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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-20 00:34
The Magic Cottage by James Herbert (2017 Review)
The Magic Cottage - James Herbert

The Magic Cottage by James Herbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Top Read 2017 * * * * *

Tired of the hustle and bustle of the city of London, young couple Mike and Midge are determined to find a home that offers them a brighter - and quieter - future. Much to their delight, that perfect home comes in the form of Gramarye; a breathtaking, isolated cottage that appears too good to be true. Eager to move right in and settle down, they soon experience the enchanting wonders Gramarye has to offer, along with the sinister ugliness that lurks just beneath its surface.

(WARNING: this review contains spoilers.)

I genuinely didn't expect to discover such a hidden gem when I selected a book at random from my shelf. Having never picked up a Herbert novel before, I was soon stunned by the sheer beauty of the story, which included the subtle, yet increasingly unnerving horror element that primarily lingered in the background. I could be considered a nick-picky reader, or downright pessimistic; someone who doesn't dish out top ratings all too often because even the tiniest things can impact my enjoyment, so it's a surprise and a special occasion when I find something that ticks all the right boxes. And tick all the boxes it did, and then some. This one will stay with me for several reasons, the foremost being quite personal. I know very well the longing for the perfect home - somewhere that brings happiness and contentment. Gramarye in itself sounded like my dream cottage; it simply fascinated me with its extraordinarily close ties to nature, and the magic that enveloped its walls.

I quickly became attached to Mike and Midge, and rooted for their relationship throughout the entirety of the book. Both had their flaws; Mike could be selfish, whilst Midge infuriatingly stubborn, but I found them to be more relatable due to these faults. When they were on the verge of separation, I actually felt something; a sort of dread that perhaps a happy ending wasn't in store. That's the thing about this genre; happily-ever-afters aren't a certainty, there's just so much potential, and I couldn't stop my mind from racing. Of course, there were the side characters, and each and every one had their part to play. Val, in particular stood out, especially when she displayed such bravery and loyalty to her friends in the end.

The plot itself wasn't non-stop scares or gore, but rather a slow progression of laying down the foundations, and setting the tone, before the explosive finale. I can't say this way of storytelling works for everyone, but I found myself completely immersed, and never did I believe it to be stale. Herbert truly struck me as a writer that favoured the development of his characters, and of making the reader truly care for what's happening. I daresay it's so much better than cheap thrills that ultimately mean very little.

I really do need to mention the descriptive writing, and how it truly conveyed what Herbert wanted it to. There's a particular scene that takes place in the loft of Gramarye, involving Mike and a large number of bats. Don't get me wrong, I adore bats and have no fear of them, but I don't think I've ever been as disturbed when reading before - it almost made me feel a bit sick. Such in-depth detail that worked together extremely well, resulting in the magical moments positively feeling magical, and the eerie moments giving a clear sense of unease. This is what writing's really about.

Lastly, I should probably include that I actually cried at a certain point in this book. I'm usually not such an emotional reader, where I shed tears often, but I really loved that squirrel.

I'll never forget Rumbo.

Notable Scene:

The pink, hunched thing grew in size, frail shape glistening in the light of the torch. The tiny body oozed out, smoothly and wetly, taking form - an unsightly form - discharged from the womb like an oval blob of pink topping squeezed from an icing bag, to plop onto the mother bat's stomach, caught there and suspended by its life-chord. The mother immediately wrapped wings and pouched tail around the newborn, its head striving upwards and tongue flickering out to cleanse the sticky flesh body.

© Red Lace 2017

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/02/20/the-magic-cottage-by-james-herbert-2017-review
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review 2018-02-16 21:36
Scholastic Reader Level 1: May I Please Have a Cookie?: May I Please Have A Cookie? - Jennifer Morris

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

An adorable introduction to using your manners. This is a good book for young readers. With simple words and short sentences, it is a very good beginning book for children. 

I loved the humorous way of teaching manners. Also, the pictures are well-done with a variety of emotions expressed (happy, sad, mad). Many books only feature happy characters so I was glad to see other emotions in this book. Great for teaching about emotions as well.

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review 2018-02-12 18:24
Did you ever feel like you've walked into the middle of a conversation...
Seth and Casey - R.J. Scott

Well that's how I felt with this book. I liked the part of the story that I got but I would have really loved this if I'd gotten Seth and Casey's story before and a bit more story for after.

