Ashe’s 2015 Reading Goals

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  • #201060
    Ashe Elton Parker
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    Okay, since I didn’t get to very many (if any at all) of the books I listed for 2014, I’m going to take a different approach.

    My goal is to finish reading two never-before-read books each month in 2015.

    1 – Dracula by Bram Stoker (10 Mar 2015)
    2 – The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow (15 Mar 2015)
    3 – A Princess, a Boatman, and a Lizard, Edited by J.A. Marlow (16 Mar 2015)
    4 – A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters (20 Mar 2015)
    5 – One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters
    6 – The Pilgrim of Hate by Ellis Peters (22 May 2015)
    7 – Fire in the Mist by Holly Lisle (2 June 2015)
    8 – To Shiled the Queen by Fiona Buckley (9 June 2015)
    9 – Why Turtles Have Patchy Shells as retold by Ada Chukwukeme (16 June 2015)

    .

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #236192
    Ashe Elton Parker
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    I have finished a book at last!

    Dracula by Bram Stoker

    I should probably skim over the first part of the book, since it’s been about two or so years since I started reading the bloody thing, but I’m willing to trust my memory on this. And noooooo, having seen the movie based on this book several times (years longer ago) isn’t informing my memories of the book.

    Well, for some comparison. The movie, where it mustn’t leave things out due to being the medium it is, follows the book fairly closely throughout most of the story, but about the last third of the book, things get slightly different. I’m not into wholesale comparisons of movies to the books they’re based upon–they’re different media with different requirements for making a coherent story–but I must say I enjoyed the detail offered by the book much better. We never get a view into the eponymous character’s head, and I think I might have appreciated such a view, because to some extent, the deductions made by the vampire hunters in the latter chapters of the book seem to come somewhat easily to those doing the deducing. Not quite Deus Ex Machina, and perhaps my exhausted mind was focused a bit too much on the seeming ease of the processes, it nevertheless stuck out to me. I do like how Stoker gradually removed the team’s best hope of learning the Vampire’s movements, though; I may have been tempted to let this method of discovery remain in play–hell, I would likely have written the full end of the story with it in play before realizing how easy that made things, then had to rewrite nearly the whole last sixth of the book to fit the changes I’d made.

    .

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #236193
    Ashe Elton Parker
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    2. The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

    This is a Steampunk mystery suggested to me by ErinMH in my quest for fantasy-related mysteries for researching how to write mysteries.

    This book follows two sleuths, a Miss Emma Bannon, who happens to be a Black Sorceress (black being her particular magical gift), and mentath Archibald Clare. The book opens with a prelude starring Clare, and I immediately liked him. So much, in fact, I was rather vexed when the author didn’t provide any of his internal thoughts (in italics) as she did Bannon’s, pretty much from the first chapter from the sorceress’s view. I was quite eager to see his thoughts directly, as it were, but they didn’t make an appearance until he was, in essence, shocked out of his complacency of logic.

    In Lilith Saintcrow’s iteration of Britain in this series opener, we see clockhorses, a mortal queen who holds the entriety of fair Brittania’s history and age within her form, and a magical college nexted in the sky. Bannon–and, from my understanding, sorcerers of her level–are protected by entities called Shileds (who may or may not have some sort of magic of their own–I couldn’t quite determine this, however). Mentaths such as Clare are valued for their logical minds and must have adequate distraction in order to prevent them burning out into a state of complete mental collapse–and this is central to the plot.

    Someone’s building mecha to be operated by mentaths to overthrow Britannia–not just the queen, but the whole land itself. Together, Bannon and Clare uncover the plot and its conspirators. Things start off somewhat coolly between them, because Bannon is uncertain Clare can be trusted, having deduced already at this point mentaths have some importance to the plot; if not for the fact unregistered mentaths–one of which Clare happens to be–are being murdered, and she arrives barely in time to prevent his death, essentially spiritng him from his home. Over the course of the novel, the two come to trust one another, and they each make important discoveries about the conspirators and the tools (and the parts of those tools) the conspirators are using to overthrow Britannia. Not only does this path drag an old friend of Clare’s into the middle, but it also brings Bannon back around to a former lover.

    Not all is explained in the ending. Oh, the initial book is well and truly done, but there are enough questions left open to provide need for further explanation. I’m sure, provided her publishers find her sales strong enough, Lilith Saintcrow will revisit these questions in future installments of this sleuthing duo’s tales.

    And I look forward to reading them.

    .

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #236194
    Ashe Elton Parker
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    3. A Princess, a Boatman, and a Lizard Edited by J.A. Marlow

    This is the first of the FM Anthology series, printed in December of 2012. I have a story in this anthology.

    I started reading this book in early 2013, and even though I haven’t gone back and reread the first few stories, the one that remains clearest in my mind is Suelder’s story, Princess of the Mountain Forests, which was the first story in the book. I found all the stories enjoyable, however, and would recommend this anthology to any reader wanting to experience a variety of genres.

