Tag Archives: Amazon

‘Hawthorne Cottage’ by R.L. McCallum

Hawthorne Cottage

I shall broach unto thee a dark farewell

If not ye heed this ghastly knell –

Henceforth beware where time is keeping

The dead abroad who are not sleeping…

Summary

Thus begins R.L. McCallum’s Victorian gothic tale of Professor Alexander Greystone, a writer from London who moves to a haunted cottage in Hampshire, England for a more peaceful, simple life. Little does he suspect the terror that awaits there in the form of the seven Hawthorne sisters, former tenants of the cottage who haunt the house and whose contact with the living is rife with terror and violence. The novel follows Greystone’s investigations into the root of paranormal activities at Hawthorne Cottage, bringing the reader through a gamut of close calls, near-death and (full-death!) experiences, a haunted painting, and ignorant curious bystanders until it comes to its conclusion and the reader finds out whodunit.

The plot was imaginative and enjoyable, the perfect story for a rainy day, and I finished this book in less than a week, which is always a good thing. It holds the attention of the reader in most places, but I did find it to drag too slowly in several instances. The author claimed to have purposely used Victorian vernacular in writing this piece, but I found a few anachronisms, and  at times the character voices were not very distinguishable from one another, especially those of Professor Greystone and Constable Kingsley. Other than that, however, the description was excellent and the dialogue between Greystone and Woodruff was especially good.

Plot

I enjoyed the classic elements of the gothic novel, the rain, the ruined cottage, the hauntings, a few deaths. I was slightly disappointed that the nature of Mrs. Parmby’s relationship to the Hawthorne sisters was not further explored, and I felt Miss Farnsworth was not prominent enough a character to be included as she is in the synopsis of the book. I also wondered why, if Anastasia Hawthorne were pregnant when she died, was there no baby among the hauntings at Hawthorne Cottage? The conclusion had promise, and then fell short. The mystery of the killer of the Hawthorne sisters was solved, but Abigail Hawthorne had not been helped to the other side, nor did Greystone discover where she had been laid to rest. The reader, however, is told in what feels like an aside, of how Abigail is brought to peace and where her body had been hidden all along. It felt untrue to Alexander’s character that he would muscle through so many near-death escapes at Hawthorne Cottage to get to the bottom of the mystery, all for the sake of writing his book, which is a very strong motive, and then not give himself the satisfaction of tying up the loose ends for himself and his readers, especially when the other spirits were no longer causing trouble in the house to distract him. I also felt that the death of Cora McKenna was unnecessary, unless the trend of women dying in whom Alexander is interested is to continue in further Professor Greystone novels, as was hinted at in several places throughout the book.

‘The Gothic’ – Check out this link for an explanation of the genre of gothic literature

Grammar & Punctuation

I found there to be several small grammar and punctuation errors, but nothing that hindered the actual progression of the book, and all in all I quite enjoyed this spooky story.

Star Rating

For an excellent ghost story (but because of a few too many hitches) I give this book a resounding 3.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it as a satisfying read for a rainy day or a weekend at the cabin.

Further Reading

R.L. McCallum has a great voice and other works by him can be found on Amazon or at his website.


Husband/Wife Book Reviews: ‘V for Vendetta’ by Alan Moore, illustrated by David Lloyd

After challenging me to read Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, (a book of 1,462 pages) my husband thought he’d give me a break and get me to read a graphic novel. So he gave me his copy of V for Vendetta. *shakes head* Husbands…

Ah, graphic novels: where dialogue and art give birth to new twists on old fables. Where complex ideas can be boiled down to a single panel. Where a symbol becomes a story, lines and colour the in-between-the-lines. I have only recently in the past year and a half started my love affair with comic books and graphic novels, and this was the first time I had ever read one so politically charged as V for Vendetta, written by the same Alan Moore who gave us Batman: The Killing Joke (one of my favourite Batman graphic novels and probably with the deepest exploration of Batman’s dark side of any graphic novel or comic book I have ever read – highly recommended). It was illustrated by David Lloyd, and while I’m not familiar with much of his other work, I know after having attempted to work on a graphic novel with an artist myself, how difficult it must be to translate all of Moore’s ideas into a single visual panel box, especially since Moore and Lloyd wanted this book to be more about the visuals and with less sound effects and unnecessary dialogue than most graphic literature had in the early eighties, so I take my hat off to him for that.

Since this graphic novel was made into a movie as recently as 2005, I was genuinely surprised that its creation was begun in the summer of 1981, and truly impressed how far ahead of its time it was as far as politics and symbolism in graphic literature goes. Many of the comic books in the ‘80s and ‘90s are very blatant, in-your-face and extreme, but usually only in the way of sound effects, big explosions, fight scenes, and often expounding upon very basic plot points and themes. People like Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman (check out his version of the Sandman comics if you want to see tons of symbolism) changed this a lot, and things are much more symbolized and have deeper meaning and are more daring in the comic book/graphic novel world today because of them.

The concept of anarchy was explained artistically and with a romanticism that undermines the cold nihilistic nature of pure destruction. As V tells Eve, ‘Anarchy wears two faces, both creator and destroyer; thus destroyers topple empires, make a canvas of clean rubble where creators can then build a better world.’ Allusions to various films, songs, and books, (especially Confessions du Révolutionnaire by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon – available on Amazon, I checked!) or other literary works by William Shakespeare or Thomas Pynchon are peppered throughout, and all the reader has to do is follow the rabbit trail to his or her own education/enlightenment. As a reader, I found this fascinating, and must admit that the concept of self-government and working as an independent state unto myself is most appealing.

