Real life is a pain in the neck but this coming weekend and week I plan on (ahhahahahaha) getting major reading time in and hopefully getting that elusive bingo. It would be great if my country could try not re traumatizing women for two seconds so help services can catch a breath. Anyway, going to try and catch up on posts I missed this last week, work with me BLs dashboard.
Classic Horror - The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Cryptozoologist - Angelfall by Susan Ee
Cozy Mystery - An Affair to Dismember by Elise Sax
(Read before called) Doomsday - Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright
Southern Gothic - Bride of a Stranger by Jennifer Blake
Terrifying Women - The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
Creepy Carnivals - The Mysterious Madam Morpho by Delilah S. Dawson
Relics and Curiosities - Be Mine Tonight by Kathryn Smith
Diverse Voices - White is For Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
Murder Most Foul -
Amateur Sleuth -
Genre: Suspense -
Ghost Stories -
Darkest London -
White is for witching, a colour to be worn so that all other colours can enter you, so that you may use them.
Creepy, intriguing, mysterious, frustrating, and melancholy, White is for Witching had a very strong start that sagged a bit in the middle and then ultimately puttered out into its own enigmatic mysteries.
Miranda can’t come in today Miranda has a condition called pica she has eaten a great deal of chalk—she really can’t help herself—she has been very ill—Miranda has pica she can’t come in today, she is stretched out inside a wall she is feasting on plaster she has pica try again:
To me, the house (and any real or imagined non-human inhabitants) is the sun with Miranda being Mercury, her twin brother Eliot as Venus, and their father Earth. Secondary characters such as a friend Miranda makes at college called Ore would be a moon of Mercury and the housemaid Sade could be a comet. This is an odd way to place the characters but I don't want to spoil too much of the story but still give an idea of the story's placement of characters.
The way this story is written and structured is different, povs from mainly Miranda, Eliot, and the house (yes, the house has a pov), flow in and out with blips from Sade, Ore, and maybe a couple other minor ones I am forgetting. You need to be on your game to fully understand who is talking but even then, things can get confusing with possible unreliable narrators and not knowing what is real and mental health issues.
The horror of the story is that there is a house that is possibly haunted, maybe by a soucouyant (a witch in Caribbean folklore), maybe by a curse on the female line of a family, and maybe simply a daughter that lost her mother and is spiraling down a mental health destructive hole. This story centers on women, their strengths and weaknesses; Eliot plays a good sized role but he is still clearly on the sidelines along with his father who is ineffectual in his drowning grief for his wife.
They were naked except for corsets laced so tightly that their desiccated bodies dipped in and out like parchment scrolls bound around the middle. They stared at Miranda in numb agony. Padlocks were placed over their parted mouths, boring through the top lip and closing at the bottom. Miranda could see their tongues writhing.
The beginning had me captured with Eliot leading us into the story about how his mother died and how his sister is withering away because she seems only able to eat chalk. From Eliot's point of view it seems more like a mental health issue with occasional povs from the house and Miranda popping in to make you believe in the shiver going up your spine. The middle starts to transition to more of Miranda's point of view, her struggles with her mental health and the house, along with looks at Miranda's female ancestors.
When Miranda leaves the house for a little while is when the story started to lose me a bit. Sade and Ore get added to the story, I thought Ore was too late of an additive and even though she brought an outside look and probably worked to more definitively answer the mental health or truly haunted question, I missed the atmosphere of the house and Eliot with Miranda.
“I’m to go home. The house wants me,” she cried. The moonlight made her look blue. It made her look as if she was dead. She opened my window and sat herself on the ledge; she dangled her bare legs over it. We were four floors up.
I don't know how many have watched the tv series The Leftovers but this story gave me the same kind of feelings. Majorly intriguing start, with questions, mysteries, and interesting characters everywhere, only to maybe out write themselves and end up leaving a lot up in the air in a way that devalues the story.
