Audiobook Review – The Vanishing Witch By Karen Maitland

I picked this up as part of a two for one offer so was not sure what to expect other than it sounded interesting from the blurb…

The Goodreads blurb says about the book…

The reign of Richard II is troubled, the poor are about to become poorer still and landowners are lining their pockets. It’s a case of every man for himself, whatever his status or wealth. But in a world where nothing can be taken at face value, who can you trust? The dour wool merchant? His impulsive son? The stepdaughter with the hypnotic eyes? Or the raven-haired widow clutching her necklace of bloodstones?

And when people start dying unnatural deaths and the peasants decide it’s time to fight back, it’s all too easy to spy witchcraft at every turn.

First, let’s deal with the facts

I really enjoyed this book, first, the narrator, though many of the characters were female the actor reading the book was able to perform each part in a way which allowed you to differentiate between them and not be distracted by the fact it was a man. He read it was enough passion to draw you into the story without distracting from the actual words and I have to say that is something I am discovering to be incredibly important when coming to audiobooks and have already changed my mind about buying some books based on listening to a sample of the narrator’s voice.

I love the overall all story, which I am not going to spoil by telling you, let us just say it is a nice tale of witchcraft. lust and murder. The balance between historical influence and plot is nicely done, I especially like the snippets of witch lore at the beginning of the chapters. The perspective switches from one character to another as you go through the chapters but at no point do you feel like it is repetitive as it can be telling a story from multiple viewpoints, the fact that the speaker is named at the start of each chapter also aids in keeping the story straight.

So the score, part of my wants to give it full marks, but there is something which holds me back, I think it is in part pacing, there are periods where the story moves slower, then you reach the end and it seems to fly through complex revelations, there is a lack of resolution regarding certain characters, which though not affecting the storyline you do wish you had more knowledge of their fates. I decided, in the end, to log it as a four on Goodreads but for this blog, I am going for 4.5 stars out of 5 and would recommend this in audiobook form.

 

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June & July Resolutions

I know I said I would be back to the proper resolutions set up but to be honest the last couple of months have been a nightmare.

First, there were the issues with my son which I discussed in a post you can read here, then my dad was in the hospital.

There have been times the last two months where I have felt like throwing the towel in, my writing has suffered, most of what I have written over the last couple of months has basically just not been good enough which leaves me two months to complete two novels before Darker. Can it be done? Well. yes, but it is going to take a lot of focus

Can it be done? Well. yes, but it is going to take a lot of focus because it is the school holidays on top of everything else. The reality is this means so much to me that I really don’t want to fail. I have worked out if I write 4k a day then I can still do it, this will mean some late nights no doubt, as given the speed I can type it will equate to around three hours a day on top of other things I need to do.

What does this mean, for me overall, first less time messing about doing other things, I am also guessing a build up of house work lol and less chatting on social media, though I will still be around for various events and to promote #Darker. You will probably get shorter blog posts, though there is a good chance you might get more on time as it will be in my interest to be organised and schedule ahead. There are times I find I work better to a deadline and right now life has given myself a bloody tough one.

I have put some weight back on, so that is something else I need to address, when I am stressed I eat or rather I don’t eat properly and nibble on crap, I lose faith in myself and look for comfort in the wrong ways, it is also school holidays so I don’t have the school run for exercise, struggle to find time to swim and dancing is sporadic. I need to make a point of getting up every half hour/hour and walking about even if only a hundred steps or so at a time.

The last few months life has run away with me but now it is time to grab hold of the reins and regain control.

Lazy Sunday #42

As you are aware this has been a stressful couple of weeks,I am feeling tired at the minute but I also have lots to be thankful for and while I cannot control the things going on with my son I now have to find a way to keep pushing forward with my writing. In an ideal world I will push forward release lots more books and get to a point I can earn enough from writing to give up the day job, write Monday to Friday and then attend a signing event each month, that is the dream and would also allow me much more flexibility in time with my son to take him more places and try to show him more of the world.

