Tag Archives: SephiPiderWitch

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahonThe Winter People by Jennifer McMahon was definitely an interesting read.  Its the story of the winter people, deceased who can be called back into life for 7 days.

Its a true Gothic ghost story brought forward to modern times while still stroking the romance of the Victorian gothic tale.  Jennifer has a lovely writing style and it obvious that she is a fan of the old Victorian’s love of ghost stories.  The kind that are not full of gore and blood, but  built upon mystery and the intrigue of the unknown.

The novel is told from multiple perspectives and a dual time line, those of the modern world and the voices of Sara Harrison Shea and her family through her diary which was published after her macabre murder.

Its the story of the extremes people are capable of and will go to in order to bring back and hold on to that which they love.  Its a fascinating exploration of human nature at its best and worst.  Jennifer breathes life into each of her characters and creates a bond with the reader, even to the specter.  And its an intriguing mystery, actually, mysteries.  As each of the groups has their own mystery that draws them in in the first place and through solving Sara’s mystery, they hope to solve their own.

The Winter People is a wonderful tale that reminds me that the art of weaving a finely wrought tale has not be lost.

 

What is Visible by Kimberly Elkins

What is VisibleAll I can say about this book is Wow!  Lyrical, haunting and pulls at every emotional string you have as it runs its course.

What is visible is the story of Laura Bridgman.  A woman I had never heard of before reading this book.  Laura was the first deaf-blind person to receive a significant education in America.  Laura was stricken with scarlet fever when she was two, taking away 4 of her senses, sight, hearing, smell and taste.  The only sense she was left with was touch.  During her life, she was referred to as the second most important  woman in the world.  Though she seems to have been lost in history, replaced by her successor, Helen Keller.Laura Bridgman2 with scarlet fever when she was two, taking away 4 of her senses, sight, hearing, smell and taste.  The only sense she was left with was touch.  She wore shades over her eyes and only a couple of people ever saw what was behind those shades.  During her life, she was referred to as the second most important  woman in the world.  Though she seems to have been lost in history, replaced by her successor, Helen Keller.

What Is Visible is told in the form of diary entries from Laura as well as all the people she interacts with the exception of her childhood friend, Tenny.  Ms. Elkins does an amazing job of giving a distinct voice to each of the characters in the book and weaving their voices in a way that brings you into the room with them and witness to their thoughts.

I think it would be very easy to find the need to portray someone as disabled as Laura in the light of a saint or martyr.  But, Ms. Elkins did not fall prey to this either with Laura nor any of the other characters in the story.  And that is what makes this such an incredible book.  The characters are very human.

Laura moves between being this intelligent rational observer of her dark world to moments of vanity and arrogance.  There are times when she shows petty jealousy, meanness and downright hatefulness.  But, in the blink of an eye, you get another insight into her where you want to cry and forgive her any and all cruel thoughts she has.

Laura Bridgman1She speaks of her impressions of the people around her, what she likes and dislikes.  Her need to touch, her only sense, often overwhelms the people around her and she is often disciplined for crawling in bed with the other girls and fondling them.  Her discipline for misbehaving is having gloves put on her hands for a unique version of time out.

Ms. Elkins creates a love affair for Laura, in the form of a servant named Kate.  And she again shone her talent here as she described the intense relationship between the two women which often migrated into the realm of S&M.  Her reasoning in the afterward was that she had to imagine that such an area would be explored as far as it could be taken with one whose only sense was that of touch.  And also given that it was well documented that Laura did “hurt herself”.  And she executes it well, creating an intense and beautifully blossomed relationship between these women.

The other voices in Laura’s life are given equal consideration.  From theLaura Bridgman “doctor” and his wife, the servants, teachers, friends.  The triumphs, frustrations, anger and disappointments, not only in Laura, but in every aspect of their lives.  It is not just a picture of Laura’s life, but equally a picture of the life of her universe, both when it is alongside her as well as when it has moved on.

I laughed, I cried, my heart sometimes sinking deep with the weight of the words.  At times, my breath was taken for a moment at the sheer beauty and wisdom of the words in this book.  Through it, I not only got a peek inside what it must be like to live your life in a form of solitude, with only one tiny gateway to the outside world, but what it was like to take the hand of that soul for just a while.

Most of the story is true and based on documented research, according to the author’s afterward.  She took some liberties, gave Laura some things she only guessed or hoped she would have experienced.  I appreciated the fact that she laid all this out in the afterward.  Because, you walk away knowing that almost all of it was real.  And you are glad for the elaborations she made, and hope, that maybe even in those, Laura was granted those boons.  They just weren’t “known”.

