Book Review – The Wolves of Midwinter By Anne Rice

This book is the sequel to The Wolf Gift which I reviewed previously here, I finished reading this a while ago but it has sat on my desk waiting to be reviewed ever since.

9781448162154-largeThis is what Goodreads says about the book…

The tale of THE WOLF GIFT continues . . .

In Anne Rice’s surprising and compelling best-selling novel, the first of her strange and mythic imagining of the world of wolfen powers (“I devoured these pages . . . As solid and engaging as anything she has written since her early vampire chronicle fiction” —Alan Cheuse, The Boston Globe; “A delectable cocktail of old-fashioned lost-race adventure, shape-shifting and suspense” —Elizabeth Hand, The Washington Post), readers were spellbound as Rice imagined a daring new world set against the wild and beckoning California coast.

Now in her new novel, as lush and romantic in detail and atmosphere as it is sleek and steely in storytelling, Anne Rice brings us once again to the rugged coastline of Northern California, to the grand mansion at Nideck Point—to further explore the unearthly education of her transformed Man Wolf.

The novel opens on a cold, gray landscape. It is the beginning of December. Oak fires are burning in the stately flickering hearths of Nideck Point. It is Yuletide. For Reuben Golding, now infused with the wolf gift and under the loving tutelage of the Morphenkinder, this Christmas promises to be like no other . . . as he soon becomes aware that the Morphenkinder, steeped in their own rituals, are also celebrating the Midwinter Yuletide festival deep within Nideck forest.

From out of the shadows of the exquisite mansion comes a ghost—tormented, imploring, unable to speak yet able to embrace and desire with desperate affection . . . As Reuben finds himself caught up with the passions and yearnings of this spectral presence and the preparations for the Nideck town Christmas reach a fever pitch, astonishing secrets are revealed, secrets that tell of a strange netherworld, of spirits—centuries old—who possess their own fantastical ancient histories and taunt with their dark, magical powers . . .

If I was not such a fan of Anne Rice I would probably have found this book a disappointment after the fast paced action in the first book.  This one is much slower in pace and rich in back story, creating the beginnings of the back story and supernatural theology which will thread through all future books to come in this series.  If you consider her other series the Vampire Chronicles or The Mayfair Witch series it is something that is necessary to the series as a whole, but can be off putting for readers unacquainted with her style.  Because she divides her chronicles into individual books this is far more noticeable when you get one that laden with the folklore than say reading Lord of the Rings where it is spread more evenly throughout the bod of work but it is worth sticking with it.  As always Anne Rice creates a race of beings both complex and seductive but still real, you could imagine meeting these people sharing a coffee without knowing their secret unless they chose to share it.

I confess I still prefer the Vampires but then again I have known them longer and invested more time with them, Anne herself has returned to their stories once more, but I do look forward to reading more of the Morphenkinder and Reuben and hope she does not leave them waiting for too long.

I give the book 4.5 out of 5 stars simply because in some places the slower pace felt too slow.images 4.5

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Feedback

Previously I discussed having a story rejected and then published the story for feedback from you guys, (if you missed it you can read it here), which I have to say was very positive.  I have actually received official feedback from the competition itself and their reasons for rejection were not the ones I thought they would be but actually turn out to be something I have had before on my flash fiction.  This is what they had to say…

– I really liked the ending to the story, but it ultimately couldn’t outweigh the things that I felt needed work.
– My biggest issue with this story is that it’s essentially six paragraphs of exposition. You have such an interesting plot—the fashion show of a lifetime ruined by a SWAT operation—and you get us no closer to it than the day after. Why not the day of? Why can’t we live and experience this catastrophe for ourselves as the horror unfolds? You could even keep the phone call at the end. You’d be sacrificing nothing and giving the readers so much more.
– I liked the plot of the fashion show a lot, but the element I had issues with was the criminal. I didn’t buy a SWAT team takedown of a bank robber. Drug Kingpin? Yes. Organized Crime Boss? Yes. Terrorist? Yes. But not a bank robber.
– I also had issues with him attending in the first place. Given the security and scrutiny around banks, bank robbers are either petty criminals who are caught quickly or massively organized heists. In the second case, they’re rarely referred to as “bank robbers.” In any case, the choice of the particular type of criminal I found just jarring enough to take me out of the story a little.
– I think there’s a lot here that’s great, but I felt the heavy use of flashback did it a disservice and some of the logic didn’t add up.
– Great use of flashback, and I like the premise!
– You’ve done a great job with flashback in here. I would’ve liked a little bit of dialogue, but overall this was a really fun read.

I assumed that it was the storyline which was not exciting enough for them but instead it seems to be something I have had issues with before, basically FLASH Fiction! I primarily wrote novels and short stories and it has been noticed before that rather than being self contained full stories my flash fiction pieces have either left people wanting more or been more like a set up ready for a longer piece. I did consider the type of criminal and in retrospect maybe I played it safe in my choice of wording and a more provocative criminal would have made more sense.

