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text 2018-09-24 19:04
Reading progress update: I've read 201 out of 512 pages.
Beastly Deluxe Edition - Alex Flinn

It's not great, but I like it. First retelling I've ever read (that I can think of). When I got this, I didnt know it was a series (should've known though). We'll see what I think about this one before I decide if I'm going on to the 2nd one. 

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text 2018-09-24 19:00
My Swap from Debbie! Amazeballs!

I got my part of the Fall Magic Swap today! From Debbie's Spurts. It's so cute!

 

 

Presentation, people!

 

Here's what I got:

 

So many unicorns! *heart eyes* And all the tea smells amazing. In the winter hot drinks always help sooth my sore throats so I will put all that to use. I will even use the basket this all came in. I'm an organization freak. 

 

 

This is such a spectacular box. (Well, they all are. But I digress.) I said I love unicorns, and Debbie delivered. I had a hard time deciding between dragons and unicorns, but I went with the more fabulous creature. I have a tone of dragons. I don't have too many unicorns. This has made my day. Thank you so much, Debbie! I hope your swap is just as great!

 

 

 

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review 2018-09-24 09:56
Curiosity Thrilled the Cat ★★☆☆☆ (DNF)
Curiosity Thrilled the Cat - Sofie Kelly

I just could not get interested in this book. By the time I waded through all the exposition in the beginning chapters to get to the actual mystery, I no longer cared much. I like the idea of a cat-lady librarian for a main character, but other than judging people by the books they check out, there's not much library to this story aside from the setting. The cats weren't particularly engaging for me, either. 

 

Anyway, I hate to abandon a book after getting so far into it, but I just couldn't face another seven hours of audio when I was barely paying attention anyway. DNF at 32%

 

Audio version, borrowed from my public library. Cassandra Campbell's performance was ok. I was attempting to read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square Cozy Mystery:  a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. Instead, I have picked up book #6 in the Haunted Home Renovation series, Give Up the Ghost - Juliet Blackwell  . 

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review 2018-09-24 08:34
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer Wright

I finally finished this one.  The delay was a combination of being on holiday, and needing to put some space between my experience of this book and the experience of others, as I was starting to feel like I was losing my objectivity regarding my feelings about this book.

 

So, my feelings: Get Well Soon was poorly sub-titled and marketed.  As a popular science book, or a popular history-about-science book, it fails.  As an introductory anthropological and cultural survey of how society has historically reacted to epidemics and pandemics, I think its excellent.

 

Furthermore, while I like her writing style a lot, it is polarising.  Jennifer Wright is a 30-something author whose voice is informal, irreverent and snarky.  She writes the way friends - good friends - talk when they don't have to behave themselves.  She uses this no-nonsense voice to sometimes share her thoughts about topics that are themselves, polarising.  

 

So this is a book that isn't going to appeal to everyone.  It particularly isn't going to appeal - at all - to anyone looking for a more sober, scientifically-focused exploration of the topic.  After reading the whole thing, I'm pretty sure it was never meant to, at least, not from the author's perspective.

 

"If you take nothing else away from this book, I hope it's that sick people are not villains."

 

This is a recurring theme from start to finish.  Wright's objective seems to be to focus a spotlight on humanity's reaction to mass illness throughout history, whether good or bad.  Her hope in doing so is that perhaps those who read this book will learn from history rather than doom themselves to repeat it.  She does this is the frankest, bluntest possible way, with a lot of snarky humor.

 

In this objective, I believe she succeeds.  I think those of us who could be labeled as 'prolific readers' or those who voraciously devour their favorite subjects, might lose perspective on how well-informed, or not,  most people today are.  Society today is at least as divided as it's been at almost any other time in history, and a good deal of opinion is shaped via the internet, a source we all know can be about as accurate as a round of the telephone game.

 

In this context, I think the book is fantastic.  Jennifer Wright seems to be a popular author of columns in various newspapers and magazines; if even a handful of her fans from Harper's Bazaar, et al, read this book simply because she wrote it, and they come away having learned something they didn't know before they started, or thinking harder about their responsibility in society, then Wright will have succeeded where others have failed.  (And yes, I'm generally pessimistic about the world I live in - my country is being run by an orange lunatic; I think I'm entitled to a bit of pessimism.)

 

I'm not one of her magazine/newspaper fans.  In fact it wasn't until after I'd started this that I realised I'd ever read anything by her before.  I'm also quantitatively better read, if not qualitatively (some would argue), and I can say that not only did I enjoy this book a great deal, but I learned more than I expected to.  For example, I had no idea that the Spanish Flu wasn't actually Spanish, but probably American, and I had no idea that it killed so many Americans.  Granted, most of my knowledge of the Spanish Flu comes from British fiction, but it's a testament to the horrifying effectiveness of government censorship during WWI that you still don't read about it in American fiction, and this is a disease that killed in one month more Americans than the US Civil War.  I'd also never heard of Encephalitis Lethargica, and sort of wish I never had.  Even on the diseases I knew more about, Wright managed to impart something new for me, and in at least 2 chapters, left me misty eyed over the power people have when they choose to be selfless.

