Monthly Wrap-up · Various Things

Monthly Wrap-up October 2020. #BookBlogger #BookBloggers #Blogger #Bloggers

wrapup

Welcome to my October wrap-up blog post featuring all of the fantastic posts on my blog that I posted during the month of October.

October Posts.

MusicMonday

other posts

bookreviews

Review snippet:

Agnes, Bella and Juniper, the Eastwood sisters are a trio of absolutely fantastic characters and each features some superb characterisation by Harrow. Each of the sisters is very different from the other and all three have their own individual personalities. They are broken and damaged by life, yet, they have endured the hardship of living, they survived and they are all strong, but as they will find they are far stronger together than they are apart. Beatrice Belladonna, the eldest is bookish, calm, quiet, timid, worrisome, knowledgable, wise and lacks confidence in herself. Agnes Amaranth, the middle sister is practical, strong and steadfast. And, James Juniper, the youngest is feral, reckless, unpredictable, stubborn and wild. Trouble seems to follow Juniper wherever she goes, there is a raging hurt inside her and she wants others to hurt like she does. Juniper with her untamed spirit is by far my favourite of the three sisters, but there are many thought-provoking moments revolving around all three of them in the story that are deeply moving, that pull on the heartstrings and that rank high on the emotional scale due to your investment in the trio. Throughout the story the three Eastwood sisters are aided by a wide range of diverse characters that are all well-developed too, some with larger and lasting roles and others have smaller roles to play, but they all add a little something extra to the overall story.

Anyone who has read Harrow’s previous book The Ten Thousand Doors of January will know that she has a bewitching way with words and that she writes in a very poetic, lilting and lyrical way with lush descriptions that paint vivid and vibrant watercolours of her characters, her settings and her unfolding story. Words have power and Harrow’s writing personifies this, it is beautiful, like a balm of soothing honey and spun silken spider webs that glisten in the morning dew. As she weaves her story she mesmerises you with her prose carrying you along with a soaring melody that ebbs and flows against a backdrop of sweet summer rain, a cool breeze and a cascading and serene waterfall. That style of writing is still present in the majority of The Once and Future Witches, but this time around it is peppered with an icy wind, sharp staccato barbs and blast beats that punctuate the serenity, stoke the flames and that serve as a counterpoint to the beauty, highlighting the anger, the rage and the venomous fury that is felt by the three Eastwood sisters.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January was a love letter to books, to stories, to readers and to those who crave adventure and yearn for escape. With it, Harrow created a book that reminded you why you fell in love with reading. The Once and Future Witches is a book about empowerment and sisterhood, it is about the voiceless finding their voice, it is about rediscovering the power hidden within, it is a call to arms to fight for your beliefs, for your rights and a reminder that you choose your own fate, walk your own path and write your own destiny.

Review snippet:

Fetch is called to assist the Sunder City Police Department when Lance Niles, a newly arrived to Sunder City human businessman who is buying up a lot of property is killed in The Bluebird Lounge a human-only members’ club. The cause of death looks magical which should be impossible as magic is gone from the world, but, as inexplicable as it seems, the grisly death looks unusual and the killing points to magic being used. Usually Fetch has a very tenuous relationship with the police, namely, they tolerate, often beat and interrogate him. With the cause of death looking suspiciously magical and his ability to ask questions and go places that the police can’t Fetch is hired by Detective Simms, in an ‘off the books’ and non-official capacity to look into the killing, uncover the truth and find out if the murder was committed using magic and if so, find out how magic has returned to the world. With the promise of a rich reward Fetch agrees to help and hopes to find a rational explanation behind the death rather than magical to quell and put an end to the burgeoning rumours regarding the return of magic, it is gone and never coming back. As well as searching for a killer who killed in an impossible way Fetch has a few other small cases to contend with too. At first, the cases all seem separate, but soon tentative strands are reaching out from each case, connecting them together and they spiral outwards with far-reaching consequences for Fetch, the whole of Sunder City and for the future.

Fetch is the ‘Man for Hire’ a private investigator who, in the post-magic world plies his trade on the streets of Sunder City and works solely for the now non-magical races, they are his clients, he won’t work for humans. Fetch does this to try and atone for his past mistakes and for his part in killing magic. Each case that he takes is done to help with the guilt that he feels for his role in breaking the world in the hope of being able to readdress the balance and to balance the scales, though he knows that they will never truly be balanced. Fetch is worn down by life, lost in a sea of regrets, weighed down by the burdens that he carries and he is a man who walks alone with a darkness inside of him. Fetch hates himself and humanity for the suffering that they have caused, he can’t erase the past, the mistakes that he has made or right the wrongs that he has committed, but deep down, buried somewhere in the depths of his tattered and torn soul he believes that he can still do some good in the world.

