Sunday, October 20, 2019

Dark is the Night by Mirriam Neal ~ Book Spotlight + Review

Graphic Credit: Morgan G. Farris

Skata has only one goal in life--to seek out the vampire who turned his wife and kill it.  When he finally tracks the vampire to the small nowhere town of Salvation, South Carolina, he realizes he has stepped foot into something bigger than himself.  He's going to need help--and that help may come in many forms.  Between the vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters and an unusual preacher, Skata may be in over his head.

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Colton eyed Skinner in the rearview mirror.  “You do anything to screw this up, and I’ll gut you with a screwdriver, you got that?”

  “That,” said Angel, “Is not a very heavenly attitude.”

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Of all the vampire books I've read - which don't number many - this is my favorite.  It's the perfect mixture of sweetness, snark, sass and adventure with incredible wisdom and a few touches of sadness thrown in.  My favorite character was not a werewolf, but the above mentioned, Angel, a vampire.  But it's from a lack of werewolves, not because my loyalties are shifting.  Yes, pun intended.

What I loved most about this book.

I honestly loved everything about this book...okay, not true, there was something I very much disliked, but more about that later.  The characters were well written and connectable for the most part, the plot never dragged or bored me, the descriptions were vivid and realistic and the whole thing captivated and enthralled, leaving me with begging for more...literally.

I would begin with speaking about Angel and everything I loved about him, but I've found I can't accomplish that without giving away massive spoilers.  So that's that.

If it wasn't for Angel's just pure awesomeness, the Preacher Man would have been my favorite.  I mean you've got to read this book just for him!  The gems that fall from this man's lip are honestly mind blowing at times, and most definitely thought provoking.  A problem I constantly run into is finding novels that incorporate God and Christianity without being 'preachy', thankfully, that was not a problem with Dark is the Night!

The Girl in this novel and her relationship with the men was refreshingly different and I adored the way in which Ms. Neal handled the usual "Guy reveals something, Girl gets mad and can never forgive him but then she comes to realize something so she goes to him" trope, was perfect.  Actually, she twisted a lot of old tropes new ways and that is one of the things that makes this book such a delightful read. 

Also, I can't say much about him because of spoilers, but Gideon is so cool.  I know, I know, I keep saying they're all awesome, but Gideon is really fascinating.  He's very much not my type though, rather an intimidating fellow, which is why he is not my favorite.  No, precious sweet Angel with his very ironic name is way more my type.

Ms. Neal packs in plenty of suspense and action, I was so on edge and engrossed that I didn't even know when I finished a chapter.  I literally went from chapter 14 to 30 without even realizing chapter 14 had ended.  Honestly!  
 
There's just so much to love and enjoy that it's hard for me to find the words to tell you about it.  And who wants to go poke around in a South Carolina swamp with me?  Well stocked on Wolfsbane and Vervain of course, because as much as I like them, I have no desire to become a werewolf!
I also had the distinct pleasure of ARC-ing this with my dear VampKat, only I finished it before she did and spent several hours gleefully tormenting her.  I actually had her thinking that someone we loved was going to die.  It was so much fun!!  Yes, yes, I'm a mean person.  


What I didn't like about this book.

 Someone dies.  Well, many someones die, but there was one death in particular that I really, really didn't like.  I wanted to see the person kicking butt with everyone else, but he can't do that if he's dead!!  I must admit though, his death was a good plot point.

I didn't connect with Skata very well and he felt rather vague at times.  I don't know if that was just me or if that was the writing of his character.

There's nothing else I disliked, well okay, I did wish at one point that there had been more particular werewolves involved much earlier, but I hear they play a larger part in the second book, so I'm okay with that.

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I know that quite a few of my blog readers don't read vampire novels, so why should you read this one?  The best answer I have is that in this novel, so many questions that everyone asks are answered in a new way that can be greatly enlightening and comforting.  I'd describe it more as a good novel that has some vampires in it, than a vampire novel with a good plot.  Plus Ms. Neal doesn't shy from truth or reality no matter how uncomfortable it might be.  So I ask you, please trust me and even if you don't usually read this type of story, hold your skepticism and give Dark is the Night a shot.


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MIRRIAM NEAL is an author frequently masquerading as an artist.  When she's not scrubbing paint off her hands, she's thinking about writing (actually, if she's being honest, she's always thinking about writing).  A discovery writer, she tends to start novels and figure them out as she goes along and likes to work on several books at the same time--while drinking black coffee.  She's a sucker for monsters, unlikely friendships, redemption arcs, and underdog protagonists.  When not painting fantasy art or writing genre-bending novels, she likes to argue the existence of Bigfoot, rave about Guillermo del Toro, and write passionate defenses of misunderstood characters.