 

Deception Pass 05/24/2014

Deception Pass 05-24-2014-1Its like a house of mirrors that just seems to go on and on and on and on.  Welcome to Deception Pass.  And one of a set of bridges that gets you across it.  We didn’t get here quite as early as I had hoped we would.  First thing in the morning is one of the most magical times to see the pass as the morning mists hang over the water and hills.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-4
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-7Holy Bat Monsters Robin!  That’s the biggest fish I’ve ever seen!  Doesn’t this thing go any faster?  I think he’s gaining on us.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-8Have crack or crevice, will grow.  Stony mountainside?  Not a problem.  If there’s the tiniest fissure, green will happen.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-9Tiny lichens hanging on the branch.  Tiny lichens grabbing any line to cling to.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-12And when you find that the forest floor is too populated for your liking, you can always take root on the side of the trail.  The added benefit of this is to create worry of crushing by the hikers that walk alongside.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-20For those that need to know if they really want to take on a hike of a certain magnitude.  One is, after all, a daunting .7 miles distance.  Of course, what they don’t tell you on these signs is the elevation gain and drop on any of these.  So, the .1 mile could potentially be .1 of cliff climbing.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-26Can’t you just close your eyes and imagine those roots reaching up and wrapping around your ankles to drag you screaming into a gaping maw of earth before closing in over your head??
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-30It just looks more ancient when you strip the colors, doesn’t it?
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-32There really, really needs to be a swing from the center of this!!!  That would be an E-Ticket ride if ever there was one!!!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-41And it looks much the same after a trip backward in time.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-47And way off in the distance, you can see the prodigal son.  Looks like he is trying to figure out some fancy setting on his camera to show his mother up.  But, he is missing the gaping maw before me, which no fancy setting is a match for!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-52And there is even a treasure hidden deep in its depths.  They may look like simple beach stones to the average person, but they are really coins dating back to the caveman days and still used by our local Sasquatch communities.  They have found that the exchange value isn’t quite as good as they like when trading with the locals though.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-55Bout all you can say about this little plant is Oooooh, Ahhhh!!!  Pretty!!!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-57One more time – Ooooh!!!  Ahhhhh!!!  Pretty!!!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-60Filters are fun to play with!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-63They’re even pretty in shades of gray!  Ooooh!  Ahhh!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-67Gotta love those determined cliff clinging trees!  Its nature’s way of showing off and letting you know She can put her trees anywhere and they will be fine.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-69As it rises from beneath the rocky shores of the island, reaching out its green mandibles for unsuspecting bare toe blood sport!
He’s just a shell of his former self.Deception Pass 05-24-2014-72
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-76Okay, now if this doesn’t look like something from a scene in Dune, I don’t know what does.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-82For those who are wondering where it is the flower fairies hide when the humans are around, they have these little clifftop retreats.  This also explains the tiny acorns that get dropped on your head even though there is no wind nor oak trees around.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-85What luck!  It seems we have the fortune of being witnesses to the ever elusive dance of the wood nymph!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-91And they are known for dancing to full exhaustion.
Cute little guy, isn’t he?Deception Pass 05-24-2014-97
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-99And the nurse tree that had the boy so fascinated.  Next time, I’ll have to take him to one of the old growth trails.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-105Blends quite well with the natural wildlife, doesn’t he?
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-108Peek-A-Boo!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-111Breathtaking, isn’t it?
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-113Pretty little flowers, all on a vine.  Pretty little fan leaves, following close behind.
That quite a long way down!!Deception Pass 05-24-2014-120
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-122Wild roses!!!  Pre-thorn era.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-124Now you didn’t think you’d get through one of my wanders without a shot of something dead or decaying, did you?
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-127Its a miniature little land within the great above.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-132Rollin, rollin, rolling down the river!!
 Deception Pass 05-24-2014-137And this was where I learned that my son has issues with heights.  Now, I am sure I never dangled him out of a window, so I am innocent for implanting that fear in his mind.  But wait!  He flies all over the country.  He doesn’t have an issue with that?  Well, that could be because it brings back fond memories of his first plane trip where he threw his tray of food all over the stewardess.  Yes, there was a time where they did feed people full meals on flights and not just in first class.
 And yes!  The water REALLY is that color!Deception Pass 05-24-2014-141
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-143

Its one of those linear things again.  But, it does gt you to the other side!

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Shattered by Kevin Hearne

ShatteredI really did intend to write reviews on the previous installments of the Iron Druid Chronicles.  I just wasn’t doing quite as well at keeping up with reviewing the books when I read/listened to the previous ones.

I was introduced to the Iron Druid chronicles last year when I got the initial books in audiobook form.  I have since gone through all of the installments in audio form.  I think it is because of the wonderful voices Luke Daniels does for the books.  In truth, I have become very much addicted to this series.

