Caught in Crystal is an enjoyable traditional fantasy read about a single mother (a refreshingly different kind of character to the usual fantasy fareCaught in Crystal is an enjoyable traditional fantasy read about a single mother (a refreshingly different kind of character to the usual fantasy fare) whose past catches up with her.
Kayl and her two children run a modest country inn and have done for a decade but everything changes the day a sorceress asks for a room. Her name is Corrana, a member of the order of the Sisterhood of Stars, a coven of witches that Kayl left after a secret mission to the Twisted Tower went horribly wrong. Since then the Sisters magical power has been eroded and Corrana has come to ask her to help them remove whatever blocks it, but Kayl isn’t interested in taking back the life of a Warrior for the Sisterhood that she had renounced years before. Gylndon, a wizard she met on the original mission also turns up to warn her about something he saw in a vision. That and the arrival of the Magic Seekers forces her to take action and she ends up on a journey to fix the damage she and her companions unwittingly caused fifteen years previously.
Glyndon has had debilitating visions ever since their first visit to the Twisted Tower and he travels with her not just because he hopes to find a cure for the affliction, but because he cares for her. On the journey, accompanied by a large group of Sisters, the mystery of the past is slowly revealed and Glyndon and Kayl’s relationship develops. We also see Kayl’s children mature and find their place in the band. Eventually they face the evil within the Tower and battle the Magic Seekers to try to keep them from stealing the crystal and its power for themselves.
This is a solid story with well written characters set in an interesting world peppered with non human magical races. It’s not a ‘can’t put it down’ kind of book, but it moves at a steady pace from one plot point to another as we unravel the mystery of what really did happen fifteen years ago. The strength of this book is in Kayl’s inner journey and in her relationship with those around her, particularly her children and Glyndon.
The romantic element is very understated and I would like to have seen more made of it, other than that I was quite satisfied with the story. I give it 3.5 stars.
Threads is a unique look at the life of Anne Boleyn from the vast perspective of a disembodied soul. It is a sensitive, well written novel with strongThreads is a unique look at the life of Anne Boleyn from the vast perspective of a disembodied soul. It is a sensitive, well written novel with strong metaphysical themes. There is much here to provoke contemplation about the purpose of life, or lives. A truly delightful read on many levels.
Anne has been beheaded, and after her death reviews not just her past life with Henry the 8th, but also many previous lives that she shared with him and others that played major roles in her life as Anne. With another soul to help her, Anne sees the lessons she has been learning in her series of lives and begins to understand how the actions she has taken in one life have affected other lives. When she has been hard on others, she will one day be in the situation of those she had been harsh with, receiving the same kind of abuse from others as she gave out herself. In the same way, the situation she found herself in in her life as Anne were due to her actions in previous lives. She understands that the lessons will continue until she, like all souls, learns to cherish all beings equally.
Ms Gavin paints Anne as a victim of her time and of a man who grows unbalanced in his later years. But the experiences of and decisions made in her other lives also play a part in creating the Anne that made the choices that lead to Henry's dissatisfaction and eventual betrayal. This is a multilayered story, rich with interwoven threads of colour - an apt title indeed. The section on the very young Anne and Henry from their life as travelling players was truly delightful, especially the scene where Anne discovers sex, and decides they must make sure it fits before they commit to marriage.
The historical era of Anne's life and reincarnation as a plot device makes this story very suitable for the omniscient viewpoint which Ms Gavin uses here. The soul of Anne has the clairvoyance usually attributed to souls between lives, so she can understand others motivations, desires and insecurities, or strengths, carried with them from previous lives. This allows her to put her and others behaviour in a greater perspective. In order for her soul to move forward on her journey (to enlightenment/union with God) she will one day have to forgive Henry for having her beheaded, but she is not ready . . .not yet.
The writing is mostly expositional, but it is a relevant way of writing this particular story, after all, Anne is looking back at her lives, she is no longer in them. The emotional distance in telling her story rather than writing it as if she were living it now is necessary for her to be able to review her lives with equanimity. Some readers will find this less than engaging, and the book probably would have been better with a more immediate approach to the actual lives, but, for me, it works here. The thrust of the book is, after all, not so much the life of Anne Boleyn as the review of all lives relevant to that one.
