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witch read

I like books I can't put down but that stay with me when I've finished them.

the wine of angels.

The Wine of Angels - Phil Rickman

I love Phil Rickman's Merrily series - she's a vicar, but very cool and exorcies ghosts. I put this series up there with the Ellie Griffiths mysteries set in the east of England, and with the Shaman Mystery series by Nina Milton, set in the west country of England

In the Moors by NIna Milton

Reblogged from witch read:
In the Moors - Nina Milton

I have read many mystery/crime novels, but In the Moors is a hugely original take on a well worn genre.

Sabbie Dare is mourning the loss of her hens to a fox when a detective called Reynard walks into her life. Rey likes to play his hunches and expects Sabbie to help him nail her client, Cliff Houghton, who has become the prime suspect for a horrific child killing after police find him lurking in the moors where the body was found. Oh, I forgot to say, Sabbie is a Shaman who walks in the otherworld! Cliff’s  otherworld reveals dreadful secrets to Sabbie, shedding light on a spate of crimes that terrorized the area twenty years before. When a second child goes missing, Sabbie tries to piece together all the fragments she’s gained from her shamanic journeys. Although she’s sure of Cliff’s innocence, trying to prove it, and find the missing child, becomes a threat to her own survival. Sabbie gets too invoived and you can just watch as she hurtles towards a dark and certain place of death…  

This young shaman heroine is a fascinating character and the beautiful descriptions of her "journeys" into the spiritual world, which help to move the plot forward, seem authentic. A very well plotted and at times fairly dark story....it really kept me gripped and I thoroughly recommend In the Moors. The atmosphere is eloquent, fast pace and surprising ending.

Reading about shaman practices was interesting, Nina has done her research.

I look forward to the next one.

 

MY SOUL TO TAKE

My Soul To Take - Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Bernard Scudder, Anna Yates

 

The Guardian loved My Soul to Take by Yrsa Sigurdardottir; the reviewer says that Thora Gudmundsdottir is her favourite female slueth. Maybe the first book in this series was better; that is sometimes the case with second books, and the reviewer was still basking in that early warmth, because I couldn't take to Thora; as a person I found her underwhelming and super-irritating. The setting is a newly opened health resort on the Icelandic coastline, but I found it hard to imagine the setting clearly. Eurocrime reviewed this as...superbly plotted, Agatha Christie-style...Yes to the Christie structure because it is hard to create that archetypal plotline where 'everyone is under suspicion', but nil pois for the plotting, Yrsa. The architect of the resort’s renovations, Birna, is found dead on the nearby beach and meanwhile, the new owner is crying out that 'this house is haunted'. That sat uncomfortably with me. Why would Thora not even consider his protestations  might be a poorly thought through defence from the man who is under suspicion for murder?  Thora is an attorney by trade, but I could not believe her unprofessionalism. She uses the bunch of keys she is returning to their owner to get into Birna's room, searches and removes the murder victim's diary and does not tell the police she has this vital piece of evidence. I’d never let Sabbie Dare to that! (Well, not for too long, anyway…)As the clumpy clues built up, I lost patience entirely and threw the book down, so I never got to where her investigations...uncover some very disturbing occurrences at the frm decades earlier - things that never before have seen the light of day... Perhaps when I'm very bored, I'll finish this book but don't hold your breath; I found Thora extremely annoying.

SUMMER OF THE DEAD TOYS/GOOD SUICIDES

The Summer of Dead Toys - Antonio Hill, Laura McGlouglin

The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill is translated into English by Laura McGloughlin (who has to make do with the tiniest of mentions). This is the first of the ‘Inspector Salgado’ novels; what struck as I began to read was the evocative prose. Even in translation, the narrative has a lyrical lilt with masses of Barcelonian atmosphere; you really feel the heat of the city’s summer. We begin the story by discovring that   Hector Salgado, living in Barcelona but from Buenos Aires is still recovering from a brutal beating by a suspect . A teenager's fall to his death and Salgado has to peel back layers of corruption until he’s able to reveal clandestine truths about history in polite Barcelona society. I like the way he links together two unrelated  cases on his books, to solve the crimes. The characters are large, but not larger than life. There is some empathetic understanding with the characters - in other words I did feel for them, even the unpleasant ones, but I found it hard to identify with all their motivations, and in the end, didn't quite believe in their actions, despite the fact that the author’s other speciality is psychology. The Independent’s review suggests this…seems to have arrived fully-formed with confidence and authority, peeling back the skeins of deceit and betrayal in a most satisfying fashion…but to be honest, I wanted a slightly less cliched mystery, with a more satisfying outcome. Maybe I'm over-particular  I'm now stuck into the second, The Good Suicides, which feels as if it will be even better. .

A small death in lisbon

A Small Death in Lisbon - Robert Wilson

A Small Death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson delves back into a Nazi past to link with a present day murder. I knew nothing about Portuguese history in the 2nd half of the 20th century before I began this book, and I learnt a lot. I also learnt what wolfram is! 

If as a reader you are a little nervous of lots of 'foreign' names, then beware, this book is bursting with characters, mostly of German and Portuguese origin with names that frighten...but the names are not half as frightening as the personalities, which are brutal, grasping, amoral and egocentric. Above this, shines Ze (joe in English) Coehlo, the detective looking into the recent rape and murder of a Lisbon schoolgirl. As we read his 1st person account of his investigation, we are subjected to the 3rd person narrative of the story of Felsen, an SS officer, who moves through WWII and its aftermath as the perpetrator and observer of all sorts of darkness and evil. 