  1. This week I needed things to make me smile and this blog always does that, this post in particular made me giggle I like the bath though not sure it would be good to soak in but I really want the piano water feature https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2017/06/24/just-when-you-think-you-have-seen-everything/
  2. The first blog also gets a second post this week and that is because they posted this earlier today and I love it, I could sit for hours watching the stars https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2017/07/02/the-new-pillars-of-creation-hubble-image-video-is-amazing/
  3. I love these designs and I hope she can forgive me for messing her about over a cover I wanted when life got in the way and that I can persuade her to work on a series of covers for me later in the year and through next year https://melchelledesigns.com/2017/06/20/new-covers-and-new-gallery/
  4. Okay I picked this post to share because one the rubber ducks are so cute, my son has a Batman one and we have several other cute duckies, but mainly because I love the paisley shark https://markbialczak.com/2017/06/27/we-cant-duck-our-walk-through-chatham-to-meet-the-sharks/
  5.  The final thing for today is a video, you have my daughter to thank for this, she showed me it when I was having a bad day and this guy is my hero now, he is hilarious. So I shall leave you watching this and catch up next week!

Lazy Sunday #41

Good Morning!

Well it is morning as I begin posting this whether I get through it all is a different matter, it has been quite a stressful week here in the UK due to politics and people being determined to fall out with each other because of it. It has been a week many have felt the need to dive into something stronger than coffee to get through it. On the plus side, there was the fantastic benefit concert put together by Ariana Grande, my rugby team have won again, and hopefully have turned a corner for the season, that will get them away from the dreaded bottom four. So let’s get on with things and this week I have picked things that have a feel good factor…

 

  1. I love this first post because it imparts wisdom passed down through generations and in this world where so much emphasis is placed on material possessions it reminds us what is important, my dad’s car advice to me was similar, he was talking about speeding and pointed out ‘there is nowhere you need to be so badly it is worth dying for!’ https://lifewithblondie.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/its-just-a-car-baby-girl/
  2. The second post today I also love but this time is it is because this fantastic lady has taken a chance, turned her life upside down, taken the risk to turn her back on the normal jobs and do something physically harder but ultimately more rewarding I hope she will keep posting and share her journey in her new job, I want piglet pics  https://terahvandusen.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/farm-her-new-job-new-life/
  3. A special shout out to all those who attended this year’s Annual bloggers bash, I had hoped to get there but childcare issues made it a no-no, however, I am determined to be there next year http://sachablack.co.uk/2017/06/10/winners-of-the-2017-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-bloggersbash-bloggersbash/
  4. There are some blogs you know when you visit they are going to make you smile and that happens every time I pop over to this one, I especially love the emoticons bit  https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2017/06/10/bookish-delights-13-memes/
  5. My final post for today is a photo blog but these guys really go out of their way to make sure you know exactly what you are seeing and as a result you experience the places they see on a whole new level as well as learn something new, they also make me want to visit places I had never considered before https://sartenada.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/hanami-in-helsinki-hanami-en-helsinki-hanami-a-helsinki-hanami-em-helsinquia/

As I suspected we are now into the afternoon and it is time for me to head off to the kitchen and stuff the chicken.

 

May Resolutions 2017

I had said I would return to the normal format for resolutions this month, but the events of last week mean I changed my mind. Right now, so many of them seem trivial, lose weight, exercise more etc. I am sure by next month I shall feel more like my normal self again and go back to the format I started at the beginning of the year but this month it seems more important to talk about the reason we make resolutions and how the terrible event of last Monday, then again this Saturday, make them all the more important.

We make resolutions with the idea of improving our lives, a new year, a new me, a better me etc but when these types of atrocities remind us we need to make the most of every day we have. We have the chance every day to make our lives better in the smallest ways, if like me you want to lose weight and get fitter then ,and this applies to me, all it takes is making the choice to get up and walk a little every day, do a bit more exercise and make better food choices. I know I do not do as I preach in this respect but maybe the time to make changes is now.