Shattered continues the series by introducing us to the newest character, Owen Kennedy, who is Atticus’ Arch Druid.  Owen is rapidly fallen into a second place of favorite characters, next to Oberon, Atticus’ charminng wolfhound.  Atticus has plucked Owen from an island where he has been in a kind of frozen state of time where he has been for the past 2000 years.  He was placed there by Morrigan to deliver a message when he was retrieved.

Owen is brash, rough and totally out of place in this new time he is in.  And Atticus is very much enjoying the role reversal of him now being the mentor/guardian of what was his dreaded teacher and only father figure he could remember.  The interplay between them is charming and hilarious, including the unnecessary saving of Owen from the street fight with the werewolf he left him with to get identity papers from, where Atticus had to apologize for all for his unwelcome interference in just plain fun.

The plot is continued in this installment with the mingling of all the gods of the Greeks and Celts, and a whole host of corresponding pantheons.  Throw the werewolves, which are his legal service, vampires that used to be part of the same till their falling out and are now on the official hit list and the witches, some of which are grudgingly tolerated.

Its just a plain rollicking good time in the pages of a book.  I would recommend it to anyone that likes a finely told yarn as it has all the required elements, drama, humor, history lessons, a charming love story with an unconventional female heroin who is nicknamed “fierce druid” by the elementals and “clever girl” by Oberon.  On and has the requisite fight scenes complete with death Goddesses to claim the souls of the dead at the end.  How much more can you ask from entertainment.

I will, as I have felt belonged to every one of his previous books give Kevin 5 stars on Shattered.  My only grievance with him is that he has left a wide open portal for the next installment and then sent out a blog post saying that he is working on an “epic” that will come before he intends to begin on the 8th installment of the chronicles.  So, it looks like we will be waiting quite some time to see what will become of these characters that have become so endeared to many of us.

SephiPiderWitch
07/20/14

 

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Remarkable Creatures

Remarkable Creatures was a most wonderful read.  The author, Tracy Chevalier is most known for having written The Girl With the Pearl Earring.  And I have a confession to make.  I never did read that book.  But, I did watch the movie.  However, after having read Remarkable Creatures, it will go on my to read list.

Remarkable Creatures is about two women from opposite sides of society.  Mary Anning, a poor girl who had been struck by lightening when she was little which left her with the ability to find “curies”.  Curies are little fossilized sea creatures that wash up on the shores of the town she lives in Lyme.

The other character, Elizabeth Philpot, though not rich, is definitely middle class.  But, Elizabeth is plain, or at least she has a sharp jawline that is not considered soft enough to attract a suitor.  When her brother marries, his new wife and he decide that the house is not big enough for his new family in the making, so he sends Elizabeth and her two sisters to live in Lyme, setting them into a small house with an annual allowance that grants them a modest means of living.

Elizabeth also collects Curies and meets Mary when she ventures into Mary’s fathers cabinet shop to see about ordering a cabinet for her collection.  They strike up a friendship initially based on the shared interest they have in the little fossils.  Over time, it progresses to a very deep sisterly relationship.

Its a very interesting story of a relationship between two women in an age where most people socialized only within their own social class.  It is also full of interesting knowledge and names of early collectors and scientists of fossils at a time when care must be taken not to allude to the possibility that these creatures separate from the proscribed God’s design.

Tracy Chevalier has created rich and layered characters that draw you in and immerse you in their world.  She does not just told a story, she has woven it and will trap you in the web of it.  Her voice is unique and lyrical.  And she will find a place on my authors to follow the works of list.

One thing I was pleased to note after finishing the book is that it is also based on real people with a fictional tale woven about the characters.  Both Mary and Elizabeth did exist and the were both fossil collectors whose finds can be found in museums in Britain and abroad.

Read more here:
http://www.tchevalier.com/remarkablecreatures/story/index.html

 

Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn

sharp-objects-book-coverShe has done it again!  Chills up my spine and flesh crawling amazing!  This woman is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors!

Sharp Objects is about a reporter, Camille Preaker who is sent to cover the murder of two young girls from the town where she was born and raised.  She returns to her home, which she hasn’t been back to in years, to her cold mother and a very precocious younger sister, Emma.

Camille is a cutter, but not a conventional cutter.  She is a word cutter and her body is a tapestry of the words she has cut through the years.  Years of therapy have gotten her to stop taking the knife to her body, but being back home with all its memories and ghosts makes the words whisper to her.

This book is haunting and spine chilling in the characters Gillian brings forth.  Complex characters that are conflicting balances of good and evil.  Through the tapestry of young and old women, she shows the cruelty that women are capable of inflicting on each other.  Far deeper and more scarring than the wounds of a man, for a woman wounds at an intimate level.  And there are a few in this landscape that are true artists in this regard.

