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review 2017-12-01 13:43
The Silver Music Box - Alison Layland,Mina Baites

The Silver Music Box by Mina Baites
Cast of characters are highlighted at the start of this book.
Love learning new things: silver smithing and the family business. Love the design work discussed.
We find Johann and he's making a special music box for his son Paul as he has to attend to some things that will take him away from home....
He meets with other family members as they discuss the war.
Johann will sign up to fight in the war-in another country to help the Jews.
Love how his wife wants to help out to help those in need-she will cook and serve at the synagogue. Story advances to when Paul is 19 and treasures his music box.
His father had died in the war...he will convert to Catholicism and then marry Clara who's also converting...
His passion is also a silversmith and the shop continues even after Wall Street collapse...being shunned because they are Jews but live as Christians.
Love how they hold out for as long as they can-losing jobs, no customers....
What I like about this book are the descriptions-they are so deep and detailed you feel you are there, in the trenches and hunched over the work table.
Love what the silver music box stands for and how it's passed from one to another over time, generation after generation.
Resourced and references listings at the end along with an author bio. Would read more from this author because they have done their homework with the facts making it an enjoyable story also.
Received this review copy via AmazonCrossing via Netgalley and this is my honest opinion.

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review 2017-11-30 15:57
Music of the Distant Stars
Music of the Distant Stars - Alys Clare

England, the 1080s

 

The singer watched as the young girl with the copper-coloured hair and the boyish figure wrested open the door of the little house and disappeared inside. You hear me, don't you, lass? he thought. You listen to my song and you go rigid as you perceive my pain. You have a good heart and I'm sorry that I frighten you.

He heard footsteps on the path: a quick, light step that he recognized as belonging to the older woman who lived in the little house. He slipped back into his hiding place and watched as she hurried up to the door and let herself in. She was a healer; his sense of smell was strong, and he could detect her profession from the scent of her clothes, as he could from those of the copper-haired girl. The house itself smelt of clean, fresh things: of herbvs and fresh-cut grass. He liked the smell. He liked being close to the house. It gave him comfort, of a sort.

But there was no real comfort, not any more. His world had come to an end. He was alone, away from the place he had known all his life. He felt the great surge of anguish rise up in him, and a few notes of his song emerged from his lips. As if the music lanced his pain, for a few moments it eased.

Music. There was always the music.

 

This is the third of the Aelf Fen Mysteries featuring the healer Lassair and written by Alys Clare, the author of the perhaps better-known Hawkenlye novels. The Aelf Fen Mysteries are set in a slightly earlier period than those, soon after the Norman Conquest when the victors of Hastings were still hated strangers in the land. Two of Lassaire's uncles had died at Hastings, as had the fathers, husbands, brothers and sons of much of the population – a thing not easily forgotten or forgiven.

 

Lassair is a seventeen-year-old apprentice healer, whose family live in the Fenland village of Aelf Fen, though she herself now lives and studies with her aunt, the local wise woman, herbalist, midwife and – whisper it! – witch.

 

At dawn one midsummer morning, Lassair sets out for the community's burial island, sent by her aunt to put a fresh flower garland on the stone slab that covered the grave of her recently deceased grandmother, Cordeilla. She also has with her the symbols of earth, air, fire and water intended to summon spirits to help her in her prayers. It is still dark, but Lassair has no trouble finding the path through the treacherous swamps and bogs, for she is a dowser who can "see hidden tracks and pathways that are all but invisible to others." She is very sensitive. She is also very superstitious.

 

Suddenly my feet seemed to freeze to the ground and I could not move. I stood on the narrow path, my heart thumping so hard it hurt. [...] The path still glowed faintly, but on either side the land was clothed in its thick-leafed summer foliage, providing far too many places where someone bent on harming me could hide.

I was not afraid of ill-intentioned humans, however. The entities I dreaded had no need of hiding places, for they were, I was quite sure, perfectly capable of invisibility. They could creep up me without my suspecting a thing, and the first I would know was when icy fingers clutched at my throat and supernaturally strong arms thrust my head down into the black waters till I drwoned and went to join their grey, shimmering company ...

With a great effort, I commanded myself not to be so fanciful and cowardly.

 

Teeth chattering with fear, she makes way way across onto the island, only to discover that someone has moved the slab of stone. And peering in, that there are now two bodies in the grave.

