Throwback Thursday’s Book Review: The Wreck of the Mary Deare by Hammond Innes

Throwback Thursday’s Book Review: The Wreck of the Mary Deare by Hammond Innes (published 1956)

I’ll read just about anything, so I’ll still plow through older books resolutely, even if they are a little more on the archaic side, unless they are so dated (*cough* sexist) that it’s hard to even read, much less finish.

*spoilers ahead*

To my surprise, The Wreck of the Mary Deare was a fantastic read. A little tropish characterization with at least one of the women in the story, but not anywhere close to as bad as my own bias led me to suspect. Probably better than some films and books we have even today.

In general, the author was fairly balanced with his depiction of women for the time in which the book was written. One of the directors of the shipping/trading company was a woman (if I’m remembering my history correctly, not so unusual), and she was called as an “important witness” to give expert testimony in the book’s pivotal court case. Of course, (or, even better!) she was not only knowledgeable and informed, but also devious and corrupt, and was an active agent in the company’s scheme to commit insurance fraud.

The book was just so well put together with its writing style that it holds its appeal even in 2021 (almost seventy years later). It’s exciting, suspenseful, and even spooky at times in its imagery and set-up to the climatic events of the book. It reads like a true-life adventure, but I didn’t realise until after I finished the book as to why–it had to have been based on the real-life events surrounding the Mary Celeste and her mysterious fate. (The Wreck of the Mary Deare was also made into a movie.)

My favourite line from the book? I’m glad you asked!

“He was a seaman. He was used to boats, not to the sea itself as an element in which to exist…”

And the ending is very…satisfactory!

1247535

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1247535.The_Wreck_Of_The_Mary_Deare

Wednesday in Blue Minor…

 

Anybody else out there just want to go curl up in bed and go back to sleep? 

Maybe you’re already well on your way into the deep blue sea of Dreamland.

It’s a deep blue day over here in the Willow realm, and yet not quite blue enough.

We had a record-setting snowfall here in Wichita, but the snow is already all melted, so it’s not the blue-frost day I keep expecting to see when I look out my window.

Being a writer/creative type, I can sometimes feel another world right alongside this one, but I don’t have the magic password or a magic wardrobe to get there. But it’s there all the same, and it’s quite the teaser sometimes. Magical and real, but not magical enough to actually become real. 

But in the book with the blue cover I read last week, the world of magic or just otherworldliness becomes accessible from the “real” world.

Voice of the Sword (Sword, Mirror, Jewel #1)

I’m trying to avoid comparing it to a certain other book that features a young wizard (who, honestly, I might not have liked so much as the books went on if it hadn’t been for his amazing circle of friends), but Voice of the Sword: Book One by John Paul Catton did have a similar sense of magic within its pages.

I’ve read so much in my life—history, world religions, classics, fiction, horror, et al–that I sometimes feel like there’s a “been there, done that” familiarity to everything. 

And there’s a certain comfort to that, because it makes Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry feel like it could be real because of that literary-obtained familiarity.

I didn’t think I was as uninformed about Japanese culture and mythology as I actually (embarrassing as it is to admit!) am.

But, because of that, this book was even more of a novel, exciting read. I had the chance to leave my jaded-reader persona behind and fully immerse myself into the adventurous quest right alongside of the main character Reiko Bergman. And getting schooled about Japanese mythology and culture during the book’s quest was even more of a perk!

So, if you want to escape from this world for a while, you can add it to your “to-read” list here:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49457586-voice-of-the-sword

 

What books have taken you out of this world lately? Share below…

 

Symbolic Sunday and Rabbits, Rabbits Everywhere (in reviews)…

*book spoiler alert*

I finished reading Jessica McHugh’s Rabbits in the Garden last night. (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10504227-rabbits-in-the-garden)

The last thing I would want to do is spoil this book for other readers.

But I can’t not talk about at least a little fluffy bit of it.

Generally, I run from anything where animals are in agony. I still have this mental image of the poor kitten in one of…Poul Anderson’s?…book, I believe. I read it when I was somewhere between ten and twelve.

But I couldn’t not continue to read this book.

It’s Harry Potter for adult women.

Wonderfully, painfully, heartbreakingly thrilling horror.

It’s amazing.

After I finished Rabbits in the Garden, I wanted fall asleep with it cuddled in my arms. But I’m a book nerd, and I didn’t want the pages to get bent. So I didn’t. But I wish I had. Because I had a non-Rabbits-in-the-Garden-inspired nightmare.

