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review 2018-10-19 03:58
The Frangipani Hotel: Or Vietnamese Ghost Stories Galore
The Frangipani Hotel: Fiction - Violet Kupersmith

I'm never quite sure how to review short story collections, so bear with me. These stories all share a sense of unease and creeping dread, which is something I enjoy in my ghost stories. There are plenty of spooky ghosts, unsettling scenarios, and narratives that leave your skin crawling. They have a feeling of tapping into urban legends and traditional folk tales (though I don't know enough about Vietnamese culture to say whether that is accurate or not). The connective tissue that holds these stories together is a different ghost though - the specter of the Vietnam War looms in the background of all of these stories, grim and devastating.

 

I enjoyed this collection, and it satisfied my spooky October itch, but it never fully blew me away. I couldn't really say why other than it's really hard to wow me with shorter fiction. I will say many of the stories share a similar structure and part of that structure includes abrupt endings. This didn't bother me, per se, but it did start to feel repetitive when reading the collection straight through. I think I might have enjoyed it more if I had spaced the stories out in between other fictions. All in all this is a solid collection, and I'm glad I read it. If you're looking for ghost stories with a Vietnamese flavor these will likely satisfy.

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text 2018-10-18 18:06

 

 

Take 20% Off Any Script from the Crypt

 

Can your heart stand the shocking truth behind your favorite horror/sci-fi films? The Scripts from the Crypt series peals back the veil to give readers heretofore untold behind-the-scenes stories. Marvel at the detailed production histories of films like Dracula's Daughter, The Hideous Sun Demon, Bride of the Gorilla and more.

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Dr. Wesley Britton,

Author, The Beta Earth Chronicles

Reviewer, BookPleasures.com

 

 

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review 2018-10-18 15:02
The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter
The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter - Hazel Gaynor

Grace Darling is the daughter of the Longstone Lighthouse keeper in the Farne Islands. She has dedicated her life to helping her father keep the light. Although, for a young women in the 1830's, this is not the life that is expected of her. Grace's life is put into the spotlight when she assists her father in rescuing the survivors of a shipwreck. One of the survivors of the shipwreck is Sarah Dawson, who has lost both of her children to the sea. Sarah is also the brother of George Emmerson, an artist who visited Longstone and formed a strong bond with Grace. Grace and Sarah become fast friends after their ordeal on the island and share a bond of courage and heartache.

One hundred years later, Sarah's great-great granddaughter, Matilda arrives in Rhode Island disgraced and pregnant, sent away from her hometown in Ireland to stay with her cousin and lighthouse keeper, Harriet. To keep herself busy Matilda sorts through an old chest, finding momentos of Grace Darling and George Emmerson. By learning the stories of Grace, Sarah and Harriet, Matilda finds strength within herself to what must be done.


The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter is a story of courage and bravery carried through time. The phrase "Even the brave were once afraid" is a theme throughout the book and something that each character realizes over time. I was pleased to learn the history of Grace Darling, I name I have heard of, but didn't know anything about. Much of what is written about Grace is fact-based and well researched. Through the writing I could perfectly picture Grace and her attention to her duties and well as her unease at becoming a heroine for simply performing the duty of a lighthouse keeper. Matilda and Harriet's story took a little bit longer to capture my attention; however, when all of the secrets throughout time are revealed, their bravery shines through and everything falls into place. As always, Hazel Gaynor's writing transports me easily through time periods with poise and captures multiple characters personalities perfectly. Overall, an amazing story of courage and love.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-10-18 15:00
DNF- So Much Wangst, So Little Action and Immersion

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

I tried to get into this one and struggled for literally months to finish it, but I give up. This book doesn't hold my attention at all.

 

What intrigued me to pick it up forces me to put it down. Tying the Guy Fawkes legend into an urban fantasy Victorian/Gregorian English setting is an appealing idea, but the lack of urgency in the story, the endless inner monologues and piecemeal explanation for what Color Magic is all about and why there's such trouble between the differing factions will have you losing interest fast.

 

A big letdown for me was the characterization, especially Emma. While the whiny, emo protagonist Thomas was bad enough- granted he had a sense of urgency with his condition, but that only seemed to come whenever the author arbitrarily decided she needed to insert some drama- Emma almost felt like a betrayal. Maybe I missed something, but the sudden reveal of Emma as a black woman killed any further interest I had. It felt cheap & forced, especially when there was not even a hint to this beforehand, so why the deception? To make Thomas seem more sympathetic and juxtapose the rivals/bad guys as more eeeevil. When you club your readers upside the head with cheap tricks to try and make them feel for the characters, you've lost.

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text 2018-10-18 10:18
Reading progress update: I've read 43 out of 176 pages.
Summer Morning, Summer Night - Ray Bradbury

Quiet stories about a quiet town.

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