 

As a popular science book meant to tackle a complicated topic in a palatable way, this book is a fail; there's not nearly enough scientific discussion or data here to qualify this as such a book.  But as a popular, cultural overview of the way societies throughout history have succeeded or failed to handle epidemics when they happened and the importance of rational, humane leaders and populace in times of crises, I think Wright succeeds very well.

 

The tragedy of this book is that it's marketed to the very people who are bound to be disappointed by it and likely don't need its message, and the people who might gain the most from it are likely to pass it by because they think it'll be too boring and dry.

 

I read this for The Flat Book Society's September read, but it also qualifies for the Doomsday square in Halloween Bingo.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-09-24 07:28
The House by the Cemetery 4* book review
The House by the Cemetery (Fiction Without Frontiers) - John Everson The House by the Cemetery John Everson Flame Tree Press 4* ***SPOILERS*** “Some things should remain buried” Synopsis: “Rumour has it that the abandoned house by the cemetery is haunted by the ghost of a witch. But rumours won’t stop carpenter Mike Kostner from rehabbing the place as a haunted house attraction. Soon he’ll learn that fresh wood and nails can’t keep decades of rumours down. There are noises in the walls, and fresh blood on the floor: secrets that would be better not to discover. And behind the rumours is a real ghost who will do whatever it takes to ensure the house reopens. She needs people to fill her house on Halloween. There’s a dark, horrible ritual to fulfil. Because while the witch may have been dead... she doesn’t intend to stay that way.” Thank you to Flame Tree Press for sending me an advance copy of The House by the Cemetery to review. Some things should most definitely remain buried. A murderous witch undoubtedly should. If there was ever a tale about a man being led by his, ahem, ‘other’ brain, this is it. Mike, a carpenter is tasked with making an already haunted house safe, to be opened as a haunted house attraction. Seems like a great idea doesn’t it? The end result, the cattle are taking themselves to the slaughter. I got many American Horror Story feels from this book; I could picture it in my mind, the different cast members of AHS and which parts they would be perfect for. It really felt like a story that Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk had come up with during the creative process for their next series. It’s a shame really that they have already done the haunted house theme (series 1). I can live in hope though right? Mike, divorced, living hand to mouth and pay check to pay check, is struggling to pay the rent. He reluctantly agrees to a job offer from his friend Perry, to work on reconstructing Bachelor’s Grove, an infamous haunted house complete with a creepy cemetery. It is to be opened in the run up to Halloween and a scary money making attraction. He meets a girl, Katie, falls for girl and does everything she asks no matter how twisted or bizarre it may seem. Love really is blind. That was my one fault with this book; Mike was a little too accepting of the situation. Even at the end, all the murders, the bloodshed, and he just seemed to be very blasé about it. He would complain, and say he didn’t agree et cetera et cetera, but Katie would smile sweetly and bat her witchy eyelashes and he would be back to being her good boy. That one thing was my only annoyance. I think we needed a man with a bit more fight in him, not an absolute pushover. Katie really didn’t have to work for it. Also, I have to admit, it was not a huge surprise to find out Katie was a ghost, or even the witch for that matter. It was sadly pretty obvious from early on in the book, although that didn’t curtail my enjoyment. I felt the haunted house within a haunted house concept worked really well, I loved all the different room ideas and the overall layout and decoration of the house really did sound great. I felt there was maybe a lack of any ‘actual’ haunting within the house when it was open to the public, unlike the subtle incidents, of entrails, noises and footsteps whilst Mike was working on it. That subtle approach was perfect for building atmosphere in the earlier stages of this novel. I would have appreciated a few unintended jump scares from resident ghostly inhabitants during the open house, which would have been a treat alongside the actors dishing out the scares. I think introducing some other spectral figures would have given the house more of a back story, showing us that many people died there over the years. While we were limited with ghostly visitors, despite being told numerous times of the vast paranormal presence within the house, we were not left totally disappointed. It wasn’t until the very last night of business that the ghouls came out to play. Those last few chapters were great, a very big finish, a huge kill count, it was an absolute blood bath that wouldn’t have been lost on an eighties slasher flick. The House by the Cemetery, released 18th October 2018, is available for pre-order from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/House-Cemetery-Fiction-Without-Frontiers/dp/1787580016/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1537108789&sr=1-1&keywords=the+house+by+the+cemetery 4/5 – We all love a good haunted house story don’t we? Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)
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