It’s a horror book, but I found so much solace within the pages. Light-in-the-darkness, beacon-of-hope, life-put-right kind of solace. It’s a terrifying read, but so dang beautiful as well.

I took this book to heart, symbolically speaking.

I’ve been downsizing my books, but this one I won’t let go of for a while, if ever. Maybe I’ll even re-read it tonight, and fall asleep with it as my pillow as I bask in the aftermath glow of the book’s ending.

Check out Jessica McHugh’s blog here: https://mchughniverse.wordpress.com/.

Scattered Thoughts, and Surprises…

I was in the middle of writing yesterday’s blog post when I learned of the events that went down.

My post didn’t fit with the  tragedy and shock of the day’s events, so I saved it to continue it next week.

This post may not either, but here goes.

I wasn’t really surprised at the turn of events yesterday. The people that have joined forces and voted for/supported Trump are all too terribly, frighteningly familiar to me. I grew up surrounded by them Florida. And the ones there with lots of money and power are the hardest to fight against. I eventually left (and came back and left again and came back and left and…well, you get the picture). I finally left for good back in 2015. I won’t go back, not even for a visit. It’s too heartbreaking, and unsafe for liberal-minded, progressive people like I consider myself to be.

(If you want to know what Florida is really like, pick up one of Carl Hiassen’s books. And this article about Hiassen and his books as posted on CrimeReads is great, too. Carl Hiaasen: A Crime Reader’s Guide to the Classics ‹ CrimeReads)

But now their activities have taken center stage on a national…no, an international…level.

And the United States now has to act. Some politicians in the U.S. already are. (I just saw that the first federal charges have been filed.) Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the powers that be fail to act, in the end. (Let’s hope I’m wrong, eh?) I was more surprised with the fact that certain Republicans and other like individuals began jumping off the Trump ship they’d helped keep afloat for so long.

And I was surprised by my own reaction. I was glued to the news sites online (I don’t have basic cable, aka the news channels, because it’s so outrageously expensive) and I kept repeating to myself “Don’t kill anyone, please don’t kill anyone” and I braced myself for the updates of the deaths of the people the rioters may have been planning to target. Because even though I write horror, and have written some pretty gruesome things (which haven’t been published as of yet), I cannot bear it when it happens in real life.

But here’s a little bright spot, for those of you whom issues like this also matter, in this New York Times article: Curators Scour Capitol for Damage to the Building or Its Art – The New York Times (nytimes.com).

I’m going to be waiting on pins and needles for the full report of the damage and loss on these artifacts, alongside the key breaking news updates.

I don’t agree with Trump or the rioters that supported him. And I’m an activist and protestor myself, though on a very different side then the Trumpers (Coalition of Immokalee Workers Taco Bell march/protests, Free Mumia movement actions, WTO protest organization, working on an initiative to bring a delegation of women from Chiapas to meet with Bernie Sanders, March Against Monsanto protests, protests at greyhound racing tracks, tons of animal rescue work, and participation in guerilla theatre/puppetry performances, among other actions I’ve probably forgotten about.) and, hopefully, utilizing very different (nonviolent and unarmed) tactics.

My life’s been in upheaval itself for the past several years, and the most I can do is pick up a pen right now.

But one bright spot is, and great honour, is that my stories are getting published quite frequently. Still working on getting a full-length book published, but I’m hoping to start work on my next manuscript soon (outlining now).

I have hopes that this, which I just got, will help as I continue to work on my horror manuscript: Spooky Writer’s Planner | The Home of Author Loren Rhoads. I can’t wait to put it to use in planning, and writing, my demonic-flavoured manuscript!

But the best bright spot of all, in my wee realm? It’s that I won something! (And, no, it’s not the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes, or the lottery, or even the HGTV Dream Home Sweepstakes, just FYI! It’s better!).

*drum roll*

Courtesy of Horror Addicts, it’s the Spooky Prize Pack! I can’t wait to see all my spook-a-licious surprises!

https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2021/01/07/spooky-writers-planner-giveaway-winners/

Hope everyone’s day gets better, and that you are staying safe and sane (and definitely consensual! *snort* Okay, lame kinda nerdy humour I know, but…weird times call for weird measures!)

(I never thought I would add Donald Trump as a tag. Ugh.)

I Am Not a Trump Supporter.

To my blog readers:

I live in the United States.

I did not vote for Trump.