 

Whoever moved the slab of stone put that other body in there, she realises. And that person wanted to conceal the body. That person was a murderer!

 

This is all too much for her, and she goes racing back to her aunt.

 

The dead body turns out to be that of a pregnant girl much the same age as Lassair herself. Her name was Ida, and she was seamstress to a rather unpleasant Norman lady. It also turns out that that Norman lady's fiancé, Sir Alain, was rather fonder of Ida that he was was of the Norman lady. Was he the murderer? No one could possibly suggest it, for not only was he a Norman, but he was the local justiciar. And anyway, Lassair rather likes him.

 

No, the chief suspect seems to be a certain Derman, the village idiot, who "looks like a gargoyle and frightens little children", but himself has the mind of a child. And Derman is the brother of the gorgeous Zarina, whom Lassair's own brother, Haward, plans to marry. Only Zarina won't marry him because, she says, she will not impose her brother on him. So wouldn't it suit Haward very well for Derman to be found guilty of the murder? – or so some people can't help wondering.

 

But who is the "invisible singer", a minstrel who seems to have been in love with the dead girl? He is surely unlikely to have been the murderer, but he could have been the father of her unborn baby.

 

All very complicated – and full not only of the magic and mystery we have come to expect from this very special author, but of a love of, and knowledge of, the English countryside that is, in my experience, quite unique among medieval mystery writers.

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text 2017-11-25 13:51
Hygge!

Tasks for Saint Lucia's Day: Get your Hygge on -- light a few candles if you’ve got them, pour yourself a glass of wine or hot chocolate/toddy, roast a marshmallow or toast a crumpet, and take a picture of your cosiest reading place.

 

The cat and I made a lovely comfortable evening of it last night:

 


("And what is so interesting about a cat eating his dinner, I'd like to know?!")


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review 2017-11-25 00:58
The Music of the Spheres
The Music of the Spheres - Milton Chase Potter

3.75 stars, rounded up

 

CW: 

Death, depression, cancer (side character)

(spoiler show)

 

I wouldn't classify this as a romance, though there is a love story. It's more about two boys becoming friends and helping each other through some tough times. Well, it's more Adam helping Ryan through some tough times, but they both fulfill something that's missing in the other's life, as Ryan provides Adam with a surrogate family. Their friendship is wonderful and often put a big grin on my face. 

 

It's first-person POV and present tense, which I know some readers may have issues with. I'm not one who cares about that normally, and while it mostly doesn't bother me here, I did find myself often wanting to see Adam's side of things. This was especially the case in the one brief scene we have with Adam's foster father.

The fact that Adam was in one foster home for three years should tell him that his foster parents are dedicated to him, because that's not very common. And his foster father seemed almost desperate to get to know one of Adam's friends and find out more about him. So why exactly was Adam keeping his foster parents at such a distance when he so readily accepted Ryan's family? And also, why did he so quickly go from "I don't like being touched" to initiating hugs with Ryan?

(spoiler show)

It almost felt like there was something else going on there than the brief explanation that we got, so the choice to do this in first-person does limit how much we get to know about Adam. I also wanted Ryan to figure out his feelings for Adam a lot sooner than he did.

 

I was not prepared for the turn this story made at about the halfway mark. It was very emotional and while I hated what happened, it was beautifully written. The writing throughout the story flowed nicely and I liked seeing how these characters cared about each other and how they "adopted" Adam to their family and helped each other when things got rough.

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review 2017-10-29 14:56
Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever
Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever - Tom Neely

Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever was hilarious!

 

It works on the premise that Henry Rollins, (Black Flag), and Glenn Danzig, (The Misfits), who are both the most manly men you can imagine, have a gay relationship. Hall & Oates live next door and are Satanists. Lemmy from Motorhead also shows up and shenanigans ensue!

 

I loved the humor and the silliness in this book. What I did not enjoy very much was the artwork, (at times-there were a lot of different artists), and the misspellings, (there were a few.) I know this is just a comic or graphic novel, but spelling is still important, and graphics, (being that this is a GRAPHIC novel), need to be outstanding, and I didn't think they were.

 

That said, I really did think this was funny as hell and if you're looking for a laugh, this should do it, for sure. 

 

I was able to check this graphic novel out of my local library. Libraries RULE!

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