Sometimes You Really Can’t Go Back

This was supposed to be a review of Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, but I can’t do it. Back in the mid-80s, reading this novel as an impressionable young teen who loved the fantasy world and wanted to be a writer, I devoured it. Loved it. But times change. Minds grow, develop and adapt to their surroundings. What had enthralled me then, doesn’t today. Let me explain.

A Yard Sale Find

Wanting to relive that feeling I initially felt, when I saw the July 12, 1983 Mass Market version of The Sword of Shannara at a yard sale for 50 cents, I snatched it up. My hardcopy had been out of sight and mind for almost 17 years, when my youngest moved into my office and my office was packed away in boxes and stored in various closets.

Continue reading

Book Review: Storm of Divine Light by Ernesto San Giacomo

Revisiting the past is a deadly game of false mentors and betrayed apprentices.

Storm of Divine LightHis Mage-Sense had reached out to him like a psychic serpent coiling around his mind and slithering into his subconscious.

I had not gone but a few lines and this sentence coiled its way into my mind. It gave me pause for thought and I wondered, what path have I set my feet upon? More than 300 pages later, I found the path to be one of adventure, mystery and magic; all trails I enjoy.

In Storm of Divine Light, book 1 in The Tales of Tyrennia series, Ernesto San Giacomo weaves a story around a man with a past, a dark past, a past he’d sooner forget. Yet, perhaps Blackmond Moonshadow – oops! I mean Dagorat inwardly wants to find closure for this past life so he can imagine a future, possibly one with a family. While the depth’s of Dagorat’s powers are not fully explored in book one, I feel we will see more of them in the coming books.

His companion, Cyril the Wise, provides guidance and, at times, entertainment with his wisdom and crush on the finest cook in Mentiria, a Halfling named Lilly, who works at Sword and Anvil Tavern.

Together Dagorat and Cyril are called upon to solve a great theft, one that might destroy their world if the stolen goods fall into the wrong hands—and you know, it falls into the wrong hands. They set out to capture the thieves and along the way, Dagorat discovers much more than he bargained for and is forced to confront his dark past or return to it.

Unlike many fantasy stories, I didn’t have to struggle with strange names that make me roll my eyes, wishing the writer would have chosen Bill or George, anything but Sueelliea. While hard-to-pronounce, obviously-made-up-names were popular in the 80s, writers have since realised readers hate them.

Presentation: I bought the paperback. It was well-constructed and well-designed. The text was excellent for these tired, old eyes. Hats off to the designer who chose the layout, line spacing and font size. I loved it.

To learn more about Ernesto and his books, visit his San Giacomo’s Corner – A Place to Connect with Readers.

Storm of Divine Light is available in eBook or paperback at Amazon.

Enjoy.

 

Book Review: Cammie Takes Flight by Laura Best

The full moon reaches its fingers through the tree branches and grabs at the furniture in my bedroom.

Cammie Takes Flight by Laura BestIn my opinion, this is the best line written by Laura Best in Cammie Takes Flight. There are many good lines in the book, but this one instantly created an image that made me pause.

We were introduced to young Cammie Deveau of Tanner, Nova Scotia, in Flying with a Broken Wing. She was living with her Aunt Millie then and at the end of that story, we learn her world was about to expand greatly.

The opening of Cammie Takes Flight puts us in the Halifax School for the Blind, where Cammie is adjusting to life in the big city, making new friends and trying to make sense of the actions of her father, Ed, and her Aunt Millie. Her ultimate goal turns out to be finding her mother, who had abandoned her at birth and who supposedly lives in Halifax.

Continue reading

Book Review: Passing it on Before Passing On by H. L. Foster, M.Ed.

Passing it on Before Passing On

by H. L. Foster, M.Ed.

Rating: 4 Stars

Before I Begin

Let me tell you where I stand before I review this book. I come from a family with a long history of alcoholism. I grew up with a father who couldn’t control his drinking, and I’ve seen aunts, uncles and siblings go down that hard road. I am not an alcoholic; I see things from the other perspective. While I’m not addicted to alcohol, I feel I have developed characteristics stemming from being conceived under the influence and living within the shadow of an alcoholic.

Continue reading

Book Review: The Girl at the Top of the Tree by Barry Corbin

The Girl at the Top of the Tree

by Barry Corbin

Published: 2018

ISBN: 978-1775327905

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 380

I enjoy local stories that take place in rural settings, so when I read The Girl at the Top of the Tree, it struct a nerve. The story takes place in rural Nova Scotia, the Annapolis Valley to be exact, or as locals call it, The Valley. It starts several generations into the past, but quickly transports readers to the 1960s.

The brief family history tugs at my genealogical nerve, and I’m wondering about the surname and if I can find it on a census record. Details about the First and Second World Wars also pique my interest. I’ve done a lot of research on both because of family members, including my father, who served in them.

Continue reading

Book Review: Running Wild with Bossy Boy by Hui Zhou

Running Wild with Bossy Boy

by Hui Zhou

Photographs by Hui Zhou

Rating: 4 Stars

A Wonderful Way to Introduce Children to Chickens

Have you ever dreamt about raising chickens in your backyard? Do you want to learn more about the distinguishing characteristics of chickens? Running Wild with Bossy Boy introduces readers to a lucky flock of chickens that express their traits as they run wild as chickens are supposed to do.

Continue reading

Sunday Review: The Way (movie)

The Way

Rating: 4 out of 5

For those who seek more from life than society dictates for them.