I am not a Trump supporter.

I do not support any Trump supporters.

I have not in the past, and do not, condone the actions of Donald Trump and his supporters.

If you support Trump and condone what those protestors terrorists are doing at this moment, unfollow me. Right now.

The Myth of Humanity…

 

I dreamed last night that I owned a casino in South America and, to make things short, I was standing by a jungle river. This fellow that had been splashing around pulled a river dolphin into the shallows, where it (the dolphin) just floated about calmly. The guy got out of the river and, as he passed me, said “Keep an eye on it for me; I’m just going to my truck to get my tools. One blow to the head is all it takes, though, and I’ll have enough meat for me and my family all year.”

I stood there for a minute in the dream, watching the dolphin gently rest in the stagnant shallows at the river’s edge.

Then I acted.

I plunged into the river despite my fancy casino owner’s attire, and pushed the dolphin back into the river’s current. I stood there watching the dolphin swim downstream, and hoped it would be gone before the man came back. 

The man returned with his dolphin-killing club, and he angrily yelled to me from the bank, “Well, someone else downstream is just gonna capture it and kill it. So you didn’t save it at all.”

And I woke myself up out of the dream.

But for most of the morning (and even more than usual as of late) I’ve been musing on the reality of human nature.

And on the kind of human I really want to be, especially when aided by a perhaps typical mid-life transition experience.

Not that there’s any time for self-reflection and navel-gazing. The time to act is now (Actually, the time to act was many years ago…1960s? way before?), in regards to changing our attitudes to animals. To trees. To plants.

It’s time for humanity to be the one to make sacrifices. Dietary sacrifices, livespace sacrifices, personal-possessions sacrifices, mental and emotional sacrifices; to simply just let nature have center stage and top billing for once.

Because humanity in general hasn’t really been all that great in the past.

If you want to debate this, then I suggest you pick up the book I’m reading now: Sea of Slaughter by Farley Mowat. (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/291180.Sea_of_Slaughter) Then, maybe, we’ll talk. Or join forces and act, instead.

It’s why, I suppose, I like books in the crime/thriller/horror genre. Because it’s literature that’s often stripped of a rose-coloured view of humanity. There’s minimal illusion there. Human nature is revealed for what it often is–dark, twisted, sadistic, and cruel. It’s unapologetic, most times. (I’ve seen this cruelty firsthand in my years as an animal rescue volunteer and wildlife rehabber.)

Human nature such as in the book I just finished.

It’s One by One by Yawatta Hosby. (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18096817-one-by-one) A spooky, unrelentingly dark, twisted-mind story that takes you to a lakeside cabin deep in the backwoods of Virginia. Because what better place for humanity’s inner, and outer, demons to emerge than in a tragedy-ridden log cabin?

And, as for me, as one of too-many humans on this crowded planet, I hope to get better in the New Year.

Downsize my books.

Peel away society’s layers to get to the core of my true self.

Continue to transition to a vegan diet (Thanks for the inspiration, motivation, and recipes, Veganuary! Veganuary | Home | The Go Vegan 31 Day Challenge).

Read more, and watch less. And streamline my social media time.

Get a book published.

Find a place in the world where I can live in more direct connection, and in harmony, with nature.

And, in trying to come to terms with my own fallible human nature, I turned to the Satanic Temple, of which I am now a member. The Satanic Temple – Official website

What scary life changes do you have planned for the New Year, and the so-termed by some Age of Aquarius?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six Degrees of…Neighbours!

A festive winter season to all!

If there’s magic of the season floating about, I hope it finds you!

And me…to be honest.

If I were to make a holiday wish, it would be to live surrounded by nature, with a whole lot trees and flowers and animals and plants and insects for neighbours. And lots and lots of unkempt ‘weeds’ and brambles and thickets.

That was one of the hard things I found about the place where I lived before. When I first moved to New Mexico, I expected it to be the wild and untouched vista you see on TV. It’s the desert, I assumed in my naivety, who landscapes the desert? I thought it was going to be a much-welcomed vacation from leaf blowers and weed whackers and the suburban mania for perfect lawns/landscaping that was characteristic of Florida.

New Mexico wasn’t my ideal locale, but the spot that I lived was quiet and peaceful and there was even a creek close enough to make things a little green to ameliorate the brown upon brown upon brown landscape. And a beautiful meadow full of flowers and lovely waving grasses and even deer. It was like right out of Bambi. But, sadly, it didn’t last long. Soon the meadow fell to the weekly weed whackers and not only was the peace ruined by the drone of leaf blowers but there were pesticides being sprayed to the extent that, one day, a worker in a white hazmat suit with a hose attached to a truck was dousing everything in sight. 