As far as giving you the heebie jeebies, this will definitely do it, some scenes had me looking hard into dark corners in my house. As far as the characters sticking with me, probably not, as they didn't quite become fully fleshed out to me. I do know I would love to see this made into a limited series, Netflix get on that, the psychomanteum room scenes would be chilling good.
That was the first and last time I’ve heard my own voice.
I've been posting my reviews online for about 10yrs now, I know I've liked books that could have some problematic characters, actions, and storylines (This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, comes to mind) but as I get older and in our current climate, I'm really having to challenge and make decisions on what I'll go along with for the sake of the story.
Suddenly he bellowed and vaulted out of the tub. Reaching down, he closed his fist around her mane of hair and hauled her up with him. Furious, dripping water and rage in equal proportions, he shoved his angry face toward hers. His voice was surprisingly mild. She would have preferred shouting.
I wish I could say that this would have stopped me in my tracks at 25yrs old as it did at 35yrs old, but I'm not sure. All I know is that currently, it made me immediately put the book down. This is the "hero" acting towards the heroine.
They were high school sweethearts who ran away to get married but her parents forced them to get an annulment because they thought the hero was too poor and other-side of the tracks. They meet back up at their 10yr high school reunion where the hero not quite so teasingly demands a wedding night. They are being hot and heavy when the heroine tries to put the breaks on and she then tells him why she stayed after the reunion broke up at his house, the charity she helps wants to buy some land the hero owns. He gets angry because he thinks she was using her body to get a good deal on the land. He then basically holds her hostage claiming he'll sell her the land if she lives at this house as his concubine.
It's a hurt revenge angle that was seen quite often in '80s romance, along with the endless descriptions of fashion (the heroine has an eel skin purse and matching heels!). After this scene, there really was no hope for me to ever connect to the hero, he physically assaulted the heroine in my eyes. I skim read the rest of the book (I rate books whether I read fully, skim, or dnf, it is the way I keep track of books so don't @ me) and wasn't all into the heroine still wanting the hero to love her.
Everyone has their own opinions but please, let's all agree that this was assault/abuse and call it as so.
Halloween goodie time!
I'm an uber dork, so I have themed months where I make desserts that can match up with some holidays. I love making Halloween desserts. These aesthetically looked nice and Halloween-y and tasted good but, I wasn't wowed. There was also more of the cream cheese layer than brownie, which was a little disappointing. Still would make a fun little party treat, though. Making and cook time easy and quick.
This turned out to be a dark horse favorite of mine. I wasn't expecting much, just a quick, easy, and simple pasta. The flavoring! I loved this one. I halved the amount of noodles but wish I didn't so I would have leftovers. Get that extra lemon for spritzing. I'll definitely making this one again and you should too! Meateaters could add shrimp or chicken easily.
The recipe calls for the chicken to be cooked on low for 8hrs but either my slow cooker runs warmer on low or they are exaggerating because chicken usually only needs about 6hrs in my crock pot. Cooking the noodles in the sauce made them extra tasty. The bf really enjoyed this one but I was just meh on it. The sauce was rich but I just wasn't wowed by the overall flavoring.
I may have posted this one before, it is an old favorite. I halve the butter and use Spicy Ranch seasoning instead of the original. It is so easy and good. Everything meshes together and the potatoes cook to perfection. You'll feel like a competent human being too as you get your meat, potatoes, and veggies :)
My biscuits didn't fluff up as much as I would have liked and I had to add flour to my gravy to thicken it up. Can tell the biscuits are low carb, lol, but I thought they were still tasty, the gravy was good too. I think this recipe works for people on the Keto diet, which seems to be insanely popular right now. Would be a tasty meal for dieters and was very easy to cook-up and probably only took a half hour.
Any Halloween delights to share?
I wish in order to portray heroines as independent and fierce, author's didn't make them fall into the TSTL category.
Our heroine Margo was apart of jury that convicted a guy who announced to the court room that until his conviction was overturned, someone from inside the courtroom would be murdered every 72hrs. 3 people have already been murdered when our hero Striker comes into the picture to guard Margo. Is Margo happy about this and willing to take her personal safety seriously? Of course not, because that would somehow mean she is being bossed around. Ugh.