Spoiler Alert: I’m going to describe only the basis of the story without too many details. I won’t go into the characters’ motives or their individual stories, and I won’t share the ending. You’ll be able to watch after reading this review and still not have scenes spoilt. The trailer gives more away than this review. I’m going to talk about the spiritual side of the story. Don’t mistake this for the religious side because I’m not religious even though travelling el Camino de Santiago is a traditional Catholic pilgrimage (not really, before this it was the traditional Celtic and Pagan pilgrimage to the end of the earth, but that’s another tale.).

The story begins with the main character Dr. Thomas Avery (Martin Sheen) learning his free-spirited son, Daniel (Emilio Estevez), has died during a storm while walking El Camino in the Pyrenees, France. He goes there to collect the remains and decides to walk El Camino for his son.

Continue reading

Sunday Review: 1964 by James Farner

1964

by James Farner

Rating: 2 stars

A good effort that fell short

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t read the book, this review contains pieces of the story that may hamper your enjoyment if you decide to read it.

I had high hopes for the story for two reasons: 1) For some odd reason titles that use only a year intrigue me; 2) It was set in a small community in the UK. However, the lack of polish and editing of the story slowed the pace and, in some instances, confused me. Many sentences were unnecessarily wordy.

Continue reading

Sunday Review: Messy Jessy Gets Active by Jayne Peters

Messy Jessy Gets Active

by Jayne Peters

Illustrated by Diane Lucas

Rating: 4 star

A Delightful Read for Children

Studies reveal unorganized play is vital to kids’ mental and physical development. Kids just need to be kids and to be allowed to explore their many interests without a rigid schedule. That’s What Messy Jessy Gets Active is all about.

Jessy was introduced to young readers in her first book, Messy Jessy. The fun-loving girl has a broad interest in activities, everything from hockey to yoga, and she explains to her parents that she loves them all; it’s impossible to choose only one.

Continue reading

Sunday Review: When the Stars are Right by William Meikle

When the Stars are Right

by William Meikle

Rating: 3 stars

A short story in email format

When I began reading, I was worried I’d have to remember the times and dates for each entry because they were important to the plot. Once I realised they weren’t, I skimmed over them, which left me to concentrate on the story.

Continue reading

Sunday Review: Have Bags, Will Travel by D. G. Kaye

Have Bags, Will Travel

by D. G. Kaye

Rating: 4 stars

Quick, Light Read of Travel Memories

The opening sections had me nodding my head and smiling. Germs. While I’m not as obsessive about them as D. G. Kaye, I am a faithful hand-washer. Years ago, I began using my shirt, jacket or the paper towel I dried my hands with to open public washroom doors. I thought I was the only one who did this until I read Johnny Depp also did. And now I read Kaye does the same.

Kaye explains how air travel has changed over the years with new regulations, restrictions and lack of comfort. It’s not for the better but if you’re like Kaye, you keep travelling and apply humour to the wounds.

Continue reading

Sunday Review: Wren in the Mist by Beth Hammond

Wren in the Mist: An Orphan, a Thief, Magic, and a Search for Home

by Beth Hammond

Rating: 3 stars

A short story, not a novel.

The first three scenes of the story were a little disjointed for me. The short opening scene is one far into the future. The next scene delivered me to a time when the main character, Thomas, was twelve. Tragedy strikes. After that short scene, we are thrust into the future again, but not as far as the first scene. Since the time-shift is not made obvious, I read as if Thomas was still 12. Once I realised it was in the future, I had to rethink the first few paragraphs.

Continue reading

WITHOUT MACHINE GUN TO CAMBRAI

Book Review: A Fool In France, by Christina Keith. Part One: The Daintiest of Tan Suede Shoes.

A publisher told me once: books come in two categories; those for men and those for women. Men buy books about Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill and war; women buy novels. Apart from books about cookery and cats, that’s the English market. Writers of men’s books saw the 2014 centenary of the Great War approaching well in time but, so far, few of their books have captured the public imagination, perhaps because too many of them hit the market in one go and too many of them look the same. Most publishers are not mavericks in the herd. Instead of giving us interesting new stories they prefer re-garnishing the old ones. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend every time. Lions led by donkeys; mud, blood and self-sacrifice; in Flanders fields the poppies grow, in industrially homogenised formats.

Continue reading

My Library of Books for Writing Fantasy

5x5 fantasy bookA short time ago, Ernesto San Giacomo posted his 2015 Reading List. In the list was Writing About Magic by Rayne Hall.

I commented, saying I had several books about magic, herbs and stones to help me with writing my fantasy stories, but I hadn’t read that one. A list was requested, but I hadn’t gotten around to making it until tonight.

Some of these books are one-time reads, but others I keep on the shelf as references. I can’t remember all the properties of stones and herbs, and I can’t recall all the spells (though I make up a lot myself), so these are keepers for me.

Natural Magic – Spells, Enchantments & Self-development by Pamela J. Ball: This book provides insight to magic and how a sorceress might work her spells. Not every magic-user is the same, so you can take a little of this and a little of that to create a character. This book was okay, worth buying, but not my favourite.

The back cover states: Before there was formal religion there was magic, and to this day there are people who purport to perform ‘miracles’ with the aid of magical powers derived from nature or the spirit realm. These powers are still out there to be tapped into by us. All you need is the knowledge and know-how contained in Natural Magic.

This book reveals: How to become a natural magician, using knowledge gathered over thousands of years by magician and mystic alike. Techniques employing plants, trees, crystals and incense along with meditation, ritual, chanting and dreams. The tools to give expression to your creativity and beliefs. A wide range of methods to bring about positive changes in your life.

The Druid Magic Handbook – Ritual Magic Rooted in the Living Earth by John Michael Greer: This book speaks of Life Force, the alphabet of magic, the elements, enchantment and Ogham writing. It gives a great history on the druids, which I thoroughly enjoyed and ‘connected’ with. I discovered many potential story lines by reading it.

Continue reading