I have the chance to make the changes I want to happen, there are people who no longer have that chance. We need to start reconsidering our priorities to an extent, make sure we are working for the life we want not simply working for a paycheck, yes bills need to be paid but if your whole life revolves around paying them then maybe it is time to look at what you can cut back on to give yourself time to enjoy life and to live. Something as simple as cutting a trip to the coffee shop can be an hour less you need to work, I know that is putting it in a simplistic way but it can be that simple, I have a million TV Channels (okay an exaggeration but that’s how it seems) and yet I watch only a few, I am considering my options for reducing my cable bill, though I will be honest not quite worked it out yet as we all like channels in different packages lol.

The most important thing though to take forward from the events of the last two weeks is that we will not be scared, we will still go to plays, concerts, bars. We will not fill our hearts with hate, we will continue to care for people around us, in both attacks, in the face of terror there were those who instead of fleeing ran towards the attacks to help those suffering. There is no such thing as too much love, so instead of hate let us pay it forward with a smile, it costs nothing but can make all the difference to those feeling isolated and alone, maybe if we all said more nice and positive things it would spread like ripples, and that those preaching hate, would find there were no longer ears for their words to find.

 

 

Lazy Sunday #39

Okay so Sunday is almost over as I write this but to be fair my daughter has been here most of the day and I cooked Sunday dinner so it did not turn out to be totally lazy. The world was a darker place for a little while this week and things like writing and blogging seemed foolish and frivolous, as I titled the vlog this week ‘No Words’ sums up my feelings still but I will talk about that later in the week in a separate post. So on with a few posts to little the mood a little I hope and spread some love and light in the only way we can, by carrying on with life as normal.

  1. I love this post, admittedly I do spend half my time thinking in terms of medieval technology but what we consider an antique was once cutting edge  https://quirkybooks.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/devon-county-show-technology-vs-crafts/
  2.  There are some blogs I follow because they provide a quick fix of joy and this is one of them, I love this photo they have shared and would love to dive into that glorious blue water https://wanderlusttina.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/split-view-waterfall-jamaica/
  3.  One of the other things I love about reading blogs is you get to see places that you would never get to in real life, let’s face it the world is a big place, so much to see and do and for most of us we lack the time, resources and freedom from commitments to get to a fraction of them, so seeing others journeys is almost as good https://exxtracts.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/jew-town-kochi/
  4.  I had a wonderful interaction on another bloggers post regarding colours that compliment my hair now it is purple, she has followed this up with a really cool post about the fashion of going a little crazy with your hair and how to manage your wardrobe to match https://valentinaexpressions.com/2017/05/28/balayage-and-ombre-hair-valentina-cirasola-designer/
  5. Some times we just need a little light relief, something that we click on and it just makes us smile https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2017/05/19/eleven-wishes-for-you/

The one thing these posts all have in common is they span the globe, they remind us of the fact we have more in common with 99.9% of people than we have differences with that 0.01% who seek to destroy the way of life we love, they will not win unless we let them poison our heart, take care of each other and remember a smile to a stranger can create ripples that might be what is needed to heal our world.

Anger and Indignation

Yesterday in the UK a man who committed heinous and terrible acts alongside his partner died.

Quite rightly people are remembering the victims, many doing so rather than mentioning the man’s name, what I want to talk about today is the ones who are commenting about the fact he should have been killed years ago, that he should never have been allowed to live this long and then I wonder how many have actually read the articles over the years and understand the complexities of the situation.

You see while I myself may personally agree in the idea of the death penalty being reinstated there is the question of the families to be considered. This man has wanted to die for decades, for him incarceration was a far worse punishment than death, but the families of the victims have been some of the most vocal in their pleas that he not be allowed to. While some have their children home to rest in peace, one remains missing, the suggestion he may one day reveal the poor boys final resting place was enough to make it worth suffering him to exist for those who had the most reason to wish him dead. Over the years various members of victims families have begged him to let the boy come home and be laid to rest with his loved ones, trips to the moors have been taken, we will never know if he was just taking the p*** or if the movement of the land meant the remains were no longer where he thought they were. Recently some guns were found belonging to the man, perhaps yet another clue, and his letters written behind bars are to be kept from the public in the hope that their may be clues hidden in those but the question is, did he only take the one secret to his grave with him?

