words is where humans live.

'All right,' said Susan.  'I'm not stupid.  You're saying humans need ... fantasies to make life bearable.'

Really?  As if it was some kind of pink pill?  No.  Humans need fantasy to be human.  To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.

'Tooth fairies?  Hogfathers? Little --'

Yes.  As practice, you have to start out learning to believe the little lies.

'So we can believe the big ones?'

Yes.  Justice.  Mercy.  Duty.  That sort of thing.

'They're not the same at all?'

You think so?  Then take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder and sieve it through the finest sieve and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy, and yet-- Death waved a hand.  And yet you act as if there is some ... some rightness in the universe by which it may be judged.

'Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what's the point--'

My point exactly.

She tried to assemble her thoughts.

There is a place where thwo galaxies have been colliding for a million years, said Death, apropos of nothing.  Don't try to tell me that's right.

'Yes, but people don't think about that,' said Susan.  Somewhere there was a bed ...

Correct.  Stars explode, worlds collide, there's hardly anywhere in the universe where humans can live without being frozen or fried, and yet you believe that a ... a bed is a normal thing.  It is the most amazing talent.

'Talent?'

Oh, yes.  A very speccial kind of stupidity.  You think the whole universe is inside your heads.

'You make us sound mad,' said Susan.  A nice warm bed ...

No.  You need to believe in things that aren't true.  How else can they become?  said Death, helping her up on to Binky."

(Terry Pratchett: Hogfather)

So you see, Messrs. Stewart and Cohen, there is narrativium everywhere where there are humans.  It may not have been part of the universe from the time of its creation (however we attempt to pinpoint or define that time).  And we don't know whether any of the long-extinct creatures who populated our planet millions of years before we came along had it -- if they did, it seems they at any rate didn't have enough of it to create a lasting record beyond their fossilized physical remains.  But humans wouldn't be humans without narrativium.  Because that's how the rising ape becomes something more than a mammal (call it a falling angel or whatever you will).  Because that's why it is the sun we see rising every morning, not merely a ball of flaming gas.  Because that's why the stars are shining in the sky at night, not a collection of galactic nuclear reactors that just happen to be close enough so we can see them with our naked eye.  And because that's what enables us to hope, to dream, and to consequently make things come true that nobody previously even thought possible.

 

It's narrativium that got us where we are today.  Not alone -- science, technology, and a whole lot of parts of the "How-to-Make-a-Human-Being-Kit" helped.  A lot.  But narrativium is the glue that holds them all together.

 

And since as a species we also seem to be endowed with a fair share of bloodimindium, maybe -- just maybe -- that, combined with narrativium and scientific advance all together will even enable us to survive the next big global catastrophe, which in galactic terms would seem to be right around the corner (at least if our Earth's history to date is anything to go by).  If the sharks and a bunch of protozoons could, then one would hope so could we ... space elevator, starship Enterprise, or whatever else it takes, right?

 

P.S.  Like MbD's and BT's, my love of the Discworld wizards is unbroken.  And clearly there is no higher life form than a librarian.  (Ook.)

 

P.P.S.  I said elsewhere that I'd be replacing Val McDermid's Forensics with this book as my "16 Festive Tasks" Newtonmas read.  I'm still doing this: at least it does actually have a reasonable degree of actual scientific contents; even if highly contradictory in both approach and substance and even if I didn't much care for the two science writers' tone.

 

 

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review 2017-12-15 19:06
Giveaway & Review – Mermaid Fins, Winds & Rolling Pins by Erin Johnson @EJohnsonWrites @dollycas
Mermaid Fins, Winds & Rolling Pins: A Cozy Witch Mystery (Spells & Caramels) (Volume 3) - Erin Johnson

 I am so excited to be a part of the wonderful tour for Mermaid Fins, Winds & Rolling Pins, A Cozy Witch Mystery, by Erin Johnson. This is a bit different from my usual cozy reading and I loved every minute of it.