The book ends with her in a later life meeting Henry again. She is no longer a disembodied soul, so she has forgotten all those other lives, but she has a feeling, one that draws her to him at the same time that it makes her want to flee. We are left wondering what her choice will be, to share another life with Henry, or to walk away. The question is, is she ready to forgive. How many lives does it lake to forgive your beloved turning on you so completely that they order your execution?
This is one of those rare books that offers readers much more than a great story, it also offers wisdom - the kind honoured by all spiritual traditions - and rouses compassion for all those who find themselves in difficult circumstances. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys historical literature with a metaphysical slant, but be warned, it is not your ordinary historical fiction focused on action and intrigue, or even on one story. Its focus is contemplative and its scope that of several seemingly unrelated lives.
I received this book free in return for an honest review. ...more
My first thought when I finished reading Emotional Geology was masterpiece. Beautifully written and deeply moving, it’s the story of a woman with bipoMy first thought when I finished reading Emotional Geology was masterpiece. Beautifully written and deeply moving, it’s the story of a woman with bipolar disorder who is trying to start afresh after a traumatic relationship break-up and the resultant mental breakdown.
Rose, a textile artist buys a cottage on Uist, a remote Scottish island, and meets Callum, a poet, teacher and the younger brother of her neighbour Shona. Rose wonders why this handsome, charming forty year old is alone. Though there are hints before hand, the truth only comes out in the final chapters where he reveals his scars both physical and mental in some very powerful writing.
The reason for Rose’s breakdown is revealed in scenes of past events. As the story progresses, we discover the full extent of her betrayal by her ex-partner Gavin, and follow her inner journey as she endeavours to cast off his ghost and open herself to the possibility of new love.
This is a multilayered work with a brilliant use of poetry and descriptive imagery using the language of textiles eg colour, texture, weight and movement qualities, as described through the eyes of a textile artist. The descriptions of Rose’s all black textile response to Callum’s poem, Basalt, is exceptional. I saw the piece as if it hung on the wall before me. The description of the gold and white piece was similarly evocative and it’s brightness a fitting and highly symbolic balance to the black hanging on the opposite wall.
As with all of Linda’s work, the characterisation was exemplarary, especially the sensitive and realistic description of Rose in a manic phase. I loved the parallel drawn between the manic and creative state, something reinforced by Rose’s creation of a work of art as a way of coping with a major trauma.
Gillard uses different points of view, first and third, well to give different degrees of intimacy to different scenes. I loved the rhythm created by the different lengths of scenes separated by gaps of time, especially during the party where the various snippets give the vague disjointed experience of someone who had drunk just a little too much.
This is, without a doubt, a 5 star work and one that all lovers of contemporary fiction and romance should read. Also if you like symbolism in stories and lots of layers of meaning to unravel, then you’ll love this.
I loved this, so much that I read it again straight away. It's a paranormal romance with a bit of depth in that it makes us see how stupid and randomI loved this, so much that I read it again straight away. It's a paranormal romance with a bit of depth in that it makes us see how stupid and random predjudice is.
I got it for free from Amazon and was pleasasntly surprised. I'll have to buy the sequel now. ...more
The Last Laugh by Arjuna Ardagh is the story of Matt and his meeting and interactions with Joey, a lively old man - white beard and all - who in ten lThe Last Laugh by Arjuna Ardagh is the story of Matt and his meeting and interactions with Joey, a lively old man - white beard and all - who in ten lessons gives him the key not only to living a more aware and engaged life, but also to getting his life back on track. When Matt meets Joey, he has lost his job, all his money, his wife and his children (they're staying with her father). He's at the lowest point in his life, a perfect place to let go of the habits that keep him bound so he can begin to live his life as it presents itself here and now. This visionary fiction has much wisdom in it. It's the kind of book you read when you want more than just a story, and something more entertaining than a self-help book. It's the kind of story that could be dull in less deft hands, but Ardagh writes well and moves the story along a a good pace with a healthy mix of elements that keep you reading. His characterisation is excellent and Matt's journey very realistic. There's even a hint that it might be a true story, not that it matters. What is truth after all? A large part of the interest in the story is the character of Joey. You never know quite what he's going to say or do, and yet everything that happens is exactly the kind of thing that can happen with such a master. He reminds me of several Tibetan Lamas that I've met, and, apart from having hair, is not unlike the mountain guide in my Diamond Peak series.
