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review 2018-03-18 20:25
The Man in the Iron Mask
The Man in the Iron Mask - Alexandre Dumas



Wow. This book is nothing like the movie, at least the one I watched with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jeremy Irons. The end was so tragic and the actual prisoner in the iron mask was such a small part of the story. Seems to me it was the complete opposite in the movie. Huh. Go figure.


I'm glad I finally read this.

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review 2018-03-18 05:12
The Uncommon Reader
The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett

A short novella on the joys, growth and enlightenment reading can bring, even to the most enlightened, at any time in life.  It's also an accurate portrayal of the consuming obsession reading can become (truth, as we all well know).  


Layered atop this testimony of the power of the word is another accurate portrayal of the divide that exists between those who read and those that don't.  Those who don't read should be forced to read this book, so that they know just how stupid they are relative to those that do.  When empathy for others and a focus on inner reflection over sartorial splendour are confused with senility and deterioration ... well at least senility is honourable; nothing honourable about ignorance.  But boy, do the readers get their revenge at the end - few books I've read ended with a better closing line.


My only complaint about this wonderful, brilliant little book is the author's conclusion that the natural outgrowth of reading must be to write.  This conceit leaves a rather large ding in my enjoyment of the book.  So is his assertion that to merely read is to be merely a spectator.  Both are flagrantly wrong, although how an author could naturally fall into such a self-supporting perspective is obvious.  Most readers will read their entire lives without every having a moment's urge to write, and I'd bet quite a few, like myself, often read and then go out and do.  I mean, I can't be the only person who's propped a book about knot tying in the crook of a tree, simultaneously reading about how to tie a knot, while actually trying to tie said knot, am I?


If you share either of my complaints, don't let it stop you from reading this book given the opportunity.  It's worth the small aggravations and disagreements to experience this charming, thoughtful and beautifully written novella.  


One final note:  Being Queen would suck.  There are not enough books and private libraries in all the holdings of the British monarchy that would make referring always to oneself in the neutral third person worth it.  If one had to constantly refer to oneself as one, one would send oneself's own head to the chopping block.  Ho-ly hell.

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review 2018-03-02 20:13
Scholastic Reader Level 2: Twin Magic #1: Lost Tooth Rescue! - Kate Ledger,Kyla May

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

I'd never heard of Twin Magic before finding this in the Little Free Lending Library. I was intrigued by the cover so I picked it up. It was kind of weird and definitely not what I was expecting, but I could see how children would enjoy it (especially those who like glitter). It could easily be a hit with fans of My Little Pony and Care Bears. 

The story itself (lost tooth) is one that has been told time and time again in children's literature. This one just adds super-hero-style elements to the story. I did enjoy the girl empowerment woven into the story (and the subtle way the twins reject Toby's help). A nice was to introduce girls to the idea that they can do anything. 

I did think the girls' powers were a bit weird (couldn't they have just asked Rosie to fly up and get the tooth instead of creating an elaborate, doomed-to-fail plan to have her stand guard while they use their mind powers to get the tooth?), but to each their own I guess. 

A weird story, but still good. This is a cute beginning to a series. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-23 21:46
The Awesome by Eva Darrows (2017 Review)
The Awesome - Eva Darrows

The Awesome by Eva Darrows
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Margaret Cunningham isn't your typical teenager. For one, she's well acquainted with the monsters that lurk in the shadows - well, most of them, anyway. Unable to aid her mother in hunting vampires, Maggie goes about rectifying the rather frustrating issue. As it turns out, her virgin blood works against her, its purity potent enough to send the bloodsuckers into a deadly and uncontrolled frenzy, and that's not good for anyone. Problem is, with little friends, and a small amount of social skills, the quest for "The Sex" may be the most difficult job yet.

(WARNING: this review may contain spoilers.)

I admit, the stylised and colourful artwork of the cover is nice to look at and undoubtedly draws the eye. As such, it was a pleasant gift to receive and probably one of the most unique covers in my sizeable collection. Now let's get to the actual review, shall we?

One thing's for sure - I would've enjoyed this one a lot more in my teenage years. For me, on a personal level, my sense of humour has changed considerably in the last decade, and whilst there were moments that brought a smile to my face, I just couldn't fully appreciate the adolescent banter (and the abundance of synonyms for "penis"). Regardless, the book was short enough that it didn't impede or become a chore to pick up, and overall there's one word I would use to describe it as a whole - fun. It didn't require much energy; the writing was quirky, and the plot easy enough to entertain. Certainly not a masterpiece, and nothing that'll stay with me for a long time to come, but it succeeded in filling up a few hours.

A major aspect of the story is the close bond between mother and daughter, however I found it a stretch to call it a normal parent-child relationship, and it struck me more of a friendship than anything else. Maggie referred to her mother by her first name, and Janice even went so far as to push her daughter into losing her virginity as quickly as possible, which seemed completely irresponsible and truthfully, a bit weird. Indeed, sex had a large part to play, and it all came down to Maggie striving to take her hunting apprenticeship to the next level. In Darrows' universe, monsters are public knowledge and often a threat to society, however we learn throughout that they don't necessarily have to be evil. Vampires however, the freshly turned in particular, simply can't resist that virgin allure, and thus we have the general plot - a seventeen year old trying to use sex to get a promotion.

Sounds a tad off, right? Either way, I tried not to overthink that aspect, and instead take it for what it was supposed to be; which was, first and foremost, lighthearted amusement. Maggie's inner monologue didn't irritate me much at all, as I'm generally fond of over-confident, snarky protagonists. Yes, she was immature as all hell, but she wasn't the worst, and by God, I've been infuriated by some main characters before. I digress...

Several events unfolded along the course of the book, and it was by no means boring as the story spiralled in different directions. As characters were introduced, they were likeable, but not lovable. I especially enjoyed the zombie side-plot of Julie, despite feeling it wasn't properly explained or concluded (the living dead need love too). The romance between Maggie and Ian was cute, regardless of the somewhat questionable means by how they originally met. Janice, well, I touched upon her further up. I'm not saying she was a bad mother... Or am I? I'm really not sure. As I said, it was weird.

It occurred to me more than once, that this would've been a decent first instalment of a series, however as of writing this review, I believe Darrows has no plans to continue with Maggie's adventures.

Notable Quote:

She skimmed the tip of her finger around her mouth to capture any unappealing smudges, and then did Duck Face. Duck Face was supposed to be a 'come hither' kissy pucker thing, but it more resembled a genetic deformity. I was pretty sure if I wanted The Sex, Duck Face was not the way to go.

© Red Lace 2017

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/02/23/the-awesome-by-eva-darrows-2017-review
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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

Wordpress ~ Goodreads ~ Twitter

Source: redlace.reviews/2018/02/20/the-magic-cottage-by-james-herbert-2017-review
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