Ugh. 

(Yes, there’s a point to this story. And not just me characteristically kvetching on Christmas Eve. Keep reading!)

And don’t get me started on the snooping around and the internet sabotage and lots of other weirdness going on.

So, when I begun Good Neighbors* by Sarah Langan, I didn’t have any idea what I was getting myself into. That I was going to be immersed in a chilling thriller that was uncomfortably and yet wonderfully-spooky close to home.

Of course, Sarah Langan’s Maple Street suburban community takes things to a horrifying extreme after an equally terrifying and tragic event, but the seeds were there. Tiny little mowed-to-an-inch-of-their-lives seedlings, but still, I would swear the mentality was the same. Or that my creative writer’s imagination decided it was going to believe as I clung to the pages of Langan’s book late at night. (I think this was the week I had a couple of nightmares, mind you.)

As a result, this was one of the creepiest books I’ve read in a while. I was both haunted by never-happened memories of suburbanites coming for me in full lethal force and it made me even more nervous about my move to a perfectly manicured residential complex.**

On top of that, I related so much to the Wilde family in the book, as one misfit to another.

A misfit dreaming of a place where I feel I belong. Where I fit. Where I’m safe and sound and have my happily ever after. Not just me, but for the wildling animals and trees and plants and insects and all other non-human life forms. Because they belonged here first.

That’s my magical winter season wish.

(*I believe I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway, but with all the craziness of the out-of-state move for internet and cell phone service and jobs, I lost track, unfortunately.)

(**The oddest part of all of this, is that within this landscaped, water-hungry, pesticide-reliant area I relocated to, I have not heard ONE leaf blower since I moved in. Or weed whacker, or lawnmower, or even apocalyptic-looking people in white hazmat suits spraying clouds of pesticides over every square inch of the compound. How’s that for irony?)

Oh, here’s the book link for Good Neighbors. Read it, even if you live in suburbia. It’s so good. (Especially if you need a break from all the “goodwill towards men”.) https://bookshop.org/books/good-neighbors-9781982144364/9781982144364

Now I’m going to go keep watch for any creepy, hostile neighbours. (Though I think the recent spate of earthquakes were a little more terrifying than obsessive suburbanites.) Let me know what you think about the book, if you read it!

And for more tragic ‘fun’ in the suburbs, you could always follow up your read with Penelope Spheeris’ Suburbia: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086589/.

Winter Solstice and Ice Dreams…

I hope you all are enjoying this winter solstice and have hot chocolate and blankets ready for the conjunction viewing tonight. Alas, there is so much light pollution here, and my new locale is lit up so brightly I’m surprised you can’t see it from outer space.

There’s a little teeny part of me that’s expecting something momentous to happen, even though I fall more on the skeptic’s side of things. But I’ll settle for the veil between worlds to thin so that I can spend some time with my ghost cats of season’s past. I miss them.

I don’t even know about the veil-thinning thing, but I have been thinking a lot about the past. Many of my poems have elements taken from experiences I’ve had in the past, and turned into what-might-have-been second chances, or alternate dimensions.

The spec fic story (“The Ice Dream of the Crow”) I wrote for Excalibur’s Books’ Phantom Games: Dimensions Unknown 2020 was inspired by my grandmother’s boyfriend Ernie (he died some time ago). As the story goes, he was an excellent skater, and worked at the Lake Placid Olympics. From the family’s written record of the story, he laid the flag under the ice, and escorted Sonja Henie onto the ice. He was gifted an ice skater ornament for his work on the Olympics, which is still in the family.

So, if you’re looking to escape into an alternate reality and want to experience a fictional journey to the Games, and can’t wait for them to start next year, check out the anthology by clicking on the link here: Phantom Games: Dimensions Unknown 2020 or here https://www.amazon.com/Phantom-Games-Dimensions-2020/dp/B08KQP53X2/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Thanks, and enjoy the rare conjunction tonight! Merry solstice!

Journeys in the Round…

 

It seems I have taken the long way around to get to writing today’s blog.

I’m just now finishing the last (very cold) dregs of tea from my round lighthouse mug.

The internet loading symbol went ’round and ’round most of the day as well.