Overall I think the feedback is very fair and constructive and will be helpful when I try again in the next quarter, I just thought you guys might find it interesting to share this final part of this particular submission journey with me, now I shall get back to finishing writing another submission before starting a little research for my A – Z challenge.

Glossybox Review March 2015

I have not done one of these for a while and my friend Debbie has pulled me up several times on their absence so before we start on the A to Z challenge I thought I would share the contents of my latest box…

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Mix of emotions on first opening this as although there are a couple of products I was really excited about my heart did sink at the sight of the Carmex product after my previous negative experience.

We shall get to that in due course though so lets begin with the first…

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NOABAY – Moisturizing Peeling

The first thing I noticed about this was the lack of information on the actual product and to be fair other than to apply to a damp face in circular motions there was not much on the sheet either.  The name of this product is very misleading for anyone expecting some sort of peeling face mask, rather it is more like an ex foliating facial scrub.  I have to say though despite being badly named the product is actually really good, admittedly rinsing all the granules away takes some doing but after my skin really did feel refreshed and smooth.  I cannot say how it lasts in terms of moisturisation as I did put my own on over night but it certainly did seem to help towards waking up with lovely soft skin. I received the full size 100ml tube costing £13.71 and is made by a Spanish Eco company so not sure how easy it will be to get or shipping costs but would certainly consider buying it again.

Next up…

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DOVE ADVANCED HAIR SERIES – Youthful Vitality Shampoo and Conditioner

First let me say YAY! someone has listened to me, not only have the included both shampoo and conditioner so both can be tried together but they have also included them in a size that means even those of us with long hair can try them a couple of times and make a fair judgement.  I do not think the name actually does this any favours after all who wants to admit anything about themselves is ageing even their hair but the products are actually okay.  My hair was left soft and manageable but there was no extra gloss to it.  I received two 50ml samples the actual full size 250ml tubes are £5.99 each which is pretty standard for a lot of these products, and though it was okay I was not blown away enough to change from my usual shampoo and conditioner.

Next we have….

DSC00482ncLA – Nail Lacquer

I love nail varnishes but was not thrilled by the colour of this when I first saw it, it is actually a little more green toned than shown in this picture (I would have like this colour better lol) you can see the colour better here…

DSC00495It has a finish similar to gel varnishes and went on very easily, I only kept it on for a few hours but it seemed to last well without chipping though of course that may be different if I wore it while doing housework.  The brand is not one I was aware of but is toxin free but the price tag is steep, this is the full size 15ml bottle which sells for £13 they claim it is quick drying and that running your hands under cold water will turn it from quick dry to speed dry but I have not tried that and admit to being sceptical.  I think although the colour has grown on me I need to try it out more before I can decide if I would consider buying it again.

Next up…

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ESSENCE – Lash Princess Volume Mascara

The first thing that struck me about this is the packaging, I love it.  Even the back has cute detailing…

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The next thing you notice when you open it is the wand, it is… well they describe it as a Cobra head wand…

DSC00487The first time I used it I found the wand awkward and the fact the mascara is a very wet formula, not something I am a huge fan of, meant I ended up with a few blobs to clean up round my eyes.  However a couple of attempts laterI had the hang of it…

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The mascara is not the best I have ever used nor is it the worst but this one is certainly decent value for money, I received the full size 12ml mascara which only costs £3.30, and I would certainly consider buying this for every day use but it does seem to only be available online so shipping costs may change that.

And the final item…

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CARMEX – Moisture Plus Ultra Hydrating Lip Balm

For those who have followed my blog for a while they will remember the last Carmex product I received felt like it was burning my lips off, so I am sure you can forgive for for almost giving this away untried.  However I decided to bite the bullet and give it a go, also I was curious to see what the colour would be like…

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I actually was very surprised by the vibrancy of the colour and then wanted to see what the colour pay off would be on the lips as generally lip balms do not really add much in the way of colour.  Sadly the photos I took of me wearing it did not turn out well but it certainly did give colour and made me think a little of lip stains.  The lip balm did tingle when I applied it and I though oh no here we go again but this time after a few minute wear it eased off, I can only guess they use an ingredient which does not agree with me in their products.  I received the full size 2g bullet costing £4.49 but this is the second product out of this box I do not think I would be tempted by, I have lip balms which are just as moisturising but cheaper and if I want colour I own moisturising lip glosses and lipsticks which give a better colour pay off.  Maybe if I did not already have such a full make up/beauty box I might consider it but for me it is not worth the money.