The wisdom in the book is true to all genuine traditions, but there were a few little gems that stood out for me.
'The real teacher is not a person, it's a meeting.' There's many levels to that one.
'Just like me.' When you complain about someone else and say that they are this or that, add the words just like me at the end of your sentence and see how it feels and what it tells you. A simple but effective method of breaking down barriers.
It's a quiet book that leaves you feeling light and joyful. In fact you might just laugh out loud. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys visionary fiction. If you liked 'The Way of the Peaceful Warrior,' you'll enjoy this.
I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review. ...more
I decided to read this because I’ve never read The Pilgrim's Progress (first published more than 300 years ago) but often wondered what it was about.I decided to read this because I’ve never read The Pilgrim's Progress (first published more than 300 years ago) but often wondered what it was about. So I can’t compare it to the original but I assume that all the elements are there. It’s basically a simple tale of a young man’s quest to reach a fabled city of peace and happiness, and is also a subtle analogy for a person’s search for God. But don’t get the wrong idea here; this isn’t a religious book. It’s a great tale for anyone who enjoys fantasy, and the wisdom in it is universal, important for everyone regardless of their religious persuasion.
The story begins when 18-year-old Kadin meets someone believed to be a dangerous wizard. The ‘wizard’ is run out of town, but not before he gives Kadin a book that is supposed to be evil. Kadin tries to get rid of it, but the book keeps returning until eventually he reads it. The words change his life. He learns that Celestia isn’t a myth, as he’s grown up believing . He also discovers that he has a nasty growth on his shoulder and so does everyone else in his town, though no one else can see it. The only way he can get rid of this disease, which grows more painful each day, is to travel to Celestia where it can be removed.
From the blurb - His quest leads him to a fantastical world of witches, dragons, giants, danger, and deception. Tracked by an evil lord and accompanied by only one friend, Kadin must face his greatest fear to find the healing he longs for most.
Kadin’s quest becomes more than physical journey, it becomes a search for truth, because evil and ignorance often don the disguises of good and understanding. Events reveal what is true and what is not, and Kadin learns, amongst other things, that he must follow the path as laid out in the map in the book, because the easy route is not always the right one.
I like the way people’s beliefs are shown to be merely beliefs about the world, not the way the world actually is, even though they swear that what they live by is the truth. In this book, the Christians (as in Kadin and his friends) are shown to have the real truth, but in our world, it could just as easily be Christians whose beliefs don’t match reality. I guess it depends on how you see reality, or perhaps which reality you believe in. Thinking about it may even lead you to believe that there is no absolute reality. Such is the thought provoking nature of this book.
The characters are well developed and easy to relate to. Their actions and relationships with each other are believable and their motivations are clear. The ending is inspiring and heart-warming. I would buy this for kids and teens of all ages because it is an exciting, well written story and has the added benefit of some real wisdom in it....more
I loved this. Set in Hong Kong, it moves from a very normal situation deeper and deeper into the world of Taoist Gods and demons. Great stuff. It woulI loved this. Set in Hong Kong, it moves from a very normal situation deeper and deeper into the world of Taoist Gods and demons. Great stuff. It would make an awesome KUng Fu movie.
The heroine is gutsy and very Australian in her openness and directness and the other characters are all just plain gorgeous. Strong and oozing love and devotion to each other. That's a very powerful state of mind/heart. I finished this one and had to go out and get the next in the series straight away. I just couldn't bear to leave these wonderful people and this fascinating world that uses real mythology and Taoist concepts.