It felt like I was going around and around in circles too, even though I was just sitting very still and quiet.

Oh, and I overslept too.

And I’m still sitting here, wondering if I actually got anything of importance done today.

Maybe if I post up a little bit about what I’ve read lately, I can tell myself I did something today. Something other than endlessly and eternally applying for day jobs on Indeed, et al.

Since I love lighthouses (hence the lighthouse mug!), I’m going to share the collection of lighthouse stories that Black Beacon Books put out.

Well, not the whole collection, but my readerly experience with the collection.

I was sold on this book even before I read it. I love maritime history, and I love visiting lighthouses even more. (The light at Egmont Key is one of my favourites!)

Even better, these lighthouse stories are spooky ones. But they are also full of magic and otherworldliness and delightfully dark, delicious, haunting dreams. Or dreamlike experiences, anyway. 

I’m a little tired to do the tales justice, but I was really happy to see that lights and lighthouses still carry a certain romance, even in this overly electronic day and age.

So, go visit these remote literary settings, especially if you’re an introvert like me, and there’s still too many people in close proximity even with the sheltering-in-place COVID restrictions. (Ha.)

Lighthouses: An Anthology of Dark Tales by Black Beacon Books https://blackbeaconbooks.blogspot.com/p/lighthouses.html

And I also just finished up a book I got from the Mystery Book Club. (It’s like a reader’s Xmas every month, with books wrapped better than I could ever wrap a gift in a million years!) Possible spoiler!

It’s The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri. I read this book so dang fast I guess I liked it. I’m gonna have to re-read it though, because I think I missed finding out the fate of the bee. But maybe the author didn’t resolve it. Which would make me sad….with all the heartache and pain and trauma in the book, but with a bittersweet surprise ending, I wanted a happy ending for the little lost, alone bee. Have I mentioned I love bees?

What I really liked were how some of the chapters ended. It was a neat trick, and I just kept reading and reading into the wee hours because of it.

Here’s the link for this book, if you want to check it out! I liked the blue cover better, so I’m putting the Goodreads link up. Let me know, after you read the book, which cover you like better–the blue one or the orangey brown one.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42270777-the-beekeeper-of-aleppo

And to wrap up this roundabout sort of day, I was introduced to a great song by fellow blogger and poet/artist, Marc Latham (https://fmpoetry.wordpress.com). The song is called “willow” (sic) and it’s by Taylor Swift. Yep, it is the very first time I have listened to one of her songs. And it was a great recommendation. Her songs and my poems seem to match up in that synchronous magical way that I love. And I like cardigans. So I guess I have to go listen to that song now. And maybe buy a couple of her albums when I get a day job (Are you reading this out there, Indeed job posters?).

 

Here’s a link to her Twitter post about the song: https://twitter.com/taylorswift13/status/1339014864791089152

A “Gateway to Magic” for the Holidays!

Happy Hanukkah! Happy holidays! etc etc.!

(Featured Book: Gateway to Magic by Annabelle Franklin which I purchased not too long ago.)

Oddly enough, even though I wrote middle grade manuscript, and tried to read as much as I could in the genre beforehand, I still feel that it’s one of my cutoffs in regards to actual reading-for-pleasure. (In my defense, it probably was even back when I WAS a middle grade reader.)

Luckily for Annabelle Franklin, there are now kids among all us grumpy old people in our family. So now I can say, “they are going to love this book”. 

Well, I don’t really know if they are going to love it, because I’m sure kids get tired of hearing what they like and don’t like and what they should like, but I’m still going to pass on this book to them, in hopes they like it.

After all, at least one of them loves reading, another likes adventure video games, and this book has a little of both. Well, sort of. But what is does have for sure is fairies and magic and goblins and monsters and . . . well, I’ll let you (or your kids) read it to find out what sort of ending it has.

Because anything goes in Annabelle Franklin’s wacky fairyland, where the magical denizens of the fae realm are not always the cutesy, glitter-spewing fairies Disney has taught us to expect. (After all, Grimm–and many others–wrote fairies the ‘real’ way too!)

Here’s the link on Amazon, should you still need to do some last-minute holiday gift shopping for the little imps in your own family! (Just DO NOT press the big red button!)

Gateway to Magic on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gateway-Magic-Annabelle-Franklin/dp/1530767083/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

P.S. She has another book for kids available on Amazon as well: https://www.amazon.com/Slapstyx-Annabelle-Franklin/dp/1518686982/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=