The insta-attraction also felt a little out of place as it was mentioned over and over immediately in the beginning, it felt a little off when just jumping into the whole life in danger element. I can let go of realism to a certain extent in rom suspense, but let me settle in a little first.
I also thought there was some uncomfortable casualness to some issues (rape, domestic violence) incorporated; they were jarringly, abruptly brought up, to seemingly add instant emotion. I'm needing a little more care and thought behind the why and how for the inclusion of these topics right now.
Shep, as the other inmates called him, was a lot older than most of them and was serving time for murdering his wife. It didn’t take long for anyone who hung around Shep to know just what sort of man he was: a natural-born leader—a positive one.
Not knowing at this time if Shep was guilty of the crime, reading about a man killing his wife in one breath and the next saying what a swell guy he is, was hard to read.
I thought the idea of ex-cons going into the protection business was interesting but the insta-attraction, mesh of romance and suspense not working for me, and jarring moments kept me from getting into the story. I generally liked the character dialogue and interaction writing, the components worked for me but the structure did not.
Just as they all knew the legend of the Holy Grail, so had they heard of the Unholy Grail.
Pru has cancer and is looking for any way to negate her grim diagnosis, when she starts up a friendship with Marcus, they begin in earnest a search for the Holy Grail. Our hero is a 600yr old vampire who was once a knight of King Phillips of France who was also on the search for the Holy Grail. What Chapel and his group of mercenaries found instead was the Unholy Grail.
"You do not frighten me."
"I think I do, but not in the way I should."
This started off darkly intriguing with the French band of mercenaries and grail that turned them all into vampires. I read this with the anticipation of a danger filled dark and stormy search and chase, filled with villains coming out of the woodwork. Instead this turned out to be a character driven story with a slow burning romance between Pru and Chapel; read this for the romance, not the adventure.
The Silver Palm. Chapel had heard of them before in whispers and old texts. They named themselves for the silver that crossed the palm of Judas Iscariot— coin imbued with the essence of Lilith, mother of all vampires. The same silver that had been melted down to make the chalice from which he and the others had drunk.
The first half was all about the romance while the second gave us a peek into, what I imagine is the set-up between the villains and future heroes of the series. I was vastly curious about the Silver Palm villains but they only make a very brief appearance and other than their name, not much else is learned about them.
The Brotherhood of Blood.
Even though I was a little disappointed in the balance of romance and action in this one, the set-up of Chapel's friends, The Brotherhood of the Blood, being pitted against the Silver Palms is darkly intriguing. Don't get me wrong, I thought the vast majority of the romance was done well here, Pru is a tough, daring woman willing to fight for what she wants, while Chapel was a more lost in his self-loathing for what he was, but they did have a connection that was felt. I thought the ending was needlessly dragged out angst as a sudden change of heart by Chapel gave us a quick perfect bow ending. I'm going to read the next in the series because, like I said, I'm intrigued by the set-up but I'm going to hope the continuing plot thread plays more heavily.
He smiled— just for her. Every woman should know the joy of having a man be joyful just for her presence.
Templars. It was said that the knights had in their possession various holy relics, including items believed to have belonged to Christ Himself.
The heroine searching for the Holy Grail hoping it will cure her illness, the hero drank from the Unholy Grail and has been cursed for 600yrs.
When I was looking for books in my tbr for this, I can't even describe how giddy I was when I read "Unholy Grail".
So far has started off deliciously dark and stormy atmospheric.
I happened to glance at my follower account and noticed I went over 1000 followers.
Awesome! Rad! Super!
I went to my followers list to follow some of these Awesome! Rad! Super! potential new friends.
HerpesBlitzProtocol was one of my Awesome! Rad! Super! followers.
In fact, after looking through the list, I've decided to put away the party confetti for now.