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #236195
    Ashe Elton Parker
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    4 – A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters

    This is the first of a series of mysteries solved by a Benedictine Brother named Cadfael and is one of several books I’ve been reading for research into how to write mysteries.

    In this book, Brother Cadfael and a party of five other Brothers embark upon a journey that takes them into Wales to the location of a forgotten saint to attain her bones (for the glory if the Prior who leads the party). Cadfael volunteers himself as a Welsh-speaker, being a native to Wales, so the Benedictine party has a reliable translator as English isn’t at this time common in Gwyterin, Wales.

    When they reach the Saint’s location, the Brothers’ quest meets resistance from the community, headed by Lord Rhisiart. When Rhisiart is found murdered, people are quick to blame the apparent culprit, whose arrow is found in the lord’s body–at an angle which Cadfael immediately notes is incredibly odd given the fact the lord was probably standing–and in a location where it would be near imposisble to fire an arrow at such an angle. Further investigation by Cadfael, with the help of Sioned, Rhisiart’s daughter, reveals the lord had first been stabbed.

    Through further investigation, and a chance discovery of much missing from a vial of poppy juice he brought along on the trip, Cadfael reaches the correct conclusion. Further complications prevent full public conviction of the murderer, but, in the end, enables Cadfael to make everyone, including the Saint, satisfied with the results of his investigation–and the Benedictines’ quest.

    I found this book somewhat difficult to read; the style of the prose sometimes made it difficult for me to comprehend what was happening, and, in the copy of the book I checked out, there was a spot where the ink hadn’t made it to the page across several lines. However, if I found myself unable to comprehend the language, I set the book aside and came back to it later, when I felt more capable, so it wasn’t as much a distraction as it could have been. Bsides, it stretched my reading skills, and I’m always glad to do that. And, despite my difficulty, I found the prose quite beautiful to read, regardless of it being a murder mystery; it certainly adds to the voice of the book and the era it depicts.

    .

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #236196
    Ashe Elton Parker
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    5. One Corpse Too Many (the second Chronicle of The Benediction of Brother Cadfael, an omnibus of the first two Cadfael books) by Ellis Peters

    This book was a fun read. Set during a Medieval civil war when King Stephen lays siege to and battles with the denizens of Shrewsbury Castle, it tells the tale of the death of one of Empress Maud’s supporters. Already burdened with a fugitive youth, named Godric, whom he’s taken responsibility for, Brother Cadfael offers to oversee the disposition of the 94 men who were executed when the Castle fell, and in the process discovers a 95th body that was clearly neither one of the Castle’s men nor hung by Stephen’s people.

    Godric recognizes the murdered man as a squire loyal to Maud’s cause but can provide little other information. At least, not until he discovers the dead man’s partner wounded on the riverbank. While Godric and Cadfael help the wounded man to recover, they learn that the squires were sent to deliver a treasure to Maud in France to aid her cause and that the dead one was murdered when they became separated for a brief period. In order to deliver the treasure to Maud’s cause, Cadfael embarks upon a night of subterfuge, for there is a man looking for Godric whom he is doing his best to keep away from the youth to prevent Godric being used as bait for Godric’s father.

    I’ll admit I guessed the muderer’s identity some few chapters before the end of the book. I have no idea what induced me to guess this character aside from the fact that he was the only other character I could see who could have done it. All I lacked was knowledge of how he could be identified as the murderer. The Author solves this in what I’ll call a bit of Deus Ex Machina (for lack of a better term) in the discovery of an important piece of evidence along with a much-needed witness to tie the evidence to the murderer. I can see how this discovery makes sense within the world Ellis Peters has created, and it did nothing to ruin my enjoyment of an otherwise entertaining and satisfactory mystery adventure.

    .

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #236197
    Ashe Elton Parker
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    6 – The Pilgrim of Hate by Ellis Peters (22 May 2015)

    This is actually the Tenth installment of the Brother Cadfael mystery series. My local library didn’t have all the books, and I don’t think they’re anywhere near being consecutive among them, so I picked two which appealed most to me and checked them out; this is the first of them I read. Like the first two Cadfael books I read (see above), this one took a bit of determination to get into (I find the way Ellis Peters uses the language a bit difficult to grasp at first), but once I got into the fourth chapter and beyond, I was very, very reluctant to put the book down and would have finished it this afternoon if I hadn’t had to do things like visit with my mom and take my walk.

    In this book, a murder in Winchester, England, is committed while Empress Maud waits in London awaiting to be crowned Queen of England. At first this murder seems to have nothing to do with Brother Cadfael or any of the pilgrims, who have come to Shrewsbury to celebrate a festival of Saint Winifred (who was brought to the abbey in the first book), he assists over the course of the story. It in fact turns out there are those who are quite intimately tied with that murder. As has been true in the first two books of this series I’ve read, there is also a romance, and a friend Cadfael made in an earlier book revisits Shrewsbury on errands for his liege lord and the widow of the murdered man.