I love the way V speaks, so poetic and courteous, in a world where all is cold and art is gone and machines watch your every move (doesn’t sound too far off sometimes, to be honest). Here is my favourite example of his eloquence:

vforvendettaeloquence V: THE PIECES CAN’T PERCEIVE AS WE THE MISCHIEF THEIR ARRANGEMENT TEMPTS: THOSE STOLID, LAW-ABIDING QUEUES, PREGNANT WITH CATASTROPHE. INSENSIBLE BEFORE THE WAVE SO SOON RELEASED BY CALLOUS FATE. AFFECTED MOST, THEY UNDERSTAND THE LEAST…

Personally, however, I cannot subscribe to the fact that the destroyer (V) does things like blow up the Parliament buildings to clean the slate of society, not because I’m all that attached to symbols of power, but because of the little people and my belief in the power of free choice. There are hundreds of people who work in those buildings, many of them most likely night staff. How many innocent people had to die so V could continue his vendetta, without a choice, without knowing why they died, what good it would do anybody, what their families were supposed to do next, how they were supposed to survive without those lost? How many Mrs. Almonds were there out there, not because of the fascists, but because of V? Dying for a cause you believe in is one thing. Dying to further someone else’s cause that you know nothing about is another. Also, since I have been a member of the human race for a while and have had many experiences that have shown me its seedy underbelly, I think that while the concept of anarchy is appealing, the practice of it is impossible, because of its reliance on human conscience and on respecting the boundaries of others, which I have no confidence in any person for maintaining for very long when it means they can’t get what they want.

Over all, I give this work 4 stars out of 5, and highly recommend it.

England Prevails.

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Amazon Package! (February 12, 2015)

What could it be??? Watch and see!
(Yes, she has a terrible haircut, but she was 14 months old and I did it myself. So there you go.)


What I’m Reading – January 23rd, 2015

The first post on my YouTube channel, SharaLee Reads! (and yes I know my camera skills are terrible. Any hints would be most welcome!)


Finally, An Update! (December 8th, 2013)

Written December 8th, 2013 and posted on LiveJournal:

Hello, friends!

The past month has been crazy busy, with obstetrician appointments, sleepless nights, baby preparations, and reading my first book for BTS Book Reviews,Firebolt by Adrienne Woods. I just submitted the review today and as primary reviewer, I will be published for certain in the January issue, which can be found at http://www.btsemag.com! I have also been writing the first few chapters of my own novel, which will be submitted by January 16th as the final assignment for the correspondence course I take via the Institute of Children’s Literature in West Redding, Connecticut, USA.

As soon as I listed myself as a book reviewer for BTS Book Reviews on LinkedIn, I was pleasantly surprised to be inundated with connection requests from fellow book reviewers and authors, some of whom have asked me to review their books. Jimmy Olsen sent me hard copies of three of his books: Things in Ditches,Poison Makers, and The Hero of Blind Pig Island, all of which I am looking forward to reading and reviewing first exclusively on this blog! Charie La Marr has also sent me a copy of her book Bumping Noses and Cherry Pie, and while I am currently up to my ears in books to review, if you have written a book and want an honest, constructive review for it, as well as a chance to be advertised, please contact me and I would love to do that for you! I will simply have to add you to my ever-growing list, but I will get that review done for you!

It’s amazing to me how quickly the ball started rolling for me after such a long dry spell in my writing, even in opportunities for me to write. I had an account on LinkedIn for almost a year with barely a notification before Myra Nour contacted me about BTS Book Reviews, but since I was accepted as a reviewer, I have had connection requests daily and have found an incredibly supportive circle of literary people who are willing to help out a newbie like myself. I have to say, the power of the Internet is astounding.

When my review for Firebolt (and subsequent books to be reviewed for BTS) is published, I can post the link to BTS Book Reviews here, but you’ll have to go to the website for the full review. Independently done reviews will be posted here in full as well as shared on Facebook and Twitter, reviewed on Goodreads and, if applicable, on Amazon as well.

Anyway, enough promotion! I hope you are all having an excellent December and finding as much comfort in being warm and indoors when it’s so cold out as I am (or cool and indoors when it’s hot out, if you are from the land down under!!!). I am immensely excited for Christmas, not just because Baby is due January 1st, 2014 and could be early, but simply because it’s my favourite holiday.

Does anyone have any good books they’re currently reading? My currently-reading list includes the NIV Archaeological Study Bible (published by Zondervan), A Song of Ice and Fire: A Feast For Crows by George R.R. Martin,Searching: A Research Guide for Writers (edited by Susan Tierney), and my husband Graham and I are just starting the second book in C.S. Lewis’ The Cosmic Trilogy, called either Voyage to Venus or Perelandra, depending on the publication date.

Well, I am done my first book review and Graham is done his final assignment ever for his Bachelor of Arts in History, so we are off to celebrate with popcorn and some Doctor Who. Wishing you all an excellent holiday season and happy reading,
SharaLee Podolecki. ❤ ❤ ❤