 

 

Mermaid Fins, Winds & Rolling Pins: A Cozy Witch Mystery
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Self Published (November 21, 2017)
Paperback: 286 pages
Paperback: 286 pages
Kindle ASIN: B077CHVX8N

MY REVIEW

 

I love mermaids and cozy mysteries, so to get my hands on Mermaid Fins, Winds & Rolling Pins by Erin Johnson was quite the treat.

 

Imogene is a Swallow. No, it is not an erotic thing, but a magical power and hunky Hank, the Prince is teaching her how to use it.

 

A trip to the Mermaid Kingdom and a murder will have Imogene, Hank and her band of merry bakers working the investigation.

 

I love all the magical creatures, some new to me, and we even have some rambunctious pirates. I love Iggy, but ya gotta be careful because ya might get burned.

 

How would you like to be able to swallow a sea bubble, grow fins and gills, changing into a mermaid and swimming the ocean blue? Oh man, I sure would.

 

The fabulous world building leads to an adventure I am so glad I didn’t miss. This light, humorous mystery is full of characters to laugh with, love with, and fear for. Even in this world of beauty, someone must die to create an undersea mystery of a fresh kind.

 

This is Book III, but I had no trouble following the mystery, and even though not all questions will be answered, this particular mystery is solved and it left me wanting to read more. I call that…a job well done.

 

I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of Mermaid Fins, Winds & Rolling Pins by Erin Johnson.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos  4 Stars

 

Enter the giveaway here.

 

  • You can see my Giveaways HERE.
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  • Leave your link in the comments and I will drop by to see what’s shakin’.
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Source: www.fundinmental.com/giveaway-review-mermaid-fins-winds-rolling-pins-by-erin-johnson-ejohnsonwrites-dollycas
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review 2017-12-14 18:16
Review: "Undertow" (Whyborne & Griffin, #8.5) by Jordan L. Hawk
Undertow: A Whyborne & Griffin Universe Story - Jordan L. Hawk

 

~ 4 stars ~

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-12-13 20:38
Great sequel to a wonderfully written duology
Our Dark Duet - Victoria Schwab

***Possible spoilers below. You’ve been warned***

 

The plot was off to a pretty slow start in this one. Before I start, I’d have to recommend you read This Savage Song before going to this book. You would need the foundation that was set up in This Savage Song to really benefit and enjoy reading Our Dark Duet.

 

As mentioned before, the plot was off to a slow start. Kate and August are on both different ends of the spectrum but have changed drastically. They’ve definitely ‘grown up’ so to speak. Kate becomes monster hunter extraordinaire. August leads his own squad in the FTF. Kate’s part of the story was definitely more interesting. Despite trying hard not to warm up to people she manages to have her small group of friends (but of course, shuns them anyway despite one of them trying to reach out to her numerous times). I love this quality in Kate. It makes her so much more realistic and puts her way from the group of those ‘stone cold butt kickers that apparently have no soul’.

 

That being said about Kate. Oh. Lord. That ending. Kate dying with August nearby got my stomach into knots and twists. I can’t believe it. It was beautifully written though and a suitable ending for her. Kate was pretty much a pariah and a lone wolf. August was one of the few that was able to get to know Kate at a more deeper level. It was only fitting that she meets her end with that one person by her side. Beautifully done.

 

I didn’t really think the romance scene between Kate and August was necessary. It was a minor filler that didn’t need to be added. I never saw August and Kate that way. They were too different and didn’t have that nice ongoing chemistry together. Fighting partners, yes. Partners in love? No I don’t think so.

 

So more about characters dying. Am I the only one that felt a punch to the gut when Ilsa died? Ilsa was a character I really loved in these two books. She went down in a blaze of glory though (albeit, a shocked blaze of glory.)

 

You have to admit, Sloan is one of the better villains I have read in a long while. I like him teaming up with Alice even though villains they are, they are looking out for themselves. He’s creepy, malicious, calculating, and cunning. He’s a perfect villain.

 

The last half of the book, which was filled with action, blood, explosions and all the good stuff set the pace for the great ending to a wonderfully written duology. I know fans out there are asking for more, as it’s not the end of the adventures for August and Soro. For me, it’s just enough and it’s a perfect ending. Well done Ms Schwab! Now I’m off to read your other works!

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