The story starts with Seth and Casey's relationship basically hanging by a thread. Seth and Casey have been together...forever or that's the plan at least. They've been friends since childhood and fell in love during their college years. It's five years later and Seth, who's a firefighter is recovering from a serious work related injury but it's taking a toll on his marriage. When Casey, who's a teacher gets trapped during a blizzard it turns out that Seth is the only one available to save them as both of the towns fire engines are out on calls. Seth still loves Casey, this fact has never been in question in his heart so of course he's going to go rescue the man he loves and 10 children. 

We're given a bit of what happens after the storm is over, but again I would have liked a bit more. So once again it's a case of 'it's not that I didn't like the story because I did. I liked it enough that I wanted it to be longer'.


*************************

A copy of 'Seth and Casey' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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text 2018-02-07 11:00
Facts About Me: Lifetime Bucket List

 

So, we all have one. A list of stuff we want to do in our lives. A list of places we'd like to go. A list of things we'd like to learn how to do. It's good to have goals and aim for something, even if it feels unrealistic at the time you want it. Here's my list of "one day" things I'd like to do and places I'd like to go.

 

* Go to Egypt. It's been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember.

 

* Have one of my books made into a TV show/movie. Because, really, it's the dream of every author. It had to be on here.

 

* I'd love to attend a Comic Con one day. For the geek in me, that would be heaven.

 

* I'd love to be healthy and fit enough to do a bit of travelling. Nothing as extravagant as Egypt, at first, but something like going around Europe. I've been to Spain, cutting through France and England, but I'd love to go to Italy one day and maybe go back to all the places I've been before, to really do the 'tourist' thing. Then maybe America.

 

* I would love to do a book signing at a proper Book Con. Right now, that's not medically or financially possible, but it would be the dream. To do one, at least, but maybe even to do a few of them and really get to meet my readers and other authors.

 

* It might sound silly, but I'd also love to catch up on my TBR list. It's ridiculously long. Maybe if I won a ridiculous amount on the lottery I could kick back in some sunshine place, feet up, food and drink prepared and delivered to me, with nothing to do but read and enjoy myself. That would be idyllic.

 

* I want a library. A real one. Like...Beauty and the Beast real. For all those TBR books that I'll be working my way through when I'm super-rich.

 

* Something logically achievable → I'd love to learn to cook. I watch Food Network like an addict, but I can't cook to save myself. Or feed myself. It's shocking and I'd love to fix that.

 

* I want to go to a concert. I've only ever been to one and it wasn't my choice. I went with my sister to a Boyzone concert and was the only one who knew the opening act! I'd love to go see someone of my choosing, without worrying about how to get there, how to pay for it and whether I had an escape route if I wasn't feeling well. Being disabled sucks when it comes to big venues, but other people can do it and I want to...eventually.

 

* Of course, I'd love to hit #1 on Amazon at some point. Not just as a 'free' price, which I've done, but at full cost and maybe even making it into the harder spots of NYTimes and such. That would be a dream come true!

 

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review 2018-01-31 01:22
Meeting changes those that meet
The Word for World is Forest - Ursula K. Le Guin

This was gorgeous and bittersweet take on the clash of cultures, colonization, slavery. I get why it's some people's Le Guin's favorite. I actually finished it the same day I started, it so gripped me (just happened that my connection swallowed my first review and I've been sulking... I mean, one time, ONE, in about fifty, that I do not backup before hitting "post", and of course Murphy says it's the one that fails).

 

I guess it's the amount of win that is packed in so few pages:

 

Davidson being such an archetype of male, white supremacist. He calls himself a "conquistador" like an accolade. His every though chain is like a slap (he's got all the flavors: chauvinistic, racist, dismissive of scholars), and the part that makes it so grotesque is identifying actual, real people in them. Even this gung-ho attitude that he considers heroism, where I could see what passed for badass in westerns and Haggard's novels, and read in context turns into GI fanatism of the Napalm loving type *shudder* The less said about his mental juggling on not considering the natives "human", therefore not slaves, but good to rape the better (the part where it is pointed out that if he does not consider them human then he's indulging in bestialism was fucking awesome).

 

The friendship between Selver and Lyubov. This on-going theme of Le Guin of one single, personal tie across species that changes the tide, bridges culture. The first pebble of the avalanche. The hinting of irrevocable change while Lyubov is worried, right before the camp goes up in flames. The actual naming on the gift exchange scene between Selver and Davidson. The bittersweet knowledge of permanence when Selver says Lyuvob will stay, and so will Davidson. The good with the bad.

 

Real life parallels abound, but it's more than that. It has heart. It makes you think, but at the same time, it makes you feel, and question. I loved it. 

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