HOWEVER, I did come across this profile: Mr. Azmuth
A quick scan looks like they are real and posting semi-regularly since they started. I'm sure you all want to befriend HerpesBlitzProtocol but how about showing Mr. Azmuth some love instead.
She gave the guards a nod as she went through. It didn’t occur to either of them to stop her because witches, like beekeepers and big gorillas, went where they liked.
Part of the Discworld but also the Witches series, Granny, Nanny, and Magrat run and steal the show. I would describe this as kind of a Monty Python take on Macbeth and Hamlet (with a little bit of King Lear, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, and probably splashes of more I missed). If you're a reader of the Discworld, you'll be ready for the little bit chaotic, humor, brick wall bleakness, and underlining too true takes on humanity.
A kingdom is made up of all sorts of things. Ideas. Loyalties. Memories. It all sort of exists together. And then all these things create some kind of life. Not a body kind of life, more like a living idea. Made up of everything that’s alive and what they’re thinking. And what the people before them thought.”
We start off with the murder of a King, who becomes a ghost, our three witches taking a baby from soldiers, the new mad King and his reveling in her evilness wife, and a wise fool. Even though the witches normally try to stay out of things, Granny decides that she needs to set things to rights and have the true heir on the throne. I enjoyed the first half, which was more Macbeth, than the magically fast forward 15 years Hamlet like second.
The duke smiled out over the forest. “It works,” he said. “The people mutter against the witches. How do you do it, Fool?”
“Jokes, nuncle. And gossip. People are halfway ready to believe it anyway. Everyone respects the witches. The point is that no one actually likes them very much.”
Shining through and underlining all these seemingly chaotic going-ons, are some excellent hot takes on propaganda and how history is recorded, by who, why they are writing events and figures the way they are, and how this influences and shapes future attitudes. This is an aspect of history that I don't think is talked about enough, questioning the motives behind historical recorders.
“But I’m his Fool,” said the Fool. “A Fool has to be loyal to his master. Right up until he dies. I’m afraid it’s tradition. Tradition is very important.”
“But you don’t even like being a Fool!”
“I hate it. But that’s got nothing to do with it. If I’ve got to be a Fool, I’ll do it properly.”
“That’s really stupid,”said Magrat.
“Foolish, I’d prefer.”
Granny is the immediate stand-out in this but the Fool is the dark horse. In all this spoofing, he has some of the most thought provoking quotes; they bordered on dystopian at times. I couldn't help reading this through a current political climate lens and it hurt at times reading the scenes with the Fool, the new King, and his wife. Even when we get the second part of the witches work to change things, it doesn't end up quite to their preference but maybe for the best? This would be a great book club selection as I highlighted the heck out of this and could have endless discussions about it.
I've mentioned before how humor is a tough one for me, so that hurt my overall enjoyment along with the frenetic/chaotic tone pushing against my more structured self. Many friends have said this is one of their favorites from the disc world and I can see why, the three witches will delight you, I felt the second half let them down a bit. Even though things may not have worked out exactly like Granny wanted, I leave you with some inspiration from her,
Granny Weatherwax was often angry. She considered it one of her strong points. Genuine anger was one of the world’s great creative forces. But you had to learn how to control it. That didn’t mean you let it trickle away. It meant you dammed it, carefully, let it develop a working head, let it drown whole valleys of the mind and then, just when the whole structure was about to collapse, opened a tiny pipeline at the base and let the iron-hard stream of wrath power the turbines of revenge.
He looked her straight in the eye and said, “I was in jail serving time for manslaughter.”
Probably not in the top ten list of things I'd want my new hot bodyguard to say when I ask him what he did before joining a protection agency.
Criminy’s Clockwork Carnival was in full swing.
This is a novella, so the shorter page count (100ish pgs) hampers character and plot depth a bit, but I think the author did a fantastic job with what she had. This is listed in the Blud series as coming before Book 1 – Wicked as They Come but as the main couple from Wicked is already together, I wasn't sure why. Even if familiar or not, you'll get an introduction and refresher on the various characters that make up Master Criminy's Clockwork Carnival. The world building leaves a little bit to be desired as it isn't fully explained how Blud people and animals (vampire like creatures) exist in this other world; it is like Victorian time period Earth but not quite.
