Book Review: The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

The Brides of Rollrock Island

Rollrock island is a lonely rock of gulls and waves, blunt fishermen and their homely wives. Life is hard for the families who must wring a poor living from the stormy seas. But Rollrock is also a place of magic – the scary, salty-real sort of magic that changes lives forever. Down on the windswept beach, where the seals lie in herds, the outcast sea witch Misskaella casts her spells – and brings forth girls from the sea – girls with long, pale limbs and faces of haunting innocence and loveliness – the most enchantingly lovely girls the fishermen of Rollrock have ever seen.

But magic always has its price. A fisherman may have and hold a sea bride, and tell himself that he is her master. But from his first look into those wide, questioning, liquid eyes, he will be just as transformed as she is. He will be equally ensnared. And in the end the witch will always have her payment.

Margo Lanagan has written an extraordinary tale of desire, despair and transformation. In devastatingly beautiful prose, she reveals unforgettable characters capable of unspeakable cruelty – and deep unspoken love. After reading about the Rollrock fishermen and their sea brides, the world will not seem the same.

Paper copy given to me as a discard.

Having grown up with the idea of Selkies as part of Irish folklore, I decided to read this before I passed it on.

The first part of the book concentrates on Misskaella, the youngest of the Prout family, who seems to have a way with the Seals who live on the island’s beach, to the point where she has to cross herself to prevent them following her through the town. It sets the rest of the story up nicely, which then is told from several Points of View: the island man who desires a seal woman, even though he is already married; the island man who escaped to the mainland as a child, returns ahead of his marriage to sell the family home, only to be enchanted by a seal woman; the children of the Island men and the Seal Women, who don’t know life can be different until confronted by people from the mainland who find them fascinating, and who then find their mothers’ “coats” (seal skins) hanging up in the local pub for safe keeping; the escape of the women to the sea, taking their sons with them, and a clue as to what happens to any girl offspring; a possible change in fortune for the island and the future population;  The view of Misskaella through the eyes of her apprentice, who has been brought from the mainland to take over when Misskaella dies. Continue reading

Book Review: Saving Grace by Sandy James

Grace Riley is on the run—from her past and from her fears. The victim of a violent rape at the hands of a rich politician’s son, she must “disappear” to escape his constant attempts to recapture her. Moving from cattle drive to cattle drive as a cook, she avoids her tormentor for nearly twenty years. When she discovers that the brother she gave up for adoption after their mother died in childbirth was orphaned at an early age, she is frantic to verify that he’s safe. She tracks him to a cattle ranch in Montana.

Widower Adam Morgan owns the Twin Springs ranch, but finds himself falling into a life of loneliness. Although he enjoys spending time with his grown daughter and the two men he rescued when they were living on the streets, he longs to meet a woman he can love. Living in the Montana territory where men greatly outnumber women makes finding a new wife difficult. Weary of working cattle, he is ready to make some changes in his life.

Grace falls ill on her journey, but she manages to make it to the Twin Springs ranch where her brother is supposed to be living. Adam takes her in, concerned for her health and the reason she’s searching for one of his adopted sons. Their chemistry is immediate and intense, but can Grace heal from her past of pain and fear? When her secrets are finally revealed, can Adam forgive her deceptions and learn to love again?

 

From Netgalley in exchange for a review.

There’s a couple of unusual things about this book: Grace has spent the previous 20 years effectively being stalked by her (seemingly mad) rapist, the father of her son, a member of a rich and powerful political party;  There is not one, but two romances going on here – Grace and Adam, and Matthew (Grace’s brother) and Victoria (Adam’s daughter); Both lead characters are older – Grace is 35 and Adam is in his 40s. Continue reading

Book Review: Lord of Night by Erica Ridley

Unlike proper debutantes, Miss Dahlia Grenville is secretly Robin Hood in a bonnet. Her home for wayward girls has too many dependants and not enough donations. But just as she’s about to pull off the heist of the Season, she tumbles straight into the arms of the handsome detective who has sworn to deliver Mayfair’s mysterious thief straight to the gallows.

Highly principled Bow Street runner Simon Spaulding’s world is black and white. There’s no mastermind too clever, no criminal alive who can escape the hangman. Until he realizes the delightful young lady he’s been courting is a liar and a thief. Suddenly, his career—and his heart—are in peril. How can he bring her to justice when it means losing her forever?