    In this one, I had no idea who the murderer was. A few red herrings were well-planced and added to my uncertainty as to who the culprit was until very near the end, and I now wonder if the miraculously-healed pilgrim actually stayed at the abbey and took vows–and I hope if I havne’t checked book 11 out, that either my library has it, or it’s available as an ebook. Silly Trad Publisher neglected to put the book number on the covers of both the print and ebooks!

    .

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #236198
    Ashe Elton Parker
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    7 – Fire in the Mist by Holly Lisle (reread)

    I hadn’t reaa this book since before the turn of the century, so it was pleasant to read it again. I remembered some parts clearly, other parts not so clearly, and the rest not at all, so I had the pleasures of reading something familiar while also reading something unfamiliar.

    This is a fantasy novel, the first book Holly ever published traditionally, and it follows Faia Rissedotte (could have misremembered/mispelled the last name) as she takes her sheep herd into the hills above her home village for summer grazing. Once she gets up into the highlands, where she should have been met by another shepherd who is mysteriously absent though he promisted to take a faster route to meet her on time despite his later departure, she returns to the valley to discover nearly everyone in her village dead of plague; the only other survivor is a boy slightly younger than herself who was in a nearby Flatter town who returned shortly before she did.

    Having no other recourse, Faia and the boy depart their village, but before they leave completely, she calls Faeriefire down to immolate the village–and in the process drains every mage and magical spell in the faraway city of Ariss, which causes the Mages and Sages of that city to investigate what happened to Faia’s home of Bright. By the time Faia and her companion reach the flatter town where he visited to arrange trading for their wool, the Mages and Sages are ready to take Faia in hand–and they do.

    What they don’t realize is that when Faia drained the magic of Arhel, she inadvertently released a number of creatures from four hundred years in Ariss’s past on the Mage-side of Ariss, on the lands of the Mage-school. The Mages believe these creatures to be protectors of women, and, because of a number of mysterious, violent deaths involving the dismemberment of several Mage school students wherein a Sage’s Ring is found, also believe the Sages are at fault.

    Faia, with the assistance of the least-favored Mage in the Mage school, defeats the actual, ancient evil Mage who has been freed to induce a war between the Mages and Sages in order to fuel her greed for power.

    .

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #236199
    Ashe Elton Parker
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    8 – To Shield the Queen by Fiona Buckley

    This is a debut historical mystery set in the court of Queen Elizabeth I, during tense times between the Catholics and Protestants. In it, Ursula Blanchard, whose husband has recently died, arrives at Court to serve the Queen, having been invited to do so, though she’s had to leave her daughter in the care of a nurse. During her first weeks at Court, Ursula learns the Queen is indulging in a little affair with one of her courtiers, who happens to be married to a woman with terminal breast cancer. When Urusula makes it known that she is financially strapped, Sir Robert Dudley, the queen’s “lover,” hires her to protect his wife, who lives at a falling-apart old abbey called Cumnor Place.

    Because she needs the money, and the job sounds fairly easy, Ursula takes the job, which is to prevent Robert’s wife Amy from being murdered, as there are plenty of people at court who’d be more than happy to ensure her death to cause a scandal for the Queen. In the course of serving this duty, Urusula’s servant is killed, and Amy is indeed killed. Ursula at first accepts the ruling on Amy’s death, primarily so she can travel cross-country seeking out her servant’s killers, which eventually leads her directly to her own surviving relatives. In the interests of serving the queen, she marries a courtier who expressed interest in her and subsequently escapes from him, though she loves him and would have liked to have remained with him, and reaches Court with the news of the conspirators who have been acting against the queen by collecting funds for the Catholic cause in England. A chance glimpse of someone she recognizes as having been out to Cumnor Place leads Ursula to one of the culprits in Amy’s death.

    Overall, I found the book enjoyable, and I’m glad I already checked another Ursula Blanchard book out with this one; I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in it.

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #236200
    Ashe Elton Parker
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    9 – Why Turtles Have Patchy Shells as retold by Ada Chukwukeme, illustrated by Demola Ogunajo

    In case you were wondering, yes, this is a children’s book. I saw it at my church and bought it to find out just why turtles have patchy shells. I love stories like this, that explain the world from the perspective of peopel who don’t have access to the knowledge we’ve accumulated in the modern world.

    This is a story with a moral: Greed and selfishness will backfire on the greedy-and-selfish one. In this tale, there is a famine in the Land of Animals, and Turtle enlists the aid of several kind and generous birds to reach Town-In-The-Clouds. Before departing for the Town, Turtle chooses a Nickname which enables him to greedily consume all the food he and the friendly birds are presented with–which then foils his easy return home.

    .

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
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