To learn more about her fiction and art visit her website: HERE where you can find a full list of her social medias, or join the Citadel Fiction newsletter: HERE


Friday, September 27, 2019

Tolkein Party 2019 ~ The Genius of Tolkien




  The  more of his works I read, the more amazed I am at the genius of this man.  He invented his own languages, he wrote the most epic saga to come out of the 1900's (book saga) and every piece of his work breathes with a mystical something that I have no words to describe.

  I recently read three of his smaller works.  Roverandom, Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham.  Some would think of them as 'kids stories', but I found them as enjoyable now as I would have at seven!  And though they have no where near the depth and intricacy of Lord of the Rings or The Silmarillion, they still have this magical quality that almost transforms them into living breathing reality



  But besides the magical and mystical beauty of his stories, there is a sturdy wholesomeness to them that benefits every reader who can see it.  He said Lord of the Rings wasn't an allegory and it isn't really, but there is so much truth, righteousness and so many life lessons that you can learn from those pages.  He was a truly amazing man and I am eternally grateful that I have had the privilage of reading the stories he wrote.

  I hope that this bumbling attempt to express my thoughts makes sense to you all.  I took me three days to write and i nearly wore the delete key out!

  What do you like most about Tolkien?



Monday, September 23, 2019

Tolkien Party 2019: Would You Rather...


1.  ...join Thorin's Company or the Fellowship?

   Well, I'd say the Fellowship because of Sam and Pippin and all the other awesome ones, but then again, the Company is a total hoot!  I still think I'll join the Fellowship.

  2.  ...ride Shadowfax or an eagle?
  Seriously?!  Okay, this is a tougher one to answer.  I love horses and Shadowfax is absolutely amazing, but it's an eagle!  I think I'd have to go for the eagle.

  3.  ...travel through Moria or Mirkwood?
  Mirkwood, definitely Mirkwood.  I mean yes, there are creepy spiders, but it's a forest and I love forests.  Plus there are some really cool elves!

via Pinterest

  4.  ...learn to make elvish rope or mithril chainmail?
   Oooooo, I don't know, 'cause either could be really good at saving my life.  But I think it would have to be the mithril chainmail because I think it would probably come in handy more often.  I think.

  5.  ...try to outwit Smaug or Saruman?
  Yeah I'm gonna go with Smaug.  I'm pretty good at flattery, but I would never be able to outwit Saruman, not in a million years!

  6.  ...spend an hour with Grima Wormtongue or Denethor?
  Denethor.  He's a ass, Grima is a creep.

via Pinterest

  7.  ...attend Faramir's wedding or Samwise's wedding?
  HOW CAN YOU DO THIS TO ME?!?!?!  CHOSE SAM AND ROSIE OR FARAMIR OR EOWYN?!?!  That's just wrong.  But since I have to chose, Faramir and Eowyn because more of the people I want to meet are there.

  8.  ...have to care for the One Ring or the Arkenstone for a day?
  The Arkenstone!  *shudders*  Keep the One Ring far away from me please, I'm pretty sure it would ruin me.

  9.  ...have tea with Bilbo or Frodo?
  Hmmmmm.  Well, if I had tea with Frodo, then Sam would probably show up, but depending on when  I had tea with Bilbo, I might get to see Frodo and Sam.  So I'll say Bilbo because I also get the feeling that Bilbo is a better cook than Frodo.


via Pinterest

  10.  ...fight alongside Boromir or Eomer?
  Honestly?!  Wow, you sure know how to ask some hard questions!  I gotta say Eomer, 'cause the Rohirrim are just awesome.  But then again, depending on where and when I was fighting alongside Boromir, Faramir might be there too.  So yep, don't know.

  Well that was a ton of fun!  I hope you all enjoyed my answers as much as I enjoyed answering.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Well...Hello

  So, I've been absent for a rather long time.  Life just picked me up and swept me away and jeepers, it's been a very interesting year!

  In the seven months of my absence, some pretty big changes have happened!

    To begin with...I moved!  Not far, simply 40 miles north of my previous location, but I did move from the country to a 55,000 pop. town.  That's been an adjustment!!  And for the first time in 14 years, there will be no horde or gaggle (which ever term you prefer) of children perched at a fence, or a window on the rainy years, to watch the cows come down from summer pasture this weekend.

    I also attended the nearby State Fair for the first time in 11 years.  It was amazing!  Even more so because most of my younger siblings had either never experienced it before, or were too young to remember.  Plus we had my niece and nephew with us.  Also, you can see something on a food vendor menu and when you eat it, find that it's a disappointment.  Corndogs though, they never disappoint.