From Netgalley in exchange for a review. This is the third in the “Lord of” series, and therefore a companion piece to Lord of Pleasure. It’s standalone enough for me to not twig for the first few chapters and there is little overlap between the two stories. Continue reading

Book Review: Incredible Hulk: Dogs of War by Paul Jenkins, Ron Garney

The Hulk has been hounded by armies before. But this time it seems more personal than usual. General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross blames the Hulk for his daughter’s death, and his colleague, General Ryker, has decided the time has come to bring him down for good. The Hulk doesn’t necessarily disagree with Ross, since his gamma-irradiated body caused the radiation poisoning that killed his wife, Betty. The stage is set for a battle the likes of which have not been seen before. Ross brings everything in the army’s arsenal to bear in this war. The Hulk must fend off mutated soldiers, radiation-injected hounds and even tries to turn the Hulk’s own body against him. It’s a battle for the ages, but not without a price being extracted from both Ryker and the Hulk. The aftermath may leave the army poorer for the experience, but it also leaves the Hulk and his Bruce Banner alter-ego in less than stellar shape.

Hardback in the Marvel series, picked up from my local Comic Book Store.

The book includes the two part Snake Eyes as a precursor to the full 9 issue “Dogs of War” storyline.  It centres on Banner having both lost his wife Betty, as well as finding out he has Lou Gehrig’s disease. He is dying and doesn’t have anything left in the world to live for. Continue reading

Festival of Quilts and Stash – I’m a hoarder am I?

It’s early August, which means that the Annual Festival of Quilts is now a matter of weeks away. I’ve taken my eye off the big “shows” the last couple of years – I already have more stash than I know what to do with, and have become very disappointed with what’s been on offer.

A few weeks ago I attended the “Sewing for Pleasure” and “Hobbycrafts” event up at the NEC, and only went because I had nothing better to do. There was a time when this show took up two of the larger halls of the NEC, and had little unused space around the edges. This year, it was in one hall, and there was a lot of noticeable empty space. However, the aisles remained narrow, resulting in blockages where people stopped to look or chatter, and the units looked to be the same size as normal.  One of the good things about crafting is that it’s very inclusive for people on reduced mobility – the downside is that there are plenty of people with crutches, walking sticks and mobility chairs. which are not a problem *in themselves* but are a problem when the aisles are barely big enough to let two pass each other, never mind allowing people to stop and look at stands. I don’d understands why, when there is plenty of free space, that aisles can’t be a few inches wider? Continue reading

Book Review: Friends and Liars by Kaela Coble

Friends and Liars

It has been ten years since Ruby left her hometown behind. Since then she’s built a life away from her recovering alcoholic mother and her first love, Murphy. But when Danny, one of her estranged friends from childhood, commits suicide, guilt draws Ruby back into the tumultuous world she escaped all those years ago.

She’s dreading the funeral – and with good reason. Danny has left a series of envelopes addressed to his former friends. Inside each envelope is a secret about every person in the group. Ruby’s secret is so explosive, she will fight tooth-and-nail to keep it hidden from those she once loved so deeply, even if that means risking everything..

From Netgalley in exchange for a review.

This is a story about a group of friends who call themselves “The Crew”: Ruby, Ally, Murphy, Emmett, Danny.  The story starts with Danny’s suicide, which proves to be the catalyst to call Ruby back home after 10 years away. Ruby is the only one who has spent time away, living in places like London and New York, basically cutting all of her friends out of her life. After his funeral, it comes to light that Danny has left individual letters for the crew, exposing a secret specific to each person. Continue reading

Book Review: No Perfect Magic by Patricia Rice

Will Ives, the bastard of the late marquess, is as strong, handsome, and smart as his titled brothers, but he has no interest in society or book learning. His unique gift for training highly-prized rescue dogs is all he needs. His peace is shattered the day the beautiful but eccentric Lady Aurelia demands his help in finding a child no one knows is missing. 

The daughter of a duke, Lady Aurelia has everything: wealth, beauty, and a family known for their good works. Unfortunately afflicted with hyper-acute hearing, she spends most of her time cringing in her room. She wants to please her father and make a good match, but how can she when every dinner, tea, and ball is pure torture? 

When a child only she can hear cries for help, Aurelia must find a way to turn her affliction into the gift it is, before it’s too late. Will, in turn, must overcome his reluctance to work with a lady who makes him feel inadequate in all ways but one. 
With the reluctant aid of Will and his dogs, the pair sets out on an unusual journey that will surely lead to heartbreak— or a love against all reason. 

Book 6 in the Malcolm series which I received from LibraryThing as part of the Early Reviewers monthly batch.  Will is one of the illegitimate Ives offspring, whose gift is “talking” to dogs and training them for search and rescue. He believes he knows what type of woman he should get married to – even has someone in mind – and just hopes that she will leave him in relative peace to do what he wants. Therefore, when he is confronted with the Lady Aurelia, she is apparently the exact opposite of his ideal woman: small, impossibly petite, rich and apparently more than a little scatter brained. However, the two off them go off to find a child lost in the woods that only Aurelia can hear.   it is the result of finding this child that occupies the rest of the book, and brings the two people closer together, and allows both to find the peace they were looking for.  We get to understand what it’s like for Aurelia to have such sensitive hearing, what Will manages to do for her without even trying, and what both suffer when they are apart from each other. Continue reading