From the mother who is cold and dispassionate until Camille is sick and then turns into a doting and caring nurse, to her sister, Emma, and her friends who think cruelty is a sport.  Yet, Emma also has a soft side that shows up.  A need, a fierceness, a desire to be loved as deep as what Camille carries.  One who hurts themselves, one who hurts others.  Both tortured souls that must manifest their torture outward.

Gillian’s writing takes you deeply into the head and the soul of Camille and allows you to see the world through a “cutter”, a damaged soul.  She vividly creates a possible world that can mold such a person and you breathe with her each experience and hear the whisper of each carved word.

The mystery unfolds and as in the other book of her’s I read, Gone Girl, I had somewhat figured out who the murderer was, but how she delivers it was once again a curve ball.

She has one last book that I have not read which had jumped to the top level of my list and I hope that she is working on the next, because I must admit, I am addicted to her stories now!

 

April Island Shots

 April 2014 Camano Island-15
When driving along the freeway, what to my wandering eyes should appear but a yard of rusty trucks and cars and trailers and such.  This little beauty here, well, it used to be a rum runner taking the back roads from the wharves to the seamstress’ quarters in the university.
April 2014 Camano Island-16
All you need is close your eyes for a moment and think of the Speakeasy, flappers, gangsters (the real ones with the Tommy guns and Zoot suits and fedoras with yet more flapper girls hanging off their arms) then open your eyes.  Or, maybe little Dorothy Parker would have liked to drive around in this looking for the latest poetic inspiration.
April 2014 Camano Island-17Want to protect your interest in these pristine relics?  Have no fear!  There is a squad of ancient warrior trees that will watch over them for a nominal fee.  Don’t let the rumors about the blood sacrifice deter you.  It really doesn’t need to be a friend or family member.  Then again, that may just be the answer to one of those prayers you are afraid to voice.  And not to worry these talented trees show their appreciation by absorbing all of the offering, leaving no trace that could ever point back to you!
 April 2014 Camano Island-20
You know?  I could be Bonnie and Clyde’s car.  But, it isn’t because its lacking that unique embellishment of all those bullet holes.  Of course, it could be their spare car!
 April 2014 Camano Island-22And here we have one of those lovely guardian trees showing its appreciation for an offering it received by doing the solar dance of freedom.  The supplicants are hiding in the little shack, as it has been rumored that these dances can bring about the dropping and flinging of branches and pine cones of most unusual size.  Injuries and death have been known to result to unprotected supplicants and it has been proposed that there might be an intentional component in this as it would provide additional sacrifices to these ravenous creatures.
 April 2014 Camano Island-24And as I drive onto the island, I take a turn on one of the side streets that I have been eyeballing for quite some time.  It was a beautiful long stretch of road that ended at the coastline on the other side.  I’ll save that area for another day.  But, I had to stop for the clouds.  And this one just looked like a storm God baring in for an assault on the ground below!!
 April 2014 Camano Island-25Or maybe its a momma cloud Goddess chasing after its runaway offspring.  Poor little thing!  Oh Wait!  No!  Its dancing and chanting, “naner, naner, naner!  Can’t catch me!”  Ah, but we all know that mom will win this battle.  And that light misty rain that followed?  The little one with the paddled bottom!
 April 2014 Camano Island-29
Just looks more ominous with the hues changed, don’t you think?  You almost expect a tornado to rear its body off in the distance!
April 2014 Camano Island-34
Okay, all I have to say here is:  Breathtaking, isn’t it?
April 2014 Camano Island-37
I was seriously considering going over and knocking on their door to see if they would give me the ritual they used to summon their own cloud above them.
 April 2014 Camano Island-39Ah yes, and we step again into that wayback machine to a simpler time, a time of Laura Ingalls and John Wayne and no electricity and not internet . . . . Yeah, maybe not.
 I do love the broken down, dilapidated structures!!!April 2014 Camano Island-43
 April 2014 Camano Island-45Looks like they have more than plenty of room for guest here.  And don’t have to worry about them being underfoot!  And its nice there are windows so they can look out, or be watched!
 April 2014 Camano Island-47
And right close to the barn too!  They won’t have far to walk to milk those cows on the way in for breakfast,
 April 2014 Camano Island-51
And one of my favorite trees on the island.  Yes, you know its Spring as its getting in is lovely foliage!
 April 2014 Camano Island-52And this was the last picture I got before my beloved camera got sick.  Its now at the camera hospital and though I do have the point and shoot to keep me somewhat occupied, life will not be the same till my baby comes home.
Oh, and do note that I am now adding a slide show at the bottom of the posts where you can look at all the pictures, some of which are not shown above.  Feel free to leave comments and there is a subscribe button if you want to see new posts as I write them.  Thank you for stopping by!
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