The only thing that bothers me about this series is that Harper Collins hasn't formatted the book for ebook properly. That's pretty poor considering that they are a major publisher charging higher prices than Smashwords books which are properly formated. The problem is that often there's no paragraph between different speakers, you can imagine how difficult that makes it. That's not the writer's fault though. I'd recommend buying a print version of these.
The writing is a little choppy, very 'I did this, he did that' sort of thing, but it suits the character narrating the story....more
Another great one in this series, more of the same, but more surprises too as the heroine increases her powers and new demons are unleashed. FascinatiAnother great one in this series, more of the same, but more surprises too as the heroine increases her powers and new demons are unleashed. Fascinating stuff. I was a little disappointed with the end though, not quite enough of a conclusion for me. I didn't expect happily ever after, but I would have liked to have left our heroine in a healthier state.
It looks like I'll have to read 3 more books to get a satisfactory conclusion and I'm not sure I want more very nasty demons and martial arts enough to pay the hefty ebook price on these books. We'll see. If I get a job, or sell my book, then I will....more
Wow. This truly is an amazing book. Exciting, moving, unpredictable and a wonderful, thought provoking and inspiring ending.
First thoughts - What a dWow. This truly is an amazing book. Exciting, moving, unpredictable and a wonderful, thought provoking and inspiring ending.
First thoughts - What a disfuntional family, and what a wonderful look inside the head of an angry young man, likeable dispite his violent responses to difficulties.
Middle thoughts - Even though he's hard and cold, Sarah has written him with a kind of innocence that makes you feel that he could grow, that he is somehow, deep inside, okay. A great cast of supporting characters and plenty of mystery and relationships development to keep you reading.
Last thoughts - The ending was totally unexpected and incredibly postive after such a bleak outlook only pages before. It stayed with me long after the book ended. The more I thought about Alan's actions, the more I realised what a courageous character he is. I'm trying not to give anything away here, but how amazing is it for someone to so totally believe in the power of love and the inheritant goodness of someone that he is willing to risk everything on the strength of that conviction. I was blown away by this one. ...more
This was even better than White Tiger. The plot thickens, we go deeper into the world & philosophy of the Taoist Gods and learn about the workingsThis was even better than White Tiger. The plot thickens, we go deeper into the world & philosophy of the Taoist Gods and learn about the workings of the different kinds of energies used in the highest forms of Martial Arts. I want to learn Qui Gong now.
The main characters deepen and new abilities blossom along with questions about who or what they really are. The 'real' world of Hong Kong is is clearly portrayed so that you feel you are there, and it's beautifully mixed with the paranormal/spiritual side of the story. I had to buy the third book immediately, I'd finished.
Telling the Sea is a beautifully written, sensitive portrayal of young teens struggling with difficult family circumstances and coming to terms with tTelling the Sea is a beautifully written, sensitive portrayal of young teens struggling with difficult family circumstances and coming to terms with the issues in their lives in different ways.
Nona, her mum and her four brothers and sisters have run away from their old home and are hiding out on the wild Welsh coast, leaving behind Mum’s abusive partner, Uncle Brady. They hope to start afresh, and fourteen year old Nona, the eldest of the brood—all from different fathers—does her best to make it work. But Mum is a little unstable and their new neighbour is nosy and aggressive, a bad combination.
She meets Owen, the local minister’s son, who has his own problems—an overbearing father who wants to send him to a school Owen doesn’t want to go to. But this isn’t a romance. They get off to a bad start and do become friends but it goes no further than that.
The emphasis here is on the burden of responsibility laid on these young people by adults. Nona is expected to hold the family together when her mother falls apart—which she does in spectacular fashion—and Owen is expected to fulfil his father’s expectations. The powerlessness that Nona and Owen feel at the circumstances of their lives is expertly expressed, and their way of trying to gain some control is very realistic for kids of that age. How many of us have run away from home at that age, or at least thought about it?
The book is populated with some colourful characters, all who leap off the page with vitality, and though many offer a helping hand to Nona, the only time she can truly open up and pour out her heart is to the sea. The sea is almost a character in its own right. It lures Nona deeper into its embrace as the story progresses and provides the setting for a powerful conclusion.