 

So there you go for those of you who like make up like Debbie I hope you enjoyed that side of it for the rest of you I hop you enjoyed the thought of me with a cobra head wand trying to put runny mascara on lol

A – Z 2015

I should have done this post yesterday, I had spent several days trying to think up a theme but it just was not working, then I came up with one but children and pets refused to co-operate with my need to write the post.  By the time I finally got them all settle the most I could manage was to read a few emails and play on FB for an hour before bed.

However enough the theme for the A – Z challenge for this year will be…drumroll…

Places I Dream of Seeing!

Hopefully I can come up with a few places that will surprise you.  I will talk about why I want to go there, the chances of it ever happening and in some cases the very real reasons it is never going to happen.  These will not be your normal package holiday locations, though there may be the odd one or two that are more normal, but these will be the money no object once in a life time locations that really are the places one dreams of.

Still time for those wanting to sign up for this years challenge which you can do by clicking here

I am number 1268 this year and will of course be adding the five blogs listed after mine to my reader, one thing I am going to do is have Fridays off to Vlog rather than Sundays like everyone else but the days work out more or less the same. Right I need to go create a page now to list all my posts together on.

Are you doing A – Z this year?

Sir Terry Pratchett – 1948-2015

Sometimes you read a post and just think damn everyone needs to read this, for me one of the additional sadnesses to Sir Terry’s passing is that the monster will never get to enjoy the excitement of waiting for the next Discworld instalment

Sarah Cawkwell's Blog



It was my extraordinaryprivilegeto meet Sir Terry Pratchett (or just ‘Terry’ as he was then) several times during the course of my late teenage and young adult years. Each one of those meetings was extraordinary for different reasons. Each memoryof those meetingsisprecious, even more so in the wake of his death.


Not long after the publication of ‘Equal Rites’ Terry[1] was signing copies at the local bookshop in Crawley. He was not really a household name at this point and a small trickle of people came up to him and got their books signed. I had read his previous works and in a twist of annoying fate, had purchased my copy of ‘Equal Rites’ a week before, down in Chichester whilst at college. Being an impoverished student, I asked him if he wouldn’t be offended if I got him to sign something else…

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Tellybox Tuesday – Series Catch Up

Last week I missed the two series I have been following 10000BC and Wolf Hall so this week I have had a couple of evenings playing catch up and as both series are more or less at an end I thought this post would wrap them up with my over all views.

10000BC

Well the contestants have continued to drop like flies and you will notice my choice of wording there and although this was not supposed to be a competition it has become one on many levels.  Of course there is the battle to survive but also it has become a case of personalities fighting for dominance and a division into the hunters and gathers, the surviving women are more determined to stretch rations to make sure they reach the end whereas the men want to hunt but they are being unsuccessful and expending more energy trying to catch something.  I was really looking forward to watching this but have been a little disappointed, there was the potential to really do something exciting but the lack of initial preparation and training and the option of walking when it got hard meant this was a disaster as a social experiment unless what you really wanted to show was that modern man would die out if another ice age ever hit.  Yes it made good TV but personally I think it would have made better watching if they had been forced to stick with it until the end and only removed those who had needed to be removed for health issues, also they were keeping track of the number of days they were there so possibly not giving them an actually defined end date would have been more interesting.

Wolf Hall

We all know the facts of the story, Anne Boleyn does not have a happily ever after but I think what this series has shown more than anything else is not that she was a naive girl or a manipulative gold digger, her character was much more complex and she was incredibly intelligent. I do not know if I put it down the the acting or storytelling that despite the facts of history being so well known in my heart I long for a different ending, and maybe that explains why the fascination with Anne Boleyn has lasted so long. The series did not make her likeable but it made her real, it made us see infact how little choice she had but to play the game, once Henry had set his sights on her she only had limited options.  Her choices were to give in submit to being his mistress and find herself cast aside as she had witnessed happening to her sister, she could refuse him completely and be sent away in disgrace having cost her whole family position and favour at court which could also see them lose everything including their lives, or her final option was to entice him to marry her, even though she knew in doing so she would risk everything.  It is easy to claim the moral high ground and say we would never mess with a married man but is it that simple in this case and once you have begun down that road there is no where else to go.  I have to say to my American friends who have not seen this yet make sure you have lots of tissues ready for that final episode.  Even rewatching the demise of Anne in the special Behind the Scenes programme they ended the series with I was in floods of tears once more.  I have never doubted that Anne was innocent of the charges against her, she was foolish at times I am sure and probably flirtatious but had she borne the king a son I think they would have had a long life together.  The only slight issue I had with the ending was from the history books I had read I had always believed despite the fact he was having her killed for what amounted to not producing an heir that Henry loved Anne till the end however this version shows him happy at her death.

I really cannot recommend this series highly enough and know from what was said in the documentary she is writing the next book which will conclude the story of Cromwell’s era of British history. I am going to go dig out the books from my TBR pile now.