    I've been hanging out with The Munchkins aka my niece and nephew, a lot.  I went down to babysit at their house twice and then they've been at are house several days out of the week, every week for a while.  I'd somewhat forgotten how amusing little, little kids can be. 

    I've also made amazing new friends and grown much closer to old ones. 
    My dear friend, Keturah Lamb, came to visit before she went off to Germany.  It actually happened before we moved, and we went on a little hike up through a gorgeous mountain gap nearby.

    I am also looking forward to hopefully receiving a visit from two more dear friends, PioneerGirl and MovieCritic.  If all goes well, they will pop by and be the first of my friends to visit me in the new house!

    Back in March, my oldest girlfriend returned from her mission in Canada and we got to catch up after 18 months.  She took me out for lunch and it was so good to just sit and talk again.

    And the lovely Olivia and I were able to squeeze in a movie night - er - afternoon, where we watched a bit of a TV show we both love.  We need to do that again, Olivia!

    Oh, I did get to go see three movies in theatre, Avengers: Endgame, Aladdin and Spiderman: Far From Home.  Loved all three, though there were a few irritating moments in both Marvel movies, but Aladdin was the absolute best!


  And that's pretty much a wrap on what I've been doing.  Tomorrow I will join in Hamlette's Tolkien Party and maybe do the Classic's tag that Keturah tagged me for.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Fab Five ~ Movie/TV Heroines





And I'm back!  Let's see which heroines made it onto today's list.

Also, don't forget to check out Rebekah's post.


General Leia Organa ~ Star Wars


Okay, who doesn't love this woman!  I mean, wow, she's a total badass and I love every single thing about her.  And it breaks my heart that she is gone now, not just the character, but the actress as well.
But how fitting was it that Luke's last words to her onscreen were:
"No one's ever really gone."


Rose Tyler ~ Doctor Who


Now so far, Rose is the only companion I really know, but I just love her!  She's smart, spunky, sassy and sweet as can be.  And that little thing she does with her tongue is totally adorable!!


Katie Meaghaid ~ The Decoy Bride


Katie lives on a little Scottish island taking care of her terminally ill mum and writing travel guides for the island.  Then this fancy celebrity couple (played by David Tennant and Alice Eve) come to the island to be married, and when the paparazzi catches on, Katie is hired to act as a decoy.  Of course, things don't go right ans shenanigans and high-jinks ensue.  It's one of the most hilarious movies I've ever seen and I love it!!  Kelly MacDonald is a very good actress and I love this role of hers!


Chae Young Shin ~ Healer (Korean Drama)


Now, I originally told myself that I wasn't going to do any heroines from the the same movies/shows I did heroes from, but I just had to put Young Shin on here.
Like Healer, this girl has been through a lot of rough stuff, but it only shaped and hardened the diamond she is.  A reporter for an online gossip magazine, she's the funniest, bubbliest little thing and runs smack dab into trouble without looking either way.  Her father is a lawyer who takes cases for those with little funds, and he often defended criminals.  When they were released from jail, he would find them jobs and help them start down a new road.  Therefore, they often hung out at his coffee shop a lot, and taught Young Shin their various skills at a young age.  She can pick locks and pockets like the veriest street rat and her skills cause a rather funny scene once.
Jung Soo takes her to a private place of his and he always gets there by picking a lock.  He starts to pick it, but then remembers she is with him (she doesn't know who he really is at this point, she thinks he just the new intern at the office) and says that he forgot the key.  She waves him aside and nonchalantly picks the lock with a hairpin...and then realizes what she just did.  It's absolutely hilarious. 


Cinderella ~ Disney's Cinderella (2015)


 Cinderella was never my favorite fairytale, and I found the animated Disney movie to be completely boring, but the live-action, was fantastic!
Cinderella has actual character and emotions and Lily James was absolutely the perfect person to play her!  So yes, this is a version of Cinderella that I love.


Well, I hope you all have fun reading about these women and I can't wait to share the book heroines with you!
See you all later!


Friday, February 8, 2019

Fab Five ~ Book Heroes





And I'm back!!

Today I have five books heroes I enjoy, not my favorites!


Dr. Robin McRae ~ Dear Enemy - Jean Webster


Dr. McRae - or Sandy - is the taciturn, curmudgeonly Scotch doctor on call for the John Grier Home, an Orphanage in New England that is the setting for this epistolary style novel.  Sandy is the best because - while he is grumpy, grouchy and often fights with and then ignores the heroine - he is an absolute sweetheart and the glimpses of his behavior with the children are so beautiful.  He really loves them and his dedication to his work is amazing. 