It’s a skilfully crafted book. The character development is exemplary, the descriptions evocative and the plot and pacing keep you turning pages long after you should have turned out the light and gone to sleep. It’s not just a book for teens, like all good young adult literature, there’s a great deal of value in it as reading material for parents. They might learn something that would help them relate better to their kids.
I highly recommend this for all readers of literature both young and old.
You might also enjoy this film about the writing of 'Telling the Sea':http://vimeo.com/55155636 It introduces you to the setting of the book, and is exactly as I imagined it. ...more
This is one of those books that I can see is a good book and I can understand why other people gave it 5 stars, but I didn't like it.
The concept of tThis is one of those books that I can see is a good book and I can understand why other people gave it 5 stars, but I didn't like it.
The concept of the ‘noise’ was an intriguing and original concept. The characters were richly drawn and believable. The development of the relationship between the two main characters was excellent. The way it was written did fully express the character – though it made it hard to read. I like to take a breath sometimes. The story, though simplistic ( but it is for younger teens), did swing you along and the book raised some interesting issues such as what makes a boy a man. If I look at it objectively, I’d give it 4 stars – some parts did drag, and there was a lot of repetition in the story and mental machinations of the main character - but subjectively, I’d give it 2 because I simply didn’t enjoy it.
The point here is that just because a book is well written, gets heaps of 5 stars from other people and wins awards, doesn’t mean you’ll like it. I didn’t because the characters virtually ran through the whole book, going from one life threatening fight to the next and they kept fighting the same characters. There was too much violence in the book for my taste and the increasingly horrific state of Aaron’s face, the man that was unstoppable despite his injuries, was unnecessarily disgusting, though probably boys would love it. For me, the ending - which was very disappointing - made reading the book rather pointless.
If you didn't mind the face on the bad guy in Spider Man two, then you won't share my aversion to this book. I think boys will like it....more
Two Moon Princess is an excellent, interesting and well-executed young adult novel with all the hallmarks of a good read, as well as a rare depth in iTwo Moon Princess is an excellent, interesting and well-executed young adult novel with all the hallmarks of a good read, as well as a rare depth in its underlying themes. The twists and turns in the story kept me so enthralled that I read late into the night in order to finish it.
The story weaves a web of events that develop as the surprising consequences of Andrea’s innocent actions. The author skillfully lays out the telling details of Ariel’s family history like a trail of addictive crumbs that lead us deeper into the story and whet our appetite for more.
I particularly liked the idea of two worlds, separate but accessible each full moon via a door hidden in a cave. The door is kept secret for good reasons. Reasons that relate to every clash of cultures throughout time, and that Andrea discovers when she visits the modern world through the doorway. Her perception of our world, and John, a young Californian’s, reaction to being in her medieval world is believable and thought provoking.
The characters are all richly rendered, enjoyable - or interesting - company and easy to relate to. Andrea’s development throughout the story is one of the novels strong points. We watch the process of a teenager growing up as she discovers that the world does not revolve around her. She goes from thinking only about herself and what she wants to a much greater understanding of how her actions affect others. She also learns that there is a lot to the world that she doesn’t know about, and there are some powerful moments in the story when her perception of a person or situation changes as she discovers new knowledge.
As the story progresses the concept of friends and enemies become delightfully blurred. Andrea discovers that there is good and bad in both her family and their supposed enemies and that people who act as a friend in one instance may suddenly act as an enemy in another situation, especially if they aren’t aware of the full truth of a situation.
The romantic element was beautifully teased out and the ending made a satisfying conclusion to all the story threads.
The first few chapters didn’t grab me, but I became hooked the moment the story took it’s first turn. From that point on, the writing also became more immediate.
I give this book 5 stars and recommend it for all lovers of YA fantasy, especially those who like a mix of modern and ancient worlds.
This is a good book. Well crafted, no dull moments, but it 'left me cold', meaning there was nothing heart-warming or memorable about it. Maybe becausThis is a good book. Well crafted, no dull moments, but it 'left me cold', meaning there was nothing heart-warming or memorable about it. Maybe because there wasn't any romance, maybe because it was endless battles and near escapes one after the other, and not much character driven story. ...more