She stared down into the nest of books and hidden miracles. Before, the trunk had held hope. Now, in the wrong hands, it held evidence enough to hang her.
“If you’ll trust me, I think I know how best to keep your charges safe.”
Their eyes met over the trunk. She felt as if she stood on a precipice, one step away from freedom or doom. “I find that I trust you, Mr. Murdoch.”
“God help you, Madam Morpho.”
You'll feel for Imogen as you learn her story, Mr. Murdoch less so as I don't think he ever fully emerged from the shadows and fully showed up on the pages. He builds the clockworks and mechanics for the caravan carnival, I would have liked to have seen him interact more with his creations and what was the story behind his partner/friend Vil? They were a calm, cool, and tentative couple and I liked how they worked together but, again, the page count wasn't quite there to build their relationship.
Arm-in-arm, they watched Torno lift his weights, his strength defying physics thanks to Criminy’s magic. Emerlie juggled hedgehogs and rode her unicycle high up on the wire, her lime and magenta costume glowing against the velvety night sky. Next up came Abilene and Eblick and the two-headed Bludman, each waiting behind a curtain to amuse and entertain and, in the twins’case, terrify. A collection of bizarre creatures floating in large jars of liquid was surrounded by a crowd so deep that Imogen caught only a glimpse of the horrors within. They passed Letitia in her turban, telling fortunes in a sequin-spangled tent.
Even though the overall world building was somewhat absent, the immediate caravan carnival world was delightfully detailed and created. There was a sense of unknown, magic, wildness, freedom, jovial companionship, and troubles. I wish I could see the shows.
“Her name is Madam Morpho,” Henry said sharply. “And she doesn’t speak to the riff-raff.”
The main story thread comes from Imogen on the run from her former boss and hiding out in the caravan. I thought the sense of danger and romance was eclipsed by the descriptions of the people and clockworks that made up the caravan carnival. I also thought the magic and wonder of the butterflies Imogen stole got lost in the mix, they could have brought more sense of wonder if utilized more. The ending brought an extremely gruesome conclusion to the issue of Imogen being in danger. I suggest reading this in October to appreciate and enjoy the grisly ending, the spooky vampire like creatures, and the sense of magic and wonder.
“Imogen,” he said, voice ragged as he stepped closer to her, his feet brushing the wide swing of her skirts. “Are you aware that I haven’t seen a woman this close in more than six years?”
“That seems excessive,” she murmured. “Are we such fierce creatures?”
“This Felmet hates the kingdom,” Nanny went on. “They all say it. They say when they go to talk to him he just stares at them and giggles and rubs his hand and twitches a bit.”
But this new man just wants the power. He hates the kingdom.”
“It’s a bit like a dog, really,” said Magrat.
Granny looked at her with her mouth open to frame some suitable retort, and then her face softened. “Very much like,” she said. “A dog doesn’t care if its master’s good or bad, just so long as it likes the dog.”
I really need these witches to defeat the new king Felmet and Susan Collins his wife.
Oh man, some of the underlining truths in this story :(
“Lady, the duke wishes to chop down the forests, is this not so?”
“The trees talk about me,”whispered Lord Felmet. “I hear them whisper when I go riding. They tell lies about me!”
The duchess and the Fool exchanged glances.
“But,”the Fool continued, “this policy has met with fanatical opposition.”
“People don’t like it.”
The duchess exploded. “What does that matter?”she roared. “We rule! They will do what we say or they will be pitilessly executed!”
The Fool bobbed and capered and waved his hands in a conciliatory fashion.
“But, my love, we will run out of people,”murmured the duke.
“No need, no need!”said the Fool desperately. “You don’t have to do that at all! What you do is, you—”he paused for a moment, his lips moving quickly—“you embark upon a far-reaching and ambitious plan to expand the agricultural industry, provide long-term employment in the sawmills, open new land for development, and reduce the scope for banditry.”