Reading my review of Dead Man in a Ditch it may all sound rather bleak and depressive and while it is definitely a case of the sun not shining on Fetch it is a tone that fits the story, the setting and the character perfectly making Dead Man in a Ditch enjoyable and entertaining. For Fetch and for Sunder City, you can’t go back, but you can move forward and well, there is always the chance that you will find a fire in the dark to light the way and give you a glimmer of hope that not all is lost for the future.

Review snippet:

With a full travelling community of families and a large caravan of carts and wagons accompanying him, Raythe will follow the Ghost Road out of Teshveld leaving behind civilization, walking untravelled roads and venturing forth into the heart of the new and uncharted land of Verdessa. The journey to the source of the Istariol will be fraught with untold difficulties, hardships, obstacles, setbacks, treachery from within, internal conflicts, power struggles and dangers as the group traverse ancient underground Aldar ruins, frozen lakes, vast glaciers, forests, the harsh elements, hostile environments and face-off against the deadly Ferali (animalistic wild men) and ghouls.

The faraway, wild and untamed lands of Verdessa aren’t the only dangers that Raythe will face in Map’s Edge. Toran Zorne, an Under-Komizar in the Ramkiseri (the Bolgrav Secret Service) has been assigned to track down the renegade Raythe Vyre and is on his trail. The cold-blooded, stoic and ruthless Zorne is like a bloodhound, implacable, dogged, determined and relentless in the pursuit of his quarry and he will stop at nothing, enlisting the aid of Captain Larch Hawkstone and the Governor’s Borderers (the law enforcement in Teshveld) and a contingent of Bolgrav marines to hunt down Raythe.

An eclectic mix of characters all with their own individual personalities populate the pages in Map’s Edge, along with the charismatic Raythe and the menacing Zorne, you have Zar (Raythe’s daughter and soon-to-be sorceress), Kemara Solus (a Ferrean healer and lay-sister with the church), Mater Varahana (a former scholar and Deist priestess), Sir Elgus Rhamp (a Pelarian knight), Vidar Vidarsson (a Bearskin and Norgan ranger) and finally, a personal favourite of mine Jesco Duretto (a Shadran mercenary). Hair has a flair for the interaction between the characters, the various group dynamics at play, the relationships and there is some absolutely terrific banter to be found too. Written in the third-person the writing in Map’s Edge is accessible and easy to read creating an energetic and fast-paced story that is full of tension, set across a variety of vivid locations, featuring action that is lively and punchy, aggressive combat and some intense use of sorcery.

Review snippet:

The Home is told in the third-person with alternating chapters from Joel and Nina with occasional chapters that focus on the residents of D Ward and the happenings at the care home, titled ‘Pineshade’. For the first half of The Home, Strandberg slowly lets the tension build, foreshadowing, getting beneath your skin, unnerving and saturating the story with an ominous undertone of a menacing presence lingering, but just out of sight. He takes his time establishing the characters of Joel and Nina, attempting to settle Monika into Pineshade and getting to know her fellow residents on D Ward (Bodil, Petrus, Lillemor, Edit, Anna, Wiborg and the sister’s Dagmar and Vera). There are glimpses, portents, small things occurring in Pineshade, of gathering darkness, of something not right and the creeping unease of something unnatural. However, many of the occurrences are deceptively devious and are things that could be put down to the distorted reality that, to some degree, all the residents suffer from and that the Pineshade staff see on a daily basis. In the second half, things take a darker turn, the shadows lengthen and the shroud falls, covering the story in the cold and spine-chilling caress of the supernatural as what started as hints at something threatening and evil comes to the fore.

Along with the story of supernatural evil and possession in The Home, there is another element, a layer to be found that is surprisingly moving, thought-provoking and touching. The elderly residents of Pineshade who have forgotten most of who they were, what made them, them and their lives. Some are stuck in an endless loop repeating, others stuck in an in-between place somewhere between the past and the present, but that is neither and is a fantasy, a time of their own making. While others are stuck entirely in the past, believing that they are far younger, that loved ones, parents, relatives, children are all still alive when, in truth, they are long gone. Some have moments of clarity where they awaken, realise the truth and then, in an instant, gone, back to their current state, but the moment is long enough to torture them for the fleeting seconds where they are whole once more before dementia once again takes hold. The residents are all fragile shells of their former selves, some with only the deepest memories, remnants of their former life that still remain, those memories that have been etched deep into their soul and are the last to fade. Even though they are only characters in a book and names on a page my heart went out to the residents of D Ward. Honestly, I couldn’t help but be moved by the heartbreaking depiction of dementia and the anguish and grief that it causes both the sufferers and their family members.


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2 thoughts on “Monthly Wrap-up October 2020. #BookBlogger #BookBloggers #Blogger #Bloggers

  1. For one who spent much of her childhood visiting different nursing homes, I completely agree. Dementia is like a force of nature, as eerie as any fog, and just as blinding. It is the stuff of horror tales.

    Liked by 1 person

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