I am a huge true crime fan, I read books, listen to podcasts, watch TV shows and films and last year I listened to an audiobook, One of Your Own: The Life and Death of Myra Hindley by Carol Ann Lee, and recently I was drawn to listen to it again after listening to a podcast, we know that there were four victims of the moors murderers but the question that keeps coming back to me is, were there more?

When Pauline Reade’s Body was found one of the officers says they had eight case files which they thought could be potential victims, the four victims were all included but it is never said what happened about the other four, you have to wonder if up there on the moors more than one body remains, the man himself has hinted at times there may have been more but never given facts. The woman, his accomplice, down played her own part in the murders and I doubt would ever have admitted more existed, but more than that we know they travelled to length of the country at numerous times over this time period, who is to say there are not other children missing across the country who may have crossed there path. The children’s murders happened 6 month apart but there was then an eight month gap to the murder which would see them arrested.

You see for me this is the thing, I have only seen one suggestion of a potential victim who got away, the four victims all had fairly well established time lines which in some ways makes it easier to put together a story for what might have happened but what if there are others not in the immediate vicinity, children who were not as well cared for who no one was sure when they disappeared or where they disappeared from? The only two people who know if they did more, are both now dead, the family of Keith Bennett may never know where he is, the families of Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans, may find some measure of peace. He claimed to have killed four other people, the police say the investigated looking for the crimes he claimed to have admitted to, but he was a liar! This was a manipulative, sadistic person who enjoyed playing power games with other people, who can rule out that the number he gave could be right but the details wrong, time has passed since the crimes and generations of families passed away, but you wonder if those with missing children wondered if their child could have fallen prey to this cruel pair, because there is no evidence of other victims that does not necessarily mean they do not exist, only that the pair kept no trophy from that kill, left no paper-trail that led back to them.

In keeping this man alive so long authorities denied him the freedom of death, then denied him his wish to die and they honoured the families wishes that he be forced to live in the hope of revelations, if the death penalty had been imposed there may very well still be four bodies laying in the cold desolate moors rather than one, because with nothing gain I do not believe they would ever revealed anything. While as a society we may feel anger and hatred towards this pair and their actions, it sometimes requires a more logical and less emotional view to see the bigger picture or maybe it is the fact we personally have nothing to gain or lose that makes us simply want to rid the world of this type of evil. We would love to believe this type of evil exists only rarely but somewhere round the world even as I type this a predator is stalking their prey, while we may very well wish to rid ourselves of the rabid dogs, we owe it to their victims to discover how they became what the did, learn how they cover their tracks, where potential opportunities to stop them were missed, we should only destroy them once we can be sure there is nothing left to learn from them. History will grant them infamy, we have to ensure the names of their victims are spoken as loudly as those of the criminals and sometimes real justice and retribution come in forms that we would not automatically choose.

March/April Resolutions 2017

Okay you might notice the title is for two months together, and you will also see the lack of form compared to how I normally do these posts, the fact is the last couple of months life has got in the way. That doesn’t mean I have done nothing just that what I have been doing does not necessarily relate to things that can be shared at this point. I have a grandchild on the way, have helped my daughter move, have been researching swag, exploring new possibilities to take advantage of moving forward (really excited about that bit but not something you will hear about until the back end of the year).

My priorities for the next couple of months is the Queen of Ages trilogy, losing the extra pounds I have regained and getting ready for #Darker2017. It is so easy to buckle under pressure, I have a couple of times in fact I have come close recently to throwing my arms up in the air and claiming I cannot do this any more. May will see my resolutions posts take their normal structure once more but part of my resolutions for this year was to not let everything get on top of me and stress over things I cannot change so in that aspect I succeeded at least, I recognised that I lost my way, rather than spending time and energy backtracking I have simply focused on moving forward.

It is also worth noting I failed the A – Z Challenge but I am going to do a separate post on that. Not much more I want to say here really I have book reviews to write Glossybox reviews random posts and a trilogy to complete.