Chip Bennett ~ Chip, of the Flying U - B.M. Bower




Ah, Chip Bennett, the best rider on the Flying U and such a sweetheart.  A man of few words, he has a heart of gold and is very talented not only at making the Little Doctor's heart beat fast, but also with a brush and paint and the wildest horses on the place.


Daniel Pickett ~ Kiss of the Spindle - Nancy Campbell Allen


I didn't want to go with the books cover here, but I couldn't find another picture that satisfied me.
What I love the most about the hero from this Steampunk Sleeping Beauty retelling, is that he's not all swoony the first time he meets the girl, on the contrary, she blackmails her way onto his ship, and he is mad as can be!  But as you get to know him, you find a kind, caring young man suffering greatly from PTSD and doing his best to help those persecuted unjustly make new lives elsewhere.  And his jealous moments are an absolute hoot!


Devin the Pooka ~ MBRC series - K.M. Shea


*shakes head*
I imagine Devin looking something like this, he is tall, dark and handsome and a total rouge!  A shapeshifter and a flirt he annoys the heroine to no end...and he's not technically the hero of the series, but then again, it doesn't really have a hero.
But underneath his charming, womanizing exterior, is a man who would do anything to help those he cares about.


Dawsey Adams ~ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer


Though this is a picture of Dawsey from the movie, I would like you all to know from the very start that....I  DO  NOT  LIKE  THIS  MOVIE.
Now don't get me wrong, the actors and actresses were fantastic and Lily James and Matthew Goode were just the best not to mention Kit was adorable, (oh, and the totally got Mark's "American Arrogance" down pat!), but it just wasn't as good as the book!  They cut out way too many things and changed other things merely for the sake of drama and I hate it when they do that!

Anyway, rant over and back to Dawsey!!
Dawsey Adams was a farmer on Guernsey Island during it's occupation by the Germans in WWII and the horrors he endured are more then just heart-wrenching, they are out right sickening!  But he didn't let the atrocities committed by some (Germans) blind him to the good in others.  And when her parents were arrested, he took the child of his good friends an raised the little darling with the help of other friends.  He is just one of the best fictional heroes I have ever read the story of!


Well, that's all for tonight, be sure to check out Rebekah's post and tell us what you think!
So long!!


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Fab Five ~ Movie/TV Heroes


The lovely Rebekah and I have begun a new blog series, that - as you can see above - is called Fab Five.  On Tuesdays and Fridays we will be talking about five characters, scenes, settings, etc. that we enjoy from different books, movies and TV shows.  Movies/TV will be Tuesday and Books will be Friday.

I hope you enjoy these posts and feel free to join in if you want!  If you want to use the graphics I created, just shoot me an email at (fromtheashes2931[at]gmail[dot]com) and I'll send them over!
  


Soo Jung Hoo - Healer (South Korean TV drama)


Jung Hoo/Healer, is my favorite kdrama hero.  He is smart, funny, incredibly good looking, but also has this depth that is just amazing.  He's been through a lot of hard times, but it has turned him into an amazing young man.


Zorro/Don Diego de la Vega - Zorro (1957/59 TV Show)

  
Now I don't watch a whole lot of old TV shows, nor many old westerns, but who doesn't love Zorro?  It is possible that I might have just the teeniest bit of a thing for masked heroes.  Just a smidge of a thing! ;)  But seriously, he's just the coolest ever and I adore watching this show.  But I must confess, I like the men's costumes more that the ladies in this show.  Those old Spanish style suits are just so gorgeous!!


Porthos, Athos, D'Artangan and Aramis - The Three Musketeers (2011 film)


Okay, okay, okay, I know this is four guys rolled into one, but they are just so cool!!  I mean, really, just look at them!!  Now I've never read TTM book, and this is actually the only screen version I've seen, but it's a total hoot!  And the snark and sass these four men manage to just pour out of themselves without being dumb is totally the best!


Jim Craig - The Man From Snowy River (1982 film)


*sighs* 
Jim Craig is just totally and absolutely amazingly awesome!!  And look at that grin!!


Merlin - Merlin (British TV Show 2008/12)


So first of all, I think I've mentioned before that I am extremely partial to Irish actors?  Well I am, but that is only a small part of why I like this Merlin. ;)  There is something very compelling about the tale of this young man full of magic who comes to a place where it is absolutely forbidden and watching him struggle to not only survive there, but to save those around him from the darkness.  And Colin Morgan is just plain awesome!  I just wish they had ended the show differently.

Well, that is all for today, folks!  Be sure to check out Rebekah's post (linked in her name at the top of this post) and tell us what you think!