The NY Times described it as…a historically sprawling, richly distilled thriller…and I would second that. The book is long, complex, involved and passionate. It’s an extremely difficult read if you're not too keen on the most base instincts of humanity; through the long history recounted, we experience torture, rape, murder and paedophilia. No one seems to emerge unscathed. Even Ze has his faults, especially his eruptive and dangerous temper. I was beginning to sink below the ink-black waves when suddenly, right at the end, is the best twist ever. A very dark book with a very scary end.

 

The Janus Stone

The Janus Stone  - Elly Griffiths

The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths from the series which feature an archeological pathologist. Griffiths’ books are always steeped in the past (her husband is an archeologist) and in the landscape of the Norfolk Coast, where the Seahenge was found earlier this century, so she’s able to use the wonderful flat lands, the looming mists and intricate waterways to good effect.

To be honest, the reason I read this book is because the reviewer who reviewed my book IN THE MOORS for the US review publication to the trade, LIbrary Journal, compared me to Elly Griffiths. 

The Independent starts their review of the book thus…Funny it's so difficult to find a doctor on call when pathologists seem to be queuing up to sort you out once you're dead. Here comes another one, but Ruth Galloway, expert in Roman remains, is a special creation. She isn't a sexless zombie in a starched white coat; she is really, messily, female. And she doesn't always get things right: her pregnancy is a big surprise. It's even more of a surprise to her puritanical parents Ruth and her DCI [lover] face the big decisions: will she continue with her pregnancy, will he tell his wife? I closed the book wanting to know more about them as well as feeling the satisfaction that a really intelligent murder story…can give in

Yes, a good read, but with one really sticky side issue; I do hope I don't make the mistake, of not properly researching a subplot; Griffiths' tame druid, a minor character in each of her books, is like no druid I know...and I know a lot of druids. No witch or druid would celebrate Imbolc in May, Elly!!

 

the alphabet series

A is for Alibi  - Sue Grafton

I've been reading these from A is for Alibi, and I've never found a rival for the bantering voice Kinsay has in the book. But I do think that Nina Milton's In the Moors (midnight ink) is now a bit of a rival...or not, as this series is almost done and Milton's is just beginning!

THE BELL JAR,

The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath's only novel, THE BELL JAR, was a second-hand purchase from a lovely cafe we use as we head south east into Wiltshire...Dick Willow. I'd been meaning to read it for ever, and so enjoyed the wonderfully unself-concsious, almost artless tone which was lighter and funnier than I could have hoped. The story of a young woman setting out on her higher education and her life only to be beset by a dark emotional destruction of her mind and her subsequent incarceration in a mental hospital, it turned out to be a 'can't put it down' read. Like Angel at my Table,  Janet Frame's 3 part autobiography, (filmed by Jane Campion), it describes the desperate state of psychiatric care in the 50's and 60's. It has an upbeat end, which makes Plath's own end more poignant.

GODS WITHOUT MEN by HARI HUNZRU

Gods Without Men - Hari Kunzru

I had not encountered Hari Kunzru before, despite the fact he was one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists in 2003. In fact, I knew so little of him, that on starting the book he published this year, Gods Without Men, I wrongly presumed he was American; the control and confidence he uses within his setting...mostly an area of the California desert called the Pinnacles...convinced me he knew the US well. The breathtaking sweep of the novel immediately reminded me of Don Delillo, Tom Wolfe or even John Irving.

IN THE COUNTRY OF MEN

In the Country of Men - Hisham Matar

I read this book as the situation in Libya increased in tension (21.2.11), Hisham Matar's Booker shortlisted IN THE COUNTRY OF MEN felt a very pertinent and current read. As Colonel Gaddafi's regime took hold in the seventies, a boy of nine watches his father taken away for questioning and does not know what to think, or whom to trust. The novel is writing in such deceptively simple prose, but powerfully examines themes of conflict, family ties and betrayal.

In the Moors by NIna Milton

In the Moors - Nina Milton

I have read many mystery/crime novels, but In the Moors is a hugely original take on a well worn genre.

Sabbie Dare is mourning the loss of her hens to a fox when a detective called Reynard walks into her life. Rey likes to play his hunches and expects Sabbie to help him nail her client, Cliff Houghton, who has become the prime suspect for a horrific child killing after police find him lurking in the moors where the body was found. Oh, I forgot to say, Sabbie is a Shaman who walks in the otherworld! Cliff’s  otherworld reveals dreadful secrets to Sabbie, shedding light on a spate of crimes that terrorized the area twenty years before. When a second child goes missing, Sabbie tries to piece together all the fragments she’s gained from her shamanic journeys. Although she’s sure of Cliff’s innocence, trying to prove it, and find the missing child, becomes a threat to her own survival. Sabbie gets too invoived and you can just watch as she hurtles towards a dark and certain place of death…  

This young shaman heroine is a fascinating character and the beautiful descriptions of her "journeys" into the spiritual world, which help to move the plot forward, seem authentic. A very well plotted and at times fairly dark story....it really kept me gripped and I thoroughly recommend In the Moors. The atmosphere is eloquent, fast pace and surprising ending.

Reading about shaman practices was interesting, Nina has done her research.

I look forward to the next one.

 

Last Bus to Woodstock

Reblogged from siobhanparker:
Last Bus to Woodstock - Colin Dexter

Great story, well-written, with a lot of twists and turns. The only reason I didn't give it a higher score was because of some profanity and suggestive dialogue.