This time the duke looked baffled. “How will I do that?”he said.
“Chop down the forests.”
I helplessly laughed outloud with this one,
“But the biggest thing she ever did,” said Nanny, ignoring the interruption, “was to send a whole palace to sleep for a hundred years until…” She hesitated. “Can’t remember. Was there rose bushes involved, or was it spinning wheels in that one? I think some princess had to finger…no, there was a prince. That was it.”
“Finger a prince?” said Magrat, uneasily.
“There aren’t many cut out for caravan life, my girl. Most of those who stick around are running away from something or other. We’re a band of misfits, but we protect our own."
A little bit different, a little bit parallel universe with steampunk, horror (bludbunnies and blud people, think vampires), and a traveling carnival caravan filled with mysterious individuals.
Most witches preferred to live in isolated cottages with the traditional curly chimneys and weed-grown thatch. Granny Weatherwax approved of this; it was no good being a witch unless you let people know.
Joining in the group read for this one. I was going to use it for the Spellbound square but that hasn't been called yet, mama wants a bingo so free square it is!
I think I read a couple Discworld books in my younger days but I obviously don't remember them because I felt kind of lost in this beginning part, story and characters felt frantic in a way.
“The ghost in Waringstoke is female,” he explained. “She was, apparently, a servant girl who worked for the family. She hanged herself in the barn at the age of nineteen.”
I've been wanting a more creepy Halloween Bingo story and this delivered. Told in first person, Sarah gets a call from her temp agency telling her about a job opportunity. She's to be an assistant to Alistair Gellis, who turns out to be young, rich, handsome, and oh, a ghost hunter. Sarah doesn't necessarily believe in ghosts but she needs the money and has been feeling adrift.
“Please tell me. Why was your husband afraid of Maddy?”
Tears began to course down her cheeks. She seemed hardly aware of them. “He always said—he always said that night she came, she looked like she’d been buried. She looked like she’d come from a grave. My husband believed Maddy was dead before she even came to Falmouth House.'
The story starts rolling right away and keeps a very quick pace, you'll want to devour this story in one sitting. The story is somewhat tight knit starting off with our heroine Sarah, Alistair bringing her into the mystery, Alistair's assistant Matthew, our ghost Maddy Clare, and a handful of townspeople. I immediately started side-eyeing people as their personalities and actions seemed dark and murky. The first person dialogue was a double edged sword for me as it kept the mystery alive but also felt like forced manufacturing mystery and drama.
Matthew’s words hung between us, the war a chasm that could not be traveled. I could not go there; he could not come back.
The ghost story is pretty front and center but a close second is the discussion of World War I and all the emotional and mental damage that did to Alistair, Matthew, and others. A more distant third was the romance between Sarah and Matthew, I even want to hesitate to call it romance because it kind of pops in jarringly and then hovers at the edges. At times it felt like there were some hitches in the juggling act between the three, I think a longer page count allowing the romance to be given more time and depth and a longer time spent with the characters dealing with PTSD would have given this a more even flow.
Heels, barefoot, kicking against the wall. Something sat in the sill of the high window, and kicked its heels as it dangled its feet. It was behind me, only six feet away.
I thought the mystery was done well but as an avid horror movie watcher, I've see this type of story done before (a similar movie
[/spoiler]) and was able to guess what some of the answers were halfway through. You'll be devastated and probably start wanting to bend your moral feelings on accepted justice. The creepy factor was still done really well here and thinking I knew what was going on didn't stop me from looking extra hard into corner shadows as I went to bed. I definitely recommend this if looking for a spooky story that deals with some discussion about PTSD or battle fatigue as it was referenced as after World War I, first person pov that will keep some character mystery alive, a romance that could be described more as intensity, and a ghost that will have her revenge.
I screamed, but I tasted their blood, she said, as if I had not spoken. Each of the three. They each tasted different. I took orders, but I knew I would taste it again. Every one of them. I will do it, little girl. I will have my revenge.